Cheers and Jeers for Wednesday, January 11, 2017
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By the Numbers:
Days ’til the next full moon: 1
Days ’til the Chinese New Year (of the rooster): 17
Rank of 2016 among hottest years on record in the U.S., according to a new report by NOAA: #2
Rank of the electric Chevy Bolt among top cars on our continent, according to the official vote tally at the North American International Auto Show: #1
Percent of Republicans and Democrats, respectively, in Congress who are Christian, according to the Pew Research Center: 99.3%, 80%
Estimated number of Mainers who would lose their Medicaid eligibility under Gov. Paul LePage’s budget proposal, according to The Portland Press Herald: 20,000
Age of former Iranian “moderate” president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani when he died Sunday: 82
Mid-week Rapture Index:
Puppy Pic of the Day: Yes, dogs in socks is a thing…
CHEERS to a swell sendoff. President Obama delivered his farewell address last night. With eight years of solid accomplishments that left the United States categorically better off than it was eight years ago, it was part victory lap, part road map, part civics lesson, and all love. It was a speech capping two terms of speeches that will be studied and referenced and memorized for generations to come. I was doing pretty well through it, but then he gave Michelle and the family a shoutout and that turned on my waterworks…
It’s tough to let him go after two memorable terms. But take heart in this: on January 20th, Donald Trump may become a deeply unpopular, scandal-plagued president. But Barack Hussein Obama…will become a Jedi.
JEERS to more hot air and BS. I hate to break it to ya, but any time you spent watching Sen. Jeff Sessions slither through the fingers of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday will not be tacked back onto your lifespan. (Sorry, but there just some miracles even Obamacare can’t perform.) But today should be more interesting. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) is making a big move to raise his profile in our party by testifying against “one of his own.” (Oh, the breach of comity! How will the noble chamber survive?!!) Plus: Civil rights legend and congressman John Lewis (D-GA) will likely bring the room to such a hush that you can hear a pin drop. And the late Coretta Scott King might even make an unwelcome (for Sessions) appearance via this scathing 1986 letter that committee chairman Chuck Grassley doesn’t want you to see. But as for yesterday? Like I said, he ducked and weaved, used a baby as a human shield (how very Saddam Hussein of you), got his foot caught in a few minor traps, but otherwise did nothing to give anyone in his party pause. Unfortunately. Which brings me to my free joke of the day:
A racist, a misogynist and a homophobe walk into a bar. Says the bartender: “Hi, Senator Sessions!”
I relinquish all copyright claims to it, so give it a whirl around the water cooler today. Hilarity will ensue!
CHEERS to backing down. Mitch McConnell loses a round. Education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos’s hearings were put on ice until next week because apparently her financials are a nightmare for the Senate ethics vetters. While we’re waiting, here’s a final example of Obama administration watch-dogging on behalf of higher learnin’ seekers:
More than 800 career-training programs at for-profit colleges are leaving graduates saddled with debt that exceeds 12 percent of their total earnings, putting the schools at risk of losing access to federal loans and grants, the Education Department said in a report released Monday.
“Far too many hard-working students are graduating with certificates or degrees that have little or no value in the job market, and then they’re stuck with thousands of dollars in student loans with no way to repay them,” Education Secretary John B. King Jr. said Monday during a conference call with reporters. […]
“It’s clear that low performance is concentrated in the for-profit sector. Many of these programs leave graduates with substantial debt and very low earnings,” Undersecretary of Education Ted Mitchell said.
When she heard there were 803 schools in the report that were blatantly ripping off students in the name of profits, DeVos vowed to take immediate action and get that number down to zero on day one. By burning the report on day one.
CHEERS to clearing the air….and the lungs. 53 years ago today, in 1964, U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry issued the first government report saying smoking may be hazardous to your health. (This came as quite a shock to some of tobacco’s most fervent supporters, like doctors and Ronald Reagan.) The report had quite the impact:
The landmark Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health stimulated a greatly increased concern about tobacco on the part of the American public and government policymakers and led to a broad-based anti-smoking campaign.
The report was also responsible for the passage of the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965, which, among other things, mandated the familiar Surgeon General’s health warnings on cigarette packages.
If you’re in the process of quitting or thinking of quitting, stop by the daily GUS (Giving Up Smoking) diaries here at DKos for tips and support. Your lungs and your bank account will thank you.
P.S. Joe Biden plans to continue his fight to eradicate all forms of cancer when he leaves office. If he’s taking suggestions, I suggest he start with the one that’s about to infect the presidency.
JEERS to Puritanism: Arabian Style. It’s a cultural miracle! The rulers of Saudi Arabia are suddenly allowing “fun to come out of the shadows” by letting its menfolk (and women when properly accompanied) have broader access to comedians, singers, nightclubs and other forms of kingdom-approved entertainment. Of course, it’s not out of a dedication to personal freedom and cultivation of the arts. No, the justification sounds more like a cash register bell:
As part of a shock therapy to overhaul the deteriorating economy, the government is relaxing the rules on having fun in the ultra-conservative society—and also plans to make some cash from it. The kingdom is hardly synonymous with entertainment: religious police order music to be silenced and citizens usually travel to Dubai or Bahrain when they want to catch a movie or a show. Now the plan is to turn cheering people up into an industry.
They’ve even started running double features that are really popular. For one low price you can watch a movie and a beheading.
JEERS to Camp Sunshine. My, how time flies when your captors are in your cell flushing your Quran down the toilet. Today marks the 15th anniversary of the grand opening of the gulag at Gitmo, a facility that President Obama and Democrats have wanted to shutter for the last eight years but couldn’t because Republicans are too scared of housing the inmates (most of whom were turned in for handsome rewards in Afghanistan and weren’t ever charged with anything) in U.S. maximum-security prisons. But at least some progress is being made toward reducing the number. Kudos to Obama for ignoring his successor-elect:
President Barack Obama plans to transfer additional detainees from Guantanamo Bay, the White House said Tuesday, hours after President-elect Donald Trump warned against moving any more prisoners from the naval facility.
“I would expect, at this point, additional transfers to be announced,” said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary. He characterized the moves…as continuing the long-running effort to clear detainees from the prison. [He] said Obama would not factor Trump’s tweet into his decision-making on the prison.
To mark today’s anniversary, all the inmates will get a double-hosedown and fifteen tiny candles in their swill.
Ten years ago in C&J: January 11, 2007
JEERS to “His Most Important Speech Ever.” Drawing from ideas apparently scribbled on the back of a napkin and stuffed into the Recyclotron 2007™, President Bush—my notes say he looked “tired, ashen, nervous, tentative”—offered a New Way Forward in Iraq. It’s exactly the same as the Old New Way Forward except he added one word: “Honest!” In fairness, the speech helped immediately identify the thousands of insurgents who have infiltrated the Iraqi military and police force: al-Maliki just rounded up the ones doubled over in laughter.
And just one more…
CHEERS to Texans with ‘Tude. One of the great pleasures of stomping around Austin in 97-bazillion-degree heat with the Netroots Nation hooligans back in ’08 was the chance to meet liberal activist, populist and rabble-rouser Jim Hightower, of whom Molly Ivins said: “If Will Rogers and Mother Jones had a baby, Jim Hightower would be that rambunctious child—mad as hell, with a sense of humor.” Darn fine writer, too, and a dependable ally against Hair Fuehrer…
In Trump’s presidential campaign, it was his frequent, unbridled slaps at Wall Street elites and arrogant, job-busting corporate executives that gave him the “populistic” patina he needed to win. But, wait a minute—who’re those guys escorting The Donald into the Oval Office?
Oh my God, they’re Wall Street elites and arrogant corporate executives! Trump campaigned on the theme of remaking Washington by “draining the swamp” of pay-to-play corporate favoritism and cronyism. But those swamp critters are the very ones who’re buying favors from the president-to-be by putting up tens of millions of dollars to pay for his inaugural extravaganza and his transition operation.
The transition team itself, which is literally shaping and staffing our next national government, is a viper’s nest of pay-to-play corporate interests. […] Far from “draining” the Washington swamp, Trump is turning it into an exclusive Jacuzzi for the rich.
But nothing beats his signature line: “There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos.” Happy 74th birthday, sir. And many blessings on your Stetson.
Have a happy humpday. Floor’s open…What are you cheering and jeering about today?
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Brave Bill in Portland Maine saves his kiddie pool as SUV plows through Cheers and Jeers