Friday, November 21, 2014

Nevada Republican's State Assembly Speaker Openly Racist, Sexist, Homophobic*

Image from source, Think Progress
Nevada has faced a number of oddball candidates for office, from the Chicken Lady, Sue Lowden to the certifiably batshit crazy Sharron Angle. And for decades, we've had the Hansen family, from the "Independent American Party," which should absolutely, positively not be confused with your run-of-the-mill independents. The IAP is a very fringy party, where you thought fringes were impossible. And the Hansens tried for years to get into mainstream politics.

Undoubtedly some have, and there is a new one. I wasn't able to confirm that he's part of the same family, but if not he'd fit right in. Ira Hansen is the new Speaker of the Nevada State Assembly. And he simply is pure hard right wing id. No filter, no dog whistle, all right there in the front window.

Whew. Unbelievable.

[Excerpt]

Incoming Nevada Speaker Said Democrats Have ‘Master-Slave’ Relationship With ‘Simple Minded Darkies’

Nevada Assemblyman Ira Hansen (R), who the assembly’s Republican caucus selected as their choice to be its next speaker earlier this month, has a long history of racist, sexist and homophobic statements chronicled in a long list published by the Reno News Review. Among other things, as part of a broader statement of support for school vouchers, Hansen claimed that “[t]he relationship of Negroes and Democrats is truly a master-slave relationship, with the benevolent master knowing what’s best for his simple minded darkies.” Indeed, according to the News Review, Hansen keeps a Confederate battle flag on his wall, which he says that he flies “proudly in honor and in memory of a great cause and my brave ancestors who fought for that cause.” He also “tends to use the term ‘Negro’ and often does not capitalize it. . .”

Read more at: Think Progress

*Obviously, "racist, sexist, homophobic" are all subjective judgments by me, your editor. Though I'm not sure another conclusion could be drawn.

President Obama Announces His Immigration Plan

Image from source, USAToday

I really can't see what everyone is so worked up about. This sounded logical, reasonable, and fair to me. Truly, I sometimes think conservatives view the world through some sort of distortion lens.

[Excerpt]

First take: Echoes of Bush in Obama's immigration speech

The immigration speech President Obama gave a week before Thanksgiving was the one he was supposed to give before Labor Day. But Obama punted until after the election. "I want to spend some time, even as we're getting all our ducks in a row for the executive action, I also want to make sure that the public understands why we're doing this," he said on Meet the Press in September. . .

Read more at: USA Today
 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Skeeter's Song (A Rocky Mountain Mike Song Parody)

One of the most common laments of liberals is that conservatives (and some liberals) vote against their best interests. And this couldn't have been more clear than in the 2014 election. How do you explain people voting for minimum wage increases, pot legalization, against personhood amendments and more. . .and yet voting in Republicans who are diametrically opposed to those positions?

The embodiment of this mindset is "Skeeter," Rocky Mountain Mike's tea baggin', conservative-because-I-was-born-this-way character. Here, Skeeter sings his explanation to the tune of Kenny Loggins' Danny's Song.

For more Mike, go here. And buy his album, Politically Incoherent on Amazon!


The Gay Thing: Marriage Equality in Montana! And (Kinda) in South Carolina

Despite a few setbacks, roadblocks, stays, delays and really, really whiny Republican governors and attorneys general, the marriage equality wave just keeps on rolling, from one end of the country to the other. Or more like in from the edges, and crashing together in the middle, pooling in some rather confused states (looking at you, Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri). Due to the aforementioned whiny politicos, those states and South Carolina have a muddled mess of marriage in some places, not in others, recognized from out of state or not, recognized by their own state or not. It grows a little tiresome, but it's really happening so fast, I can almost just roll my eyes and shrug it off.

Image from Slate
Almost. I'm still pissed that it seems to be cool with so many people--from anonymous bloggers, to radio personalities, to elected officials--to proclaim gay people to be less than, other, second-class citizens and worse. What they don't realize is that their naked animus is actually helpful in proving the point that we're treated unequally. In fact, without the discriminatory pre-emptive constitutional amendments that swept the country in the 90s and 2000s, it's extremely unlikely that we'd be up to at least 34 marriage equality states. So, thanks, haters. You did it. You really did it. You still suck, but you did it.

[Excerpt]

Montana marriage ban overturned; licenses granted
 
A federal judge on Wednesday overturned the state gay marriage ban in Montana, one of the last states to continue defending its ban despite rulings in favor of same-sex marriage from appeals courts that oversee them. . .

Read more at: Yahoo!


Image from source, MSN
[Excerpt]

1st gay marriage licenses issued in South Carolina

A judge issued the first gay marriage licenses and a couple was married in South Carolina on Wednesday, even as the state attorney general asked the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and block the unions. . .

Read more at: MSN

Et tu, Jonathan Turley?

One of the most frequent charges by Democrats about Democrats regarding their performance in the 2014 election was that they didn't act like Democrats. They played the part of Republican Lite. It's more than annoying. You'll find few on the left who care whether or not Mary Landrieu retains her Senate seat, mostly because--to paraphrase a Republican term--she's a DINO: Democrat in Name Only. Though, truth be told, she's always been a blue dog (at best).

But it's depressing when a person you have semi-idolized and identified with for years shows entirely different stripes. Jonathan Turley is a law professor and legal analyst. I became familiar with him from his frequent appearances on The Randi Rhodes Show on the radio, in the dark days of the Bush Administration. His pithy, smart analysis of the misdeeds of Bush/Cheney were amazing. I'm quite sure I've referenced him on the blog in the early days. Later, Turley would often appear on MSNBC, offering the same sort of spiel. I really liked him. I used to read  his blog daily.

Now, Turley is the unlikely third-in-a-series attorney for John Boner Boehner, in his bizarre lawsuit against President Barack Obama. Over tweaks made to the Affordable Care Act. You know, the dreaded ObamaCare that Republicans want to kill fifty times (and have tried). They're allegedly suing because they're upset that he delayed parts of it!? Why on earth would they care? They don't. It was a random pull-a-reason-from-a-hat excuse to sue, because they'd already said they were going to sue. It's so unbelievably stupid. And I expect a lot better of Jonathan Turley. Then I found out he's been guesting on FOX "News" a lot lately, and all became clear. Dead to me.

[Excerpt]

House Republicans Hire Jonathan Turley to Pursue Obama Lawsuit
 
House Republicans have hired their third attorney since August to pursue their lawsuit against President Barack Obama for allegedly overstepping his authority, tapping George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, according to House Speaker John Boehner’s office. . .

Read more at: Wall Street Journal

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Keystone XL Pipeline Loses in Senate by One Vote

I've already lamented here about the mystery of exactly why conservatives have a big ol' chubby for the Keystone XL pipeline. Maybe it's because of that XL there, sounding like a super-sized SUV or a roller coaster. It's certainly not the scads of permanent jobs, because even the thing's builders have copped to 35-50 permanent jobs. It's not "energy independence," because it's not our oil, it's Canada's. Near as I can figure, Keystone gives conservatives a woody because liberals--especially Obama--are against it. Ipso facto, it's got to be good.

Image from source, MSN
I frankly see this as just about the best example of the worst of our politics, and while it is slathered all over the right, it drips onto quite a few of the left. This is a combination of a) "truthiness," the feeling that it must be good, whether or not the facts are in evidence; b) greed; c) money in politics; d) extremely divided "us vs. them" politics; e) blindness to the possibility of consequences; f) the inability to let facts change a full-speed-ahead charge to an outcome; g) craven politics on both sides. And oh, so much more.

Of course, when Sen. Mitch McConnell gavels in the Republican Senate in January, they'll put Keystone XL up right away, and it'll pass. And then the President will have to veto.

[Excerpt]

Senate Democrats reject bill to build oil pipeline
 
The Democrat-controlled Senate has defeated a bill to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The Senate's 59-41 vote Tuesday night was a nail-biter to the end. The bill needed 60 votes to reach the White House. The House passed it overwhelmingly last week. . .

Read more at: MSN

So, Obama's Immigration Executive Action is Unconstitutional? Really?

When people say both parties are the same, I get grouchy, because there are many very clear differences (even if I wish there were more than two options sometimes). But one area where they are alike: when the balance of power shifts, they often develop policy amnesia.

For instance, remember when Democrats were in the minority last time, and Republicans' never-ending mantra was, "up-or-down vote?" Angered by what they saw as obstruction, Republicans aimed to browbeat Democrats by drilling that phrase into voters' psyches, and it was relentless. Then, when Republicans found themselves in the minority, suddenly they were the lord-god-kings of obstruction. Unfortunately, Democrats are very, very bad at phraseology, or speaking with one strong, consistent voice. Republicans are very, very good at it. So there is a difference for you. Another is that Republicans are absolutely unafraid to be disingenuous or dishonest in their wordsmithing. Just repeat, repeat, repeat.

But back to my point: now that Republicans are shifting into power, they seem to have forgotten that presidents have some executive power themselves. And any flexing of it by a Democratic (black) president is obviously unprecedented, obviously lawless and unconstitutional, obviously impeachable! Even though George H.W. Bush did something similar. Even though "Ronaldus Maximus" Ronald Regan did pretty much exactly the same thing. Can you remember any Republican outcry for the impeachment of Saint Ronnie?

[Excerpt]

Remember How St. Reagan Got Impeached For Executive Order On Immigration?

Monday’s Rachel Maddow Show kicked off with one of those “where’s she going?” bits, about the odd technologically outmoded conversations between Pope Francis and his best American bud, Cardinal Se├ín O’Malley — they fax each other all the time, as a 60 Minutes profile detailed this week. Turns out, one of the things O’Malley is big on is immigration reform, and there’s the hook for the real focus of this segment: The Catholic Church didn’t like several provisions of Ronald Reagan’s 1986 immigration reform act, and when Congress couldn’t get the votes together to fix them, Reagan issued an executive order to change how the immigration laws were enforced. George H.W. Bush also issued executive orders to exempt some categories of people from deportation. In total, the tweaks allowed some 1.5 million people to stay in the country, without any approval from Congress. . .

Read more (with video) at: Wonkette

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ted Cruz Continues Fight Against Al Franken on Net Neutrality

I dislike everything about Senator Ted Cruz. Superficially, I'm annoyed by his perpetually creepy face and his annoying, mosquito-buzzing-by-your-ear voice. More seriously, it pisses me off how he plays to his base. But does he believe his own patter? Is he a patronizing douche, who calculatedly throws red meat to the savages? Or is he an egotistical ignoramus who believes that whatever claptrap falls out of his mouth is the truth?

Say what you want about Senator Al Franken, but he's genuine. He knows what he's talking about, and he believes in what he's saying. In the case of Net Neutrality, Franken--who has championed the idea for years--is explaining what it is, in reality. Ted Cruz calls it "ObamaCare for the Internet," and makes rotary phone analogies, neither of which makes a lick of sense in regard to the subject. Cruz is outmatched here, but to paraphrase President Obama again, "Please proceed, Senator."

[Excerpt]

Ted Cruz Hits Back At Al Franken On Net Neutrality

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) responded on Monday to comments made by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) about net neutrality, the latest exchange in what is becoming an ongoing, public back-and-forth. The debate began when Cruz dubbed the concept "Obamacare for the Internet." Franken said in an interview on Sunday that Cruz has no idea what he's talking about. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

Could GOP's 2014 Election Success Spell Their Doom in 2016?

SPOILER ALERT: Lawrence will read a rather frank and brutal analysis to you, about how the GOP should enjoy their two years of crazy, but that it will end with significant setbacks for them in the next election. The language is pointed and out of character for Mr. O'Donnell. And that's because he is reading the words of a Republican political analyst.



It's Impeachable (A Rocky Mountain Mike Song Parody)

To anyone who lived through the Clinton impeachment imbroglio, I for one would like to say, knock it off, GOP. It's exhausting, you'll overplay your hand, and you'll ensure Democratic success in 2016. On second thought, "Please proceed, Governor."

Rocky Mountain Mike has put the idea to music, to the tune of Perry Como's It's Impossible. For more Mike, go here. And buy his album, Politically Incoherent on Amazon!

 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Blast from the Past: Saturday Morning in the 70s, Pt. 2: The Cartoons

Saturday morning cartoons--an absolute weekly event during most of my childhood--are a thing of the past. There are entire channels dedicated to cartoons and children's programming, but it's just not the same as the big three TV networks having a slate of kids shows from 6 to noon every Saturday. They competed against each other, and ran promotional ads in comic books to get our eyeballs on their channel. And we all watched. I don't
remember any kid my age who didn't.

My first edition covered the live-action shows, and this time I'm going for the cartoons. These are my favorites, in no particular order.

1. Josie and the Pussycats (1972-73) - A weird amalgam of Archie Comics style and Hanna-Barbara Scooby-Doo-like storytelling. But I loved the music, and Sebastian the cat.

2. Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! (1969-1970) - Scooby-Doo ran for many, many years, in many, many formats. But long before the insufferable Scrappy-Doo came along, was the original. And dig that music!



3. SuperFriends (1973-1986) - The first season was a kid-friendly version of The Justice League of America, complete with ordinary kids Wendy and Marvin (with WonderDog). The show picked up steam and popularity with the introduction of the Wonder Twins, Zan & Jayna. But the closer they got to the feel of the JLA, the more I liked it.

4. The Pink Panther Show (1969-1980) - This is another one that ran under a great many titles, but I always liked it, with its mix of segments, from the Ant and the Aardvark, Tijuana Toads and The Inspector.



INTERLUDE A: In the News (1971-1986) - CBS ran these mini news programs between cartoons. They brought our mornings to a screeching halt. But as I got older, I started to enjoy them.

INTERLUDE B: Schoolhouse Rock (1973-2009) - Unlike the previous, I loved these shorts. Almost all of them. We looked forward to Schoolhouse Rock just as much as the regular cartoons.



5. The Brady Kids (1972-73) - The Brady Bunch cartoon version included Marlon the talking mynah bird, and Ping and Pong, the pandas, for no particular reason. I was only 6, and I was rolling my eyes at the wacky animal sidekick trope. Speaking of which. . .

6. The Partridge Family 2200 A.D. (1974-75) - For some reason, the Partridges have a different mom, and instead of touring on a bus in the 70s, they're flying through space in the 23rd century. With a robot dog called Orbit.



7. The Tom & Jerry/Grape Ape/Mumbly Show (1976) - Though Tom & Jerry went through many, many titles (and their theatrical shorts are their main draw), this mouthful of a title still sticks in my head, and thus deserves a spot on the list. Unfortunately, the only video I can find is of the version without Mumbly.

8. Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (1972-1981) - I loved this show, and Bill Cosby (here's hoping he's not guilty of the current allegations), but it always heralded the end of cartoons for the day, which was also sad.
 


And now, the weekend is over, and it's time to go to school work! Happy Monday!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Keystone XL Pipeline to be Fast-Tracked by Congress - Both Sides Seeking Credit

I really wish somebody could explain this to me. The Keystone XL pipeline is loathed by environmentalists, and some climatologists. If successful, the oil extracted from the sands it will move is allegedly "game over" for the environment. And if it should leak, it could endanger a major aquifer that supplies water to a huge portion of the American populace. It will move oil that isn't ours, and will not be ours when it is sold either. It will employ lots of people for the time it takes to build it, but won't have many long-term jobs at all.

So, why does Right Wing World have a hard on for it, exactly? I know this is a major political football, so much so that both sides of Congress--particularly Louisiana Senate candidates looking at a runoff--are seeking to fast-track it, and try to take credit for it. But why? Why is this priority #1?

[Excerpt]

Keystone XL Pipeline: Lame-Duck Congress Fast-Tracks Legislation

The tortuous six-year fight over a controversial proposal to funnel oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast took another turn this week after both houses of the lame-duck Congress moved to vote on the Keystone XL pipeline. As the legislation barrels through Congress and heads to the Oval Office, President Barack Obama may soon settle one of the most politically charged debates of the decade. The White House appeared to downplay the congressional maneuvering Wednesday, saying it takes a "dim view of these kinds of legislative proposals. . ."

Read more at: NBC News

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Gay Thing: Gay Marriage Comes to Kansas; Ban Struck Down in South Carolina

When the 6th Circuit Court (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee) decided to uphold the bans on same-sex marriage in their jurisdiction, anti-gay forces got a rare boost. Except for two or three outlier decisions in the last two years, marriage equality has racked up dozens of wins, culminating with four Circuit Courts ruling in their favor, and the Supreme Court electing to leave it that way. Then came the 6th. While many, if not most of the court watchers on both sides figured a Circuit split would happen, it didn't stop the sting on one side and the jubilation on the other.

Image from source, Yahoo!
But it turns out, the 6th hasn't changed things in other marriage equality cases. Gay couples can now marry in Kansas. And in South Carolina--barring an extraordinary occurrence--will have it soon. We are soon to be left with the Deep South (which somehow has spread upward all the way past Ohio to Michigan), the Dakotas, Montana, Nebraska and Texas. And some of those could topple at any time.

The smart money is on the Supreme Court taking the 6th Circuit cases (though some say they'll send it back to an en banc review), with some sort of decision by the end of June, 2015. Meanwhile, some of these individual states will go into the "win" column, and at least one other Circuit could rule, probably siding with the 6th. But by the time that happens, the Supremes may very well have ruled. Just about everyone I've read seems to think our chances are good at SCOTUS, though not assured. With over 2/3 of the states now experience marriage equality, it is difficult to imagine that SCOTUS will shut it down. Especially since it was their actions that gave us a large chunk of those states.

[Excerpt]

Gay marriage advocates get victories in Kansas, South Carolina
 
Gay marriage advocates won another two victories on Wednesday as the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Kansas to become the 33rd U.S. state where same-sex couples can wed and a federal judge struck down South Carolina's ban. . .

Read more at: Yahoo! News

The Media's Insane Reaction to Ebola

Now that the very few actual cases of Ebola in the United States have run their course, and the incubation period for anyone else is past, can we talk about the media reaction?


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

US and China Announce Climate Agreement

I'm sure Right Wing World sees this as much ado about nothing, since--somehow--their political ideology overrules climate science, and relegates climate change to being a hoax. But if anyone has been paying attention to China's desperate--and unsuccessful--effort to squelch their horrific air pollution in advance of this summit, they'd see just how obvious it is that we can affect our environment in bad ways. Why on earth they think it's impossible to cause more global changes is hard for me to fathom. But good on President Obama for this effort, whatever the usual suspects have to say about it.

[Excerpt]

US, China Announce Ambitious New Climate Agreement

The United States and China unveiled ambitious targets Wednesday to reduce greenhouse gases, aiming to inject fresh momentum into the global fight against climate change ahead of a make-or-break treaty to be finalized next year. President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would move much faster in cutting pollution, with a goal to reduce by 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025, compared with 2005 levels. Earlier in his presidency, Obama set a goal to cut emissions by 17 percent by 2020. . .

Read more at: Talking Points Memo

What Happens in Vegas: Caesars Filing for Bankruptcy?

Several years ago, the big casinos on the Las Vegas Strip started consolidating. Very quickly, they pretty much came to be two gigantic companies, Caesars Entertainment and MGM/Mirage. There are exceptions, but not many. And of course, these two gigantic companies own and/or operate casinos and resorts all over the country and around the globe. But are casino companies too big to fail?

Apparently not. As hard as it is to believe that a business centered on mostly casinos--where the game is always tilted toward the house--could possibly fail. But given that it can, it ought to be a lesson for the rest of corporate America: your colossal corporations--formed by decades of unchecked consolidation--could fall victim to the same thing. I for one would be very excited to see some of the consolidated businesses in many industries be trust-busted, like we used to do. We could start with the media.

I'm so sorry, sire!
[Excerpt]

Caesars, Creditors Said to Have Deal on Unit’s Bankruptcy
 
Caesars Entertainment Corp. (CZR) reached an agreement with key senior creditors on the outline of a debt restructuring plan that includes a prearranged bankruptcy for its largest unit as soon as January, according to two people with knowledge of the negotiations. Under the plan being negotiated by first-lien bondholders including Paul Singer’s Elliott Management Corp. and Pacific Investment Management Co., the casino company would put its Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. unit into Chapter 11 proceedings as soon as Jan. 14, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. . .

Read more at: Bloomberg

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In Case You Missed It: Too Many Cooks!

Yeah, I know. I'm at the tail end of this one. That's what you get when you don't blog much on weekends, and you get busy after that. But I wanted this here anyway, because it's such a perfect encapsulation of my many pop culture touchstones; a stew of TV and movie tropes all stirred together brilliantly. Though, I'm quite sure it leaves people scratching their heads.

Suffice to say, the longer you watch, the weirder (and more trippy) it gets.
 

I've Been a Little Busy. . .

Oh, hi! Didn't see you there. Yeah, I know, nothing new in a couple of days. Such is the life of the hobbyist blogger: life gets in the way. Between social obligations, a house guest and our renewed home improvement efforts, blogging has just not been possible. And here I sit at ten past midnight, with nothing up since Sunday.

I'll be back! Probably tomorrow, with an unexpected day off from work, due to Veteran's Day and a slowdown in projects. So, maybe this here blog thingy will see some action on Tuesday. So, until then. . .

 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Give Me Some Credit! (Updated)





I noticed long ago that I get a lot of credit card offers. Beyond the standard junk mail and insurance offers (probably a topic for another post), credit card offers come weekly. But what really started to catch my eye was that it was the same offer, over and over again: Barclay Card, Capitol One and Discover. I would make a joke of it, "Look! An offer for Barclay Card!" So, I decided to start collecting them, to see how often they really do come. I started this project in early March, and the stack of offers is so high, I'm declaring an end to it. Here are my findings:



Barclay Card: 16 offers
Discover Card: 13 offers
Capitol One: 19 offers
Grand total: 38 credit card offers from three companies in 6 months

This is (with the exception of just a couple from Capitol One) all for one person in our household! These mailers are heavy, high quality printing, and in the case of Discover, glossy. They are not cheap to produce, and cannot be cheap to mail. How much money do credit card companies spend, saturating the market with these mailers?





ORIGINAL POST, 6/20/14:


The Other Half and I have each had our troubles with credit in our lives, thankfully at separate times, and also thankfully in the distant past. But I'm amazed at how much the credit card companies want our business. After years of offers, about six weeks ago, I decided to start collecting the offers, just to see how often they really come. To date: 5 Capital One Card, 5 Barclay Card, 3 Discover Card. In all, 13 offers from three companies in six weeks. Even more odd, only one was for me! I guess I've been out of debt so long, they don't think I'm interested any more?

But keep this in mind, next time you wonder why your interest rates are so high: how much money are they spending on these repeated, excessive, expensive, glossy mailers?

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