The Widdershins

WTF is wrong with you

Good Wednesday to you Widdershins.  I have a couple items here I’ve had bookmarked and thought I’d share with you.  One is on Obamacare and a poll that was conducted and the other item is a piece on a new tactic in the fracking wars.

A recent poll showed that two states (and in the South yet!) States that embraced all facets of the healthcare law showed a “significant drop” in the number of uninsured in their state (Okay big duh!), while those that did not, saw less of a change.  (Kinda makes sense, right?)

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found an overall drop of 4 percentage points in the share of uninsured residents for states accepting the law’s core coverage provisions. Those are states that expanded their Medicaid programs and also built or took an active role managing new online insurance markets.

For the states that took neither of those actions, the drop was just 2.2 percent.  And the states with the biggest drops were Kentucky and Arkansas!

Leading the nation were two southern states where the law has found political support. Arkansas saw a drop of about 10 percentage points in its share of uninsured residents, from 22.5 percent in 2013, to 12.4 percent by the middle of this year. Kentucky experienced a drop of nearly 9 percentage points, from 20.4 percent of its residents uninsured in 2013, to 11.9 percent.

What was also interesting to see was the contrast between neighboring states that took different approaches to the implementation of obamacare:

— While Arkansas had the 10-point decline in its uninsured rate, the drop in Tennessee was just 2.4 percentage points.

— The uninsured rate in West Virginia fell 5.7 points after the state agreed to Medicaid expansion, but there was no change for neighboring Virginia, where Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe has been blocked by a Republican-led legislature.

— Colorado’s uninsured rated dropped 6 percentage points with Medicaid expansion and a state-run exchange, while Utah’s didn’t budge. That state has a federally-run exchange and is still weighing whether to expand Medicaid.

Robert Blendon, a public opinion analyst at the Harvard School of Public Health said it’s still too early to see any big shifts in perceptions of the law.  He says that the negative perceptions about the law are driven by folks who already have health insurance and who believe that the expansion of health care coverage will cost them more or affect their quality of care.  “Why isn’t the bill more popular?” asked Blendon. “Rightly or wrongly, people who are not directly aided by it are worried.”

Below is a handy-dandy list of the Top Ten states with the largest reduction in uninsureds:

An even clearer number is given here where states expanded Medicaid and state exchange-partnerships and those with only one of the two:

And here’s the thing with this:  The more people who get covered by some type of preventative care, the fewer people will be seen in emergent care facilities (emergency rooms).  Those folks will be seen in a clinical scenario as opposed to waiting until an illness such as diabetes, hypertension and the like force them to seek care at the e.r.’s.  That in turn should drive down costs across the board.

The Frack you say!

Here’s an interesting take on the fracking front:  A company in Pennsylvania wants to offer you $50,000 upfront so you won’t sue them.

EQT Corporation is one of the largest producers of natural gas in Pennsylvania.  They use hydraulic fracking as the mechanism to get to the gas.   And they have been busy around Finleyville they’ve drilled over a dozen wells on one site.  It wasn’t long before the residents there started complaining of noise, odors, and general “quality of life” issues with the company.  EQT initially offered to do noise studies and even to offer vouchers so folks could stay in a hotel to avoid the noise and fumes.  Soooo…EQT got the brilliant idea of offering residents $50k in exchange for not filing any types of lawsuits regarding their fracking operations.

The liability agreements EQT has used in Finleyville — they are often known as nuisance easements — have been used in other circumstances. Residents living close to airports, for instance, are often offered such easements as compensation for having to bear with the noise, vibrations and fumes from air traffic. Property owners close to landfills and wind farms may also sign similar agreements.

The agreements:

release the company from any legal liability, for current operations as well as those to be carried out in the future. It covered potential health problems and property damage, and gave the company blanket protection from any kind of claim over noise, dust, light, smoke, odors, fumes, soot, air pollution or vibrations.

The agreement also defined the company’s operations as not only including drilling activity but the construction of pipelines, power lines, roads, tanks, ponds, pits, compressor stations, houses and buildings.

Doug Clark, a Pennsylvania attorney who specializes in gas leases and mainly represents landowners said:

“The release is so incredibly broad and such a laundry list,”…”You’re releasing for everything including activity that hasn’t even occurred yet. It’s crazy.”

Some folks have taken the money and said that the company has been completely fair with them.  Others have considered it an insult.

“I was insulted,” said Gary Baumgardner, who was approached by EQT with the offer in January. “We’re being pushed out of our home and they want to insult us with this offer.”

Baumgardner says he has had to leave his house at least three times so far because the gas fumes from the well site were too much to bear. A local health group has installed air quality monitors in his home and several of his neighbors. Last year when the one of the monitors began flashing red, his daughter, pregnant at the time, fled the house. She has since moved away after her doctor advised her not to live close to a drilling site.

The $50k may sound tempting but I would have to think long and hard over an offer like that.  That’s a relatively paltry amount for giving up the quality of your life in your own home.




Happy Tuesday, Widdershins. Remember the “Conscience Clause” I was so up in arms about a few years back? This was the Bush-created, Obama-supported clause that exempted pharmacists with “consciences” from providing abortion or contraception prescriptions to anyone they chose. (By logical extension, I suppose pharmacists with no “consciences” simply have to fill the prescription as written. Losers!).

As I wrote in March, the HHS regulation Bush forced through in the waning days of his Administration like a cold butter knife through a hot thick steak, has already made a demonstrable negative impact on women’s lives.

Just as many of us suspected, this rule is actually creating unwanted pregnancies, and for rape victims, no less – as if they have not been through enough. Isn’t it interesting that men are making these rules, and women are the ones who have to bear the consequences in their own wombs? Or perhaps not so much interesting, as 100% pure evil. Yes, that’s the word I was looking for!

It was 2009 when I wrote that post. What with all of the cray-cray the right-wingers have been pouring on lately, it had kind of slipped my mind. I was strongly reminded of it a couple of weekends ago, during a get-together with one of my best girlfriends. Guess what? It’s still going strong.

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wacko criminal lineup

Good afternoon Widdershins and a happy Friday to you!  As you can see by the image above it’s time for my weekend light, odd and sometimes downright strange news.  I do have a number of items I believe will give you a chuckle or cause you to just shake your head in wonderment so let’s go.

So was it a major or minor malfunction?

“Malfunction” was the term used by the Bucks County Pa coroner’s office when one of their vans seemed to lose it’s cargo onto a four lane highway.  Seems they had been called for a pickup and while on the way back to the coroner’s office a back door of the van “malfunctioned” and the dearly departed…well, departed the van!

The incident happened Friday near the Bucks Crossing Shopping Center east of Bustleton Pike around noon, when a coroner’s office employee realized the rear door had malfunctioned while transporting a body, according to a county news release Saturday night.

The unidentified driver of the transport vehicle immediately knew that the malfunction occurred and returned to retrieve the corpse and the gurney with the help of a bystander “in a matter of moments,” according to the release.

“Care was taken to respect the deceased individual in this instance. The Bucks County Coroner’s Office deeply regrets this incident and will take steps to ensure that it is not repeated in the future,” the release said.

Wasn’t there a movie or something similar to this?  Maybe a Three Stooges short or something?  Mercy!

Thank heavens for good citizen Jerry Bradley.  He was turning onto the highway, saw what happened and rushed to help the driver of the van.

“I thought someone was playing a prank. Someone is pranking people,” Bradley said Saturday night. “It was the most bizarre thing I’d ever seen.”

After Bradley got out of his car and approached the stretcher he realized what it was, he said. Around that time, he noticed a woman wearing a Bucks County Coroner’s Office T-shirt walking down Street Road from the nearby Dunkin’ Donuts.

The woman was on a cellphone and Bradley said he heard her telling someone that the rear door of the vehicle just popped open, he said. Bradley described the vehicle as similar to a work truck and marked County Coroner’s Office.

Bradley said he pushed the gurney out of traffic and over to the woman on the sidewalk. She thanked him, then pushed the stretcher back to the vehicle in the nearby parking lot, he said.

I’m refraining from wondering if the van driver had gone to the Dunkin’ Donuts for a cupa and a cruller or something.  However, alls well that ends well and the departed one made it to their intended destination.

Do Not Try This At Home.  In fact don’t try it anywhere!

Now, I have my own fears and dislikes of spiders.  I don’t care how “beneficial” they may be.  They can go be beneficial outside my house.  But, I’m not going to go to this extreme.

Perhaps this guy saw the movie Arachnophobia where Jeff Daniels sets fire to a spider with a can of something, but in general it’s not a good idea.  Use a broom or grab the vacuum and suck the little creature up in the bag.

So anyway, this guy saw a spider in the house and decided to try to get rid of it.  Kinda…In a drastic way you might say.

A Seattle man caused $60,000 in damage after using a homemade blowtorch to try to kill a spider in his rental home on Tuesday night.

The 24-year-old, who lived in the house with his mother, had used a can of spray paint and a lighter to try to chase the spider from a laundry room, but the fire quickly took hold.

The man, who has not been named, tried to douse the flames with water but it soon spread to the attic.

No one was injured in the blaze, although the spider is believed to have perished.

Attempts by fire crews to put out the blaze were delayed over fears that rounds of ammunition may be stored inside.

Seattle fire department’s spokesman Kyle Moore said the tenant had used ‘a self-made blowtorch to kill a spider in the laundry room.’

I don’t want to encourage people to do this, but that’s what he did,’ Moore said.

‘The spider tried to get into the wall. He sprayed flames on the wall, lit the wall on fire, and that extended up to the ceiling.’  And then this is what you get:

I’ll stick to a fly-swatter, a shoe or the vacuum.

If this had happened in the South it would be one of those
“Hey watch this” things

It’s sad.  There’s no getting around it but…why oh why do some folks just do dumb things?

A young man died after a hole he dug on a Northern California beach collapsed and trapped him in the sand for at least five minutes, authorities said Tuesday.

The man dug a roughly 10-foot-deep hole at Francis State Beach and was standing in it around 5:30 p.m. Monday when the sand started caving in around him, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Capt. Jonathan Cox said.

About 30 people, including the man’s friends and bystanders, frantically dug with their hands, buckets and other improvised tools to expose his head. They were able to free his head in about five minutes, just as firefighters arrived at the scene, Cox said.

“When they got there, they discovered he was unconscious,” he said.

Cox said paramedics managed to open his airways while about 30 firefighters, aided by the bystanders, used shovels and other equipment to pull out his body.

Rescuers extricated him in about 35 minutes and tried to revive him, but he died at the scene, Cox said.

I don’t have anything to add to this except just dumb.

Sometimes there *can* be too much of a good thing

And that’s probably especially true when it comes to music.  But The Eagles?  Oh man!!!  But that seems to be the case for Vernett Bader of North Charleston South Carolina.  It seems her roommate (and former boyfriend [that's problems right there!] ) ignored her requests to stop the music and then told her to “shut up”.  Then:

Bader then entered the kitchen and grabbed a serrated knife, which she subsequently used to stab her roommate several times in the arm, hand, and elbow.

The roommate and his brother managed to wrestle the knife away from Bader, but she quickly retrieved another from the kitchen.

All three were intoxicated at the time, per the report.

It’s unclear which of the band’s songs drove Bader over the edge, but police have narrowed down the possible suspects to “Witchy Woman,” “Take It Easy,” “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “Take It to the Limit,” “One of These Nights,” “Tequila Sunrise,” and “Hotel California” on repeat. [Seriously the article has that!-Fred]  [I'm guessing by the photo the song that sent her over was either "Tequila Sunrise" or "Hotel California".]

Bader confessed to the crime, but claimed it was an act of self-defense to counter her roommate’s choking.

Investigators say Bader did not have any visible marks on her neck.

Police charged Bader with criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature and she was booked into the Charleston County jail.

 Okay it’s the start of the school year, but if this woman feels this way
now, how did she expect to last through the entire year?

Since this one is short, I’m just gonna paste the entire thing in.

WAGONER, Okla. —Wagoner police arrested a woman they said was intoxicated and not wearing any pants at Wagoner High School on Monday.

The woman, Lorie Hill, was a newly hired teacher for Wagoner Public Schools. She was found by two other teachers in the classroom on the first day back at school for teachers.

Police said Hill admitted she had been drinking, police said they found an empty cup in her car.

Wagoner Police Chief Bob Haley tells FOX23 that even though evidence of alcohol consumption was found in Hill’s car, there was only enough evidence to arrest her for public intoxication. He said there isn’t a credible witness to prove that Hill drank at her house in Claremore and then commuted to Wagoner under the influence.


I did a little checking and Wagoner is a town of around 8,000 or so and found that it is apparently close to both Tulsa and Muskogee so that it gives you the access to and the convenience of “big city” shopping.  That alone may have been enough for me to hoist a few but not sure it would be that early in the morning and certainly not in a classroom without my pants.

Okay time for a quizz
Go to this link and see which Barbra you are.  You can tell us in the comments.



Some assorted youtube clips

This cute little golden retriever puppy tries to comfort an older dog who seems to be having a nightmare.

This was cute as hell.  This little schnauzer gets to see a family member after a two absence.  The dog is so excited that it ends up passing out from sheer joy. (might wanna turn your sound down for this one)

Note:  They took the dog to the vet who saw the vid and determined everything was okay with Casey.

Sorta in line with chat’s post about Reagan and the “golden days”, a group of the Old Guard is going to launch “ReaganBook, “The Facebook for Patriots”.

Alas, they were apparently not ready for prime time as they seemed to have launched and the some filthy, leftist socialist whatevers proceeded to trash the site.  When someone in the comments at the youtube asked what happened and why it got shut down the reply was:

Goons immediately swarmed website with gay porn and goatse
Ahhhh bless ‘em.  ;-)
Forgot to add this one in.  The Saints were at practice camp at The Greenbrier when, after practice, they caught Drew Brees playing skeet with the football and a frisbee.  Now if he can get a receiver to just catch one like this.
Okay Widdershins, what’s happening with you this weekend?  Do take the Babs quizz and tell us who you are.
It’s an open thread.

Good Thursday, Widdershins.  I hope that your week is progressing nicely.

After many dismal evenings of watching endless cable news. I have arrived at the conclusion that the Repubs have kept to their infamous format Of “noun, verb……….”. They have simply replaced “09/11″ with the name of the Lord High Guru Ronald Reagan. The former was intended to frighten us, the latter is to make us believe that all was glorious during that eight year time period – the veritable shining city on the hill scenario.  Had I not been an adult trying to make a living during that glorious period, I might fall for it, too.

Ah yes, Ronald Reagan. …..who rode tall in the saddle at his California ranch almost as often as he rode his desk in the Oval Office.  Ronald Reagan, who despite being an unmitigated whore for American business, despite being borderline cruel to those Americans who were struggling, despite appearing to be almost out of it during his last few years in office, would be deemed too liberal if not a near-Socialist by the party he lifted to power.  Nevertheless, he is a veritable icon, unless you look closely at his “accomplishments”.

Let’s look at these points..  First, “The Cold War was ended by Ronald Reagan.”

Most of the policies that brought about the collapse of the USSR began during the Nixon administration.  Ford, who unwisely brought on both Cheyney and Rumsfeld, eventually abandoned further efforts.  President Carter stressed human rights and nuclear disarmament.  Meanwhile, the Vatican-backed Solidarity movement had taken hold in Poland, and was beginning to spread outward in the Soviet Block.  However, Reagan aficiandos insist that the end of the Cold War was signaled by the now famous “Take down that wall” speech.  Of course it was……

Second, “America loved Ronald Reagan”.

Perhaps some did.  Here was this smiling happy guy who insisted that it was just fine to drive your enormous vehicle long distances whenever and wherever you wanted to.  Life is great, there’s plenty of gas.  Don’t worry about paper, either.  (Anyone else remember that great speech when Reagan defended cutting down trees because they create too much dangerous carbon dioxide?) I suppose that, f you were not too bright, that cheerful countenance telling you not to worry would be easier to swallow that than Jimmy Carter’s  dour warning to break your dependence on petroleum products and to try to salvage the environment.  No worries – oil is self-replicating and there are lots of other planets out there,  Oh, and try to forget that Carter has been proven to be spot on.

Third: “Mount Rushmore needs Ronald Reagan”.

Oh, absolutely.  We should commemorate the man who armed Osama bin Laden,  could not recall the who Iran Contra affair, backed every repressive right-wing government in Latin America and armed them so that they could easily crush any revolt, and the HUD scandal that rigged grants to favor Republican contributors.  Then there were the EPA scandals, one of which diverted funds into Republican campaign war chests, and the Inslaw Affair, where DOJ officials were involved in pirating software,  Don’t forget the Savings and Loan crisis, described by John Kenneth Gailbraith as “the largest and costliest adventure in public misfeasance, malfeasance, and larceny of all times”. Don;t get me started on his  lack of attention when AIDS was first described.

Fourth:  “Ronald Reagan should be on the $5 bill”.

Don’t kid yourself.  This has been proposed by some Southerners in an effort to dislodge Lincoln, who is after all on the penny (which is likely on its way out.)

To his credit, he did sign a bill to compensate Japanese-Americans who had been wrongly detained during WWII, and opposed banning gays from teaching school.  I suppose no one is all bad, but that’s a might sparse set of laudable achievements.  Noun, verb, Ronald Reagan.  That’s the ticket.

This is an open thread.


Good afternoon Widdershins. With the lasting gift bestowed upon us by Dubya and the neocons going from bad to abysmal, I thought of writing a post about the mess that is the Middle East. Trying to cipher through the Rubik’s Cube of factional permutations is like trying to mold water.

In Syria alone there are five proxy wars raging, in Iraq at least another four or five, add ISIL, Hamas, Gaza, Libya, the run-of-the-mill Al Qaeda to the mix and you have a thousand years of pent-up tribal aggression acting out with last century’s weaponry. Such complexity is beyond me so I decided to write about economics and the tax code — much easier to wade through.

“Be careful what you wish for!” Pretty good advice for anyone especially for those who are snake oil salesmen. Over the Dorothy Cloudslast thirty years, time and again we have heard the supply-siders of the Right pronounce, “If only we had a full-blown experiment where taxes and regulations were cut. If only we had an economic Petri dish without the meddlesome “libruls” mucking up fiscal policy. If only…”

Be careful what you wish for supply-siders because you got exactly what you asked for in the great state of Kansas. Two years ago Kansans embarked on a remarkable fiscal experiment without the hindrance of any contravening commonsense. Kansas slashed income taxes without any clear idea of what would replace the revenue.

Kansas, under the influence of Governor Sam Brownback and obviously copious amounts of brown liquor, essentially exempted small businesses and their owners from state income tax while ushering in massive cuts for the uber-wealthy. The practical effect of what Kansas did was to create a class of people who were totally free to live in the state and prosper without paying so much as a dime in state income taxes.

The result: Total abject failure. The Kansas economy is lagging behind its neighboring states and the U.S. as a whole. It’s state budget has plunged deep into deficit. Both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have downgraded the Kansas debt meaning that future generations will be paying for this ill-advised experiment.

Why is this noteworthy? We have known supply-side economics is a bunch of hoo-hah sold to The Reagan by charlatans. Chief voodoo-doer was none other than Art Laffer who is still at it as is evidenced by his helping Brownback drive Kansas into the ditch. (I can’t help but think that economic historians are going to have a field day with thirty years of failed policy arising from a man named “Laffer”.)

Brownback ExperimentLaffer wasn’t alone in this Kansas kerfuffle, ALEC was there as well (American Legislative Exchange Council). ALEC supplied the obligatory window dressing of studies foretelling great things if only taxes were cut, greed was left unchecked, and the insanely wealthy were left to do their magic. Of course, the ALEC studies were flawed and little more than the droppings of gold defecating unicorns — good enough for antigovernment work.

The learning here isn’t that supply-side economics doesn’t work because we have known that since Bill Clinton raised taxes on the wealthy and the country reveled in a spectacular economic expansion. What is amazing is that supply-side theory will not die — it is like a Zombie rambling the countryside that just can’t be killed. The natural question is: Why won’t it die?

The answer is simple: There has to be justification for enriching the wealthy while making life harder for those struggling. There has to be some magical incantation for cutting things like food stamps while the one-percenters endanger their cuticles by clipping dividend coupons.

The justification for this policy butchery is the Zombiconomics of supply-side theory. It fills a need. It is like a glove looking for a hand, an M looking for another M, a James looking for Bartles, or a band of pernicious crabs looking for a Kardashian. It doesn’t matter that Zombiconomics fails. It is nothing more than the means for those in power to get their way.

It is hard to hide a train wreck. In Kansas, people have noticed the education cuts, the increased debt, the deficit Vanishing Kansas Surplusspending, the lackluster job creation, no Medicaid expansion hurting rural hospitals, and the credit downgrades. Perhaps that is why 104 Republicans have endorsed Brownback’s Democratic opponent.

The Kansas debacle is about to play itself out on a larger scale on the federal level. You will most likely be hearing about “tax inversions” quite a bit in the coming weeks. Underlying the whole issue is the same stale stench of the magical elixir — just cut taxes and the land will be strewn with the droppings of the gold-crapping unicorns.

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Good Monday, Widdershins. For today’s fauxtivism, I give you….Occupy Democrats! (Thanks to Vast Left on FaceBook for this alert.) I couldn’t easily find out what they were about on the public site linked above, but their FaceBook page gives the 411.

Occupy Democrats, a merger of the goals and interests of Occupy with those of President Obama’s “new” Democratic Party, is a new and growing grassroots political organization/news website:

Our mission is to Occupy Democrats on Nov.4th, 2014 AND BEYOND by voting in a LANDSLIDE of progressive Democratic candidates! Daily posts re: President Obama’s second term , progressives, equality, progressive reforms, campaign finance, Democratic Occupy developments, REPUBLICAN obstructionism, Tea Party corporatism, and more!

How do you crash a Tea Party? Occupy changed the national conversation around the issue of class and inequality, but it failed to achieve legislative victories. Let’s create a more equal society for all by working with progressives & the Democratic Party!

Oy vey ist mir! Where do I begin with this?

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It’s Friday, Widdershins.  Are you ready for the weekend?  And, are you ready for some football?  The preseason officially kicks off today.  The Dark Times are over, y’all.

Meanwhile, back at the blog, it’s time to take the weekend off and enjoy ourselves.  This week’s topic is songs with names in the title.  I found well over 100 of them while researching this, so there should be no brain strain involved here.  Post your favorites, along with anything else that comes to mind in this wide open thread.  I’ll be in and out, as my stepmother is being discharged tomorrow, so I need to get some things done to prepare her apartment for her arrival, then settle down and watch the preseason games.

(1) Abraham, Martin, and John – Dion

(2) Bobby McGee – Janis Joplin

(3) Cathy’s Clown – The Everly Brothers

(4) Lola – The Kinks

(5( Lady Lynda – The Beach Boys


(6) The Name Game – Shirley Ellis



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