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Sunday, January 31, 2010

It needs to be said

Dave Helling and Steve Kraske are two of the best things happening in Kansas City when it comes to reporting political issues and stories for the Kansas City metropoltan area, the state of Missouri and the Midwest.

Without their reporting and writing, we wouldn't know a lot about what's going on in this city, for good or ill and we need them and their work.

What's happening in Kansas City right now

For starters, it's cold, naturally, since it's January. It's been bitter cold. And then there has been the ice and/or snow, at times.

And yet--secondly--the shootings and killings continue.

What the heck?

Aren't the killings and shootings supposed to stop in this cold, dark time of the year?

You would think so.

They used to.

They should, still, too.

But check it out --last night, according to Alonzo Washington and his local blog, there were 6 people shot in the metropolitan area last night.

That's insane.

And though last year was bad in this city, for murders, we're at 8 killings right now, compared to 6 at this time last year. (Thanks to Ernest Evans for this information).

I, along with other bloggers, have been writing about this time and again.

Somehow, we need to solve this problem, as a city. We need to get a handle on this.

Really, if we can have 6 people shot on a Saturday night in January, how many will it be in June, July and August, when temperatures are so much higher?

Then, third, for what's going on in town, I went to The Kansas City Star's website just now (mid-morning Sunday) and do you think anything is there about these shootings and murders in town last night?

I searched a few pages and found nothing. Nada.

So the local newspaper isn't even covering this.

That's stunning.

Finally, then, for events of the city, it's been reported that cars are getting broken into in the Crossroads District, downtown. It's happened, apparently, at least twice.

It happens--and has been happening--frequently, right on the Plaza. I know it happens all too frequently on the East side of the Plaza, over by the Board of Trade, at minimum. So it's occuring in some of the most prized real estate in town, as well as downtown, at minimum. (Admittedly, I don't know how you stop this kind of quick, stupid "smash and grab" crime but you have to think something's got to be done.)

If the Mayor or City Council or other leaders in town think this city is in control, it seems they're mistaken.

Possibly badly mistaken.

Mid-day update: at 1:30 pm today, Sunday, I see the Star has updated their online page and there are 2 stories about the shootings. Hoo-rah.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A weekend observation on Western civilization

One of the absolute best values for the money in the current Western world has to be the ability to purchase an entire toilet for $80.00.

Just sayin'...

Have a great weekend, y'all.

Here's hoping

I'll say what has been suggested, if not said, outright:

Let's hope Mr. Salinger has a huge stash of terrific, unpublished works, waiting for us at his home.

RIP, Mr. Salinger

Friday, January 29, 2010

Another salute to Howard Zinn, historian

“Let’s talk about socialism. … I think it’s very important to bring back the idea of socialism into the national discussion to where it was at the turn of the [last] century before the Soviet Union gave it a bad name. Socialism had a good name in this country. Socialism had Eugene Debs. It had Clarence Darrow. It had Mother Jones. It had Emma Goldman. It had several million people reading socialist newspapers around the country… Socialism basically said, hey, let’s have a kinder, gentler society. Let’s share things. Let’s have an economic system that produces things not because they’re profitable for some corporation, but produces things that people need. People should not be retreating from the word socialism because you have to go beyond capitalism." --Howard Zinn (who died yesterday)

It frustrates the crap out of me that most Americans think Socialism is a) purely evil and b) right up there with the worst of Communism and anything and everything else bad they can throw in.

It's maddening.

Most Americans haven't the foggiest idea what it means in Europe and Scandinavia what the benefits are, for example.

Ignorant gits.

Now, go read up on Howard Zinn.

And while you're at it, get a copy of his book "A People's History of the United States".

***With specific and sincere thanks to Matt Payton and his Tumble-o-rama for pointing out this quote.

Roeder found guilty

"A Wichita jury found confessed killer Scott Roeder guilty of first-degree murder for killing Wichita abortion provider George Tiller."

"The jury also found Roeder guilty of two counts of aggravated assault against two witnesses."

"The state will be seeking a 'hard 50' sentence."

"Jurors deliberated for less than an hour Friday morning."

I'm glad that's over.

Link here:

The Roeder trial should be over

The Scott Roeder trial about whether or not he shot and killed (murdered) Dr. George Tiller should be, in effect, over as of yesterday .

Roeder (I refuse to refer to him as "Mr. Roeder. I cannot/will not give him that respect) confessed, under oath, on the witness stand in court.

To repeat for emphasis: Roeder is on trial to decide if he killed Dr. Tiller.

He confessed to it yesterday, under oath, on the witness stand, in court.

And get this--not only did Roeder admit to killing him but he also offered up that " he had been thinking about doing so since 1993."

The Judge made two very simple but wise and true statements regarding the case yesterday, too because, as the article in The Star pointed out "at the end of the day he ruled that he would not give jurors the option of considering a voluntary manslaughter conviction."

"Such a defense requires that a person must be stopping the imminent use of unlawful force," he said.

"There’s no imminence of danger on a Sunday morning in the back of a church,” Wilbert said, “let alone unlawful conduct." (This is as Sevesteen pointed out here, a couple days ago, in comments on this blog).

“In the state of Kansas, abortions are legal.”

It's over.

Roeder has declared himself guilty.

Fortunately, Judge Wilbert seemed to have had a change of mind on the case, too, when he announced, finally and fortunately, that the murder charge is the only option the jurors can decide after all, thank goodness.

I'm glad we've conclusively gotten that out of the way.

Sentencing should precede.

The only question now is whether the jury will return its verdict today or Monday, I believe.

Side note: I love the picture of Roeder on the front page of The Kansas City Star today. He looks as though he had a lobotomy and is trying to understand whatever someone is saying to him.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Brief thoughts on the State of the Union Address ('scuse me while I stick this in yer eye)

Lest anyone think I'm a sycophant for this, my Democratic President:

1) The President proposed last night we should take away tax credits that took manufacturing "off shore" and give them, instead, to companies that create more manufacturing jobs here in the US.

Well, duh.

Questions that seem obvious to me: a) Why is this a big revelation? b) Why did no one propose this before? (This occured to be YEARS ago) c) How could anyone be against this? (unless they're Republican and they just don't want this guy to succeed, for fear of creating another FDR and his legacy of Democratic rule for, oh, what? another 40 years?);

2) When the President compared us-a couple of times-to France and Germany and India and China, I got the feeling that, all of a sudden, the US is not only realizing its "catch up" status, but we're acknowledging it. It's a not too subtle shift, I think, from the last 200 years, when we virtually always assumed we were the best, the "top of the heap", so to speak;

3) The President called for more nuclear power plants and "clean coal". Wow. What a disappointment. What a letdown. What a sellout. Way to give in to the Right and the corporations:

4) He proposed doubling American exports.

Really? To where? What country is ready to buy more from us? Oh, and shall we crush some other, Third World country's production, just so we can sell more? Explain this, Mr. President, please;

5) I swear, at one point, I thought he was pushing for international trade wars so we could push our products more;

6) The President called--again, as he should and had to--for health care reform. AND THE REPUBLICANS SAT ON THEIR HANDS;

7) There was one cool, new shot of the chamber, from what I assume was the peak of the celing. Very cool. And another down the aisle he had originally come down. It was very cool, too. Nice to see the camera person was being creative;

8) Here's another easy one he threw out there--doing away with "earmarks". Could we not have that, like, yesterday, please?;

9) This took guts but it'll never happen--the President proposed killing the tax cuts for oil companies (and people making $250,000.00/year). Leave aside the 2nd part--this is a terrific idea. The oil companies are making billions in profits. We shouldn't need to give them tax cuts.

And it has about as much chance of happening as me growing wings;

10) The President's idea of forming a bipartisan commission to balance our budget is a good one. You could also look at it as a way for him to get to share the blame for the budget with the Republicans but hey, you have to start somewhere. We aren't going to solve these problems with only one political party's input;

11) Bringing back the "pay-go" provision should be a no-brainer, too. The Repubs did away with it (thank you very much, you chowderheads) while they were in office. Now that they're out, I'm hoping they'd like to shackly the Dems w/ it;

12) Okay, there's no getting out of pointing out that the President REALLY stuck his thumb squarely in the Republican's eye, in a matter of speaking, with this speech and that's the biggest "takeaway" I have on it afterward. To begin, he blamed Bush and his party for the last 8 years, which is fair, since we're in such a big mess, but do you want them to work with you or not? (Note to Republicans: both demi-god Reagan and Bush did this same thing, in their SOTU speeches, at times). Then he mocked them, on this huge, public forum, for not supporting the American people and for giving tax cuts to the rich, instead. Then he pointed out that that was what got us in the mess we're in today, to paraphrase.

The President didn't make any friends this night, except warming to his own, stalwart base. The Repubs are going to come out swinging today, this week and here on. Just wait until Rush and Glenn and Bill and Sean speak out on this one;

13) Question: Were Joe Biden's shoes bothering him or something?;

14) Twittering is now, officially, clearly ingrained in our culture. You can tell it when you see so much of an audience with their heads down during this speech, punching away furiously at their little machines. It was both funny and sick, at the same time. We can't do one thing any more--we have to make 140 character (or less) notes on it, too;

15) I wish the cameras would have shown the Republican side of the chamber when the President called for the repeal of the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. I feel sure they were sitting on their hands again but they would not/did not show it to us. That really frustrated me;

16) Joe Lieberman looks like he is perpetually reacting sarcastically, even when he's not talking. Since I don't like him and his traitorous, self-serving ways, I'm good with that;

17) The side view shot of VP Biden and Ms. Pelosi, while original, was not attractive. Note to cameraman: don't do it again;

18) Side/final note: looking at the Capital, on the outside, at the end of the speech, can you imagine how strict and tight the security is in Washington when this speech is given, annually? Can you imagine how busy Andrews Air Force Base is this night? Yikes.

On the Scott Roeder murder trial

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what a newspaper does best.

The coverage, in Wichita, of this murder trial--that of Scott Roeder having premeditatively shot and killed Dr. Tiller with a gun and bullet to the head while Dr. Tiller volunteered for and in his church one Sunday morning--is what The Wichita Eagle-Beacon and The Kansas City Star--and all other newspapers--do best.

They are covering a local story and they are covering it completely and thoroughly with terrific detail and moment to moment coverage and keep this in mind--BLOGGERS CAN'T DO WHAT THE NEWSPAPERS ARE DOING.

It takes a reporter, it takes a seasoned reporter and it takes someone with the wherewithal (read: income from a revenue source--in this case, advertising and subscriptions) to cover a story like this completely and with this kind of dedication.

This trial is going to take at least a couple of weeks.

There is a strong chance, too, that this trial, already, will be called for a mistrial (see earlier post here) and that will take still more weeks of coverage, along with the depth of knowing about this history of all involved--the Judge, the District Attorney, the defense attorney, the victim, the victim's family and the accused murderer.

So complain all you want about newspapers and how they "don't work anymore", especially you bloggers out there, should you have any complaints.

But this proves, better than most anything, how important newspapers, their resources and their reporters are and the value they give to society.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Again, calling for Judge Wilbert to recuse himself

Okay, this does it. This proves beyond any doubt that Judge Wilbert, in Wichita, overseeing the Scott Roeder trial for the murder of Dr. George Tiller is, unequivocally, biased in favor of the accused and that, secondly, he should--without that same doubt--recuse himself from the case.

Get this--this is what happened today:

"Tempers flared today when a judge said he would allow the man charged with killing abortion doctor George Tiller to tell jurors how he formed his beliefs about abortion."

This isn't a trial on or about abortion in any way.

This is a trial to decide if one Scott Roeder is or is not guilty of shooting and killing one Dr. George Tiller and whether or not it was premeditated.

With this action today, allowing the accused to describe a side detail--that of "how he formed his beliefs about abortion", Judge Wilbert has, without question, set this trial up to be heard yet again, once it's made clear this jury was contaminated, in effect, by this line of questioning.

This is not a trial on or about abortion. This is a murder trial.

Listen to how the Judge talked out of both sides of his mouth here, earlier today:

“We’re not going to discuss partial-birth abortions, we’re not going to discuss late-term abortions and actual medical procedures. But his personally held beliefs in general about abortion, whether it’s harmful, whether it terminates a viable baby, he’s going to get to testify to that.”

Excuse me? You're not going to have the trial be about abortion but you're going to let the defense and Mr. Roeder talk about his opinions on abortion and what Dr. Tiller's job was?

Judge Wilbert has spoiled the atmosphere in his court--and of this jury--with this allowance.

The case should now be dismissed and retried, with another, new jury.

The sooner he does, the sooner justice might be served.

More brilliance and prescience from Thomas Jefferson

“I hope we shall...crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and to bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

~Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Logan, November 12, 1816

Who knew this was a problem, all that long ago?

This applies, today, in so many different ways. It applies to our health care system and its problems, our taxes and taxation, their use of us, as a labor force, etc., etc.

Is this the only way we can legislate now?

Dum-dum legislation seems to be the only thing the Obama Administration can come up with right now.

First, it's been "leaked out" from the White House that the President is going to recommend we freeze Federal spending for the next 3 years, in an effort to keep deficits and spending down.

This seems pretty easy to pass and sure to please the opposing Party, if only because it's throwing them an economic "bone", so to speak.

The American people have been shown in polls to be against these big deficits we're running up so this is what what they came up with.


There are people chiming in on it, for and against. Some say it will help keep deficits down. Others say we shouldn't try to keep spending down too much, since we're in a deep recession.

We'll find out who's right, soon enough.

The other easy government we were given came yesterday when the President and White House got a law to make texting for commercial vehicles illegal.

Talk about an easy one.

Who could be against this?

We're in 2 wars and the worst recession in 80 years and this is the legislation we get from our government.

I'm still a supporter of this President, to be sure, but I hope we're doing what we can be doing on all the right things.

It feels like Nero is fiddling sometimes, to me.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

France and the burqa

A French panel has just come out with the conclusion that burqas--the all-covering clothing for women of the Muslim faith--must "outlawed in public buildings such as schools and hospitals."

And this really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

Further, it has nothing to do with religious intolerance.

It is clearly a matter of security for the French.

Fortunately, the French government is spelling out two reasons for the ban.

"Jean-Francois Cope, leader of the Union for a Popular Movement, or UMP, Sarkozy's majority party in Parliament, believes France needs a solid law against the burqa."

"'The two reasons why we have to implement legislation is to respect the rights of women and, second, it's a question of security. Who can imagine that in a country like ours, people can walk everywhere in the country and also in our cities with a burqa, without the possibility to recognize their face?' Cope says."

So they're standing up for women in this 21st Century as well as spelling out the need for security.

Good for the French.

Hopefully they're leading the way for the rest of the free, educated world.

Still don't think we need health care reform?

If you still don't think we need health care reform here in the US, consider these three facts and all the supporting data:

1) In the U.S., health care costs run nearly $7,000 per person. But in Cuba, they spend around $251 per person.

•United States health spending per capita is $6,697 per person according to Catlin, A, C. Cowan, S. Heffler, et al, "National Health Spending in 2005." Health Affairs 26:1 (2006). As with the number of uninsured, the number continues to increase and is projected to be $7,092 per capita in 2006, $7,498 per capita in 2007 and reaching $12,782 by 2016, according the Department of Health and Human Services Center for Medicare and Medicaid Expenditures, National Health Expenditures Projections 2006-2016,
•The 2006 United Nations Human Development Report says Cuba spends $251 per capita on health care. (Human Development Report 2006, United Nations Development Programme, 2006.

2) In Cuba, access to health care is universal.

•"Cuban dissatisfaction with their personal lives does not mean they are negative about the revolutionary government's achievements in health care and education. A near unanimous 96 percent of respondents say that health care in Cuba is accessible to everyone. Gallup polls in other Latin American cities have found that on average only 42 percent believe health care is accessible." Gallup/ Consultoría Interdisciplinaria en Desarrollo, "Cubans Show Little Satisfaction with Opportunities and Individual Freedom Rare Independent Survey Finds Large Majorities Are Still Proud of Island's Health Care and Education," January 10, 2007.

3) Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate and a longer average lifespan than the United States.

•The 2006 United Nations Human Development Report's human development index states the life expectancy in the United States is 77.5, and is 77.6 in Cuba. Human Development Report 2006, United Nations Development Programme, 2006 at 283.
•According to the United Nations Statistics Division, Population and Vital Statistics Report, the rate of infant deaths per thousand in Cuba is 6.2 per thousand, and in the United States is 6.8. "Table 3, Live births, deaths, and infant deaths, latest available year, June 15, 2007."

And there is a hell of a lot more where this comes from.

How I can--occasionally--love Republicans and Conservatives

Breaking news, boys and girls and it's hot.

It seems 4 clowns tried to tap the phones of Moderate Louisiana Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu.

It sounds like it was a real cluster truck, too:

"A conservative activist who posed as a pimp to target the community-organizing group ACORN and the son of a federal prosecutor were among four people arrested by the FBI and accused of trying to interfere with phones at Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu's office."

Get that, already--"posed as a pimp." Man, these people are fun. And they didn't want to stop there so they figured they'd just walk into a Senator's office and tap the phones.

And it doesn't stop there:

One of the two guys--they were 24 years old--is "the son of acting U.S. Attorney Bill Flanagan in Shreveport..."

This just gets better and better.

And this is only day one of the scandal. I'm sure more terrific, juicy stuff will come of it.

So, as I said, this is why and how I can--occasionally, anyway--love my fellow Republican and Conservative brethren.

Part of it is because they'll do anything to attempt to "get ahead."

But the other part is because they never learn or they just never learned their American history.

They never heard of Watergate.

Don't need health care reform?

If anyone still says we don't need to reform health care in America, point out the following new study, in addition to all the existing data there is out there:

"Mothers are giving birth to lighter babies in the U.S., and no one is quite sure why."

"The finding, published Thursday in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, has potentially troubling public-health implications, if the trend continues. Low-birth-weight babies are at higher risk for a host of health problems."

"Between 1990 and 2005, the birth weight of full-term babies in the U.S. declined nearly two ounces to an average of 7 pounds, 7.54 ounces, a reversal of a trend that had seen birth weights climb steadily since the 1950s, according to the study. Babies were also born 2.5 days earlier on average in 2005 than in 1990, the study said."

It goes on:

"The results are 'surprising and unexpected,' said Emily Oken, an author of the paper and an assistant professor of population medicine at Harvard Medical School. "We do need to keep a close eye on the babies that are the smallest babies to see if the proportion of those is increasing over time, because they may require extra resources and have extra health concerns,' she said."

If this most expensive of health care systems in the world that we have here in the US--and it is--is the best in the world, as people claim, why do we now have this additional issue/potential problem?

And check this out, it isn't just minorities and/or the poor to whom this is happening, either:

"Researchers repeated their analysis in a sample of low-risk women—healthy, educated Caucasians in their mid-to-late 20s—and found that the decrease in birth weight was even more pronounced, suggesting that the trend wasn't the result of changes in the population of mothers."

The fact is, for the most money we can spend in the world in every measure, the only ones benefitting from all the money spent are the insurance companies and corporations.

We're getting less healthy.

We rank 37th, internationaly, when considering mortality rates. (Read: when people die).

That's behind Costa Rica, people.

If you don't think we need health care reform, please do some research. You will find out differently.

If you know, as I do, that we do need this reform--and desperately--contact your congressional representatives now. Email them and tell them we need this.

Hopefully it's not too late.


For lots more data--hard statistics--on the US' health care system and how expensive, ineffective and downright unhealthy it is, go here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Trends toward mass transit in the US--even Kansas City?

Evidence in the form of statistics, showing America may well be absolutely ready for more mass transit even, one day soon? in Kansas City:

"The U.S. fleet has apparently peaked and started to decline. In 2009, the 14 million cars scrapped exceeded the 10 million new cars sold, shrinking the U.S. fleet by 4 million, or nearly 2 percent in one year."

We've got fewer cars due, at least in part, to the worst recession in seventy years.


"With four out of five Americans now living in cities, the growth in urban car numbers at some point provides just the opposite: immobility. The Texas Transportation Institute reports that U.S. congestion costs, including fuel wasted and time lost, climbed from $17 billion in 1982 to $87 billion in 2007."

"Economic uncertainty makes some consumers reluctant to undertake the long-term debt associated with buying new cars. In tight economic circumstances, families are living with two cars instead of three, or one car instead of two. Some are dispensing with the car altogether. In Washington, D.C., with a well-developed transit system, only 63 percent of households own a car."

So the young people, the next generations of Americans, seem much more likely to share transportation. And if oil goes up as it is expected to do? All the more likely to push them to share even more trips to and from work and around town.

"Perhaps the most fundamental social trend affecting the future of the automobile is the declining interest in cars among young people. For those who grew up a half-century ago in a country that was still heavily rural, getting a driver's license and a car or a pickup was a rite of passage. Getting other teenagers into a car and driving around was a popular pastime."

"In contrast, many of today's young people living in a more urban society learn to live without cars. They socialize on the Internet and on smart phones, not in cars. Many do not even bother to get a driver's license. This helps explain why, despite the largest U.S. teenage population ever, the number of teenagers with licenses, which peaked at 12 million in 1978, is now under 10 million. If this trend continues, the number of potential young car-buyers will continue to decline."

Check this out:

"The United States is entering a new era, evolving from a car-dominated transport system to one that is much more diversified. As noted, this transition is driven by market saturation, economic trends, environmental concerns, and by a cultural shift away from cars that is most pronounced among young people. As this evolution proceeds, it will affect virtually every facet of life."

With all this, it looks much more like Clay Chastain (I loathe to even mention his name) would love this data.

God help us, we may get that clown back still more.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Thoughts on keeping weight off--and feeling good, if not great

It's January, right? At least at the beginning of the year and month, people are supposed to be working on ideas to lose weight or get in shape.

Well, I've noticed a few good ideas (rules?) for living, day to day, I think, that help keep off weight and excess pounds.

Herewith are a few of them:

1) Don't keep cookies in the house. Ever. Unless they're for a specific party or something, they too frequently get people in trouble. Too many people don't eat just one, I think. They just march right through the bag. Bad idea. Bad habit;

2) Same with potato chips. Don't ever buy and keep chips--of any kind--in the house. Face it--they're not good for us. They are horribly empty calories, for one. They're loaded with fat. And oil--the bad oils. And sodium/salt, which is awful for blood pressure, at minimum. The same goes for these--chances are, we just march right through the bag, instead of eating just a few. Making matters worse, as bad as these things are for us, they don't fill us up quickly, either, so we keep downing more and more of these destructive buggers. Really. Think about it. Keep all those chips out of the house for all but parties. Get low-fat, tasty, low-salt crackers, instead;

3) The same, here, for candy. Just don't even keep it around--unless you've got terrific willpower and/or candy's not an issue for you. If you can ration yourself a little bit and be done with it for the day, good for you. Then keep it around. If, however, you are like most people and can't begin a bag without, for the most part, if not completely, wiping out the entire container, then keep it out of the house completely. You'll be much better for it. Then, have it at special occasions, preferably family or social gatherings where you'll be in front of other people and (hopefully) won't go overboard on it and have way too much;

4) Soda pop. Don't. Ever. See numbers 1, 2 and 3, above. They're not worth it. There is nothing redeeming to or about them. There's nothing good in them. Again, don't;

5) Eat more fruits. Eat lots of fruits. Eat your favorites. Discover new ones. Then, always eat them plain. Don't add sugar or anything else bad, to them. Have them be your desserts. Enjoy;

6) Eat more vegetables. Seriously. We've heard it before. It's true. Do it. They are vital to our good health. If they fill you up, it's with good calories and vitamins and nutrients, to boot. And the fact is,they won't "fill you up" like the fatty stuff will. You'll feel better after you eat. That gross, really full, "heavy" feeling you sometimes get after some meals? It's not good for you. It means you've eaten wrong. It means you either eaten too much or that you've eaten the wrong stuff. Or worse, it means you've done both. More on this in the next note, too:

7) That "full" feeling we used to (or, God forbid, still do) associate with a "good meal"? It's bad for you. That is not a good sign--or way to live. Stop it. Quit associating that full feeling with a good meal. It means (see no. 4, above) that you've either eaten too much or you've eaten badly, with gross, fattening, fatty, salt-laden foods--or, as I said above, in the worst case, it means you've done both. Eat like that and it's no wonder we'd get fat. And unhealthy. And heart attacks;

8) If you drink beer, keep it to a minimum. One a day, at most. On a special night or occasion? Maybe 2? Just don't over do. They're loaded with calories, as you likely know. (I know, I know--you love 'em. Well, just keep it down. In moderation. To repeat--don't overdo. Beside, it will keep you from getting drunk and that's a good thing, too. Just ask your wife, partner, family or friends. Or that cop on the street, waiting for you to drive by;

9) Don't eat that much red meat. You can still have it, just keep it to about 3 to 4 ounces per meal, at most, if that. It's fatty, usually always and too much really is bad for us;

10) Season your food. Do it healthily. Do it a lot. Explore. Discover. Rosemary isn't just the name of an old girlfriend. Thyme? Sure. There are loads of these natural flavors and couple things come from them. First, they make the food taste better, period. Second, they keep the food interesting. Keep this in mind---EATING HEALTHY DOES NOT/SHOULD NOT BE BORING. Far from it. Want an example? Put your favorite green vegetable(s) (broccoli, asparagus, brussels sprouts, whatever) on some aluminum foil, sprinkly lightly with olive oil--don't drench it--then sprinkle on your favorite hopefully-fresh seasoning. Wrap it up in the foil then put it in the oven (or on the grill, without the foil, if you can and/or want to) at 350 degrees on each side for 10 minutes. Voila'. Easy, tasty, delicious vegetables that you'll love and that are good for you. It just isn't that tough;

11) Walk. Walk daily. Or do some not-that-difficult-an-excercise daily. This isn't tough, either. Walk the dog. Walk yourself--whatever. Walk. Do some exercise. And get this, too--IT DOES NOT--in fact, should not--HAVE TO HURT. The whole notion that if you're not hurting, you're not helping your body is only true for weightlifters that are trying to literally build muscles. Most of us on the planet are not trying to do that and that's more than okay. But we need to move. We need to stretch ourselves--and our muscles. Do it. The kicker is, you'll feel better, even if you just do this. But if you combine it wth good food, good eating and drinking habits and common sense, you'll feel a great deal better in short order;

12) Don't over do. Don't overeat. Don't over exercise. Don't drink too much. Modration really is a great thing. If you're questioning that next bite of food, it's probably too much (unless you're anorexic but that's a whole other set of problems);

13) The next one is an important one. Here it is: YOU DON'T NEED PROBABLY THREE QUARTERS OF THE THINGS THAT ARE IN THE GROCERY STORE. Deal with it. Here's what we really need there: the produce section (for fruits and vegetables, obviously), maybe, maybe the meats department, if you're not a vegetarian, the canned beans that are there and seasoning, though if you can get these fresh (which usually means somewhere other than the grocery store), fresh is far, far better. That's it. That's all we need at the grocery store. And a rule to keep in mind to make it easy for shopping is this: IF IT'S PACKAGED, IT'S LIKELY NOT GOOD FOR YOU (with the exception of some canned vegetables but, again, I'd go for fresh there, at virtually all time, if and when possible which, really , with modern distribution, is nearly all the time;

14) Someone in your household needs to cook, at least a bit. And this, too, is not that tough. We don't have to be chefs, either. Keep it simple. The old idea of having one meat portion (remember, 3 to 4 ounces per meal, maximum), a starch (potato--don't load it with too much butter and use very little sour cream, if at all--rice, noodle, coucous or some such) and a vegetable, and you're done. Dessert, if any, would be, again, some fruit. Then, mix these up. Keep it fresh. It's like sex--don't do the same things again and again so it doesn't get stale. Or dull;

15) In the summer, if you can, when it's hot, eat lots of salads with fresh greens and vegetables. Load it with things you like. These also happen to be very good for you, of course, they don't require a lot of preparation time and, again, you can mix them up a lot so they're never the same twice unless you want them to be. It won't get dull this way. Just again, don't overdo quantity. Moderation;

16) And in winter at least, eat a lot of soups. Same things here--you can do all kinds of different ones and use only the favorite things you like. Also, do them with broth, not cream-based. Use chicken or beef broth, use tomato-based soups, this kind. The cream-based ones will get you in trouble as they're loaded with fats. An additional, organizational benefit is that you can make a big, favorite pot on the weekend and serve it a few--maybe even several--times through the following week. It helps with busy schedules. If you eat canned soups--and they're still good for you, though likely not as good as homemade soups--make sure you don't get the ones that have 800 to 900 milligrams of sodium (salt) in them. Your blood pressure will go off the charts;

17) Finally, don't eat dinner after 8 pm, as much as possible. Don't sleep on your food--it will digest much better and you'll feel much better, too.

I think that does it.

It's not that long a list and it's fairly simple and straightforward.

The fact is, folks, we're all "bodybuiders". We're all shaping the kind of body we have. It's just that a tiny minority of us--the ones we usually label "bodybuilders"--are doing it positively and with a great deal of thought and discipline. If we follow the above ideas, we'll be building our own good body.

And feeling and maybe even looking great, in the meantime.

Further proof of premeditated first-degree murder

From The New York Times:

"In her opening statement, Ms. Foulston made clear that she intended to head off suggestions that Mr. Roeder’s acts were anything short of meticulously planned. Among the evidence she promised to show jurors: a brochure from Dr. Tiller’s Wichita church, dated nearly a year before the killing, and found at Mr. Roeder’s Kansas City home; a receipt for an ammunition purchase 11 days before the shooting; a Wichita motel registration bearing Mr. Roeder’s name from one week before the killing, a weekend when Dr. Tiller happened to miss church; and Mr. Roeder’s calendar — with the day of the shooting, May 31, marked with highlight."

So from this we can gather the following:

1) Roeder had been tracking Dr. Tiller for at least one year (brochure in his pocket)

2) purchase of ammunition 11 days before (I referred to this yesterday)

3) there is a good possibility the murderer was going to commit this same murder one week earlier but for Dr. Tiller missing church

4) the 1st degree murderer had clearly planned and dated when he wanted to commit his execution-style murder of Dr. Tiller in Dr. Tiller's church, by marking the date on his calendar.

My point in covering this?

There are some things--like unlimited corporate finance of political campaigns--that are so eggregious that I want to make sure they're explained, covered and communicated, so hopefully people know what's happening and so the right thing comes out of it.

As to the Supreme Court ruling last week on corporations and campaign financing, the wrong thing happened.

Hopefully the right and true, correct outcome will arise from Wichita and this Roeder, murder case and he will get a full life sentence, with no possibility of parole.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Oh, yeah. It was premeditated, 1st degree murder all right

More information on Scott Roeder's murder trial in the death of Dr. George Tiller, shot and killed at and in his church, of all places, on a Sunday morning, while the Dr. Tiller was volunteering:

"The man accused of killing Wichita abortion doctor George Tiller bought a gun two weeks before the slaying and practiced shooting it near Topeka the day before Tiller’s death, prosecutors said Friday."

There's more: "Paul Ryding, an equine veterinarian and member of Tiller’s church, testified that... he had seen Roeder in church about six months before the shooting, sitting in a back pew."

Oh, yeah.

Besides being guilty of shooting and killing Dr. Tiller, which he confessed to, he's clearly guilty of planning (premeditating) his killing of Dr. Tiller.

Here's some more insanity from this trial:

"Security was tight. A bomb-sniffing dog was in the courtroom before jurors arrived and in the hallways outside during breaks."

I have to conclude that security has to be tight on this trial, too, because, unfortunately, more self-righteous, right-wing, sanctimonious, religious fundamentalists with beliefs about "protecting life"--those of the unborn, anyway--might well try again, like the illustrious Scott Roeder, to take matters into their own hands and possibly blow someone up down there in Wichita, what with this trial, so they can have the kind of justice they think there should be.

And that's from the religious ones.

The wackos, anyway.

Want proof?

"Cathy Ramey, a longtime anti-abortion activist from Oregon, said she came to Wichita to observe the trial."

“'I’m here because I believe that God has a consistent standard of justice and whatever force is necessary to protect an innocent born person ought to be applied to an innocent unborn person as well,' Ramey said."

But wait, there's more:

"Regina Dinwiddie, a friend of Roeder’s from Kansas City, showed reporters a petition that she had been taking around Wichita. It declares Roeder’s actions as 'morally justified if they were necessary for the purpose of defending innocent human life. Under these conditions, Scott Roeder should be acquitted of all charges.'”

"Dinwiddie said she had gathered about 100 signatures on her petition."

That is some sad, sick thinking from these people, but it is the way they think, as shown by Roeder's actions and these women's own words and actions.

When you "know" God is on your side, you can do whatever you wish.

Laws, sanity and decency be damned.

Question to Scott Roede, Ms. Ramey, Ms. Dinwiddie and their ilk: Who would Jesus kill?

Don't forget to remember

And have a great weekend, y'all

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fantastic, bizarre, freakish coincidence

Personally, I think it is absolutely a fantastic coincidence that the murderer Scott Roeder's trial for cold-bloodedly killing Dr. George Tiller--at the doctor's church on a Sunday morning, as Tiller was volunteering for the church and its worship service--is starting on the same day as the Roe v. Wade decision's 37th anniversary.

There's some terrific cosmic symbiosis going on there, somehow.

President Obama--a one-termer?

Think about this.

President Barack Obama has been in office almost exactly one year.

He did make some small progressive changes to our country. He reaffirmed--verbally, anyway--that we aren't supposed to torture. He called for honoring the Geneva Convention--again, verbally, because apparently, we might still be torturing, we can't be sure, and we haven't reinstituted Habeus Corpus...

Anyway, he got some things going back on a better track.

But the American people have a very short memory and now too many of us believe he created the huge spending we're experiencing right now.

Forget that the George W. Bush Administration started all that nonsense.

It was that previous group that thought up the 700 billion dollar bailout plan.

Forget that our economy crashed on W's watch, largely due to the Conservative's and Republican's desire for and love of deregulation and free markets.

At least they do until they screw up our banking system and the big banks all nearly collapse. Then they're all for government.

Anyway, so now, here we are, on the cusp of getting a bit of health care reform and what happens? One pivotal Senator dies and gets replaced--surprisingly--by a Tea-bagger (that would be Scott Brown, at least a sympathizer) and there goes our 60 strong, filibuster-proof vote for the reform we need so badly.

Then, early today we get a ruling from the Supreme Court, doing away with campaign contribution limits for corporations.

And the only conclusion I can come to is that this President's productive days may well be over.

I hope I'm wrong but I doubt it strongly.

We're about to go into election season and it's likely we'll lose at least some seats in Congress this Fall.

Too many Democrats are Republican-lite and/or can be bought off by corporations in their districts and voila'--the President is shackled.

Then, after this Fall's elections, it's time for the President to again start running for office and still more time when nothing of substance gets done.

The Republicans have done it. They have said "no" and stalled and blocked and stymied progress for America all they could and they've won.

Nothing of substance will get passed in the next 3 years.

Prepare, now, for repeated comparisons of this President to Jimmy Carter and his inability to get things done. I've heard it already and there will be a lot more of it.

It's going to get ugly.

Heck, it's already depressing.

The African-American President was/is hated enough just for being himself.

Then he was hated because they said he was too liberal. Then a Socialist.

His Presidency may, for all intents and purposes, be over.

This may be a one-term Presidency.

God, I hope I'm wrong about all this.

But I sure don't think so.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

As feared, the American public was just further screwed

The Supreme Court just did what was feared they would and that is, they just did away with campaign contribution limits for corporations.

If you don't think your governmental representatives were for sale before, they surely are now.

And if, like me, you saw how our representatives have been "bought" in the past, with campaign contributions, well, ladies and gentlemen, it just got one hell of a whole lot worse.

Here's what just happened:

"The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, easing decades-old limits on their participation in federal campaigns."

"By a 5-4 vote, the court on Thursday overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said corporations can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to pay for their own campaign ads. The decision, which almost certainly will also allow labor unions to participate more freely in campaigns, threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states."

Then, to make matters worse (read: get more corporate money into campaigns):

"The justices also struck down part of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns."

And, additionally, "The case also does not affect political action committees... Corporations, unions and others may create PACs to contribute directly to candidates, but they must be funded with voluntary contributions from employees, members and other individuals, not by corporate or union treasuries."

Katy bar the door. You watch, next election millions and billions more dollars are going to flood into elections and corporations will be buying legislators and legislation like they haven't been able to nearly forever. At least, not for the last 2 decades and likely not since the beginning of the previous century.

The corporations just got the okay to purchase the best government they want, in their own best interest, that their money can buy.

American public--and common sense--be damned.

Molly Ivins is most surely spinning in her grave.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Is this city getting collectively more stupid?

I don't mean to be alarmist or to over-react but really, that's the question I come up with today.

Of course, we have our stupid and irresponsible mayor and his wife, supposedly to lead us and they've proven themselves, time and again but now all this.

Something called a "Tomahawke Ridge" subdivision to add 316 more acres and more than 600 homes, eventually, to the city is being considered today at 1:30 pm by the City Council's Planning and Zoning Commission.

(I ask again, too--since when does the Native American Indian word "tomahawk" get a British "e" on the end? Answer: when you want it to sound expensive or special. And you're a developer).

It doesn't look good.

It looks as though this council wants to pass and accept this bone-headed boondoggle.

Forget that we can't take care of our streets and sewers already, with what we've got. Forget that there aren't enough fire stations up that way already and that the Fire Chief thinks it's likely not a good idea. Forget that they city planners think it's misguided sprawl we shouldn't do or have. And forget that it further weakens the city's core.

Forget all that.

Some developer wants to make money--and likely give some to Council members, in the meantime.

Hell, yeah!

So what should happen won't and it looks as though we'll get this thing.


(And when did our local paper cover this locally important story? Yesterday. Once. At the last minute. Way to go, Kansas City Star. Way to not report.)

One silver lining to this expansionist crowd is that the Star has come out with an editorial agin' it. In fact, they've had a few. Here's another.

Thank goodness for that, anyway.

In it, they also support my idea that the "e" on the end is--there's that word again--stupid.

Then, for more local, home-grown ignorance and, yes, stupidity, look no further than the Star (at least they reported this), reporting that a committee has been formed, for pity's sake, to look into repealing the earnings tax in the city.

Check it out:

"Opponents of the earnings tax in St. Louis and Kansas City have established a campaign committee and will begin to gather petition signatures within the next weeks to put repeal on the statewide ballot."

"The group is called Let Voters Decide. According to attorney Marc Ellinger, the commitee will circulate a petition that would allow local voters a chance to decide if the E-tax should be phased out in Kansas City and St. Louis."

"(UPDATE, 9:25: Businessman Rex Sinquefield has given the committee $500,000 to get started, records show.)"


How, exactly, are we going to pay for anything if this goes through?

We'd lose two hundred million dollars a year in operating fees if we do away with this.

We can barely keep sewers running and streets operable now. How can we do it if we're broke?

And some people, including people downtown at City Hall, including, in this case, the Mayor, think this is a good idea.

Note that this wealthy chucklehead Sinquefeld is financing this nightmare. Apparently he benefits from this going through, while at our collective expense. He's been pushing it in St. Louis and now here, both.

So there you go, Kansas City, to repeat, stupidity reigns.

How soon can we quit this?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Three big problems with and for health care reform

There are at least three big problems with and for the health care reform right now, in Washington, that could lead to who knows where--not the least of which is that the reform will yet be killed.

First, there is the fact that right now, today, Massachussetts is rather famously voting for a Senator to replace Ted Kennedy.

Ol' Ted will surely "spin in his grave", so to speak, if the Conservative, Republican Scott Brown--Tea Bagger that he is--wins the seat.

Hopefully all the Democrats turn out today and are backed by some independent voters and put Martha Coakley in the Senate.

If not, the Democrats lose their super-majority in the Senate and we lose our ability to pass any health care reform.

And that will be for years.

Cross your fingers.

The second problem for health care reform right now is that the mandate for all Americans to buy health care insurance may get thrown out as unconstitutional.

And you know? I have to say, it does seem that it would be tough to get this to fly in our courts.

Americans forced to buy health insurance by their government?

I don't think so.

And anyway, what sense did that ever make, anyway? If you can't afford health care, how is it that the government's mandating you to buy it is going to make that happen?

If you don't have the money for health care, you simply don't have the money for health care, government mandate or no government mandate.

And finally, this brings us to what is wrong, ultimately, at its core, for this entire health care reform. The third and final thing wrong with this is that the very industries we were supposed to be reforming were allowed in the room---heck, in the negotiations--during the whole debate to begin with.

That's insane.

Since when does the patient get to be their own doctor?

Meaning, our problems with health care should have meant that the hospitals and doctors and insurance agencies--especially the insurance agencies--shouldn't have been let in on the health care reform debate and proposals. They're all putting things in there for themselves, not the American people.

So what happened?

The "single-payer" option was discarded right away and this alone was estimated to have saved us $350 billion dollars per year---enough to pay for the entire health care reform.

It simply makes no sense to have 1300 different health care insurance forms--one for each insurance agency in the country. The savings would have been huge.

And the "public option" for a government insurance plan for us--at much lower costs--was thrown out.

How else can we get insurance companies to keep their costs down unless there is a government option?

The result was that the American people and the actual reforms we needed were thrown out, for the sake of the corporations and their profits.

I hope this will all have been worth it and we get some good health care reform.

Right now, nothing is certain.

Not what's in the bill and not whether we'll even get a bill.

Here's hoping.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Can we not agree that no one should be politicizing the Haitian earthquake?


Haiti is No Hurricane Katrina

Posted on January 14, 2010 by musesofamom

Over the past few days we have looked at the utter devastation of the island of Haiti. The images are heartbreaking, but we are heartened by the response of our government. President Obama’s response has been swift, coordinated and aggressive. He said that Haiti is our neighbor and we are here to help them. In spite of our country’s best efforts we still have detractors like Rush Limbaugh use this opportunity to inject race into the situation. Limbaugh said, “This will play right into Obama’s hands. Humanitarian, compassionate. They’ll use this to, to burnish their, shall we say, credibility with the black community, the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in, in this country. It’s made-to-order for him. That’s why he couldn’t wait to get out there, could not wait to get out there.” The other disturbing thing about this tragedy is the constant comparisons between the Haitian earthquake and Hurricane Katrina. This is truly like comparing apples to oranges. Haiti is our neighbor it is not a state. Katrina happened in the United States and we were unable to help our own citizens. The effort in Louisiana was flawed on every level: local, state and federal. We found it incomprehensible that we were hearing US citizens being referred to as “refugees.” We had a president who initially was disengaged and FEMA who was ill-equipped and unprepared to deal with the crisis, but this was an internal problem. These were our citizens and we were responsible for their well-being. Haitians are not our citizens they are our neighbors and we are doing everything to help them, but please stop comparing this disaster to Katrina they are two very different situations.

Original link here:


You wouldn't think Rush Limbaugh or any other "Right-winger" would want to politicize the Haitian earthquake anyway, Katrina comparison or no, for two reasons: 1) It's almost unthinkable to do so, since it is a horrific natural catastrophe and 2) The case can be made, I think, that the US is responding far better to this disaster, as "Ebony Mom" states above, to Haiti's troubles off our shore than we did to a disaster in one of our own major cities, in our own country.

"Ebony Mom" also points out that the Fox "News" network ignored the Haitian earthquake in it's coverage of world news (link here: and Glenn Beck also wanted to politicize the horrible tragedy that is Haiti right now, on his show (link:

Then, not to be outdone in both the politicization or "I'm a ranting, raving lunatic" arena, "Venezualan President Hugo Chavez claimed yesterday that the US is trying to occupy Haiti "undercover"."

Then, "Former President George W. Bush weighed in on the matter (I can hardly believe I'm saying this) and denied that President Obama is "'politicizing' Haiti".

So, finally, I ask you: "Can't we all just get along?"

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Do you know who Phil Angelides is?

If you don't, you'd better learn.

Do you know what the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission is? (Hopefully it's self-explanatory).

The thing is, this commission has started meeting already. They began this week.

Mr. Angelides heads up the commission.

They're looking into the banking/mortagae/loan/investment nightmare that led us down the path to a near collapse of our economic system, both here in the US and around the world.

And I'll tell you, this is going to go on for some time and we'd better all be checking in virtually daily on this thing, to see what new revelations there are.

We need to know what happened in this crisis.

We need to know who did what.

We need to find out what was done illegally.

We need to find out what was done that should be illegal.

And we need to find out how we can avoid this greedy, stupid mess so we don't do it again.

To hell with catharsis. We need information, laws, regulations and solutions.

Ayn Rand be damned.

Things W's government didn't do that led to the financial collapse

Here is a short list of what the George W. Bush Administration did and did not do, from 2000 to 2008, which led to the banking and economic collapse of the last year. (And this says nothing of what W's same administration didn't do after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans or other travesties):

--Failed to rein in what Chairwoman Sheila Bair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. called a "shadow banking system" in which major banks ramped up their risks by making hundreds of billions of dollars in exotic, off-the-books bets.

--Decided to scale back the FBI's resources for tracking white-collar crime after Sept. 11, and assigned scant personnel at the Securities and Exchange Commission to monitor major investment banks after they were given new freedom in 2004 to take on added risks;

--Adopted rules in 2004 that restricted state regulators from policing predatory lending and other mortgage abuses, prompting some major lenders to seek federal charters to avoid tough scrutiny;

--Relyed too much on the credit ratings of Wall Street agencies, which had financial incentives to bestow high ratings on dubious mortgage-backed securities;

--Failed to monitor major banks' compensation arrangements that gave bonuses for completing mortgage securities sales, regardless of the risks of default;

--Ignored a warning to Congress by the FBI's investigation chief in 2004 that widespread subprime-related mortgage fraud would lead to a financial crisis;

--Failed to apparently be aware of and stop the illegal use of "short selling" which gets money "on the side" of a sale to a bank or lending institution. This is money that is used in the transaction but that is not reported and so is "off the books". It's illegal and it's apparently still being done today by the big banks, at minimum.

Ayn Rand, anyone?

Not me, thanks.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why we need government.

These are all reasons why we need government regulations.

Pay attention to this Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, folks. Read up on it. It's only just begun and the travesties are all over the map.

What we do wrong in government

We, as a nation, went through the Great Depression, sure, as we all know.

And with the collapse of the stock market back in 1929, there were examinations of what was done wrong and then we made laws to make sure we didn't do that again.

That makes sense, doesn't it?

So now we've experienced the worst collapse and decline of our economy since that Great Depression, some 80 years ago and what do we do?

Nearly nothing.

Since our economy collapsed, mostly due to banks, the banking industry and the big banks, in particular (read: Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, etc.), there hasn't been one new law put in place--or put back in place--since.

It's only just now, this week, that we're examining what happened and finding out who did what, when, where and to whom.

Some of it we've known for a long time but this Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission's role is an important one--and long overdue.

One of the worst things that was done was this: "...Wall Street's biggest investment banks bought many of the $2 trillion in home mortgages issued to shaky borrowers, converted them to high-yield bonds and sold the bonds to investors including pension funds, insurers and foreign banks. Many of the securities have since defaulted, and investors have lost billions of dollars.

Goldman Sachs even admitted improper actions in the sales of securities, for pity's sake, earlier today.

This was all nightmare enough but then they had to add credit default swaps to this list.

Instead of truly having and buying insurance, for which there are regulations and rules, these companies bought these "swaps", which weren't regulated, as a substitute for true, real, backed insurance.

Only the swaps weren't backed.

There was nothing behind them.

With these 2 details alone--and there was a lot more done blatantly wrong --is it any wonder our banking system and so, our economy, collapsed?

So the thing that's wrong now is that 1) nothing has changed yet, from when these large banks took us all for a ride, so to speak, to all of our peril, for which we are now paying and have to pay and will have to pay, into the future and 2) unlike after the Great Depression, we're letting the banks and their lobbyists and their money into our government, to tell us what should happen with THEIR regulations.

Does this make any sense?

And the answer is, of course not.

80 years ago, we had enough sense to correct our problems and to keep the proverbial fox out of the chicken coops.

We don't seem that smart this time around.

We don't seem to have learned that you don't let the person who made the mess in the first place make the rules for the future in order to avoid future collapses and problems.

That's not very bright, on our part.

Friday, January 15, 2010

More of us need to call for the Funk's resignation

I see from over at Tony's KC Blog that the KC Tribune has an article just now by Daniel Starling calling for Mayor Funkhouser to resign.

Here, here!


Good for him!

It won't happen but, really, more of us--out here on blogs, and everyone across the city--should call for this clown to call it a day on his Mayorship.

What a mess.

We've had it.

We have decidedly not become "The City That Works" he promised. Far from it.

Streets unrepaired in good weather--unplowed in bad.

Steel plates on holes.

Bad morale downtown.

Lawsuits left and right.

Heck, he's bad to have just because of the expense of his rule.

Let it be said again: Mayor Mark Funkhouser--and his wife--need to go.

And they should do the honorable, intelligent thing and resign.

They won't but that's what should happen.

Judge Wilbert needs to recuse himself

"The judge overseeing the trial of the man accused of gunning down a Kansas abortion doctor is a practicing Roman Catholic who once courted the endorsement of an anti-abortion group..." according to a report from KCTV from the Associated Press.

This is, of course, the Judge overseeing the trial of Scott Roeder who drove himself the three hours down to Wichita from Overland Park, Kansas, so he could walk into Dr. George Tiller's church and shoot him because the doctor performed abortions. They're legal in the US, of course, but Roeder was and is vehemently against them.

But wait--there's more:

"Finance records show that Wilbert paid the group $75 in September 2008 to have his name listed in an ad in its quarterly newsletter, a 6-by-11-inch booklet of 24 pages that included articles such as "Update on Tiller charges" and 'Planned Parenthood -- a Snake in the Grass!' The judge also spent more than $16,000 on radio spots on seven stations."

"The ad in the newsletter took up most of the bottom of page 16. It said: 'The Kansans for Life PAC urges you to vote for, work for and pray for the following pro-life candidates.'"

With all this, Judge Wilbert needs to recuse himself from this case.

He clearly holds a position on this issue for and against the two sides.

He should dismiss himself from the case or be dismissed and replaced by another, truly impartial judge.

Strong, intelligent leadership

Scientists pushed the "Doomsday Clock back one minute" in the last 24 hours, "citing hopeful developments in nuclear weapons and climate change."

And you know who has lead us in those new, improved directions.

"The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which maintains the clock and puts an illustration of it on its cover, attributed the move to efforts by world leaders to reduce their countries' nuclear arsenals and collaborate on climate stabilization."

"The group, which includes 19 Nobel laureates, said a key to the 'new era of cooperation is a change in the U.S. government's orientation toward international affairs brought about in part by the election of (U.S. President Barack) Obama.'"

Yeah, President Obama.

And then this:

Despite a recession that's disproportionately affected their community, African-Americans are dramatically more upbeat about their progress in this country than at any time during the past quarter century, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.

Okay, so, sure, one is the opinion of scientists on a rather arbitrary evaluation of the status of humankind on the planet and the other is the opinion of one group of people in the United States but opinions matter. Assumptions of how we are matter.

These assumptions help us be able to work on for the improvement of our situations.

They help us know that what we do makes a difference.

They help us have hope.

And without hope, there is no reason.

"The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure but from hope to hope." Samuel Johnson

I had hope from 2000 to 2008 but it was very challenged hope, certainly.

To be sure you know: How you can help Haiti and Haitians

From the US State Department: you can text "HAITI" to "90999" and a donation of $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts, charged to your cell phone bill.

And this from UPS: UPS is shipping anything under 50lbs for free to Haiti. You can send food clothes or shoes...

and American Airlines is taking doctors and nurses to Haiti for free.

Please call 212-697-9767. Spread the word...Red Cross needs Creole speaking volunteers for a 24hr phone bank. Call Mr. Wilfrid @ 305-776-6900.

Spread the word.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Clean air, Congress, Corporations and you--guess who's losing?

Next week, it's being reported, the Senate may gut any new, effective regulations coming from the EPA regarding the Clean Air Act.

This comes about because Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) slipped an amendment into law:

"Majority Leader Harry Reid has allowed the polluting industries, represented by Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, to advance a vote on whether to block the EPA from taking any steps to enforce its recent ruling that global warming gases endanger public health. Murkowski may propose either a one-year block or something more permanent, depending on her assessment of the vote count this year and after the November elections."

So just when this Congress is looking to roll on with legislation that will protect the polluting corporations, with their money and lobbyists, check out what just came across the wire from the Associated Press:

"Schools in parts of Utah kept students inside for sports and recess Tuesday after soaring pollution levels prompted state health warnings on driving and outdoor activity."

"For the third straight day, AIRNow, a national index for reporting daily air quality, ranked portions of Utah as having the most polluted air in the country..."

And keep in mind, this is Utah, folks. We're not talking the "dirty Northeast" part of the United States. This should be clean air, open West, mountain country clean air Utah.

Yeah, Congress people, keep protecting those corporations--at the expense of your constituents.

Could there be a more obvious need to work for clean air than that Utah, of all places--formerly presumed to be squeaky clean Utah--has to keep their kids indoors at school during recess?

What do we have to hit these people over the head with, to get them to see and admit the obvious?

Some good news for Kansas City

At least we're not Mexico, right?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Your Tax Dollars at Work

There is an "Economic Stress Map" out just now, from the Associated Press and while I've never heard of it before, there are a few things on it worth noting of national and local significance.

First, if you see it, I think you'll note right away how most of the top 20 counties on the "most stressed" list are from formerly, famously wealthy but now defunct California. In fact, 6 of the worst 10 are in California and 10 of the top 20 are also from the sunshine state.

Conclusion? It's bad in California and probably getting worse.

The local news from this map, for us?

Check out what County is in the number one spot, nationally.

None other than Riley County, Kansas, home of the Army's Fort Riley.

Truly, your tax dollars at work.

What's also interesting, to me, and of local interest, I think, is that Ellis County (Hays), Kansas also comes up at number 3 on the low economic stress, followed by Ford County (Dodge City) at 7 and Finney County (Garden City) at 13.

It seems that, if you want low stress, maybe it's time to move to Kansas?

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Oh, hell no.

Scott Roeder, the conservative, right-wing, anti-abortion freak who took the law into his own hands, decided Dr. George Tiller should be murdered and then drove 3 hours down I-35 to Wichita to do just that--murder Dr. Tiller--may only get a manslaughter charge for this gross, unjustifiable, psychotic act.

I say psychotic because you have to have lost a touch with reality when you select to murder someone, for starters, and then decide you'll drive 3 hours down the turnpike to do it.

It's disappointing and surprising to me that the Judge in the case, Judge Warren Wilbert, is going to allow the defense the opportunity to consider letting the dirtbag Roeder off with a mere manslaughter charge.

Mind you, the jury may well find this guy guilty of first degree murder, as they ought, but the judge should have thrown this option out, right off, and for two reasons.

First, abortion is legal in the US, like it or not, and has been for decades. (Does precedent mean anything here?).

Second, there is virtually no question that Roeder killed Dr. Tiller and that he drove 3 hours, from Overland Park to do it.

If that's not premeditated, there is no such thing as premeditated murder.

And the fact that this coward Roeder shot Dr. Tiller in Tiller's church, as he was helping at the service is so gross, absurd, ironic and hypocritical it's off the charts.

Hopefully, even the religious zealouts have to see that.

The troubles with newspapers

I suppose this has been covered before but so be it. I'll keep it brief.

The troubles with newspapers--because it's far more than one problem--are that, because they're losing more and more advertisers, they have to charge more and more for their paper, for one.

Secondly, then, we, as newspaper readers (devourers?), get less and less paper, both in quantity and quality.

To wit: two things come to mind today.

Did you see today's issue? Section A of the paper is 17 pages long. If you saw it, you may have reacted to it the way I did and evaluated it the same way, too.

Seven of those 17 pages--seven--were full page ads.

I don't know about other newspaper readers but I feel like a sucker when I get one anymore, unless there's at least one good source of information in at least one column that day. That's a fairly low standard for them to hit and usually, honestly, to me, the Star doesn't even hit that too many times.

The 2nd thing that was brought to my attention (via Tony's KC Blog and Bottomline Communications) is that there are, apparently, to be more layoffs, still, at the Star.


Those poor people down there.

But how about us, the readers, too?

There's just so much less content (quantity) and much less good writing (quality) in the paper, really, how can they expect us to keep taking that thing?

I want to take the paper but just can't justify it.

And I don't see how they can blame us, either.


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Thursday, January 7, 2010

KC Snow Removal

I was on the Plaza last evening, shooting pictures for my photography blog and saw these 3 snow plows. I think the whole city downtown knew they had to do a better job removing snow last evening.

But the fact is, there's still snow all over the Plaza and Southwest Trafficway is still a bit of a mess.

I'll grant you, this was a tougher storm to deal with but the fact is, cities have to be able to remove snow, period.

It's just not that much to ask or expect, especially since there are very few of these bitter cold, snowy winters.

And we sure as hell better not be annexing some new home division (up North in this case) that has 300 homes in it, for the benefit of some developer.
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Here we go again, this time with another assault rifle

So here we go again with another shooting at a workplace with an assault rifle.

"An employee of a St. Louis manufacturing plant walked in with an assault rifle and a handgun on Thursday morning and opened fire, killing at least one person and wounding four others, authorities said."

The story broke this morning.

And I'm going to say--again--that we need restrictions on assault rifles because they aren't good for anything but lunacy like this and that they're certainly not for hunting and "Top of the Chain" and the NRA and other people are going to say we need them.


You know what else is nonsense?

The whole idea that this President or our current government has plans to take away our guns anytime soon.

Horse poop, to be polite.

We'd like to register guns, like at all gun shows, so there is a reduced black market and so lunatics, criminals and felons don't get guns, that's all.

But it ain't gonna happen.

And we're going to continue to have more murderous, killing episodes like these.

And worse.


Update: 12:10 pm--Correction: Reports now show 8 people were shot and 3 are dead.

Link here:

But yeah, by all means, let's keep those assault rifles, right?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Two big records for America, jobs and stocks in this first decade

Did you see where it's been shown that this first decade of the century was the worst decade--ever--for both stocks and jobs?


Check this out from The Wall Street Journal, no less:

"Since End of 1999, U.S. Stocks' Performance Has Been the All-Time Clunker; Even 1930's Beat It"

The blog "Soot and Ashes" said it best:

"And some people still support these jokers why?"

"Seriously, with that pitiful record, how stupid would you have to be to call yourself a Republican? You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can fool a Republican all of the time it would appear."

"Keep hating the fags. Keep stressing about abortion and flag burners."

"Meanwhile, you're jobless and broke."

"(UPDATE - P.S. - THE DEMOCRATS SUCK TOO. But for pure negligence, corruption and incompetence, the GOP takes the prize - worst of the worst. 2010 recommendation - vote 3rd party and anti-incumbent. 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 - repeat.)"

Back to me--I don't know about that last part through 2018 but I surely couldn't vote the Rethuglicans back in again.

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Reporting from The Kansas City Star

I wrote about this some time ago and here I have to go again.

On the way to work today, I was listening--as I always do--to KCUR, the local NPR station through UMKC and heard their coverage of a Kansas City Business Journal article on real estate in Kansas City .

They told of how it's soft, at least, but that we are nowhere near as bad as other places in the country like Florida and California and Las Vegas, of course.

And that's all fine and good.

But what galls me, what really kills me is that this is just the kind of article The Kansas City Star should write, first of all, and should have written months ago.

Both the commercial residential real estate markets in town are so soft it's just neither pretty nor funny.

If you drive the most-prized Plaza area, and you know what you're looking for and at, you can see condominiums left and right that are empty and waiting for buyers.

And the same goes--all over town--for commercial real estate in general and retail in specific.

But do you think you'd see an article about this in the local newspaper in the last year?


Absolutely not.

It's an important story. It could get them terrific readership. It needs to be covered.

But who's covering it?

The Kansas City Business Journal, first, and KCUR, second, by covering their, first article.

It's pathetic.

If the Star wants readership--and of course they have to--you'd think they would know to cover important local stories like these that no one else is better positioned to cover.

But they don't. Or won't.

And I have to come to one of two conclusions.

They either don't have enough imagination to know they should be covering stories like these--which I view as highly, highly unlikely and improbable--or they want to go soft on articles like these, dealing with business and real estate so they don't offend anyone's sensibilities in the business community. They don't want to come off as negative so as to put a further damper on business, at least in the minds of their potential advertisers.

And if the answer is the 2nd one--and I think it may well be--that's a great way to further kill a newspaper.

They'd rather send a reporter, instead of around the city, to South America, to report on the sex-trafficking trade.

Strange priorities, indeed.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Is Kansas City no longer the "City that works"?

Okay, here's what's wrong with the Mayor saying our streets were cleared, cleared well and cleared quickly.

It isn't true.

We covered that earlier. In fact, lots of local blogs have covered that, I think.

But for further proof of the fact that they weren't cleared well and properly?

The Kansas City Missouri School District was closed today.


Yeah. It seems, from what I understand, the buses can't get down the side streets they need to--along with these single-digit temperatures which no one can control, of course--so school was cancelled.

This is proof of that domino theory, Mayor. Frequently in bigger cities, one thing done poorly really does effect other things. The streets weren't cleared well so school gets shut down.

Want proof?

Look no farther than the Kansas side of the metropolitan area.

Time and again in the city, people notice it's obvious that the Kansas side clears its streets of snow better.

Missouri side?

Not well at all.

And proof of that?

The Kansas schools districts are open--Shawnee Mission, virtually all of them.

The thing is, I think if we get better, competent leadership in the Mayor's office, we'll make this city workable once again.

Hey, I can dream, can't I?

And then, while we're at it, let's put a quick kabosh to even the thought of annexing 300 more homes in a subdivision up North.

We have to learn how to take care of what we have first.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Notes after having seen Avatar

Spoiler alert: if you don't want to know how it ends, don't read the last (11th) note

1) It's nice to see an anti-war movie again

2) It's nice to see a successful, anti-war film, period

3) It's nice to see a pro-environmental film

4) It's nice to see an anti-corporate film (that also happens to be wildly successful)

5) It's nice to see a film that leans on "The Wizard of Oz" for two references, at least--the first being the general's quote at the beginning of the film to his men "You aren't in Kansas anymore..." and the 2nd being when the "dragons" took off for flight at one point, they looked just like the monkeys at the Wicked Witch of the West's castle, also taking flight

6) If I were a native American Indian, I think there is a strong likelihood that, if I saw this movie "Avatar", I would be incensed that, after 200 years and untold, uncounted and countless slaughters of my people, in one way or another (out-and-out murder, taking away their clothing, history, tongue, culture, etc., and replacing it with government food, alcohol, etc., and, not to be forgotten, the accidental--mostly--introduction of disease and diseases to their people, among other things), it would irritate me that the American people finally "get it" about taking care of the planet but only because some mega-rich guy made a fictional movie about it that added more money still, to his accounts.

7) I understand Mr. Cameron plans to apply this current, new 3-D technique to some old films. If so, I hope he does "2001: A Space Odyssey" and the original "Star Wars" films--the first trilogy, as soon as possible

8) With all Mr. Cameron's wealth, first from "Titanic", now "Avatar" and then, finally, all the millions--billions?--he is likely to make from this same 3-D technology (you know he patented it), he could likely feed, clothe, house and nurse the Third World very soon. I don't think it will happen but I hope he does find philanthropy, if he hasn't already

9) See if you don't agree that the world Mr. Cameron created on this planet doesn't look like he took a great deal of inspiration from an old "Yes" (the band) album. A GREAT deal. It looks like it could be right off Roger Dean's easel

10) the seats that shake in the theater, to enhance the experience, are over-rated, in my view

11) And here's the spoiler (don't say you weren't warned twice): It's terrific to see the environment and nature defeat the "war machine"

Question: Can we now, as a country, say we have learned our lesson about nature and make mountain-top removal illegal, for obtaining coal?

We should but we won't.

And a final side note on our culture: With so few young people reading news regularly, it's a sad state of the nation that so few people in the country, also, know what's happening in their name, by their own representatives even though they are expected to vote for or against different issues and politicians and points of view. It's shocking to me.

We have created these magnificent ways of creating beautiful visual stories--now in a new, super-realistic 3-D but we don't pay attention to our own worlds--the social, political and other worlds for which we are responsible.

Crazy. Really crazy.

The world's likely spun out of control, I think.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Dumbest Political quotes of 2009

25. "I just get naked, that’s what I do." —Levi Johnston, baby daddy of Sarah Palin's grandchild, on exposing his johnson in Playgirl, as told to US Magazine (Source)

24. "No, no. I have been practicing ... I bowled a 129. It's like -- it was like Special Olympics, or something." —President Barack Obama, making an off-hand joke during an appearance on "The Tonight Show" (Obama later called the head of the Special Olympics to apologize), March 19, 2009 (Source)

23. "I mean, we've got czars now. Czars like John Holdren, who has proposed forcing abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water to control population." —FOX News Channel's Glenn Beck, taking past writings by Obama's science and technology advisor, John Holdren, ridiculously out of context, "Glenn Beck Show," July 22, 2009 (Source)

22. "Keep your government hands off my Medicare." —a protester at a health care reform town hall meeting in Simpsonville, S.C., commenting on the government-created Medicare program, quoted by The Washington Post on July 28, 2009 (Source)

21. "UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? It's the Post Office that's always having problems." –Obama, attempting to make the case for government-run healthcare, while simultaneously undercutting his own argument, Portsmouth, N.H., Aug. 11, 2009 (Source)

20. "So here you have Barack Obama going in and spending the money on embryonic stem cell research. ... Eugenics. In case you don't know what Eugenics led us to: the Final Solution. A master race! A perfect person. ... The stuff that we are facing is absolutely frightening." —Glenn Beck on his radio show, "The Glenn Beck Program," March 9, 2009 (Source)

19. "I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now. ... When one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft. That's me. I would not be, at this point, if they had another way of transportation, suggesting they ride the subway." —Vice President Joe Biden, dispensing handy tips to protect against the swine flu and freaking us out, "Today Show" interview, April 30, 2009 (Source)

18. "I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out under another, then under another Democrat president, Jimmy Carter. I'm not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it's an interesting coincidence." —Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), on the 1976 Swine Flu outbreak that happened when Gerald Ford was president, April 28, 2009 (Source)

17. "We need to uptick our image with everyone, including one-armed midgets." —Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, on the GOP's need for a hip-hop makeover, Feb 19, 2009 (Source)

16. "I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificent gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curve of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of the night's light - but hey, that would be going into sexual details..." —South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, writing a love email to his Argentine mistress, Maria Shapur (Source)

15."Iranian twitter activity similar to what we did in House last year when Republicans were shut down in the House." —a Twitter post by Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), comparing the mass uprising of Iranians — utilizing Twitter as an organizing tool — to the GOP's attempt to express dissatisfaction over Nancy Pelosi's decision to adjourn Congress before an energy vote last year. In response, Twitter users mercilessly heckled Hoekstra en masse, turning his idiotic statement into a full-blown Internet meme. "To Hoekstra" acquired its own definition, meaning "to whine using grandiose exaggerations and comparisons." (Source)

14. "She wears little eye-patch underwear. So, the other day she came here with her underwear, Thursday. And so, we had made love Wednesday--a lot! And so she'll, she's all, 'I am going up and down the stairs, and you're dripping out of me!' So messy!" —State Rep. Mike Duvall (R-Calif.), caught on a live mic boasting to a colleague about an affair with a lobbyist, Sept. 9, 2009. Duvall resigned when the tape was made public. (Source)

13. "That's why people need to continue to go to the town halls, continue to melt the phone lines of their liberal members of Congress, and let them know, under no certain circumstances will I give the government control over my body and my health care decisions." —Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), a pro-lifer who completely missed the irony of using the same slogan as the pro-choice movement in arguing against health care reform (Source)

12. "People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless." —a July 31 editorial in Investor's Business Daily warning about end-of-life counseling in health care reform. Hawking, in fact, lives in England and has been treated by their National Health Service, which, by his own account, saved his life (Source)

11. "Obama's got a health care logo that's right out of Adolf Hitler's playbook ... Adolf Hitler, like Barack Obama, also ruled by dictate." —Rush Limbaugh, Aug. 6, 2009

10. "The system worked." —Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, on airline security's failure to stop the Nigerian terrorist who tried to blow up a passenger jet on Christmas Day, Dec. 27, 2009. (She later acknowledged that security had failed) (Source)

9. "Hunger can be a positive motivator." —State Rep. Cynthia Davis (R-Missouri), arguing in a press release against a program that feeds poor children 18, suggesting they should get jobs instead, June 2009 (Source)

8. "Exercise freaks ... are the ones putting stress on the health care system." —Rush Limbaugh, June 12, 2009 (Source)

7. "O-L-I-G-A-R-H-Y." —Glenn Beck, misspelling "oligarchy" on his chalk board while claiming he had deciphered a secret code that he said was proof Obama was trying to create an "Oligarhy," Aug. 27, 2009, FOX News Channel's "Glenn Beck Show" (Source)

6. "It may be tempting and more comfortable to just keep your head down, plod along, and appease those who demand: 'Sit down and shut up,' but that's the worthless, easy path; that's a quitter's way out." —Sarah Palin, quitting her job as governor, July 3, 2009 (Source)

5. "The Cambridge police acted stupidly." —Obama, commenting on a white police officer's arrest of black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. at his home in Cambridge, Mass., at a news conference, July 22, 2000 (Source)

4. "This president I think has exposed himself over and over again as a guy who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture....I'm not saying he doesn't like white people, I'm saying he has a problem. This guy is, I believe, a racist." —Glenn Beck, on Obama, sparking an advertiser exodus from his FOX News show, July 28, 2009 (Source)

3. "The governor is hiking the Appalachian Trail." —a spokesman for South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, explaining Sanford's disappearance and coining the , June 22, 2009 (Sanford later admitted to carrying on extramarital affair with his Argentine mistress) (Source)

2. "You lie!" —Rep. Joe Wilson, shouting out a retort to Obama's address before a joint session of Congress on Sept. 9, 2009 (Source)

1. "The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel.'" —Sarah Palin, in a message posted on Facebook about Obama's health care reform plan, Aug. 7, 2009

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