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Friday, July 3, 2015

Why We Need To Cut the Defense Budget


The fact is, our Defense Department budget is not just large but huge. It's bloated, truth be told. It's famously beyond what any other one nation spends, many times over, it's wasteful, it's actually unaccounted for and downright immoral. It ends up actually weakening us. Professor Reich, once again, educates us Americans.




The Left and Right, Both, Can Get on this Bandwagon (Guest Post)


I saw this yesterday on Facebook on economist, writer, professor Robert Reich's page:

Robert Reich's photo.

Robert Reich's photo.

The heads of government-controlled housing finance agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will each get whopping raises -- from $600,000 this year to $4 million next. Congress set up Fannie and Freddie so Americans could get mortgages more cheaply. In the financial crisis the agencies were bailed out with nearly $190 billion of taxpayer dollars, and taxpayers are still backstopping them. They’re overseen by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, whose director, Mel Watt, just approved the pay raises.

Watt says the $4 million pay packages are necessary to keep the two heads, Timothy Mayopoulos and Don Layton, from bolting for the private sector (Mayopoulos has been complaining about his salary). Baloney. The President of the United States will get $400,000 this year; the Vice President, $233,000; Senators, $193,400; the Chief Justice of the United States, $258,100; Associate Justices, $246,800; cabinet secretaries, $199,700. We don’t pay any of them $4 million to keep them doing their jobs.

Mayopoulos (below, left) joined Fannie in 2009 as general counsel after being fired by Bank of America. When Layton joined Freddie in 2012 after retiring from J.P. Morgan, he called it “a great opportunity to participate in public service.” Which is precisely the point. If they’re public servants, they shouldn’t be paid a penny more than cabinet secretaries. If they’re not public servants, and if Fannie and Freddie are just like any private-sector mortgage lenders, these two agencies should be abolished.



What We Must Do


What we must do to get our government back for the people. A few people know this like Lawrence Lessig and Robert Reich and Bernie Sanders.



Link: Get the Big, Ugly Money Out of Our Election System and Government 


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Entertainment Overnight -- Flashback


Sing it, Stevie





Obama's Coming to Take Our Guns!


From Phoenix this week:

The Blue Street Journal's photo.

2008: Obama's coming to take our guns!
2009: Obama's coming to take our guns!
2010: Obama's coming to take our guns!
2011: Obama's coming to take our guns!
2012: Obama's coming to take our guns!
2013: Obama's coming to take our guns!
2014: Obama's coming to take our guns!
2015: Obama's coming to take our guns!

It got tiresome the second year they said it.

We knew it was stupid the first year, the first time they said it. The second year, it was already old.


The One Presidential Candidate Asking the One Big Question


Vermont Senator and 2016 Democratic Party Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders asks an important, timely question.



It's a question that needs answering, frankly, and that no other candidate is asking or seeking the answers to.


Just Before We Celebrate Our Own Independence Day


On this day in American history:


The city of East St. Louis, Illinois was the scene of one of the bloodiest race riots in the 20th century.  Racial tensions began to increase in February, 1917 when 470 African American workers were hired to replace white workers who had gone on strike against the Aluminum Ore Company.

The violence started on May 28th, 1917, shortly after a city council meeting was called.  Angry white workers lodged formal complaints against black migrations to the Mayor of East St. Louis.  After the meeting had ended, news of an attempted robbery of a white man by an armed black man began to circulate through the city.  As a result of this news, white mobs formed and rampaged through downtown, beating all African Americans who were found.  The mobs also stopped trolleys and streetcars, pulling black passengers out and beating them on the streets and sidewalks.  Illinois Governor Frank O. Lowden eventually called in the National Guard to quell the violence, and the mobs slowly dispersed.  The May 28th disturbances were only a prelude to the violence that erupted on July 2, 1917.

After the May 28th riots, little was done to prevent any further problems.  No precautions were taken to ensure white job security or to grant union recognition.  This further increased the already-high level of hostilities towards African Americans.  No reforms were made in police force which did little to quell the violence in May.  Governor Lowden ordered the National Guard out of the city on June 10th, leaving residents of East St. Louis in an uneasy state of high racial tension.

On July 2, 1917, the violence resumed.  Men, women, and children were beaten and shot to death.  Around six o’ clock that evening, white mobs began to set fire to the homes of black residents.  Residents had to choose between burning alive in their homes, or run out of the burning houses, only to be met by gunfire.  In other parts of the city, white mobs began to lynch African Americans against the backdrop of burning buildings.  As darkness came and the National Guard returned, the violence began to wane, but did not come to a complete stop.

In response to the rioting, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) sent W.E.B. DuBois and Martha Gruening to investigate the incident.  They compiled a report entitled “Massacre at East St. Louis,” which was published in the NAACP’s magazine, The Crisis.  The NAACP also staged a silent protest march in New York City in response to the violence.  Thousands of well-dressed African Americans marched down Fifth Avenue, showing their concern about the events in East St. Louis.

The Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) also responded to the violence.  On July 8th, 1917, the UNIA’s President, Marcus Garvey said “This is a crime against the laws of humanity; it is a crime against the laws of the nation, it is a crime against Nature, and a crime against the God of all mankind.”  He also believed that the entire riot was part of a larger conspiracy against African Americans who migrated North in search of a better life: “The whole thing, my friends, is a bloody farce, and that the police and soldiers did nothing to stem the murder thirst of the mob is a conspiracy on the part of the civil authorities to condone the acts of the white mob against Negroes.”

A year after the riot, a Special Committee formed by the United States House of Representatives launched an investigation into police actions during the East St. Louis Riot.  Investigators found that the National Guard and also the East St. Louis police force had not acted adequately during the riots, revealing that the police often fled from the scenes of murder and arson.  Some even fled from stationhouses and refused to answer calls for help.  The investigation resulted in the indictment of several members of the East St. Louis police force.


Sources:

Allen D. Grimshaw, “Actions of Police and the Military in American Race Riots,” Phylon 24:3 (3rd Qtr, 1963); Robert A. Hill, ed., The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, Vol. I, (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1983); Elliot M. Rudwick, Race Riot at East St. Louis: July 2, 1917 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1964).
Contributor:
University of Washington, Seattle

- See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/east-st-louis-race-riot-july-2-1917#sthash.NGnusI9f.dpuf

Entertainment Overnight -- Walk On By


Foolish pride
Is all that I have left



Walk on by (don't stop)
Walk on



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Quote of the Day


From Humans of New York

Humans of New York's photo.

"I've been a deep believer my whole life. 

18 years as a Southern Baptist. 

More than 40 years as a mainline Protestant. I'm an ordained pastor. 

But it's just stopped making sense to me. You see people doing terrible things in the name of religion, and you think: 'Those people believe just as strongly as I do. They're just as convinced as I am.' And it just doesn't make sense anymore. 

It doesn't make sense to believe in a God that dabbles in people's lives. 

If a plane crashes, and one person survives, everyone thanks God. They say: 'God had a purpose for that person. God saved her for a reason!' Do we not realize how cruel that is? Do we not realize how cruel it is to say that if God had a purpose for that person, he also had a purpose in killing everyone else on that plane? And a purpose in starving millions of children? 

A purpose in slavery and genocide? 

For every time you say that there's a purpose behind one person's success, you invalidate billions of people. You say there is a purpose to their suffering. And that's just cruel."

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Entertainment Overnight -- Redo, Redux


Nice cover. Nice remake.




Yet More Bad News For Kansans


Bad news seems to keep pouring out of Kansas. This hit yesterday:

Kansas State Finance Council issues record $840 million debt certificate

Gov. Sam Brownback and top legislators voted Friday to issue a record $840 million certificate of indebtedness for the upcoming fiscal year despite adoption of massive Kansas tax increases to boost revenue.

The 2015 legislative session came to a close as the State Finance Council accepted conclusions of the governor’s budget director that state government would have insufficient resources “for certain periods” to meet expenditures in the fiscal year starting July 1.

The previous record for short-term borrowing of “idle” state funds was set during the 2009 fiscal year as national recession crashed state revenue and deep cuts couldn’t stem the budget crisis. Three certificates were issued by the council to borrow $775 million. That foreshadowed a 1-cent, three-year increase in the statewide sales tax in 2010.


Kansas Governor Under Investigation For Campaign Finance Irregularities

One year ago at this time, the council approved a debt certificate of $675 million for the current fiscal year. Brownback had promised the state’s fiscal fortunes would improve, but legislators returned in January to confront a revenue shortfall requiring a series of mid-year budget adjustments.


Those same lawmakers followed that action this month by approving tax increases of more than $400 million to close a projected deficit in the 2016 fiscal year. Brownback signed into law bills raising the cigarette and general sales taxes, shrinking itemized deductions and imposing a tax on managed care organizations. He is required by the legislation to make $50 million in budget cuts.

On Friday, Democratic lawmakers gathered in the Capitol for sine die — typically a ceremonial final day of the annual session — expressed exasperation with expansion of the state’s debt position. This type of debt must be repaid by June 30, 2016.

House Democratic Leader Tom Burroughs, D-Kansas City, said escalation in borrowing illustrated the precarious financial condition of state government.

He said the root causes were decisions in 2012 by Brownback and the GOP-led Legislature to exempt 330,000 businesses from the income tax and to reduce individual income tax rates.

“This is a direct result of Governor Brownback’s failed fiscal experiment,” Burroughs said. “Until members of the Legislature take steps to implement a responsible and sustainable budget, the state will continue to be forced to borrow money to cover expenditures.”

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said “incompetence and mismanagement” of the budget led to a trifecta during the 2015 session.

Here's the "money line", so to speak.

“Governor Brownback and the Republican Legislature are responsible for the longest session in history, the largest tax increase in history and, now, the largest certificate of indebtedness in history,” Hensley said.

Then, if that weren't enough, this just hit today, about an hour ago:

The state's overall tax collections were $22.5 million less than forecast in June, Kansas officials said Tuesday.

The shortfall follows signing by Gov. Sam Brownback of bills adopted by the Republican-led Legislature raising taxes by more than $400 million annually to allow for a balanced budget in the fiscal year starting July 1.

So the good Governor's "supply side", Right Wing, very Republican "trickle down economics" plan which cuts the tax rates of the wealthy and business shows again it just doesn't work.  Then, not only does it not work, time and again in the US since President Reagan's brilliance brought out all those 30 years ago but it continues to still create worse and worse problems for the sunflower state.

While the state's motto is Per aspera ad astra, I don't think anyone thought it should be "to the stars through difficulty" that Kansans are to create and bring on themselves.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Entertainment Overnight -- RIP


Rest in peace Chris Squire, Yes bassist.




How Far Down, Kansans, How Far Down?


How far down, Kansans, are you going to let Governor Brownback and the Republicans take you before you finally, finally say "Enough!"?
Now, this, today, from the Wichita Eagle-Beacon, no less, from right in the heart of the state:

Kansas Governor Under Investigation For Campaign Finance Irregularities


Kansas school districts this year will get less than half the monetary incentive they expected from the state as part of a 2012 initiative to enhance career and technical education.

A memo sent to school districts from the Kansas State Department of Education last week says the per-pupil payment for students who obtained certificates in certain high-demand fields will be “approximately $450” for the just-completed school year. That’s down from a $1,000 per-student incentive promised in the initial legislation.

“It’s been a great program. It’s been highly successful,” said Dale Dennis, deputy education commissioner. “But the appropriation was just reduced due to the state’s fiscal condition.”

So it's a great program, it's for the kids, for the students and for education in technology but due to Governor Sam Brownback's and his Republican Party's "trickle down" tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, the program gets cut and the kids go wanting.

Less education.

Less experience.

And this is a good idea how?






Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/news/local/education/article25701169.html#storylink=cpy

To Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and All In the Republican Party and Right Wing


Ways To Save the GOP (Heavens forbid)


And God bless Tom Tomorrow

Quote of the Day -- Timely


What part of equality do people not understand?


Nelson Mandela's photo.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

For the Religionists, Upset by This Week's Supreme Court Ruling on Equality


This applies to Right Wing Christians, Mormons, Islamists, Muslims, Hasidic Jews, all y'all.

You realize you're all in the same figurative boat on this, right?

You get that, right?


Jesus, Republicans and other Bullshit's photo.

The Last Week in America


They're both improvements.

Southern Poverty Law Center's photo.

Worried About Gay Marriage?


Relax!




Quote of the Day



Michael Trepp's photo.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Entertainment Overnight -- The Times They Are A-Changing


No time any more so than now.

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’


Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

And thank goodness.



Corporate America, Running Amuck


If you've been paying attention at all to the news lately, especially about corporations and what they're doing and doing to us Americans, it's likely you've been disheartened. I know I have been. And I don't even have high expectations of them.

First there was this, from AT&T, last October, putting unfounded charges on their customers bills:

AT&T Fined $105 Million by FTC for 'Cramming' Charges


Then there was this, a few weeks ago, again from and about AT&T and the way they supply internet service:

AT&T Fined $100M for Throttling 'Unlimited Data'


It seems AT&T said if you got internet from them, you'd have "unlimited data." Trouble was, they didn't bother to tell those same customers that when they got to a certain level of data usage, their internet speed would slow. Nice, huh?

Then there was this, yesterday, from Google, also on computers:

Google Secretly Spying On Computer Users


Then there was this from Whole Foods last year:

Whole Foods Will Pay $800,000 for Price-Gouging


Finally, not to be done there, this came out yesterday, too:


So for anyone, anyone who thinks we can or should do with little or no government, when corporations and the wealthy can do these kinds of things to us, I say they must be crazy.

Or they're part of these corporations and doing these very same things to us all.


What Capital Punishment Really Is


The father of one of the Boston bombing victims has it right.

"The punishment of the death penalty is nothing more than revenge."

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The American History We Don't Want to Know


Face2Face Africa's photo.
Face2Face Africa's photo.

Face2Face Africa's photo.


Lynching was a form of terrorism used against Blacks during that time period, where mobs of Whites would hang, burn, shoot, and beat Blacks to death as a form of intimidation and control.

One of those who lost their lives was soldier William Little.

An excerpt:

"The year 1919 was a time of resurgence by the Ku Klux Klan. Seventy-six Blacks lost their lives to mob violence in southern states that year. One of them, Private William Little of Blakely, Ga., was apparently lynched precisely because he was wearing his uniform.

"The accounts of the time state that a few days after being mustered out, he took a train home and was beaten by local Whites for wearing his uniform around town.

"The mob made him remove it.

"A couple of days later, he was caught wearing it again -- Little protested that he had no other clothes -- and was beaten to death and left at the end of town."

EJI plans to build memorials and monuments to the slain throughout the South in an effort to not only dignify the dead but force Americans to face their history.

Read more and listen to jazz singer Billie Holiday's ode to those who lost their lives during that time here:





Note to Republican Congress: NOW LEAVE OBAMACARE ALONE


Once again, the United States Supreme Court has ruled in favor and support of the Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare":

Justices Back Key Element of Health Law





Now, could we please, please, for the love of God and all that is good, stop waisting time and energy and millions and millions of dollars trying to undo this legislation? It's legislation, it needs to be pointed out, that has made it possible for nearly 20 million Americans to get health care insurance and so, coverage.

Paul Krugman has it right.



And while we're at it, could we get all those Republican governors and state legislatures---including Kansas and Missouri--to set up their state organizations so even more Americans can take advantage of this legislation, this help? It's unconscionable that it's not already been accepted and put into place.


Entertainment Overnight -- RIP Michael





Quote of the Day -- On America and Guns


Chris Murphy, connecticut congressman running for Senate in 2012

Here's some of what Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy had to say on the Senate floor yesterday morning:

"These mass shootings have become as commonplace as rainstorms. Since 2011, the number of mass shootings in the United States has tripled – tripled! And after each one of these, the forces of the status quo – the defenders of the gun industry – tell us that we can’t talk about policy reform in the days after a shooting. One prominent commentator called those of us who dare talk about change in the wake of Charleston sick.

How convenient. How convenient that at the moment the world is watching, when the country is asking themselves what we can do to make sure that another mass slaughter doesn’t happen again, the rules say we can’t say a word. But think about how these rules would work. Because Charleston happens ten times over ever since day across this country. 86 people die on average every single day because of guns. If you can’t talk about antigun violence policy the day after a large number of Americans are shot, then you will never talk about antigun violence policy.

The U.S. gun homicide rate is 20 times higher than that of our 22 peer nations. 86 people die every day from guns. That’s four Sandy Hooks, 10 Charlestons – every day. Since Sandy Hook, there has been a school shooting, on average, every week. How on earth can we live with ourselves if we do nothing, or work, if we don’t even try?"



Michael Jackson, In Memoriam


Michael Joseph Jackson, August 29, 1958 -- June 25, 2009




Tuesday, June 23, 2015

FDR's "Second New Deal" -- Still Waiting


Franklin Delano Roosevelet

On Janurary 11, 1944, with the second World War mostly over, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called on the nation to make sure every American had the following:
We're still waiting. Most especially we're still wating for that first one, a true, living wage.

Republicans seem intent on making certain Americans aren't guaranteed a true, living wage or protection from monopolies or large, powerful corporations or the ultra-wealthy, for that matter. They also seem strong-headed to end Social Security and the protections against poverty it has proved since its creation.

It doesn't bode well for the people, for the nation.

FDR himself was correct in this. His words then were as true then as they are today.

"... unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world."

It seems we've forgotten his words.