Dave Stancliff 2015-02-01 blogarama.com

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Merry Game Goes On: GOP Benghazi Investigation #8

                                                       Good Day World!

After seven prior GOP fueled Benghazi investigations, the Republicans think the eighth time will be the charm – and they’ll be able to pin the whole sorry affair on Hillary Clinton.

The current special House committee looking into the deadly Benghazi, Libya, attacks in 2012 plans to interview a host of officials soon.

The panel's chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said Friday he intends to interview 20 high-ranking officials, including former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and former CIA director David Petraeus, as well as White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and national security adviser Susan Rice.

Gowdy also plans to interview former UN Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Adm. Mike Mullen, who chaired an independent panel that reviewed the September 2012 attacks, which killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Pickering was President George H.W. Bush's U.N. envoy, and Mullen was the top U.S. general under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.(source)

Their report harshly criticized the State Department for its security posture in the months before militants stormed the Benghazi facility. But House GOP members said their review was incomplete and lacked independence.

How convenient.

Now, after seven prior hearings (without a smoking gun) what does the GOP expect to hear that will be different this time? A majority of the 20 people named as likely witnesses have already provided information to Congress through prior interviews and testimony.

How much is this latest go-around costing taxpayers? The panel spent nearly $1.8 million last year and is on pace to spend more than $3 million this year.

That total is more than several House committees with legislative and oversight jurisdictions and is larger than the amount House Republicans allocated to investigate Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

And for what?

A pathetic partisan strategy aimed at discrediting Clinton. It’s worth millions of taxpayer dollars to the GOP to keep the merry-go-round spinning. At least, until the 2016 presidential elections are over.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

   

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Koch Brothers $1 billion dollar plan to buy the presidency

Good Day World!

What would you expect to get for $889 million dollars?

A mansion on 100 acres with every amenity known to man? Perhaps a small island, or a penthouse in New York City?

Billionaire conservative activists Charles and David Koch plan on buying the presidency – and some congressional seats – in 2016.

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In Rebuke of Tennessee Governor, Koch Group Shows Its Power

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That’s twice as much as they spent in 2012 trying to get Mitt Romney elected. By doubling down on their bet they hope to gain control of the country – lock, stock, and barrel.

That’s more money than the Republican, and Democratic, national parties plan on spending for the presidential election. We’re talking serious money here.

Together, Charles and David Koch control one of the world's largest fortunes, which they are using to buy up our political system.

Read: Inside the Koch Brothers' Toxic Empire

(Excerpts)

“The enormity of the Koch fortune is no mystery. Brothers Charles and David are each worth more than $40 billion. The electoral influence of the Koch brothers is similarly well-chronicled.

The Kochs are our homegrown oligarchs; they've cornered the market on Republican politics and are nakedly attempting to buy Congress and the White House.

The company's troubled legal history – including a trail of congressional investigations, Department of Justice consent decrees, civil lawsuits and felony convictions – augmented by internal company documents, leaked State Department cables, Freedom of Information disclosures and company whistle­-blowers, combine to cast an unwelcome spotlight on the toxic empire whose profits finance the modern GOP.

In fact, it appears the very essence of the Koch business model is to exploit breakdowns in the free market. Koch has profited precisely by dumping billions of pounds of pollutants into our waters and skies – essentially for free.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Taxpayers are being ripped off by our criminial court system

Good Day World!

I sure hate seeing taxpayers get ripped off by our criminal court system.

One case can easily go into millions of dollars thanks to a system that makes lawyers rich.

Take the case against Colorado theater gunman James Holmes. He’s already absorbed at least $5.5 million in public monies, with more to come.

That’s $2 million more than the estimated average cost of a completed Colorado death penalty trial — and the contentious Holmes proceeding is still months away from opening arguments.

In the two and a half years since that initial court appearance, primary personnel involved with the case — prosecutors, defense attorneys, the judge, court reporter, trial investigators and victims’ advocates for the district attorney — have been paid approximately $4.5 million.

What happened to the right of a Speedy Trial? Two and a half years is a long time. Worse, the trial date is still a mystery.

The Founding Fathers intended the Speedy Trial Clause to serve two purposes.

First, they sought to prevent defendants from languishing in jail for an indefinite period before trial. Second, they sought to ensure a defendant's right to a fair trial.

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees all persons accused of criminal wrongdoing the right to a speedy trial.

Although this right is derived from the federal Constitution, it has been made applicable to state criminal proceedings through the U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of the due process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Speedy Trial Act establishes specific time limits between various stages of federal criminal proceedings. The act requires federal authorities to file an information or indictment within 30 days of a defendant's arrest.

A prosecutor who knows that accused is incarcerated at the time of indictment must take immediate steps to initiate prosecution.

If a defendant enters a plea of not guilty, trial must commence within 70 days from the filing of the information or indictment or 70 days from the first appearance of the accused in court, whichever is later.

Despite these steps taken to assure a speedy trial, there is no such thing in America today. That’s because our justice system allows lawyers to get rich off of delays. Couple that with ripping taxpayers off for the money to pay them and you begin to see what’s happened to our justice system.

It shouldn’t take millions of (taxpayer) dollars to conduct every murder case. What happens if there’s no more taxpayer money to grab for a continuing criminal case? Will criminals be released because the state funds have dried up and there’s no way to pay the lawyers their blood money?

It’s a troubling thought.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

  

 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

I remember when people respected the presidency

I remember

a Lionel train circling a real Christmas tree

back in 1953

We said the Pledge of Allegiance in school

and were taught “The Golden Rule.”

There was a crusade against Communism

and everyone felt a sense of optimism

We rocked around the clock

to Jailhouse Rock

 

We watched The Howdy Doody Show

and sipped cocktails that had a neon glow

We listened to “Rock n’ Roll

and Nat King Cole

Abstract Impressionism was at its peak

and we watched American Bandstand every week

It was the Golden Era of 3-D cinematography

and Gentlemen Preferred Blonds in 1953

 

Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby made the ladies swoon

while NASA shot for the moon

You probably won’t believe me

but there was a time when people respected the presidency

The end

 

11 Facts That You Probably Aren’t Aware Of

Good Day World!

Most people have never heard of the following 11 facts.

They’re just off-the-wall enough that even scholars could learn something. How many of these facts are you aware of?  

1) Most lipstick contains fish scales.

2) There are 18 different animal shapes in the Animal Crackers cookie zoo.

3) Your body is creating and killing 15 million red blood cells per second.

4) The king of hearts is the only king without a moustache on a standard playing card.

5) The most popular first name in the world is Muhammad.

6) One car out of every 230 made was stolen last year.

7) The names of Popeye's four nephews are Pipeye, Peepeye, Pupeye, and Poopeye.

8) The Nobel Peace Prize medal depicts three naked men with their hands on each other's shoulders.

9) When glass breaks, the cracks move faster than 3,000 miles per hour. To photograph the event, a camera must shoot at a millionth of a second.

10) A Boeing 747 airliner holds 57,285 gallons of fuel.

11) A 'jiffy' is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Right To Vote: 15th Amendment Ratified Today

The first vote drawn by A.R. Waud

Good Day World!

We – Americans - must never take the right to vote lightly. The fight minorities faced in the past – and still face today in some places – needs to be recognized.

Voting is one of our greatest freedoms. It was on February 3, 1870 – that the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing the right of citizens to vote, regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

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Graphic

"The first vote"
A.R. Waud.
Wood engraving. 1867.
Prints & Photographs Division.
Reproduction Number:
LC-USZ62-19234

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The 15th Amendment to the Constitution granted African American men the right to vote by declaring that the "right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

Although ratified on February 3, 1870, the promise of the 15th Amendment would not be fully realized for almost a century. Through the use of poll taxes, literacy tests and other means, Southern states were able to effectively disenfranchise African Americans.

It would take the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 before the majority of African Americans in the South were registered to vote.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Monday, February 2, 2015

Groundhog Day: Punxsutawney Phil Predicts 6 More Weeks of Winter

Happy Groundhog Day! 

News alert:

Groundhog Day 2015: Punxsutawney Phil sees shadow, predicts six more weeks of winter

According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then spring will come early; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will persist for six more weeks.

Modern customs of the holiday involve celebrations where early morning festivals are held to watch the groundhog emerging from its burrow.

In southeastern Pennsylvania, Groundhog Lodges (Grundsow Lodges) celebrate the holiday with fersommlinge, social events in which food is served, speeches are made, and one or more g'spiel (plays or skits) are performed for entertainment.

The Pennsylvania German dialect is the only language spoken at the event, and those who speak English pay a penalty, usually in the form of a nickel, dime, or quarter per word spoken, with the money put into a bowl in the center of the table.

The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, with Punxsutawney Phil. Groundhog Day, already a widely recognized and popular tradition, received widespread attention as a result of the 1993 film Groundhog Day.

HISTORY

The celebration, which began as a Pennsylvania German custom in southeastern and central Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries, has its origins in ancient European weather lore, wherein a badger or sacred bear is the prognosticator as opposed to a groundhog.

It also bears similarities to the Pagan festival of Imbolc (the seasonal turning point of the Celtic calendar, which is celebrated on February 2 and also involves weather prognostication) and to St. Swithun's Day in July 15.

Sweet Dreams! A ‘Smart’ Mattress Cover is Coming in August

Good Day World!

I can’t wait until August.

You know why? Because there’s something I want to buy which won’t be available until then.

Hint: it’s all about comfort.

The Internet of Things has made its way into a lot of homes already, but the Luna smart mattress cover is one of the first devices to get all the way into the bed.

Yes, it's a smart mattress cover — but it's not as crazy as it sounds. The Luna works as a sleep-tracking device, monitoring your vitals overnight and sending that info along to a smartphone app.

This alone might make it worth buying to some, since other sleep trackers need to be worn on your wrist — or even your head. But Luna also acts as a bed warmer, predicting when you'll go to sleep by your previous schedule and warming the bed up to a preset temperature — there are even separate settings for each side of the bed.

Add an alarm system that wakes you up between sleep cycles (for minimum grogginess) and the Luna starts seeming like a useful bedfellow indeed.

It does, of course, cost significantly more than a regular mattress cover: $199 for the smallest version (queen), and more if you don't pre-order soon.

The company aims to ship in August, but crowdfunded products like this one (which raised over $200,000 on Indiegogo) do tend to slip a little, so be patient. (source)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Retro Super Bowl Sunday: Game I Photos and Facts

Good Day World!

It’s Super Bowl Sunday.

I’m also declaring today “Retro-Super Bowl Sunday.”

I’ve gathered some photos and facts for your amusement while you wait for today’s big game.

THE COST OF ATTENDING

For Super Bowl I in 1967, the listed ticket price was $10, according to the National Football League.

In 1967, that had the same buying power as $69.75 today, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index calculator.

THE SCORE

On January 15, 1967, the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL) smash the American Football League (AFL)’s Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10, in the first-ever AFL-NFL World Championship, later known as Super Bowl I, at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles.

The Packers’ famed quarterback, Bryan Bartlett "Bart" Starr, completed

16 of 23 passes on the night. The score at game’s end stood at 35-10, and Starr was named Most Valuable Player.

Asked to comment on the match-up after the game, Green Bay Coach Vince Lombardi expressed the common opinion that even the best of the AFL--the Chiefs--"doesn’t compare with the top NFL teams."

ORIGIN OF THE SUPER BOWL

For four decades after its 1920 inception, the NFL successfully fended off several rival leagues. However, in 1960, it encountered its most serious competitor when the American Football League (AFL) was formed.

The AFL vied heavily with the NFL for both players and fans, but by the middle of the decade the strain of competition led to serious merger talks between the two leagues. Prior to the 1966 season, the NFL and AFL reached a merger agreement that was to take effect for the 1970 season.

As part of the merger, the champions of the two leagues agreed to meet in a world championship game for professional American football until the merger was effected.

ORIGIN OF THE NAME ‘SUPER BOWL’

Lamar Hunt, owner of the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs, first used the term "Super Bowl" to refer to this game in the merger meetings.

Hunt would later say the name was likely in his head because his children had been playing with a Super Ball toy (a vintage example of the ball is on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio).

In a July 25, 1966, letter to NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, Hunt wrote,

"I have kiddingly called it the 'Super Bowl,' which obviously can be improved upon."

Although the leagues' owners decided on the name "AFL-NFL Championship Game," the media immediately picked up on Hunt's "Super Bowl" name, which would become official beginning with the third annual game.

The "Super Bowl" name was derived from the bowl game, a post-season college football game. The original "bowl game" was the Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, California, which was first played in 1902 as the "Tournament East-West football game" as part of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses and moved to the new Rose Bowl Stadium in 1923.

Time for me to walk on down the road…