02/04/2015 archive

Dispatches From Hellpeckersville- Because Of Course

And I’m having a horrible flare. LOL! I can hardly move. It’s not like I didn’t smell this coming, because it’s been very stressful. I do what I can to alleviate it, but there’s only so much, you know? Thank the Deity Cleetus is here to help me or I don’t know what I’d do. I have been having more flares lately, worse ones. I don’t know, maybe it’s worse than flares. I know I need to see a new rheumatologist. I know that much.

Two nights ago around three am I was awakened by the sensation that I had been pulling weeds for 12 hours there day before and now was being forced to repeated the process only now with the muscles that ran from midway down my back all the way down the back of my legs screaming in protest. It’s like a cage of pain that surrounds my pelvis. I go to reach for my water to take a pill only to find a similar situation going on with my shoulders, they don’t want to cooperate at all. I can’t lay still, yet it’s painful to move. I get up.

I don’t have a doctor right now. I mean general practitioner. My doctor went back to teaching and the doctor I had as fallback guy just sent out notice that he’s going on extended leave. The practice is there, but I am not wild at all about anybody left. This is the practice that grew out of the doctor’s office I’ve been with since birth….shit. I’m very annoyed.

I cannot describe to you just how much this sucks. I’m disabled under the category of stuff that plenty of family doctors just don’t want to deal with. Or they want to start me over from scratch and no way in hell am I doing that. Trying to find a new doctor at this point will be a little slice of hell, and I know it. I need a manager to coordinate my care, not some inquisitor that I need to prove something to, been there, done that, bought the T shirt, use it for a dust rag.

I lucked out plenty when my second doctor left and my last doctor took over, she picked up my chart, looked it over, actually talked to me, and we went forward. I have not been impressed with anybody else at that practice. I read that they are taking on two new doctors, I am crossing my fingers that one of them will do. Why? Because it’s close.

I have to do something. I now have itchy patches on my feet with silvery scales…psoriatic arthritis? How the hell do I know, I’m not a doctor. I have google. That’s a dangerous thing. Nothings swells, though. I guess that’s good, but I can’t keep up this not being able to move shit.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Time For a ‘New Deal’ For Greece

Don’t believe the tripe about the crisis in Europe. With the election of the Syriza Party in Greece, the Greek people have offered Europe hope. This is Europe’s chance to turn from the crippling austerity that has left the South mired in depression and the North sinking in deflation. Syriza is calling for a “New Deal,” not only for Greece but for all of Europe.

The question is whether the rest of Europe will exhibit statesmanship-or condemn the people of Europe to years more of misery. The initial reactions in Germany and Brussels opt for misery. Now is the time for the Obama administration, progressives in Congress and across the country to join in a bold call to save Europe from its folly.

The facts of the situation are clear. The Greek debt cannot be repaid. When the bottom dropped out of the global economy, Greece, plagued by a corrupt and indebted government, was the most vulnerable of the European Union nations. The so-called “troika”-the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF-stepped in to bail out reckless banks, assume most of the debt, and inflict harsh terms on the Greeks to repay it. The Greeks have sold off their assets, crushed workers, trampled labor laws and slashed vital public services to ensure that the private bankers be paid.

Michelle Goldsberg: The GOP’s Embrace of Anti-Vaxxers Reveals the Craziness Gap in American Politics

It is grotesque that, in the midst of the current measles outbreak, some leading Republicans are humoring vaccine denialists, but it is not surprising. It is, rather, a near-perfect illustration of the craziness gap in American politics. Vaccine skepticism is one of those issues, like 9/11 Trutherism, where parts of the fringe right and fringe left, each driven by their own distinct fears about authority, curve around and meet each other. Yet only the fringe right finds indulgence among mainstream politicians.

There is a popular perception that vaccine refusal is driven by the sort of affluent, vaguely left-wing parents satirized by the Los Feliz Day Care Twitter feed. (“Vax or no vax, none of our kids had measles, and we only went to Disneyland to protest commercialism and the anthropomorphization of animals.”) But susceptibility to misinformation about vaccines is less about politics than about paranoia, and paranoia, whether towards Big Pharma or big government, operates in many different cultural milieus. A recent paper by Yale Law School’s Dan M. Kahan found that perception of “vaccine risks displayed only a small relationship with left-right political outlooks,” though it is slightly more common on the right. “Respondents formed more negative assessments of the risk and benefits of childhood vaccines as they became more conservative and identified more strongly with the Republican Party,” it said.

Bryce Covert: A Job at McDonald’s Now Includes Singing and Dancing on Demand

TV spectators of last night’s Super Bowl were treated to many slick, high-concept ads, but one probably stuck out to the millions of McDonald’s employees who were watching: the company’s spot trumpeting its new “pay with lovin'” campaign. The company is rolling out a new way to bribe customer loyalty amid declining sales by randomly picking some who will get their food and drink for free. Instead of money, they have to pay with “lovin.'” [..]

According to the Super Bowl ad, this can range from being told by the cashier to call your mother and tell her you love her (no word on what happens if you don’t have a mother) to being commanded to dance to giving the cashier a fist bump. Leaving aside what customers may think of being asked to perform these tasks in return for their food, little attention is given to the other side of the register: the workers themselves.

McDonald’s employees are notoriously low-paid. Average hourly pay, according to Glassdoor, is $8.25 for a crew member. (It’s just slightly more for the food and beverage industry generally at $8.84.) Even in a low-paid service job, of course, there is a minimum expectation of professional behavior at work that would require being polite and even friendly to customers.

John Nichols: People Power Is Winning Net Neutrality

Can the people ever win in an new age of oligarchy, when corporate power is so frequently and thoroughly unbound?

Yes, sometimes, they can.

After years of bumbling, blustering and bureaucratic attempts to avoid necessary action, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to move on Thursday to defend net neutrality. According to the design and technology blog Gizmodo, “It’s Finally Game Time for Net Neutrality.” The more staid Wall Street Journal explains that the commission majority is moving to “fully embrace the principle known as net neutrality”-the “central element” of which “would be a ban on broadband providers blocking, slowing down or speeding up specific websites in exchange for payment.”

Translation: The FCC is preparing to defend the Internet as we know it against subdivision by profiteers who would create a “fast lane” for paying content from multinational corporations and billionaire-backed politicians and a “slow lane” for communications from those who are not on the winning side of the income-inequality chasm.

Eugene Robertson: Golden Opportunity for GOP Deal-Making

To understand why the centerpiece initiative of President Obama’s budget makes so much sense, imagine that U.S. corporations decided to bring home-in cash-the estimated $2 trillion in profits they are stashing overseas to avoid paying taxes.

If they shipped the money by air, cargo planes stuffed with dollar bills would land at aging airports that no longer measure up to international standards. If they sent it by sea, the cash would arrive at ports too antiquated to accommodate the newest and biggest container ships. Either way, the money would eventually be loaded onto trucks that headed for their final destinations via crumbling, traffic-choked freeways and rusting bridges.

So the president’s idea is hard to argue with: Impose a one-time 14 percent tax on those foreign profits to partially fund a multi-year, $478 billion program to renew the nation’s sagging infrastructure. The rest of the money would come from the existing gasoline tax.

Corporations would surely squawk-since at present they are paying no U.S. tax on that offshore money-but in return they would get permanent cuts in corporate tax rates, with the levy on overseas profits slashed nearly by half. And Republicans have long maintained that they want corporate tax reform and recognize the need for new infrastructure spending.

Therefore, given the Mad Hatter’s logic that holds sway in Washington, GOP leaders immediately announced their opposition to Obama’s budget and everything it stands for.

The Breakfast Club (Taken By The Wind)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

World War II’s Yalta Conference; O.J. Simpson found liable for the murders of his ex-wife and her friend; Patty Hearst kidnapped; the Massachusetts gay marriage ruling; aviator Charles Lindbergh born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.


Stupid Shit by LaEscapee


On This Day In History February 4

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

February 4 is the 35th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 330 days remaining until the end of the year (331 in leap years).

On this day in 1789, George Washington becomes the first and only president to be unanimously elected by the Electoral College. He repeated this notable feat on the same day in 1792.

The peculiarities of early American voting procedure meant that although Washington won unanimous election, he still had a runner-up, John Adams, who served as vice president during both of Washington’s terms. Electors in what is now called the Electoral College named two choices for president. They each cast two ballots without noting a distinction between their choice for president and vice president. Washington was chosen by all of the electors and therefore is considered to have been unanimously elected. Of those also named on the electors’ ballots, Adams had the most votes and became vice president.

George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799) was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander in chief of the Continental Army in 1775-1783, and he presided over the writing of the Constitution in 1787. As the unanimous choice to serve as the first President of the United States (1789-1797), he developed the forms and rituals of government that have been used ever since, such as using a cabinet system and delivering an inaugural address. As President he built a strong, well-financed national government that avoided war, suppressed rebellion and won acceptance among Americans of all types, and Washington is now known as the “Father of his country”.

In Colonial Virginia, Washington was born into the provincial gentry in a wealthy, well connected family that owned tobacco plantations using slave labor. Washington was home schooled by his father and older brother but both died young and Washington became attached to the powerful Fairfax clan. They promoted his career as surveyor and soldier. Strong, brave, eager for combat and a natural leader, young Washington quickly became a senior officer of the colonial forces, 1754-58, during the first stages of the French and Indian War. Indeed, his rash actions helped precipitate the war. Washington’s experience, his military bearing, his leadership of the Patriot cause in Virginia, and his political base in the largest colony made him the obvious choice of the Second Continental Congress in 1775 as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army to fight the British in the American Revolution. He forced the British out of Boston in 1776, but was defeated and nearly captured later that year when he lost New York City. After crossing the Delaware River in the dead of winter he defeated the enemy in two battles, retook New Jersey, and restored momentum to the Patriot cause. Because of his strategy, Revolutionary forces captured two major British armies at Saratoga in 1777 and Yorktown in 1781. Negotiating with Congress, governors, and French allies, he held together a tenuous army and a fragile nation amid the threats of disintegration and invasion. Historians give the commander in chief high marks for his selection and supervision of his generals, his encouragement of morale, his coordination with the state governors and state militia units, his relations with Congress, and his attention to supplies, logistics, and training. In battle, however, Washington was repeatedly outmaneuvered by British generals with larger armies. Washington is given full credit for the strategies that forced the British evacuation of Boston in 1776 and the surrender at Yorktown in 1781. After victory was finalized in 1783, Washington resigned rather than seize power, and returned to his plantation at Mount Vernon, proving his opposition to dictatorship and his commitment to republican government.

Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention that drafted the United States Constitution in 1787 because of his dissatisfaction with the weaknesses of Articles of Confederation that had time and again impeded the war effort. Washington became the first President of the United States in 1789. He attempted to bring rival factions together in order to create a more unified nation. He supported Alexander Hamilton‘s programs to pay off all the state and national debts, implement an effective tax system, and create a national bank, despite opposition from Thomas Jefferson. Washington proclaimed the U.S. neutral in the wars raging in Europe after 1793. He avoided war with Britain and guaranteed a decade of peace and profitable trade by securing the Jay Treaty in 1795, despite intense opposition from the Jeffersonians. Although never officially joining the Federalist Party, he supported its programs. Washington’s “Farewell Address” was an influential primer on republican virtue and a stern warning against partisanship, sectionalism, and involvement in foreign wars.

Washington had a vision of a great and powerful nation that would be built on republican lines using federal power. He sought to use the national government to improve the infrastructure, open the western lands, create a national university, promote commerce, found a capital city (later named Washington, D.C.), reduce regional tensions and promote a spirit of nationalism. “The name of AMERICAN,” he said, must override any local attachments.” At his death Washington was hailed as “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen”. The Federalists made him the symbol of their party, but for many years the Jeffersonians continued to distrust his influence and delayed building the Washington Monument. As the leader of the first successful revolution against a colonial empire in world history, Washington became an international icon for liberation and nationalism. His symbolism especially resonated in France and Latin America. Historical scholars consistently rank him as one of the two or three greatest presidents.

The Daily/Nightly Show (Adam & Steve)

So tonight’s topic is Gay Marriage and all I’ve really got to say is we’re talking about it why?

Oh, Mike Huckabee said something stupid and bigoted about it and he’s thinking about running for president (again).  Well, he’s a stupid bigot so of course he says stupid and bigoted things and he’s not really running for president, he just wants to scam some more money from the stupid and bigoted people he represents and also those deep pocketed Billionaires who think the stupid and bigoted vote is an important part of the Republican coalition and want to keep the rubes in line by throwing them a bone.

You see it’s all about the ick factor and if any of these Bozos had the least scrap of religious integrity they wouldn’t be picking and choosing which parts of Leviticus to honor.  Thank goodness as an Atheist I think it’s all superstitious non-sense and don’t have to do any thelogical contortions to justify my regard for blended fabrics, cheeseburgers, and any number of delicious things made from pork and non scaly water life either singly or in combination.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not militant about it.  I’m perfectly content to let you fester in ignorance, salving life’s numerous disappointments and injustices with the laugable belief that there’s some sugar daddy in the sky with a big rock candy mountain and you’ll get you piece of the pie bye and bye, bye and bye.  That’s why Marx called it the opiate of the masses.  Why worry about how much your life here sucks and who’s to blame for it if by your slavish worship and utter conformity you’ll live in eternal bliss.

After you’re just a little too dead to enjoy it of course, but we don’t make the rules.  Oh wait, we do!

Were I really keeping it 100 I’d ask Larry why so many of the poor and minorities buy into fundamentalism, but I think for the most part I’ve just answered that question.

Personally I don’t think there’s a lot of grist in this mill for Larry to work with and I wish they’d get him better topics but maybe we could stand to loose the weight.

That’s called portion control.


The Magic Gap

This week’s guests-

The Daily Show

Tonight’s guest, Bill Browder, has a very sad tale to tell of how his friend and attorney was arrested, tortured, and killed by Putin at the behest of Putin’s oligarch friends and how he, as a true patriot, stood up to evil D.C. State Department bureaucrats and with the help of a few brave Senators, forced the administration to accept truly effective sanctions on those nasty Russ.  It’s the subject of his new book, Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice.  Don’t judge this one by it’s cover.  Bill Browder is a hedge fund manager who got booted by Putin in 2005 for corruption so he has his own agenda working and I’d take this with enough salt to show up in my bloodwork (and that’s quite a bit, my Sodium levels are rock steady).

Martin Short’s 2 part web exclusive extended interview and the real news below.