Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Quick Note: Life is About to Get a Little Better for Some Workers

  1. As of today, minimum wage workers in the state of New York are getting a raise.
  2. Tomorrow, twenty more states plus the District of Columbia will raise their minimum wage.
  3. Delaware and Minnesota are scheduled to raise their minimum wage later in 2015.
  4. By the end of 2015, twenty-nine states will pay a minimum wage above that approved by the U.S. Congress.
The number of full-time workers eligible for government assistance is expected to fall in all twenty-nine states.

I expect the Republican led Congress to continue their lament over the number of people getting government assistance.  I expect they'll  continue to blame recipients for being lazy and unmotivated.  I expect they'll once again look for ways to make cuts in that assistance, claiming that only by reducing benefits will these people find the motivation to get off welfare.
The real solution is right in front of them; they simply choose not to see it.  

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Rep. Steve Scalise--Clueless in Louisana?

In January, Representative Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana), who has been a member of the U.S. House since 2008, will be the House Majority Whip.  This makes him the #3 man in the Republican leadership.

In 1999, as a potential candidate for Louisiana's state legislature, Mr. Scalise told Roll Call that he embraced many of the same "conservative" views as David Duke, former head of the Ku Klux Klan, but that he believed himself to be more electable.  "The voters in this district are smart enough to realize that they need to get behind someone who not only believes in the issues they care about, but also can get elected.  Duke has proven that he can't get elected, and that's the first and most important thing."

In 2002, while still a member of Louisiana's state legislature, Mr. Scalise spoke at a meeting of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, a group of white supremacists and neo-Nazis founded by David Duke.

The transcript of that speech is not available, but one attendee who heard the speech described it at the time as "productive," adding that Mr. Scalise "brought into sharp apparent (House and Urban Development Fund) giveaway to a selective group based on race."

In 2004, a Stormfront blog post identified Mr. Scalise as a man who had offered "his support for issues that are of concern to us." identifies itself as a "community of racial realists and idealists.  We are White Nationalists..."

what eye thynk:    In just a few weeks, the GOP will head to Washington holding the majority in both houses of Congress.  They promise to prove they are capable of governing fairly and equally with the further hope that they can win the minority vote in the 2016 presidential election. 

Yes, Mr. Scalise is only one man, but his association with David Duke and his racist organization would seem to be at odds with his party's promise; and fellow Republicans have been noticeably silent on the issue.

Yesterday, in an apparent attempt to halt the controversy, Mr. Scalise told the Times-Picayune that "If I knew today what they were about, I wouldn't go."  He did not issue an apology for his appearance as a speaker at the racist gathering, but instead justified it by explaining "I was without the advantages of a tool like Google."

This excuse is so weak it is laughable.  Search engines have existed in some form since 1993, and, by 1996, NetScape had brought a mainstream sensibility to web surfing.  Google came into existence in 1998--four years prior to Mr. Scalise's appearance before David Duke's organization.  As a matter of fact, in 2002, when Mr. Scalise spoke there, Mr. Duke's European-American Unity and Rights Organization had a website listing: 

So basically, in 1999, being fully aware of who David Duke was and what he stood for,  Mr. Scalise was proud to talk of possessing the same kind of conservative values.  In 2004, two years after his speech, Mr. Scalise continued to have the backing of Stormfront.  But today he wants us to believe that he was completely in the dark about the make-up or purpose of David Duke's signature organization when he spoke there.

Either Mr. Scalise is blatantly lying in order to save his own political butt or he is fundamentally stupid.  Either way, he isn't someone I'd want representing me in Congress--but then, I'm not a Republican.

Monday, December 29, 2014

December 29 - Monday Quote

Here comes 2015!

monday quote:  An optimist stays up to see the New Year in.  A pessimist waits to make sure the old one leaves.  (Bill Vaughan, author, 1915-1977)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Update: Neil deGrasse Tyson Responds...Brilliantly

Yesterday I wrote about how easy it is to annoy a conservative, concluding that from Tiaras to Cosmos, it's all offensive to the far-right.  You can read that post here

President Obama chose to ignore the vitriol posted about his posing with a Girl Scout troop while wearing a tiara.  In one genuine, warm and supremely human moment, he gave these five little girls a memory that will last a lifetime, and the far-right responded with their usual hatred.  Acknowledging their vileness would be pointless.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, however, did respond to those who took offense over his Christmas morning tweets.  And he did it brilliantly: 

 "My sense in this case is that the high rate of retweeting is not to share my enthusiasm of this fact, but is driven by accusations that the tweet is somehow anti-Christian.  If a person actually wanted to express anti-Christian sentiment, my guess is that alerting people to Isaac Newton's birthday would appear nowhere on the list.  Going to post about Earth's perihelion in the New Year.  Just a head's-up in case people want to avert their eyes over that one."
Personally, I'm going to spend the next few days looking forward to finding out how Mr. deGrasse Tyson will make "perihelion" funny.
And, Mr. President, my tiara is ready when you are.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Annoying a Conservative - It's Just Too Easy

Conservatives, and in particular conservative Christians, seem to look for anything over which they can feel offended.

what eye thynk: For example, take this photo released by White House photographer Pete Souza on Christmas Eve:

The photo was taken at the annual White House Science Fair this past summer and shows the President posing with a Girl Scout troop from Tulsa, Oklahoma, all of them wearing tiaras.

A rational human being would see this and think, "Aw, now there's a dad with daughters."  Conservatives turned it into another Obama Hate-fest:

  • from The-Monk:  He won't wear it for has a Christian cross on top. And we all know how much he hates that.
  • from SuperEvilGenius:  I feel bad for these girls.  They have no idea what a POS this guy is.  It's like the little kids that were photographed with Hitler. How do you live that down.  Poor kids.
  • from armbar93:  He is reverting back to the bathhouse years.  I'm sure it brings back fond memories of his buddies from the "down low club". (sic)
  • from ChristAlive: They are all white.  Even the white fairy in the middle.  He is touted as black to rule the knuckle draggers in the hood.
As for that last comment, I note the irony of anyone using the screen name "ChristAlive" to be so blatantly hateful.

On Christmas morning, Neil deGrasse Tyson took to Twitter with some jokes--all cleverly based on fact--and conservative Christians proved once again that they have no sense of humor.

One of his posts read: "On this day long ago, a child was born who, by the age of 30, would transform the world.  Happy Birthday Isaac Newton b. Dec 25, 1642

I thought it was clever, (I love anything that has an unexpected twist), and I shared it with my husband, who describes himself as a born-again Christian.  He wasn't offended, so I guess he isn't conservative enough to party with the far-right.

There were other deGrasse Tyson posts:
 "QUESTION: This year, what do all the world's Muslims and Jews call December 25th?  ANSWER: Thursday"
"Santa knows Physics:  Of all colors, Red Light penetrates fog best. That's why Benny the Blue-nosed reindeer never got the gig."
"Merry Christmas to all.  A Pagan holiday (BC) becomes a Religious holiday (AD). Which then becomes a Shopping holiday (USA)."
You would have thought, with all the hue and cry about the commercialization of Christmas, that his last post might have gotten some support from the Right, but no.

  • from IAmEvilHomer: you're even a Jackass on Christmas huh?
  • from Don Schaum: Only a small & uncharitable man would take time on Xmas morning 2 take shots but Merry Christmas to you anyway Neil.
  • from Brian Fagioli:  This is disrespectful to Christians.  Jesus created the science you cherish so much.
I have to wonder, if conservative Christians like Mr. Fagioli really believe that Jesus created science, then why do they refuse to accept evolutionary and environmental sciences?  And why do they hate Mr. deGrasse Tyler's science series "Cosmos" so much?

It is as though, for those living on the far-right side of Christianity, being able to take offense at something/anything/everything is seen as a way to measure their piety. Do those who manage to stay perpetually affronted earn degree badges?  Is there a ceremony to pass out gold stars? How many stars does it take to earn a VIP pass to the pearly gates? 

When I consider the God of Love that I learned about in Sunday school, something tells me these Doctors of Devoutness are going to be very disappointed.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Tea Party Signs - The Joke's On Them

Installment #13 of:
Dictionaries are a Liberal Plot
(and Grammar is Not My Cup of Tea Either)

I'm leaning toward, "If you can't spell it, you don't deserve it," but that's just me.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

BuhBye 2014. The Economy and Healthcare: Promises, Predictions and Fact

A look at two of the biggest U.S. political issues in 2014--the economy and healthcare.

The Economy
The Promise:  During the 2012 presidential primary season, Mitt Romney said, as president, he would bring the unemployment rate down to 6% by 2016.  After losing the election, Republicans continued to insist that President Obama's policies were killing job growth.
The Reality:  Unemployment reached 5.8% in the fall. (A lower percentage reached two years earlier than Mitt's boast.)

The Promise:   Newt Gingrich warned that Obama's re-election would mean $10/gallon prices at the pump.  As president, Newt said he would bring gas prices down to $2.50/gallon.  Republicans continued to call for more drilling, claiming that President Obama's environmental policies would result in higher and higher gas prices.
The Reality:  Gas prices are below $2.00 in many places while the average across the country is $2.38/gallon. (Despite careful environmental restrictions on new drilling sites, prices remained in the $4.00 range until this year. They are now better than Newt said he could do.)

The Promise:  Tim Pawlenty (remember him?) said that his plan to cut trillions of dollars in taxes for the wealthy would result in a 5% GDP. Republicans continue to claim that lowering taxes for the wealthy is the only road to improving our economy.
The Reality:  President Obama ended this year able to boast of a 5% GDP (And he did it despite raising taxes on the wealthy, which also helped to lower our deficit.)
Economic growth is at an 11-year high, job growth is at a 15-year high, the stock market is booming, wages are rising, gas prices are falling and America's manufacturing rate is increasing.  In short, the economic news seems to prove that President Obama's policies are successful and the Republican predictions of doom and gloom were entirely wrong. 
And what does the GOP have to say about this positive news?  Nothing, zilch, nada, zero.  One political writer reported: "I went to the homepages for John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, the RNC, the NRSC, the NRCC and the RGA.  Collectively, they didn't publish a single word about the striking economic growth.  So, I moved on to Twitter, checking the feeds for Boehner, McConnell, Reince Priebus, the RNC, the NRSC, the NRCC and the RGA.  Again, literally nothing." 
The roar of silence coming from the right should surprise no one.  Did anybody really expect them to admit they were wrong and the man they love to hate is right?

The Prediction:  The GOP has spent four years and millions of dollars promoting their belief that "Obamacare" will fail. Even if the government portal is repaired, they said, the program is so flawed that people will refuse to sign up for it.
The Reality:  Not only are the vast majority of those who signed up for insurance during the first enrollment period saying they are happy with their coverage over-all, mid-December figures during the current enrollment window indicate that 6.4 million Americans have joined.  Even those who support the ACA didn't expect the number of enrollees to reach 6 million until the end of March.

The Prediction:  The ACA will mean the end of employer-provided healthcare plans.
The Reality:  WalMart, one of the largest employers in the U.S., did dump their own healthcare plan, but the Urban Institute reports that they are the exception to the rule.  There is no evidence of wholesale jettisoning of employer-sponsored plans.

The Prediction:  "Obamacare" will result in huge increases in the cost of premiums, lower quality care and it will be difficult to get insurance companies to participate in the program.
The Reality:  Wrong on all three.  Premium increases are the lowest in 50 years, medical errors have been reduced and the number of participating companies is on the rise.  
And still, both John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have promised to put repealing the ACA near the top of their To-do List for January. 
Certainly the ACA as it stands has room for improvement; but repealing it "root and branch" as Mitch has promised--and eliminating the coverage for the millions of Americans who have health insurance for the first time in their lives--is nothing but a campaign boast designed to feed the GOP's rabid, right-wing, Obama-hating base.  
Anyone with a modicum of common sense realizes this would be political suicide, but then who am I to argue if the GOP wants to execute their own deathwish?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

GOP Faces Gordian Knot in International Torture Case Against W's Administration

The torture report is out.  Not surprisingly, Republicans, led by former VP Dick Cheney have done everything they can to disparage its veracity.  The international community seems to have a different opinion.

Calls for W and members of his administration to be prosecuted for "torture and other war crimes" came this week from a top official at the United Nations.  Ben Emmerson, the U.N.'s special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism said that international law prohibits the Obama administration from granting immunity to those who have engaged in acts of torture.  Mr. Emmerson explained that torture is an international crime, adding that international law states that if the U.S. fails to prosecute, then perpetrators can be prosecuted by any other country to which he travels.

This followed a report out of Germany earlier in the week that The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights has filed criminal complaints in Berlin against members of Bush's administration, signaling their intention to indict.  The complaints were filed with the International Criminal Court, a permanent, treaty-based international criminal court established in 1998 and located at The Hague in the Netherlands. The court's stated purpose is to adjudicate cases against those who it is believed have carried out serious crimes against the international community.

what eye thynk:   I say, "It's about damn time."

I know that President Obama believes it is best to "look forward, not backward," but in this instance, he is wrong.  We as a nation cannot afford to ignore crimes against humanity perpetrated within our own borders and expect to have any credibility when we condemn similar crimes elsewhere.  Hypocrisy should not be an American hallmark.

Personally, I think it would be interesting to see the contortions the Republican party would go through if a U.S. court indicted W and his puppetmasters former VP Dick "I''d do it again in a minute" Cheney and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld along with CIA director John Brennan and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.  If they're indicted, Republicans can a) scream that these "patriots" did nothing wrong, thus proclaiming to the world that the GOP thinks torture is a swell idea, or b) embrace the indictments and admit to the world that their heroes are criminals and they were all idiots to believe in them.

And just imagine the Gordian knot they would have to unravel if President Obama would pardon W and his buddies. Republicans could revert to argument "a)" above or be forced to (oh, the horror!) thank President Obama for sparing W-and-Friends the humiliation of a public trial.

I hope the case goes forward at The Hague.  Seeing these people shamed before the international community is a price I'm happy to pay to restore my country's reputation as an honorable nation that abides by its treaties.  Contrary to what the megalomaniacs who ran W's administration seem to believe, we are not above the law.

Monday, December 22, 2014

December 22 - Monday Quote

Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah or the Winter Solstice, may your holiday be filled with the wonder of a child's belief in the magic of the season.

monday quote:  Santa is our culture’s only mythic figure truly believed in by a large percentage of our population.  It is a fact that most of the true believers are under eight years old, and that’s a pity.  (Chris Van Allsburg,  illustrator and author of children's books, including The Polar Express, 1949 -     )  

Sunday, December 21, 2014

"Jesus was Jewish" is No Excuse

Rabbi Kosofsky lighting the first menorah candle in Springfield's court square during a ceremony celebrating the first day of Hanukkah on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Bud Williams a city councilor in Springfield, Massachusetts, stood on the town square with local politicians and religious leaders and participated in a holiday tradition: the lighting of the menorah signalling the beginning of the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah. During the ceremony, he remarked, "Jesus is the reason for the season."  

He later attempted to explain his inappropriate comment by saying he only made reference to Jesus after other participants mentioned "the bright light" of 2000 years ago.  According to Williams, this alluded to Christ. "They said it," Mr. Williams said.

Refusing to admit his error or his insensitivity, Mr. Williams added, "I thought it added something to the service, it didn't take away...Jesus was Jewish.  To me, Jesus is the Messiah.  I thought I was being very positive."

When asked for his reaction to Mr. Williams' statement, Rabbi Noach Kosofsky said, "I'll get back to you."

what eye thynk:   Mr. Williams' remark and his subsequent defense of it are an embarrassment. 

Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication of the Temple after the Maccabees' victory over the Syrians in ancient times.  The victorious Maccabees had only enough oil to keep the lamps burning for one day, but the lamps burned for eight days, thus the reference to "the bright light."  The miracle had nothing to do with Jesus. 

Mr. Williams might have taken the time to find that out before making a fool of himself instead of blundering ahead wearing his Christian blinders.

As for his claim that he was "being very positive", I ask: positive for whom? This observance wasn't about you, Mr. Williams; and forcing your beliefs into a ceremony of another religion was not "positive." it was disrespectful and demonstrated your narrow view of religion...a view unfortunately shared by a segment of our Christian population that is becoming more vocal and more strident to the detriment of the tolerance on which this country was founded.

Mr. Williams, an apology is in order.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Republican War on Women: Humiliation as a Weapon, Subservience as a Goal?

This is the twenty-third in a series of articles on the subjects of women, abortion rights and the Republican Party. 

Republicans continue to say they don’t have to change their core principles, they only have to change the language they use to get their message out.  One perception they want to alter is the idea that they are running a “war on women”.  Looking at the news over the past few years, I’d say the Republican Party has a long way to go on this subject.

  • Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky): “Talk about a manufactured issue.  There is no issue.” 
  •  RNC Chairman Reince Priebus:  “It’s a fiction.”
It has been some time since I wrote an article in this series, but after this past week, I couldn't avoid it any longer.

#1 Remembering Idaho and Alaska
#2 Addressing the Missouri Front

the facts and commentary:  #1 - The latest Republican outrage against women in this country reminded me of Idaho State Senator Chuck Winder (R)

who proposed a bill that would require abortion doctors to "ask a woman who says she was raped if the pregnancy could have been caused by normal relations in a marriage."  Mr. Winder was rebuked by a fellow state legislator for suggesting that a woman may lie to get an abortion.
I would ask why a woman would have to lie in order to obtain a perfectly legal medical procedure.  Is it really anyone's business, beyond her physician and/or family, why a woman would make this choice?  Taking an oath of office as an elected official does not automatically grant that official a voyeur's license.
And then there was Alaska State Representative Alan Dick (R)

who said he "would advocate for criminalizing women who have an abortion without the permission via written signature from the man who impregnated her."

Mr. Dick (I find his name particularly appropriate), who apparently believes that a woman is incapable of functioning without a man to guide her, said, "If I thought that a man's signature was required...required, in order for a woman to have an abortion, I'd have a little more peace about it."
And why, exactly, would he think his "peace" should have any bearing on a woman's rights--unless subservience is what floats his boat?

#2 - And now we have Missouri State Representative Rick Brattin (R) 

who has introduced a bill that would require a woman to have written, notarized permission from the "sperm donor/father" before she can obtain an abortion.  He does make exceptions for rape or incest, but "It has to be a legitimate have to take steps to show that you were raped."  
"Written, notarized permission."  Really? And would that notary also have a voice in the woman's decision? Or would his purpose be simply to expose the woman to more embarrassment and unwanted judgement?  How many people must be informed of a woman's very private medical choice before men like Rick Brattin are satisfied?
I also have to wonder where this Missouri politician ranks on the slow-learner scale. Did he learn nothing from the Todd Akin (R-Missouri) "legitimate rape" fiasco?
As for the exception in cases of incest, how exactly does Mr. Brattin propose that a victim obtain her abuser's signature?  "Hey, Daddy, would you mind signing this paper that says you raped and abused me so I can get an abortion?  Oh, and we have to have it notarized too.  Can we do that this afternoon after we finish mowing the lawn?  Gee, thanks!" 
Attempting to cover all bases, his bill also addresses death: "If the father of the unborn child is deceased, the woman upon whom the abortion is to be performed or induced must sign a notarized affidavit attesting to this fact...The physician must retain a copy of the consent or affidavit in the patient's medical record."
A 1992 Supreme Court ruling struck down a requirement that a woman inform her husband before she has an abortion.  This new bill ignores that decision and goes several steps beyond it.  
The more I think about the GOP's war to prohibit abortion rights, the less I see it as a matter of religious fervor and more a matter of keeping women subservient.  If they really see women as equal, why aren't there legislative proposals that a man get written permission from his wife/mistress/mommy before a doctor can prescribe Viagra? Or how about a notarized death notice before a vasectomy? 
I look at people like Mr. Brattin and Mr. Dick and Mr.Winder and I see men who are so essentially weak that they are willing to use humiliation as a weapon; men who are afraid that acknowledging women as equals will somehow reduce their own manliness, will make them less powerful--and they love that power above all else.   
The Republican War on Women is "fiction?"


Friday, December 19, 2014

Eye Recommend --- Anti-LGBT Pastor Arrested for Grabbing Man's Genitals at Indiana Park

My grandmother always told me that the things we dislike about others, often turn out to be the things we actually hate about ourselves.  All we had to do was look closely at our own hearts.
"A Southern Indiana minister who preaches against homosexuality was accused of soliciting gay sex at a park.

Gaylard Williams, pastor of Praise Cathedral Church of God in Seymour, was charged with battery after a man said he grabbed his genitals last week at Cypress Lake.

A man parked at the lake Dec. 12 said the 59-year-old Williams asked hin to roll down his vehicle window, then reached in and squeezed his genitals and offered to perform oral sex.

The man told the pastor he was 'barking up the wrong tree' and acted like he was reaching for a gun.

He said Williams fled, but he wrote down his license plate number and called police.  

Officers said Williams had gay adult material in his behicle when they stopped him later.

His church teaches that same-sex marriage is sinful and urges congregants to 'glorify God in our body and which (sic) avoid the fulfillment of the lust of the flesh.'"
I had one smart Grandma.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Tea Party Signs - The Joke's On Them

Installment #12 of:
Dictionaries are a Liberal Plot
(and Grammar is Not My Cup of Tea Either)

What exactly is she protesting? Is this another Tea Party ploy to regulate America's bedrooms?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

In Kasich's Ohio, Public Schools Must Accept Church Mentors to Get State Grant Money

Ohio Governor John Kasich (R)

Last Spring, Ohio's legislature passed HB 483.  

In June of 2013, it was signed into law by Governor John Kasich (R). A section of that bill was dedicated to education reform for Ohio schools.  One of the provisions in the law created state grants for school districts to provide students with role models and mentoring.  

The exact wording of the paragraph establishing the mentoring program reads: "Eligible school districts shall partner with members of the business community, civic organizations, OR the faith-based community to provide sustainable career advising and mentoring services." (Note the use of the word "or" which I chose to capitalize here for emphasis.  It is not capitalized in the legal document.)

On November 3, 2014, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed executive order 2014-05K creating a Community Connector Advisory Board that will provide guidelines for Ohio's public schools as they start the school mentoring program and designates the rules for those organizations wishing to become student mentors.

Last week, Governor John Kasich revealed more details on how the plan will work and, in doing so, added a surprise element--participation by a church is now required.   -Pastor- Mr. Kasich doesn't seem to think the "or" used in the original bill's language should apply to the way he plans to implement the new law.

As reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Friday (any underlines are mine):
"Any school district that wants a piece of that state money must partner with both a church and a business--or faith-based organization and a non-profit set up by a business to do community service.
No business and no faith-based partner means no state dollars."
Note here that a business, a church or a civic organization will not be permitted to mentor alone as indicated in HB 483.  A business must be partnered with a church.  Under Mr. Kasich's rules, that "or" has been effectively changed to an "and." 
"'You must include a faith-based partner,' United Way of Greater Cleveland President Bill Kitson, told potential applicants at an information session the United Way hosted Thursday here in Cleveland.  Kitson sits on Kasich's advisory panel for the program. 
Buddy Harris, a senior policy analyst for the Ohio Board of Education added, "Partnerships between just schools, business and a community non-profit won't qualify."
 In a recorded message played during the meeting, Mr. Kasich told the attendees, "The good Lord has a purpose for each and everyone of them (students) and you're helping them to find it."

After the meeting, Buddy Harris, a senior policy analyst for the Ohio Board of Education added, "The faith-based organization is clearly at the heart of the vision of the governor."

what eye thynk:   When Mr. Kasich first spoke of the program in his State of the State speech, there was no mention of a church or faith-based requirement.  When the bill was debated in the legislature, no mention was made of a church or faith-based requirement.  The law that was passed never made the inclusion of a church or faith-based organization a requirement.  Church participation was clearly intended from the beginning, but only as one option, (thus lawmakers' use of the word "or.")

Beyond the fact that Mr. Kasich obviously believes the federal separation of church and state does not apply to Ohio and that he has the right to establish his own conditions above and beyond what state law dictates, I have a few questions:

  1. Mr. Kasich, who gave you the right to force a faith-based requirement on Ohio's children and their families?
  2. And how will you choose the churches to participate?  
  3. Will the children whose families belong to churches that preach gay people should be loved and accepted be mentored by a church that teaches being gay is an abomination?  
  4. Will the children who are taught that a woman has the right to make her own medical decisions be given a role model from a church that wants to ban abortion?
  5. And what about children from non-Christian families?  A Christian mentor can't help but be a confusing choice for a child being raised as a Jew, or a Muslim or a Buddhist.
  6. Will Wiccan believers be permitted to mentor a Baptist child? Will Wiccans be accepted as mentors at all?
  7. And what of the child being brought up in a secular household?  Will the child be told his parents are wrong because they don't believe?
Mentoring, as proscribed in HB483, is a positive idea. Your above-and-beyond-the-law interference is anything but positive.  Faith is a matter of privacy between a student and his family.  It is not the business of the state and it certainly isn't yours.

Ohio's public school children deserve a quality education--one that does not include an indoctrination.

Monday, December 15, 2014

December 15 - Monday Quote

A pretty accurate assessment of how our current political climate is stalemating progress in this country...

monday quote:  Democrats are trying to use science, math, reality, history and education to reason with people who deny science, don't trust math, create their own reality, distort history and often devalue quality education.  And that's the reason why we're not getting anywhere in this country. (Allen Clifton, co-founder of

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Quick Note - On Torture: Republican vs. Democrat

The Senate report on CIA interrogation techniques following 9/11 was released this past week. Our leaders view this national disgrace from diametrically opposite positions.

  • Joe Walsh (conservative radio host and former U.S. Congressman from Illinois):  "CIA torture report released.  Good.  I'm ok torturing terrorists & I want terrorists to know we'll do anything to them."
  • Liz Cheney (wanna-be politician and daughter of former VP Dick Cheney): "CIA interrogators deserve our gratitude--Democrat Senate Intel Report targeting them is 'a crock.'"
  • Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida): "Those who served us in aftermath of 9/11 deserve our thanks."
  • Former President George W. Bush: "These are patriots...These are good people, really good people, and we're lucky as a nation to have them."
  • Sean Hannity (Fox News) speaking to Jose Rodriguez, former head of CIA counter-terrorism operations: "It's sad that you have to go through this, Jose...Thank you for all you've done.  And we appreciate it."
  • Former VP Dick Cheney: "I'd do it again in a minute."  He called the report "a bunch of hooey...As far as I'm concerned, they ought to be decorated, not criticized."
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky): The report "served no purpose other than to confirm what we already knew."
  • House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio): America's intelligence community deserves "our thanks, not an ideologically motivated report designed to undermine their work."

  • President Barack Obama: Torture is "contrary to our values...We are better than this."
  • Martin Buchanan (former Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate): "The disclosure of the CIA torture program is devastating and surreal...The acts committed were unspeakable and totally indefensible.  Truly a black day for America the beautiful."
  • Dianne Feinstein (D-California) head of Senate Intelligence Committee: "Every Army private learns the laws of war.  These men knew what they were doing and must be held accountable."
  • Curt Goering, director of The Center for Victims of Torture: "Societies are not able to move on until they confront the truth. They can't bury the past...There's a process of reckoning with what happened."
  • Tony Camerino (who conducted 300 interrogations in Iraq without the use of CIA torture techniques): "As someone much smarter than me once said, 'If you use coercion, you might get the location of the house.  But if you get somebody to cooperate, they'll tell you if it's booby trapped.'"  Mr. Camerino added that he would like to see criminal prosecutions of the people who employed torture.
The United Nations Geneva Convention Treaty Against Torture or Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was signed by the United States in 1949.  

Our word of honor as a country and a people meant something for over 60 years.  It took President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to break it and to shame us before the world.  

There is no defense for their actions.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Eye Recommend --- Congress Giving Sacred Apache Lands to Foreign Mining Company

This is a disgusting illustration that proves the mistreatment of Native Americans is not something that ended in the era romanticized by 1950s black and white cowboy movies.  It continues today and Senator John McCain should hang his head in shame. 
(Any underlines are mine.)
"In a late night addition to the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) bill, Congress slipped in a provision that would hand off 2,400 acres of land sacred to the San Carlos Apache to a foreign mining concern.  The ancestral and ceremonial lands, a part of the Tonto National Forest, includes the site, Apache Leap, where Apache warriors jumped to their deaths rather than be captured by US troops.

(Terry Rambler, Chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe said,) 'Since time immemorial people have gone there.  That's part of our ancestral homeland.  We've had dancers in that area forever--sunrise dancers--and coming-of-age ceremonies for our young girls that become women.  They'll seal that off.  They'll seal us off from the acorn grounds, and the medicinal plants in the area, and our prayer areas.'"
Can you imagine the outrage if some foreign company was given a license to rape the land under a Christian church and its members were told they would no longer have access to their sanctuary?  
"The measure which has failed several times in the past, but was inserted into the must-pass defense appropriation bill thanks to the efforts of Arizona Republican Senator John MeCain.  On passage of the NDAA, the land will be given over to Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of the Rio Tinto, a massive mining concern based in London, England and Melbourne, Australia that has been salivating over the prospect of mining the area for years...

...When the latest version of the bill was read on Tuesday evening...there was no mention of the Apache land.  On Wednesday morning, there it was...

...Interior Secretary, Sally Jewell was critical of the way the provision moved forward...she said, 'I'm happy to see public lands bills make progress. The preference on public lands bills is that they go through a typical process...and they get debate and discussion.'"
The way that Mr. McCain snuck the provision in under cover of darkness indicates that he knows it is wrong and would fail if presented in the light of day. He just doesn't care. 
 "Perhaps ironically, tribe Chairman, Terry Rambler was in Washington DC at the time for the White House Tribal Nations Conference.  Leaders from the 566 federally recognized Native nations engaged with the President, Cabinet Officials and the White House Council on Native American Affairs on key issues facing tribes including, respecting tribal sovereignty and upholding treaty and trust responsibilities...

...Beyond the symbolic and spiritual importance of the lands involved, Rambler is also concerned about the potential ecological aspects of the mine and how it will affect his people in years to come.  The company plans to use a mining technique called block cave mining which digs under the ore and then lets it collapse into the hollow for recovery.  Eventually, the land above it will subside as well...

...'What those mountains mean to us is that when the rain and the snow comes, it distributes it to us,' Rambler said. 'It replenishes our aquifers to give us life.'"
The paragraphs below are taken from a petition being prepared asking President Obama to veto this provision.  You can view and sign the petition here.
"The company even admits this will cause 'a little subsidence' of these lands...They do not even talk about the fact that this sacred mountain is an important part of the water supply to the entire very arid region.  Another fact ignored is that they will have to pollute the water resources that are already used in this area in order to get the 'Low grade copper ore' out from under them since water is necessary for ore processing...

...Why are we even talking about allowing a foreign company to destroy Native American property?  This does not benefit anyone except a (foreign) company...Or perhaps certain politicians."
(We're looking at you, John McCain. How much money did it take to get you to turn on the people you are supposed to serve?)
"The Native Americans have been lied to and cheated by the American Government too many times already.  Now they want to allow San Carlos Apache Tribe's most sacred lands to be destroyed so a foreign company can get richer?  This is completely immoral...

...Why is this all hidden away inside a defense bill when it has nothing to do with defense, but everything to do with greed?"
Why, indeed.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Quick Note: A Tribute to our Baboon Congress

The new spending bill passed last night by the House and expected to pass today in the Senate, essentially eviscerates Dodd-Frank.  In a clause completely written by CitiGroup...
(Because we wouldn't want our elected congressmen to really do any work themselves would we? And besides, when it comes to choosing between the big money men and what's best for the little people back home, there's really no contest.) re-instates big banks' right to make high-risk investments using taxpayer insured money.
(Because 2008 was so much fun, Congress thinks we should have the opportunity to experience it again in the future?)

In honor of Congress' total inability to learn from past mistakes, I give you:

In truth, the "congress" name is a myth; a large group of baboons is actually called a "troop."  However, when a large group of Congressmen/women gather in the U.S. Capitol, well...

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tea Party Signs - The Joke's On Them

Installment #11 of:
Dictionaries are a Liberal Plot
(and Grammar is Not My Cup of Tea Either)

Everyone knows how important portion control is when you're trying to lose weight, so maybe this guy is upset that he fell off his diet wagon?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Monday, December 8, 2014

December 8 - Monday Quote

I dedicate this week's Monday Quote to all the rich politicians who claim being poor is a result of laziness and/or lack of moral character and who see cutting social program as a mission that will allow the poor to see the error of their ways.  

 (I'm talking to you, Paul Ryan and Scott Walker and Rick Scott and every Republican governor who refuses to expand Medicaid in his state and Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum and Paul LePage and...)

monday quote:   The conspicuously wealthy turn up urging the character building values of the privation of the poor. (John Kenneth Galbraith, American economist and Ambassador to India, 1908-2006)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941

Japanese planes bombing U.S. Naval Air Station at Wheeler Field during Pearl Harbor attack.

Eye Recommend --- Christian-Based Tampa Homeless Program Forces Destitute to Work for Free

Tom Atchison, CEO of New Beginnings

The investigation is not over, but it looks like another Christian-in-name-only has been found. (Any underlines are mine.)
"Christian-based Florida homeless program catering to recovering alcoholics and drug addicts has been accused of providing work crews to businesses and local events, then keeping their pay without them ever seeing it in exchange for room and board.

In an investigation conducted by the Tampa Bay Times, New Beginnings CEO Tom Atchison is accused of exploiting residents staying in his residences by farming them out as unpaid labor, including working concessions at Tampa Bay Rays, Lighting, and Bucs games, the Daytona 500 and the Florida State Fair.

Workers who put in a day of work are unaware of how much they are being paid for their labor since their paychecks go straight to Atchison and the shelter. to have a doctorate in theology he earned from a now defunct online school...

...For residents who are able to pay, New Beginnings charges $150 a week, or $600 a month, which covers rent and three meals per day.

The program's CEO calls the labor "work therapy," but advocates for the homeless and labor lawyers say it is exploitative, calling it "indentured servitude."...

...Former employees and residents of New Beginnings (say Atchison) is more concerned with the financial future of his program than with providing genuine help...

...Labor lawyers say companies may compensate employees with shelter and food but need to document hours worked and the value of the housing and meals provided in order to ensure workers earn at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

According to Atchison, New Beginnings does not keep track of hours worked...

...According to former residents and staff, Atchison also takes residents' Social Security checks and food stamps, even if they amount to more than residents owe in program costs.

'He would say, "They're drug addicts, they're alcoholics, they're just going to spend it on cigarettes and booze,", said (former resident) Hoffman. "The only way they get any of it is if they complain hard enough."

Former employee Victoria Denton said, 'If a check comes in, it doesn't matter if it's your's going in his (Atchison's) name.'"
In what book of the Bible did Mr. Atchison's "now defunct on-line school" find the verse that said exploiting the desperate is a virtue?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Quick Note: John Boehner Raises the Bar on GOP Hypocrisy

I read an article in this morning's New York Times about the latest jobs report and how the improving economy offers better "prospects of bipartisan cooperation" in Congress next year.  

"Republicans and Democrats can seize on easing fiscal pressures to give both sides some of their wish lists."

Enter Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) who, when asked to comment on the latest positive jobs report, offered this: "Millions still remain out of work, and middle-class families across the country, including my home state of Ohio, are struggling to get by on wages that haven't kept pace with rising costs."
And nothing shows you care like the GOP's refusal to raise the minimum wage, does it Mr. Speaker?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Quick Note: GOP Writing the Official Handbook of Bad Governing

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is trying to rally his troops to pass a spending bill before next Thursday in order to avoid another government shutdown. 

In a re-run of the last shutdown, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is rallying his sycophants to vote against the spending bill.  This week, he even went so far as to travel across the Capitol building to cajole his House GOP buddies into voting against the plan hammered out between more moderate House Republicans and party leadership.

John Boehner has admitted that, in order for the plan to pass the House, he will need the support of some House Democrats.  So, the plan is not a sure fire winner even without Mr. Cruz' interference.

Put together the "iffiness" of the Boehner plan and the fact that Ted Cruz wasn't simply chased back to his own chamber with his tail between his legs, and you have further evidence of John Boehner's inability to lead.  With that in mind, I found a comment made by a man who calls himself a close friend of the Speaker and quoted in the New York Times a few days ago interesting.   Representative Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma): "(John Boehner) never wanted to just be Speaker.  He's wanted to be a historically significant Speaker."
Well, if being the weakest Speaker in modern memory, the man who presided over the most unproductive and ineffective House in U.S. history, can be considered "significant," then he has fulfilled his dream.
While the Ted Cruz vs. Speaker-in-Name-Only Boehner drama is playing out in the House, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) is pushing the Senate to pass a series of short-term spending bills, "perhaps month to month." This would give Republicans the opportunity to wax grandiloquent on their anti-Obama sentiments every 30 days, thus ensuring that government gridlock is rewarded a permanent starring role in Washington while at the same time granting GOP members multiple opportunities to parade their anti-Obama creds to the little people back home. A real win-win for the GOP and a raspberry to America.
If this is how Republicans are planning to demonstrate their ability to "govern responsibly," we are looking two years of ugly in the face.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

No Money for Boehner in Immigration Reform?

Think about this:
On June 27, 2013, the Senate passed a bi-partisan immigration bill and sent it to the House. Despite evidence that it would pass, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has refused--for 523 days--to allow the House to vote on the bill.

In 2009 and 2010, Speaker Boehner purchased stock in Chevron, Devon and ConocoPhillips, three of the main companies currently working in Canada's oil/tar sands.  Prior to 2008, Mr. Boehner had zero investments in these companies.

In 2011, Mr. Boehner and the GOP began really pushing the Keystone XL pipeline.  Despite environmentalists objections, despite objections from the states that would be impacted by the pipeline, despite objections from Democrats, Mr. Boehner never hesitated to allow the House to vote on Keystone, the completion of which is sure to provide a financial bonanza for stockholders like the Speaker John Boehner.

----> RANDOM THOUGHT: If only there was money to be made in immigration reform.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tea Party Signs - The Joke's On Them

Installment #10 of:
Dictionaries are a Liberal Plot
(and Grammar is Not My Cup of Tea Either)

Because no one in America should grow up un-fromed.

Monday, December 1, 2014

December 1 - Monday Quote

I came across this quote from 1945 when Clement Atlee was challenging Winston Churchill for Prime Minister of England, (Atlee won in a landslide); and I thought, he could be talking about John Boehner, the weakest Speaker in modern memory.

monday quote:   An empty taxi arrived at 10 Downing Street, and when the door opened, Atlee got out. (Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England during World War II,  1874-1965)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Quick Note: When Christianity Becomes Nothing More Than a Business

Walter F. Houston and his church in Houston, Texas

Olivia Blair was a member of Fourth Missionary Baptist Church in Texas for over 50 years. The 93 year old stopped attending her church two years ago when declining health forced her to move into a nursing home.  On November 11, after spending several months in a coma, she passed away at a local hospital. 

Her daughter, Barbara Day, contacted the pastor of her mother's church to arrange a funeral service.  Pastor Walter F. Houston refused Ms. Day's request, telling her that her mother hadn't tithed properly over the past years. Ms. Day explained that her mother had been in declining health and reminded him of her long record of membership.  Pastor Houston still refused.

Tyrone Jacques, of, a website dedicated to exposing just such un-Christian behavior, asked Mr. Houston to reconsider.  Mr. Houston replied "I am not changing my bylaws for someone who was not active...If the family cared so much then why didn't one of them at least send a dollar over here to reserve her membership?"

Mr. Jacques offered to pay the cost of Ms. Blair's funeral, suggesting that it could be held on a Friday since the church is normally closed on that day.  

"Pastor" Houston's final words on the subject: "Membership has its privileges."
I would like to say to Mr. Houston: "And being a pastor has its responsibilities." 
Where was Mr. Houston when Ms. Blair became ill? What is the going rate for a pastoral visit at Mr. Houston's church?
Whether Olivia Blair stopped tithing two years ago, ten years ago, or even twenty years ago isn't the point here.  Ms. Blair attended that church for 50 years.  Church membership is not a business arrangement.
Walter F. Houston has no right to call himself "Pastor." He is nothing more than a corporate shark, hiding behind a pulpit, counting his profits.