Lazy Caturday Reads

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Good Morning!!

It’s a winter Saturday, a good day to stay in a comfy bed for awhile, relax, and catch up on the latest news. So let’s see what’s happening out there today.

First up, the all-important weather forecast. I know you won’t be surprised to learn there are more winter storms on the way. From the Weather Channel: Winter Storm Maximus Brings Snow, Ice to Midwest, South, East, Rockies Through Monday.

Winter Storm Maximus, the 13th named storm of the winter season in the U.S., will have deposited a wintry mess from coast to coast by the time it is finally over Monday.

This storm will have multiple waves of snow, sleet and freezing rain sweeping west to east across the country.

First, snow will taper off over parts of the southern and central Rockies. A few additional inches of snow are expected over the mountains of Colorado and northern New Mexico. This storm will drop snow in the west, parts of the South and Midwest and then move into upstate New York and Northern New England. It’s not yet clear what we’ll be getting in the northeast, but right now we are expecting a warm weekend, and the storm shouldn’t interfere with the Super Bowl tomorrow.

another wave of wintry precipitation kicks off early Sunday in the Southern Plains, spreading to the Ozarks and the Mid-South region Sunday afternoon, then sweeping quickly through the Tennessee Valley, Appalachians and East Sunday night and Monday.

Snow accumulations look most likely in a stripe from northwest Texas into parts of Oklahoma, northern Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virgina, and Virginia with several inches of accumulation possible. Parts of northwest Texas and southern Oklahoma near the Red River could measure up to around six inches of snow.

“Maximus” will be closely followed by Winter Storm Nika, which will bring “widespread” snow and ice to the Plains, the Great Lakes, and the Northeast. Tomorrow is Ground Hog Day, but whether or not the sleepy rodent sees his shadow, it looks like winter is going to continue unabated.

In Georgia, where people are still trying to recover from their state government’s failure to prepare for a winter storm that had been predicted for two days beforehand, investigators are still trying assign blame for the massive f&ck-up.

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From the Atlanta Journal-Contitution: Storm debacle ‘case study’ of emergency management failure.

After two inches of snow turned Georgia into a national punch line, the state’s top disaster responder was cast as one of the debacle’s chief enablers. But the performance of state emergency management director Charley English is only part of larger-scale breakdown of the emergency management system, records and interviews reveal.

Records show there were failures up and down the line before and during Tuesday’s storm.

The performance of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency Tuesday is “a case study in how things can go badly,” said Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University.

It’s also a case study in what can happen if you keep electing Republicans who hate government and don’t believe it has a role in public problem-solving. According to the article, Gov. Nathan Deal and other government officials had plenty of warning that the storm was going to hit Atlanta, yet they did next to nothing to prepare. Read all the gory details at the link.

At The National Memo, Joe Conason provides an example of how government has worked well in two blood-red states: Universal Pre-K? Ask Republicans In Georgia And Oklahoma — And Then Ask Grover Norquist.

Among the biggest policy mistakes of the past 50 years is our continuing failure to provide quality early childhood education to all of America’s kids. For children, families, and society as a whole, the benefits of “universal pre-K” are not only significant and well documented, but offset the financial cost many times over. Although we’ve been aware of these basic facts since the early Sixties, most politicians have preferred to squander billions of dollars on malfunctioning weaponry, catastrophic wars, and petroleum subsidies….

Even if there were no economic upside to starting the education of every child at three or four years of age, the obvious social benefits would vital for any country that aspires to cultivating a vibrant democratic republic. Citizens who can read and do math (and perhaps take an interest in science!) are more likely to succeed at self-government. They are also far more likely to succeed in life.

Enhancing personal opportunity is how universal pre-school generates universal public savings — estimated by a large cohort of studies to lie somewhere between 7 and 17 dollars for every single dollar spent.  Human brains mostly develop well before age five, so children who attend quality pre-school enter kindergarten with social skills, confidence, and knowledge that boosts achievement for many years.

cat-reading-a-book

So what happened in Georgia and Oklahoma?

In Oklahoma, where every child has been entitled to free pre-school since 1998, a well-known study by Georgetown University educators found substantially improved cognitive skills and test scores among Tulsa students who had attended public pre-K. The program made the difference between falling below national norms and moving up to achieve them. In Georgia, first to implement universal state-funded pre-school almost 20 years ago, painstaking research has likewise showed gains in math and reading that lasted through eighth grade, especially among underprivileged rural and urban children.

What about Grover Norquist? According to Conason he sends his own kids to D.C.’s free public pre-school program, despise his avowed opposition to taxes of any kind. Maybe some of those right wing Congresspeople should have a talk with him about early childhood education.

It’s looking more and more like the Keystone XL Pipeline will be approved, according to the NYT:

The State Department released a report on Friday concluding that the Keystone XL pipeline would not substantially worsen carbon pollution, leaving an opening for President Obama to approve the politically divisive project.

The department’s long-awaited environmental impact statement appears to indicate that the project could pass the criteria Mr. Obama set forth in a speech last summer when he said he would approve the 1,700-mile pipeline if it would not “significantly exacerbate” the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. Although the pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to the Gulf Coast, the report appears to indicate that if it were not built, carbon-heavy oil would still be extracted at the same rate from pristine Alberta forest and transported to refineries by rail instead.

The report sets up a difficult decision for Secretary of State John Kerry, who now must make a recommendation on the international project to Mr. Obama. Mr. Kerry, who hopes to make action on climate change a key part of his legacy, has never publicly offered his personal views on the pipeline. Aides said Mr. Kerry was preparing to “dive into” the 11-volume report and would give high priority to the issue of global warming in making the decision. His aides offered no timetable.

If so, there will be pushback from indigenous Americans: Keystone XL ‘black snake’ pipeline to face ‘epic’ opposition from Native American alliance.

A Native American alliance is forming to block construction of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline which still needs final approval from U.S. President Barack Obama after the State Department released an environmental report indicating the project wouldn’t have a significant impact Alberta tar sands production.

Members from the seven tribes of the Lakota Nation, along with tribal members and tribes in Idaho, Oklahoma, Montana, Nebraska and Oregon, have been preparing to stop construction of the 1,400 kilometre pipeline which is slated to run, on the U.S. side, from Morgan, Mon., to Steel City, Neb., and pump 830,000 barrels per day from Alberta’s tar sands. The pipeline would originate in Hardisty, Alta.

“It poses a threat to our sacred water and the product is coming from the tar sands and our tribes oppose the tar sands mining,” said Deborah White Plume, of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, which is part of the Lakota Nation in South Dakota. “All of our tribes have taken action to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline.”

Read the rest at the link.

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The Economist has an interesting article about the Winter Olympic games and Vladimir Putin’s Russia: Sochi or bust: The conspicuous dazzle of the games masks a country, and a president, in deepening trouble

FEBRUARY 7th sees the opening of the winter Olympics in Sochi on the Black Sea. The message of the games is simple: “Russia is back”. Sochi was planned as a celebration of Russia’s resurgence, a symbol of international recognition and a crowning moment for Vladimir Putin, its president, who for the present seems to have seen off all his challengers.

Appropriately, the opening ceremony will include the image of the Russian “troika-bird” from Nikolai Gogol’s “Dead Souls”. “Rus,” wrote Gogol, “aren’t you soaring like a spry troika that can’t be overtaken? The road is smoking under you, the bridges thunder, everything steps aside and is left behind!…Is this lightning thrown down from heaven? Other nations and states gaze askance, step off the road and give [you] right of way.”

The quote has long been used to justify Russian exceptionalism and moral superiority. Gogol describes Russia as a deeply flawed and corrupt country, but it is precisely its misery and sinfulness that entitles it to mystical regeneration. His troika carries a swindler, Chichikov, and his drunken coachman, but it is transformed into the symbol of a God-inspired country that gloriously surpasses all others.

So, too, with the Sochi Olympics. This grand enterprise, the largest construction project in Russia’s post-Soviet history, is also a microcosm of Russian corruption, inefficiencies, excesses of wealth and disregard for ordinary citizens. The Olympics are widely seen as an extravagant caprice of Russia’s rulers, especially its flamboyantly macho president, rather than a common national effort. The cost of the games has more than quadrupled since 2007, making them, at $50 billion, the most expensive in history. One member of the International Olympic Committee thinks about a third of that money has been stolen. Russia’s opposition leaders say the figure is much higher.

Check it out. It’s a long read, but worthwhile, IMO.

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There’s some good news out of New York City, now that neo-facist Mayor Mike Bloomberg is gone. It looks like the “stop and frisk” policy will end soon: Mayor Says New York City Will Settle Suits on Stop-and-Frisk Tactics.

New York City will settle its long-running legal battle over the Police Department’s practice of stopping, questioning and often frisking people on the street — a divisive issue at the heart of the mayoral race last year — by agreeing to reforms that a judge ordered in August, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday.

In making the announcement, which he said he hoped would end a turbulent chapter in the city’s racial history, Mr. de Blasio offered a sweeping repudiation of the aggressive policing practices that had been a hallmark of his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, but that had stoked anger and resentment in many black and Latino neighborhoods. He essentially reversed the course set by Mr. Bloomberg, whose administration had appealed the judge’s ruling.

“We’re here today to turn the page on one of the most divisive problems in our city,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference. “We believe in ending the overuse of stop-and-frisk that has unfairly targeted young African-American and Latino men.”

That’s great news, but I wish he had noted that women have also been targeted, often in sexually abusive ways.

I’ll wrap this up and put my remaining links in the comment thread. I hope you’ll do the same. Please let us know what stories you’ve found interesting today.

Have a great weekend everyone!!


Friday Nite Lite: One more time

9d3ff4fb8db7f249e9d33a0e66bec7ffGood Evening

And here we are again..

I thought that if I waited a little longer, we would have more cartoons on the latest shit outta Jersey.

But…no. So here are your funnies for tonight.

In no particular order:

Huckabee on Women by Political Cartoonist Mike Keefe

143745 600 Huckabee on Women cartoons

Congressman Grimm threatens reporter by Political Cartoonist Jimmy Margulies

143747 600 Congressman Grimm threatens reporter cartoons

Nick Anderson: Rep. Michael Grimm – Nick Anderson – Truthdig

Signe Wilkinson: Pitchforks – Signe Wilkinson – Truthdig

Another Flower Has Gone – Truthdig

Executive Vault by Political Cartoonist Steve Sack

143755 600 Executive Vault cartoons

Unexpected Atlanta Snow by Political Cartoonist Rick McKee

143758 600 Unexpected Atlanta Snow cartoons

Monte Wolverton

143524 600 Koch Brothers in Control cartoons

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune – 01/30/2014

Cartoon by Pat Bagley -

Texas state senator Wendy Davis-color – Political Cartoon by Kate Palmer, @katespalmer – 01/31/2014

Cartoon by Kate Palmer - Texas state senator Wendy Davis-color

Signe Wilkinson: Seeger – Signe Wilkinson – Truthdig

Mystery Illness by Political Cartoonist Mike Luckovich

143772 600 Mystery Illness cartoons

Groundhog Day – Political Cartoon by Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 01/31/2014

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Groundhog Day

And last…the best:

Bennett editorial cartoon – Political Cartoon by Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press – 01/30/2014

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Bennett editorial cartoon

Enjoy your evening!

This is an open thread.


Friday Reads

images (9) Good Morning!

There are some strange things afoot! Harry Waxman may retire and Sandra Fluke may run for his seat!

Sandra Fluke, who became an instant celebrity when she was denied the opportunity to testify at a hearing on Obamacare’s contraception requirements, is “strongly considering” a bid for Rep. Henry Waxman’s congressional seat, according to KPCC, a Southern California radio station.

“I’m flattered that I’m being discussed as a potential candidate,” she told the station. “A number of folks I respect very deeply have reached out today and encouraged me to run. I am strongly considering running.”

There are few chances the Democratic Party will take the house so much of their focus will be on making sure they control the Senate.download (1)

If you step back from 2014, and look ahead to the next few election cycles—including 2016—it’s easy to see that this is the right choice. For Senate Democrats, this year’s map—where they’re defending seats in red states like North Carolina, Arkansas, and Louisiana—is their toughest in recent memory. If economic conditions worsen, or if turnout drops substantially, the party could easily lose its control of the Senate, all but ending the potential for Democratic action on domestic policy.

This makes holding the Senate a huge priority—it’s a necessary step if Democrats want to finish Obama’s presidency with success and accomplishment. What’s more, it’ll pay dividends in the next election cycle; if this year’s is a bad map for Democrats, then 2016’s is just as bad for Republicans, who will have to defend blue state Republicans during a presidential election year, where turnout is high and the electorate is more diverse.

In other words, if Democrats can keep the Senate for two more years, then—for the first time since 2008—they’re suddenly in striking distance of a filibuster-proof majority, with the potential for pick-ups in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Florida, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina, and—most optimistically—Georgia.

The RNC is going to boycott MSNBC.  ROFLMAO.

In the aftermath of a Twitter firestorm, the Republican National Committee is shunning MSNBC.

RNC chairman Reince Priebus said in a memo Thursday that he’s demanding an apology from MSNBC president Phil Griffin after a tweet from the liberal cable news channel’s accountgenerated a furor among conservatives.

The since-deleted tweet referred to a Super Bowl ad from Cheerios that portrays a biracial family.

“Maybe the rightwing will hate it, but everyone else will go awww: the adorable new #Cheerios ad w/ biracial family,” the tweet read.

MSNBC later apologized.

“Until [Griffin] takes internal corrective action and personally apologizes—not just to the RNC but to all right-of-center Americans—I’m banning all RNC staff from appearing on, associating with, or booking any RNC surrogates on MSNBC,” Priebus said in the memo.

This is the ad that freaked out the right wing. It’s a really cute ad with a black father and white mother.  I’ve seen the ad even though I never connected it with the Superbowl.  

Cheerios’ interracial family is returning on one of television’s biggest stages.

The cereal’s first-ever Super Bowl ad brings back the household that drew both praise and prejudice last spring for depicting a black father, white mother and their biracial daughter, Gracie. In the new spot, dad uses Cheerios to explain to Gracie that a new baby is on the way. The conversation takes a very charming turn, but you’ll have to watch (above) to find out what happens.

“The big game provided another opportunity to tell another story about family love,” Cheerios representative Camille Gibson told The New York Times.

Last spring, when the brand introduced the family in the original ad, social media erupted with compliments but also such bigoted vitriol that the commercial’s YouTube posting blocked comments.

Despite the negative feedback, the ad may have inspired others to take a more inclusive stance in their commercials. Dusting product Swiffer, for example, recentlydebuted a spot featuring the Rukavinas, a real mixed-race family. The husband in the ad says he’s better at cleaning the house, but he admits the chore has become more difficult since losing his arm.

the-presidents-analyst-movie-poster-1968-1020249457I haven’t bought Cheerios since the girls were toddlers but I may reconsider after reading about this kerfuffle.

So, here’s a good headline from the Daily Beast: Why Antics by Several Republicans Suggest the Party Needs Therapy,

Before I reveal the doctor’s diagnosis, let’s take a quick look at just some of the recent antics by several Republican elected officials.

On Tuesday, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) threatened to injure, and arguably even kill, NY1 reporter Michael Scotto, who asked a question about a federal investigation into Grimm’s 2010 campaign. In response to this question, Grimm stormed out of the interview. Moments later, he returned and angrily told the reporter, “Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this fucking balcony.” Keep in mind that Grimm is a former Marine and an ex-FBI agent, so his threats must be taken seriously. (Of course, this type of behavior may make Grimm a good match for VP with Chris Christie in 2016.)

If you are Republican and you want to save your party, you may actually need to stage a massive intervention at the next RNC convention.

The day before, Rep. Trey Radel (R-FL) resignedfrom Congress after his recent guilty plea to cocaine possession. Radel, who has sought counseling, had been arrested for buying drugs from an undercover DEA agent.

Of course, we can’t forget Gov. Christie and Bridgegate, which also implicates numerous New Jersey Republicans. And, as I wrote this week, we have seen a gaggle of random self-destructive comments by GOP officials since December, from Mike Huckabee’s remarks about women’s libidos to Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) advocating discrimination against gay Americans.

So what did Dr. Foehl conclude? Well, he noted that “the Republicans have a masochistic relationship with the media,” and they keep repeating the very “thing that brings them pain.” From a clinical point of view, Dr. Foehl opined, this behavior would be labeled as a “self-defeating personality disorder.”

Why do so many Republicans do this, you ask? Dr. Foehl explained that certain people thrive on “negative attention,” adding that “they have learned that the way to connect to other people is through their suffering, through doing just the thing that will bring them ridicule or pain.” (Sounds like Doc just described Sarah Palin, Louie Gohmert, and Michele Bachmann.)

Is there any hope for the Republicans? Well, Dr. Foehl offered a guarded prognosis. He explained that this condition is “very difficult to treat” because many become attached to just the kinds of painful relationships that keep them in trouble.” He concluded ominously: “In short, they are help-rejecting.”

The weirdness continues: Anti-Choice Groups Launch National Boycott Of Girl Scout Cookies For ‘Endorsing’ Wendy Davis

Toward the end of December, Girl Scout USA’s official Twitter account tweeted out a Huffington Post story about the inspiring individuals who should be considered to be 2013′s “women of the year.” The article included figures like Beyonce, Malala Yousafzai, and Wendy Davis — and the organization asked its followers who else should be added to the list of “incredible ladies.” That was enough for anti-choice activists to call for a national boycott of the organization’s popular cookies, claiming the Girl Scouts have endorsed “pro-abortion politician Wendy Davis.”

“We’re asking you to boycott Girl Scout cookies in 2014,” reads a new site dedicated to the boycott, explaining that Davis should not be lifted up as a “worthy role model for our children.” The same accusation is being leveled against the group in regards to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who was included in a different news article about influential U.S. women that the Girl Scouts shared on its Facebook page.

The controversy has been building for several weeks. At the beginning of this month, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly hosted a panel discussion about the organization’s tweet. Panelists suggested that sharing any material related to Davis violates the Girl Scouts’ policy to remain uninvolved in politics.

I’m personally leading a social media campaign for every one to buy as many cookies as possible from Girl Scouts.  I should disclose that I have been a Girl Scout, a Girl Scout Leader, and the mother of Girl Scouts for some time.
So, here’s something really frightening.

The US Air Force said Thursday that 92 nuclear missile officers are now implicated in a widening scandal over cheating on dr-strangelove-or-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-bomb-movie-poster-1964-1010462298exams as officials cited “systemic problems” in the force.

In the latest setback for the troubled nuclear mission, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said she returned from a visit to missile bases believing the cheating was part of a broader morale problem among launch officers.

“As the investigation has moved forward, we can now report there is a total of 92 crew members that have been identified as having some level of involvement,” James told a news conference.

“That means either participating in the cheating or knowing something about it and not standing up and reporting it,” she said.

Two weeks ago, officials said 34 officers were implicated at Malmstrom Air Force base in Montana.

The latest tally of 92 launch officers ensnared by the scandal represents about half of the total 190-member officer corps of the Montana base, and nearly 20 percent of the roughly 500 officers who run the missile force.

The mounting scandal, as well as other embarrassing incidents, have prompted commanders to put a hold on any promotions of senior officers in the nuclear mission, a defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

“They’re reviewing all of those (proposed promotions),” the official said.

While acknowledging serious questions about the working climate and leadership of the nuclear force, James reiterated the Pentagon’s stance that the destructive weapons were in safe, competent hands.

BB mentioned this but I thought I’d throw my 2 cents in too about the 50th anniversary of Dr. Strangelove. 

“Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” was released 50 years ago this week. The film is regarded as a cinematic masterpiece today (AFI ranked it No. 39 in its 10th anniversary Top 100 in 2007), but in February 1964, Times film editor Philip K. Scheuer didn’t find much to like. I’m partial to the deadpan of the subheadline: “Kubrick’s ‘Satire’ Tells All About End of World, Ha Ha.” But this is a great line too:”… a publicist at Columbia, which is distributing the picture, assured me it would be my ‘cup of tea.’ After suffering through two screenings of ‘Dr. Strangelove,’ I would sooner drink hemlock.”Scheuer issues no spoiler alerts while giving away the ending and laments that “[a]ll members of our armed forces are pictured as either utterly unscrupulous or just plain stupid.”

And then he makes a point that is rather jarring to a reader in today’s era of the antihero.

I have to admit to being completely exhausted this week. So, I will rely on you to share your reading and blogging list today!!


Thursday Reads: Southern Snow Mess, Amanda Knox, Ukraine Protests, and Nobel Peace Prize Nonsense

Mary Cassatt, Young Woman Reading

Mary Cassatt, Young Woman Reading

Good Morning!!

The weather crisis continues down South, and it really isn’t funny. It’s easy for us up here in the North to laugh at a couple of inches of snow, but when a large city doesn’t have the equipment and experience to deal with it, it can be a disaster, as we are seeing right now in Atlanta.

As I said in the comment thread yesterday, I think the only good solution is to shut down the city and keep cars off the streets for a few days. That’s what Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis did here after the Blizzard of ’78. He declared a state of emergency, got businesses to shut down for a week, and ordered everyone to stay off the roads except for emergency and government vehicles. Then Dukakis appeared on TV everyday updating the public on the crisis and explaining what he and officials were doing to deal with it.

I hope JJ will be around today to update us on the latest news from the embattled Georgia city. Meanwhile, here are a few links for you to peruse.

From the Houston Chronicle: Snow, ice send South’s flagship city reeling

A storm that dropped just inches of snow Tuesday wreaked havoc across much of the South, closing highways, grounding flights and contributing to at least a dozen deaths from traffic accidents and a mobile home fire. Yet it was Atlanta, home to major corporations and the world’s busiest airport, that was Exhibit A for how a Southern city could be sent reeling by winter weather that, in the North, might be no more than an inconvenience.

The Georgia State Patrol responded to more than 1,460 crashes between Tuesday morning and Wednesday evening, including two fatal crashes, and reported more than 175 injuries.

At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, more than 400 flights in and out were canceled by 6 a.m. Thursday, according to data from the flight tracking service FlightAware. Many of those flights were canceled before the day began.

Thousands of schoolchildren either slept on the buses that tried and failed to get them home, or on cots in school gymnasiums. All were back home by Wednesday evening, officials said.

State transportation crews spent much of Wednesday rescuing stranded drivers and moving disabled and abandoned vehicles that littered the interstates, medians and shoulders. Gov. Nathan Deal said emergency workers, police, and the National Guard would help drivers Thursday to recover their cars and would provide them with fuel if necessary.

Crews planned to use four-wheel-drive vehicles to take motorists to vehicles they abandoned to reclaim them Thursday. State officials also said they were creating a database to help motorists locate vehicles that were towed to impound lots.

At least the schools are closed today, but it’s still not safe to drive; and I have no clue why the governor is allowing people to do so. Trust me, the idiots will be out there on the ice. Can you believe it dripped to -15 degrees in Georgia last night?! And it will all freeze up again tonight when the temperatures once again drop below freezing.

New York Daily News: South still crippled by big chill after storm brings Atlanta to a standstill

The deep freeze that brought the South to its knees hasn’t released the region from its chokehold just yet.

Overnight temperatures were well below the freezing mark overnight on Thursday — complicating cleanup of frozen streets along across the storm weary state of Georgia.

For many, sitting in snarled traffic was a painful experience. For Amy Anderson, it felt like she was going into labor — until she realized she was actually about to give birth….

“We couldn’t go forward any more and that’s when I knew,” Anderson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The contractions had gotten so strong, I knew that this baby was coming, because we just couldn’t get through.”

Baby Grace was delivered safely and brought to an area hospital, where she is relaxing with her mother and father.

Read much more about the snow/traffic situation and see photos at the link.

From ABC News: Who’s to Blame for the Atlanta Storm Chaos?

Officials in Georgia are on the defensive, trying to explain why Atlanta was so ill-prepared for a snow storm that gridlocked highway traffic, leaving thousands of students stranded in schools and on buses, bringing out National Guardsmen and state troopers to help with rescue efforts.

The icy weather wreaked similar havoc across much of the South, closing schools and highways, grounding flights and contributing to at least a dozen deaths from traffic accidents and a mobile home fire.

Yet it was Atlanta, home to major corporations and the world’s busiest airport, that was Exhibit A for how a Southern city could be sent reeling by winter weather that, in the North, might be no more than an inconvenience.

Instead of showing leadership, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal just let it happen and then whined about the weather forecasters and the media.

“At that time, it was still, in most of the forecasts, anticipated that the city of Atlanta would only have a mild dusting or a very small accumulation if any,” Deal said at a Wednesday press conference. “Preparations were made for those predictions.”

Forecasters erupted following the comments. The National Weather Service argued that the appropriate outlooks, watches and warnings were released two days in advance….

“I would have acted sooner, and I think we learn from that and then we will act sooner the next time,” Deal told reporters.

“But we don’t want to be accused of crying wolf. Because if we had been wrong, y’all would have all been in here saying, ‘Do you know how many millions of dollars you cost the economies of the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia by shutting down businesses all over this city and this state?'”

Hey, that’s the way it goes. You prepare for the worst, and if the predictions are wrong, you still took precautions and thousands of kids don’t get stuck on the roads and in their schools. That’s what Massachusetts officials learned after the ’78 blizzard. That wasn’t predicted either, and we ended up getting more than 20 inches of snow that landed on top of a previous snowfall of more than a foot. It was a disaster, and nowadays we prepare for the worst and just give a sigh of relief the worst doesn’t happen. If you don’t want to show real leadership, don’t run for governor. The problem with Republicans is that they don’t really believe in government, so they sit on their hands when disaster strikes.

In other news . . .

Italy is trying Amanda Knox for the third time–apparently over there, the government gets to keep appealing even in a murder case if they don’t get the verdict they want. They don’t have laws against double jeopardy. From the LA Times: Jury starts deliberating in Amanda Knox appeal.

FLORENCE, Italy — Lawyers for American student Amanda Knox warned jurors not to overlook mistakes made by investigators as deliberations began here Thursday in Knox’s new appeal of her conviction for the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher.

“We are anxious about your verdict,” lawyer Luciano Ghirga told the judge and jurors moments before they filed out to consider the fate of Knox, 26, and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 29.

Prosecutors have called for sentences of 26 and 30 years for Sollecito and Knox, the exchange student from Seattle who shared a house in the Italian town of Perugia with Kercher, then 21, who was found partially naked in a pool of blood with her throat slashed….

Surely President Obama won’t allow Knox to be extradited to Italy. I sure hope not.

Knox has refused to attend the second appeal, which opened in Florence last year, writing to the court from Seattle that she fears being “wrongly convicted.” [....]

In an interview with Italian television Wednesday, Knox said she would be waiting at home with her family for the verdict with “my heart in my mouth.”
“The proof is in the facts. There is no proof I was there when it happened,” she said.

I really don’t understand why this is happening.

Things are really getting out of control in the Ukraine–and that’s an understatement. Some updates:

BBC News: Ukraine protesters defy terms of new amnesty law.

Parliament backed an amnesty for detainees if protesters vacated the government buildings they had occupied and unblocked streets and squares.

The opposition has rejected this and protesters remain camped out in central Kiev and still occupy key buildings.

The protests began in November after President Viktor Yanukovych reversed a decision to sign an EU trade deal.

The next month he signed a $15bn (£9.2bn; 10.9bn euros) bailout deal with Russia….

The new amnesty law will not come into effect unless protesters leave the local administration buildings they have occupied across Ukraine within 15 days.

The pro-EU protesters have taken over a number of properties in Kiev and other cities which they are using as operation centres and dormitories, and to seek refuge from the freezing conditions outside.

Meanwhile, the president has called in sick. From the LA Times: As Ukraine’s troubles mount, president takes sick leave.

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich has taken a sick leave amid the nation’s political crisis.

“Ukraine’s president is on a sick leave in connection with an acute respiratory disease accompanied by high fever,” Alexander Orda, the presidential staff’s deputy health chief, said in a statement posted on Yanukovich’s official website Thursday morning.

The announcement came a day after Yanukovich compelled parliament to sign a conditional amnesty for more than 100 detained participants in protests that started over two months ago when Yanukovich refrained from signing an association and trade deal with the European Union.

The protests were predominantly peaceful until mid-January, when Yanukovich endorsed a number of controversial laws curbing rights to assembly and free speech. That move set off a fierce confrontation between thousands of protesters and riot police in central Kiev.

The conflict raged for most of last week and left at least four protesters dead, hundreds injured on both sides and dozens of protesters detained in Kiev and elsewhere in the country.

Read more at the link.

Yesterday the Snowdenistas were celebrating because the heard someone nominated their hero for a Nobel Peace Prize. Well guess who else was also nominated? 

Yes, Vladimir Putin was nominated for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize in October 2013. Maybe they can share the prize and go to the ceremony together. After all, they both live in Russia.

At The Daily Beast, Michael Moynihan explains that “thousands of officials” can nominate anyone they want for the Nobel Peace Prize. He fully expects to be pilloried for it by the Snowden/Greenwald cult.

If you have a paper thin skin (as I do) and are paid to comment on the news (this, for some mysterious reason, also applies to me), it’s advisable to fully disengage from writing about the Edward Snowden saga. After the initial leaks, I offered a cautious piece, urging against the instant beatification of the former NSA contractor. We knew little about him, I argued, so let’s wait for it to play out, and we’ll be better situated to determine if he was more Pentagon Papers thanPumpkin Papers. But it’s one of those stories allergic to nuance: you’re either a lackey of empire (the Snowden skeptic) or a fulminating anti-American trying to undermine Obama’s foreign policy (the Snowden supporter). In a debate without shades of grey, I’d rather leave the whole business to those with more anger, passion, and energy.

But allow me to wade into one tiny aspect of the Snowden affair without wading into the debate: across Twitter and cluttering my inbox; in stories from Time, Bloomberg, The Verge, The GuardianThe Washington Post, Reuters, and dozens of others; and in breathless dispatches from the universe of Facebook, I have been repeatedly informed within that last twenty-four hours that Edward Snowden has been “nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.” Take that previous Nobel Peace Prize laureate Barack Obama!

Well, almost. Because all of the media outlets listed above, and all my Snowdenite friends on Facebook and Twitter, have fallen for the perennial person whose politics I share was nominated for the most meaningless prize on the planetstory. But what, dear reader, does it actually mean to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize? The short answer: not much.

I hope you’ll read the rest at the link.

I have more links, but I’m running out of space and time, so I’ll put the in the comments. I hope you’ll do the same with any stories you want to share. Have a great day, Sky Dancers!!


Wednesday Reads: Leon sells cartoon balloons in town…

Intellicast – Current Radar in United States

Okay, so the storm is not called “Levon” but “Leon.”

It’s just that I had substituted the name Leon in that Elton John song as it “played” in my head, all day long yesterday…

Uh, Good morning!

Find the latest on the weather system the weather channel is calling Leon:

Winter Storm Leon Forecast: Major Snow, Ice From Gulf Coast to Georgia, Carolinas, Virginia – weather.com

Winter Storm Leon: 12 Inches of Snow?

Winter Storm Leon: Live Updates on Southern Snow, Ice Storm – weather.com

This storm is kicking the South’s ass…But this is no laughing matter: State troopers headed to schools where students, teachers are… | www.ajc.com

Shortly before midnight, about 50 students were still aboard Atlanta Public School buses, a spokeswoman for the district said. In DeKalb County, at least 20 vehicles were involved in a pileup on U.S. 78 eastbound, past Hugh Howell Road. All lanes were blocked around 1 a.m. Wednesday.

These kids are stuck in buses, some are stuck overnight in schools: State troopers to help with security at schools where stranded kids are spending the night | AccessNorthGa

Gov. Nathan Deal says state troopers are being sent to schools where students are stranded because they could not make it home on clogged roads caused by Tuesday’s snowstorm.

The governor spoke at a news conference at he State Capitol late Tuesday night.

Deal also said that state and local officials will try to rescue those stranded along highways that are at a standstill. Normal 30-minute commutes have turned into hourslong odysseys for thousands.

A winter storm that would probably be no big deal in the North all but paralyzed the Deep South, bringing snow, ice and teeth-chattering cold, with temperatures in the teens in some places.

Gridlock continues as unspeakably horrible commute home… | www.ajc.com

The winter storm has mostly moved into the Carolinas, but metro Atlanta traffic remained gridlocked at 4 a.m. Wednesday as Tuesday’s afternoon rush hour from hell stretched into hour 16.

Traffic was still bumper-to-bumper and barely moving on several Atlanta interstates, including on I-75 north of downtown, on I-20 west of downtown and on the top-end Perimeter.

Imagine those people stuck on the road without medicine…and running out of gas.

There were warnings…I don’t understand why the schools did not close or plan for a delayed opening. My kids almost did not make it home from the bus themselves, the snow hit so fast and hard. We could not believe how close the school board cut it this time. It really amazes me how many people got caught up in this mess.

In Atlanta, the gridlock was so bad, a baby girl was delivered alongside Interstate 285, said Capt. Steve Rose, a spokesman for Sandy Springs police in suburban north Atlanta. He said an officer made it to the mother and her husband in time to help with the delivery, which he described as “flawless.” There were no complications and the family was taken to a hospital.

That is something, eh?

Yesterday was the SOTU: Full text: State of the Union | Al Jazeera America

President Obama’s 2014 address was his fifth in office. Read the entire transcript here, all 6,777 words

What does it mean if I did not watch the speech live, nor did I watch a taped version, I haven’t read any commentary or summaries, and the thought of reading all those 6,777 words makes me want to throw up everything I ate this evening.  Even the possibility of nodding off during the speech was nothing to look forward to…

SOTU cheat sheet: Everything you missed

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sits among the other justices during President Obama's address.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sits among the other justices during President Obama’s address.  Win McNamee, Getty Images

• Did Justice Ginsberg fall asleep? Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 80, was trending during Obama’s speech, with viewers speculating that she had fallen asleep, or at least was in full head-bob mode. We may never know for sure if it was a slump or a nap.

It would not be the first time she nodded off…But WTF is this all about?

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., left, and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., share a sign as they take their seats for the president's speech.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., left, and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., share a sign as they take their seats for the president’s speech.  Charles Dharapak, AP

You know, that is pretty close to the sign for vagina (when I took ASL in college…from what I remember) could it be code for an anti-woman PLUB agenda? Or is it some little “I heart pussy” thing? Perhaps they were making reference to this:

The State of the Uterus (video)

To whet your State of the Union pallate, I give you: “The State of the Uterus.”

state-of-the-uterus

The State of the Uterus is a fun new video – it literally just went live – about a serious issue, women’s rights in America.

Here’s a portion of their press release:

We all know the State of the Union is strong, but what about the State of the Uterus? On this most ceremonial of days in the nation’s capital, a uterus is taking up that question and will deliver a live address moments after President Obama’s Speech and the Republican Party responds.

“Madam Uterus” (UTOUS) for so she shall be addressed — will talk at length about the state of the uterus, and the vagina, in a country where state legislatures have variously deemed that women are pregnant before they are pregnant, have magical powers to deactivate rape sperm, and must be forced to carry stillborn babies to term.

“The state of our uterus is in the hands of so many,” Madam Uterus will say, according to the text of her prepared remarks. “As the old saying goes, behind every successful uterus is a man calling her a whore while cutting her pay.”

So here are a few links on the SOTU speech:

Dak, Boston Boomer and others live blogged it here…and here.

State of the Union by Political Cartoonist Bruce Plante

143671 600 State of the Union cartoons

SOTU POTPOURRI | Gin and Tacos

The best of the worst: Right-wing Twitter reacts to the State of the Union – Salon.com

We Got Your Back | BobCesca.com | News and Politics Blog and Podcast | We Cover the World

After the speech there was this: Rep. Grimm Threatens NY1 Reporter Following State of the Union – NY1

Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm physically threatened NY1 political reporter Michael Scotto at the conclusion of an interview in the Capitol Rotunda following Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.

 Grimm’s threats came at the end of a brief interview in which he discussed the president’s speech, calling the address “divisive.”

Scotto then tried to ask the congressman about the ongoing federal investigation into his 2010 campaign fundraising:

Grimm told the reporter:

Grimm: “Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this f—–g balcony.”

Scotto: “Why? I just wanted to ask you…”

[[cross talk]]

Grimm: “If you ever do that to me again…”

Scotto: “Why? Why? It’s a valid question.”

[[cross talk]]

Grimm: “No, no, you’re not man enough, you’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.”

Hmmm…taking some pointers from Christie? Or did he watch that movie A Few Good Men? Or perhaps he was listening Divine on his iPod during the speech:  You Think You’re A Man Lyrics – Divine

You will notice in the video…there are a lot of boys being tossed over balconies.

Digby had this nugget of news at her site: Hullabaloo

Iceland’s big problem: bringing 4% unemployment down to 2%

by digby

At one time there was a big debate about whether or not Iceland came out on top during our current depression, largely due to it’s hard core treatment of its banks. It was always pretty obvious that they made the smarter decision.  It looks even more obvious today:
Iceland let its banks fail in 2008 because they proved too big to save.

Now, the island is finding crisis-management decisions made half a decade ago have put it on a trajectory that’s turned 2 percent unemployment into a realistic goal.

While the euro area grapples with record joblessness, led by more than 25 percent in Greece and Spain, only about 4 percent of Iceland’s labor force is without work. Prime MinisterSigmundur D. Gunnlaugsson says even that’s too high.

“Politicians always have something to worry about,” the 38-year-old said in an interview last week. “We’d like to see unemployment going from where it’s now — around 4 percent — to under 2 percent, which may sound strange to most other western countries, but Icelanders aren’t accustomed to unemployment.”

It doesn’t sound strange to me, it sounds fucking awesome!

The island’s sudden economic meltdown in October 2008 made international headlines as a debt-fueled banking boom ended in a matter of weeks when funding markets froze. Policy makers overseeing the $14 billion economy refused to back the banks, which subsequently defaulted on $85 billion. The government’s decision to protect state finances left it with the means to continue social support programs that shielded Icelanders from penury during the worst financial crisis in six decades.

We, on the other hand are making nearly 7% official unemployment (along with many millions not even being counted) the new normal. And we’re slashing our meager safety net, even food assistance. But our megabanks are doing very well which is what matters.

Geez, I really want to move to Iceland…to hell with this country’s right-wing assholes who have taken over everything. I mean, how can we even be at the point where the dicks are actually debating this shit…

Texas GOP Lt. Gov. Candidates Agree: More Religion Needed in Science Class – Little Green Footballs

Submitted without comment other than to notice how several of the candidates refer to evolution in schools as being part of a “politically correct” conspiracy.
From left: Sen. Dan Patrick, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson
Texas GOP Lt. Gov. Candidates Agree: More Religion Needed in Science Class

Oh…can someone get me outta here? I can’t take it anymore!

This is all I can bring myself to write, y’all go ahead and give it up in the comments below.

Oh yeah…

Enjoy your day…


and now for something completely different: The Republican Response to the SOTU (Live Blog)

127166_600Let’s start with the first one of many!

When it comes to rebutting President Obama’s national address Tuesday night, Republicans have four different approaches from four different corners of the party’s ideological wings.

This four-vs.-one approach, to some, is the result of the expanding media universe that allows many different views to be heard, reaching so many different voters. Yet others see the various responses as a sign of a divided Republican Party that cannot unite around the single idea or a single voice to respond to Obama’s State of the Union address.

This Is Why People Say the SOTU Rebuttal Is Cursed

After President Obama delivers hisState of the Union address tonight, all eyes will turn to Washington state Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the highest ranking Republican woman in Congress, who will deliver the GOP’s rebuttal.

While giving the rebuttal address is a major opportunity to shine in prime time, the Republican response to the State of the Union during Obama’s presidency has seemed more like a curse.

Those who have come before McMorris Rodgers have made embarrassing fumbles, have left politics all together, lost a national race or now face federal charges.

Susie Madrak ‏@SusieMadrak  8s

She reminds me of the reanimated dead people from American Horror Story. #GOPresponse

Melissa McEwan ‏@Shakestweetz  37s

This is all I’m hearing: “Who’s got the cutest feetsies? I’m going to eat those toes! Yes I am!” That’s what every GOP rebuttal sounds like.

Mahjabeen ‏@mahjabeenkarim  3m

@robertloerzel@Karoli I used to teach little kids that complained about how teachers use “baby talk.” She is definitely using “baby talk.”

Donna Brazile ‏@donnabrazile  1m

Rep McMorris voted against raising the minimum wage and extending employment insurance.

Nerdy Negress ‏@NerdyNegress  4m

It’s Miss Whatever from Romper Room…..#republicansoturesponse

Top Conservative Cat ‏@TeaPartyCat  8s

Well, Cathy McMorris Rodgers said God more times in 4 minutes than Obama did in 75 minutes, so the GOP wins! GAME OVER!

CBS News Politics ‏@CBSPolitics  2m

McMorris Rodgers: GOP has “plans to close [income] gap, plans that focus on jobs first w/out more spending, government bailouts”

countrymarxist ‏@countrymarxist  1m

“GOD GOD GOD GOD GOD”- the Republican “response.”

Planned Parenthood ‏@PPact  4s

Just amazing. GOP response focuses on economy and “trusting people”—but spent the day voting to restrict abortion access. #StopHR7#SOTU

Ana Marie Cox ‏@anamariecox  1m

McMorris-Rodgers’ dogwhistle abortion reference: parallel to how some would like us to return to keeping women’s health care a dirty secret.

Nadine Finigan-Carr ‏@doctornayaka  6m

After that rebuttal, I would take the trolley to visit Mrs Rodgers’ Neighborhood but I wouldn’t want to live there. #SOTU #Rebuttal

Okay, and for the off brand responses:

Tea Party Response To 2014 State Of The Union Delivered By Mike Lee

Excerpts of his speech show Lee will pin the widening wealth gap on the president’s policies and tout the ideas of a new generation of leaders including himself and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

“Americans know in their hearts that something is wrong. Much of what is wrong relates to the sense that the ‘American Dream’ is falling out of reach for far too many of us,” Lee plans to say. “We are facing an inequality crisis — one to which the president has paid lip-service, but seems uninterested in truly confronting or correcting.”

Obama plans to use the State of the Union to announce executive actions to raise the minimum wage for new federal contracts, help the long-term unemployed find work and expand job-training programs.

Lee, an attorney who is halfway through his first term, was chosen by Tea Party Express because he is a recognized leader who is popular among the GOP base because of the message he delivers about improving the economy and reducing the size, cost and intrusiveness of the federal government, said Sal Russo, co-founder of the organization. Tea Party Express is a national group representing the movement.

“People who have been willing to stand up and say, ‘Stop,’ like Mike Lee, have drawn a great deal of support,” Russo said.

huhn?

Suzy Khimm ‏@SuzyKhimm  3m

OK, Mike Lee gets the line of the night: “Obamacare is an inequality Godzilla” http://static.teapartyexpress.org/ 

and then there’s Rand Paul who is just speaking as the egotistical, opportunistic, self aggrandizing asshole that is Rand Paul.

“What I’ve been proposing is that we not shy away from the president on the debate about lowering taxes,” Paul said, speaking in his office. “I think the way to get to more jobs is to bring less money to Washington, leave more money with the businesses that create the jobs.”

Paul recently joined Snapchat and is a frequent presence on Facebook and Twitter. He noted that his response to the State of the Union will be easily disseminated through his online channels.

and there’s a fourth one …

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) announced Monday she will deliver her own State of the Union response in Spanish that will be televised by CNN, Telemundo Univision and other channels.

and I’m still trying to figure this out.  I admit to being flummoxed.

Charles P. Pierce ‏@ESQPolitics  10m

Does anyone know what frequency my fillings need to be set at to hear Rand Paul and Mike Lee?


State of the Union Address 2014 (Live Blog)

SOTU

We will be live blogging the SOTU tonight at 9 pm EST. Look for Live Updates and more as we get closer to the time!!!

With Minimum Wage as Start, Obama to Press Past Congress

President Obama plans to sign an executive order requiring that janitors, construction workers and others working for federal contractors be paid at least $10.10 an hour in the future, using his own power to enact a more limited version of a policy that he has yet to push through Congress.

The order, which Mr. Obama will highlight in his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday night, is meant to underscore an increased willingness by the president to bypass Congress if lawmakers continue to resist his agenda, aides said. After a year in which most of his legislative priorities went nowhere, Mr. Obama is seeking ways to make progress despite a lack of cooperation on Capitol Hill.

The minimum wage plan provides an example of what he has in mind. Mr. Obama called on Congress during last year’s State of the Union address to raise the minimum wage for workers across the board, only to watch the proposal languish on Capitol Hill, where opponents argued it would hurt businesses and stifle job creation. With prospects for congressional action still slim, Mr. Obama is using the executive order covering federal contractors to go as far as he can on his own.

Democrats hope Obama’s State of Union speech will be start of populist agenda

In recent weeks, some Democratic lawmakers and strategists have urged the White House to focus less on academic-sounding discussions of income inequality and to simplify Obama’s message to reflect the everyday concerns of Americans. White House officials say they have long planned to emphasize such issues.

The approach is notable because raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for domestic initiatives was a centerpiece of Obama’s first-term economic agenda — a move aimed squarely at shrinking income inequality. In speeches over the past year, the president has bounced between wonky discussions about inequality and practical speeches on helping the middle class.

“My view is that the party that taps into the decline in middle-class incomes and the lack of good jobs and figures out a satisfying answer will dominate the 2014 election,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).

But, he added, “the American people are more concerned about how they are doing as opposed to how someone else is doing. So simply saying ‘We’re going to raise taxes on the wealthy’ is not going to be the kind of answer that satisfies the middle class.”

GOP Lawmakers Can’t Get Enough Of ‘Duck Dynasty’ At SOTU (PHOTOS)

“Duck Dynasty” star Willie Robertson was a ubiquitous presence Tuesday night in Republican lawmakers’ pre-State of the Union photos.
Robertson, the son of controversial “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson, was invited to the address by Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA). Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) tweeted that he gave his spare ticket to Robertson’s wife, Korie.

At least four lawmakers snapped a photo with Robertson

Duck Duck ASSSSSShat!!!!

Campaign cash used to pay for some State of the Union guests

Members of Congress are given one seat to fill with an invited guest – and nearly everyone uses the coveted invitation to help make a political point.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has invited Catholic school children and a business owner from his Ohio district. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has asked an immigration reform activist to attend. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) found a St. Cloud, Minn., physician who reached out with concerns about the new Affordable Care Act. (Departing from the political theme, aides said that Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) is giving his extra seat to his wife, Mikey.)

Several members greeted their invited guests Tuesday, and some even attended news conferences with their “plus one” in tow. But what they probably failed to mention is that several guests are enjoying a trip to Washington paid for with campaign cash.