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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Quote of the day

“The only trouble with capitalism is capitalists—they are too damn greedy.” --Herbert Hoover, 31st president (1874-1964) (With thanks and a hat tip to Veracity Stew).

Senator Blunt says President Obama is "out of touch" on energy?

Senator Roy Blunt has an article in the Star today saying just that, that President Obama is "out of touch" on energy in the country. He's at least blatantly wrong, if not also full of chutzpah. To the Senator, then, I suggest these four articles, that I also put on the Star's comments section, as well as the Senator's Facebook page: 1) Keystone XL pipeline will not reduce gasoline prices: http://thegazette.com/2011/10/26/keystone-xl-pipeline-will-not-reduce-gasoline-prices/. 2) Would Approval of Keystoone XL Pipeline Lower Gas Prices? http://www.examiner.com/economic-policy-in-national/would-approval-of-keystone-xl-pipeline-lower-gas-prices. 3) This from yesterday: Keystone XL: White House Backs Portion Of Pipeline That Ships U.S. Oil Overseas http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/27/white-house-keystone-pipeline-ships-oil-out-of-us_n_1304509.html. 4) Eminent Domain Fight Has a Canadian Twist http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/18/us/transcanada-in-eminent-domain-fight-over-pipeline.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all. In this story, it shows how Americans are losing their own property, via Eminent Domain, so this very Canadian company can take their land for this, their pipeline. People in the states of Nebraska, South Dakota and Texas, to name a few. It's shameful. Then, finally, add to this that the very Republican Governor of Texas is also strongly against this pipeline. So don't tell us who's "out of touch", Senator Blunt, please. You clearly seem to have an agenda with your position and it doesn't look to be for the American people or, heaven knows, your constituents. If you really want to get lower gas prices for us, sir, put back on the control of energy speculation that used to be in our laws prior to 2000. THAT would help. In this way, companies and people couldn't artificially increase the cost of fuel just so they could make yet more profits for a small group, on the backs of the rest of us Americans. It hurts the finances of homes and businesses alike. Link to original story: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/02/28/3457514/as-i-see-it-on-energy-obama-is.html

The absurdity in American politics

Warning: some expletives. We need to demand more and better from all our politicians, politics, legislators, representatives and, ultimately, government.

Yet another well done and important story from Frontline on PBS

Last evening, PBS ran another "Frontline" story, this one on Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant disaster after the tsunami they experienced last March 11. Besides telling an important story and getting the details of what happened to all these people, it also struck me how their Prime Minister Naoto Kan seemed to take charge of the situation, along with taking responsibility. I also respected and appreciated the honor he seemed to take in what became his job. I would love to see that from our elected officials, of course, at all times, but especially in times of these national emergencies and catastrophies. It would have been really nice to have seen when Hurrican Katrina hit the Gulf states here. What strikes me now, however, is that I'd like to hear the truth about what radioactive fallout hit the US and in what amounts, from the West Coast to East. Anyone? News media? Link: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/japans-nuclear-meltdown/

Happy Leap Year, babies!

Happy Leap Year! Enjoy that extra day! I really only point out this day because I (we--my siblings and I) have a sister who was born on this Leap Year Day. So every 4 years she gets a birthdate birthday. Every other year it's just a birthday. We figure she's now 13 birthdays old now, God bless her. So HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BECKY and to all Leap Year babies. You know who you are. Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap_year

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Entertainment overnight

I'd love to have a beer with this guy

The Blues---at the White House

There was yet another program on PBS last evening that I'll mention here today. It was "Red, White and Blues" and it was fun. There were some terrific musicians there and in it, of course. Some of those were B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Keb' Mo, Jeff Beck and more. I just have to make one note, besides saying it was good and well done. That is, the one performer there who absolutely did not belong but who performed nearly alone and for far too long was---wait for it--Mick Jagger. I mean, please. He was sad. When you put him after and before true blues artists and not just people who are "influenced by the blues", as he was and is, it's like comparing the Hope Diamond to cubic zirconia. And that may be stretching it. Mick was all postion this and dance step that while the true blues players of the evening were just up there doing--simply--what they do best and that is, playing the blues. It wasn't about them as it was with Mick. It was about the music. With that one, big caveat, it was a well-spent hour, for sure. Link:

Rick Santorum: Stupidity and Hypocrisy, all rolled into one

Rick "Mr. Small Brain" Santorum, aka "Education is Snobbery" has--get this--three educational degrees. He has a Bachelor's degree, a law degree and an MBA but accuses President Obama of "snobbery" by apparently even suggesting that Americans and America's youth get college educations. Sheesh. It's one thing to be stupid but to be stupid and a raging hypocrite, both, at the same time, repeatedly, is pretty stunning. But one thing that gets me is, in this video, when Mr. Santorum puts out the line "What a snob" about this President, what is it about that all white, older audience that likes hearing someone say that? Do people just want to put a stick in the eye of authority--in this case, the President--so they clap and show support? Is this their effort and time and place and way to feel that they have more control in their lives, by doing this? It sure seems that way. Link: http://veracitystew.com/?p=31283

Films that could never be remade II

Next up, "Star Wars." Certainly, it will never and could never be remade, not that there would be a need. That said, there is nothing like it and never will be. The people, the technology, the ideas--it was the right thing at that right time. It blew us away. I also could have put up so many scenes from this film, it made it very easy.

Great play by Iran right now---and terrific irony

How's this for irony? (Which I've said here before, I love so much.) If it's real and sincere, it's as ironic as it gets: 'It's a sin': Iran calls on treaty to ban nuclear weapons What's great about this is, first, that Iran would be saying there needs to be a ban on nuclear weapons, just as the US is insisting they're trying to build them. Oh, and that we want to go in, "blow them up real good" (with thanks to SCTV) and keep them from building nuclear weapons because, well, you know, they're trying to. Secondly, the reason this is so grea--and ironic--is that they're not only saying there should be a ban on nuclear weapons but that--this is great, wait for it--"it's a sin"! They're using religion to say it's bad, too. Sure, it's that Muslim religion the Christians villify and look down their noses on but hey, it's still religion. It's still saying it goes against--ulp--God. They couldn't have come up with a better idea right now nor a better way to call us out on this if they tried. You have to hand it to them for this move. It's a beauty, and on at least 2 levels. They're obviously trying to beat us at our own game. Make that games. Link: http://rt.com/news/iran-nuclear-iaea-sin-421/

At last--a good idea coming out of Congress

Yes, sir, here it is. Finally, at last, a good idea in the form of a proposed and sponsored bill coming out of Congress. This one looks likely to get broad, bipartisan support, too, in this election year. It's called the "No Budget--No Pay" bill. It proposes that if Congress doesn't do one of it's biggest jobs--that is, creating a budget for the country and its government--that they don't get paychecks. Sounds like a marvelous idea, doesn't it? Go to this link to read about it and hopefully to send a note to your representative, telling them you support it and that they should, too: http://action.nolabels.org/issue/no-budget-no-pay/

BREAKING NEWS: Kander files for Secretary of State

This, just now, from Jason Kander's Facebook page: "Officially filed as a candidate for Secretary of State today. Now back to work." Who knows? Maybe, one day, if we work hard enough, we can have good, strong ethics laws--and hopefully ethics--out of state government in Missouri one day soon. That and campaign contribution limits. Here's hoping.

If PBS didn't do it...

...no one would. The latest example? Last evening on "American Masters", PBS had a one hour show on Cab Calloway. It was fantastic. And the reason it was so good was because Cab Calloway was such an interesting, talented singer, dancer and performer, sure, but also because his story also gave so much history of our country during the time he was here, performing and with us. And to think a lot of us might not even know that much of him but for Jake and Elwood Blues, the "Blues Brothers." Link: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/cab-calloway-sketches/about-the-documentary/1958/

Ironically but poignantly closing out Black History Month

Alfre Woodard, reciting Sojouner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman." How ironic, to hear this, here, now, from anyone, as the Republicans and Right Wing want the control of women's contraceptive and reproductive rights. Some things never change. But things must. (With thanks and a hat tip to MoveOn.org for this reminder).

Kansas Governor Sam "Mr. Heartless" Brownback

“What the president basically said is if you are church that does not believe in this — and the Catholic Church has problems with, the official Catholic Church, amongst other institutions, have problems with paying for contraceptives. You have a number of religious groups who saying, ‘We don’t want to pay for so-called abortifacients, these have morning after pill-type effects. And this is against our religious beliefs.’ And the president was saying, ‘You got to pay for it.’ And they were saying, ‘This is against our view life is sacred. That’s not denying women’s rights. If a woman then wants birth control, go work somewhere else.” --Governor Sam Brownback (R-KS) Links: http://www.classwarfareexists.com/ks-governor-if-a-woman-wants-birth-control-go-work-somewhere-else/; http://veracitystew.com/2012/02/25/get-your-religious-freedom-out-of-my-healthcare/

"Smash" just keeps getting better

I'm not one to promote TV shows as a rule, but this one, "Smash", is so enjoyable and well-written and has wonderful tension and dynamics that I'm making an obvious exception. If you're not watching it, you're missing something, I think. You're missing great writing, terrific development, wonderful characters and--what can I say--New York City, if even vicariously. You may want to check it out if you haven't already, on Monday nights.

The guys asks some good, legiitimate questions

Don't get me wrong--I'm no Ron Paul supporter, by any means, but all the questions deserve a good, public discussion.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Republican Party

"The Republicans, with their crazed Reagan fixation, are a last-gasp party, living posthumously, fighting battles on sex, race, immigration and public education long ago won by the other side. They’re trying to roll back the clock, but time is passing them by. Republicans are getting queasy at the gruesome sight of their party eating itself alive, savaging the brand in ways that will long resonate." --Maureen Dowd, writer, columnist at The New York Times Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/26/opinion/sunday/dowd-ghastly-outdated-party.html?_r=1

This looks to be just one more "Super Tuesday"

With today's vote for the Republican presidential candidate in Michigan, it looks to be just one more great day for Michiganers and Americans, as a whole, for that matter. Worst case scenario? Mitt Romney wins and wins big. How likely is that? Incredibly unlikely, given his very public stance that he was only too happy to let Detroit and GM and Chrysler and the automobile industry in the US fail and go bankrupt. He's reaping what he sowed. Best case scenario--and what's most likely to happen today? Rick "So What If I Don't Have a Brain" Santorum wins here. After that, it's still all good. So what if the Newtster won or Ron Paul? None have a chance, nationally against their Democratic rival in November. So all in all, today seems like just more of this terrific, mild winter we're having. That is, fantastic. Link: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/27/us-usa-campaign-idUSTRE81N1PG20120227

Monday, February 27, 2012

The situation in the EU

I came across what I thought is a very good, if simple, description of the European financial system and its problems right now: "Underfunded banks buys underfunded government bonds and underfunded governments guarantees underfunded banks.? It's one of those things that, again, is simple and that seems true but you certainly hope is not. Links: http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2012/02/capital-flight-from-italy-greece.html; http://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-myths-about-the-european-quagmire-2012-02-27?link=MW_story_popular; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/27/opinion/krugman-what-ails-europe.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

A new series: Films that could never be remade

Edelweiss - Sound of Music - Christopher Plummer's own voice from Mark on Vimeo.

Yes, I'm starting this new thread on this blog--films that were so either perfect or just part of their time, they could never be remade. This is the first. Maybe not the best example, for whatever reason, but this is certainly one. It couldn't be redone partly because of the cast and partly, I think, for the time period in which it was made. It was a favorite of our Mom's. Whenever I now hear Christopher Plummer sing this, I can't help but get verklempt.

Raphael Hotel's Jazz Club Touted in WSJ online

On today's Wall Street Journal's Marketwire blog, the Raphael Hotel's Jazz Club gets some good, glowing press: Historic Boutique Hotel Houses One of Top Kansas City Jazz Clubs. Jazz and Other Music Genres Fill the Air at The Raphael's Signature Restaurant. Besides the Raphael Hotel's support of our local jazz, they also support our own symphony orchestra, too, by having quartets play on Saturday evenings in the front of the hotel, out on the lawn in good weather. They really support the local arts and music scene very well. Good on you, Raphael. And thanks. Link: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/historic-boutique-hotel-houses-one-of-top-kansas-city-jazz-clubs-2012-02-27

Quote of the day (year?)

“The system doesn’t work, it’s broke today. The end of insurance companies, the way we’ve run the business in the past, is here.” --Mark Bertolini, CEO and Chairman of Aetna Insurance, speaking at a recent conference, announced that the end is near for profit driven health insurance companies.

Unfortunately over far too many American's heads

Click on picture for legibility.
That "separation of church and state" thing? That applies here. Or should.

Reagan: A man concerned about the wealthy not paying enough taxes

Click on picture for better viewing.
The most-esteemed Ronald Reagan wouldn't make it in today's far Right Wing, Tea Party-forced Republican Party.

Notes on the Oscars

There's only six of them. First, Gwyneth Paltrow was "best dressed", hands down. So simple, so beautiful, so unpretentious (which is so rare at this event), wonderfully unique and all white. The dress itself was magnificent but that cape was a simple stunner. The fact that it was designed by Tom Ford just helps it that much more. Side note: The new "greeting" at the Oscars isn't "Hi, hello, how are you?" Instead, it's--immediately upon seeing a "star"--"Who are you wearing?" Could we be more shallow?
Second note: How do you not love a group of just-announced Oscar winners (they're first time, I believe) who have the chutzpah to get up onstage and immediately mock Angelina Jolie? This is how she stood.
And this was how they (he) ended up standing, right after her. (It was fantastic).
Third: Best boobs of the evening to to J-Lo again, hands down. Holy cow, I had to keep checking to see if she was going to fall out of that thing.
Fourth, I think the conclusion has been made--Sacha Baron Cohen really is a jerk and he takes what he thinks are jokes WAY too far. Last evening he came dressed as some character in his next movie--not unlike the late Saddam Hussein--and he said he was carrying the ashes of someone or other who was now deceased. He proceeded to dump those ashes on Ryan Seacrest. Note to Mr. Cohen--you really can take a joke too far. And if/when you do, it isn't funny. Fifth note: Someone needs to tell "The Academy" that showing the live music from the live musicians in the 2 cleared balconies is oodd, at least, and not entertainment. Put them back in regular clothes in the pit and leave it at that. Hey, they can make yet more money by having a bunch of rich people buy THOSE seats, too. Finally, Billy Crystal's best line of the night--to me, anyway--was after Cirque du Soleil's acrobatic/dancing/springing performance. He said "We're one pony shy of a bat mitzvah!" I don't think it wasn't Oscar's best night but hey, whaddya' gonna' do? It's late February and there wasn't much else on.

Kansas City: Perceptions

As always, click on picture for bigger, better viewing.
Someone over at KSHB really "gets" social media, from the looks of this. Whaddya' bet they're about 30 years old?

Rose Brooks bigger Oscar night...

A much more important, local show was going on across town for our own Rose Brooks with Kristen Chenoweth hosting their big, annual fundraiser for them.
Hopefully it was a huge, huge, very successful and fun evening for all involved. The Rose Brooks Center does such terrific, helpful, important work. Here's hoping.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Entertainment overnight

One of the best "Star Wars" scenes ever. Right from the opening scene of the first film of the entire series, they had us. What a time that was.

Two very different people, totally "owning" the same song

First Dolly, with her very own song: Then there's the very different, younger, soulful Whitney Houston, of course, with her version: Could there be a better example of how important our own uniqueness is to, well, whatever we do?

A Republican--a Bush, no less--on the current Republican Party

"I used to be a conservative, and I watch these debates, and I’m wondering, I don’t think I’ve changed, but it’s a little troubling sometimes when people are appealing to people’s fears and emotion rather than trying to get them to look over the horizon for a broader perspective, and that’s kind of where we are." --Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, brother of former President George W. Bush, son of Former President and Director of the CIA George H.W. Bush. Link: http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2012/02/24/jeb-bush-2012-candidates-troubling.html

The EU/Greek/German situation now

Still fascinating, for sure. This, last evening: G20 inches toward $2 trillion in rescue funds. With the G20 countries meeting right now in Mexico, they've come up with a plan for all the members to pony up two trillion dollars, as a safety buffer for the EU countries, to help them get over this rough debt patch. All well and good, I suppose. The EU, the US and China and the rest of the world, really, can't afford to let the EU go down, that's been clear all along. What's fascinating, though, is that the Greek people aren't for the austerity measures that are being forced on them now while the Germans aren't crazy about having to be the ones who pony up so much of that money to bail them out of their mess. Crazy situation. Final note here today on this: Greece's goal has to be to get their debt down to only 120% of GDP (Gross Domestic Productivity) by the year 2020. That shows you how bad things are for them and just how much they've overspent. It just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser. Link: http://news.yahoo.com/euro-zone-deal-firewall-awaits-germany-001447722.html

Happy birthday, old girl

Grand Canyon was "born" a National Park this day in 1919 (coincidentally, the year my Father was born). If you've not been, you owe it to yourself. No picture could ever do it justice. Links: http://worldfamoustourism.com/beauty-and-wonders-of-grand-canyon; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Canyon_National_Park

One they get. The other, they don't

There's an odd thing about this poltical cartoon. I think that most all Americans--except maybe lobbyists--would agree with it and say that's one thing--if not THE thing--that's wrong with our political system. That is, that we have to get the money out of our politics and so, our government. Sure. But then, approach so many people about doing it and killing "campaign contributions" and putting in place true, tough, stringent, accountable, prosecutable campaign finance reform and either their eyes glaze over or they disagree with you. It seems obvious. Unless and until we get these campaign contributions out of our political system (we know them for the bribes they are), we will keep getting representatives and legislation and laws and so, government, by and for the corporations and wealthy. Nothing will change until we get the money out. It's that simple. Link: http://www.newyorker.com/talk/2012/02/13/120213ta_talk_marantz

I'm so old...

...I remember when Facebook didn't always keep "refreshing" so that when you were reading something, it would stay right in front of you and not disappear who knows where.

Quote of the day

"The guns and the bombs, the rockets and the warships, are all symbols of human failure." --Lyndon B Johnson

Welcome to Sunday

I'm tempted--partly for my own sheer enjoyment--to put this up every Sunday for the rest of my life.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

This is bizarre

Okay, two weeks ago, Whitney Houston died, as we all--heaven knows--know. Last week, the funeral, which took both Saturday and Sunday. Tonight, her best, most famous movie, "Bodyguard" was on, no surprise. I expected it. But I had totally forgotten that the story involved her character in that movie being up for an Oscar. And of course the Oscars are tomorrow evening. I mean, really, once in a while, coincidence or no, things just rather freak you out with how timed they are. My Father's funeral--his death and the funeral, for instance, and the timing of it and a few things--was very similar. Sometimes you're given to thought about the weird, eerie, syncronicity of things.

I'm so old...

...I know what he's singing about. And all the references. And I used to watch the orginal TV show at home with family. On Sunday evenings. (But I didn't know there were words--and these words, specifically--to this theme song).

Kansas and Missouri Legislators decidedly NOT doing their jobs

Yet more on the Kansas and Missouri legislators lately, not doing their jobs. From Dave Helling in The Star earlier this week: Kansas, Missouri unlikely to meet deadline on health care "Kansas and Missouri are almost certain to miss an end-of-the-year deadline for establishing a key component of the nation’s health care law — health insurance 'exchanges' where individuals and businesses can compare and purchase coverage." Forget that thousands--at least--of people in both states don't have and need health care. Forget that this could help lower the cost of health insurance in both states. Sure, forget that. And as if all this, above, weren't bad enough, check this out: "Last year, Kansas declined a $31.5 million “early innovator” grant for an exchange." Nice, huh? If I were from Kansas, this is just one more of many big reasons to be angry. What you have to keep in mind is that both legislatures in these two states have Republican majorities and they don't want to appear to support the Affordable Care Act of this President. Forget that it helps their constituents. Remember, though, to put your political party first. Terrific. There are two glimmers of hope mentioned in the article. Here's the first: "If Kansas or Missouri fails to certify its plan by year’s end, the federal government is required to step in and create one." The second bit of hope is that other states are, in fact, creating their exchanges. You can bet the insurance agencies are out there now, giving untold amounts of "campaign contributions" to our lawmakers, in an effort to kill all this, lest they have to reduce our health insurance premiums. Anyway, again, thanks to both Republican Party state houses--for nothing. Link to original article: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/02/23/3448606/kansas-missouri-unlikely-to-meet.html

Missouri: Some monumental stupidity in government

From Steve Kraske and his column today in The Star: "Missouri’s the only state where officials can accept $500,000 campaign donations and unlimited lobbyist gifts. And now, courtesy of a state Supreme Court ruling this week, donors can once again hide whom they’re giving to." How's that for disgusting? Thank you, Jefferson City legislators. Thank you, Republican Party. For nothing. Out of all 50 states--the entire nation--Missouri is the only one where our legislators can be bought and paid for in HUGE sums of money. Worse yet, then the trail can be covered. That is some kind of sick and irresponsible. This, ladies and gentlemen, truly is "what's wrong with our country", to use the cliche'. The wealthy and corporations can--and do, as we know--give sometimes small amounts (as low as $2,000) to our representatives. In the end, that gets them OUR legislation, OUR laws and so, our government. That's why it's government for the rich and for corporations first, if not always. This is why we must change the laws on "campaign contributions." This is why we need tough, stringent, accountable, prosecutable, punishable campaign finance reform. This, like it or not, is why we need to have our government finance our elections. That and make them 3 or 6 months long, at worst, by law. Until we do that, until we get this big, ugly, corrupting money out of our election systems, our government and laws will be for the rich and for corporations first, if not always. Link to original article: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/02/17/3436381/steve-kraske-where-to-begin.html

Bill Cosby can't come to Kansas City enough

Seriously--and I'll say it again--Bill Cosby cannot come to Kansas City enough. (Link to story at bottom). The guy is great. This is a guy who came up from meager beginnings, worked hard his entire life, was bright and creative and unique (we all are, keep in mind) and made it big. What other person has a better or more appropriate story to tell the students of the Kansas City, Missouri School District? Now if only Michael Jordan, especially, but others, too, would do more of this work. Many thanks to you, Mr. Cosby, for your tours, speeches and this good work. Kudos to you. Link: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/02/24/3450316/bill-cosby-urges-urban-youths.html

Kansas Governor Brownback: "Take from the poor, give to the rich"

I find it difficult to believe these people can even get in office, let alone stay there. Here's the latest "take from the poor, give to the rich" scheme and this time it's from next-door neighbor Kansas: "A bill sponsored by Kansas Republican Governor Sam Brownback would spur economic growth by cutting income taxes on residents and doing away with them entirely for most small business while reducing or eliminating a variety of tax credits. But it turns out that in the version of the bill approved by a House committee this week, half a million of the state’s poorest residents who earn less than $25,000 will wind up paying an average of $72 more per year, while the 21,000 Kansans who make over $250.000 will get an average tax cut of $1500." The thing is, too, if you read the article (it's brief), you'll find his original plan gave even MORE to the rich and took even more from those who make less. HEADSLAP. I ask you, is that not disgusting? Why do any politicians get away with this? And then, how? ANY political party should be punished--and severely--at the polls for doing things like this. It just makes it so much easier if it's a Republican, as in this case.Link: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/02/24/kansas-may-raise-taxes-on-the-poor-to-fund-cuts-for-the-rich/

The 2nd, final story from NPR on the KCMSD

Scott Simon's 2nd and final report today on NPR: Saving Kansas City Schools Means Rescuing A City This one was far more full of questions and not of pointing out as many of the School District's faults, in my opinion, compared to last week's broadcast: Link: http://www.npr.org/2012/02/25/147393076/saving-kansas-city-schools-means-rescuing-a-city

Election year prediction

"If Mitt (Romney) loses Michigan on Tuesday, the Republicans won't have a candidate until the Republican convention, and he'll be barely strong enough to give acceptance speech." Robert Reich, yet another "tweet" last evening." --American political economist, professor, author, and political commentator. He served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997.

Quote of the day

"Rarely before in American history has a presidential election come at such a critical moment, yet rarely has the public been so profoundly uninterested." --Robert Reich, his tweet last evening, American political economist, professor, author, and political commentator. He served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997. Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Reich

Friday, February 24, 2012

Kansas City rankings (from Facebook just now)

Click on picture for bigger, better viewing, as always.
I really enjoy living here and there's a lot to be here for but "Top Culinary Destination for 2012"? Seriously?

Lest we forget the Nelson-Atkins Museum

It seems the city has--rightfully, I think--gone so ga-ga (not to be confused with the singer) over our new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, we have to keep in mind the treasure and treasures over at the Nelson-Atkins Museum. And to do so here, now, it seems a good idea to point out their upcoming exhibit on "Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World's Fairs, 1851-1939." It opens to the public April 14. It should be another outstanding exhibit, for sure. Hopefully this exhibit will get the kind of exposure they did a few years ago with their one on trains in art. That one got covered by CBS' "Sunday Morning" in its last week. I think a lot more people in the region came to it the last weekend because of that coverage. Link: http://www.nelson-atkins.org/art/exhibitions/WorldsFairs/

Catholics for "Obamacare"

Yes, check this out: Catholic Nuns File Brief Supporting Affordable Care Act From the article: "As further proof that conservative efforts to paint President Obama as the enemy of religion are a red herring, nearly two dozen leading Catholic nuns filed a brief in the Supreme Court last week supporting the president’s signature legislative accomplishment. The Catholic sisters who joined the brief include the leaders of many prominent religious orders providing health care and other services to the needy." Anyone who reads here (either one of you) knows I'm not big on Catholics and/or Catholicism but if this religious group comes out for the Affordable Care Act--the real name for what is otherwise known as "Obamacare"--there must be some things right with it. Link: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/02/23/431147/catholic-nuns-file-brief-supporting-affordable-care-act/

Right Wing, Republican stupidity on both sides of the state line

First this, from our very own Missouri: Seven women in Missouri House say they were kept out of debate on contraception And yes, of course they were Democrats but wouldn't you think female legislators ought to be able to speak in the wing of government they work for and in on a subject that directly effects them and all the women in the state? Wouldn't you think? Way to go, guys. And then there's this little beauty from the Kansas side, not to be outdone: Amended Kansas tax plan increases burden on poor Because nothing says "I feel your pain" like raising taxes on the poor. So there you are--two fantastic examples of the Republican Party in America, not working for you. Heartless, ignorant, greedy, selfish bastards. Links: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/02/23/3448634/seven-women-in-missouri-house.html; http://www.kansascity.com/2012/02/22/3446052/amended-kansas-tax-plan-increases.html

Thursday, February 23, 2012

From Bottomline Communications: Yet another rich guy wrecks, hurts someone and gets off easy

This one: PITCH EDITOR DELIVERS QUOTE OF DAY/MONTH/YEAR I'll get to the meat of the article: "Justin Kendall is an excellent writer and has done a superb job as the Managing Editor at The Pitch alternative weekly the past five months. But not only is Kendall’s writing top-notch, his sarcasm is pure gold. Take for instance his story about Frank Ross III, who ran a stop sign while drunk and obliterated a police car in the process titled “Can you drunk-drive into a cop car and keep your license? Yes – if you’re Frank Ross III.” The well-connected Ross, whose father is a partner in a major KC law firm, didn’t even lose his driving privileges over the incident. 'The driver, officer Warner J. Stumpenhaus, walked away with minor injuries,' wrote Kendall. 'The passenger, officer Serge Grinik, wasn’t so lucky. Firefighters had to extricate him from the cruiser, and he was hospitalized with a fractured pelvis, a fractured shoulder, and multiple abrasions and lacerations.'” And then this kind of crap--with rich people hurting or killing others and then buying their way out of it--needs to stop. At least it wasn't as bad as Curtis Mertensmeyer killing Lucas Bates with his mom's car and skipping off down the street, as happened here in town in 2010. (See 2nd link below) Links: http://www.bottomlinecom.com/pitch-editor-delivers-quote-of-daymonthyear/; http://moravings.blogspot.com/2010/11/if-only-lucas-bates-were-born-where.html

Entertainment overnight

Of a different sort.

Don't think "the stimulus" of the economy worked?

Take a moment and watch this. It lasts 4 minutes.

The big, ugly President that never was

The rule of politics and business?

Who do YOU think is more concerned about the "common man and woman"

And keep in mind, this percentage is a far higher percentage of the President's income and worth while, in sharp and high contrast, this is a far smaller percentage of Mitt Romney's worth.

Government controlling men's reproduction rights and bodies?

Click on picture for better viewing.

Former Senator Russ Feingold on the big, ugly, corrupting money in our political system (and so, our government)

I was pleased to see and hear this interview go to the heart of our political and governmental problems here in the States--that is, the horribly corrupting influence of big money in our political system which then so corrupts our legislators, their legislation, our laws and so, finally, our government. We have to get the big, ugly, corrupting influence of this big money from corporations and the wealthy out of our political and governmental systems. If we don't, nothing will ever change for the better. If we don't do this, our representatives will continue working for those wealthy and corporations first and us, second, if ever.

NPR asks a great question on our voting

The question NPR asked yesterday is one I've put forward before and it's a good and timely one. That is "Should Elections Be Held On Weekends?" I think the answer is partly tradition and partly so we keep the voter rolls down but really, voting in the middle of the week makes no sense at all. If we want voters voting and we want turnout at the polls--and I suggest most of America does, in fact--then why don't we vote on Saturdays when more people are off work? This would likely help both getting volunteers to man the booths as well as making it easier to get to them to do this civic duty. Oh, yeah, it's time this changed.
Links: http://www.npr.org/2012/01/18/145397003/why-vote-on-tuesday-why-not-the-weekend; http://www.whytuesday.org/

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Recap of tonight's Republican Presidential debate redux

"I'm more conservative than you." "I love Jesus more." "No gay marriage." "Obama stinks." Blah, blah, blah... It's all you need to know.

On the looney coverage of Whitney Houston's funeral

He's right and fortunately, he's "bleeped."

"Obamacare" and the support--nationwide--it's getting

People derisively speak of the Affordable Care Act as "Obamacare" and rail about how awful it either is or must be, in spite of what power it gives back to Americans in our health care but check this out--there are plenty of organizations--state by state and nationwide--that do support it. How much and what kind of support, you ask? Check this out: "On Friday, however, a broad coalition of religious organizations filed an amicus brief supporting the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion that should give the lie to any claim that the faith community opposes the ACA. The brief includes a number of major religious denominations, including the policy arm of the United Methodist Church, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ and the Presbyterian Church. Additionally, the brief’s signatories include a wide range of Catholic group..." One of those Catholic groups is right here in our own Missouri in the form of The Sisters of the Precious Blood. The article goes on to tell that "Pope Benedict XVI has called health care an 'inalienable right,' and added that it is the 'moral responsibility of nations to guarantee access to health care for all of their citizens.'" You can read more about this national support and all the other organizations that support it at the link below. Just know this--if you're bellowing about how awful the ACA is because, well, gee, everyone's against, that just isn't true. That's not true by a long shot. Link: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/02/21/429184/religious-groups-line-up-to-support-affordable-care-act/?mobile=nc

Yet more great things at the Kauffman Center

This is one of the biggest things I hoped for when the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts was announced. That is, I was hoping children in the area would be exposed to both the facility itself as well as the music--of all types--that could and would emanate. This is fantastic. The picture here is of children in the lobby of the Center, going to listen to performances today. This was posted on the Center's Facebook page with a little information: "Exciting day at the Kauffman Center with three completely booked school matinees!" I think there's no better way to inspire at least some children with trips like these that expose them to both soaring, amazing architecture and some of the best music civilization has to offer, no matter what they hear. This is how we, as a society, can hopefully plant seeds of beauty and, again, inspiration, for growth in the next generations. More kudos and thanks to the Kauffman Center and Kauffman family and all who make this happen. You, as a matter of fact, can help make it happen, too by making a a $100 contribution and bring a busload of school children to experience an amazing performance in this awe-inspiring space. To do so, go here: https://​tickets.kauffmancenter.org/dev/​contribute.aspx?don=19&fieldAmt

Catholics: What to give up for Lent

How about pedophilia? Would you give up that one for us, please? And protecting your male, Catholic hierarchy. There's another good one. Please? If not for us and if not for yourselves, how about for your own children?

Quote of the day

"Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the Divine." --Ludwig Van Beethoven

Former Senator on the Republican Candidates this year

"To me, the gap between President Obama and these people [the GOP candidates] is so enormous that it's a threat to our country to elect people who take such a silly view of the rest of the world," --Former Senator Russ Feingold, (WI) speaking about his book "While America Sleeps. Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/21/russ-feingold-book-gop-2012_n_1289428.html

The Future and Green Energy

"Clean energy was a $260 billion investment flow in 2011. Europe has now more than one million new renewable jobs. The big winner is Germany. They have more solar workers than America has steel workers. [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel bet that it would be smarter to send their energy money to their own engineers, manufacturers, and installers than to keep paying it to [Russia’s] Gazprom. She’s right, and it was a winning bet." --Amory Lovins, Chairman, chief scientist at Rocky Mountain Institute (www.rmi.org) and author of "Reinventing Fire." Links: http://www.alternet.org/environment/154222/renewables_are_a_reality%3A_how_to_get_our_clean_energy_future_without_any_help_from_congress?page=1

Happy National Margarita Day!

Who knew?

Entertainment overnight

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Quote of the day

"Mitt Romney still losing Michigan - this guy couldn't be less popular in 'heartland' if he strangled Dolly Parton and came out against fishing." --Bill Maher today, on Facebook.

Missouri goes for approval of denial (?) of "No Child Left Behind"

That's some good news. Of course, I don't understand how that's working, that the Federal Government has approved 10 of the 50 states to get waivers from the "No Child Left Behind" law but it's an improvement, nonetheless, and Missouri and everyone else should go for it, too. The NCLB law was and is so monumentally stupid, it's difficult to say how much so. Seriously, since when was any human being, let alone a group, let alone a group of children, supposed to get to "100% proficiency" in all areas of education? How was that going to happen? Suddenly we were to be blesssed with perfect children? An entire generation, nationwide, coast-to-coast that were going to do 100% on all subjects? What planet did these people live on? That provision alone doomed the entire law and effort. You're going to cut back on financial support for schools because they can't and don't reach 100% proficiency with all their students by 2014? Right. Great idea. Why don't you just set the bar even higher (not that that's possible) and then set the trigger date for completion as, oh, I don't know, TOMORROW? On top of that, the whole thing was UNFUNDED. How do you set higher standards for schools and states for their kids but not give any additional funding for things like better teacher-to-student ratios? I'm not saying or suggesting money gets you higher grades every time, either. It doesn't. But if you set impossibly high standards and then don't fund improvements (again, like the teacher-to-student ratio), don't expect better results. And that's just a little bit of what's wrong with the NCLB Act. The bad thing is that it came from Democrats and Teddy Kennedy. (Honestly, how he thought this was a good idea is beyond me). The completely unsurprising thing is that it also came from the George W. Bush administration, as so many insane things did--like his chosen, illegal Iraq invasion and war, for one, and tax cuts only for the wealthy being another. Au revoire, NCLB. We surely won't miss you. Links: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/02/21/3442579/missouri-board-approves-no-child.html; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Child_Left_Behind_Act

Note the weekly, stupid article from The Star today

Here it is again from The Kansas City Star: DUI checkpoint planned for this weekend Kansas City police will operate a sobriety checkpoint this weekend. I mean, come on, don't we pretty much know the Kansas City Police and/or the Overland Park police are going to be out virtually every weekend, checking for drunk drivers? Isn't that pretty much common knowlege? And for whom is this article, anyway? Is it to tell the drunks or the sobers? Honestly, it's virtually the same article every time, too: "The time and location of the checkpoint was not disclosed, except that it will be conducted sometime Friday through Sunday at a location known for drunken-driving-related crashes or arrests." Notes to The Kansas City Star: 1) Do us a favor, you can stop printing this article. Forever. Really. We know. and 2) It's doing yourself a favor, too, hopefully. Maybe you could have an honest-to-goodness reporter go out, dig up a story and print it in this space, instead, and improve your readership. As stated earlier, the city of KCMO just let a $1m contract for IT work that went to a company down in Florida. Go snoop around there and see what you can find. If all else fails, go talk to Russ Ptacek before he leaves town. See if he'll give you any tips on how to do reporting. He's good at it and knows what to do and where to go. With all the cities around here, surely there's a scandal somewhere, in case you ever get interested in news. Link to original article: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/02/21/3441992/dui-checkpoint-planned-for-this.html

Rex Sinquefield & Clay Chastain: Just go away

I've decided Rex Sinquefield has joined Clay Chastain as yet another perennial, pain in the neck nuisances that haunt Kansas City and our environs and they both just need to go away. Mr. Chastain doesn't live here and hasn't for years, residing as he does back East but he keeps trying to drop in and give us mass transit. And while I'm all for mass transit (that's another issue), him buzzing around this city like a pesky, persistent fly at an otherwise pleasant picnic is a pain in the keister. Then there's rich man, St Louisan Rex "I have tons of money" Sinquefield who keeps coming up with ideas he can foist off on Missourians to--in his mind--"make our lives better" by screwing with our tax system, even though he's not an office holder. His latest idea, of course, is to do away with the income tax and to have a sales tax instead. He even brought in famed economist Arthur Laffer to tell "the Kansas City Star's editorial board Monday that there could be problems if Missouri trades its income tax for a sales tax -- if Kansas doesn't do something similar." (See link below).
Forget that a sales tax only is punishing to the middle and lower classes and that it benefits the wealthy greatly, sure, forget that. All that's important is that we live life as Rex "The King" Sinquefield thinks we should live it and as he would have the state be. Seriously, both of you jerkwads--go away. Leave us be. Whatever issues we'll have, we'll deal with them. Go home. Be quiet. Live your own lives and let us live ours. It's why we have government. Links: http://midwestdemocracy.com/articles/laffer-kansas-missouri-should-go-together-major-tax-reform/; http://www.kansascity.com/2012/02/17/3435777/kc-chastain-argue-light-rail.html

TKC reports: $1m "Emergency" IT Contract at City Hall

As Tony reports today on his blog (http://www.tonyskansascity.com/), the city of Kansas City, Missouri apparently just let a contract for one million dollars for an "emergency" IT contract. Three things come to me, right away: First, I hope it was competed, competed fairly and wisely and they can prove it. Second, seriously, as said in the comments section at Tony's blog---why couldn't/didn't they find someone local who would supply these services? I find it difficult to believe there aren't companies here in the area--in the city itself?--that can't and don't supply them. Third and finally, was this contract rushed through? And if it was, why and by whom? Let's hope it wasn't. Now we need a Russ Ptacek-type reporter SOMEWHERE in this town--the Star? KMBC? KSHB? KCTV? somehere--to go do some digging on this and find out at least that much about this contract. It's not so much to ask. Link: http://cityclerk.kcmo.org/liveweb/Documents/Document.aspx?q=FJdztn5pZS50Yvhu0FN92nVbLLjL49qzHW30zeQ6AjxFZ84X8ymz7wOiRYRgkDFa

Mitt Romney: Mr. Sincerity

Oh, yeah. Mitt Romney really "gets it." He's definitely "one of the people." He just oozes sincerity. Absolutely.

If Jesus were on the Republican presidential campaign traiil

You can't even deny this stuff.

Quote of the day

"Senior ranking US military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the US Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognizable. This deception has damaged America’s credibility among both our allies and enemies, severely limiting our ability to reach a political solution to the war in Afghanistan. It has likely cost American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars Congress might not otherwise have appropriated had it known the truth, and our senior leaders’ behavior has almost certainly extended the duration of this war. The single greatest penalty our Nation has suffered, however, has been that we have lost the blood, limbs and lives of tens of thousands of American Service Members with little to no gain to our country as a consequence of this deception." --Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis, a 17-year Army veteran recently returned from a second tour in Afghanistan. Link: http://www1.rollingstone.com/extras/RS_REPORT.pdf

Happy National Sticky Bun Day!

Yes, it really is a national, official, declared day. Enjoy.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Entertainment overnight

OH, NO!!!!!

There's going to be yet ANOTHER Republican presidential candidate debate this Wednesday!! AAAAAGGGGHHHHH!!!! To make matters even worse--and come on, we didn't think it could get worse, right?---it'll be in Arizona! You know what that means. They'll be trying to further outdo one another by going even farther Right Wing, but especially on immigration. Yikes. This is one sad state of affairs (no pun intended).

They'll view it as history

I don't know if you aware of this yet or not but there's a movie coming out soon, this Summer, called "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter." It's my contention that the young people who see this movie--whatever we'll call that next generation--they'll view it as history. If you weren't concerned about future generations of Americans and the future of the country, maybe you will be now.It wasn't enough he held the Union together through the Civil War and that he was literate and a great speech writer and President. Now he's a vampire slayer, too. Yikes.

More transitioning from TV only to computers

Are you aware of this yet? Comedian/political commentator Bill Maher of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" is taking his political humor and satire standup show online to Yahoo!. It is to air this Thursday at 9:30 pm Central time. It should be interesting, at least, if not fascinating. I predict it will be wildly successful, first, and that it will herald the further shifting of more media events AWAY from television--or strictly television--and more and more to streaming to TV AND the internet. Also, as this is done, if the source is wanting a younger and younger audience, it will go far more purely to a computer-only stream. Now, before any of you "oldsters" panic, keep in mind that, if you get current and updated, your computer can or will be able to hook straight into your television monitor so relax. Stay tuned, so to speak (no pun intended). This will get more and more interesting. It will also accelerate very soon, too, this transition. Links: http://screen.yahoo.com/crazystupidpolitics/?SR=sr3_50373111_go; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/09/business/media/young-people-are-watching-but-less-often-on-tv.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha25

A flashback, updated (and tongue-in-cheek)

I'm so old, I remember when this came out.

Republicans on denying women's rights: REALLY??

Seriously---"REALLY, Republicans?"

Why no public or media outcry of Lt Colonel Davis' charges on the Afghan, Iraq wars and Defense Dept?

Earlier this month, unbeknownst to a lot of Americans, Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis wrote and distributed two reports on our Afghanistan war. One of these reports had classified material and he gave that information to members of Congress. The 2nd had only unclassified material and has been distributed by Rolling Stone Magazine and The New York Times. (see links below). In his unclassified report, he contends that, first, the Afghan war is going far worse than the American public is being told (I know, shocking, right?) and second, that we are wasting at least millions if not billions of dollars on weapons systems (Future Combat Systems or FCS) that are actually failing but they're being represented as successful. Lt. Col. Davis makes other important charges in his writing, too, but the point here and question is, why is not the government demanding an inquiry into his charges since by doing so we could, hopefully, of course, avoid more loss of American soldier's lives in Afghanistan, for one? Why are we not pursuing an inquiry so we would also, again, hopefully run a more successful campaign there--if we ought to stay at all--and finally, likely reduce our costs and expenditures in Afghanistan, too? I ask here, as Lt. Col. Davis must surely be asking--WHY IS THERE NO INQUIRY? Let's go further and ask-- WHY ISN'T THE MEDIA ASKING THESE QUESTIONS AND PUSHING FOR A REVIEW AND ASKING THESE QUESTIONS? For Americans who are aware---WHY ARE NO AMERICANS ASKING THESE QUESTIONS AND PUSHING FOR GOVERNMENT AND MILITARY REVIEWS? Links: http://www1.rollingstone.com/extras/RS_REPORT.pdf; http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/truthdigger_of_the_week_lt_col_daniel_l_davis_20120217/; http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/the-afghanistan-report-the-pentagon-doesnt-want-you-to-read-20120210#ixzz1m1zIKlqq; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2097603/Army-Colonel-exposes-truth-lies-Afghanistan-claiming-military-leaders-let-down.html

Things Americans need to read on our Afghan War--but won't

There's a whole list, almost solely because a military officer recently broke rank and wrote one classified and one unclassified document about how the Afghan war is going far worse than is being represented by the military brass to the American people. Note that one of the sources is The Armed Forces Journal, lest anyone think this is just left-wing, Liberal, "peacenik" jibberish. Pick one, anyway, at least, if you would and see how this war is going, at least in the eyes of one American soldier. He interviewed 250 other soldiers for his reports. If you don't like or trust one source below, pick another: Links: http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2012/02/8904030; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/06/world/asia/army-colonel-challenges-pentagons-afghanistan-claims.html; http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/the-afghanistan-report-the-pentagon-doesnt-want-you-to-read-20120210; http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/the-afghanistan-report-the-pentagon-doesnt-want-you-to-read-20120210#ixzz1m1zIKlqq; http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/truthdigger_of_the_week_lt_col_daniel_l_davis_20120217/; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2097603/Army-Colonel-exposes-truth-lies-Afghanistan-claiming-military-leaders-let-down.html; http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/11/the-whistleblowers-report/?ref=afghanistan; http://www1.rollingstone.com/extras/RS_REPORT.pdf; In addition, there is this YouTube video, shot by an American soldier that I think is important to see. He thought it important to film and get back to us, here in the States: The note/dedication on the video by the filmmaker/poster is: "This video gives the viewer a real sense of what life is like at the tip of the spear in Afghanistan. It is dedicated to two Soldiers who were killed in action less than two months after the photographer took these photos of them..." Finally, if you go to the YouTube page with this video, there are links to more, other videos also shot by other American soldiers, showing more graphically, in some cases, what's going on over there and what they're doing and living through.

The great Brad Pitt/Kansas City news

Okay so here it is--we have to wonder no more. From The Kansas City Star: Brad Pitt’s foundation to help redevelop school in KC The long-closed Bancroft School will be renovated into a new residential development and community center with the aid of the Make It Right Foundation established by actor Brad Pitt. The $14 million project calls for the 103-year-old school at 4300 Tracy Ave. to be renovated with the existing building converted into 30 apartments with a 6,250 square-foot community center on the main floor, and a new building with 20 apartments developed on the ground. So, great news. There will, no doubt, be some local complainer (blogger?) who poo-poos it and goes all negative but it's just good news, period. Is it a solution to everything? No, of course not--certainly not. Does it help that neighborhood and so, the people nearby and so, the city? You bet it does. So thank you, Mr. Pitt, for your donation and generosity. It's very cool, it will help and we are grateful. Very grateful. Links: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/02/20/3440435/brad-pitt-program-to-spark-14.html; http://www.kshb.com/dpp/news/local_news/brad-pitts-foundation-will-help-rebuild-kc

Quote of the day--on our Afghan War

"As someone who lived and worked in rural Afghanistan (Sistan) in the years before either the Soviet or the American invasions, I can say with absolute certainty that the American government and Pentagon generals are being disingenuous when they say that what is in fact a foreign occupying army is going to establish any enduring political or social structures in Afghanistan. What we are engaged in there now is an act of utter futility that enhances the careers of Pentagon officers and demagogic politicians, and bloats the bottom line for the military-industrial complex. Lesson one is that social change is not imposed by foreign bayonets. Societies evolve and change slowly in response to their own dynamic. No amount of flag waving in this country, no amount of patriotic chest beating on the part of Americans is going to change this simple truth. When will the American people gain some historical perspective? After all, Vietnam was a teachable moment. Too bad it was squandered. One feels only compassion and pity for the lives sacrificed, both American and Afghan, for the bodies maimed, for the futures warped and stunted." --Howard, Columbus, OH (A commenter on an article online at The New York Times) Link here: http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/11/the-whistleblowers-report/?ref=afghanistan

Loving me some Dame Maggie

Watch Downton Abbey: The Best Maggie Moments on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

The "agenda" is merely equal rights

"On June 12, 2007, Mildred Loving issued a statement on the 40th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision, declaring that different races have the right, the equality, to marry in America. Her statement concluded: 'My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God's plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation's fears and prejudices have given way, and today's young people realize that if someone loves someone, they have a right to marry. Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the 'wrong kind of person' for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people's civil rights. I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.'

Happy President's Day!

But wait. What is that? Is it Washington's birthday? Is it Lincoln's birthday? Is it both of those? Is it "All President's Birthday"? What is this we're celebrating, anyway? Does anyone know? When we were kids, I think we knew. It was originally Washington's birthday. Now? Who knows? It's a day off for the financial community and government offices, right? That's all we know. That and it's a day for retail sales, like all the rest of these things. Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington's_Birthday

Happy anniversary astronaut John Glenn

50 years ago today.
And thank you, sir. Links: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/14/science/space/50-years-later-celebrating-john-glenns-great-feat.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha210; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086197/

Sunday, February 19, 2012

So talented

If only she believed--truly believed--what she sang. At least in some of her songs. Like this one.

On this date, February 19, 1942

We must never forget. We must never let this happen again. Important link here: http://www.allegiancemusical.com/video/never-forget-never-again

This is odd...

Representative Emmanuel Cleaver II has this picture, above, on his Facebook page with the note saying "Big news to come..." Odd. And I'm guessing that, somehow, it's good news for the area. We'll see, eh?

KC and NW Missouri on NPR this weekend

So they covered our KCMO School District, Gates Barbecue and now this--farming and building a tractor and other items from scratch up in nearby Maysville. Heads up to The Kansas City Star: these people came in the area and rooted out fresh, relevant stories from our area. Maybe your reporters could do the same? It's a thought. I know you used to. Link: http://www.npr.org/2012/02/19/147110017/building-a-village-one-home-brewed-tool-at-a-time

Happier news coverage: NPR also went to Gates BBQ

Yes, fortunately, Scott Simon, reporter and voice for NPR not only covered our dreadful KCMO School District yesterday but also went to our very own Gates Barbecue restaurant, thank goodness, and reported on them, too: At Gates Bar-B-Q, The Ultimate Flavor Lies in Burnt Ends Link: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/02/18/147062213/at-gates-bar-b-q-the-ultimate-flavor-lies-in-burnt-ends

It takes me back

It takes me back to her pure voice. To her youth. And to mine. To ours.

I'm so old...

...I know who Eric Sevareid was. And that's without Googling him or his name. (This will have further, more obvious relevance with a post here tomorrow).

Happy National Pancake Week!

Bet you didn't know, did you? Yep. February 19 through the 25th. Enjoy.

KCMO School District: How embarrassing

A headline and story yesterday from Scott Simon that went national and international on NPR radio: Kansas City's Failed Schools Leave Students Behind. I think I'll just roll up in a ball over here in a corner. Link: http://www.npr.org/2012/02/18/147067123/kansas-citys-failed-schools-leave-students-behind

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I have to ask again--how sick do you have to be?

News out today: Syrian forces fire on funeral in Damascus, kill 1 (Link to story at bottom). How sick do you have to be to open fire on a funeral procession? Yet it happens repeatedly in the Middle East? To go further, how sick do you have to be to strap bombs to yourself to kill a member of your own religion who believes slightly different than you? (Sunnis killing Shi'as and vice versa). Another step--how sick do you have to be to kill your own countrymen in this fashion? Yet another--how sick do you have to be to kill innocent civilians lined up for whatever reason in this same fashion? Finally, how really sick do you have to be to strap bombs to yourself and kill your fellow countrymen because they're lined up to become police officers or to join your country's military so you can make it safer and hopefully build a stronger, more functioning society? I don't think I'll ever understand. Link: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/feb/18/syrian-forces-fire-funeral-damascus-kill-1/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

Best air fresheners ever

Number one? Dried eucalyptus leaves. It's amazing how long they last and how nicely strong the scent is.
Number two? A bowl of coffee beans
My dentist's office (Dr. Stephen Mingos, just off the Plaza here in town) does this. It's outstanding and a really nice surprise.

Likely the best stand-up comedy ever

Certainly the most pointed, poignant, constructive and useful stand-up comedy ever. A high point in an 8-year low.

Equality. In America


All people "...created equal..." Remember that?

The Right Wing on the United States

The Right Wing on this President

"Obama's had to be the Jackie Robinson of American politics -- never reacting to the taunts from the stands," --Bill Maher, from "Real Time with Bill Maher", HBO

A former GOP staffer writes on the current GOP: Where they--and we--are now

"Pandering to fundamentalism is a full-time vocation in the GOP. Beginning in the 1970s, religious cranks ceased simply to be a minor public nuisance in this country and grew into the major element of the Republican rank and file. Pat Robertson's strong showing in the 1988 Iowa Caucus signaled the gradual merger of politics and religion in the party. The results are all around us: if the American people poll more like Iranians or Nigerians than Europeans or Canadians on questions of evolution versus creationism, scriptural inerrancy, the existence of angels and demons, and so forth, that result is due to the rise of the religious right, its insertion into the public sphere by the Republican Party and the consequent normalizing of formerly reactionary or quaint beliefs. Also around us is a prevailing anti-intellectualism and hostility to science; it is this group that defines "low-information voter" - or, perhaps, "misinformation voter." The Constitution to the contrary notwithstanding, there is now a de facto religious test for the presidency: major candidates are encouraged (or coerced) to "share their feelings" about their "faith" in a revelatory speech; or, some televangelist like Rick Warren dragoons the candidates (as he did with Obama and McCain in 2008) to debate the finer points of Christology, with Warren himself, of course, as the arbiter. Politicized religion is also the sheet anchor of the culture wars. But how did the whole toxic stew of GOP beliefs - economic royalism, militarism and culture wars cum fundamentalism - come completely to displace an erstwhile civilized Eisenhower Republicanism? It is my view that the rise of politicized religious fundamentalism (which is a subset of the decline of rational problem solving in America) may have been the key ingredient of the takeover of the Republican Party. For politicized religion provides a substrate of beliefs that rationalizes - at least in the minds of followers - all three of the GOP's main tenets. Televangelists have long espoused the health-and-wealth/name-it-and-claim it gospel. If you are wealthy, it is a sign of God's favor. If not, too bad! But don't forget to tithe in any case. This rationale may explain why some economically downscale whites defend the prerogatives of billionaires. The GOP's fascination with war is also connected with the fundamentalist mindset. The Old Testament abounds in tales of slaughter - God ordering the killing of the Midianite male infants and enslavement of the balance of the population, the divinely-inspired genocide of the Canaanites, the slaying of various miscreants with the jawbone of an ass - and since American religious fundamentalist seem to prefer the Old Testament to the New (particularly that portion of the New Testament known as the Sermon on the Mount), it is but a short step to approving war as a divinely inspired mission. This sort of thinking has led, inexorably, to such phenomena as Jerry Falwell once writing that God is Pro-War. It is the apocalyptic frame of reference of fundamentalists, their belief in an imminent Armageddon, that psychologically conditions them to steer this country into conflict, not only on foreign fields (some evangelicals thought Saddam was the Antichrist and therefore a suitable target for cruise missiles), but also in the realm of domestic political controversy. It is hardly surprising that the most adamant proponent of the view that there was no debt ceiling problem was Michele Bachmann, the darling of the fundamentalist right. What does it matter, anyway, if the country defaults? - we shall presently abide in the bosom of the Lord." -- Mike Lofgren, writer, member of the Republican Party and former staff member of the US Congress. Links: http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/mike-lofgren; https://www.google.com/#hl=en&gs_nf=1&tok=ExReM5_dSQ1A97X7NzYPcw&cp=8&gs_id=w&xhr=t&q=mike+lofgren&pf=p&output=search&sclient=psy-ab&pbx=1&oq=mike+lof&aq=0&aqi=g4&aql=&gs_sm=&gs_upl=&fp=1&biw=1249&bih=560&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&cad=b

Yet people voted for him anyway

"George W. Bush is lucky to be Governor of Texas. He is unusually incurious, abnormally unintelligent, amazingly inarticulate, fantastically uncultured, extraordinarily uneducated, and apparently quite proud of all of these things." -Christopher Hitchens, October 31, 2000. Proof positive of what modern-day marketing can do for a person.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The false brouhaha over contraception this week

Bill Moyers Essay: Freedom of and From Religion from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

Link to original article with this same video: http://www.truth-out.org/bill-moyers-freedom-and-religion/1329422932

Entertainment overnight

And then I want an LED bicycle like this

And how much more safe on a night bike ride could you be, right? Yep. I want one of these, too. (Have a great weekend, y'all).

Great, breaking news from Washington

Breaking just now: Stock Act – Insider Trading Bill Passes Senate While long, long overdue, it's still good news. At least they've passed it. Now, on to the House of Representatives. We can't let Rep. Eric Cantor weaken this. Link: http://inyourfaceradio.net/stock-act-insider-trading-bill-passes-senate/

I suddenly want to do this

I can't snowboard but I'd try. And heck, why couldn't I just ski down the mountain in an LED suit like this? Oh, yeah. I want to do this.

Quote of the day

"Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear -­ kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervour -­ with the cry of grave national emergency. Always, there has been some terrible evil at home, or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it." --General Douglas MacArthur

One more group Republicans are pushing away

The Republicans add yet one more group to their long list of people who shouldn't belong to the group and who, of course, shouldn't vote for or with them. Up to now it's been Blacks, Hispanics and gays, now they add women. Well, women who are for their own rights and reproductive rights, anyway. God bless their pointy little heads. Links: http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/02/virginia_ultrasound_law_women_who_want_an_abortion_will_be_forcibly_penetrated_for_no_medical_reason.html; http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/02/how-the-gop-went-back-to-the-1950s-in-just-one-day.php

Thursday, February 16, 2012

More, new reasons for Americans to be angry at and because of Congress

In case you missed it. Our own Congressional represntatives push legislation so they can flaunt laws the rest of us have to obey. It is truly maddening. Then, in order to get good information on it, we have to watch a comedy channel and a show of humor and satire in order to know what's going on in our government and country. The legislation was originally created in 2006, too, for pity's sake. Note that it was Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA-7th District) who killed the original bill, too. This is sick. It's crazy. Our system of government just doesn't work and this is only the latest examples of this. I hope they don't wonder why we want to replace at least our legislators, if not part or all of our system of government. We have got to get the big, ugly, corrupting money from corporations and the wealthy out of our politics and government. We need to pass the STOCK Act and it needs to include the provisions about intelligence-gathering and -gatherers, that's all there is to it.