Wednesday Night: Even Dakinis Get the Blues

POLITICS-WEINER_image_982wOkay, and I am going to try to get back in the loop here and write posts and be erudite and let’s see … is it too late to make some good New Year’s Resolutions?  Probably.  Anyway, I am sitting under the breeze of one of my two newly installed ceiling fans that are a blowing some cold air my way on these series of hot humid days and nights that I’ve been enduring and enduring and enduring.  Did I mention that my bathroom faucet is new and it doesn’t leak?  My screen door by the kitchen closes and locks.  My front storm shutters close and lock again which could be very auspicious giving the look of TS Dorian. There are hardly any vines creeping any where in my backyard.  Oh, and I’ve spent a week seeing my neighborhood and city with fresh eyes with my friend who did all these things for me.  I was waking up and feeling and then, whoa … back to that desk of papers and the knowledge that you’re not going to wake up to the smell of coffee unless you make it or the feel of other things that I will not expound on here because, well, I’m going to spare you since this is a blog about politics …

I am in awe of people who can fix things with such facile. It makes me understand what people are thinking when I sit down to play a piano concerto and it looks like all am I doing is breathing.  It’s really not since I’ve played since I was three and my mother was a task master both at technique and time put in practicing endlessly and doing scales endlessly.  You do anything long enough, you make it look like it’s breathing.  Then, there are those things you swear you are never going to repeat because you really do not want to become a master.  There are these things that you do despite all those promises you make to yourself and you tell your self very convincingly and enthusiastically that you really really don’t want to do that again because how you eventually have to feel about it.  It’s those niggling habits you just can’t break. Those traps you fall back into.   It’s those little behaviors that sneak up on you once you have convinced yourself you have turned a new leaf.  There are just those things that always trip you up just about the time you think you have yourself and life all figured out.  There’s a hole some where from wearing out the same ground endlessly. There is the feeling good part and the rest of it …

This is I where I get to say that Anthony Wiener and the House Republicans seem to never change.

What makes so many of us so self-destructive?  Why do we do things that are so obviously bad or disruptive for us and those around us? What makes us dive back into things when we’ve had such bad luck at it in the past?  We’ve gotten through the season of renewal and we are firmly planted in the here and now of watching our karma and fruits ripen. There are bananas in the backyard hanging thick and aiming to take the tree down before they fully yellow. The lemons still look like little green balls but not for long with this heat and humidity. The green lemon balls and the bananas should start turning the side and back yard a green with some dashes and dots of yellow very quickly.  The fruit ripens eventually. Now, where oh where am I going?  That, at the moment, is my eternal question. Why create some havoc where there was none before?

So, now, I’ve got to tell myself to do the work to do list with a smile and figure out what is going on in the world outside my backdoor outside of the abrupt change to my safe little rut.  I just popped out of my rut long enough to recognize one when I see it.  This is I why see that the Anthony Wiener and the House Republicans seem to never change.For that matter, neither does our President.  It’s a feedback loop of FAIL.

So, there’s this endless loop of behavior that lets us know that some things we just don’t seem to get beyond no matter how many times we shake our fists at the sky and say Never EVER again, will I go hungry.  Even though it makes for great theatrics, we still find ourselves chasing down ourselves.

So, it would be really, really easy for me to say RUN HUMA RUN!! for my first bit of sage advice today.  I would also like to say that I wish she would both run for mayor and away from Anthony Wiener but these things always look so easy when you’re not wearing those shoes.  However, here’s the NYT with their version of sage advice from the vantage point of some one else’s shoes.

At some point, the full story of Anthony Weiner and his sexual relationships and texting habits will finally be told. In the meantime, the serially evasive Mr. Weiner should take his marital troubles and personal compulsions out of the public eye, away from cameras, off the Web and out of the race for mayor of New York City.

Mr. Weiner, who resigned from Congress two years ago after sending lewd messages and photos of his crotch to women he had not met, was forced to revisit the issue on Tuesday, and so were we all. A Web site called The Dirty had another woman’s story, another round of sex texts, and another picture of Mr. Weiner’s penis. The startling news was that this new episode apparently took place last summer, only a few months before Mr. Weiner was to begin another run at public office. The marital trauma that Mr. Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, had said was behind them was not as far behind as we thought.

So, I am now weirdly telling myself to wash a pillowcase so I don’t grab it and smell it endlessly.  I am not one to give sage advice on oddly compulsive behaviors when it comes to people’s interpersonal relationships.

I do however, long for the day when President Barrack Obama does say something about the economy other than the Republicans won’t let me fix things.

“With an endless parade of distraction, political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball,” Obama told a crowd at Knox College in Illinois this afternoon. “And I am here to say this needs to stop.” Later in the speech, Obama vowed: “I will not allow gridlock, inaction or willful indifferences to get in our way.”

I am also tired of Republicans in Congress that can’t seem to find their way out of whatever scratched 1950 Pat Boone Single they keep playing on that record player.

In one example of an unusual move, the advocacy arm of the Heritage Foundation — Heritage Action — announced Tuesday it will grade lawmakers on the basis of whether they sign on as cosponsors of — not merely vote for — a bill by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to prohibit any funding of Obamacare in the annual budgeting process.

That legislation has won over more than just the usual suspects. Its 27 cosponsors — all Republicans — include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), both of whom are running for reelection in 2014 and are facing primary challengers from the right.

“We have one last chance to stop this if the White House won’t cooperate, and that’s through our budgeting process,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), another cosponsor, who is eager to make nice with the right after his major push for comprehensive immigration reform. “Some will say, ‘Well, that’s crazy. You are going to shut down the government over Obamacare?’ No, what’s crazy is moving forward with this thing.”

How many times do we have to label all of this MASSIVE FAIL and read about it?

Have the dog days of summer come early for me or is it the same for every one else too?

They sell wood putty and Spackle and calking for various holes and leaks.  Maybe some one should invent something for hearts and personalities that just don’t seem to approach wholeness.  You just have to remind yourself that some things get less sharp over time.  It’s just not the minds of Republicans or the personal decisions of Anthony Wiener.

Friday Reads

blanco-jun-1933-frontGood Morning!!

It’s pretty common knowledge that the increasing cost of health care is the real issue that most economists see as the driver for increased federal and state deficit spending issues in the future.  Time Magazine has a good article up that discusses how rapidly increasing costs are an issue for governments and families alike. The information is surrounded by personal family stories that are heartbreaking.

When we debate health care policy, we seem to jump right to the issue of who should pay the bills, blowing past what should be the first question: Why exactly are the bills so high?

What are the reasons, good or bad, that cancer means a half-million- or million-dollar tab? Why should a trip to the emergency room for chest pains that turn out to be indigestion bring a bill that can exceed the cost of a semester of college? What makes a single dose of even the most wonderful wonder drug cost thousands of dollars? Why does simple lab work done during a few days in a hospital cost more than a car? And what is so different about the medical ecosystem that causes technology advances to drive bills up instead of down?

Recchi’s bill and six others examined line by line for this article offer a closeup window into what happens when powerless buyers — whether they are people like Recchi or big health-insurance companies — meet sellers in what is the ultimate seller’s market.

The result is a uniquely American gold rush for those who provide everything from wonder drugs to canes to high-tech implants to CT scans to hospital bill-coding and collection services. In hundreds of small and midsize cities across the country — from Stamford, Conn., to Marlton, N.J., to Oklahoma City — the American health care market has transformed tax-exempt “nonprofit” hospitals into the towns’ most profitable businesses and largest employers, often presided over by the regions’ most richly compensated executives. And in our largest cities, the system offers lavish paychecks even to midlevel hospital managers, like the 14 administrators at New York City’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center who are paid over $500,000 a year, including six who make over $1 million.

Taken as a whole, these powerful institutions and the bills they churn out dominate the nation’s economy and put demands on taxpayers to a degree unequaled anywhere else on earth. In the U.S., people spend almost 20% of the gross domestic product on health care, compared with about half that in most developed countries. Yet in every measurable way, the results our health care system produces are no better and often worse than the outcomes in those countries.

According to one of a series of exhaustive studies done by the McKinsey & Co. consulting firm, we spend more on health care than the next 10 biggest spenders combined: Japan, Germany, France, China, the U.K., Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain and Australia.

Slavery is still an issue around the world.  It involves people of all ages and occurs in a surprising number of countries.  Why is slavery still thriving?

A lot of people are pretty excited that Mississippi has decided to join the rest of the nation in outlawing human bondage. But in these celebrations, we seem to have forgotten one thing: Modern-day slavery is still a thriving industry, both in Mississippi and in the dancer klimtthe rest of the nation.

In fact, Mississippi is something of regional slave transportation hub, according to the state’s special assistant attorney general Heather Wagner, who explains that the easy highway access to nearby major cities and the Gulf Coast ports make the state a trafficking corridor. The state recently passed rules requiring longer prison sentences for people caught enslaving and trafficking humans, such as the two Mississippi men who were recently indicted for selling or buying of children after being caught with a video that shows them enslaving and raping a girl about three years old.

To be fair, human and sex trafficking isn’t unique to Mississippi. According to the Department of Homeland Security, this industry–which the website describes as “ modern-day slavery”–is thriving across the United States. Recent examples abound: The 17 young women from Mexico who were brought to the U.S., held in captivity in New York State and forced to work as prostitutes; the firefighter in Baltimore who allegedly enslaved women in a brothel; the 20 Togolese women or girls who were transported to the U.S. and forced to work in hair salons in New Jersey. Nationally; an estimated 244,000 American children are at risk of being enslaved and forced into sex work alone–that doesn’t even include the thousands of additional people who are transported to the U.S., held in captivity and forced to work picking tomatoes or strawberries for WalMart. Globally, slavery recognized as one of the most lucrative illegal industries. An estimated 27 million are enslaved, generating $32 billion annually.And that’s just illegal slavery; state-sanctioned bondage is another thriving industry with that entraps millions of people and generates billions of dollars. With one of the most punitive states in the nation, Mississippi is a model of the incarceration nation

Minx fed my interest in graves with this discovery of a warrior’s grave in Russia.

Hidden in a necropolis situated high in the mountains of the Caucasus in Russia, researchers have discovered the grave of a male warrior laid to rest with gold jewelry, iron chain mail and numerous weapons, including a 36-inch (91 centimeters) iron sword set between his legs.

That is just one amazing find among a wealth of ancient treasures dating back more than 2,000 years that scientists have uncovered there.

Among their finds are two bronze helmets, discovered on the surface of the necropolis. One helmet (found in fragments and restored) has relief carvings of curled sheep horns while the other has ridges, zigzags and other odd shapes.

Derr-Herr-Magazine-Cover-from-1921 Radical Right Republicans and the establishment republicans continue to reject Karl Rove with a variety of insults and personal comments made public.  Here’s an example.  There are more at the article.

Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for the Conservative Victory Project and American Crossroads, said the groups had “come to the conclusion that we need to increase the caliber of candidates running for office in Republican primaries, and our goal is to elect the most conservative candidates in primaries who can win” general election contests against Democrats.“We have made absolutely clear we are not trying to pick a fight with the Tea Party,” Collegio said. “We are simply trying to pick the best candidates available.”

That’s not how David Bossie, president of Citizens United, a Washington-based group that says it is “dedicated to restoring our government to citizens’ control,” sees it.

“I like it that voters get to decide,” Bossie said. “I think Rove is trying to defend himself and deflect from his failure. I hear from donors. I hear from grassroots people across the country who are offended by the very fact that Karl Rove thinks he knows best.”

“If American Crossroads has done a great job, why create some new entity with the name conservative in it?” Bossie asked. “So everybody thinks it’s good because it is from a conservative outfit?”

Hope you’ve stocked up on plenty of popcorn because this is certainly getting more interesting as their losing days wear on. There seems to be an amazing race in banana republican states to see which one can pass the most restrictive abortion laws.  Yes, yes.  Republicans are all about small government and less regulation.

A Republican-controlled committee in the Arkansas House of Representatives approved a bill on Thursday that bans abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy if a fetal heartbeat is detected, with exceptions for rape, incest, the life of the mother and highly lethal fetal disorders. The law, if passed, would be the most extreme abortion restriction in the country.

The House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee also approved a Senate-passed bill that bans abortions at 20 weeks after conception. Both bills defy the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, which prevents states from banning abortions before the fetus is viable — usually between 22 and 24 weeks of gestation.

Opponents of the so-called “heartbeat bill” argue that it would prevent women from having abortions before many of them even realize they’re pregnant.

“Let’s call this bill what it is: bumper-sticker message legislation with no chance of standing up in court, designed to dial the clock back 40 years on women’s rights,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, a legal advocacy group. “This extreme ban will either force women already facing tough economic circumstances to travel to a neighboring state to access constitutionally protected health care or to turn to dangerous, clandestine options that could ruin or even end their lives.”

Well, this is certainly an interesting use of FBI resources.

Apparently FBI agents are mixing work with play a little too much. CNN obtained confidential internal memos scolding employees for a variety of violations, including bugging a boss’s office, paying for sex in a massage parlor, sending nude pictures to coworkers, and “a rash of sexting cases.” “When you are given an FBI BlackBerry, it’s for official use. It’s not to text the woman in another office who you found attractive or to send a picture of yourself in a state of undress. That is not why we provide you an FBI BlackBerry,”  FBI assistant director Candice Will told CNN. She added that though she thinks she’s seen it all in her time at the FBI, she continues to get files that surprise her.

With that, I turn the reins of discussion to you.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?