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"Thanks for Your Service."

USVA graphic for Veterans Day 2013
Cheers to our men and women---straight and gay, from the biggest cities and the smallest towns---who have served uniform. Today is Veterans Day.

My family has a bit of a patchwork history with the military. Both of my grandfathers couldn’t serve because of health issues. But Grandpa Smith, an executive with Reliance Electric in Cleveland back in the day, donned a uniform with captain's bars after World War II when he was recruited to traipse around Germany to document their power plant technology. My Great-Uncle Al flew a torpedo bomber in World War II and helped sink a Japanese ship or two. My Uncle Bud was a medical officer in the '50s. And my dad…well…he was a navigator in one of these bad boys---the B-66 "Destroyer":

I couldn't enlist because I'm gay (still am, but now I'm too creaky), and I regret that I wasn't qualified to serve. I would've made a relatively decent general, as I've seen Patton several times.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have certainly burned into this generation's brain the fact that military service is a grueling, unpredictable and uncompromising challenge that often means paying a heavy and unexpected price in the pursuit of politician-selected goals that are not always noble or necessary. The military is where we go to become a trained killer-of-bad-people and destroyer-of-bad-things in defense of our country, while at the same time serving as de facto U.S. ambassadors when we're in foreign countries.

I could go on and on about how our armed forces have been kicking ass for 238 years. But I think I'll just leave it at this: Thank you for your service, veterans.

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Note: Due to the Veterans Day holiday, there will be no mail delivery service today.  But the NSA will be snooping on you as usual.  ---Mgt.


International Pickle Festival logo (Rosendale, NY)
13 days 'til things get kinda
creepy in Rosendale, New York.
By the Numbers:
Days 'til Howard Dean's birthday: 6
Days 'til the International Pickle Festival in Rosendale, New York: 13
Amount President Obama supports for a federal minimum wage: $10.10
Number of jobs added in October: 204,000
(Source: Labor Dept.)
Average time an American suffering from depression waits before seeking help: 8 years
(Source: Harper's Index)
Number of passengers who came to Portland, Maine on cruise ships in 2012: 68,861
Number of passengers in 2013: 71,255
(Source: The Portland Press Herald)


Puppy Pic of the Day: So wrong on so many levels that it circles back around and becomes so right.


CHEERS to honeymoons in Honolulu.  I couldn’t keep my eyes open long enough into the wee hours of Saturday morning to see the Hawaii House pass a marriage equality bill, but I watched enough livestreaming to learn that 1) the Hawaii House takes a ton of recesses, and 2) the Hawaii House has its share of obstructionist assholes.  But in the end it passed easily 30-19, and here's the plan for wrapping it up:

Graphic: Hawaii House passes marriage equality.  11/8/13
Woo hoo!
The state Senate on Tuesday will agree to the state House's version of a marriage equality bill and send it to Gov. Neil Abercrombie for his signature.

Sen. Clayton Hee (D, Heeia-Laie-Waialua), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, announced Saturday that he would recommend that the Senate accept the House's changes to the bill, which expanded a religious exemption. Abercrombie is expected to sign the marriage equality bill into law shortly after he receives it from the Senate.

If Abercrombie signs it before the 20th, he'll beat Illinois Governor Pat Quinn---who has his own bill to sign---to the punch and sneak Hawaii into 15th place on the gay-marriage timeline.  In either case, folks in both states do not have to worry about the sky falling when the ink dries.  We passed it up here in Maine last year and I say from experience: you can prop it up pretty solidly with a few tree branches.

JEERS to God's little hissy fit.  Speaking of the sky falling…holy Pacific pandemonium, Batman!  The Philippines got typhooned Friday, and the death toll really isn't even estimate-able (1,000 has already turned into 10,000+).  This is one of those disasters---like Katrina and Sandy and Haiti---where the words "tell me where to donate" become an involuntary reaction.  You can give to who you want as you're able; in our case yesterday we saw TexMex's diary and made a donation to ShelterBox USA, which provides these ready-made immediate-shelter kits:

Contents of one ShelterBox emergency shelter kit.
The U.S. and the rest of the world will marshal its resources to help the Philippines restore, recover and rebuild in the wake of the storm.  As my grandma used to say, "It's what we do."

JEERS to uncomfortably-close margins.  Think the elections are over?  Think again.  In Virginia, the Attorney General's race is tight as a tick and the provisional ballot counting continues.  From what I hear, Dave Wasserman of Cook Political Report is the go-to guy for keeping up with the numbers.  His twitter feed is here.  Teacherken is also on it.  If you listen to the prevailing speculation, Democrat Mark Herring may end up holding a lead by a whisker---around 100 votes out of a million cast.  But for now the only thing we know for sure is: it ain't Ken Cuccinelli.  Woo hoo.

CHEERS to Democrats from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.  Happy birthday (and many blessings on your camels) to Senator Barbara Boxer of California---73 today but doesn’t look a day over 39.  Why am I happy she's on our team?  Let me count a few ways:

Happy Birthday, Senator!
I was a stock broker once. I think there is an absolute place for market investments. But they should never be the basis of one's retirement. They should be an additional piece on top of a basic, secure, guaranteed retirement benefit.
Medical professionals, not insurance company bureaucrats, should be making health care decisions.
We know no document is perfect, but when we amend the Constitution, it would be to expand rights, not to take away rights from decent, loyal Americans. This great Constitution of ours should never be used to make a group of Americans permanent second-class citizens.
I think Democrats are right. We fight for the American dream, for the environment, for privacy rights, a woman's right to choose, a good public education system.
Right on.

CHEERS to freaks of the galaxy.  A wild asteroid was spotted by totally not-stoned science people recently.  It's between Mars and Jupiter at the moment, and it has six tails.  Even stranger: they're all wagging.  (I hope we can train it to go poopies outside the solar system in the back nebula.)


Five years ago in C&J: November 11, 2008

CHEERS to a good turn at bat.  Howard Dean is stepping down in January after transforming the DNC into a lean, mean, 50-state fighting machine (and personal hero to progressives across the country):

Howard Dean photo
Attaboy, Howard.
"The 50-state-strategy was successful in laying the groundwork for 2006 and 2008," said strategist and DNC member Donna Brazile. "Clearly, the strategy has reaped a harvest of new voters for Democrats and the next Chair will no doubt build upon this foundation for 2010 and beyond. Remember, we have some interesting statewide and mayoral elections next year before the all out organizing for redistricting."
Now the question is, where does he go from here?  Obama's cabinet? Retirement?  Denny's?  His wife's medical practice?  A maple syrup farm?  A mountaintop from which he will dispense the secrets of the universe?  Or perhaps a Burlington park bench from which he will feed pigeons and shout at cars?  Our guess: all of the above.  He's a multi-tasker, that one.


And just one more…

CHEERS and "Alki!" to the Evergreen State.  Washington was admitted as our 42nd state on November 11, 1889.  It's a very cool state---pot is legal, gay couples can get married, and Seattle is like the upper-left thumbtack that keeps our country's map from curling up towards the red states in the middle.  To mark the occasion, some people might enjoy biting into a nice juicy Washington apple.  Here, help yourself...

Chart of Washington apple varieties.
Personally, I prefer to drink mine.  Mainly because noshing on healthy food gives my liver a false sense of hope.

Have a nice Monday.  Floor's open...What are you cheering and jeering about today?


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Should the minimum wage be raised to $10.10, which President Obama now favors?

32%2031 votes
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| 6322 votes | Vote | Results

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