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From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…

Netroots Nation starts in only 17 16 15 weeks!

News and announcements for the June 20-23 convention in San Jose:

  • The "Grab A Booth" contest is underway and has attracted a diverse gaggle of worthy nominees who are hoping to win a free booth at the convention. Right now they need one thing to make it over the top: your votes. (It's like a Republican primary except the candidates are cool, smart, rational and don't bump into walls.) Contest ends Tuesday---the top 3 vote-getters win, and then three more will be chosen by the NN organization team. Click here to check 'em out and give 'em some luvins.
  • A tantalizing clue from Linda Lee about the speaker announcement that will be revealed later today:
    I can say it is a person (not a corporation) and it is not Donald Trump. :-)
    My prediction: the new pope.
  • Netroots nation San Jose logo
    105 days
    (Not that we're counting...)
  • Three things I did not know about San Jose:

    1) It has the largest Beethoven collection outside of Europe.

    2) It has the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in the western United States.

    3) It's sunny over 300 days a year and only gets about 14 inches of rain annually. Average daily high in June is 81. Average low: 59.

  • The NN13 scholarship drive starts later this month, I'm told. Stay tuned.
  • Planning to go? Register now---here's why: The $295 tier of registrations sold out last week, and the $325 registration tier will be the next to go. After that, I believe the next tier is equal to the amount of money wasted by Republicans on their fruitless Solyndra hearings. To register for the convention, click here. For official hotel info, click here.

More updates as we get 'em. Meanwhile Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Cheers and Jeers for Thursday, March 7, 2013

Note: No pope yet.  No film at 11.

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By the Numbers:
Days 'til St. Patrick's Day: 10
Days 'til the Perdido Key Wine & Art Festival: 15
January-to-January increase in home prices: 9.7%
(Source: The Portland Press Herald)
Day of the first combat death of a female soldier in Iraq: 3/23/03
Date on which the Army began testing body armor designed for women: 8/20/12
(Source: Harper's Index)
Service industry activity index in, respectively, January and February: 55.2 / 56
Number above which the index indicates economic expansion in the service sector: 50
(Source: Institute for Supply Management)

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Your Thursday Molly Ivins Moment:

Molly Ivins
For those of you who have forgotten what happened (apparently including the entire Bush campaign) shortly after the 9-11 attacks, President Bush promised a $3.5 billion aid package to provide equipment and training in dealing with such attacks to local police and fire departments. For over 18 months, no money appeared, and when money finally did appear, it was nowhere near the promised levels (hey, he had to cut those taxes on the richest 1 percent of Americans).

Furthermore, the New York City firefighters who worked Ground Zero were specifically screwed. They were promised $90 million to monitor the long-term health effects of breathing in all that ash for months while they cleaned up. The money was to have been included in the overall post 9-11 aid package for New York City, but it got shifted to another bill that Bush rejected the following August. About half the workers screened before the money ran out suffered from respiratory problems.
---March 2004

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Puppy Pic of the Day: Thanks to his brother, a blind sled dog keeps on sled-dogging.  (AP's video report on Gonzo and Poncho here.)

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CHEERS to gittin' 'er done.  What should have been a routine act of common-sense legislation turned into an unnecessarily protracted and vicious battle, thanks (again!) to Republican obstructionists.  So today's signing of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) feels like an even landmarkier event than the landmark event it is:

Obama signature on ACA bill
The VAWA re-authorization
gets one of these today.
-
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Over more than two decades, this law has saved countless lives and transformed the way we treat victims of abuse.  Today’s vote will go even further by continuing to reduce domestic violence, improving how we treat victims of rape, and extending protections to Native American women and members of the LGBT community.  The bill also reauthorizes the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, providing critical support for both international and domestic victims of trafficking and helping ensure traffickers are brought to justice.
As the president puts his pens to paper, be sure to send a hearty "Thpppttppt!" (or if you prefer the British spelling, "Thpppttppte!") to the 27 House Republicans who voted against it twice---both the stronger version and the watered-down version.  It's the least we can do, considering they couldn’t even do the least they could do.

JEERS to thuggish thuggery. On March 7, 1965---America's "Bloody Sunday"---a march by civil rights demonstrators was broken up in Selma, Alabama when "state and local lawmen attacked them with billy clubs and tear gas."  Congresswoman Barbara Lee dropped by Daily Kos yesterday with an eloquent lesson on the significance of this year's commemoration:

Selma Alabama march, March 7, 1965.
What racial entitlement looked
like on March 7, 1965 in Selma.
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We may be 48 years beyond bloodied protesters, but we have yet to conquer the discrimination running rampant in the United States.

On the pilgrimage, we returned to the now-sacred places of the Civil Rights Movement, to the bridge where my colleague, great friend, and freedom fighter Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) was brutally beaten. We met the brave foot soldiers, now elderly, to whom we owe a debt of gratitude. Their seeking liberty and justice for all was a great sacrifice, and we must honor it.

To honor their courage, we must stand united on our fundamental democratic rights. We cannot allow our essential democratic expression to be violated. Even during the first moments of hearing oral arguments, Justice Scalia categorized the Voting Rights Act as “racial entitlement.” We needed the Voting Rights Act in 1965, and we certainly need it now.

The Alabama march went smoothly last weekend.  No injuries were reported beyond a few cases of banjo on the knee.  (Ask your doctor if Pluckitol is right for you.)

P.S. Oh look!  Israel is creating separate bus lines for Israelis and Palestinians.  Nothing says progress like standing athwart history and yelling "Backward!"

CHEERS to fresh air.  Here in Portland, Maine, a ban on smoking in public parks took effect yesterday.  Police ended up handing out warnings to three people and half a dozen squirrels.

JEERS to putting Bush's little adventure in perspective.  This month marks the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.  Keeping in mind that the "catastrophic" sequester cuts amount to $85 billion, take a look at the Special Inspector General for Iraq's final report:

Overall, including all military and diplomatic costs and other aid, the U.S. has spent at least $767 billion since the American-led invasion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.  National Priorities Project, a U.S. research group that analyzes federal data, estimated the cost at $811 billion, noting that some funds are still being spent on ongoing projects. […]

In too many cases, [Inspector General Stuart] Bowen concluded, U.S. officials did not consult with Iraqis closely or deeply enough to determine what reconstruction projects were really needed or, in some cases, wanted. As a result, Iraqis took limited interest in the work, often walking away from half-finished programs, refusing to pay their share, or failing to maintain completed projects once they were handed over.

Price-gouging.  Shitty deals.  Unfettered greed.  Lack of ethics, morals or standards.  Side-stepping regulations.  Obscene number of casualties.  Total lack of accountability.  But enough about Wall Street.  The Iraq War was pretty bad, too.

CHEERS to Pa Bell. 136 years ago today, in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell received a patent---#174,465---for a communications device that has a diaphragm inside it.  Bell called it the telephone.  Rush Limbaugh calls it a slut.

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One year ago in C&J: March 7, 2012

JEERS to the inevitable freakout.  As you may have heard, the ethically-challenged blogger Andrew Breitbart, no stranger to conspiracy theories, died last week of what was likely a "sudden death" heart attack that strikes roughly 100,0000 people a year, even young'ish people like him (43).  After a few moments of bipartisan condolences, out came the nuts:

Andrew Breitbart
One year after Breitbart's
demise, his empire is
crumbling into sawdust.
"I do not believe Breitbart died from natural causes," one commenter on [conservative blogger Lawrence] Sinclair's site wrote.  "He died for speaking the truth... He probably should not have announced he had videos of BO's college days... I find it quite interesting that he died alone on a street. There will be an autopsy and they will decide on natural causes, but there is a way to induce a heart attack in human beings." […]

"I'm going to reiterate what I said before," a commenter wrote on InfoWars.com. "In my opinion THIS GUY GOT ELIMINATED. Plain and simple."

That is so outrageous.  He wasn't eliminated.  He's happily sedated in a cage in a bunker at Area 51.  Right next to the set where they staged the fake moon landing.  Duh!  [3/7/13 Update: After revisiting this story, I'm genuinely shocked and amazed.  A Yahoo News link is actually functional a year later?  Wow!]

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And just one more…

CHEERS to The letter of the day.  Gotta give kudos to Dear Abby for making her readers think reeeally hard about our virtually non-existent gun safety laws:

Advice columnist drawing
"The answer to all
of your problems
is guns, silly goose!"
Dear Abby: My father-in-law, “Earl,” is an alcoholic and an avid gun enthusiast. He owns many weapons. He has been accumulating ammunition at an accelerated rate because he’s afraid that large clips will soon be banned. He drinks to excess.

Last summer, during one of his moments of inebriation, he shot a gun into the air as a “surprise” to the eight family members who were sitting within two to 10 feet of him. He takes pride in the fact that his guns are kept loaded, as “what good is an unloaded gun?” On two separate occasions, a loaded gun was found unsecured in his home.

When my husband and I travel with our children, ages 7, 5 and 4, to visit his family, we stay in Earl’s home. I feel the combination of alcohol and loaded, unsecure guns is not safe for my children. I have suggested to my husband that we stay in a hotel during our visits from now on. The problem is, my husband is unable to stand up to his father. He told me that when he tried talking to him about his concerns, Earl called him a “wimp.”

Please tell me how to get through to my husband.

You can read Abby's response at the link.  Here's mine: The NRA's Wayne LaPierre insists---and who can doubt him?---that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.  So clearly the surefire (heh) NRA-recommended plan is threefold: 1) The children must each be given a gun.  2) ?????  3) Freedom!!!  It's just crazy enough to work.  Emphasis on crazy.

Have a nice Thursday.  But first make room for zoom baby.  Floor's open...What are you cheering and jeering about today?

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Today's Shameless C&J Testimonial:

If Bill in Portland Maine can't handle professional criticism---which is all that I have ever offered---he should go find another profession.
Paul Krugman

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