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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy new year, indeed

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Thanks and a tip of the hat to emawkc (3oclockam blog) for this link. At the risk of repeating (and plagiarizing), I thought it too good not to share.

May you have a happy, safe and prosperous new year.

And may 2010 make more sense.

You want something to do this long, boring weekend anyway, right?

Okay, get off yer butts and go to the Truman Library and see the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs.

Kwitcher' bitchin'.

Oh, yeah, and happy new year.


You may thank me later.

(A tip of the hat to The Pitch for pointing this one out, too).

The number one hope for a happy new year in Kansas City

It was our number one story in Kansas City this past year and it hopefully won't be next year.

That is, right now we stand at 110 homicides in Kansas City.

That is far too many killings, folks. It's got to stop. Hopefully that will be it for the year but we do have 24 hours to go so let's hope for the best.

We need to stop it.

I don't know how. No one seems to.

What we do know is that, to do it, people will have to work together.

Churches, politicians, the police department, community leaders, average people on the streets--everyone.

Here's to 2010.

And may we have far fewer murders, shootings and homicides in Kansas City in that new year.

Let's make it our number one goal and not our number one story.

Additional link: http://www.kansascity.com/115/story/1656092.html

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I have to side with the hunters and killers on this one

Did you see where Harvesters gave away 4 tons of venison (read: deer meat) to needy people in the area, after receiving all the deer that were shot in Shawnee Mission Park?

That's 8,000 pounds of meat to go into all kinds of food to feed and help the less-advantaged and needy.

I'm all about eating healthy and I do eat less meat--especially red meat--myself, personally and while not a vegetarian, I do recognize that eating less meat is far healthier for you. If you've read anything here, you also know I'm not crazy for guns (understatement of the year).

And then there's the issue of having killed all these deer in Shawnee Mission Park instead of trying to, I don't know, herd them up or something and take them elsewhere.

But you know what?

The PETA and all the other people against them killing animals--any animals--come down wrong on this one.

There were far too many deer in the park--I don't think anyone on either side would dispute that--and the herd needed to be shrunk in size.

So they came to the conclusion that these deer could, should and would be killed.

And while that's unfortunate, you have to look at the improvement of the situation in the park, along with the feeding of what has to be thousands of needy people in the area and come to the conclusion that this, indeed, was a darned fine idea.

Check out some of the facts:

"Harvesters received 11,359 pounds of venison from the culling of the Shawnee Mission deer. The Johnson County Human Services Department received 500 pounds for distribution to its food pantries"

"...most of the meat will go to food pantries" and "...some will be served at free-meal programs."

"Darrell Cantrell, executive chef at Micah Ministries’ Monday dinners, said the venison provided by Harvesters will provide 1,600 meals for people who come for dinner."

“'We feed the neighbors, the homeless and the poor every Monday,' Cantrell said. 'We serve between 430 and 500 people each week, and those numbers have been going up.'”

And this is just a small amount of the people who were helped.

So, sorry PETA. On this one, you come down on the wrong side of the issue for once.

Holidays or no holidays.

Links: http://www.harvesters.org/

2009 in quotes

January 29, 2009
"I did a lot of things that were mostly right.''
Rod Blagojevich's comments to the media, moments after the Illinois State Senate removed him from office on charges of abuse of power.

February 17, 2009
"I knew we weren't taking Tic Tacs.''
Alex Rodriguez during a press conference in Tampa, Fla., about his admission that he took performance-enhancing drugs while with the Texas Rangers from 2001 through 2003.

March 4, 2009
"If only I'd listened to CNBC, I'd have $1 million today -- provided I had started with $100 million."
-Jon Stewart scoffing at CNBC's financial analysts for offering such reckless investment advice and stock market predictions.

March, 14, 2009
"We cannot attract and retain the best and the brightest talent to lead and staff the A.I.G. businesses -- which are now being operated principally on behalf of American taxpayers -- if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury.''
-Edward M. Liddy, chairman of the American International Group explaining why it plans to pay out $165 million in bonuses despite receiving more than $170 billion in taxpayer bailout money.

April 11, 2009
"I'm 47 years old...I'm trying to be a professional singer...but have never been given the chance before.''
Scottish singer Susan Boyle, who gained overnight fame singing "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables on "Britain's Got Talent',' a music reality show.

April 19, 2009
"I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised."
Miss North Carolina Kristen Dalton, crowned Miss USA, (later dethroned) answer to a question about gay marriage; comments which touched off a stormy controversy, particularly among gay activists.

April 27, 2009
"First thing is, I'm annoyed -- furious is a better word -- that I wasn't told.''
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's response to not being informed by the White House that there would be a flyover by an Air Force One backup and two F-16 fighters through parts of New York and New Jersey.

May 9, 2009
"What's up with all these governors not wanting to take the [bailout] money? Who turns down money? Maybe you should give it to Oprah to give it away. Oprah would say, "OK, governors, look under your seats!"
Comedian Wanda Sykes at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

June 12, 2009
"It is our duty to defend people's votes. There is no turning back."
Mir Hussein Moussavi, the chief rival to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims there was widespread voting fraud in the Iranian presidential election and was convinced he won by a large margin.

June, 25, 2009
"I am absolutely devastated at this tragic and unexpected news'...I've lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him."
Music producer Quincy Jones reaction to the news of the death of pop icon Michael Jackson on June 25th.

June 26, 2009
"Those reported cases are really just the tip of the iceberg...We know we're not tracking every single one of them. ''
Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of respiratory diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcing that the swine flu has infected more than a million Americans, with 3,000 hospitalized and another 127 having died from the novel influenza.

June 30, 2009
"This was a whole lot more than a simple affair. This was a love story.''
Mark Sanford, South Carolina governor, tells reporters about his extra-marital affair with an Argentine woman, a woman he considered his "soul mate.''

July 3, 2009
"I'm determined to take the right path for Alaska, even though it is unconventional and it's not so comfortable."
Sarah Palin announcing she will step down as governor at the end of the month and transfer power to Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell.

July 5, 2009
"We misread how bad the economy was''
-Vice President Joe Biden's reaction to news that unemployment had reached 9.5 percent despite a $787 billion infusion of stimulus money during an interview on ABC News.

July 14, 2009
"So I was trying to play on her words. My play was -- fell flat. It was bad because it left an impression that I believe that life experiences commanded a result in a case.''
Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor tells members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that her "wise Latina judge'' statement was merely referring to Sandra Day O'Connor's maxim that a "wise old man and a wise old women will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases."

July 16, 2009
"Why? Because I'm a black man in America?'
Henry Louis Gates Jr. a Harvard University professor, tells Cambridge police after being arrested outside his home on suspicion of a break-in.

August 4, 2009
"Well, then they really didn't love me in the first place. Whatever.''
Brett Favre when asked by sports writer Peter King how he feels about fans who say they are sick of him and don't love him anymore.

August, 4, 2009
"I'll miss nurturing all the new talent, but most of all being a part of a show that I helped from day one become an international phenomenon.'
Paula Abdul, via her Twitter page, writes about her decision to leave "American Idol'' after eight seasons.

August 10 2009
"My husband is not Secretary of State. I am.''
Hillary Clinton responding to a question from a Congolese university student during her tour of Africa. The student reportedly meant to ask what President Barack Obama thought about the Chinese loan, but mistakenly referred to former President Bill Clinton instead.

August 18, 2009
"Conservatives can have fun too.''
Tom Delay, former Republican House majority leader, on "Good Morning America'' about his plans to participate in the reality show "Dancing with the Stars.''

August 18, 2009
"Ma'am, trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining-room table. I have no interest in doing it.''
Democratic Congressman Barney Frank appearing at a town hall meeting on health care, responds to a Massachusetts woman who asked why the congressman supports what she considers a "Nazi policy."

August 29, 2009
"I will try to live up to the high standard that my father set for all of us when he said, 'the work goes on; the cause endures; the hope still lives; and the dream shall never die.'''
Ted Kennedy Jr. delivering the eulogy to his father, Senator Edward M. Kennedy who died of brain cancer on August 25, 2009 at age 77.

September, 2009
"When I talk to groups of journalists these days about the state of our business, I feel like a motivational speaker in a hospice.''
Bill Keller, Executive Editor of the New York Times (from Esquire magazine.)

September 9, 2009
"You lie! You lie!"
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), shouting at President Obama during his State of the Union address after the president informed the Joint Session of Congress that illegal immigrants would not be covered under his health care reform efforts.

September 15, 2009
'We're going to have no paper, no printing plants, no unions. It's going to be great.''
Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., tells audience members at a Goldman Sachs' annual media conference that devices like the Amazon Kindle will replace newspapers completely in about 20 years.

September 23, 2009
"The mayor of Newark, N.J., wants to set up a citywide program to improve residents' health ... The health-care program would consist of a bus ticket out of Newark.''
Tonight Show host Conan O'Brien poking fun at Newark's reputation for being a crime infested city.

October 4, 2009
"I got my work cut out for me.''
David Letterman after apologizing to his wife Regina for his admitted sexual dalliance with female staffers.

October 11, 2009
"We're going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent.''
Anita Dunn, the White House communications director, during a phone interview with the New York Times, speaking about the Fox News Channel's war against the Obama administration.

October 19, 2009
"You guys said we did this for the show.''
During a live broadcast on CNN with anchor Wolf Blitzer---Six year-old Falcon Heene, aka "Balloon Boy'' responds to his father's question why he didn't come out from hiding when they called his name.

October 30, 2009
"I wish they caught me six years ago, eight years ago.''
Bernie Madoff tells Security Exchange Commission inspector general, H. David Kotz during an interview that was made public on October 30, 2009. The disgraced financier was sentenced to 150 years in prison on June 29, 2009 for his ponzi scheme in one of the biggest financial frauds in American history.

November 5, 2009
"It's difficult enough when we lose these great Americans in battles overseas.....It's horrifying that they should come under fire at an Army base on American soil."
President Obama addresses the tragedy at Fort Hood Texas, when Army psychiatrist Mark Hassan opened fire, killing 12 people and wounding 31 others.

November 19, 2009
"Gender is between your ears, not between your legs.''
Chaz Bono talks about undergoing a sex change on Good Morning America.

November 19, 2009
"I certainly never could have imagined the yellow brick road of blessings that have led me to this moment."
Oprah Winfrey informs her studio audience that she will end her talk show in September, 2011 after 25 years on the air.

December 1, 2009
"Our lives have been destroyed, everything we've worked for...''
Michaele Salahi, appearing on the Today Show with her husband Tareq, responds to Matt Lauer's question about the sensational media coverage surrounding the couple slipping past security at a White House State Dinner without an invitation.

December 1, 2009
"I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan.''
President Obama's speech at West Point announces the deployment of additional U.S. troops in Afghanistan, beginning in January, 2010.

December 11, 2009
"After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person.''

Link to original post:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-lucey/post_467_b_390556.html

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

That's what I'm talkin' 'bout!

Would we rather protect guns, gun owners and bullets than our own children and lives?

I think the answer is, to date, yes.

Happy New Year.

Right?


(Thanks to Michael for the link).

Update on Southwest Trafficway

As of last evening and again this morning, Southwest Trafficway is still not completely cleared and open to all 3 lanes of traffic, going into or out of the city.

It's passable by one and a half lanes to two lanes in most areas but is, in some spots, down to one and a half lanes only, which, frankly, can be a bit dangerous.

It seems we aren't really a city that completely works.

What we used to take for granted, we no longer can. At least not with the current leadership. (No surprise).

Keep warm out there, folks.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Are we a good-sized, Midwestern city that works?

Driving in to work today, I had to come in from Liberty via 152, then 435 South to 35 South, Southwest Trafficway to the Plaza and on to work out 47th Street to Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard, Van Brunt and finally I-70 to Independence.

This gives you an idea of the size of the area--the amount of the city--I covered on my way work. With this much driving experience this morning, I feel I have a pretty good deal idea of the condition of the streets and highways in the area, in spite of not traveling the Kansas side.

And the conclusion for me is that the city of Kansas City still has a lot of work to do in clearing its streets.

The State highway offices did their job, I'd say. All the lanes of 435 and 35 were clear. Naturally, it was when you got in the city that there were--are--issues.

Check this out: Southwest Trafficway was still down to, I'd say, one and a half lanes. This includes the extensions of Madison and Bellview. Naturaly one and a half lanes means, really, one.

To me, considering they are such main business thoroughfares, that's unacceptable.

They were--all of these mentioned streets--just one plow scraping away from being completely clear.

Someone in the street department, either last night or early this morning, should have cleared these for the rush hour this morning, I think, feel and believe.

I'm sure they worked their tails off, so to speak, this weekend, but we still, as a city, weren't ready for the workday and new workweek.

That's unacceptable. That's not how cities are to function and operate.

In their worst cases, the streets weren't safe.

In the best cases, it made getting to work (read: productivity, business and the lifeblood of the city, area and country) less efficient.

On Southwest Trafficway, which I noticed is a declared, official snow route, the cars had remained parked in the street so the crews couldn't clear the streets.

That, too, seems unacceptable.

Again, it's not safe and it should be clear.

47th Street, coming out of the Plaza and going over to Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard and Van Brunt, was the same way. Still not cleared.

Between this and the big metal plates left on the streets, instead of truly repairing those same streets, seem to point out consistently that our street department doesn't work really well.

We seem to work, as a city.

But not really well, like we ought.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A question/suggestion to KC to stop the shootings and murders

Suggestion/question:

Why don't people like Airick West, Alonzo Washington, Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Brooks and Ernest Evans (from KCK) get together with the churches and other community organizations to see what can be done to stop the shootings and murders in Kansas City?

I don't mean this as a challenge, per se. I mean this as an earnest question (no pun intended).

Clearly, if we are to stop this, we have to do it as a community.

And yes, I'll join in to work on this, too. It's "put up or shut up", absolutely. (Tony? Would you join us?)

I'm just asking.

Bankers, run out and get these things

So, after the robbery suspect was picked up this week so quickly, just after he robbed the US Bank facility on the Country Club Plaza, I have to think every banker in town is running out to buy transmitters that site had.

It seems the teller had a transmitter he or she threw in the bank bag, along with the cash, to track any robber who should happen to come in.

Did you read about it?

Yeah, they had the knucklehead within minutes, just blocks from the bank.

If I'm a banker and I don't have these things, I'm thinking two things: 1) I want to know where I get them and 2) How fast can I have them?

It's getting to where it doesn't pay to be a thief anymore.

Finally.

An example of why KC has a high murder rate

The shooting yesterday, now well-covered by the press in town, of two men who shot each other seems to be a good example of why the Kansas City area has a high murder rate.

Fortunately, only one died.

Fortunately, apparently, the one who did die was trying to rob the other.

And get this, "It appears the victim and suspect knew each other...".

I guess that shouldn't be a huge surprise but if you're trying to rob someone (trying to rob someone?), wouldn't you think you'd try to rob someone you didn't know, so you didn't have to either a) be concerned they'd turn you in or b) then be certain you HAVE to kill them?

This is some crazy logic, if you can call it that.

This has to stop. The shootings and killings have to stop.

We have to work together, as a community, to stop the shootings and killings. I don't know how but we have to do this.

My Christmas wish


My Christmas wish--my only one--for my friends and the entire metropolitan area is a lower murder rate in 2010.



That's all.

You can go now.



May we all have very safe and happy holidays.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Why Capitalism isn't working

No, it's not.

Capitalism--unbridled, unregulated capitalism isn't working and it hasn't been working--at least not for our whole society and country--for some years now. Get over it.

As proof, there is an article up right now at Alternet(alternet.org) pointing out the 10 greediest people of the year, how much they make and what they're doing to their companies, their employees and our society and nation as a whole.

The information about them points out the hows and whys of our system breaking down. These people are getting more and more and more, while the middle- and lower- classes of the US increasingly have to do with less and less. It's one very evident reason of how Capitalism is tearing us down, as a country and a people, and how our system is broken and non-sustainable.

To wit, just some of the information:

10: Richard Anderson, Delta Airlines CEO

The company was collapsing: "Delta, after all, lost $8.9 billion in 2008. In 2009, Delta and other U.S. carriers, says the International Air Transport Association, will likely lose a combined $1 billion."

But Mr. Anderson? No such hard times for him: "For agreeing to become Delta’s chief, 28 months ago, Anderson picked up $8.5 million in stock awards. Seven months later, another $3.4 million. Six months after that, to celebrate the Delta-Northwest merger, more options to buy Delta stock, worth $7.3 million, and more actual shares, worth $6.1 million."

5: John Chambers, CEO of Cisco (computer equipment)

"Cisco has laid off over 1,500 workers since the economy turned challenging. Cisco CEO John Chambers, for his part, has pocketed $232.7 million over the last five years."

3: Mark Hurd

Computer printer ink, a high-tech financial analyst pointed out a few years ago, "costs more per drop than expensive perfume." Mark Hurd, the CEO at Hewlett-Packard since 2005, wouldn’t have it any other way.

HP, under Hurd, has been busy squeezing every bit of revenue possible out of the printer ink cash cow. Last year, HP upped ink prices up at double the inflation rate. The typical $30 ink cartridge, SmartMoney reported this past June, costs $3 to make.

Hurd apparently enjoys cutting wages and jobs as much as raising prices. In May, he axed 6,000 workers off the HP payroll and cut paychecks for the survivors from 5 to 15 percent.

Hurd did take a 20 percent salary cut himself for 2009. But “salary” in 2008 only accounted for $1.45 million of Hurd’s $26.04 million in cash compensation. He took in another $7.9 million in new stock awards -- and cleared still another $10.1 million cashing out previously awarded stock options.

Hurd’s CEO stint at HP has so far seen about 40,000 employees lose their jobs.

These are but 3 examples of these greedheads. There's lots more information out there on these 10 and then, of course, there are the many more who qualified for the list but didn't make it.

I absolutely recommend you go to this article to read who is number one and why. I'll give you a clue, too--it's not Bernie Madoff.

The point is, there is virtually no equity at all in our system. It seems we're as loyal and patriotic to Capitalism in this country as we are to Democracy and Freedom, to a fault.

And, ladies and gentlemen, greed is not good. It's tearing our country apart. It's emptying out the middle class. It's bankrupting us.

Get over it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas?

The way too many TV newsrooms work

Overheard in the Newsroom #2474:

Videographer bringing in the newspapers at a TV news station: “Oh, good. Today’s assignments are here.”




(Taken from Facebook).

The Kansas City, Missouri School District gets hurt

Quoting the Kansas City, Missouri School District: "Ow!"

State-ordered suicide?

There was a small but very provocative one-paragraph article in The Kansas City Star yesterday about a man who "fatally shot two children and wounded a third as they sat in a gas station parking lot."

The man had been found guilty and made it clear he wanted to be executed for these crimes.

It happened in far-right wing Oklahoma so you'd think it would be a foregone conclusion that they'd grant his wish, wouldn't you?

But no.

The judge came to the contrary, rather extraordinary and, to me, surprising conclusion that "the death penalty for a man who asked to be executed" would be "akin to 'state-ordered suicide'."

The judge gave him 3 life terms--but only 2 without parole--instead.

Hmmmm.

That is pretty remarkable.

This could be the basis of discussion for an ethics class into the next century, I should think.

Really, this is pretty fascinating.

Three things seem true here:

First, my initial reaction was that I thought the guy should absolutely be executed since a) he killed people (children, in fact, making it more gruesome and ugly) and b) he requested being killed.

Secondly, I think it's doubtful that this guy intentionally murdered these children with the plan of being killed by the state. Possible, sure, but not likely.

Finally, if the judge is thinking of keeping other would-be murderers from doing this--creating their own state-sponsored suicide--I just can't see very many people lining up to doing such a thing. I mean, I just don't see some large group of people thinking they'll go out and gruesomely kill others, just so they can be executed by the state. If the judge thinks he's running a deterrent here, with his ruling, I think he's mistaken.

So, while I'm against the death penalty, per se, this may be a case where the guy did the crime, requested his own execution and it seems difficult to me not to grant his request. And that's the conclusion I would have come to but it's said that the guy's sister "would have testified that his childhood was riddled with physical abuse, sexual trauma, poverty and religious indoctrination at the hands of his father." He's also said to be psychotic and that he hears "messages from God."

Yeah, this is a tough one, not cut-and-dried, so to speak, at all.

I go for not granting his wish but who knows? You'd sure have to have a lot of information to call this one.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Banking trivia questions

1) How many banks has the FDIC had to close, to date, so far this year?

140

2) How much has the closing of these banks cost us, to date?

30 billion dollars

The correct answers to the above questions begs the following question:

Should the US more stringently regulate the banks, the banking system and the bankers, here in the US?

It seems the answer is clear.

And yet, check this out:

"The American Bankers Association issued a "Call to Action" on Wednesday, urging its lobbyists and member banks to make an all-out effort to crush regulatory reform in Senate. As part of that campaign, it lashed out at its community-bank rival, charging it with being too soft on bank reform efforts."

"In an unusually frank memo from ABA Chairman Art Johnson, the lobby group congratulates bankers for sending some 300,000 letters to Congress opposing reform, crediting the effort with killing several significant provisions."

What chutzpah.

Contact your Congressperson---Senators, Representatives, both--and tell them we need this regulation back. We used to have it. We need it to return.


Find answers here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/19/fdic-shuts-down-seven-mor_n_398071.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/16/bank-lobbyists-launch-cal_n_394673.html

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Two big compromises

It seems the 2 big compromises this week--that of the Copenhagen Summit on global warming (or climate change or pollution or whatever you want to call it) and health care reform, here in the US, have a great deal in common.

Both of them have people for them. Both have people against them. Both have people, somewhere in the middle who say this is the best we could get and that they are improvements and that we need to wrap our arms around them and move on.

God, I hope they're right.

On the Copenhagen summit on climate change, it seems we made progress, this time, as the US was for some good, solid action. This in stark contrast to the Kyoto Protocol that the George W. Bush administration kept us out of. At least we made that better transition. We're in on this one. We don't have to be embarassed this time and we've had input on this.

As to who knows what's in this thing right now, who can say? Frankly, following the mess this week that has been the negotiations on health care in the Senate has been demanding enough.

First, as I noted here, the White House threw out the single-payer option we needed so desperately.

Then, they threw away the "public option" so the insurance companies could stay happy and we wouldn't give them any real competition.

That stunk.

But the fact is, now people are coming out on all sides, some saying we should throw it away; others that we should keep it and that it does do some good.

It's disappointing and the Democrats caved but apparently, according to what the Congressional Budget Office says, it will help us, as a nation, to have smaller budget deficits.

I just wish it had done a lot more for the average Joe on the streets--the "you and me" of the world. I wish the Democrats had been more for us instead of for the insurance companies.

But so it goes.

Let's hope it's all progress.

In both cases, this is what compromise looks like.

We need more of that here in the States.

Links to related stories:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carl-pope/yes-it-is-the-end-of-the_b_397683.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/they-didnt-seal-the-deal_b_397765.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kevin-grandia/cope-en-blame-em-today-fi_b_398006.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-mitchell/health-bill-limits-aborti_b_398084.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sen-paul-g-kirk-jr/a-rebuttal-to-howard-dean_b_398218.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-lux/that-gollum-like-feeling_b_398034.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-tv/arianna-on-ed-it-is-absur_b_393480.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/18/taibi-kuttner-debate-heal_n_397757.html

Friday, December 18, 2009

Kansas--32; Missouri, 38. 'nuff said

From Yahoo! News, just now:

Happiest U.S. States Pinned Down

By Jeanna Bryner, Managing Editor

17 December 2009 02:00 pm ET

A new study found that a person's self-reported happiness matches up with objective measures of state-level happiness.

The results are based on an examination of two data sets, one that included personal reports of happiness for 1.3 million Americans and the other that included objective measures, such as how crowded that state is, air quality, home prices and other factors known to impact quality of life.

Click here to learn more about the survey and what it means.

Here are the 50 U.S. states (and the District of Columbia) in order of their well-being:

1. Louisiana
2. Hawaii
3. Florida
4. Tennessee
5. Arizona
6. Mississippi
7. Montana
8. South Carolina
9. Alabama
10. Maine
11. Alaska
12. North Carolina
13. Wyoming
14. Idaho
15. South Dakota
16. Texas
17. Arkansas
18. Vermont
19. Georgia
20. Oklahoma
21. Colorado
22. Delaware
23. Utah
24. New Mexico
25. North Dakota
26. Minnesota
27. New Hampshire
28. Virginia
29. Wisconsin
30. Oregon
31. Iowa
32. Kansas
33. Nebraska
34. West Virginia
35. Kentucky
36. Washington
37. District of Columbia
38. Missouri
39. Nevada
40. Maryland
41. Pennsylvania
42. Rhode Island
43. Massachusetts
44. Ohio
45. Illinois
46. California
47. Indiana
48. Michigan
49. New Jersey
50. Connecticut
51. New York
______________

Don't get me wrong, I like Kansas City and Missouri but could we maybe work on this?

I also have to say, I think that getting the Performing Arts Center downtown will help our area a great deal and, secondly--and not connected at all to the first thought--I get some solace in knowing New York state is 51--worst in the country, by this comparison, while sunny Southern California is--believe it?--46th?, oceans, mountains and all? Yikes.

Have a great weekend, y'all.

Links: http://www.livescience.com/culture/091217-happy-state-list.html

http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20091217/sc_livescience/happieststatesrevealedbynewresearch

A small tribute to HG Wells, a brilliant man

Quotes from HG Wells (with some commentary in parentheses)

In England we have come to rely upon a comfortable time-lag of fifty years or a century intervening between the perception that something ought to be done and a serious attempt to do it. (how does that not sound like us, now, in the US? ke)

If we don't end war, war will end us.

If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.

Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

Crime and bad lives are the measure of a State's failure, all crime in the end is the crime of the community.

Cynicism is humor in ill health.

Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.

A time will come when a politician who has willfully made war and promoted international dissension will be as sure of the dock and much surer of the noose than a private homicide. It is not reasonable that those who gamble with men's lives should not stake their own. (Thinking here, specifically of now-former President and Vice President George W. Bush and Dick Cheney).

Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature's inexorable imperative. (applicable to the ongoing Copenhagen talks, at least)

Advertising is legalized lying. (ow)

Affliction comes to us, not to make us sad but sober; not to make us sorry but wise.

Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo. (I'd like to give that one to someone in particular).

One of the darkest evils of our world is surely the unteachable wildness of the Good. (hear that, all you fundamentalists around the world?)

Man is the unnatural animal, the rebel child of nature, and more and more does he turn himself against the harsh and fitful hand that reared him. (makes me think of global warming, chemicals in our food, all kinds of pollution and a lot more)

Our true nationality is mankind. (or should be, anyway)

The path of least resistance is the path of the loser. (another potential ow)

The uglier a man's legs are, the better he plays golf - it's almost a law. (man he was a funny guy)

What really matters is what you do with what you have.

Go out and have a great day. (me)

Link to more information on HG Wells: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._G._Wells

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Online petitions

Okay, now I got sent a petition to "Stop the NBC-Comcast Merger" and it's oh-so-important.


Do we really think we're changing anything by signing and sending these things?

Really?

We've been sold out on reform, health care and otherwise

From a friend--Michael--and "Crooks and Liars", the blog. This is another rare case of wanting to put something up that expresses my feelings, particularly about living in this sick society we call America, where the corporations and their huge profits are far more important than the citizens of the state.

Notes on the Moral and Political Degradation of America

By Ian Welsh Wednesday Dec 16, 2009 2:15pm

The news in the last few days has continued the drumbeat of demoralizing events which started in the Bush administration, and with only a few hiccups has continued through the Obama administration. It is clear that Obama is, fundamentally, Bush's 3rd term.

First we have the health care "reform" debacle, where it has been confirmed that the White House pushed Harry Reid to accept Lieberman's ultimatum, not go to reconciliation. There will be no public option in the Senate bill. There will be no Medicare expansion. There will be no cap on yearly limits. What there will be is a mandate forcing people to buy insurance, some subsidies which can still leave people spending money they can't afford, and guaranteed issue of lousy plans (Plans where only 70% of the premiums have to be spent on care, for example.) Unless progressive Senators are willing to filibuster, or House progressives are willing to vote against en-masse, something very close to the Senate plan is what will pass, because as I noted some time ago, the White House's bottom line is that something, anything must pass, and conservative Dems are willing to kill the bill to make sure it doesn't actually threaten health industry profits in any way, shape, or form. (Thus why drug importation, which would cost Pharma money, will be made illegal.)

All of this was completely predictable. Furthermore the weakness of progressive and liberal legislators, is largely to blame:

Obama and the Democratic leadership's bottom line is they must pass some bill called "health care reform". Unless you threaten to take away their bottom line, they will take away anything that isn't progressives bottom line

This is Negotiation 101, and progressive legislators either don't understand it, or are spineless. As a result they, and Americans, have been rolled yet again. What is depressing about this is that it should be a surprise to no one, but apparently has surprised many.

It is also noteworthy that spending billions on turning brown people into a fine red mist (a.k.a. the Afghan war) is acceptable, but health care (a.k.a. saving actual American lives) is something which can't cost money. What an interesting--and clearly evil--set of priorities that reveals. I guarantee that real healthcare reform would save more American lives than the entire war on terror—assuming said "war" hasn't cost more American lives than it's saved, which is almost certainly the case.

Next we have what Glenn Greenwald is calling the creation of Gitmo North, in which people whom the government judges there is not enough evidence to convict, will be held indefinitely without trial. This is the very definition of tyranny. Any nation which does this is a nation of men, not laws. America has forsaken its fundamental premise and proved its degradation. Yes, this started under Bush, but as Obama embraces this, it because a bipartisan project and the new elite consensus. This is now something which has been confirmed as US policy which is extremely unlikely to change no matter who is in power.

Then we have bankers are giving themselves bonuses larger than the entire economy's GDP growth this year.

As Peter Morici notes:

How much is $140 billion?

The U.S. economy grew at a $89 billion annualized rate in the third quarter. That was the first growth since the second quarter of 2008 and came to $22 billion in actual growth in the third quarter.

The bankers, after causing the greatest economic calamity since the Great Depression, are rewarded with six times the growth accomplished so far in the much heralded “economic recovery.”

Meanwhile, seven million families face foreclosure and 25 million Americans can’t find full time work.

To add this sad state, we have the sad spectacle of Obama lecturing the bankers. Meanwhile in Britain, instead of lecturing, the government has imposed a 50% tax on bonuses, and France looks like to follow suit. The British government's response to threats to move employees out of the country? "That's nice, you do that."

The fact of the matter, as I've long said, is that bankers at the big banks are a net drain on the economy. Their venality and recklessness has wiped out the entire economic gains of the last decade and plunged the economy into its worst crisis since the Great Depression.

Now I'm not surprised they have the gall to pay themselves these bonuses. The entire profits of most large banks in the last expansion were based on open fraud. Of course criminals who have not been punished, but have been rewarded for their crimes are going to continue to steal. What is shocking is that the government is essentially doing nothing. Obama's "Pay Czar" is a sick joke, especially compared to just taxing all bonuses at 50%. Heck, even taxing bonuses at 50% is sad—they should be taxed a good confiscatory 90%. A class of people who caused an economic calamity of this magnitude do not deserve to be paid more than janitors.

Why? Because, as a British study noted, janitors actually create value. So do homemakers. So do assembly-line workers. Modern bankers, on the other hand, destroy value. They make the economy weaker. That isn't the way it should be, but when you bail out the banks for trillions and they decrease their lending to businesses and increase their credit card interest rates to as much as 29% it's clear that all they are is parasites, sucking blood from their hosts.

In a healthy, non-degraded society, none of the behavior listed above would be allowed. Not only would there be confiscatory taxes leveled, there would be massive ongoing criminal investigations into what happened.

In a healthy, non-degraded society, saving American lives by making sure they have health care would be a priority. Especially since the US pays twice as much per person as many countries which get far better results. This would be considered much more important than a war in a far away country, because it would be understood that even if you believe that turning brown people into a fine red mist saves American lives, health care would save more lives. And, done right (a.k.a. single payer) it would even save money. But that was never on the table, and even the limp-wristed compromise of a weak public option was too much for the rich and powerful to tolerate. Americans exist to be looted systematically by their elites, and if they die young and live sick, who cares? They are just sacks of money and the goal of government is to make dipping your hand into that sack as easy as possible for industries which can afford to buy government.

And, last but not least, in a healthy, non-degraded society, the government is not allowed to lock up people indefinitely without trial. If you don't understand why this is, I can't explain it to you, any more than it is apparently possible to explain to a plurality of Americans why torturing people is evil, and beyond the pale. The fact that it can't be explained any more to many Americans, of course, is exactly why it is fair to call this degradation.

Moral and political degradation.

Original link:
http://crooksandliars.com/ian-welsh/notes-moral-and-political-degradation-am

Monday, December 14, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Here's why I blog

The actor, Viggo Mortensen is, apparently, a writer, it seems.

It's news to me.

We frequently assume actors are shallow and/or self-absorbed, think (and heaven knows, frequently it's so true) but there are always those exceptions that ruin one more stereotype.

Anyway, his brief article tells of the difference one person or even a small group can make on mankind:

"Whenever change as happened, it has been through protest, dissent, struggle, social movements, ordinary people picketing, striking, boycotting, sitting down, sitting in. All this mans that we make history, history is effected by our everyday decisions. And we have a responsibility to speak out when we see injustice. We can't wait on others to "lead" us or solve our problems for us. We have to participate, to engage, every day and not just once every four years."

And this, as I've always known, is why I blog.

I may just be one tiny "voice in the wilderness", sure, I acknowledge that, but I want to do what I can to point out the obscene, the unjust, the unfair, the untrue and more.

I also enjoy putting up things that are either funny or beautiful or awe-inspiring or the like but more than anything, I put stuff up here to rail against injustice and/or wrongs. I figure if I can touch one person's life and either give information someone didn't have or--in the best case--change a mind, then I figure I've done a small part to affect change for the better.

It's partly cathartic for me, too, but mostly I want to do what I can to get good information--and some entertainment (or, again, beauty and other things) out in the world.

I do what I can.

The singularly biggest story in Kansas City both this year and right now

The biggest story in Kansas City is our murder rate and how mostly innocent people are being shot and killed.

I also think that it's one of the most under-reported stories in the local paper, too.

There is a notice on the front page of the paper today says it will have a story breaking tomorrow that will go five days after their "reporters spent six months investigating America's effectiveness in combating modern-day slavery, traveling to Guatemala and Tijuana to trace the steps of immigrants and traffickers."

Guatemala and Tijuana?

How about go on the East side of the city and do an in-depth story on what the churches and community might do to reduce the murders in our own city?

There's a thought.

Here's another--how about going on the other side of Troost to do an expose' on how to get people to turn in the shooters and murderers?

No, no, the Star has to send reporters to South America to cover sex trafficking.

And yes, it's an important story and should be covered--but not before they cover local issues. Let's maybe leave sex trafficking for after we cover our own murder rate.

The newspaper, the churches, the community and all socio-political bloggers in the city should be covering this story until we can get this problem of shooting and murders solved.

It's too important.

We're losing people. And for no reason.

A $60,000 celebration?

Don't look now but the Jackson County legislature wants to throw a $60,000 birthday party celebration

Yeah.

But it's for Martin Luther King, Jr.

There's a good idea. Not.

It seems former rocket scientist and current Jackson County Legislator James Tindall came up with this beaut.

And get this--he wants to take these funds from "the county's health and anti-drug funds."

Fellow Legislator Bob Spence said it best when he "wondered what Dr. King would think" of such a transfer.

Fortunately, "Teresa Garza Ruiz added that such spending was difficult to justify given county layoffs and other cuts."

Thank you, Ms. Ruiz.

Not to be outdone, Tindall was defended by Henry Rizzo and Dennis Waits. Mr. Rizzo called it "promoting diversity" and called it an important "'watermark' for any community that seeks success."

And that would be how? By throwing a birthday party for a the Rev. King?

Look, someone run down there and tell these clowns that you can't throw an expensive birthday party if you're broke.

Apparently their houses don't run like yours and mine.

http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/story/1625824.html

Wal Mart, your friendly, local banker

Fascinating news came out today, intertwined with the weekly "Bank Failure Friday".

To wit:

"The last failure of the evening was 122-year-old SolutionsBank [6] of Overland Park, Kansas. As of September 30, SolutionsBank had total assets of $511.1 million and total deposits of approximately $421.3 million. Arvest Bank of Fayetteville, Arkansas assumed all of the deposits of SolutionsBank without paying a premium to the FDIC."

But this is where it gets good:

"Arvest is owned by the family of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. founder Sam Walton. It has twice bid unsuccessfully for failed banks in an effort to break into the Kansas City market, the Kansas City Star reports [7]. With 220 branches spread over Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas, Arvest is already a regional player that thanks to the misfortunes of others just got a bit bigger."

As any banker would tell you, Wal Mart has been trying desperately and for some time to get into banking. They owned Arvest and now it just grew further, by a little over a half billion dollars.

You see, if Wal Mart can be its own bank, it will save at least millions more dollars on its own banking but then also make more money--no doubt yet more millions--by doing that banking business, too.

So you see, boys and girls, Wal Mart really will one day own and rule the world.

Bwha-ha-ha-ha-ha.

Link to additional information:
http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewiStockNews/articleid/3708382

Don't say good things are not and cannot come out of Washington

Good news for the US.

To me, anyway, and, I think to anyone concerned nothing was going to be done after the collosal near-collapse of our economy in the last year.

"The House approved a Democratic plan on Friday to tighten federal regulation of Wall Street and banks, advancing a far-reaching Congressional response to the financial crisis that rocked the economy."

The good news is first, that they did something--they recognized that we need to protect consumers from fraud and abuse in our financial markets--then, second, that they instituted some protections. They went through with some regulation.

That's hard to do lately, in this country.

If there's bad news, it's that they felt they had to create a new agency to do it.

Why couldn't some division of the Commerce Department or some other, already-existing agency do this? That would have been far more preferable.

More agencies. More budgets. More spending.

But my favorite part of all this is the following--check this out from "The Party of No":

"But it's worth noting that just one year after Wall Street recklessness pushed the global economy to the brink of wholesale collapse, exactly zero House Republicans voted for watered-down safeguards, deeming them too onerous. Indeed, their unanimous opposition to Wall Street accountability came just a few days after the House Republican leadership huddled with more than 100 lobbyists to rally opposition to preventing Wall Street irresponsibility."

If this batch of Republicans didn't hurt our country so much, I'd love them for the humor derived from their hypocrisy.

Anyway, better this than having done nothing, by a long shot. That last tumble our markets and country took were far too dangerous.

And stupid.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hats off to Martin Luther today

Today, December 10, 1520, Martin Luther had the courage and conviction to publicly burn the papal edict demanding he recant his accusations of heresy to the Catholic Church, or face excommunication.

Take that , Pope.

I mean, really, the Catholic Church was taking money from what were poor people, so they could assure themselves a place in heaven, among other insane, deplorable, despicable things.

Talk about blood money.

The guy was smart. The guy had guts.

Our hats off to you, Martin Luther, for standing up to ignorant thought and a great deal of peer pressure.

This is my favorite thing he did, however, as this is what lead up to today's date:

"On Halloween of 1517, Luther changed the course of human history when he nailed his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg, accusing the Roman Catholic church of heresy upon heresy."

Good on ya', Martin.

Our thanks.

Link: http://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/martin-luther.html

To read his 95 Theses, go here: http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/luther/web/ninetyfive.html

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

They will now officially oppose ANYTHING

Okay, now they've gone too far.

Sure, they Republicans look stupid and divisive and hateful and ugly and as though they can only support corporations and rich people but now they've gone WAY too far.

They've thrown every roadblock up they could, to kill any health care reform because they want to support their fatcat buddies in the insurance industry but now they're even going against this President because--wait for it--he wants to help create JOBS!!

Good God, are you kidding me?

I guess it's real.

The Republicans are actually fighting this President because he wants to see more Americans employed.

I totally agree that we need to reduce spending but, frankly, not on jobs.

How about we cut defense spending in half? There's a good idea. And it's one we can afford--at least in my opinion. (And a lot of others, though, too, I will say).

Republicans prove, yet again, they are truly the "Party of No".

Okay they're up and it looks smart--and good

KC Free Press is up.

And it looks good.

You know what it looks like?

An online newspaper.

An online newspaper that works.

Anyone paying attention at the Star?

You know what it is, right?

A "newspaper" for the next generation.


Addendum:

And note: no racism or sexism.

How refreshing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

For once and for all, shouldn't we have a minimum tax?

There's a report out in the last few days about taxes paid in America.

And it shows we're kooky.

46 million of us pay no taxes at all?

I've reported a bit on this before.

Does this make any sense?

Shouldn't we ALL pay at least something on our taxes, so we can keep our infrastructure and schools--everything--running?

Wouldn't that make sense?

But no, we let corporations and wealthy people, mostly, pay for tax breaks--mostly by buying their Senators--and then jockeying up the books.

I've proposed this before--why don't we put in place a, say, 10% minimum tax that EVERYONE has to pay, for being a citizen and for having access to this country of ours and our markets?

Doesn't that make sense?

Oh, and, finally, check out the byline of the original article: "Surge of “Nonpayers” Will Be Part of Bush Tax Legacy."

One more way George W. screwed up the country and the world, with what time he had.

Note: Thanks to the Kruse Kronicle for bringing this to our attention, via Tony's KC Blog.

Original link: http://krusekronicle.typepad.com/kruse_kronicle/2009/12/almost-4-out-of-10-americans-pay-no-income-tax.html#tpe-action-posted-6a00d83451b14d69e201287631af3b970c

One day til launch

http://www.kcfreepress.com/


(I have no idea what it is to be. I just know it's almost here).

Gunmen exchanging fire in Kansas City

Now ain't that a shame?


Geez, it's the wild West over there. Check this out:

"A gunman suffered a shotgun wound to his face today after he allegedly barged into his ex-wife’s house firing shots — and met another gunman."

Good idea. You see your ex-wife so you start shooting at her.

No anger management problems there.

You really should check out that whole article in the Star. It's a stunner.

Monday, December 7, 2009

It doesn't make it right but we don't know what to think

There's been controversy in Switzerland lately because the voters came out squarely for a ban on minarets on mosques in their country. It seems they don't want to change the "flavor", if you will, of their country.

And while many people have come out against this seeming discrimination, the fact is, the West just doesn't know what to think about Muslims, Islamists, the Muslim religion and Islam.

I'm not condoning any discrimination or racism, let me be clear and firm on that. I'm just saying too many people are confused, if not out and out confused or in fear when it comes to Muslimists and Islamists.

To begin, we just don't understand how anyone could strap bombs onto themselves, walk into a group of their own citizens and blow themselves up.

Secondly, we can't understand any leader of young men (or women), telling those same young people that strapping bombs onto themselves, to blow others up--other innocent civilians--could possibly get them to any "heaven" and/or a "god" (in this case, Allah) and then, that they get to spend a heavenly eternity with 71 virgins. That is some kind of outrageous, sexist "heaven".

Third, "honor killings". We just don't get those.

"Honor killings" are killings of young women by their fathers or brothers, because they've accused of being promiscuous.

Yeah, we just don't get that.

Here's another thing we just don't get: In July, 2008, a poll was taken in England and it was found that "Almost a third of British Muslim students believe killing in the name of Islam can be justified..."

There again. Don't get it.

It just seems that there is far too much death and killing by Muslims and Islamists and we just don't understand where it comes from, why it's done and how it could be condoned.

We understand it's not all people of the Muslim faith, sure. Most of the world doesn't practice any of these insanities. But enough do that we are all at least cautious, because of all the killings and death.

Finally, we don't understand, on a much easier, less deadly scale, why these Eastern people wrap their women from head to toe, don't let them be seen, treat them as second-class citizens, at best, and make them walk behind them, etc., and never meet with the men, etc., when the men can do whatever and go wherever they want. It takes civilization back too many centuries.

So, for all this, I'm just saying we don't get it.

Fortunately, it's gotten so bad recently that, in a recent bombing, Muslims are coming out upset, angry and complaining that Muslims are killing Muslims, which is supposed to be understandably forbidden.

We'd like to think there is an international outreach from the sane, educated and logical Muslims and Islamists, teaching the young men in the world, particularly, that killing others is not only not good but that it's crazy and wrong.

You just wouldn't think you'd have to teach that, would you?

Links:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1231854/Voters-ready-ban-minarets-Switzerland-exit-polls-show.html

http://www.iris.org.il/blog/archives/2250-UK-Muslim-Honor-Killing-Wife-Daughters-Burned-Alive.html

Clint Eastwood's "Invictus"

To be clear, understand that Clint Eastwood's upcoming new movie, "Invictus" about South Africa, Nelson Mandela and a scrapping soccer team is a mea culpa from Mr. Eastwood to Spike Lee, purely and simply.

If you'll remember, Clint made 2 WWII movies and gave African-Americans virtually no coverage in all the hours of both critically-acclaimed hours of film.

Spike came down on him hard--fairly, but hard--for leaving out their contributions.

And now this movie.

Oh, yeah.

I don't think it will be discussed anywhere else and if it is, it will be denied but it seems rather blatant.

Links: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/movies/06invictus.html?th&emc=th

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/celebritynews/2098097/Clint-Eastwood-and-Spike-Lee-row-over-black-soldiers.html

http://www.nydailynews.com/gossip/2008/06/07/2008-06-07_spike_lee_jabs_back_at_clint_eastwood.html

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1057500/

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The US spends WAY too much on the business of war

I've written of this before, to be honest.

We spend 711 billion dollars a year on war (defense spending).

We more than double the 2nd-place spender in defense spending.

It's insanity.

We're building tanks, planes and bombs for almost no reason.

At some point, don't we have enough?

Check out these statistics:

"The extent of the U.S. global empire is almost incalculable. The latest 'Base Structure Report' of the Department of Defense states that the Department’s physical assets consist of "more than 600,000 individual buildings and structures, at more than 6,000 locations, on more than 30 million acres." The exact number of locations is then given as 6,702 – divided into large installations (115), medium installations (115), and small installations/locations (6,472). This classification can be deceiving, however, because installations are only classified as small if they have a Plant Replacement Value (PRV) of less than $800 million."

More:

"Although most of these locations are in the continental United States, 96 of them are in U.S. territories around the globe, and 702 of them are in foreign countries. But as Chalmers Johnson has documented, the figure of 702 foreign military installations is too low, for it does not include installations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, and Uzbekistan. Johnson estimates that an honest count would be closer to 1,000."

"The number of countries that the United States has a presence in is staggering. According the U.S. Department of State’s list of "Independent States in the World," there are 192 countries in the world, all of which, except Bhutan, Cuba, Iran, and North Korea, have diplomatic relations with the United States. All of these countries except one (Vatican City) are members of the United Nations. According to the Department of Defense publication, "Active Duty Military Personnel Strengths by Regional Area and by Country," the United States has troops in 135 countries."

Keep in mind, too, that the statistics above come from reports in or before 2004, before "W" escalated our spending so grossly on war and our mercenaries of war (read: Blackwater or whatever they're called now and all the rest).

The conclusion?

The United States of America has become a war-monger.

We love the business of war, for industry, and as a people, we need to stand up and say "enough".

President Eisenhower would be squarely behind us on this.

Link: http://www.lewrockwell.com/vance/vance8.html

And while we're at it...

And besides needing to get out of Afghanistan, we need to get the 60,000 American Troops out of Germany, for God's sake and bring them home.

And Japan. We need to get out of Japan (Tokyo and Okinawa, to be specific).

There is a report today, on top of my long-held opinion on this, that "Four teenagers from an American military base in Japan were arrested on charges of attempted murder on Saturday for allegedly toppling a woman riding her motorbike, causing her to suffer a serious head injury."

This makes our being there that much difficult.

An American Soldier was accused of raping a Japanese woman there in 1995 and now this. Sure, there's a lot of time in between these two incidents but not for the Japanese people.

The fact is, the Japanese people feel they don't need us there any longer.

And I couldn't agree more.

This should be a terrific way to cut costs and spending, on top of being a good diplomatic move on our part, toward the respective host country.

The time has come.

Let's bring the American Soldiers from Germany, Japan and, while we're at it, Italy, all home.

It's way overdue. Let's stop trying to fight WWII.


Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/world/asia/06japan.html?th&emc=th

Afghan War a losing propostion

So the President came out and finally told us all what we knew--and that is, that he's going to send thirty thousand more American Troops to Afghanistan, in hopes of cleaning up the mess that's over there.

And the fact is, most Democrats don't want it, lots of Republicans don't want it, we can't really afford it, a lot of Afghanis don't want us there (though, admittedly, a lot more likely do) and what you end up with is a war we never wanted being extended when we don't really want it extended.

This is not good for this President.

And it's not good for his reform agenda.

Finally, it's not good for the work we need to do here in this country.

Fortunately, at least Senator Russ Feingold, for one, is speaking up against this war and against the troop increase. We'll see if anyone joins him.

I don't pretend this war--or the answers for it--are easy. They absolutely aren't.

What I will say is that the American people are solidly against this war and have been for a long time.

And you don't win a war if the people aren't with you.

Links: http://feingold.senate.gov/
http://feingold.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=320378
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_in_Afghanistan_(2001%E2%80%93present)
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/world/asia/06reconstruct.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

Saturday, December 5, 2009

War and Peace

I'm a major proponent of the idea that the arts are the antithesis of war. Not a new idea but an important and good one.

With that thought in mind, I think it's important to point out that the more arts and exposure to the arts we can get (along with education, frankly), the less likely, I believe, we would take it upon ourselves to fight and go to war.

It was Lenin, I believe, who said there was a piece of music that, if he heard it too much, couldn't go to war.

I propose, then, that "Improv Everywhere" is to peace and sanity and cooperation what terrorists blowing themselves up, seemingly randomly, is to war, carnage and insanity.

So for today, for the Saturday, I present this video from the Improv Everywhere people, whom I respect and admire. We need more of this in our lives and in the world.

Enjoy and have a great weekend.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Michelle Malkin smart?

In response to SOJOCO's claim of how bright Michelle Malkin is. This is purely to give two sides to the coin, so to speak. (To be clear, I don't wish to get into a "pissing match", to use a crude euphimism, with SOJOCO or anyone else. As I said, I just want to give a 2nd side to a stand here).

See links--and proof--below:

Ms. Malkin, hoping--like Rush "Porkulus" Limbaugh--that the President fails:

http://thinkprogress.org/2009/02/28/malkin-obama-fail/

Ms. Malkin, for instance, wasn't invited to sit in on Sen. John McCain's conference calls, while he was running for President last year:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/05/18/michelle-malkin-not-invit_n_102305.html

Ms. Malkin called Michelle Obama, during the campaign "First Crony":

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/22/michelle-malkin-calls-mic_n_219247.html

Alex Koppelman describes Ms. Malkin's White Supremacist ties in detail:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alex-koppelman/michelle-malkins-white-s_b_20873.html

On Right-wing Conservative Bill Kristol calling Ms. Malkin a fascist:

http://hyerstandard.com/2008/01/08/michelle-malkin-is-an-idiot-and-thats-putting-it-nicely/

On Ms. Malkin claiming people would rather claim unemployment than work:

http://crooksandliars.com/john-amato/michelle-malkin-uses-bogus-claim-gets-s

On Ms. Malkin being photographed with a man and his Obama/Swastika sign:

http://crooksandliars.com/nicole-belle/you-stay-classy-michelle-malkin-poses

Ms. Malkin, in her own words--via video--on why President Obama was trying to have the Olympics in Chicago:

http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/cspanjunkie/michelle-malkin-why-obama-pushing-have

Now, admittedly, this is just dog-piling but here goes:

http://www.michellemalkinisanidiot.com/

http://edschultz.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=51713


It's just too easy, folks. She opens her mouth and out it comes.

Oh, and finally, I think Nicholas Kristof is the smart one here, hands down.

Again, have a great weekend.

Completions

From the time City Manager Wayne Cauthen was fired until someone--anyone--from the city responded to questions of why, exactly, he was let go--impropriety, incompetence or whatever--it was 5 days, from November 19th to the 24th, until City Councilwoman Jan Marcason gave reason.

That was too long. It should have been immediate, since he was a public employee.

That said, I would like to salute and thank Ms. Marcason for giving her constituents reason and information why this took place, even if it was delayed. She was the only person who did, from what I've seen.

Lastly, on a completely different note, I wrote here last week that I thought it likely University of Kansas Football Coach Mark Mangino could be out of his job by Monday or Tuesday this week, given the situation.

I only missed it by two days.

Next prediction: Lew Perkins clock is ticking down.

Have a great weekend, y'all.

Links: http://voices.kansascity.com/node/6659
http://www.kansascity.com/105/story/1609908.html

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rep. Cynthia Davis, at it again

Missouri would ban the use of public dollars for stem cell research through a constitutional amendment proposed in legislation filed this week.
The Right-wing, Republican, ultra-conservatives in Jefferson City are working overtime to keep Missouri in the dark ages.

It seems our old, kooky friend Representative Cynthia "I haven't got a brain in my head" Davis, R-O'Fallon wants to go after stem cell research again.

The biggest problems there are with this are that it "could cost the state millions of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs...", for starters.

What gets me is that this nut wants to make it a Constitutional Amendment.

This is the same nut who wants to be able to legally take her handgun to her church.

Seriously.

Here's where this hurts Kansas City, directly:

"The proposed ban would not directly affect research at the Kansas City-based Stowers Institute for Medical Research, which doesn’t rely on tax support. However, consistent efforts to limit embryonic stem cell research in Missouri have prompted the institute to hold off on local expansion plans."

Here's how it could effect Missouri directly:

"The amendment could cost Missouri millions of dollars in economic opportunities and thousands of high-paying jobs, according to a report released in October by Missouri State Auditor Susan Montee’s office on the Roundtable for Life’s ballot initiative."

"Affected industries would include the medical and research fields, as well as construction and other related sectors. The four-campus University of Missouri System came out against it, and the city of St. Louis said it would lose $14.3 million in general revenue a year if the amendment were to pass."

“'Scientists in general will view Missouri as a regressive and unfriendly place for life sciences research, and those who make careers of cutting-edge research will not locate in Missouri' if the amendment passed, city officials told auditors."

I don't want to always suck up to every business that comes along--as anyone who knows me would attest--but this one should be good for advances in pure science and health care, along with being good for our economy.

What Ms. Davis and her group of kooks need to know is that, in the first place, the stem cells used are ones that would be thrown away anyway and, secondly, that new research is getting stem cells from other sources than embryos.

But, hey, why should facts stand in the way of a religious, fundamentalist nutcase?

Personally, I just thank God I'm not from O'Fallon, Missouri.


Link: http://kansascity.bizjournals.com/kansascity/stories/2009/11/30/daily32.html?ed=2009-12-03&ana=e_du_pub
http://blogs.pitch.com/plog/2009/12/cynthia_davis_fighting_for_gun_rights_in_missouri_churches.php

Big or small, government should work

Did you miss the latest Ponzi scheme catch?

Ever heard of Tom Petters?

Here we go again.

This clown ran a $3.65 billion dollar Ponzi scheme out of Minnesota that bilked thousands of people out of their money.

One more in a long line up of Ponzi schemes.

First--and biggest--was Bernie Madoff.

Then there was R. Allen Stanford and now this guy.

In the 2000's, it seems the government virtually shut down and didn't investigate anyone who was--or was supposed to be--taking money for investments. Bernie Madoff, in the most aggregious example, didn't have an investor's license. Ever.

It needs to be asked: Where were the government regulators when these men were taking in all this money?

We need our government to work for us.

Sure, we want less government and smaller government and the requisite lower taxes but for the agencies that exist, we want and need them to do the jobs they were designed and created for.

In this case, where was the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)? What the hell were they doing these last 9 years?

There should be hell to pay for them for all that has happened.

Links: http://www.reuters.com/article/fundsFundsNews/idUSN024978920091202
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Petters
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/03/business/03stanford.html?_r=1

Reasons not to be a Republican today

Though I loathe Andrew Sullivan for being the self-hating hypocrite he is--almost solely for being a gay Republican--I have to say, he finally, in 2009, woke up to what the Republican Party is in the US and has decided to leave them.

How overdue can you get?

And even then, he only did it because another, fellow blogger came out before him and beat him to it.

Though he's way overdue, as I said, for leaving this hateful, exclusive bunch of small-minded radicals, at least he had the decency to describe why he was, finally, pushing them away.

Herewith are, in his words, great reasons for not being a Republican in the United States today:

I cannot support a movement that claims to believe in limited government but backed an unlimited domestic and foreign policy presidency that assumed illegal, extra-constitutional dictatorial powers until forced by the system to return to the rule of law.

I cannot support a movement that exploded spending and borrowing and blames its successor for the debt.

I cannot support a movement that so abandoned government's minimal and vital role to police markets and address natural disasters that it gave us Katrina and the financial meltdown of 2008.

I cannot support a movement that holds torture as a core value.

I cannot support a movement that holds that purely religious doctrine should govern civil political decisions and that uses the sacredness of religious faith for the pursuit of worldly power.

I cannot support a movement that is deeply homophobic, cynically deploys fear of homosexuals to win votes, and gives off such a racist vibe that its share of the minority vote remains pitiful.

I cannot support a movement which has no real respect for the institutions of government and is prepared to use any tactic and any means to fight political warfare rather than conduct a political conversation.

I cannot support a movement that sees permanent war as compatible with liberal democratic norms and limited government.

I cannot support a movement that criminalizes private behavior in the war on drugs.

I cannot support a movement that would back a vice-presidential candidate manifestly unqualified and duplicitous because of identity politics and electoral cynicism.

I cannot support a movement that regards gay people as threats to their own families.

I cannot support a movement that does not accept evolution as a fact.

I cannot support a movement that sees climate change as a hoax and offers domestic oil exploration as the core plank of an energy policy.

I cannot support a movement that refuses ever to raise taxes, while proposing no meaningful reductions in government spending.

I cannot support a movement that refuses to distance itself from a demagogue like Rush Limbaugh or a nutjob like Glenn Beck.

I cannot support a movement that believes that the United States should be the sole global power, should sustain a permanent war machine to police the entire planet, and sees violence as the core tool for international relations.

_________________________

While years, if not a decade or more overdue, I couldn't agree more.

Link:
http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/12/leaving-the-right.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/03/andrew-sullivan-im-breaki_n_378625.html

No climate change, eh, Mike?

According to rocket scientist and local meteorologist Mike Thompson, there isn't any such thing as climate change or global warming.

This news comes to us today from a fellow blogger at Bottom Line Communications and Tony at TKC (see links below).

According to Bottom Line: "Veteran WDAF-FOX4 meteorologist Mike Thompson went on the "KCMO Morning Show With Chris Stigall" on KCMO-710 AM (12/2) taking the controversial stance that global warming is not man-made."

Who knows what that's supposed to mean.

Does he mean it's fictitious and made up or does he mean there is such a thing as global warming but it's "man-made"?

Who can say?

All I know, Mike, is that the ice caps and glaciers are melting and, if you'd read the article link below, from CNN, you'd see that people in Alaska are losing ground--literally, they're losing permafrost, earth, and homes, etc.--right out from under them.

"Coastal erosion has been an issue for decades here, but rising global temperatures have started to thaw the permafrost that once helped anchor this village in place. Sea ice that protects Shishmaref's coast from erosion melts earlier in the spring and forms later in the fall. As a result, the increasingly mushy and exposed soil along Shishmaref's shore is falling into the water in snowmobile-sized chunks."

How do you 'splain that, Mike?


Links: http://www.bottomlinecom.com/kcnews/thompsonglobalwarming.html

http://www.tonyskansascity.com/2008/04/mike-thompson-compares-global-warming.html

http://www.tonyskansascity.com/2009/12/kansas-city-weather-newsie-mike.html

http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/12/03/shishmaref.alaska.climate.change/

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What television has come to

Did you see the TV Tuesday night?

Did you also scroll past the "Victoria Secret Fashion Show"?

Holy cow.

It was just shameful.

Talk about base.

Late teens and early twenties young women, parading around like it was a Las Vegas show from the 60's.

And all this for our sacred "Christmas", don't kid yourself. They want to do all they can, of course, to get the neanderthal husbands and boyfriends of the world to schlep into their stores in the next 22 days and pick some of that over-priced stuff up.

But, really, let's get back to reality. Look around. Look at your office. Look on the streets of any city in the world. How many women REALLY look like those girls? (and I mean girls. they were EXTREMELY young).

They looked fantastic, of course, and they barely had clothes on.

It brings up questions.

First, do you know how few people can wear these things and look good?

Second, who would buy this stuff and while we're at it, where do they live? Florida? California?

Third, do you know how few of the people who can wear this stuff and AFFORD it?

And finally, why isn't the extreme far-right and why aren't all the "Christian Conservatives" raising bloody hell about that nearly obscene show last evening?
(One possible answer is that they're hoping their sons see it and decide they don't want to be gay).

I'm reminded of the quote by Abraham Lincoln: "Common looking people are the best in the world: that is the reason the Lord makes so many of them."

It puts things in perspective, brings me back to reality and gives me some comfort from all the media insanity and worship of the temporarily young and rare beautiful.

The other thing TV has come to: We have the Grammy Awards Nomination Show tonight.

We apparently didn't have enough awards shows (didn't we?); now we have to have shows announcing the awards shows.

The world just keeps getting a little bit dumber, virtually non-stop.

Links: http://www.cbs.com/specials/victorias_secret/
http://home.att.net/~rjnorton/Lincoln78.html
http://www.cbs.com/specials/grammys/video/?pid=xO6f180vfgx6N7O_ytmpa0C5Z0gqLDWI
http://www.rollingstone.com/rockdaily/index.php/2008/12/03/the-grammy-nomination-show-live-blog-foo-fighters-john-mayer-taylor-swift-and-a-bunch-of-names/

Reasons the "Concerned Clergy Coaltion" should be marching--but aren't

Did you see the Killa City's "Top 10 things to know about homicide in Kansas City"
By Casey Lyons in Killa City, NewsWed., Dec. 2 2009 @ 12:00PM?

Herewith:

​The KCPD released it's third quarter homicide results yesterday, which includes some 98 homicides up to September 30. The total to date is 105. We dug through all 24 pages so you don't have to to find the most important things to know about staying alive in Kansas City.

1. July is the new deadliest month. The summer spike came earlier this year, with the most deaths per month (14) coming in July, rather than August.

2. Kansas City killers have got a case of the Mondays. Nearly 1 in 5 deaths takes place on the first day after the weekend. Saturday and Sunday each held 15 percent.

3. Watch out for the witching hour. Thirteen percent of deaths happen between midnight and 2 a.m. Noon to 2 p.m. accounts for 12 percent of homicides and is the second most dangerous time.

4. Violence is random. Motive is unknown more than half the time.

5. East Patrol District is the most dangerous. So far, 634 people have been beaten and 27 killed there.

6. Men fare worst. Three in four homicide victims are men. Among known suspects, there are 10 times more men than women (51 versus 5).

7. There is a lot of black-on-black crime. Over 70 percent of victims are African American. Among suspects, 79 percent are African Americans. By contrast, no victims have been Asian.

8. Senior citizens are the safest. No victims have been over 65. There have been 36 in the 17-25 age range.

9. Victims aren't so innocent. Three in four victims have prior arrests.

10. Drive-by. September is drive-by king with 32 incidents reported.

So, with No. 7, above, wouldn't you think this "Concerned Clergy" group would have been marching last July on a Monday, protesting these senseless killings on the East Side?

No, no. They had to wait until November, when Wayne Cauthen is let go of his job as City Manager, instead.

Sure, that makes sense.

Link: http://blogs.pitch.com/plog/2009/12/killa_city_top_10_things_to_know_about_homicide_in_kansas_city.php

Will the "Concerned Clergy Coalition" be marching for Nelson E. Hopkins, Jr?

It was announced earlier today:

"Kansas City police say the victim of Tuesday night's fatal shooting is 17-year-old Nelson E. Hopkins Jr. of Kansas City, Missouri."

"KCPD detectives believe Hopkins had left the Plaza Library and caught a bus to 54th and Troost prior to the shooting. Hopkins was shot while walking home on 54th Street."

So, I ask again--will the "Concerned Clergy Coalition" be concerned about this 105th homicide, here in Kansas City?

Or is the only thing they're concerned about is Wayne Cauthen losing his high-paid job as City Manager downtown at City Hall?

Links: http://blogs.pitch.com/plog/2009/12/killa_city_kcmo_homicide_no_105_nelson_e_hopkins_jr.php

http://www.kansascity.com/679/story/1606774.html

This is not your Grandfather's war

Okay, the President finally came out, after collecting all his information and doing his just homework (unlike the previous clod) and told us what he wanted and needed for our war in Afghanistan.

And it was "leaked" out so we knew what it was, too--30,000 more troops to go over as soon as possible.

Okay, blah, blah, blah.

We all knew it. We're resigned to it, let's move on.

I'm not being flip about war or our soldiers going to war, don't get me wrong. I'm just saying this was not a surprise.

What I would like to say is--could we stop acting like this is a war we can win in any way?

This is not World War I. This is not World War II.

This is not, as I said in the title, your Grandfather's war.

And it's not your Father's war, either.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is a war against terrorism, as though we haven't been told that, what? a thousand times?

Terrorism is an ongoing mess, folks. Terrorism is some nut seemingly randomly shooting people. Terrorism, we have found out, is right-wing fundamentalists (hear that, Pat Robertson?) strapping bombs to their chests and blowing as many people up as they can, thinking they're going to some lunatic heaven, with--how many was it?--71 virgins waiting for them. (I wonder what the female suicide bombers get).

Terrorism isn't, as we've found out, a standing army, waiting to attack us. It is a disparate group of people, loosely defined and organized who do their best to make their opposition's (read: virtually everyone else) lives miserable.

So could we stop talking about "winning this war", please?

We won't "win" Afghanistan or the Afghan war.

To "win" this war, we would have to rebuild virtually the entire country AND educate its people and no one has the time or money to do that.

To repeat: The Afghanistan war is not a war ANYONE can win.

Some day---and hopefully soon--we will have to leave Afghanistan, just as all the other invading armies have. We will have to do what Russia did, not that long ago.

And you know what? Russia survived. More than that, no one talks about how they were "defeated". Russia found it couldn't "win Afghanistan", so they took all their toys and went home.

Which is what we should do.

And the sooner, the better.

So, all you right-wingers out there--all the Glenn Becks and Rush "Porkulus" Limbaughs and Sean Hannitys and Bill O'Reillys and yes, even local Thomas McClanahans should stop talking about "winning Afghanistan".

No one wins Afghanistan, folks. Look into it. It just doesn't happen.

And it ain't gonna happen.

You don't win a war against terrorism.

You just educate as many people as you can and always stay on your guard, to watch for the nincompoops.

The previous administration didn't read that Daily Presidential Brief about terrorists training to attack us by plane.


Side note: If you want to know more on this, you might read Norman Mailer's book "Why Are We at War?" or any number of other books on the subject.

Links: http://voices.kansascity.com/node/6737
http://summit.clubmadrid.org/keynotes/a-global-strategy-for-fighting-terrorism.html
http://milo.com/why-are-we-at-war

The 2nd time 4 men do a robbery in a week

Think about this.

Four men, for the 2nd time in about a week, did a hold-up.

Here's the details on the latest one, yesterday:

"The 46-year-old woman told police that she had just finished shopping at the Walmart at 1725 E. Santa Fe around 1:30 a.m. and was walking toward her vehicle when the four males approached in a light-colored small sport utility vehicle, said Capt. James Moore with the Gardner Public Safety."

November 30, four guys "robbed a Thriftway grocery at 7320 Prospect Ave."

Now, really, four guys?

Can you say "cowards"?

What did they, think this would be fun and that they'd have safety in numbers?

And when you consider it further, in the first place, the four aren't likely to get much money and secondly, what little they'd get would have to be split 4 ways.

We aren't talking a million dollars here.

Idiots, truly idiots.

This proves what a friend of mine said a long time ago. His little brother worked for the FBI. He pointed out that most of their work isn't taken up by the masterminds of crime. Most of their time is taken up by idiots who decide on the spur of the moment to do something terribly, terribly shallow and stupid.

Both of these, then, would be just such cases.

Links: http://www.kansascity.com/news/breaking_news/story/1606030.html

http://www.clipsyndicate.com/video/play/1197371/4_armed_men_rob_grocery_store?cpt=8&wpid=1277

So, did the Concerned Clergy Coalition protest when Carleton Temple was killed?

And the answer is a decided no.

Sure, again, they protest Wayned Cauthen's being let go from his high-paying job but where's the protest for Mr. Temple?

Mr. Temple was killed August 9 when he was shot to death in his car at 67th and Monroe.

Concerned clergy, indeed.

Link: http://blogs.kansascity.com/crime_scene/2009/12/10k-added-to-reward-in-kc-homicide.html

http://www.kansascity.com/1047/gallery/1454344.html

http://www.kmbc.com/news/20334886/detail.html

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Unconscionable hypocrisy

Tony, over at Tony's KC Blog (you knew that) reports today that there was a memo sent out from a group calling itself the "Concerned Clergy Coalition" about the firing of Wayne Cauthen as Kansas City's City Manager.

The "Concerned Clergy Coalition"??

Interesting name.

I wonder when they're going to get off their lazy butts and give a damn about the young African-American men that are shooting--and frequently killing--other African-Americans here in town. I've been writing about it for months, as have other people in town. (See here: http://moravings.blogspot.com/2009/08/heres-way-to-start.html).

On August 7 this summer, where was the "Concerned Clergy Coalition" when this shooting occurred on the East side?

Oh, that's right. It was only a shooting and 2 near-deaths. No reason to form a "coalition" yet, right?

Freakin' hypocrites.

To be incensed about what appears to be a legitimate business dismissal when people are being shot and killed is virtually unbelievable and, as I said above, unconscionable.

Where was their march last summer when there were 40 people celebrating at a cookout on the front lawn of one of their own citizens and some chucklehead drove by and shot both a 3 year old child and the Father?

What are we to assume here? That this group is only concerned when one of their own is fired from a high-paying job but not when the average person on the street is shot and/or killed, frequently in broad daylight?

Unless and until the "Concerned Clergy Coalition" has a march--and as soon as possible--about these killings, they seem to be a group that simply can't be taken seriously or regarded with any legitimacy.

They mock themselves, at this point.

Link: http://www.tonyskansascity.com/2009/12/tkc-exclusive-kansas-city-concerned.html