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Saturday, February 28, 2015

On That Stopgap, One Week Measure Congress Passed Late Last Night


McConnell and Boehner Promise Obamacare Repeal

For a while there last night, it looked as though the Republicans were going to shut down the government again--a part of it, anyway. Anyone who's been watching this knows they want to do something, anything, about President Obama's attempt to finally, finally, after all these long years, do something about our immigration laws. So, rocket scientists that they are, these same Congressional Republicans have been trying to come up with a way to not fund the Department of Homeland Security.

Forget that just a few short days ago some ISIS idiots threatened to blow up the Mall of America and/or some malls in this country. Sure, forget that. All that's important is their political goals for their political party. But we've known that for along time. We've seen and known that since 2008 when our current president got elected. They are committed to putting their political party and their goals for it first, nation be damned. They want to make sure America is no way thriving while they're not in the White House.

Which brings us to today, and last evening's actions in Congress. Economist Robert Reich so rightly penned this today:

Congress passed a one-week extension of funding for the Department of Homeland Security just hours before the deadline on Friday night, but the right-wing Republicans in the House (some of whom were swept in after the 2014 midterms) are determined the next extension will include a ban on the President’s immigration enforcement priorities. And if Boehner doesn’t play along, they’re threatening to oust him as Speaker.

America has a long tradition of white mostly-southern radicals who’d stop at nothing to get their way – seceding from the Union in 1861, repudiating federal laws during Reconstruction, enacting Jim Crow laws, resisting desegregation orders in the 1950s, refusing to obey civil rights legislation in the 1960s. Fast forward to Newt Gingrich's takeover of the House in 1995, and the Gingrich-led government shutdown at the end of 1995. And then the 2011 showdown over raising the debt ceiling. On top of this, Republican-controlled states gerrymandered their districts and repressed the votes of minorities -- giving electoral advantage to the most radical right-wingers they could recruit. And now we're suffering the logical culmination of all this: the largest group of government-hating, racist, homophobic, misogynistic know-nothing, climate-change denying, evolution-denying, science-denying, anti-immigrant House Republicans in history, bent on taking America back to the 19th century.

What's more than a bit bizarre but wonderful and ironic and even hypocritical about all this is the fact, of course, that this very department,  of "Homeland Security" is a whole creation of these same "small government" Republicans through their own "conservative", Right Wing George W "I'm a rocket scientist" Bush. We had the CIA, we had the FBI, of course. Could not a small expansion of one of those handle the issues of "homeland security"? The agency is a well-known, big cash boondoggle. And here they are now, trying to shut it down. If that's not out-sized, delicious , fantastic irony and hypocrisy of the first order, I don't know what is.

And meantime, more of the same. Just more of the same from these people.

They won't learn, it seems clear.

God help us. Heaven help us, America. These are your leaders.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Entertainment Overnight -- Terrific Tribute


Led Zeppelin's "Physical Graffiti" album was released 40 years ago this week. With that in mind, here's some fantastic, talented school kids playing their renditions of some classic Zeppelin tunes.



The kids are all right.


Patriotic Millionaires! On The Daily Show Tonight!


Check out the Patriotic Millionaires tonight on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show at 10 pm:




On this Republican DHS Shutdown Threat


From Senator Barbara Boxer on the Senate floor, yesterday:

We all know Republicans won in huge numbers in the 2014 election, and they took over the United States Senate and they run it. They run it. Or at least they're trying to run it. And let's be clear, less than eight weeks after they took over the Senate, we are facing a shutdown; a shutdown of the very agency that protects the health, the safety, the lives, of the American people - the Department of Homeland Security.
They're shutting down the program that funds our police officers back home, our firefighters, our first responders. Any way you look at it, this is a national disgrace. And think about what our friends abroad, and those who are not our friends, are thinking about this.
Republicans say, 'Oh, we're in danger, we have to go to go to war, put combat troops on the ground!' But they're wiling to shut down the department that protects Americans here in the homeland, from a terrorist attack.
How does it make sense, at a time when we're facing serious threats to our national security, to furlough 30,000, thirty thousand, department of homeland security workers, and to force more than 100,000 frontline homeland security personnel to work without pay?'

Great questions.


Monday, February 23, 2015

What We Need From This Congress


Indeed, what we need from this Congress and what we've needed for some years.

Lessons and Messages from Last Night's Academy Awards, Part II


“We know that the Voting Rights Act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country,” John Legend said.   http://politi.co/1BamNyq

And it's the Republicans and their Republican political party that are doing it, bringing back very Jim Crow like laws, all under the guise of "voter ID laws."


Lessons and Messages from last night's Academy Awards, Part I


And she's so right. In fact, this is long, long overdue.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Entertainment Overnight -- A Tribute


To Lesley Gore, may you rest in peace and thanks for the tunes and memories. Here's two of her biggest hits:





A Senate Republican Speaks Truth to Their Power


At last, long overdue, but we get some truth and honesty from someone inside this political party, calling their "Voter ID laws" what they really are and that is voter suppression.

Most assuredly un-American.  It's shameful. We need to rise up, speak out against this and overturn these efforts and soon as possible.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Further Proof--Long Past Time to Cut the Defense Department Budget


I have read enough to not just have the opinion but to know, it is long, long past time to cut the Defense Department's budget.

It is huge, it is wasteful, it is unaccounted for, it is actually immoral and even makes the nation weaker, not stronger and finally, it is unsustainable.

Sixty-nine percent of every tax dollar in spending goes to defense spending. Beyond that, check this out from Sunday's New York Times:


"For the past three years, officials at the Pentagon have asked Congress for permission to take stock of how many of the military’s vast network of installations across the country have become obsolete and ought to be shrunk or shuttered. The Defense Department, by far the nation’s largest and costliest bureaucracy, estimates that it could operate far more efficiently and save billions of dollars each year by shedding at least 20 percent of its real estate.

Yet, year after year, the nearly unanimous response from lawmakers has been: Don’t even think about it. They have barred the Pentagon from carrying out a detailed assessment of its properties, because closing useless bases would mean lost jobs and revenue in home districts."

Under pressure from lawmakers, the Air Force has spread its fleet of aircraft across the country to justify keeping the lights on at bases that outlived their use years ago. A stark example is the Air Force base in Grand Forks, N.D., a once strategically important hub for bombers during the Cold War. Currently, it’s home to 11 drones.

The Army has hundreds of buildings across the country that are only nominally open for business. In 2013, a senior Army official, testifying before Congress, said she had recently been on a base with 800 buildings, where only 300 were occupied. Last summer, when thousands of unaccompanied Central American migrant children were detained entering the country, many were temporarily housed at military bases, an odd arrangement that drew attention to how much space the Pentagon had to spare.

And when it comes to cutting the spending of the Defense Department budget, there will be those who say it will weaken the nation that, somehow, we will be "soft on defense." And of course it's nonsense. Quite the opposite is true.

Ironically, even hypocritically, there will be plenty of Republicans in Congress, in both the House and Senate, who will want to maintain this spending because, of course, they want to keep the money coming back to their districts. Forget that they are supposedly the political party of slashing budgets and screaming for "small government." "Damn the torpedoes!" they seem to say. "Full spending speed ahead!" 

Well, it's ridiculous. It's absurd. It should stop. It needs to stop. We need to cut the Defense budget, the Pentagon's budget and this is an excellent place to begin.

Now if we can just get them to listen.

And act.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Entertainment Overnight -- Appropriate Flashback





The Republican Replacement for Obamacare?


So, after years and years of complaining and criticizing and 56 votes against it in Congress, the Republican Party has finally, finally come up with what they say is their replacement for Obamacare. And it's a beaut:


From the article:

Congressman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, is among the authors of a Republican plan released this week to replace the Affordable Care Act.
The plan would abolish the federal Health Insurance Marketplace and the expansion of Medicaid. In its place, Americans with an income of up to 300 percent of the poverty guidelines would receive tax credits to purchase insurance on the private market.
The federal mandate to purchase insurance would be abolished. Insurers would be required to insure people with pre-existing conditions, but only if they haven't let their coverage lapse. 
The plan would still allow young adults to stay on their parents' health care plan until age 26, but states could "choose to opt out of this provision."
In another change from the ACA, insurers would be allowed to charged older customers up to five times more for premiums compared to young adults, who are typically healthier and less expensive to insure. The ACA limits the cost differential to three times more.
The plan also would eliminate the types of medical services mandates in the ACA, allowing Americans more flexibility in purchasing plans that provide minimal coverage.
Overall, it appears the proposal would reduce the government costs compared to the ACA, but increase costs for some individual consumers and insure fewer people.
So it's a total "give" back to the health care insurance companies.
All these former, existing benefits of Obamacare for the people go away.
And the Republicans are for the people.
Yeah, right.


Quote of the Day -- on "Trickle Down" Economics


And the Republican mantra and platform:


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Entertainment Overnight -- Redux





Excellent news out of Jefferson City!


EXCELLENT NEWS!   AND FOR THE PEOPLE!

State Senator Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) has officially introduced a statewide Anti-Corruption Act!

Outstanding! And from a Republican! Who'da' thunk it?

And from my own hometown, no less!

Now, here's hoping it passes!


Awesome news out of Missouri! State Sen. Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) has officially introduced a statewide Anti-Corruption Act. 

Are you ready for an Anti-Corruption Act in your city or state? Let us know at http://my.represent.us/2015strategy, and we'll help you make it happen.

On the American Tax System


Economist Joseph Stiglitz, speaking with Bill Moyers on the obscene unfairness of our tax structure as it is now, benefiting the wealthy and corporations and crushing the middle-, working- and lower-classes.

Joseph E. Stiglitz: Let’s Stop Subsidizing Tax Dodgers from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

Corporations, especially originally American ones, should help pay for the infrastructure we all need, them no less so, to keep this country functioning. For all the highways, bridges, schools, airports, everything, that we need and that they need for employees and transportation of their products, everything, the least they can do is pay some to help keep it all functioning. Besides being practical, you'd think it would also be a patriotic and fair, even intelligent, thing to do.

We can hope.


Monday, February 2, 2015

Jefferson City Republicans not Legislating for the People


Well, there they go again.



The Republicans down in Jefferson City were at work today and look what they came up with:


It seems we maybe were getting closer to our local police departments being more and more held accountable for what they do on the job but lo and behold, the "small government" Republicans want to jump in and protect the police, not the people.

The police are going to start getting cameras on themselves, likely, filming their day at work, and these people want to keep any results of that video away from the people.

Once again, does this make any sense at all?

If the officers have cameras on and they are on and running, but you can't see the video, was it ever really there?

Missourians and Americans would simply like to know our police are doing a good job and being fair and, yes, following the law. Is that too much to ask? That's all this was or is for. We'd just like them to be lawful and fair and accountable.

The Republicans want nothing of that for us, clearly.

Link--here's an example of what we'd like to avoid:

Body Camera Footage Captures Fatal Shooting By Police


Video here:



Sunday, February 1, 2015

Is the Midwest Going Crazy?


Two events took place this past week that I'm sorely surprised and even disappointed in for all of us. It's bad enough things like these even happen, let alone in the US but what's made matters worst of all are that they also happened here in the Midwest, and extremely close to the Kansas City area. Here's the first:

Missouri man arrested after telling woman he wanted to show her where he hung her grandpa


This took place, horribly enough, up in Maryville, Missouri:


Nodaway County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rice on Wednesday announced that he has filed a felony assault charge against Tommy Dean Gaa, 65, Maryville, in connection with an alleged hate crime.
According to a probable cause statement filed by Maryville Public Safety Officer Adam James, Gaa was taken into custody after ordering breakfast at a local business on Sunday, Jan. 25, where he was waited on by an African-American employee.
The employee, according to James’ statement, asked Gaa if he wanted white or wheat toast, and Gaa allegedly responded by saying, “I’m prejudiced. I’ll take white.”
Moments later, Gaa is said to have approached the employee, allegedly grabbing her arm in a manner that caused bruising and asking her if she “liked to party.”
According to the probable cause statement, Gaa then allegedly said, “I have a place I would like to take you where I hung your grandpa.”
Is that not incredible?
Then, there was this,  our of Topeka:
Jayden suffered third-degree burns to her head and first and second-degree burns to her hands. (Credit: WIBW)



A brother and sister were simply playing in their backyard when, all of the sudden, the boy rushed inside, telling his uncle that his sister’s head was on fire.

The children’s uncle George said it was the worst thing he’s ever seen. He ran to the backyard and found his niece Jayden on fire.

The six-year-old’s hair was fully engulfed in flames and she was slapping her head trying to put them out, her uncle recounted. George used cold rags to treat the wounds and called 911.

Officers arrived less than a minute later and found Jayden had suffered non-life-threatening burns, according to the Topeka Police Dept. She was first taken to a nearby hospital for immediate treatment before going to a burn center in Kansas City.

George said she suffered third-degree burns to her head and first and second-degree burns to her hands.

“She was so terrified and scared about what had happened.”

The six-year-old’s hair was fully engulfed in flames and she was slapping her head trying to put them out, her uncle recounted. George used cold rags to treat the wounds and called 911.

Officers arrived less than a minute later and found Jayden had suffered non-life-threatening burns, according to the Topeka Police Dept. She was first taken to a nearby hospital for immediate treatment before going to a burn center in Kansas City.

George said she suffered third-degree burns to her head and first and second-degree burns to her hands.

“She was so terrified and scared about what had happened.”

Jayden’s brother, five-year-old Christopher, said a man they didn’t know came up to the fence and threatened to light his sister’s hair on fire.

“He scooted closer to us and he grabbed a cigarette out of his pocket and he lit it by my sister’s hair, and then her hair caught on fire,” Christopher said.

After that, Christopher said the man ran away.

What kind of sick person could or would do such a thing?

And what's going on? I mean, sure, there are plenty of ugly racist things that take place, say, in larger cities in the Midwest like Chicago and Kansas City and God knows, St. Louis but these are small towns and these heinous, ugly and very personal things are taking place with these people.

I thought we're better than this.

Is it a fluke of 2 ugly events or is this some sick trend of the future?

Here's hoping it's the former and not the latter.

A friend, local photographer Roy Inman, posited a few possible options:

"More population, hence more deviant behavior in total numbers; social media gets the word out faster and with greater coverage. And in a nod to the Malthusian Doctrine and studies on rats, several writers suggest that we are seeing the crowding factor at work. Studies done in bygone days showed that when rats were packed in tighter and tighter in a confined space, at some point some of the rats went berserk and started attacking other rats for no apparent reason and some even knawed off their legs out of frustration. One writer thought that technology was part to blame. It is becoming more and more difficult to keep up with changes and that religious fundamentalism, for example, is a backlash reaction."

I'm hoping for freak aberrations myself.


The Biggest--and Worst---Trade Deal Ever You Need to Know About


The biggest trade deal ever, in the history of the nation, is being considered right now and most people know very little or nothing at all of it.

It is the Trans-Pacific Partnership or the TPP and here, in only 2 minutes and 26 seconds, are some very important facts about it.



As ever, please take a moment to write your Congressional representatives in the House of Representatives and the Senate and heck, for the matter, the President himself and tell him your thoughts on this:

Contact the U.S. Congress and the White House


Thank you, in advance.

And enjoy your Sunday and keep safe and warm out there, if you got snow and GO PATRIOTS!


Born this day


For Langston Hughes, born this day, 1902 in, of all places, Southwest Missouri. Joplin, to be specific, which is now so Right Wing and Republican:

Let America Be America Again

Langston Hughes1902 - 1967
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? 
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free?  Not me?
Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!


Kicking Off Black History Month


Mississippi God damn...

Missouri now?