The Widdershins

Good Sunday, Widdershins.  For the first time in over a week, I can sit up long enough to manage a post.   Two back to back episodes of sciatica have flattened me, and the muscle relaxants finsihed me off.  My heating pad has been my new best friend for almost two weeks.  I won;t say that my back feels great,  but it is ever so slowly improving. This next week brings us major holidays from two great traditions.   Yom Kippur is Tuesday, and the Christian faiths commence Holy Week with today’s observance of Palm Sunday.  Let’s just say it’s a good time for reflection in general, so let’s take a break from the messy world news and enjoy those songs that help us relax and reflect.  There are literally thousands of them, so post your favorites along with anything else that might come to mind. Thanks for everyone’s patience.  I hope that my back feels well enough to be coherent for a post in Thursday.  Love and light to all.

(1) Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major

 

(2) Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley

 

(3)  Down To the River To Pray – Allison Krauss

 

(4) Foggy Dew – Sínead O’Connor and the Chieftains

 

(5) Lord of the Rings Medley – Lindsay Stirling

A couple dance at French Quarter Fest (frm Nola.com)

A couple dance at Fr. Quarter Fest (frm Nola.com)

Good Saturday to you Widdershins.  Yes, if it’s a Saturday in April in Nola, then it’s time for the French Quarter Festival.  Officially, they say the Festival is “to promote the Vieux Carré and the City of New Orleans through high quality special events and activities that showcase the culture and heritage of this unique city, contribute to the economic well being of the community, and instill increased pride in the people of New Orleans.”.  But in actuality, it’s another chance to have a big party.  I mean, you have to have something to do in nola after Carnival, but before Jazz Fest.  And with the Festival falling during Lent, but before Easter, there will be plenty of food on hand and if you observe meatless Fridays, there’s always plenty of seafood to enjoy.

Oh well, enough of that.  Let’s take a look at some of the unusual, odd or funny
things I’ve come across on the web recently.

Shoe stabber found guilty of murder

Ana Trujillo, the woman in Houston who was charged with murdering her boyfriend by stiletto heel was found guilty. I mean, she only bopped him on the head and in the face twenty-five times or so.  Her attorney tried for a self defense strategy, but I believe the twenty-five strikes with the 5 and 1/2 heel kind of blew that up in the water.  In the penalty phase the jury gave her life in prison.

“I never meant to hurt him,” Trujillo said before the judge made the jury’s decision final. “It was never my intent. I loved him. I wanted to get away. I never wanted to kill him.”

Well maybe if you had stopped at, oh, say, fifteen whacks with the shoe.  Just sayin’.

The prosecutor asked for life while Ms Trujillo’s attorney asked for a sentence of two years.  He said she acted “in the heat of sudden passion”.

Shades of the “kissing Congressman”!

Well this one actually happened before the video of Congress critter Vance McAllister getting all friendly and such with his “scheduler”/wife of best friend.  But perhaps this could be a cautionary tale for the congressman.

It seems that the good Rev Bobby Davis told his congregation of the Miracle Faith World Outreach Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut that he wanted his flock to stay past the end of services so he could have a chat with them.  Probably feeling that confession was good for the soul, the rev wanted to fess up to something he had done “a long time ago”.  Indeed, the reverend confessed that he had cheated on his wife of 50 years.  In the excitement of the congregation shouting out their forgiveness to him, the pastor fell to his knees, keeled over and died.

‘We were shouting, “We forgive you, we love you,”‘ Stovall said. I held his head as he lay on the floor… Our congregation is hurting now.’

‘The stress of all of it – he had a heart attack,’ Stovall continued. ‘I held his head as he lay on the floor… Our congregation is hurting now.”

Davis, a certified marriage and family therapist, served as pastor since he founded the church with his wife in 1967. The couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last June.

The church website said that his wife Christine ‘has worked alongside her husband for over forty-five years, teaching the Word of God…  She is a dynamic teacher whose style and wisdom compliments that of her husband to the extent that they almost always minister together in some capacity.’

 

Maybe sometimes it’s better to do a silent confession, just between you and your “higher power”, whoever that may be.

“Grandma wants dollar bills for WHAT?”

Well it seems that the manager/director and social workers at one Long Island nursing home had an activity other than Bingo for the residents to enjoy.  They decided to bring in some what the NY Post called “low rent Chippendales” to entertain the folks.  And this didn’t go over well with the son of one of the residents.  He expressed his outrage to the nursing home administrators who he says ignored him so he filed a suit against the nursing home.

The son of one resident, 86-year-old Bernice Youngblood, was shocked when he showed up for a visit and found a picture of his mom stuffing dollar bills — which are supposed to be locked away in her commissary account — into a dancer’s briefs.

“Plaintiff Bernice Youngblood was placed in apprehension of imminent, offensive, physical harm, as she was confused and bewildered as to why a muscular, almost nude man, was approaching her and placing his body and limbs, over [her],” the suit states.

I dunno, but if that’s a pic of Bernice on the Post website (and it is), she sure seemed to know where to stuff those dollar bills.  The suit continued:

“Bernice Youngblood has lived 85 years as a traditional Baptist, hard-working, lady . . . And now she has been defiled,” Ray (the attorney) said.

 

Now if Bernice is in the nursing home on Medicaid as so many of the residents are, I can see our Republican brothers and sisters getting all worked up because they’ll say it’s an abuse of Medicaid funds as Medicaid does provide a monthly stipend for the residents’ personal use.

Some assorted youtube clips

 

 Ronan Sinatra uh Farrow likes Koch

or at least the viewers on his MSNBC show say they do.  I confess that I have yet to watch the show.

Dutch Teevee reporter interviews…well someone with a big medal, and acts a little too nonchalant.

A youtube of New Yorkers with a rat on the subway and no it’s not politicians.  I like the guy sitting by the door who ends up just squatting on the seat while he uses his phone.

Finally, here’s about a minute of baby sloths “squeaking”.  It’s just cute.

Okay Widdershins, hope you had a great one today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good afternoon Widdershins.

My general rule is to steer away from stories of a local flavor since they represent limited interest, but there are exceptions. This is one of them since this story perfectly illustrates a point worth considering.

Coal Miner

Without the intricacies and political intrigue, here is the gist: The Kentucky General Assembly just met. During the session, a law was passed at the behest of the coal barons to reduce the number of yearly mine inspections. The mine owners waxed poetic and yearned for a time when they had a friendlier, more cooperative relationship with mine safety inspectors — unlike the overzealous Obama mine inspectors.

The crescendo of this kinder, gentler love affair sprinkled with coal pixie dust was 2006. It was the halcyon days where mine inspectors could be counted upon to do the “right thing” when it came to the owner’s quest to dislodge those clumps of black gold. Sadly, it wasn’t such a joyous time for the miners.

By comparison, in 2006 almost two and a half times more miners were killed than in 2012, the most recent year available for comparison. According to the mine owners, the “Obama War on Coal” was rampaging in 2012 — even though more miners were working in 2012 than 2006. In addition, there were more injuries in 2006 than in 2012 when those jack-booted state inspectors were spending too much time nosing around in mines. Since unions were run out of eastern Kentucky, mine inspectors are the only people who understand safety applies to miners’ well-being more than it does to owners’ profiteering.

Placing your tag in case you don't come back...

Placing your tag in case you don’t come back…

Now switch your mind’s eye to Congress where coincidentally Rep. Hal Rogers, (5th KY) Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee holds a hearing about funding for the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).  MSHA is responsible for enforcing mine-safety laws at the federal level. Rogers represents eastern Kentucky where the state has just curtailed state mine safety inspections.

Testifying before the Appropriations Committee, the mouthpiece of the Kentucky-based Coal Operators and Associates urged Congress to gut MSHA since “there is a complete secondary layer of inspection at the state level and states do things the right way.” The spokesman urged the reining in of MSHA since it was full of adversarial “rule sticklers” and couldn’t be counted on to be the “friendly” agency of 2006 gone by. When asked about instances of the adversarial nature, the spokesman gave not one example — not one — because conveniently, “operators fear retaliation” from MSHA.

Now keep both the Congressional and the Kentucky legislative hearings in mind as I tell you, both these hearings took place in front of the sobbing widows and children of dead miners. Dead miners like those killed in the 2006 explosion and fire in the Darby mine in Harlan County. Good old 2006, a time when the grief over killed miners could be eased by the friendliness of the infrequently visiting mine inspectors.

Coal awaiting its trip to China or India before it makes it way back by way of atmospheric carbon particulates...

Coal awaiting its trip to China or India before it makes it way back by way of atmospheric carbon particulates…

The agonizingly wretched part of this whole story isn’t just maximizing profits for coal operators. This whole charade is about making economically precarious mines more marketable to be sold to “wildcat local operators.” Large, publicly traded companies are reacting to the steep decline in coal demand by selling their mines to shoestring capitalized local operators. Fewer safety regulations equates to more marketability — no one wants a gift that eats.

Here’s the learning — the central motivation isn’t about miners living or dying or even mining itself — it is about reducing a budgetary line item at the expense of miners’ safety in order to make the mines more marketable and ultimately more valuable.

As repugnant as this example is, just look at the headlines in any newspaper. GM knew about the Ninety Cent ($0.90) ignition spring problem as early as 2001. Toyota knew about its sudden acceleration problem and decided to pay the settlements. The financial markets knew about the oncoming 2008 financial meltdown three years before it happened. As you are reading this, proprietary colleges owned by hedge funds are sentencing veterans and unsuspecting students to decades of exorbitant student loans. The list is endless or so it seems.

DilbertThere was a time when everyone believed in corporate responsibility, but it has been replaced by “moral hazard” — meaning a business person will take risks because the ultimate cost will not be felt by the individual or the company. In other words, because of insurance or quick profits or bailouts, executives will now gladly bite the hand feeding them. The time when corporations could be implicitly trusted to do the right thing has long passed.  This is but another all-too-often glossed over similarity to the Gilded Age.

What we have now are corporate oligarchs enslaved to “Occam’s Razor” — “After all other possibilities have been exhausted, the simplest explanation is most likely correct.” As a scientific postulate Occam’s Razor is true, but only if and only when, you have exhausted “all other possibilities.”

Occam's Razor

Today, whether it be the coal barons blaming meddlesome inspectors, GM fretting about a .90 cent ignition spring, or Wall Streeters banking their billions before an implosion, no one took the time to look at other possibilities — they merely took the simplest rhetorical answer and draped themselves in it. More likely than not, that rhetorical shroud consisted of “it’s the government’s fault” or “everyone else does it” or “what will it hurt to cut this corner?”  All quick and efficient enough to forestall any honest policy discussions.

We have one party that is an active, willing participant in this deceit and the other is just as guilty by acts of omission.  At the end of the day it makes little difference as to the party since the results are the same. Until our policies are dictated by something more than an intellectually corrupted and bastardized Occam’s Razor, we might as well enjoy being played for unknowing and trusting dullards.

This is an open thread.

 

angry-preacherGood afternoon Widdershins.I have been having a very s-l-o-w internet connection tonight and into this very early morning.  I did not realize this until I started to run Windows updates since I had the little icon in the tray that indicated I had some to install.  So the download started and eventually finished adn then Windows started the installs.  It took so long I stopped it twice.  Then came the “you have to restart Windows now” schtick.  I was thrilled.  Finally when that was done I was ready to start writing my post.  Except for the fact that somehow my browser was completely fubared.  Grrrrr!  I’ve spent the last hour or so trying to get things rearranged to what they were and I’m still not completely there.  So, my post will be brief.

I’m sure you are aware of the latest little dustup in the Louisiana congressional delegation.  Vance McAllister, the newly elected representative to the 5th Congressional district was caught in a serious liplock with his “‘scheduler” in one of the district offices.  A special election had been called when the representative in that district resigned (retired?) to take the job as head of the state Dept. of Veterans Affairs.  The fix had been in to elect a state Senator, with the governor’s approval and blessing of same and lil Booby sending one of his key political aides to help out with the election of said Senator.  Thinking the fix was in, the folks in the district chose not to go along with the annointed one and instead voted for Vance McAllister.  McAllister had never run for office before and had used a sizeable amount of his own money to run for office.  McAllister ran on his “family values” theme, so popular with Republicans and had the endorsement of one the Duck people, Willie, who he invited as his guest to the State of the Union Address.

During the runoff between McAllister and his opponent, a small newspaper in the district came out with an endorsement for his rival, Neal Riser.

Though he masquerades as a Republican and has gone to great lengths throughout this fall’s campaign to convince the electorate he’s a conservative, McAllister unmasked his liberal tendencies Friday night during a debate with Riser hosted by Louisiana Public Broadcasting. It was during the debate that McAllister stated emphatically he supports a key component of ObamaCare. That would be the expansion of Medicaid, which represents nothing more than an expansion of the welfare state. It’s that simple.

Coincidentally, it was the same publication which first showed the embrace and kiss between McAllister and his employee.  And about that employee.  In case you aren’t aware, she is the wife of a good friend of his.  They both donated the max of $5400 to McAllister’s campaign and McAllister grew up with and went to school with the man as well as working with him in some jobs.  Now, I don’t know about a lot of other areas, but in the South, even if you are running for the local school board or some other local entity, you have to stress three things:  Faith, Family and conservatism.  However, the Faith part was probably a convenient thing to mention according to his friend Heath Peacock.

McAllister was elected in a November special election to fill the vacancy left by  GOP Rep. Rodney Alexander’s resignation. McAllister campaigned as a Christian conservative – a claim Peacock disputed.

“I know his beliefs. When he ran one of his commercials, he said ‘I need your prayers,’ and I asked, ‘When did you get religious?’ He said, ‘When I needed votes,’” Peacock recalled. “He broke out the religious card and he’s about the most non-religious person I know.”

Still, that didn’t stop him from playing the “R” card as you’ll see below in one of his commercials.

Now, you can tell the guy was a newbie and novice in politics because after he was elected, he kept the same district office that his predecessor had and also kept the predecessor’s  employees on as his employees.  The latest news as of yesterday was that one of those employees was responsible for leaking the video to the local newspaper.  The video was taken by using a camera in front of a bank of video images from the security system in the Congressman’s office to record “the kiss”.  It was dated back in, I believe, December.  So the office manager had pulled up archived videos, recorded the kiss and was saving it to use.  A couple of things come to mind for me:  First – hire your own staff and don’t keep the leftovers.  Second, if you’re the politician, know where the cameras are in your office!

Finally, ole Vance apparently still knows how to play to his constituents, saying

“There’s no doubt I’ve fallen short and I’m asking for forgiveness. I’m asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me to serve.”

And second, if you’re a voter, don’t be concerned about a candidate’s “relationship with Jesus”.  It might be more important to find out what he knows about, oh, foreign policy, some things on domestic issues and stuff like that.  After all, how many Presidents have we seen who regularly trekked to church?  But then again, it’s Louisana and the voters have reelected David Vitter after he fessed up about his “serious sin” and he’s odds on favorite to be the next governor of the state!

and of course the endorsement of the Duck guy:

Lastly, I’m waiting to see one of these from ole Vance.

Consider this an open thread.

Good Tuesday Widdershin friends.

Sorry to be posting so late on this fine day, but I’ve been out of town for a funeral of a distant relative.  Consequently, my offering today will be slim.

The McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission case handed down last week by the Supreme Court has been McCutcheon Fat Cat“punditized” to death, but there is a potential effect that has gone almost unnoticed in the musings by the babbling class.  It strikes me that if anything McCutcheon stands for the country maxim, “Let the big dog have it, ’cause he’s goin’ get it anyway.”

McCutcheon case stands for the proposition that the 591 people who ran up against the contribution thresholds in the last election weren’t being sufficiently heard.  Somehow, these 591 people’s right to untethered beneficence to political candidates outweighed the rights of the rest of us in an election free from the “appearance” of impropriety.

In writing for the barest of majorities, Chief Justice Roberts said:

Spending large sums of money in connection with elections, but not in connection with an effort to control the exercise of an officeholder’s official duties, does not give rise to quid pro quo corruption.  Nor does the possibility that an individual who spends large sums may garner ‘influence over or access to’ elected officials or political parties.

So the Roberts Five, believing that capping a bazillionaires right to spread the wealth, opened the floodgates in order to ensure these 591 “do-gooders” the ability to slather their wealth upon as many contribution hungry politicians as possible.  What Roberts and his four accommodating Justices fail to realize is that prior to an election and the investiture of elected power, there can’t be quid pro quo corruption.  In other words, you can’t give what you do not yet have.

The more dilatory effect is this:  If you are Joe and Joanne Lunchbucket, why bother with voting?  If the big dogs are going to overwhelm an election with monstrous contributions, why bother with reordering your already busy lives in order to cast a ballot in the ever decreasing hours afforded by Republican controlled legislatures.  Making sure 591 people participate to the fullest extent of their bank accounts seems to be a major disincentive to the millions of senior citizens, people of color, and working poor whose political expression must be sandwiched in smaller and smaller inconvenient hours.

Following Citizens United with McCutcheon, the Roberts Five has definitively said, “Money is speech.”  What they have therefore condoned is, “More money equals more speech.”  To analogize to the public square, you may have the right to speak, but if someone has the resources to purchase a bullhorn, you no longer have the right to be heard.

Money is people too

So in a way, McCutcheon isn’t so much about speech as it is about silence.  We, the 99 percent, know what bought and paid for government looks like.  It was on full display a week ago during the Sheldon Adelson Las Vegas beauty contest.

In the face of the inevitable, why should the average person continue to donate, participate, and most importantly vote?  I’m sure the 591 people affected by this decision have wondered on more than one occasion, “How much longer must we be subject to the uneducated whims of the unwashed masses?”

By overturning 40 years of policy and case law, the Supreme Court has answered:  Not much longer.

This is an open thread.

 

The power of sisterhood reigns!

Good Monday, Widdershins! Many apologies for the brain freeze last week. I hope you enjoyed the blast from the past that Chatblu put up! (Thanks, Chat!)

I don’t know if any of you are keeping up with this, but “Frozen,” Disney’s Oscar-winning animated feature, has now become the 10th top-grossing movie of all time…and the number one animated movie of all time, surpassing “Toy Story 3.”

For the first time in forever, “Toy Story 3″ is no longer the highest grossing animated film of all time. With its opening in Japan this weekend, Disney’s “Frozen” has taken the top spot and pushed its worldwide box office to an estimated $1.072 billion.

The two-time Oscar winner, which was released in the United States and Canada in late November, joined the billion-dollar box-office club in early March. The movie is running in 36 countries, including South Korea, the United Kingdom and Germany.

I pay attention to these pop culture phenomena mainly because I am curious to see how they are portraying women. In the case of “Frozen,” I feel the movie gets an A+.

SPOILER ALERT: The movie has been out for six months, so if you haven’t seen it yet, I apologize for any spoilers you may read here. If you are okay with knowing more, follow me now as I examine the new, feminist 21st-century Disney princess portrayed in the film.

Read the rest of this entry »

Good Sunday, Widdershins.  Although it isn’t actually.  I am sorting my way through mounds of receipts in preparation for Tuesday’s appointment,  My accountant is circling, breathing fire, and mumbling loudly – again.  Every year I swear to be better organized.  Every year I revert to the old tried and true system of tossing anything vaguely deductible onto the top of the desk in the guest room, and then resolutely wading into them at the last possible second.

I need some inspiration.  There are songs about taxes, songs about money, songs to relieve the general anxiety that I am currently experiencing – lots of songs indeed.  I;ve listed some, and would appreciate your input.  Otherwise, please consider this to be the usual open thread.

(1) Tax Payer’s Lament – Bizarre Error

(2) Me and the IRS –  Johnny Paycheck

(3) Poor Pitiful Me – Linda Ronstadt

(5) Take the Money and Run – Steve Mille Band

(5) Tax Paying Blues – J.B. Lenoir

 

 

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