Wednesday Afternoon Open Thread

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    From our "Eagle 1, Bambi 0" file: (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 04:02:01 PM EST
    In her studies of Amur (aka Siberian) tigers in their native habitat in the Russian Far East, conservation biologist Linda Kerley employs "camera traps," which are attached to trees and other solid objects and employ motion detectors in order to record and photograph the animals that are passing through the neighborhood.

    In December 2011, as she sought to change the batteries and memory card of one of her cameras in the Lazovsky State Nature Reserve, Dr. Kerley happened across the carcass of an indigenous sika deer laying only a few feet from the camera. She further noticed that "[there] were no large carnivore tracks in the snow, and it looked like the deer had been running and then just stopped and died."

    One can only imagine her surprise when she subsequently downloaded the images from the retrieved memory card, and found that her camera had captured what is probably the first-ever photographic evidence of a golden eagle preying upon a deer.

    Fascinating stuff, if you're into wildlife science like me.

    There are some tough birds (none / 0) (#43)
    by jondee on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 07:46:21 AM EST
    out there..

    That puts me in mind of the stories I've heard around here about great horned owls killing people by swooping down on them from behind and digging a talon under the base of the skull..

    Which is why I always go out of my way to be nice to owls.


    This just makes me sad (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by jbindc on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 06:32:40 AM EST
    Detroit Spent Billions Extra on Pensions

    Detroit's municipal pension fund made payments for decades to retirees, active workers and others above and beyond normal benefits, costing the struggling city billions of dollars and helping push it into bankruptcy, according to people who have reviewed the payments.

    The payments, which were not publicly disclosed, included bonuses to retirees, supplements to workers not yet retired and cash to the families of workers who died before becoming eligible to collect a pension, according to reports by an outside actuary and other people with knowledge of the matter.

    How much each person received is not known. But available records suggest that the trustees approving the payments did not discriminate; nearly everybody in the plan received them. Most of the trustees on Detroit's two pension boards represent organized labor, and for years they could outvote anyone who challenged the payments.


    Of all the nonpension payments, she said, 54 percent went to active workers, 14 percent went to retirees and 32 percent went to the city, which used its share to lower its annual contributions to the fund. The excess payments were often made near the end of the year, when recipients needed money for the holidays, or to heat their homes.

    Detroit has nearly 12,000 retired general workers, who last year received pensions of $19,213 a year on average -- hardly enough to drive a great American city into bankruptcy. But the total excess payments in some years ran to more than $100 million, a crushing expense for a city in steep decline. In some years, the outside actuary found, Detroit poured into the pension fund more than twice the amount it would have had to contribute had it paid only the specified benefits.

    And then the city's contributions were not enough. So much money had been drained from the pension fund that by 2005, Detroit could no longer replenish it from its dwindling tax revenue. Instead, the city turned to the public bond markets, borrowed $1.44 billion and used that to fill the hole.

    Even that did not work. In June, Detroit failed to make a $39.7 million interest payment on that borrowing -- the first default of what was soon to become the biggest municipal bankruptcy case in American history.

    Blame The Workers and The Unions (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 11:05:01 AM EST
    How surprising...  

    Unions fear the machinations are under way to reduce their benefits in the city's Chapter 9 bankruptcy case. They say this cannot happen because Michigan's Constitution explicitly protects public pensions.

    James E. Spiotto, an expert on municipal bankruptcy with the firm of Chapman & Cutler in Chicago, said that if pension money was, in fact, misused, leaving an insolvency, it might affect the terms of an eventual settlement.

    looks like the new angle is hang it on the corrupt unions and workers...  one way to break the constitutional protection for the workers pension.

    And this tripe is really offensive:


    Hundreds of millions of dollars of plan assets intended to support the city's traditional defined-benefit pension arrangements were converted," he wrote, "to provide a windfall to the annuity savings accounts of active employees outside of the defined-benefit pension plan."

    odd that he does not break it down to what each worker who got the 7.5% rate on their annuity savings actually earned in 2009. My guess is it amounted to a few hundred dollars per worker, if that.

    And the pension were $19,213 on average per worker... not much for a lifetime of work.  And the incredible excess on average for 12,000 workers ($1 Billion over 28 years) was about $3 per year.

    From my POV blaming the workers and unions smells bad..

    The 13th checks were distributed when the pension fund's investments outperformed annual expectations. The extra bucks were given to active workers' annuity accounts and to retirees usually as an extra monthly payment.

    Considering that

    Kwame M. Kilpatrick, a former mayor of Detroit, was found guilty on Monday of a raft of charges, including racketeering, fraud and extortion, capping a five-month public corruption trial against him and two co-defendants.

    Mr. Chutlow said in his closing arguments that Ferguson shared more than $125 million in spoils with Kilpatrick and that the mayor spent $840,000 past what his salary covered during his time as mayor.

    Kwame Kilpatrick (none / 0) (#62)
    by jbindc on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 04:23:36 PM EST
    As well as another mayor - Coleman Young - were worthless - and did more to harm the city than they did good.

    But now, Kevyn Orr, the Emergency Manager, is seeking to freeze the city's pension plan.

    Details of the pension freeze were outlined separately in a memo provided by Tina Bassett, a spokeswoman for the trustees of Detroit's General Retirement System. The memo said that the city's defined-benefit pension plan would be closed to new members as of Dec. 31. Further benefit accruals would be halted on that date for city workers already vested in the pension plan, but they would keep the pensions that they had earned up until then.

    That type of pension freeze is legal and fairly common in the private sector. But public employees' unions in many states say it would be illegal for their members, because of statutes and constitutional provisions that apply to governmental workers.

    The Detroit pension freeze would also halt payments of other nonpension benefits that have been made for many years, including distributions to active workers. Retirees would no longer receive yearly cost-of-living adjustments. Current city workers would be shifted into new defined-contribution plans, similar to 401(k) plans, which would comply with the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code, according to the memo.

    YEs (none / 0) (#64)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 04:45:24 PM EST
    Ergo the news that the pension board did illegal things to create windfall profits for the workers and retirees.

    Seems to me Orr had a problem because he could not freeze the pension because of the State Constitution protection.

    So he investigated to find anything unusual in how the pension fund was managed. It was well documented and a law was even passed to force the board to change its practice. Now Orr is on a mission to prove that there was fraud in order to void the constitutional protection.


    Yes (none / 0) (#71)
    by jondee on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 04:07:12 PM EST
    blame everything and everyone for Detroit's woes but the new sacred cows of Free Trade, globalization, and an investor class that seemingly cares about little else besides expanding their portfolios..

    ThX for the article. (none / 0) (#50)
    by Visteo1 on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 10:27:49 AM EST
    Expect to hear more about this shortly.  It is sad for pention recipients.  They face a clawback of previous payments AND a reduction in future payments...all no fault on their part.

    The mismanagement is visible everywhere in this city.

    On a brighter note, I called 911 a couple days ago on a disoriented older man that was huffing paint and police arrived within 10 minutes...kudos to DPS.


    Jon Stewart skewers Ted Cruz (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by Yman on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 10:37:07 AM EST
    Pointing out (among other things), the irony in his choice of "Green Eggs and Ham".

    "So to express your opposition to Obamacare, you go with a book about a stubborn jerk who decides he hates something before he's tried it. And when he finally gets a taste, he has to admit, after tasting it, 'this is pretty f***ing good.'"

    Two separate videos - well worth sitting through the annoying, 30-second Hulu ads.

    Tom Friedman aficionado (none / 0) (#1)
    by KeysDan on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 02:25:07 PM EST
    quiz: Who gave Tom Friedman insights and inspiration on what to do about Syria?  (a) D.C. taxi driver, (b) Sri Lankan pearl fisher, (c) Lyon pastry chef, (d) pink-haired Swiss Mister, (eJ) Fenway Park beer vendor.   Answer.  Winners get free cyber-cream pies suitable for cyber-throwing.

    He didn't even solicit (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 02:31:20 PM EST
    the opinion of pink boy, who maybe was worried about Syria we'll never know n

    Right... (none / 0) (#6)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 03:46:43 PM EST
    ...the assumption that because of his country, appearance, and 'joie de vivre', he is someone oblivious to the world around him, specifically Syria.

    Much like his notion that the price of being an American is being 'taxed' with worrying about Syria.  

    Seems to be we were more 'taxed' about getting dragged into another BS conflict than Syria itself.  Something the boy with the pink hair has never had to fret from his leaders, which just might explain the 'joie de vivre'.


    PolicyMic Map (none / 0) (#3)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 02:31:52 PM EST
    Check out this MAP to see what your state is worse at.  

    Texas has the lowest high school graduation rate is is pitiful, but not nearly as embarrassing as Washington and Louisiana.

    Utah, surprisingly, enough has the highest rate of online porn subscriptions.

    This is why (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 05:12:43 PM EST
    i get my flu shot every year. Georgia seems to have a lot of contagious diseases.

    Utah, as I've read, allows little hard-copy (none / 0) (#4)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 03:00:28 PM EST
    pron and similar items to be sold in stores, etc. So, it would seem that on-line is the main source for the Utahns.

    That Makes Sense... (none / 0) (#5)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 03:32:32 PM EST
    ...if it wasn't epicenter of the religion that takes matters related to sex very seriously, namely the premarital kind and any form of contraception.

    and not-commented on many, many times before aspect to the convo, do with it what you will.

    Well, that explains Scott Walker's election. (none / 0) (#9)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 04:09:01 PM EST
    According to the accompanying article, 23.2% of Wisconsin residents engage in binge drinking.

    Calif (none / 0) (#17)
    by Mikado Cat on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 07:54:40 PM EST
    is listed as air pollution, I think that would not make the top twenty list of problems for most residents of California.

    Highest tax burden, NY, NJ, CT, CA.
    Cost of living.
    Restrictive gun laws.
    CARB and EPA regulations, ironic those that did the most to clear the air, which is listed as the biggest problem, are now one of the biggest problems.


    "Most residents" (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by Yman on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 08:13:33 PM EST
    No one like paying taxes, but I'd rather pay higher taxes than have lousy schools and public services.  Not to mention that those states with "restrictive gun laws" are the same states with the lowest levels of gun violence - and vice-versa.

    What would be nice is a 1:1 return on federal tax dollars, so that we don't have to keep subsidizing all those "taker" states whose pols talk about personal responsibility and low taxes while living on the dole (slightly tongue-in-cheek).


    Except (none / 0) (#28)
    by Mikado Cat on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 11:39:05 PM EST
    Calif does have lousy schools and public services. Calif gun laws restrict the legal use of guns, the laws are nothing special with regard to illegal use.

    Wikipedia shows Calif as the highest number of murders by gun 1257, 3.4/100k and a Brady score of 80, in the top ten for highest gun murders and top 5 for most restrictive gun laws.


    Oh, for crying out loud! (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 12:39:38 AM EST
    Mikado Cat: "Wikipedia shows Calif as the highest number of murders by gun 1257 ..."

    That figure of 1,257 gun murders you cited represents the total number out of California's entire population of over 37 million residents!

    Given that California is home to 1 in 8 Americans, it naturally follows that its raw demographic numbers would also tend to be higher than those from other states. It's inherently meaningless and nonsensical to just throw such figures around like that, without also offering some sense of proportionality or scale.

    That would be like me saying that City and County of Honolulu (which encompasses the entire island of Oahu) has more robberies than all of Hawaii's neighbor islands combined, without bothering to note to readers here that Oahu's also home to nearly 80% of the state's population.

    Incidentally, you might want to look at your Wikipedia chart again, because California is not in the top ten of gun murder rates. Eleven other states have higher rates.



    So shoot me (none / 0) (#41)
    by Mikado Cat on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 07:04:19 AM EST
    DC isn't a state, so Calif is what #11? Its in the top 11, and in the top 5 most restricted gun laws.

    I included the rate of 3.4/100k of population.


    Cherry-picking (none / 0) (#47)
    by Yman on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 09:39:26 AM EST
    ... and not even doing a particularly good job of it.

    1.  California not "in the top 10" for gun murders.  It's actually number 12, as opposed to your "revised" claim of number 11.

    2.  You did indeed include the rate of 3.4/100K population, but you did it as an aside, after claiming that California had the highest number of murders by gun.  Of course, once you factor in it's huge population, it nowhere near the "highest".

    3.  If you want to look at those states who actually do have the highest levels of gun violence (as opposed to a single state that doesn't), you would see a very obvious pattern.

    The 10 states with the most gun violence:

    1.  Alaska
    2.  Alabama
    3.  Arkansas
    4.  Arizona
    5.  Georgia
    6.  Louisiana
    7.  Missouri
    8.  Mississippi
    9.  New Mexico
    10. South Carolina

    The states with the least gun violence?

    New Jersey
    New York
    Rhode Island

    Speaking as a gun owner from one of those "very restrictive" gun law states, I gotta say I'm pretty happy about living in the state with the 4th-lowest level of gun violence.

    A few findings from scientific studies:

    Our review of the academic literature found that a broad array of evidence indicates that gun availability is a risk factor for homicide, both in the United States and across high-income countries.  Case-control studies, ecological time-series and cross-sectional studies indicate that in homes, cities, states and regions in the U.S., where there are more guns, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide. - Link

    While many factors contribute to the rates of gun violence in any state, our research clearly demonstrates a significant correlation between the strength of a state's gun laws and the prevalence of gun violence in the state. Across the key indicators of gun violence that we analyzed, the 10 states with the weakest gun laws collectively have a level of gun violence that is more than twice as high--104 percent higher--than the 10 states with the strongest gun laws. - Link


    You (2.00 / 1) (#67)
    by Mikado Cat on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 08:31:02 AM EST
    say I am cherry picking, then link to a cherry picking study. LOL.

    Its other factors, the gun restrictions on legal owners only make it easier for criminals.


    You chose ONE state ... (5.00 / 1) (#69)
    by Yman on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 08:40:08 AM EST
    ... and that one didn't even support your claim.

    I linked to two studies that looked at ALL states.

    Its other factors, the gun restrictions on legal owners only make it easier for criminals.

    Really?  Anything to back it up?  Other than the fact that you typed it?


    You have Prop 13 to blame (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by shoephone on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 01:12:54 AM EST
    for the damage done to California's public schools. Thank your GOP for that travesty.

    Sorry (none / 0) (#40)
    by Mikado Cat on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 06:57:03 AM EST
    I live here and have seen the schools in action, its the teachers unions and the embedded bureaucracy that keep the schools 50 years behind the times and generally dysfunctional. Its not lack of funds, its money spent foolishly and politically.

    Our school district is still digging itself out of a fiasco from 10 years ago when the teachers made an all out effort to get a pet school board elected. They pushed the candidates in class, sent notes home with students about how important it was to elect this group to "save the schools" and when elected they pushed through a package of benefits that bankrupted the district so we had trailers instead of class rooms for a decade in most schools.


    Sorry yourself. I grew up there (5.00 / 2) (#57)
    by shoephone on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 01:14:00 PM EST
    and lived there during the imposition of Prop 13 and its aftermath. I stand by what I said. Prop 13 killed the public school system in California.

    Prop 13 (none / 0) (#68)
    by Mikado Cat on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 08:35:20 AM EST
    Lowered the rate of increase on property taxes, a general revenue action, but our schools are not poor due to funding, they are poor due to operational practices.

    Our schools run about as well as the post office and for the same reasons.


    Shrug (5.00 / 3) (#70)
    by jbindc on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 02:17:53 PM EST
    I think the post office runs pretty well.  I mail a letter, it gets to its destination in a few days, all for about 47 cents.  All for receiving absolutely no tax dollars to operate.  Maybe they need to raise the rates for the 160 billion or so pieces of mail they process each year.

    Post (none / 0) (#72)
    by Mikado Cat on Sat Sep 28, 2013 at 06:20:29 AM EST
    office does help create a sense of community when people meet there neighbors to sort out misdelivered mail.

    I'll agree it does work, its just that it does so in a fashion total alien to normal business practices.


    Bull,,,,! (5.00 / 2) (#75)
    by NYShooter on Sat Sep 28, 2013 at 10:19:30 PM EST
    Somehow, in over 40 years of service, the Post Office has never failed to deliver my Visa/MC bill accurately, and on time.

    And, as far as "misdelivered" mail goes, two thoughts: Try reading what some people consider hand writing and see what your accuracy rate would be? Also, besides my regular mailing address I also got one of those private mail/package store accounts. From personal experience I assure you the errors in the "private" mail service runs at least 3 to 1 compared to the U.S. Post Office.

    And, finally, why not just admit that this issue has nothing to do with the level of service, and, everything to do with the Republican's desire to dismantle anything the Government does more efficiently and cheaper than your holy "private enterprise," and their "normal business practices"......Read: gouge the public for as much as they can bribe their Representatives to allow?


    YMMV (none / 0) (#76)
    by Mikado Cat on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 04:09:39 AM EST
    Of the three pieces of mail my neighbor walked over and handed me yesterday, none were hand written, one was a credit card bill, and I believe all included the sorting bar codes.

    Earlier in the week I delivered to another neighbor his utility bill from the city, and something from AARP.

    I'm just glad our mailbox conveniently located half a block away only has 16 boxes so I don't need to walk so far to properly deliver the mail to the addressed recipient.


    It's Been My Experience... (5.00 / 2) (#77)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 09:59:15 AM EST
    ...that living anywhere with multiple unit boxes leads to more errors.  A really huge apartment building I lived in was horrible, from getting past residence mail, to get the neighbors, but all I would do it put it in the outgoing mail.  IOW, an easily correctable errors.

    The mail person didn't drive USPS vehicle or wear a uniform, and turn over was ridiculous.  I assumed they were contracted.  Now I have a single box with a real mail person in uniform driving a USPS vehicle, I can not remember the last time an error was made.

    There is a reason the entire business world uses the USPS for nearly everything they want disseminated to their vendors and customers.  Here, I would say the ratio of private delivery to USPS is easily 1:100, if not more.  

    USPS is the best bang for your buck, hands down.  The economy would come to a grinding halt if it had to delivery everything using UPS, FedEx, or DHL, which at the very cheapest, runs about 10-20 times more than the USPS.

    Private delivery totally relies on the USPS and when they aren't in sync, private delivery fails because they simply do not have their own method of assigning locations.  This happened to me over xmas a few years ago when my zicode was split, it was a nightmare.  

    Private delivery's entire business model is based on a government set of standards, without it, they simply couldn't exist.  That method is not unique to the US, it's a world standard that required each country's government to be constant and active.

    Without a government sanctioned department ensuring some sort of conformity, each individual delivery service would be forced to develop their own address system, which could lead to multiple addresses, dependent on the delivery service.  IMO more likely, it would just lead to a collapse of delivery, no one could afford to use a private system that would gradually become more unreliable.

    The USPS is probably the most efficient and important departments in the US.  And when you consider they are damn near self sufficient, there is simply no comparison.


    Your mileage varies (5.00 / 1) (#78)
    by Yman on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 10:23:41 AM EST
    I've had less than 5 (probably 3) misdelivered pieces of mail in the 12 years I've lived at my current address ... out of tens of thousands of pieces of mail in those years.

    Thank goodness you've never made a mistake in your job ...


    I guess your mail delivery person just doesn't (none / 0) (#79)
    by Angel on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 02:43:38 PM EST
    like you.

    More conservative fairy tales (none / 0) (#45)
    by Yman on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 08:56:16 AM EST
    Calif does have lousy schools and public services. Calif gun laws restrict the legal use of guns, the laws are nothing special with regard to illegal use.

    Every state school system has its issues, but you can't judge all states with higher taxes based on the performance of a single state.  California schools - which were consistently ranked at the top during the 60s and early 70s when they also had good funding, have declined since Prop 13 was passed.  California's per-pupil spending has steadily fallen, currently at 49th/51 (including DC) in the country.  Only Nevada and Utah spend less on their students.

    If you want the "lousy" schools, try heading to those conservative meccas with low taxes in the South and Southwest.

    Overall "Chance For Success" index

    WORST: Bottom 15 (No northern, high-tax states, all southeastern and southwestern states)

    1. Nevada
    2. New Mexico
    3. Mississippi
    4. Arizona
    5. Louisiana
    6. West Virginia
    7. Arkansas
    8. Tennessee
    9. Alabama
    10. California (Prop 13)
    Next five: TX, OK, SC, KY, AK

    Who has the best schools?

    BEST: Top 15

    1. Massachusetts
    2. Connecticut
    3. New Jersy
    4. New Hampshire
    5. Vermont
    6. Maryland
    7. North Dakota
    8. Minnesota
    9. Virginia
    10. Iowa
    Next five: CO, NY, PA, WI, KS

    K-12 Achievement index:

    Highest: Top 10
    Mass, NJ, Maryland, Vermont, N. Hamp, Florida, PA, NY, Minn, Montana

    Lowest: Bottom 10
    Mississippi, W. Virginia, Dist. of Columbia, Louisiana, N. Mexico, Calif., S. Carolina, Alabama, Arizona, Michigan

    Guess the old adage is true, huh?  You really do get what you pay for.


    I grew up in Southern California. (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 11:57:30 PM EST
    To be perfectly blunt, the air quality that existed there during my childhood and adolescence years was generally appalling. We endured smog alerts on an all-too-depressingly regular basis. There were many days when one couldn't see the San Gabriel Mountains from my house -- and I lived in Pasadena, which is nestled in the San Gabriel foothills.

    The present air quality is vastly improved from 35-40 years ago, thanks to the EPA and the Clean Air Act, which created the South Coast Air Quality Management District to combat the problem.

    The notion that SoCal residents should now gladly forgo improved air and water quality and return to the polluted days of yesteryear, simply to mollify the greedy likes of corporate executives who always seem to find regulatory compliance "too burdensome," regardless of the regulations at hand, is going to be a non-starter with a decisive majority of them.

    Please don't insult everyone's intelligence here by listing the same tired litany of complaints about high taxes, gun laws and environmental protection that we've been hearing from the right for decades now, and then insisting that these are the issues everyone is talking about. While I've no doubt that you find them important personally, I'd say the odds are better than even that you do not speak for "most residents of California."

    Because truth be told, the only ones who are talking about such "concerns" ad nauseum are the usual suspects, i.e., the same obnoxious handful of loudmouthed wingbats who regularly parrot whatever they heard from a certain oxycontin-addled lardass and his reality-challenged cohorts on AM squawk radio.



    I've puked (none / 0) (#42)
    by Mikado Cat on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 07:09:54 AM EST
    from the smog is Azuza which is about the worst place for smog in the LA basin, so I recall well what it was like.

    It isn't like that anymore, and nobody wants to go back, but it would be nice to be able to intelligently move forward. EPA and CARB are so politically tied up they are nothing but obstructions of progress in many areas.


    During the Winter (none / 0) (#44)
    by MKS on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 08:50:02 AM EST
    months on a clear day you can see the buildings of downtown LA and the Hollywood sign from the hills of Newport Beach.....actually from the 73 looking North.

    That was not the case 20 years ago.


    "Most residents" of CA, (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by oculus on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 02:07:23 AM EST
    including me, are pleased with the progress made here toward cleaner air. And water b

    Define Tax Burden... (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 09:42:07 AM EST
    ...what types of taxes are you including, is there a personal income tax beyond withholding ?  The sales tax rates are inline with other state and property tax rates are very low for some.  I guarantee as far as tax burdens, CA is no where near the top of the list, #17.  And that's not including property taxes which would even put CA lower.

    That list of complaints seems to be the same for every right winger, no matter their residence.  We get it, you all think your taxes are insanely high, when in reality, they are average or below average on a global scale.

    But the map wasn't actually about what the residents in the state think is most important, it's a map about what each state is worse at.  Meaning of all the states, California is the worse one for air pollution, whether you personally care about it or not.


    McCain on Health Care (none / 0) (#10)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 04:14:52 PM EST
    McCain noted in his speech that he was in the Senate during the 2009-10 debate over passing Obamacare, and that he campaigned for re-election in 2010 on his opposition to Obamacare. But he said the voters had rendered their verdict on the health care reform program in the 2012 election.

    "The people spoke -- they spoke much to my dismay. But they spoke, and they re-elected the president of the United States," McCain said.


    Something that is never mentioned about the defunding effort is that it passed fair and square and that by trying to defund a law passed by Congress, they are essentially trying to side-step the democratic process.

    You know, that sort of logic ... (none / 0) (#11)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 04:24:27 PM EST
    ... is just too convoluted for the likes NBC's Chuck Todd and the rest of the Cool Kids in the Beltway press corps. You really need to stop making so much sense, and learn to just go with the flow.

    Defunding (none / 0) (#18)
    by Mikado Cat on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 07:57:06 PM EST
    is part of the democratic process, so that a simple majority can't cram anything it wants down the throat of the minority.

    lol; unfortunately, our elected public servants (none / 0) (#24)
    by Mr Natural on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 08:41:02 PM EST
    define the "minority" as meaning 100 U.S. Senators and 435 U.S. Representatives.

    Really? (none / 0) (#27)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 11:01:22 PM EST
    The decision to fund and review specific authorized programs or projects is a normal part of everyday governance and oversight.

    Regularly threatening to hold government hostage -- in all or in part -- unless or until a political minority gets its way is not. Rather, that's called coercion.

    And while coercive tactics can be successfully employed over the short term, an over-reliance upon them in lieu of long-term policy development or sound strategic planning generally leads to electoral defeat (if not disaster), because voters will eventually tire of the manufactured crises and obstructionism such tactics tend to engender.

    One need only look to the present circumstances faced by an almost thoroughly marginalized California GOP, to note the ultimate political fate awaiting those who would desire to rule but otherwise disdain to actually govern, and whose presence serves only to retard the scene.



    The use of coercion would (none / 0) (#49)
    by Visteo1 on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 09:55:58 AM EST
    not bother me, if it had a strong chance of succeeding.  What irks me is what I perceive as a wasted effort that can only be disruptive and keeps our legislators from doing something, anything, that can have a positive effort for our nation.

    Change what you don't like about Obamacare that has some chance of succeding, and stop the political bullsh#t.


    What they don't like about Obamacare... (none / 0) (#54)
    by unitron on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 10:44:23 AM EST
    ...is the chance that something about it might cause something that someone somewhere actually likes when they're trying to get him universally hated and blamed for anything and everything anybody anywhere doesn't like.

    It Is Not... (none / 0) (#58)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 02:37:08 PM EST
    ...it's a nonsensical move to side step legally enacted legislation.  Beyond the ACA, Congress doesn't enact laws, all of which have to have some sort of funding, then have the following Congress come in and pretend they can defund it.

    Might be the way the GOP thinks the way government should be run, but it's not part of the democratic process.

    And sorry but the democratic process is basically majority rules.  And the only reason the GOP is pulling this move is because they are the majority in the house, which wasn't true when the legislation was passed.  They tried, 40 times I believe, to use the democratic process to repeal the law, that didn't work, now onto tomfoolery and budget extortion that they know cannot possibly work without 2/3rds in all of Congress.

    Like Obama is going to a sign a law refunding his pet legislation...  Making this non-sense, nothing more than a publicity stunt.

    McCain knows it, so does nearly every functioning politician on Capital Hill.  Cruz and Co are acting like children who don't get their way and think if they cry loud enough the rules will get bend.  Now they are realizing just how bad of a idea that was, but can't seem to get the crazy to realize that ACA is here to stay, at least until they get a majority in the House, a filibuster proof Senate, and the White House.  

    Which surely they all know won't happen anything soon with the crazies calling the shots.


    Not the Point (none / 0) (#59)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 02:44:15 PM EST
    Cruz and Co are acting like children who don't get their way and think if they cry loud enough the rules will get bend.

    Cruz, never expected rules to bend. He succeeded in his goal and scored big points with his constituents as well as expanding his base. He, of course, never planned to ride the filibuster to the end. It was all entertainment and the GOPers like a good rodeo show. Even if the cowboy gets thrown off in the end a long ride is always appreciated.


    Conservative (none / 0) (#73)
    by Mikado Cat on Sat Sep 28, 2013 at 06:23:49 AM EST
    sites now have a list of I think 17 senators to replace, so that should make 2014 fun to watch.

    Since (none / 0) (#13)
    by lentinel on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 06:37:27 PM EST
    this is an open thread, I wish to present a totally worthless subject that nevertheless intrigues me:

    On most of the police shows that I sometimes watch, there is a corpse lying there. More often than not, it looks to me as if someone is actually playing the part of the corpse.

    I sometimes imagine the call from the agent to the would-be corpse actor:

    "Bubby. I got a part for you on a network show. You have a scene with David Caruso...."

    Anyone lying there motionless... (5.00 / 3) (#16)
    by unitron on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 07:11:47 PM EST
    ...in that scene will still have out-acted Caruso.

    Did you (none / 0) (#25)
    by lentinel on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 09:04:12 PM EST
    ever notice that he is always posing sideways?

    Maybe that's his good side. (none / 0) (#31)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 01:01:23 AM EST
    Seriously, David Caruso has got to be one of the most boring actors in the biz.

    Were I a screenwriter for "CSI-Miami," I'd have personnel from the Dade Co. coroner's office arrive at the crime scene and attempt to load Caruso onto the wagon -- and when he complains that he's not dead and they've got the wrong guy, one of the coroner guys would retort smartly, "Oh, really? Well, you sure had me fooled!"


    Oh. Not Enrico! (none / 0) (#36)
    by oculus on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 02:10:01 AM EST
    He (none / 0) (#46)
    by lentinel on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 09:28:28 AM EST
    generally looks like a guy posing for GQ.

    They could easily mistake him for a stiff - as you say.

    How some people make it in show biz, as opposed to others who have something to offer, is a mystery. I suppose, realistically, t'was ever thus.


    They are commonly called "extras" or (none / 0) (#14)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 06:47:24 PM EST
    "background." A corpse might be referred to as a "featured extra."

    No lines, no residuals, sometimes non-union, usually a little extra "bump" (in pay) due to additional makeup, wardrobe, etc.


    Scene with the (none / 0) (#21)
    by Mikado Cat on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 08:05:48 PM EST
    corpse is often one of the most expensive for a TV show. I forget all the reasons why, and doubt its due to paying the corpse.

    Indeed. (none / 0) (#34)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 01:13:32 AM EST
    One of my (none / 0) (#20)
    by Mikado Cat on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 08:03:58 PM EST
    friends joined the Obama economy a couple years ago, got laid off, and decided he was too old for another job and started doing extra work.

    The bottom end is volunteer for "projects" like kids in film school, but that usually is for people working on building a "reel" due to the opportunity to do more acting rather than face in a crowd stuff.

    Typical is background in "real" productions, pays minimum wage and usually includes a meal.

    This may have changed recently, but used to be you had to have a SAG waiver to be an extra on many sets, and once you collected three you became SAG eligible and needed to join for the next job. Nice bump in pay, and few perks, but not a living.

    OTOH people are lined up to do it, to be on the movie sets etc.


    Now that you mention it....... (none / 0) (#60)
    by NYShooter on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 02:45:23 PM EST
    This really bugs me.

    Picture yourself on a normal day at work. Two scary looking Homicide detectives walk in and want to talk to you about a murder that was committed close by a day, or so, ago. Do you, as most regular people would do, stop what you're doing, and give the detectives your rapt attention? No, of course not. You continue doing what you were doing, walking up and down the hallway, the detectives chasing after you like bothersome school children, trying to get a question answered as you're cleaning off your desktop, or filing away paperwork. Then, since its "break-time," you walk out of the room, leaving the detectives just standing there looking at each other, with half their questions unanswered.

    Just watch for this next times there's a police show on TV. It happens every single time, as if murders are committed in your building every day, and cops are simply a nuisance to be disrespected and gotten rid of as quickly as possible..  


    Wave The Flag Not YOur Rights (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 03:03:05 PM EST
    As Jeralyn often says...

    From the ACLU:

    Stay calm. Don't run. Don't argue, resist or obstruct the police, even if you are innocent or police are violating your rights.

    Keep your hands where police can see them.

    Ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, calmly and silently walk away. If you are under arrest, you have a right to know why.

    If an FBI agent comes to your home or workplace, you do not have to answer any questions. Tell the agent you want to speak to a lawyer first.

    If you are asked to meet with FBI agents for an interview, you have the right to say you do not want to be interviewed. If you agree to an interview, have a lawyer present.

    You do not have to answer any questions you feel uncomfortable answering, and can say that you will only answer questions on a specific topic.

    The thing I hate (none / 0) (#63)
    by jbindc on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 04:30:01 PM EST
    Is when a crime takes place in a hospital.  Someone is chasing the thief/rapist/killer through the hospital, but the suspect gets away in part because the hospital corridors are dark and empty.  Have you ever been in a hospital at night??  It's brightly lit and there are always nurses coming in to check on patients and give them medication!

    Or, when they see the suspect (none / 0) (#65)
    by NYShooter on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 04:50:32 PM EST
    a half block away. Do they, quietly, sneak up to the guy before starting to talk to him? Of course not, they yell from a half block away, "Joe Johnson?"

    And, the chase is on..........


    And (none / 0) (#74)
    by lentinel on Sat Sep 28, 2013 at 09:27:08 PM EST
    they always have to knock people out of the way - or overturn a vegetable stand...

    Anyone see "Blacklist" the other night? (none / 0) (#15)
    by shoephone on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 06:59:56 PM EST
    New show with James Spader and Megan Boone. It moves very fast and the intensity of it really blew me away. Spader's character is almost a cliche--the evil guy who agrees to help the feds, but only because he has an agenda--and of course, he is perfect for the role. Boone is really good as the green FBI profiler with a tortured past and a sweetie-pie husband who isn't what he seems.

    ... in many Hollywood productions that the so-called stalwart and supportive spouse often turns out to be neither as stalwart nor as supportive as one might naturally assume upon that character's introduction in the storyline. (See Bonnie Bedelia in "Presumed Innocent.")

    And here's a show biz-related item that will probably make people of a certain age feel their age: Happy Birthday, Luke Skywalker! Mark Hamill turns 62 today.



    Re: Mark Hamill's age (none / 0) (#53)
    by unitron on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 10:39:09 AM EST
    I figured him to be younger than me, but I thought it was by a lot more than 15 days.

    I put it on the DVR and watched it (none / 0) (#22)
    by Anne on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 08:10:09 PM EST
    last night - it held my interest, for sure; the eternal question is, can they keep it interesting without making it silly?

    Will definitely watch it again.

    Now, I also watched "Hostages," with Dylan McDermott, Toni Collette and Tate Donovan...someone mentioned David Caruso in another comment, and I've decided that Dylan McDermott is very much in that mold: he has about 2 facial expressions, both of which would be perfect for someone who'd had a lot of Botox, as there isn't much actual "expression" involved.

    Might give it one more look, but I'm not optimistic.


    Agree on Dylan McDermott (none / 0) (#32)
    by shoephone on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 01:09:20 AM EST
    Couldn't watch The Practice most of the time because he just bored me too much.

    I'm hoping that Blacklist will stay clever and psychologically intriguing without getting too violent. The scene with the husband and the perp wasn't fun to watch.


    Haven't watched either yet (none / 0) (#38)
    by jbindc on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 05:48:25 AM EST
    Probably will today.  I am intrigued by both concepts, although I don't see how they will run the story past a season.

    But Dylan McDermott is so very sexy - I could watch the show just for him!  :)


    My personal feeling (none / 0) (#66)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 07:00:09 PM EST
    about James Spader is that he could read the phone book with a sense of suspense and intrigue.  He's that good.

    And I liked the Blacklist.  Good show.  How long it will last, who knows?

    I am not a fan of the Hostage genre, but I'll read recaps and see how in the world they can continue a hostage situation for more than 2 episodes.

    My favorite Monday 10PM show to hate right now is Castle.  I've watched it from the beginning when it was AWESOME, IMHO.  Now it's gone down the path of stupidity, but I'm still watching and hating myself every time I watch.  LOL.


    Don't hold your breath... (none / 0) (#26)
    by Edger on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 09:35:45 PM EST
    NSA reform bill to trim back US surveillance unveiled in Congress
    The draft bill represented the first sign that key Republican and Democratic figures in the Senate are beginning to coalesce around a raft of proposals to roll back the powers of the National Security Agency in the wake of top-secret disclosures made by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    "The disclosures over the last 100 days have caused a sea change in the way the public views the surveillance system," said Democratic senator Ron Wyden, unveiling the bill at a press conference alongside Republican Rand Paul.

    "We are introducing legislation that is the most comprehensive bipartisan intelligence reform proposal since the disclosures of last June," he said.

    Wyden said the bill would set a high bar for "not cosmetic" intelligence reform, on the eve of a series of congressional hearings into the NSA's surveillance powers that will begin on Thursday.

    Probably good to keep in mind that "bipartisanship" from politicians combined with "lesser evil" voting by a complacent public well trained by media for decades are probably the two main enablers of and contributors to the current dismal sociopolitical/economic reality in the United States today, although some people, granted, do seem to like it this way and will expend great effort trying to paint lipstick on pigs.

    New protest song (none / 0) (#37)
    by Edger on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 04:03:06 AM EST
    by an up and coming singer songwriter who will definitely become a big name one day, I believe...

    Oh, oh al-obama
    The devil fools
    With the best laid plan.
    Swing low al-obama
    You got the spare change
    You got to feel strange
    And now the moment
    Is all that it meant.

    al-obama, you got
    The weight on your shoulders
    That's breaking your back.
    Your Cadillac
    Has got a wheel in the ditch
    And a wheel on the track........

    I'm from a new land
    I come to you and
    See all this ruin
    What are you doing, al-obama?
    You got the rest of the union
    to help you along
    What's going wrong?

    -- al-obama

    "... definitely become a big name..." (none / 0) (#51)
    by unitron on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 10:36:28 AM EST
    If by become a big name you mean as "patient x" in a paper on mental health treatment breakthroughs, then, yeah, maybe.

    Remember: (none / 0) (#55)
    by Edger on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 10:53:46 AM EST
    No matter how bad your day is going right now, I don't think obama has a speech scheduled for today.