Now you can get coconut milk in Albertville

September 24th, 2012 by Del

That invisible hand of the market is always working, you know? And when the market needed chicken-pickers at $10 a hour, the invisible hand provided. What it provided—shed a tear for us welcoming the huddled masses, y’all!—was Eritrean refugees.

Plants sought refugees because too few local residents were interested or qualified, said Frank Singleton, a spokesman for Wayne Farms, based in Oakwood, Georgia. … Turnover in North Alabama was 50 percent last year, and is now as high as 90 percent in some sperm volume pills plants because replacements didn’t stay, he said. The company is “having to use alternative methods and sourcing,” including recruiting refugees, Singleton said

And naturally, The Market also affected the market:

Changing demographics are reflected on store shelves. Albertville’s main Hispanic grocery, Tienda El Sol, added coconut milk, new varieties of hot peppers and other items to appeal to newcomers, manager Marjorie Centeno said.

My Facebook friend who posted the linked article said only, “HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.” I’m afraid I don’t have much to add.

Bud Johnson, man of conviction

September 21st, 2012 by Del

National Empty Chair Day inspired us all in different ways, and perhaps that is when Austin, TX, resident & noted outsider artist Bud Johnson got the idea for his “yard art.” That’s pretty outside, all right! Outside the limits of…oh, outside all kinds of things. You see, Bud decided to hang his empty chair from a tree.

L'artiste

The artist interacting with local media

He’s not a racist though, and it doesn’t represent a lynching. He’s taken the chair down now, in order to move it to another location in his yard, he says. Maybe one where he can set up appropriate lighting for night viewing!

A Facebook page has been created to honor this brave, extraordinary man with donations to the Obama campaign. I can think of no better way to let Mr. Johnson know he has truly made a contribution to the national political dialogue.

 

 

 

Bravado with a Side of Homophobia

September 19th, 2012 by Kathy

…and a heaping helping of sexism.

North Carolina congressional candidate and state senator David Rouzer, speaking to a Tea Party Express rally on Sunday:

ROUZER: When we get [Romney and Ryan] in you are going to see a big change, you’re going to see number one that America is going to be respected again around the world. You’re going to see all this turmoil that’s taking place, you’re going to see them look up and say guess what, the American people have spoken and maybe we need to cut it out a little bit, maybe we need to tone it down a little bit, because now we have real men in the White House.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: No girly men!

ROUZER: That’s right, no girly men.

Is he saying all the men in the Obama White House are gay? Well, that would put him way out into tinfoil hat territory with the far electronic cigarette usa right nuts who think happily married President Obama is secretly a coke-snorting homo who’s had some of his ex-lovers killed. No, I’m not going to link; these people don’t need any more attention. Perhaps he simply thinks the men are sissies. Which, of course, makes them too much like women, and we can’t have that.

Steve M. has written quite a bit lately about the fever dreams of some right-wingers who see themselves as the heroes in an apocalypse they seem to crave. I’m sure Mr. Rouzer sees himself as one of the he-men leading the charge toward war with Iran or any other country that irritates him, kicking them into submission and walking away with only a few manly scratches.

Personally, if I had to choose someone to lead the charge against an oncoming apocalypse, it wouldn’t be Mr. Rouzer. It would be a girl. This girl:


 

h/t Think Progress

To Make Things Worse…

September 19th, 2012 by Kathy

Rachel Maddow reports tonight that Republican Senators John Boozman (AR), Mike Johanns (NE), Richard Burr (NC), and Pat Toomey (PA) helped write the bipartisan Murphy, former paratrooper and the first Iraq War veteran to serve in Congress, took Senate Republicans to the woodshed.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

He’s right. Today is an absolute disgrace.

Senate Republicans Block Jobs Bill for Veterans

September 19th, 2012 by Kathy

Why does Jeff Sessions hate our troops?

I guess some Republicans really DO hate Mitt Romney. Look at his pals in the Senate who, in an election year no less, couldn’t bestir themselves to support a jobs bill for military veterans. Alabama’s own Jeff Sessions (R-jerkwad) led the opposition.

Romney had already taken heat for forgetting to mention our troops in combat during his convention speech. He made it worse when he responded to criticism of his omission (from Fox News, no less) not by apologizing but by once again slamming the president:

I only regret you’re repeating it day in and day out. When you give a speech you don’t go through a laundry list, you talk about the things that you think are important and I described in my speech, my commitment to a strong military unlike the president’s decision to cut our military. And I didn’t use the word troops, I used the word military. I think they refer to the same thing.

Yep, those kids in harm’s way are just an item he left off his laundry list. The cuts were, BTW, supported by his own running mate, but whatever, right?

The jobs bill was, per its sponsor, paid for by revenues generated in other areas. It would have allowed thousands of veterans the opportunity for employment as police officers, park workers, and firefighters That didn’t stop Sessions from objecting to the bill and rallying his buddies to keep zero tar electronic cigarettes it from coming to a vote. Lawrence Downes in the NYT today:

It would be easier to admire the Republicans’ late-breaking fiscal scrupulosity if their motives — denying  the Obama administration any kind of victory this year, whatever the cost to jobless vets — weren’t so transparent.  It’s probably useful to remind Republicans like John McCain (a “nay” on the jobs bill) that wounded, jobless and homeless veterans aren’t a fact of nature. They’re a product of the wars that Congress members voted for, the war debt they piled on, and the economy they helped ruin.

On the surface, it certainly would appear that their motive is to hurt Obama, but it looks to me more like a loss for Romney. If his own party won’t support the military it claims it loves best, how can he persuade veterans and their families that he’s a better bet than Obama, who supported the jobs bill?

Are Senate Republicans in reality just more rats jumping off the sinking Ship Romney? Makes you wonder. They’re just joining other conservatives who are covering their, um, bases in the face of what looks like a losing campaign.

But all the politics in the world don’t make up for the loss of the possibility of more jobs for veterans. It would be such poetic justice if Jeff Sessions loses his job the next time he comes up for re-election, and it would be even better if it were veterans leading the charge.

h/t maddowblog

What Now?

September 19th, 2012 by Kathy

Yesterday, Alabama voters (well, a small percentage of Alabama voters*) approved Amendment One, which allows a transfer of more than $437 million over the next three years from the state’s oil and gas trust fund to the General Fund. This amendment allows the legislature to balance the state’s budget, at least for now.

The General Fund is something of a catchall for non-education-related programs, including Medicaid, child protective services, public health and safety, prisons, and the court system – not to mention “legislative activities”. It’s funded by a patchwork of revenue sources including insurance company premium taxes, interest on state deposits, some ad valorem taxes, and taxes on cigarettes and booze.

All of these revenues are adversely impacted by a bad economy. Seriously, when interest rates are hovering around 1% and people are cutting back on big purchases, there’s no way to get adequate funding for essential services. A short-term inflow of money is not going to solve the long-term flaws in the system.

So what can we do about it? Alabama Arise has a great call to action that gets right to the core of the problem and offers a real solution – and it does it in three succinct paragraphs:

Tuesday’s “yes” vote saved Alabama from an immediate funding crisis and devastating funding cuts next year, but it wasn’t a cure for our state’s funding shortfalls. The General Fund budget still languishes under a structural deficit: As in many states, our revenues simply don’t grow fast enough to keep up with the rising costs of Medicaid, prisons top rated electronic cigarettes and other public services. The amendment that voters approved Tuesday is a short-term patch for a long-term problem.

Raiding a savings account every year to pay ongoing expenses is not a sustainable way to fund the health care infrastructure that makes life better for all of us. We must hold our leaders to their pledge that this amendment merely creates a bridge to a sustainable solution. From now on, they must keep the Alabama Trust Fund intact.

When our lawmakers return in February to craft budgets for 2014, we urge them to approve new revenues to stabilize Medicaid, mental health, public safety and other public services for the long term. And they should design a revenue plan that doesn’t make our state’s upside-down tax system even worse. It’s time to make hard decisions and establish an adequate, reliable funding stream to protect the most vulnerable among us. (emphasis mine)

It’s up to each of us to contact our legislators and the Governor with this message and to demand action on comprehensive tax reform in the upcoming legislative session. Click here to personalize the text above and send it directly to your Representative and Senator. Write your own letter or email. Call. Visit. Push and push and push (politely, of course) until you see results. Nothing will change if we don’t make it change.

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*The Secretary of State’s website shows 2.6 million plus registered voters; the AP reported 533,742 total votes with 88 percent of the precincts report­ing. That’s just over 20% turnout, and it really kinda sucks.

 

I Am the 47%

September 18th, 2012 by Kathy

Ah, it’s good to be back. Diving into the blogging world at this point in an election year is probably just flat nuts, but I’ve had so many days recently when I wished for the release of simply writing down what’s swirling in my head. Now I can.

Good to know, for instance, that I’m one of the 47%, just a worthless freeloader who refuses to take personal responsibility or care for my life. Romney, verbatim:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.

…my job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

A friend and I were joking on Facebook last night that we’d freeload together, once we got off work.

Now really, who are those 47%? The Tax Policy Center breaks it down (via Ezra Klein in the Washington Post):

Currently, just over electronic cigarette drops 46% don’t pay federal income taxes. Around 60% of those are working and paying other taxes, but their exemptions, deductions and credits abrogate their tax liability; almost all the rest either are elderly or have annual incomes under $20,000. These moochers include disabled veterans and college students working their way through school. If only the latter could just borrow tuition money from their parents

But I digress. What’s really curious is that <1% marked “Others”.

…a tiny sliver of this 47 percent includes the 1 percent — the country’s top earners.

According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, some 3,000 of the 76 million taxpayers that were expected to pay no federal income taxes in 2011 were members of Romney’s cohort, making nearly $2.2 million per year, which puts them in the top 0.1 percent income bracket.

Another 24,000 taxpayers expected to pay no income taxes last year were in the top 1 percent income bracket, according to the TPC, making between $532,613 and $2.2 million per year.

I’m one of the 47% who will vote for the President “no matter what”. Mitt Romney says he’s never in the last ten years paid less than 13% in federal income taxes, although he refuses to release the returns to prove it. I wonder if any of the attendees at the $50,000 a plate dinner are part of the “tiny sliver”. What do you think?

We’re Back!

September 18th, 2012 by Kathy

For those one or two of you who’ve been wondering what happened to the Blues, we had a hacking issue that somehow made us into a dangerous site. Well, thanks to our Online Blackjack wonderful Zach and the tech wizards at WordPress, we’re back – and just in time for the really heated part of the campaign season. Look for new posts from Del and me. Yay!

Catholic bishops accept Obama compromise, reject insulin

February 11th, 2012 by Del

In an abrupt tack from their previous position, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops announced today that they are willing to accept the “Hawaii Rule” compromise offered by the Obama administration, which will shift the cost of contraceptive coverage to insurance companies. However, they are now opposed to being forced to cover the cost of insulin, an artificial hormone used in the treatment of diabetes.

“The human body is wondrously designed by God to regulate all its internal systems,” stated Michael O’Toole, Bishop of Springfield. “In his encyclical Periculum Medicinae, the Holy Father clearly instructs us that interference in God’s holy creation is a grave error.” The bishops are also opposed to coverage of other artifical hormones, such as thyroid hormone, currently used by millions of Americans to treat underactive thyroid glands.  O’Toole added that using such hormones is a “matter of conscience” for Catholics, but that the Church could not be forced to be involved in something so morally repugnant.

Reaction to this declaration was mixed. “Surveys show that millions of Catholic Americans are diabetic and need insulin,” said Sen Online Blackjack. Spencer Bronstein (D-AL). “For the bishops to take this position is simply hypocritical. Whether a person uses insulin or not should be between them and their doctor.”

Others disagreed. “You know, if you don’t want to get diabetes, don’t shove a lot of sugar in your face,” said Sharon Mackenzie, a local business owner. “It’s pretty simple. Why should the Catholics have to pay for something they don’t believe in? If you want insulin, buy it yourself.”

Speculation was rampant on the Beltway about how the administration will respond to this latest move on the part of the bishops. “Obama can’t be seen as anti-religion,” predicted one aide, who asked to remain anonymous. “He’ll have to find a way to compromise on this.”

Others were not so sure. “Actually, the longer this goes on, the worse it makes the Republicans look,” said political analyst Bruce Bowes. “Americans are used to insulin, it’s been part of the landscape for a while now. Also, there are many diabetics whose condition isn’t treatable by diet alone. What are those people supposed to do?”

Re: Jolly old elf

December 6th, 2011 by Del

We traveled through Montgomery this weekend, and stopped at a lovely little coffeeshop called Cafe Louisa in Cloverdale.  While enjoying hot tea and a bagel with smoked salmon, I read this article in the Montgomery Advertiser. It seems that, as if today’s parents don’t have enough to worry about, now those smarty-pants kids are using technology to find out whether Santa is for real. To begin with, there are those commercials advertising robo-Santa calls, emails from Santa, and the like, which one station apparently aired during the Christmas parade (hey, what better time?) But this is the one that made me fire up Facebook:

Kyla Kelim of Alabama, caught her oldest, a 9-year-old boy, on her iPad playing Santa sleuth a week or so ago.”We’re so close with him this year, not believing,” she said. “He was Googling ‘san­ta,’ and I saw him type the word ‘myth’ when I grabbed it and said no electronics. I’m constantly having to follow my phone and iPad and stuff around right now. We’re try­ing not to debunk Santa for our 7-year-old.” Read the rest of this entry »