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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chris Hedges on hope

Hope knows that unless we physically defy government control we are complicit in the violence of the state. All who resist keep hope alive. All who succumb to fear, despair and apathy become enemies of hope. They become, in their passivity, agents of injustice. If the enemies of hope are finally victorious, the poison of violence will become not only the language of power but the language of opposition. And those who resist with nonviolence are in times like these the thin line of defense between a civil society and its disintegration.

Hope has a cost. Hope is not comfortable or easy. Hope requires personal risk. Hope does not come with the right attitude. Hope is not about peace of mind. Hope is an action. Hope is doing something. The more futile, the more useless, the more irrelevant and incomprehensible an act of rebellion is, the vaster and the more potent hope becomes. Hope never makes sense. Hope is weak, unorganized and absurd. Hope, which is always nonviolent, exposes in its powerlessness the lies, fraud and coercion employed by the state. Hope does not believe in force. Hope knows that an injustice visited on our neighbor is an injustice visited on us all. Hope posits that people are drawn to the good by the good. This is the secret of hope’s power and it is why it can never finally be defeated. Hope demands for others what we demand for ourselves. Hope does not separate us from them. Hope sees in our enemy our own face.
Hope is not for the practical and the sophisticated, the cynics and the complacent, the defeated and the fearful. Hope is what the corporate state, which saturates our airwaves with lies, seeks to obliterate. Hope is what our corporate overlords are determined to crush. Be afraid, they tell us. Surrender your liberties to us so we can make the world safe from terror. Don’t resist. Embrace the alienation of our cheerful conformity. Buy our products. Without them you are worthless. Become our brands. Do not look up from your electronic hallucinations to think. No. Above all do not think. Obey.

W.H. Auden wrote:
Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are, 
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.
The powerful do not understand hope. Hope is not part of their vocabulary. They speak in the cold, dead words of national security, global markets, electoral strategy, staying on message, image and money. The powerful protect their own. They divide the world into the damned and the blessed, the patriots and the enemy, the rich and the poor. They insist that extinguishing lives in foreign wars or in our prison complexes is a form of human progress. They cannot see that the suffering of a child in Gaza or a child in the blighted pockets of Washington, D.C., diminishes and impoverishes us all. They are deaf, dumb and blind to hope. Those addicted to power, blinded by self-exaltation, cannot decipher the words of hope any more than most of us can decipher hieroglyphics. Hope to Wall Street bankers and politicians, to the masters of war and commerce, is not practical. It is gibberish. It means nothing.
Any act of rebellion, any physical defiance of those who make war, of those who perpetuate corporate greed and are responsible for state crimes, anything that seeks to draw the good to the good, nourishes our souls and holds out the possibility that we can touch and transform the souls of others. Hope affirms that which we must affirm. And every act that imparts hope is a victory in itself.
Also from Auden:
Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.
Chris Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute. His newest book is“Death of the Liberal Class.” More information on the Dec. 16 protest can be found at www.stopthesewars.org.

America: forward?

 
"We have reached a point where stunted and deformed individuals, whose rapacious greed fuels the plunge of tens of millions of Americans into abject poverty and misery, determine the moral fiber of the nation. It is no more morally justifiable to kill someone for profit than it is to kill that person for religious fanaticism. And yet, from health companies to the oil and natural gas industry to private weapons contractors, individual death and the wholesale death of the ecosystem have become acceptable corporate business. The mounting human misery in the United States, which could lead to the sporadic bursts of anger we have seen on the streets of France, will be met with severe repression from the security and surveillance state, which always accompanies the rise of the corporate state. The one method left open by which we can respond—massive street protests, the destruction of corporate property and violence—will become the excuse to impose total tyranny. The intrusive pat-downs at airports may soon become a fond memory of what it was like when we still had a little freedom left."
"All reform movements, from the battle for universal health care to the struggle for alternative energy and sane environmental controls to financial regulation to an end to our permanent war economy, have run into this new, terrifying configuration of power. They have confronted an awful truth. We do not count. And they have been helpless to respond as those who are most skilled in the manipulation of hate lead a confused populace to call for their own enslavement."

--Chris Hedges, Truthout (thanks for the link, Bryce)

The entire article is very worth the read, in my opinion: http://www.truth-out.org/power-and-tiny-acts-rebellion65351

Health care in America today

"“We are at a crisis,' Margaret Flowers,  a pediatrician from Maryland who volunteers for Physicians for a National Health Program said. 'Health care providers, particularly those in primary care, are finding it very difficult to sustain an independent practice. We are seeing greater and greater corporatization of our health care. Practices are being taken over by these large corporations. You have absolutely no voice when it comes to dealing with the insurance company. They tell you what your reimbursements will be. They make it incredibly difficult and complex to get reimbursed. The rules are arbitrary and change frequently.'”


"Ms. Flowers  was blacklisted by the corporate media. She was locked out of the debate on health care reform by the Democratic Party and liberal organizations such as MoveOn. She was abandoned by those in Congress who had once backed calls for a rational health care policy. And when she and seven other activists demanded that the argument for universal health care be considered at the hearings held by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, they were forcibly removed from the hearing room."


Link:  http://www.truth-out.org/power-and-tiny-acts-rebellion65351

House Republicans: Wrong on so many issues

President Obama is meeting today with House Republicans, in an effort to set a tone for the next Congressional session, in hopes we can get good things done for the country.

As I so frequently say, here's hoping.

We know "The Party of No" wants to block this president on issue after issue so, as Mitch McConnell said, they can do their best to "assure that he's a one-term president," country be damned.

What's striking is how so very clearly wrong these House Republicans are on issue after issue.

Three quick examples:

First is the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.  Naturally, the Republicans want to at least slow down ridding ourselves of this mistake, if not just keep the policy, however wrong it is.

The military's own internal survey came out, also today, and shows the conclusion that "overturning the law known as 'don't ask, don't tell' might cause some disruption at first but would not create any widespread or long-lasting problems."


Thank you.  We knew that.  Let's move on.


The second item the Republicans are absolutely wrong and off base on is keeping the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthy.  Quoting Robert Reich,  political economist, professor, author, and political commentator:  "The top don't need the cuts, don't deserve them, and won't spend the windfall (and thereby stimulate the economy).  Besides which, extending the tax cuts for the wealthy--those making $250,000.00 or more per year, adds to the debt to the tune of 700 billion dollars.  That's all.  (Note that that's 3/4 of one trillion dollars, folks.  Not "chump change.")

Finally, the one issue where the Repubs are clearly so out of step with the country, even the world, and progess is the nuclear treaty proposed for us and Russia that's pending right now.

This has been worked on for years.  And it's been worked on by Republicans, Republican presidents and Republican administrations.  They're all on record as saying it's good for the US, it's good for the Russians and it's good, in fact, for the world.

But no go, say the Republicans.  They just can't have this president be successful, no matter what.  They came to that conclusion long, long ago and they're sticking with it.

Again, country be damned.

These guys need to come up with things that are good for this country and get working on them.  You'd think they'd agree.

Here's a thought:  how about working on a jobs program?

Links:  http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_obama_congress
http://www.truth-out.org/robert-reich-national-fiscal-hypocrisy-week65508
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101130/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_gays_in_military
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/10/AR2010111003708.html

The military on DADT today

With the release today of the government's survey of the military on the anti-gay "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, a great deal of attention has already been given to the whole subject lately and more yet will be given now, of course.

Completely ignoring the fact that it should be unconstitutional since it doesn't assume equal rights, let's look at this closer.

Unfortunately, first, the survey and its results were leaked early.  That shouldn't have happened.  I think it has the tendency to put everyone against the elimination of this policy on guard and ready to pounce, almost whatever the results.

Second, it looks, clearly, as though the survey was heavily biased against gays and against the repeal.  An example:

Flawed aspects of the survey include the unnecessary use of terms that are known to be inflammatory and bias-inducing in social science research, such as the clinical term 'homosexual'; an overwhelming focus on the potential negative aspects of repeal and little or no inclusion of the potential positive aspects of  repeal of the negative aspects of the current policy; the repeated and unusual suggestion that a co-worker or leader might need to 'discuss' the appropriate behavior and conduct with gay and lesbian troops," said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and a former Army interrogator.

Third, it seems the big headlines I read about the leaked survey were that the Marines were against repealing it even though, when you dig through the actual statistics, that conclusion for a headline was only arrived at because the Marines were most against the repeal of the current policy by a 40% margin.

WTH?

Against it with a 40% margin?

Do the math, folks.  That means 60% of Marines are for repealing this ignorant "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.  Sixty percent for.  That's pretty solidly positive in anyone's book.

So, sure, it can be put in a headline that "Marines are most resistant to openly gay troops" but the headline would be far more accurate to say that most Marines are not resistant to openly gay troops.

Here's another flip side to the Marines story--Tammy Schultz, the Director of National Security and Joint Warfare at the US Marine Corps War College says that "resistance to ending 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is embedded in Marine culture...But she says Corps culture also makes Marines more likely to accept any eventual change in the policy."

In an effort to drive one more nail in the coffin of DADT, "The head of the US Marine Corps will fully cooperate with a repeal of the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy...Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said... In an interview on CNN's "State of the Union," Mullen said there was 'no question' that Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos, an opponent of repealing the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy at this time, would implement all necessary changes to allow openly gay Marines to serve if Congress passes a repeal measure.

Finally, as if that all weren't enough, it was back on February 2 of this year, just after the President's State of the Union speech, that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that the Pentagon had already taken the first steps toward repealing this discriminatory policy.

So Senator John McCain can go all right wingy he wants on this and all his other issues but the fact is, the men and women of the US military are already behind this policy and statistically, the younger they are, the more they think it isn't an issue and that the DADT policy should go away.

Apparently the old, small-minded people who don't want change need to go away on this issue, at least.

To quote that old, right-wing Republican, Barry Goldwater, "You don't need to be straight to fight and die for your country.  You just need to shoot straight."

It will be nice when this is no longer an issue.


Links: http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/military_dont_ask_survey_070910w/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/SnapShots/dont-ask-dont-tell-marine_n_788709_68824090.html
http://www.npr.org/2010/11/22/131516365/op-ed-marines-can-handle-dadt-repeal
http://articles.cnn.com/2010-11-21/politics/mullen.marines.dadt_1_repeal-comprehensive-review-working-group-staff-chairman-adm?_s=PM:POLITICS

Monday, November 29, 2010

Two more shootings in town--but not a word from "The Mayors"--or any mayoral candidate?

Last evening a young guy, 24, was on his front porch, downloading movies on his laptop when two morons--at least one with a gun--came along and apparently wanted the laptop.  The young man got up to go inside, sensing trouble, but too late--the idiot with the gun shot him in the back. 

Then there's this:

A Kansas City resident taking a walk this morning found a man shot to death in a grassy area near 44th Street and Myrtle Avenue.

So, once again--we're used to it, unfortunately--some people have been shot in town and there's no one to prosecute for them, so far.

You wouldn't believe we're in the middle of a mayoral race, would you?

I've written here several times before about how these two co-mayors don't say a thing or offer any guidance or leadership on these shootings and killings in town.  No calling for City Hall to get together with civic, church and other community leaders to meet and discuss just what we all can do--nothing.  They don't even reference the shootings, as though they never happen.

Nothing.  Not a word.  Not a peep.

Now, two shootings in about 12 hours time and still, to this moment, not a word.  Five days ago, another teen was found shot dead in a car here in town (see final link, below).

Hopefully one or more of the mayoral candidates will speak up on this, declare it unacceptable and make some very real promise to have these meetings, at least, so we can get to some hopeful solutions to the shootings, drive-by shootings and killings in Kansas City.

Links:  http://www.kansascity.com/2010/11/29/2480895/computer-user-shot-in-back-on.html
http://www.kansascity.com/2010/11/29/2480820/kc-police-investigating-fatal.html
http://kcpdchief.blogspot.com/2010/11/teen-found-dead-in-car-identified.html

Quote of the day--on cooperation

"We must all learn to live together as brothers or we shall perish together as fools."  --The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This so applies, I strongly believe, to all America and Americans now, today.

Instead of calling out our differences and emphasizing those--especially as they relate to what political party or group we identify with (Democrat, Republican, Tea Party, Libertarian, Left, Right, Independent, whatever), it can't be said enough--we need to work together as Americans, first and last, in identifying and prioritizing our problems and then doing the same with solutions.  Then, when finished with all that, to "roll up our sleeves", figuratively or literally, as required, and again, work together on those solutions.

Let's stop with the names.  Let's start with the solutions.

Message to Republicans: Leave the health care reform alone

Poll: Majority of Americans Say Health Care Law Should Stand or be Expanded
Fifty-one percent of registered voters say that Congress should let the new health care reform law continue as is or change it so that it does more, according to a McClatchy/Marist Institute poll conducted Nov. 11-15. Thirty-three percent want to repeal it completely, 11 percent want it changed so that it is less sweeping and 5 percent are undecided.



Among those who support the legislation, 16 percent are in the "let it stand" camp while 35 percent believe it should be changed to do more.

Sure, it's "only" 51 percent but hey, that's a majority, folks.

To repeat, our health care system is broken.  It needs fixing.  It needed this fix.  It needs more.  Not more government, per se, but more fairness, equality and affordability.

So we have plenty of problems, Republicans.  Go find and fix those, the big ones.  Cut spending of the Department of Defense.  That's one of the biggest spenders in the government but leave the Health Care Reform Act alone.

Not that it will happen but we can hope.

Link:  http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/11/23/poll-majority-of-americans-say-health-care-law-should-stand-or/?a_dgi=aolshare_email

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It doesn't look good for Mama's Restaurant

I was at Westport's Sunfresh grocery this evening and got checked out by one of the long-time waitresses from Mama's Restaurant. 

Naturally, I asked if she wasn't from there.  She confirmed.  Naturally I asked if it was reopening soon, as I'd heard.

Bad news, indeed. 

She said the owner of the building wasn't even sure if he wanted to fix it.

Yikes.

We may lose another stalwart diner here in town or, worse, a venerable old landmark building.

On Wikileaks now

Some thoughts on the latest Wikileaks release of documents.

First, you can pretty much count on this being in the top 5 news items the rest of this week, I think, given what so far has been learned in the documents and the fact that there were so many released this time.

Second, it seems difficult to see either what was gained by this release or, in the bigger picture, just what Wikileaks is/was trying to accomplish.

In the recent past, since their inception, Wikileaks has done some good, it seems:

WikiLeaks has won a number of awards, including the 2008 Economist magazine New Media Award.[5] In June 2009, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange won Amnesty International's UK Media Award (in the category "New Media") for the 2008 publication of "Kenya: The Cry of Blood – Extra Judicial Killings and Disappearances",[6] a report by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights about police killings in Kenya.[7] In May 2010, the New York Daily News listed WikiLeaks first in a ranking of "websites that could totally change the news".[8]
In April 2010, WikiLeaks posted video from a 2007 incident in which Iraqi civilians were killed by U.S. forces, on a website called Collateral Murder. In July of the same year, WikiLeaks released Afghan War Diary, a compilation of more than 76,900 documents about the War in Afghanistan not previously available for public review.[9] In October the group released a package of almost 400,000 documents called the Iraq War Logs in coordination with major commercial media organisations.

In the previous release of documents, I applauded them because I thought it could--possibly, hopefully--contribute to the ending of our war in Afghanistan.  I likened them and their work to Daniel Ellsberg and his "Pentagon Papers."  I think Senator John Kerry (D-MA) may be correct when he said "This is not an academic exercise about freedom of information and it is not akin to the release of the Pentagon Papers, which involved an analysis aimed at saving American lives and exposing government deception."

Also, if you go to the Wikipedia link below, you can see they've exposed a good deal of corruption and polluting, etc., that wouldn't have been exposed otherwise, it seems.
 
But this latest release seems to be a "release for release sake" or just because they can and because they are Wikileaks.  It's difficult, so far, to see or hear anything good for the country or world that was achieved by releasing these documents.  Some of the information released deals with seemingly trivial but negative descriptions of world leaders.  
 
You know what?  While trivial and even negative, they may be accurate and important in efforts to understand a "bigger picture" and where another, foreign country and its leaders are headed.
 
These latest documents show that the US urged spying on the UN and that, supposedly, our diplomats in foreign countries have, in fact, been directed to spy on their host country.   They tell, reputedly of Saudi Arabia urging us--the US--to attack Iran.  And that's just a small bit of the information that has come out so far.  A great deal more will be learned and released in days to come.
 
It just seems, so far, at this early stage, that Julian Assange and his Wikileaks group may have gone either a big step too far or a big step in a wrong direction.  It's difficult to see how this release can or will help the US or the world to negotiate and work with one another to overcome our many and large problems.
 
Stay tuned. 
 
While fascinating, I think this release is already unfortunate, at least, and maybe very damaging, at worst. 
 
Let's hope not.  Let's hope some great good can come out of this because, the truth is, they're already out and there's no going back now.
 
Links:  http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/11/28/wikileaks.documents.published/index.html?eref=rss_topstories&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fcnn_topstories+%28RSS%3A+Top+Stories%29
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/11/28-3
http://www.alternet.org/world/149000/wikileaks_docs_released:_us_urged_spying_on_un,_arab_leaders_secretly_called_for_strike_against_iran?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=alternet
http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-11-28/wikileaks-documents-chinas-google-hack-un-spying-more-secrets/

Terrific, true video

Check it out.  This was the only way I could show it, with this link.  I prefer the embed code but I'm sure they want control over their content and they want us all to go to the site instead of having our own links.  Bill Maher and Michael Moore are telling it like it is, still and again:

http://www.whosay.com/BillMaher/videos/5309


Enjoy your Sunday, y'all.

With gratitude

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."  --Melody Beattie

On the Kansas City Star--and a couple local blogs

I have pointed out and complained several times out here about the Kansas City Star's weak online presence and said it should be improved.

Well, folks, I have to 'fess up.

I thought--mistakenly--there was only one version and that's not the case.

There's the "freebie" one I always saw and then there's the one available at a really excellent, reasonable and low rate of $4.95/month.

The free version is clumsy to work with and doesn't look like the paper.

The inexpensive version IS the paper version but online.  It's the way it ought to be.

I point this out because I think a) word should get out about it and b) as many people as possible should sign up and pay for this thing so we can keep the Star's reporters on the streets and the paper viable.

I mean, if the Star doesn't exist one day, who will Tony link to for so much of his content?

And the blogger? 

I just have to mention that I love, love, love that so many bloggers can't write or can't write well and that so many can't even spell.  There are two, in fact, I have in mind but the ones that really get me are the Right Wing, Conservative, Republican ones.

That kills me.  In a million good ways.  Again and again.

I admit, my writing and grammar are decidedly not perfect by a long shot.

But at least I can spell.

Thanks for the laughs, bloggers.


And enjoy your Sunday, y'all.

Did you know there were "30 Human Rights"?

I ran across a few inter-connected sites online on human rights, specifically as they are universally defined by the United Nations, many years ago.

All these nations came up with and agreed on 30.  They are:

And now for something completely different

A now much younger Yo Yo Ma, playing Bach's Suite for solo cello No. 1 in G major.

Big fan.

Enjoy your weekend, folks.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday, holiday weekend entertainment


And if you would like to see a live version, locally, keep in mind the Kansas City Symphony and their Symphony Choir is performing this in the coming weeks, too.  You might want to go check it out.

Enjoy your weekend, y'all.

Why we're progressives

  We need to be able to change.  Let's go forward.  Let's progress.

That's a radical idea, huh?


Enjoy the weekend, y'all.

Getting a government that works


'Cuz God knows this one isn't working for us

Republicans: guns, guns and yet more guns

It didn't occur to me that with this last election we would also get Republicans--apparently a great deal of them--pushing for, as I said above, guns, guns and yet more guns.

This last week I heard on KCUR/NPR that one Forrest Knox in Kansas was going to push for college students to be able to carry firearms on campuses.  I'm sure he means it as a way to prevent others from shooting them, as though that happens all the time:
TOPEKA (AP) -- A state lawmaker said he'll try again to push through a law allowing concealed firearms to be carried on college campuses.

The effort to allow guns on campus was supported by the House during the 2010 legislative session, but died in the Senate.

Republican Rep. Forrest Knox said he intends to try again to push through such legislation when the 2011 session begins in January. His proposal would allow Kansans with concealed carry permits to bring their weapons into public buildings if those buildings aren't equipped with security measures such as metal detectors and guards.

Right.  Forget that one thought that "an eye for an eye and next thing you know, we're all blind."

Then, as if that weren't enough:

In Oklahoma, where Republicans won all eight Democrat-held statewide offices, GOP lawmakers are planning to bring back firearms bills vetoed last year by outgoing Democratic Gov. Brad Henry. They include a bill to allow the open carrying of firearms.
A move to legalize concealed weapons is expected in Wisconsin, where the Republicans scored their most dramatic victory, seizing control of both the legislature and the governor's office.

So here we go, America.  If you didn't get enough guns with Ronald the Ray-gun, we may well get still more now.

As if more guns is a solution for anything.

Links:  http://www.gctelegram.com/news/AP-Guns-on-campus
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101126/ap_on_re_us/us_pushing_social_issues

Tony's Darla, from this evening's Mayor's Christmas Tree lighting

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It was the first time I'd attended one of these things.  The Kansas City Symphony Choir performed, as did the Rockhurst High School Choir.  A great time was had by all.

Link:  http://www.kansascity.com/2010/11/26/2474581/mayors-christmas-tree-fundraiser.html

Plaza Lighting Ceremony (but from 2007, truth be told)


Hope your Thanksgiving weekend is a great one, y'all.
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Friday, November 26, 2010

You don't have to like him but don't say he's not an "everyday guy" anymore, either, ok?

News from Huffington Post today:

Barack Obama Gets STITCHES After Basketball Injury

President Obama received 12 stitches after suffering an injury during a basketball game, according to a White House statement:  "After being inadvertently hit with an opposing player's elbow in the lip while playing basketball with friends and family, the President received 12 stitches today administered by the White House Medical Unit. They were done in the doctor's office located on the ground floor of the White House." 

So unlike the posers--both of them--formerly in the White House--who PRETENDED to be "men of the people", who, the first one acted like he liked pork rinds while knowing nothing of the scanners at grocery stores we're all familiar with and the 2nd one who got a ranch just before he took the presidency and now doesn't visit there virtually at all any longer, this president is much more real.  He really does like basketball--he watches the professional games, has opinions on them, drinks beer publicly--not pretending to--and plays it--and well--too.

If you don't like him, fine, don't like him.

But don't say he's an "elitist", partly because that's a good thing to have in the highest position in the country and partly because he really did come from nothing, worked like crazy and earned his current position. 

His Grandfather wasn't a Senator;  he's not deeply indebted to anyone--especially and including the oil industry--for a family fortune because there isn't one;  he doesn't have a "family compound" ala' the Bushies, etc., etc.

Oh, and he's gotten a lot of legislation passed that you and I--the common, working-class stiffs--need.

'nuff said.

Enjoy the long weekend, y'all.

Link:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/26/barack-obama-stitches-basketball-injury_n_788627.html#s192442

Republicans: get on with the country's business


Because people still deny it, we needed--and still need--health care reform.  We truly needed the "public option" so we could truly get and keep insurance premiums and  health care costs lower.

I post this now because the Republicans are talking about repealing the health care reform we got this year.

I say again, we have the most expensive health care system in the world, literally, and yet we're ranked 37th--behind Costa Rica--in mortality rates.  You're more likely to live longer in Costa Rica and 35 other countries than here in the US.

We needed change.  We needed this reform.  We've gotten it, watered-down as it is.  It shouldn't now be taken away.

This next Congress needs to work and focus on our problems at hand, not on repealing health care reform.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Quote of the day--on being principled, then and now

"While the myriad issues facing the U.S. have changed and changed again since (President John F.) Kennedy’s time, the importance of being guided by the highest principles and ideals has not. We are now in a period in which cynicism is running rampant, and selfishness and greed have virtually smothered all other values. Simple fairness is not a fit topic for political discussion and no one dares even mention the poor."
"The public seems fearful and cowed. People unworthy of high office are arrogantly on the march."
"You can say whatever you’d like about the Kennedy era and the ’60s in general, but there was great energy in the population then, and a willingness to reach beyond one’s self."
"Kennedy spoke in his acceptance speech of a choice “between national greatness and national decline.” That choice was never so stark as right now. There is still time to listen to a voice from half a century ago."

Link:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/23/opinion/23herbert.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=general

Happy Thanksgiving to all

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

As long as she doesn't become president, how do you not love Sarah Palin?

I mean, come on.  Who is funnier than Sarah Palin?  Adam Samberg and the entire SNL staff don't write stuff any better than what comes out of her brain and mouth.

From an article earlier today on Yahoo News!:

Sarah Palin didn't much care for former first lady Barbara Bush's suggestion that she "stay in Alaska" instead of running for president in 2012.
In an interview Wednesday with radio host Laura Ingraham, Palin insisted that she loves the Bush family but called them "blue bloods who want to pick and choose their winners instead of allow competition to pick and choose the winners."
"I think the majority of Americans don't want to put up with the blue bloods," Palin told Ingraham. "And I say it with all due respect, because I love the Bushes. "
Asked why the Bush family is trying to "kneecap" her, Palin responded, "I don't know. Competition is good. … These folks trying to shoot internally makes no sense, but that's the way they roll."
If there is another person on this planet being considered for one of the highest positions of power and influence in the world right now who is as clueless as this woman, I hope we find them and start reporting their life worldwide.
We could all use more humor.

That and seeing the Right wing tear each other apart.

Pass the popcorn.

Quote of the day--on government coming unglued

“The fact is that one of our two great political parties has made it clear that it has no interest in making America governable, unless it’s doing the governing. And that party now controls one house of Congress, which means that the country will not, in fact, be governable without that party’s cooperation — cooperation that won’t be forthcoming.”

"...the G.O.P. isn’t interested in helping the economy as long as a Democrat is in the White House. Indeed, far from being willing to help Mr. Bernanke’s efforts, Republicans are trying to bully the Fed itself into giving up completely on trying to reduce unemployment."

"And on matters fiscal, the G.O.P. program is to do almost exactly the opposite of what Mr. Bernanke called for. On one side, Republicans oppose just about everything that might reduce structural deficits: they demand that the Bush tax cuts be made permanent while demagoguing efforts to limit the rise in Medicare costs, which are essential to any attempts to get the budget under control. On the other, the G.O.P. opposes anything that might help sustain demand in a depressed economy — even aid to small businesses, which the party claims to love."
"Right now, in particular, Republicans are blocking an extension of unemployment benefits — an action that will both cause immense hardship and drain purchasing power from an already sputtering economy. But there’s no point appealing to the better angels of their nature; America just doesn’t work that way anymore."--Paul Krugman, Economist, The New York Times

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/22/opinion/22krugman.html?ex=1306213200&en=d04ab225d1b83af9&ei=5087&WT.mc_id=NYT-E-I-NYT-E-AT-1124-L16

Putting more of "Dubya'" and his mess behind us

There's an article out this morning--reputedly an "AP exclusive"--saying the government is considering doing away with the color-coded system of warnings that were put into place during the George W. Bush administration after the 9/11 attacks:

WASHINGTON – The Homeland Security Department is proposing to discontinue the color-coded terror alert system that became a symbol of the country's post-9/11 jitters and the butt of late-night talk show jokes.
The 8-year-old system, with its rainbow of five colors — from green, signifying a low threat, to red, meaning severe — became a fixture in airports, government buildings and on newscasts. Over the past four years, millions of travelers have begun and ended their trips to the sound of airport recordings warning that the threat level is orange.

And I say great idea.

It was bone-headed and unnecessary at the time and only served to gin things up for that administration and their political party, prior to elections.  It was shallow and useless and, frankly, insulting to us, the American people. 

No wonder it was the butt of so many late-night comedians on their shows.  That was as it should be.

So here's one more way we can put the nightmare and mess that was the George W. Bush and Co. administration behind us.

Maybe we'll learning something from that buffoon yet.

Here's hoping.

Link:  http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_color_coded_threats;_ylt=AtLDRbtTySaR1KN98F2aWmvpCcB_;_ylu=X3oDMTM0MWxrOTU4BGFzc2V0Ay9zL2FwL3VzX2NvbG9yX2NvZGVkX3RocmVhdHMEY2NvZGUDbXBfZWNfOF8xMARjcG9zAzcEcG9zAzcEc2VjA3luX3RvcF9zdG9yaWVzBHNsawNhcGV4Y2x1c2l2ZWM-

Concerning North Korea: You wanna' WHAT?

By now we've all heard or read or seen about North Korea launching an attack yesterday on some little island of South Korea's and killing two marines.  Additionally, now, it comes out they also killed two civilians.

Stupid but what can you expect of them and their lunatic leader Kim Jong Il?  It's more of the same from this maniac.  (If you never saw the Trey Parker/Matt Stone film "Team America", go see it.  It does a magnificent job of lampooning this idiot/lunatic.  And besides, it's funny as heck.  It does a great job of lampooning some of our own worst traits, too).

Anyway, I digress.

I was just reading a bit on yesterday's attack on Yahoo a National Journal release when I saw this little tidbit:

"South Korea's defense minister, Kim Tae-Young, told a parliamentary committee earlier this week that Seoul and Washington should consider whether to deploy American tactical nuclear weapons to South Korean territory for the first time in nearly two decades."

YOU WANNA' WHAT??

Can we just give this idea a resounding "Hell, no!" right now?  Please?

I'm not suggesting we "wimp out" or go soft on this maniac, by any means but let's just let our aircraft carrier that's already on its way there sit out there for a while and hope this cools off.

Even thinking about just missiles and bombs should be enough I'd think, not moving over tactical freaking nuclear warheads.

Holy cow.

A tactical nuclear weapon?  

Are you freaking kidding me?

Does "over-reaction" mean anything to this guy?  How about "measured response"?

Let's not open up that pandora's box, folks, please.

Link:  http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_exclusive/20101124/pl_yblog_exclusive/u-s-condemns-north-korean-attack-but-military-strike-unlikely

Good for America--bad for the "Party of No"

Good economic data came out in the last 24 hours for America and Americans:
  • Our national economy grew at a faster rate than previously expected 
  • Unemployment claims are down to 407,000--the lowest they've been in two years
  • Consumers are earning more in the most recent data, and finally
  • We're spending a bit more, as a nation, and retail drives our economy
Mitch McConnell and John Boehner must be sick this Thanksgiving. 

Links:  http://www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/news/2010/11/23/national-gdp-grew-at-25-in-third.html?ana=e_pft
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101124/ap_on_bi_go_ec_fi/us_economy

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Big "silver lining" to North Korea's attack

By now, you've heard or read or seen about North Korea having attacked a small island of South Korea yesterday.

And it's big news, for sure.

It's another one of those situations where you can't imagine what thought processes are going on over there in Kim Jong Il's North Korea.  There's just no telling.

Further, it seems as though it's just one bad situation, going worse now.  I see a quote out of South Korea where someone is quoted as saying they'll have to have a "massive retaliation".

Here's hoping someone can put a stop to that.  China, the US, Europe, Russia, somebody, anybody and everybody.

And here's where that "silver lining" comes in.

As crazy and unpredictable as North Korea, in general, is and Kim Jong Il, in specific, no country in the world really wants this conflict.  Sure, there are some arms manufacturers that might but they are in a tiny minority.

The first thing that happened when this by the North "bombarding the small island of Yeonpyeong, which houses South Korean military installations and a small civilian population."


Virtually as soon as this happened--the bombing--the financial markets 'round the world turned down.


What this translates to is that there will be tremendous pressure from the business and financial communities on their respective governments around the world, to stop this confrontation and any additional bombing.  


Sure, this won't necessarily guarantee that it will stop but it will certainly help.  


It's rare that all these nations all agree on something, all at the same time, with the same degree of urgency.  I think this is one of those cases.  Unless someone can show me differently, I think even China is against this blow-up because it's bad for business.  It's decidedly bad for business.


So for once the business community has it right and it should help all of us--the entire world--hopefully avoid a war, instead of calling for one.


Let's hope this is a foreshadowing of the future, where war is denied because it's "bad for business."

Link:  http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101123/ap_on_re_as/as_koreas_clash

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lucas Bates needed Curtis Mertensmeyer's luck

I read today on the Pitch's blog (Plog) that one Lucas Bates "gets life in prison for causing" a "drunk driving wreck that killed Shirley Harless".

There are a lot of "darn shame"'s to this thing.

First, it's a darn shame that Mr. Bates was so obliteratedly drunk.  Then, it's a darn shame he was driving.  It was a darn shame Ms. Harless--or anyone else--was remotely close to where he was driving.  

Some of the details are fairly shocking:  

"...Lucas A. Bates was so drunk on March 14, 2009, that he would have blown twice the legal limit ... but he was too busy causing carnage on the roadway.

Bates' blood-alcohol content was 0.174 when he sped down a two-lane highway in rural Clay County on his way to causing two head-on collisions, killing 60-year-old retired teacher Shirley Harless and injuring three other people."

More "darn shames":

Shortly before the wrecks, Bates lost control of his car and drove into a ditch along US 69 as a Missouri Highway Patrol trooper approached from the other direction.  Bates steered around the trooper.

The Trooper turned around and pursued.  A dashboard video shown during Friday's hearing showed the trooper exceeded 120 mph but couldn't catch up with Bates.

Bates smashed into Harless' vehicle while passing several cars. He then slammed into another vehicle before leaving the road -- his car in flames.

It was pretty insane, all in all.

But wait.  There's another big "darn shame".

It's a darn shame Mr. Bates wasn't born in Mission Hills like one Curtis Mertensmeyer.  

And it's a "darn shame" Mr. Bates' mother or father weren't attorneys, as Curtis Mertensmeyer's was.

Remember this story, from back in June, 2009?  Personally, I refuse to forget.

From my blog entry, here, June 20, 2009:

It seems a young 21 year old Curtis Mertensmeyer of MISSION HILLS, KANSAS (keep that address in mind) is to be released now, after having KILLED Daniel Reimann, 25, "as he was crossing
Ward Parkway
on foot near
55th Street
."

Curtis killed another man while drunk driving, late at night near his home in one of the absolutely wealthiest neighborhoods in town. For this he, Mertensmeyer, served a whopping 120 days in jail. 

Can you say "slap on the wrist?"

Check the stats:

"The victim's body was found 139 feet from the impact, his severed leg another 200 feet beyond that."

Nice, huh?

But wait, as they say, there's more--much more:

It seems this wealthy Mertensmeyer is a graduate of--where else?--Pembroke Hill and a student of Tulane University. Mertensmeyer "admitted drinking that night, speeding when the accident occurred and then fleeing the scene."

But besides the rich kid and his family getting justice at the expense of the poor schmuck, what really has to get you about this ruling by the judge--one Jackson County Circuit Court Judge John Torrance--is that he and the court ended up BLAMING THE VICTIM for getting struck by the other drunk driver and killed.

Check it out. The judge says "It is clear that the extreme intoxication of the victim was a significant contributing factor to his being struck by the defendant's vehicle."

That is beautiful.

So it's the victim's fault FOR GETTING STRUCK BY A CAR, DRIVEN BY A DRUNK DRIVER.

Wow.

I just thought the judge might admit the truth, and that is that the wealthy family and their position in society and their wealth is getting him off the hook but no. I should have known better than that.

In fact, the judge indignantly insists "that the defendant's ZIP code and family wealth played no role in his" (the judge's)"decision."

Yeah, right.

And pigs fly.

Listen to the state of Daniel Reimann's--the "guilty victim's"--body: "...head trauma, both femurs and pelvis broken, aorta cut, spinal cord severed, lacerated spleen and liver."

And let's not forget that amputated leg.

You wouldn't think it could get any worse, would you? But, oh yeah, it does. This all happened on Mother's Day.

And then there's the fact that Mertensmeyer was driving his Mommy's 2003 Saab (cheap car, you knew that, right?), he LEFT THE SCENE OF THE ACCIDENT and "Five days would pass before Mertensmeyer surrendered to authorities."

Sounds innocent, doesn't he?

So young Daniel Reimann was in the wrong neighborhood--in this case, an extremely rich one, and you know how THEY are--got hit by a car and it's his fault.

My God, Judge Torrance, that is magnificent.

Actually, though, it shouldn't surprise me at all. It's a slight twist on an old, old story. To wit, if you're poor--or in this case, just not as wealthy--it's your fault.

It's just a darn shame Mr. Bates wasn't born right, as Mr. Mertensmeyer was.  Lucas Bates got a scolding from the judge and serious jail time.

Curtis Mertensmeyer ended up getting a 3-month vacation, meals included.

As I said, if only Lucas Bates were born where Curtis Mertensmeyer were, this would all have turned out radically differently.

Good news and bad on Dubya's visit today

The bad news:  Yes, Former President George W. Bush is to be in town today, pushing his book, "Decision Points" locally.

The good news?

He's no longer in office.

Thank goodness.

I got to thinking about this book of his and my first thought was, how could any book be more self-serving than this one?  Coincidentally, then, this morning, I got a link to the next New Yorker magazine and what did the reviewer, George Packer, say?  "Very few of its four hundred and ninety-three pages are not self-serving."

Ah, sweet verification.

And more vindication.

I would gladly give all that up if we could just undo the 8 years he took us through, to get here.

Final note:  You should read the review, if you have the time, as it's entertaining and informative, as usual for The New Yorker.

Enjoy those temps today, y'all.

Links:  http://www.kctv5.com/news/25874910/detail.html
http://archives.newyorker.com/?i=2010-11-29&email-analytics=newsletter101129p072#folio=CV1

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Irresponsible ignorance at the grocery newstand

I was at the grocery store today and saw the front page of the National Enquirer today.

Usually they make me laugh.

Not so, today.

The headlines:

"Prez's Teacher Reveals:  Pres. Obama's Muslim Lies"

Immediately, I knew we were in for trouble.

There was more, naturally:

"His Koran Studies"    (Because, you know, it's important we never, ever read any information on any other religion of any kind.  Of course.   We all get that, right?  Even if you're NOT a Mormon--because that's what they believe).

Finally, the piece de' resistance:

"His Christian Mom was outraged"

So many things come to mind.

First, I know darned good and well people are going to believe this crap.  They won't even have to read the articles, either.  They'll just see the cover story and those ridiculous headlines and just reaffirm what Glenn Beck and Fox "News" told them.

And off they go, one day to vote in a booth near you.  And me.

Sick.

Uneducated, redneck, uninformed baffoons who merely see this will be off on their Right-wing, extremist, hating tangents, believing this stuff and reacting (over-reacting, more like) to this stuff.

It's one thing for the Enquirer to print the crap they do about aliens and movie stars, it's quite another to feed into ignorant--patently ignorant--views that uninformed and uneducated people believe about politics and politicians.

I have to say, I think it's dangerous for the Enquirer to have crossed this boundary.

And please, if you react to this posting, please don't tell me anyone won't react to these headlines and their perceptions, totally unaffected by race.  It's a factor, for sure.  It may not be the only one, sure, but race is a factor, certainly.  A significant and ugly one, at least for some--and for too many.

I fear for this country.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thanks for the blackmail, Mr. Netanyahu

I love the way Israel blackmailed us this week to give them warplanes, so they wouldn't build more homes in the Gaza.

Nice.

Good friend.

I'm so glad we give this good friend so many millions of dollars.

My thought was, instead of having them blackmail us to stop the additional settlements, we play hard ball and tell them--meaning it--that if they began the additional settlements, we'd withdraw all financial support until they a) cancelled them and b) sat down to earnestly discuss a true, long-lasting, meaningful peace with the Palestinians.  Meantime, tell the Palestinians the same thing--they have to sit down and earnestly work out a peace deal or 1) no financial support of any kind (if, in fact, we give them any) and 2) they must no longer officially call for the elimination of Israel.

But no one asks me.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone.

Link:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/11/14