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The Week Ahead

Monday The House reconvenes after slogging through another recess. The Republican leadership immediately submits bills making life more difficult for women, blacks, Hispanics, gays, sick people, the unemployed, teachers, first responders, doctors and minority voters. After lunch they hold a rally condemning Democrats for making government too intrusive.

Michelle Obama continues her charm offensive in China, but I think there's like a 50-hour time difference so she might already be home by now.

Some 40-plus heads of state attend the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague. The #1 rule of Security Summit: never tell anyone you're having a blast.

Tuesday The Supreme Court hears arguments in the case of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc..  At issue: are corporations not only people, but also people who can skirt federal laws (like the contraception mandate in health insurance coverage) on religious grounds? A notable name missing from the amicus briefs: God.

Jimmy Carter takes a seat in the guest chair at The Colbert Report to promote his book, A Call to Action: Women's Rights, Religion, Violence and Power, allowing 90 seconds at the end to build Stephen a new shed.

Wednesday  Nothing planned. The world's just gonna wing it and see what happens.

Thursday  President Obama and the First Lady meet with Pope Francis while Pope Benedict shoots spitwads from his breakfast nook, managing only to ding a Swiss Guard and a pigeon.

Netroots Nation starts 16 weeks from today in Detroit. Drinking at Netroots Nation starts 16 weeks and 1 minute from today. Also in Detroit.

Friday Opening in theatres today: Cesar Chavez. When a villain shows up, feel free to hurl raisinettes at the screen.

The Sunday morning talking-head shows draw straws to see who has to babysit John McCain next weekend while Cindy goes shopping. As usual, the process goes on much longer than expected as the hosts try to figure out how to shorten a straw.

Also: Putin's NCAA brackets go kerflooey and CNN's Don Lemon wonders aloud if the missing jet isn't really a Transformer hiding in plain sight as a streetlamp in Sydney. Plus Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Note: My corset just snapped and knocked over a lamp.  Sorry, kitty.


Chocolate Easter egg surrounded by candy
29 days!!!
By the Numbers:
Days 'til Easter: 29
Days 'til the Berkeley Bay Festival: 19
Jobless rate among those 18-24 who are not veterans: 14%
Jobless rate among those 18-24 who are veterans: 21%
(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)
 Size of the hole in a fence that Justin Casquejo slipped through before he made his way to the top of the new World Trade Center skyscraper last week: 12" x 12"
Ages of John Anderson and Patrick Lucey, now notable as the longest-living presidential political ticket ever: 96, 92
(Source: Kossack Ed Tracey)
Speed at which auto airbags explode: 200mph
(Source: The internet)


NEW!  Your Monday Michigan Moment

Brought to you by the 2014 Netroots Nation Convention in Detroit, July 17-20.  Michigan is or was home to a few folks whose names you might've heard of:

Elvis photoshopped as working at Burger King
Elvis still works in Grand Rapids.
Rosa Parks, Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Magic Johnson, Malcolm X, Tom Selleck, Jeff Daniels, Casey Kasem, Jerry Bruckheimer, Jack Kevorkian, Thom Hartmann, Lily Tomlin, William Boeing, Charles Lindbergh, Roger Corman, Gilda Radner, Aretha Franklin, Christie Brinkley, Robert Jarvik, Betty Carter, Francis Ford Coppola, Bill in Portland Maine's partner Michael...
And Ted Nugent.  Hey, every barrel has its rotten apple.


Puppy Pic of the Day:  Retroactive Happy National Puppy Day.


CHEERS to Wolverine State weddings.  Wow, that was wild: on Friday a U.S. judge in Michigan opened the door to same-sex marriage, and a few hundred couples actually tied the knot before an appeals court issued a stay until at least Wednesday.  Chris and Anne Savage at Michigan's legendary Eclectablog posted an exclusive look at the way things went down in a couple counties, including Oakland:

Freedom to Marry graphic on anti-same-sex marriage laws being struck down on March 21, 2014
[Oakland County Clerk Lisa] Brown did several individual weddings before realizing they were never going to be able to accommodate everyone that way. With the permission of the couples, she began doing group weddings of a couple of dozen couples. By the end of the day, she her office issued 142 licenses and married over 100 couples. She instructed couples to cross out “bride” or “groom” and write in the appropriate title since Michigan marriage licenses have both on them and have yet to be updated to accommodate same-sex couples.
If you attend a Michigan wedding, keep in mind that they're a bit more dangerous than ones other states.  Instead of rice they throw sugar beets.

CHEERS to China: Day 5.  Michelle Obama continues her historic trip as the first First Lady to travel to China without the president.  She's getting boffo reviews so far and appears to be quite adept at the mild rebuke---and that ain't easy.  Here's her schedule for the next few days:

Michelle, Sasha and Malia Obama at the Great Wall of China, March 23, 2014.
Good gravy, this is ridiculously adorable.
Today (Xi’an)
> Visits to the Terra Cotta Warriors Museum and the Xi’an City Wall.

Tuesday (Chengdu)
> Visit to Chengdu No. 7 High School.  Michelle highlights the importance of education in her own life and in the lives of students in both the United States and China.

Wednesday (Chengdu)
> Visit to the Chengdu Panda Base, home to 50 pandas, from infancy to full-grown adults. Chinese scientists spend their days working to increase the panda population through research, conservation, and sexytime.
> FLOTUS departs to meet up with POTUS for meeting with POPEUSFRANCUS.

Of course the right-wing noise machine is all pouty-ragey because precious farthings are being spent on such sundries and frivolities.  Hey, if it keeps their minds off Benghazi…

JEERS to oil, oil everywhere.  Twenty-five years ago, at 12:04am on March 24, 1989, Captain Joseph Hazelwood was dreaming happy dreams when his tanker, the Exxon Valdez, was running aground and spilling 11.3 million gallons of crude all over Prince William Sound.  Now, you'd think that, after two and a half decades, things would be back to normal.  And, says McClatchy News, you'd be mostly wrong:

Exxon Valdez oil tanker
"Nothing to see here.
Please move along..."
The herring of Prince William Sound still have not recovered.  Neither have killer whales, and legal issues remain unresolved a quarter of a century later… “I think the big surprise for all of us who have worked on this thing for the last 25 years has been the continued presence of relatively fresh oil,” said Gary Shigenaka, a marine biologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, a state-federal group set up to oversee restoration of Prince William Sound, considers the pink and sockeye salmon to be recovered, as well as the bald eagles and harbor seals. Several other species are listed as recovering but not recovered.

One of the many things that pisses me off is hearing the "Drill here, Drill now, Pay less" crowd bleat about how much safer the extraction and transportation of oil is now, and how another Exxon Valdez-like catastrophe "...could never happen!  Never!"  And yet, if I had raised concerns with an Exxon executive on March 23, 1989 about a supertanker breaking apart and causing environmental Armageddon, I no doubt would've been patted on the head and told, "That could never happen...never!  Trust me!"  Only as far as I can throw ya, pal.

CHEERS to Angus of the North.  I'm sorry, Ellen.  You are no longer the Selfie Queen.  And I'll tell you why.  Because you've been bested by a Selfie King:

Here endeth the selfie battle for all time.  Maine wins.

"Wise up, wise guys."
JEERS to nasty little devils.  It's not terribly often that someone gets told in no uncertain terms that their sinful ways will take them on a one-way elevator ride to Satan country.  But the Pope has done just that, warning Italy's mobsters that if they don’t change their ways they'll go straight to Hell.  Said the gangsters, "Eh, at least it's a dry heat."  Funny thing about the mob.  They're the most devout Catholics in the world…right up until they're not.  (See also: priests, child-molesting Catholic.)

CHEERS to those meddling maple leafers.  On today's date in 1837---78 years before our Supreme Court finally cleared an unobstructed path to the voting booth---the ever-sensible Canadians gave blacks the right to vote.  During the next century they would beat us by two years in letting the womenfolk cast ballots.  But with one notable crack-smoking exception, when it comes to putting idiots on the ballot, we clean their clock.  Stick that in a can 'o Molson and sit on it, eh.


Five years ago in C&J: March 24, 2009

CHEERS to shining up the shovels.  Maine's first stimulus-funded effort---a $31.5 million highway paving project---will start "full-bore" in 13 days, and not a moment too soon:

[It] will definitely have a ripple effect.  Pavers, truck drivers and equipment operators will be working, and everything from diesel fuel to wooden stakes will be purchased this spring and summer during the repaving of the northbound lanes of Interstate 295 from Topsham to Gardiner. ...  [M]any other workers, from subcontractors to truck drivers to bridge workers, are likely to feel a financial effect from the road project.  Local businesses---fuel companies, sawmills, hotels, convenience stores---should also feel the impact.
This should build some goodwill for the president and Maine's congresscritters, because it follows one of the golden rules of politics: Fix the potholes and you rule the universe.


CHEERS to a worthy substitute.  While Michelle Obama is overseas, Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) is officially in charge of Let's Move duties.  Everybody off your tush:

It's not exactly the Hamster Dance, but not bad.

Have an irrationally exuberant Monday.  Floor's open...What are you cheering and jeering about today?


Today's Shameless C&J Testimonial:

Onetime foes Bill Clinton, John McCain bond over Ukraine, Twitter and ‘Cheers and Jeers
---The Washington Post


The Exxon Valdez oil disaster happened 25 years ago today. Exxon Mobil says everything's back to normal, so be happy! State, federal and independent scientists say things won’t be back to normal for years, if ever. Who do you believe most?

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