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Sunday Morning Pictures

Some graphic thoughts on a holiday weekend:

tired of paying salaries

fugelsang republicans love government

good guy with a rock

Goring on controlling the people

broken media

Sanders we must make this stop

Sunday Funday: It’s Holidays Time Edition

happy holidays lights

We suspend the usual format of timely news questions this week as your kindly old quizmaster is suspended in holiday frivolity. But if you haven’t noticed Americans have a lot of partying to do between last Thursday and sometime in early January when the holiday season slowly winds to a halt. At that time most Americans will notice that it is winter and national month of depression begins. So here is my feeble attempt to mix in some lore and some reality in a quiz about holidays that seem to happen nearly every day in December. Enjoy!

1) Let’s start with a little Thanksgiving trivia. The other night I was listening to an old time radio show where the story line was that there would be 2 Thanksgivings that year. What year was that?

2) The first Thanksgiving Day Parade was held by what store in what city?

3) Football and Thanksgiving go back a long ways. Any idea when the first Thanksgiving day football game was played? hint: think early college days.

4) Sara Josepha Hale was a magazine editor who pushed Abraham Lincoln hard to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. What nursery rhyme is Ms. Hale also credited with authoring?

5) What beverage sustained the Pilgrims on their voyage to America?

6) Now to some coming holidays. Next Saturday is the first of the Christmas related holidays. Dec. 6 is the feast of what saint in the Catholic calendar?

7) Partying, overeating and gift giving were hallmarks of what Roman holiday that occurred at the beginning of winter?

8) Dec. 8 is another big holiday in the Catholic Church. It is the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Whose immaculate conception?

9) Advent begins 4 Sundays prior to Christmas. Advent is a word derived from Latin and means what?

10) Oddly, the sun begins setting later in the day around Dec. 13th. This makes the 13th a great day to celebrate what saint associated with light in the dark of winter?

11) Many religions have holidays in December. Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day. This is the day that Siddhartha Gautama experienced what?

12) Many religions and societies in the northern hemisphere celebrate what holiday associated with the darkness either on or near the solstice?

13) The solstice is celebrated 2 times a year at the beginnings of what seasons?

14) The word solstice is of latin derivation and means what?

15) What ancient Nordic pagan feast lasted about 12 days from what is now late December to early January? Coincides roughly with the 12 days of Christmas.

16) A secular holiday in British commonwealth countries, what day after Christmas holiday is the day when service workers receive gifts?

17) “Good King Wenceslaus looked out on the Feast of Stephen” goes the old carol. The feast of Stephen is what day in December?

18) Some atheists and skeptics celebrate a holiday on December 25th named after the what 17th physicist who wrote “Principia Mathematica”?

19) Over in China and eastern Asia Dongzhi is celebrated. As with many holidays this time of year, it celebrates what?

20) Dies Natalis Solis Invicti is an ancient Roman holiday that celebrates the “return of the unconquered” what? (hint: translate solis)

21) one extra today: the 12 days of Christmas spans the time between what two holidays?

Thanks for letting me take a day off – my family appreciates it.


1) 1939 – Retailers wanted the 4th Thursday to be Tday to extend the buying season. Tradition then was the last Thursday of November , hence Nov. 30 that year. FDR declared the 23rd while many traditionalist celebrated on the 30th. Congress rectified this a couple years later.

2) Gimbel’s in Philly in 1920. Macy’s followed suit in 1924

3) 1869. Tday became a holiday in 1863. College football started shortly thereafter and the two were married quite early on

4) “Mary had a little lamb”

5) beer. Remember back the fermentation was the only way to get clean drinks

6) St. Nicholas

7) Saturnalia

8) Jesus mother Mary – born without original sin according to the Catholic church.

9) to come

10) Lucia (Lucy). Lucia is derived from latin for light (Santa Lucia in Italian). Mostly celebrated in Scandinavia

11) enlightenment

12) longest night usually on the 20th

13) summer and winter

14) sun stands still

15) Yule (Jul)

16) boxing day

17) 26th

18) Isaac Newton the feast is ‘Newtonmas’ – Newton was born (old calendar) Dec. 25, 1643

19) the return of the sun and the new flow of energy

20) sun

21) Christmas (Dec. 25) to the Epiphany (Jan. 6)

Dec. 6th – the feast of St. Nicholas – is also known as ‘little Christmas’ in some European countries. Good enough reason to celebrate I’d say.

Getting Much Hotter Still

October A map of temperature anomalies during October. Red shows the biggest deviation from the standard (temperatures recorded between 1951 and 1980). NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

A map of temperature anomalies during October. Red shows the biggest deviation from the standard (temperatures recorded between 1951 and 1980).
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

October was by far the hottest October on record. This follows a September that was the hottest on record by far. Without a doubt this is a bad trend.

Those who deny that climate change is happening are simply either total fools or their income depends on denying climate change. Sadly there are enough people in high position in our government whose income depends on climate change denial that they can totally stop any real action to stop let alone reverse climate change and its effects.

The effects of climate change will be devastating. They also appear to be coming sooner than scientists had anticipated. The Pentagon issued yet another warning a year ago that climate change will be a major security risk as it forces mass disruptions across the world.

The United States has already seen early effects of climate change on its agricultural industry. Two of our largest agricultural state, California and Texas have both endured devastating droughts with Texas having follow up flooding. Predictions have California expecting flooding rains with the onset of the strongest El Nino ever.

It is only the political will that stops us from addressing climate change. With the horrific effects that climate change portends, finding and electing candidates who will work to end climate change should be a priority.

Plus there is the unwritten benefit of tons of jobs that will be created as we end our dependence on fossil fuels and go to climate friendly solutions.

Random Thoughts At Thanksgiving

Reigning turkey of the year

Reigning turkey of the year

Letting the old mind idle for the holiday:

Terry Branstad panders once again
Let’s face it Iowans, this guy is a far right winger; he just sounds better than most when he does things like this: After joining in the hate and fear crowd last week, Branstad Monday said maybe he’d let some Syrian refugees into Iowa if that gawd awful US House SAFE Act became law knowing full well it never will. See, Branstad once again sounds almost rational tying his pretense at being rational to something that he know will never happen. Refugees from previous disasters should be giving thanks that today’s Republicans weren’t in charge when their families were in need of help.

Grassley is about the ultimate in partisan politics
Good Old Chuck (and I do mean old) is doing everything he can to stop our government from functioning by stalling any appointments to both the State Department and the federal judiciary. That is in using his capacity as as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee for politics to keep Hillary Clinton from being president. Who can forget his role in the Affordable Care Act where he fought hard to keep poor Americans from getting health care. Republicans love their phrase “run the government like a business.” If you were a share holder in a business where a group of vice presidents is working hard to undermine the business and set it up for a hostile takeover rather than making the business healthy, what would you do? As a citizen, you are the Board of Directors for the government. Will you vote to retain a vice-president (Senator) who at every turn tries to undermine the operation and cause the business of the people to be done?

Racism: Trump forges back to the 50s?
America’s original sin is slavery. The enslavement of people of color needed justification by proving that the enslaved were not human in any aspect. This is the basis of racism. Legally, enslavement ended following the Civil War and the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments. In reality enslavement through racism has been a part of the American social structure since the Civil War. America was making some strides to combat racism, but the election of a black president and the campaign to delegitimize him as a “real” president once again unleashed the worst demons of racism.

Now Donald Trump’s campaign seems to be capitalizing on racism’s re-emergence as he demagogues, and violent incidents against minorities are linked to his campaign. Over the weekend a person from Black Lives Matter was assaulted as Trump railed against Muslims. Another in a growing list of incidents that follow the Trump campaign.

Somehow, Trump leads and has led Iowa polls from the start. Says buckets full about today’s Iowa Republican Party.

Is it a conspiracy to make Rubio look good?
Trump’s racist demogoguery, Carson’s goofiness, Fiorina’s lies, Bush’s total incompetence, Cruz’s extremism, Kasich’s blandness – are the Republican candidates each in their own way trying to look so bad that eventually the only one that looks rational by comparison will be Marco Rubio? Is it some kind of a conspiracy to make a really bad candidate in Rubio look good because he isn’t as totally obnoxious as the others? The corporate media then can build a myth around Rubio not being nuts and therefore presidential material. This very low standard for a presidential candidate that is Republican will still get that candidate 45% minimum of the vote in 2016.

Charlie Pierce: The Family Leader picks a candidate
Charlie Pierce should be required reading. For everyone. Last week he attended the public portion of the right wing religious group that seems to think it is God’s political representative in Iowa. Republican candidate of course since as we all know Democrats all worship Satan. Here is an excerpt:

There was unction in the extreme, and no little sanctimony, and the now very familiar recitation of the dystopian landscape created by eight years of the Obama Administration and of the nearly unstoppable acceleration of the handbasket taking the country to hell. The Savior was summoned on a number of occasions, not all of them relevant to his gospel mission on Earth. But the real meat on the Thanksgiving table got served up when Luntz wrenched the discussion away from sacred platitudes and into the realm of national security and foreign affairs. The clouds of incense were dispersed. The preacher masks all dropped. To a person, the seven Republican candidates came right up to the edge of accusing the president of the United States of treason and of being in sympathy with the murderers in France and in Mali. Right up to the edge, they all walked. Then they winked and took baby steps back, but everybody in the hall, all of the good Christians who’d come out in the snow, got the message.

They all signed onto the conservative talking point with the dumbest ass of all–that the president refuses to say the magic words, “radical Islamic extremism.” (All of them were unanimous that “political correctness” was now not merely a nuisance, but a clear and present danger to national security.) Asked if Secretary of State John Kerry should resign over remarks he had made the other day comparing the attacks in Paris to the murders at Charlie Hebdo, Mike Huckabee replied, “I’d like Barack Obama to resign if he’s not going to protect Americans, but rather respect Islam.” Carson called the president an “armchair quarterback who is interfering tremendously” with the military in its efforts to roll back Daesh. After warning us of the rising Islamic caliphate, Santorum said, “We have a president who won’t even call ISIS ‘Islamic.’ Nor will he even identify them as a state. This is delusional, and it’s costing lives.”

This is gamey, awful stuff, reminiscent of the charges back in the 1950s that Dwight Eisenhower was a Communist dupe. But this kind of thing is thoroughly mainstreamed now, so much so that they don’t even have to say it outright any more. It’s been a long time since it was considered cricket to discuss a sitting president in terms like this in a political campaign but, as has been the case since 2009, the usual rules do not apply to this president, and this campaign is nowhere near as ugly as it’s going to get. It changed over the last two weeks, and all of the well-dressed friends of Jesus at the Thanksgiving table there on stage have declared themselves along for the whole damn ride.

My thought for this week.
I would echo what Bernie Sanders called for many months ago. Early debates should not be separated by parties. All candidates should be put on a stage together so we could see early on the differences between the parties and the issues. Right now the stench coming from the Republican Party as it reaches out for the most extreme voters and the richest billionaires is overwhelming.

Bernie Sanders Speech On Democratic Socialism

Thursday at Georgetown University

The speech itself is about an hour long with about a half an hour of Q&A, so you can plan time to watch it.

JFK: Liberal

john f kennedyTo honor the memory of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, murdered 52 years ago today in Dallas, Texas we present his acceptance speech before the New York Liberal Party in 1960

Over the years the term “liberal” has been redefined by the right to be a dirty word. Yet the founders of this country were liberal. Most if not all of the progress in this country has taken place under the auspices of liberals. When the country was hanging on the edge in the 1930s, it took the vision of a liberal administration to refocus our country’s vision from greed for a few to opportunity and dignity for all. The video of JFK’s speech on being a liberal below is 17 minutes long. It is worth listening to closely to capture the full spirit.

The entirety of the speech can be found here. Below is the text is of the main sections of the speech. It is as true today as it was in 1960.

What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label “Liberal?” If by “Liberal” they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer’s dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of “Liberal.” But if by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.”

But first, I would like to say what I understand the word “Liberal” to mean and explain in the process why I consider myself to be a “Liberal,” and what it means in the presidential election of 1960.

In short, having set forth my view — I hope for all time — two nights ago in Houston, on the proper relationship between church and state, I want to take the opportunity to set forth my views on the proper relationship between the state and the citizen. This is my political credo:

I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in human liberty as the source of national action, in the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas. It is, I believe, the faith in our fellow citizens as individuals and as people that lies at the heart of the liberal faith. For liberalism is not so much a party creed or set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man’s ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves.

I believe also in the United States of America, in the promise that it contains and has contained throughout our history of producing a society so abundant and creative and so free and responsible that it cannot only fulfill the aspirations of its citizens, but serve equally well as a beacon for all mankind. I do not believe in a superstate. I see no magic in tax dollars which are sent to Washington and then returned. I abhor the waste and incompetence of large-scale federal bureaucracies in this administration as well as in others. I do not favor state compulsion when voluntary individual effort can do the job and do it well. But I believe in a government which acts, which exercises its full powers and full responsibilities. Government is an art and a precious obligation; and when it has a job to do, I believe it should do it. And this requires not only great ends but that we propose concrete means of achieving them.

Our responsibility is not discharged by announcement of virtuous ends. Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social invention, with political skill, and executive vigor. I believe for these reasons that liberalism is our best and only hope in the world today. For the liberal society is a free society, and it is at the same time and for that reason a strong society. Its strength is drawn from the will of free people committed to great ends and peacefully striving to meet them. Only liberalism, in short, can repair our national power, restore our national purpose, and liberate our national energies. And the only basic issue in the 1960 campaign is whether our government will fall in a conservative rut and die there, or whether we will move ahead in the liberal spirit of daring, of breaking new ground, of doing in our generation what Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson did in their time of influence and responsibility.

Our liberalism has its roots in our diverse origins. Most of us are descended from that segment of the American population which was once called an immigrant minority. Today, along with our children and grandchildren, we do not feel minor. We feel proud of our origins and we are not second to any group in our sense of national purpose. For many years New York represented the new frontier to all those who came from the ends of the earth to find new opportunity and new freedom, generations of men and women who fled from the despotism of the czars, the horrors of the Nazis, the tyranny of hunger, who came here to the new frontier in the State of New York. These men and women, a living cross section of American history, indeed, a cross section of the entire world’s history of pain and hope, made of this city not only a new world of opportunity, but a new world of the spirit as well.

This speech would fit well in the political landscape today. To hear the Kennedy voice once again with its compassion and vigor reminds me once again why I am a liberal and a Democrat.

Johnny, we hardly knew ye, but the words and the spirit you left with us still guides us into the future. America needs to throw off the cloak of fear and conservatism to once more embrace liberalism and hope for the future.

Sunday Funday: Don’t Feed The Fears Edition

do not feed the fears

You know if you feed the fears they grow large and demand more and more of your time and attention. They grow to the point where they take over your life and consume all your attention. The media will present more and more stuff to fear. Partaking of media pushed fear only makes the fear grow larger and larger until it totally consumes you. Beware and Don’t Feed The Fears!

Were you paying attention last week?

1) This is of course the anniversary of JFK’s assassination in 1963. Who was the governor who was also shot when Kennedy was killed?

2) WADA has called for Russian athletes to be banned from international competition. What is WADA?

3) The mastermind of the Paris bombings was killed last week. Where was this person born?

4) Interstate 94 was shut down by protestors last week over the shooting of a black man in custody by police in what city?

5) Quietly what overwhelmingly Catholic country in Europe legalized same sex marriage Monday?

6) Which two of Iowa’s congress critters voted with the opposition on the vote for the SAFE Act (to slow Syrian refugees) Thursday?

7) Ted Cruz got a big lift when what Iowa politician endorsed him Monday?

8) ISIS chose Paris to attack because they said Paris is the capital of what?

9) Just prior to the Paris attacks last week, what other major world city was attacked by suicide bombers?

10) What well known actor revealed he is HIV positive during a segment of the Today Show last week?

11) Convicted spy Johnathan Pollard was released from prison Friday. One of the most notorious spies in history, what country did Pollard spy on the US for?

12) Bernie Sanders gave a major policy speech on what issue at Georgetown University Thursday?

13) Nearly 250,000 women in Texas have attempted what medical procedure on themselves due to lack of availability of that procedure in Texas?

14) Jerry McKim, whose agency handles LIHEAP applications said that utilities sent out how many disconnect notices in September in Iowa?

15) Was he Piyush-ed out? What lesser Republican presidential candidate ‘suspended’ his campaign last week?

16) Many right wingers this week have compared their push to stop Syrian refugees to the way America treated citizens with what heritage in WWII?

17) Ben Carson compared refugees to what type of dogs?

18) The Oxford Dictionary named what non-word as its “word of the year?”

19) Shades of horrors past. What presidential candidate said muslims may need to carry some special form of ID or be registered in a database?

20) TV and Thanksgiving teamed up in 1953 to create what symbol of Americana when a buyer for Swanson way overbought turkeys for the holiday?

Happy Thanksgiving all. Celebrate safely and with meaning.


1) John Connally of Texas

2) World Anti Doping Agency

3) Belgium

4) Minneapolis

5) Ireland

6) Loebsack voted for the bill (most Repub votes) and Steve King joined Dems in voting against

7) Steve King. Kidding about the big lift

8) “prostitution and vice”

9) Beirut, Lebanon

10) Charlie Sheen

11) Israel

12) democratic socialism

13) abortion

14) 91,000 households

15) Piyush “Bobby” Jindal

16) the Japanese who were put in internment camps

17) rabid dogs

18) the crying with tears of joy emoji

19) Donald Trump. How about a yellow star er.. crescent Mr. Trump {disgusting}

20) The TV dinner

Senators Mathis, Ragan, Jochum Go To Washington To Stop Branstad

Sen.  Mathis

Sen. Mathis

Sen. Ragan

Sen. Ragan

Hats off to Iowa state Senators Liz Mathis of Cedar Rapids, Amanda Ragan of Mason City and Senate president Pam Jochum of Dubuque for taking the fight against Governor Branstad’s raid on the Medicaid program in Iowa to Washington where the asked for the agency to slow or stop the march to profitizing.

There is a finite pie of money that the Branstad administration is trying to reslice and give a large chunk to his buddies in the managed care plan business. Since the pie is finite, the only place the money going to the for-profit administrators could come from is part of the pie that is now going for health care. Somehow Branstad claims that this will be a win for those receiving Medicaid. The Branstad administration has done no analysis to show how the pie will be redistributed, they are simply in a huge hurry to turn the $4.2 billion in the program over to his buddies to run before anyone realizes they have been robbed.

Branstad was re-elected by Iowans last year despite numerous scandals. Since his reelection he has gone into hyper drive in his mission to give taxpayer money to friends of the Republican party in business. Unlike Scott Walker in Wisconsin or Rick Snyder in Michigan where the legislatures make laws to funnel the tax payer’s money to their donors, Branstad has to deal with Democrats controlling one house of the legislature who are unwilling to do his bidding. Thus Branstad is left to creating bogus executive actions to redirect money to their donors. So we have interpretation of tax laws that make no sense and a redistribution of Medicaid funds to give 3rd party administrators a big slice.

So a big thank you to Iowa’s Democrats for pulling out all the stops to see to it that Medicaid funds go to those who the funds were meant for – those who need help to get health care. Also a big thank you to the Iowa Hospitals Association which has filed a lawsuit to stop the headlong dive into making Medicaid much less workable.

Tuning in to a Medicaid listening session being held by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Thursday it became obvious very quickly that there has been very little planning by the Branstad Administration beyond cutting checks to the managed care plan companies. Calls were received from a broad cross section of people and organizations that deal with Iowa’s Medicaid program. From every corner the message was quite clear that the Branstad Administration’s only planning has been in the area of giving our money to the managed care people. One participant noted that the MCOs (managed care organizations) have been guaranteed 15% off the top. What a waste!

(side note – sounds like Branstad plans as well as George W did going in to Iraq. Just do it and everything will be alright. Now we have ISIL.)

Branstad’s recent power grabs on school funding, closing mental health facilities, Medicaid, tax treatment for businesses and other areas must be challenged vigorously. What he and his administration are doing – setting up methods to funnel tax payer money to donors and cronies – is way beyond the pale. It is way past time that Iowans stop one of the Governor’s unethical and possibly illegal moves.

Our hats off also to those citizens who are standing up and saying a loud “NO!” to Branstad. This is what democracy is about. Standing up to the bullies who try to turn government into an income redistribution system from the poor to the rich. If we work together we can stop the railroading by the likes of Branstad, Walker, Snyder, or Rick Scott in Florida.

Even if Branstad is stopped on this front, what will be his next move to move our money to his cronies? This surely will not his last attempt. This is where a vigilant democracy comes into play.

Sen. Jochum

Sen. Jochum

Grassley: Blocking Foreign Service Nominees In Time Of Crisis

May as well be in Iowa cutting grass

May as well be in Iowa cutting grass

As the Republican Party once again reacts to terrorist bombings with loud proclamations of love of country and calls to do nearly anything to protest the citizens when we turn the rock over we see what Republicans are really doing beneath the surface. And what they are really doing is everything they can to undermine the Obama administration. This should hardly be news since this has been their only basic mission since a secret meeting declared congressional war on the Obama administration on Jan. 20th, 2009.

Who can forget Mitch McConnell’s statement that “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

So while declaring themselves patriotic to the hilt, the congressional Republican Party true priorities continue to be opposing Obama at every turn. One of the leaders in this war on Obama has been our own Chuck Grassley. Yep old fumbling, bumbling Chuck with his Iowa twang has been a one man wrecking ball on Obama nominees. We have chronicled Grassley’s obstruction on blogforiowa many times including this recent post

Now with the world on heightened alert and diplomacy at a premium with friend and foe alike, Chuck Grassley uses his lofty seniority and committee assignments to block high ranking nominees to the State Department.

But the Iowa Republican also added a hold on a top State Department nominee, telling leadership that he intends to block Thomas Shannon’s nomination to be the under secretary of political affairs.

Grassley is also continuing his hold on Brian James Egan’s nomination to be a legal adviser for the department, as well as David Malcolm Robinson’s nomination to be assistant secretary for conflict and stabilization operations and coordinator for reconstruction and stabilization.

Grassley has also come under fire from Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who accused the Iowa Republican of wasting taxpayer money trying to bring down Clinton’s presidential campaign.

“Why are nonpartisan public service positions being used as political pawns, especially if they are being blocked just because Senator Grassley doesn’t want Hillary Clinton to be the next president of the United States?” the Nevada Democrat asked from the Senate floor. “How much money will Republicans in Congress waste to try to bring down Hillary Clinton? We don’t know all the numbers.”

Duly note that Grassley had 22 nominees under hold, but he lifted 20 when the light was shined on his obstruction by the Paris bombings. It is a true shame that tragedies such as that are what it takes to make Grassley do his job.

Well, priorities are priorities and playing politics with the State Department to make a Democratic administration look bad and to thwart the election of another Democrat is all in a day’s work for Grassley.

Will Iowans remember Grassley’s obstruction a year from now and elect a senator with the good of the state and the country in mind?

Electric Car Emissions vs. Gasoline

Thought this would be of interest to folks here: (about 2 minutes)