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Monday, March 31, 2014

Republicans: Against progress, even against America

Republicans and the entire Republican Party have been impeding progress for the nation and for Americans for so long, we're nearly getting immune to it.

But we can't be. We can't let these injustices stand. We need the nation to move forward and on so many different levels, not least of which is regarding the economy. Here's just two current examples, from yesterday  in The New York Times:

New GOP Bid to Limit Voting in Swing States

Already, nine states, under Republican control, have passed measures making it harder to vote since the beginning of 2013.

And this is one of the worst cases of the Republicans' handiwork. Getting fewer and fewer Americans to vote. How un-American can they be or get?

Then there's this one:

Growers say inaction on immigration legislation is hurting productivity, and a powerful group that represents them says its members may withhold campaign contributions.

And this one is a real beaut since, in the last few elections, more and more Hispanics have been voting for the Democrats because, well, they get support from them. The Republicans say they're trying to be inclusive for all kinds of people--Hispanics included--yet they've famously and even notoriously and very publicly been fighting anything remotely close to creating a path to citizenship for Hispanics, Mexicans and others.

The so-wrong Right Wing

First it was the Right Wing and Republicans thinking and, of course, saying "IMPEACH!!" against their favorite target--the black guy in the White House. This in spite of the fact he's done nothing whatever remotely illegal or "against the country."  Heck, he's even done fewer Executive Orders than virtually EVERY recent president.

Now that same, foolish, irresponsible "IMPEACH" movement has moved to the state level.

And it's come to Missouri:

Missouri House panel takes up Nixon impeachment articles over gay marriage, guns and special elections

It seems Governor Nixon here in the state has upset the Republicans on not just one but, count them, three different issues. This from The Kansas City Star today:

One article seeks to impeach Nixon over an executive order directing state tax officials to accept joint returns from same-sex couples who married legally in other states.

Another asserts Nixon did not move fast enough to call special elections for vacant legislative seats. The third complains there was insufficient punishment of officials involved in a dispute over the handling of concealed gun permits.

It seems the Republicans can't work with anyone and it's proven especially true for the far Right and the Tea Party members. To heck what's good for the people, what's good for your state, in this case or, on the Federal level, what's good for the nation. Forget all that. It's all about what you, individually, perhaps, and your political party, however small and/or extreme, want for your political area.

This is not constructive. This is not positive for the state or nation. This is the opposite of progress.

It's destructive. It's negative. It's very much like a grade school lesson we all were to have learned years and years ago.

We all need to get along.

Read more here:

Quote of the day -- on corporations, America, government and greed

"We draw the line against misconduct, not against wealth."  T Roosevelt.

Corporations provide much for our society.  We often focus (and hence characterize) all corporations with the same evil brush.  For just one post, I'd like to acknowledge the good corporations have done and encourage more.  ~Debilyn

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sam Brownback's Kansas

Did you see the latest results of Republican Governor of Kansas Sam Brownback's and his cohorts handiwork?  It's a real beauty:

A bit from the article:

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - New census figures show that more people have been moving out of Kansas than have been moving in recently.

From 2010 to 2013, Kansas lost 10,197 people because of outward migration, according to numbers released Thursday by the Census Bureau. The census also showed that Kansas gained 16,752 people from international migration over the last four years, but lost 26,949 to other states, which resulted in the net 10,197 loss.

From 2000 to 2009, Kansas had a net migration loss of 17,574, with most of it occurring from 2001 to 2005, when Kansas had a net loss of more than 27,000 people.

As if that isn't bad enough, it really does get worse:
As if Kansas was among the bottom 10 states in the number of people who moved in from other states compared with the number who moved out during the 12 months ending July 1, 2013. Kansas ended the year with a net loss of 12,557.
Now, sure, the people leaving very rural, nearly empty Kansas isn't completely, totally due to the results of the Republican work of slashing the taxes of the already-wealthy and heaping those taxes, instead, on the middle- and lower-classes but one thing's for sure, it surely isn't helping. It isn't helping the workers and working class people of the state, it hasn't helped businesses increase and/or expand in the state and it surely hasn't helped the budget of the state or of their schools.

Not only that but it's not expected to get any better any time soon, according to the Lawrence paper:

WICHITA — A decades-long decline in population is likely to continue in Kansas, particularly in the west of the state, and four counties could have fewer than 1,000 residents by 2040, according to a study by Wichita State University’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research.
All I can say is, Paul Davis can't become governor soon enough.

Entertainment overnight -- all night long

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Entertainment overnight -- flashback redux

Why being the top 1% matters

It's not just that the rich in the nation and the world are rich.  Far from it.

It's not that they're rich and we want to take money from them, in order to "get even."

It's nothing like that.

What it is is that, because they are rich--some of them obscenely so--they are able to use portions of that money to create yet more, first of all.  Secondly, they are able to use even more of that same money of theirs to buy tax deductions and exploit our election and government system and tax laws to avoid paying taxes, thereby getting or keeping even more money but also keeping more money for themselves and keeping more money away from our nation and infrastructure for the nation's functioning and upkeep.

I was made aware today of just one more of those examples.

It seems the owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, already a wealthy man, of course, wanted to make yet more money, as wealthy people are so frequently wont to do.

So what did he do?

Why, he set up his own TV station, for starters.

And then he sold the rights to broadcast the live television feed of his own Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team to that station, to himself, really.

Isn't that beautiful?

And think about it.

He owns a monopoly to begin with, in his Los Angeles Dodgers Major League Baseball team.

Then, he takes that monopoly and creates a 2nd monopoly, and feeds all that money to himself.

Because he can.

Ah, the beauty of being rich just now in America. Filthy, stinking rich.

And if there's something you don't like in our government or tax laws?

Why, just buy yourself a Federal or state representative, give them a relatively small 5 or 10 or 20 or 50 thousand dollar "campaign contribution" and voila! Law changed. And the benefits--frequently in the millions--are yours.

That, after all, is how and why the National Football League teams--yet more monopolies, each and every team--pays ZERO TAXES, every year, to you and I, to the US government.

Yes, you read that right. If you didn't know it already, the NFL, with all the millions and billions it takes from Americans every year, is a "non-profit."

Yeah, and I'm from Mars.

Entertainment overnight -- dancin', Walken wonderland

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

That California drought

Two pairs of pictures, both of California, from different vantage points, showing the severity of the drought taking place just now in that state.  I think these two give terrific indications of exactly what's taking place.


Scary but fascinating.

California Drought January 2014
Below, two photos of Folsom Lake, just North of Sacramento. 
This is how serious the situation is.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Entertainment overnight -- Throwing it all away

2016 election fears

HIgh speed trains? In Missouri??

According to this article, that's what it's saying, that there are to be high speed trains in California, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Washington, all as early as 2016.

This new contract means the US is finally really getting high speed trains

From the article:

Siemens and Cummins, a German engineering conglomerate and American engine manufacturer, want to help you shoot across America on high-speed rail. Beating out U.S. bids from Caterpillar and GE, Siemens won a $226 million contract to deliver 32 diesel-electric trains as soon as autumn 2016.
The trains will be used on routes Amtrak is planning in California, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington. (Illinois in particular is working on its Chicago­–St. Louis line, with max speeds of 110 mph, according to the AP.) If all goes well, Siemens could build another 225 trains for the U.S.
When you put this in light of articles like these recent ones, it's enough to give one hope:
First Chicago to St. Louis, then St. Louis to Kansas City, then, finally, Kansas City to Denver?

Wouldn't that be outstanding?

It might be enough to maybe get that expatriot from Kansas City who lives in Virginia (who shall remain nameless) to wet his big boy pants.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Entertainment overnight -- the concert that should happen

These guys:

should open for these guys

who should then open for this group

Helluva' concert, Brownie...


"The world is over-armed and peace is under-funded"

To prove UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's statement, check out the world's spending.
(click on picture for easier viewing)

Republican Presidents on Unemployment Insurance

Someone needs to get this to the current Republicans in the party.

Over-armed and underfunded

As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon so rightly and simply said:

The World is Over-Armed and Peace is Underfunded

And the US, sadly, far and away, leads the world in this.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Elephants on the rampage in St. Louis!

Tru' dat:

Elephants damage cars after escaping Shrine Circus

Okay, everyone came out fine. No one hurt. No elephants hurt, apparently so I can officially decclare...

That was funny.

Happy birthday, "Obamacare"!

Yes, indeed. A very happy fourth birthday to the Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare."  Anyone who knows me knows I'd be all about this.

And congratulations to us--to America and Americans. The proof is in the pudding, in the results, as we know. This from The New York Times today:

The Health Care Law's Checkup

Early indications are the Affordable Care Act is working. With less than two weeks remaining before the March 31 deadline for coverage this year, five million people have already signed up. After decades of rising percentages of Americans lacking health insurance, the uninsured rate has dropped to its lowest levels since 2008.
Meanwhile, health care costs have slowed dramatically. The new law may well be contributing to this slowdown by reducing Medicare overpayments to medical providers and private insurers, and creating incentives for hospitals and doctors to improve quality of care.
And don't think for a minute I or anyone realistic about this thinks it's perfect. Far from it. The Act helps and is a repair, a lifeline, for millions of Americans but it needs help. It does need some fixing and the article goes on to point that out. 
More good news on the Act:

The Affordable Care Act Is Working

The Beginning of a Health Care Revolution

And this article, here, above, lest anyone think it's merely written by some "Leftie" from the Democratic Party or some such, is actually written by someone with a vested interest in it all since he's a doctor himself:

Ezekiel J. Emanuel is an oncologist, contributing New York Times opinion writer and the author of “Reinventing American Health Care.” His co-author is Andrew Steinmetz.

And finally this, from an executive in the health care industry. Hey, I don't care if it is, after all, possibly only a "puff piece" and/or possibly a public relations piece only for her and her industry. The fact is, Americans have the most expensive health care system in the world, literally, bar none and the health results we get from it are worst of all the industrialized nations:

Is our health care system fixed?

Absolutely not. Far, far from it.

There are still far too many Americans priced out of health care. There are still, also, far too many people, companies and corporations using health care and health care insurance against their own employees, tragically and shamefully enought.

But this helped. The Affordable care Act, "Obamacare", helped and is helping. People now have coverage that didn't before. Costs of health care in the country have slowed in their increases and there are other benefits. But at least we got this. More of have insurance, have coverage. We've made a start. A good start.

Now we need to do more.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The very mis-directed Paul Ryan---and his Republican Party

There is an article out just now, from The New York Times, pointing out the problems, inconsistencies and heartless hypocrisies, even, of Republican member of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan. The thing about it is, in the bigger picture, it also points out the callousness and even immorality and lack of "Christian values" of the entire Republican Party:

"And there I ran into Paul Ryan. His great-great-grandfather had fled to America. But the Republican congressman was very much in evidence, wagging his finger at the famished. His oft-stated “culture of dependency” is a safety net that becomes a lazy-day hammock. But it was also England’s excuse for lethal negligence.
There is no comparison, of course, between the de facto genocide that resulted from British policy, and conservative criticism of modern American poverty programs. But you can’t help noticing the deep historic irony that finds a Tea Party favorite and descendant of famine Irish using the same language that English Tories used to justify indifference to an epic tragedy.
The Irish historian John Kelly, who wrote a book on the great famine, was the first to pick up on these echoes of the past during the 2012 presidential campaign. “Ryan’s high-profile economic philosophy,” he wrote then, “is the very same one that hurt, not helped, his forebears during the famine — and hurt them badly.”
What was a tired and untrue trope back then is a tired and untrue trope now. What was a distortion of human nature back then is a distortion now. And what was a misread of history then is a misread now. Ryan boasts of the Gaelic half of his ancestry, on his father’s side. “I come from Irish peasants who came over during the potato famine,” he said last year during a forum on immigration.
BUT with a head still stuffed with college-boy mush from Ayn Rand, he apparently never did any reading about the times that prompted his ancestors to sail away from the suffering sod. Centuries of British rule that attempted to strip the Irish of their language, their religion and their land had produced a wretched peasant class, subsisting on potatoes. When blight wiped out the potatoes, at least a million Irish died — one in eight people." 

And the crazy thing, the really crazy thing about all this is that neither Paul Ryan nor anyone in the Right Wing or Republican Party have enough awareness or education or intelligence or sensitivity to see or realize the heartlessness, the lack of humanity, the callousness or the total, utter lack of "Christian values" and/or morality their policies take them.

And the nation.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Entertainment overnight

Quote of the day -- on money in politics

It goes WAY back

The fit is hitting the shan, economically, in Kansas

Breaking, if bad, news in and for Kansas this week:

Moody's calls school finance ruling a 'credit negative' for Kansas

Kansas Representative Paul Davis' Facebook page called it last night:

For the second time in two years, Governor Brownback's reckless tax experiment has caused Kansas' credit rating to be downgraded. This is just more evidence that his "real live experiment" is failing.

And it's more than a little bit difficult to disagree with that assessment. When you raise taxes on most people in your state--the middle- and lower-classes yet raise them on the wealthy, it's just not a wise recipe for growth or strength.

Entertainment overnight

Monday, March 17, 2014

Entertainment overnight -- St. Patrick's Day version

It's not as good as Gabriel's Gate's version but such a beautiful song:

What Charter schools do

Robert Arial

Quote of the day -- on America's health care system

"The problem with Obamacare is not, of course, too much socialism. It’s still too much capitalism. The reason why it's so screwed up is because we have to have this Rube Goldberg plan that allows for pharmaceutical companies to get their cut and insurance companies to get their cut and hospitals to enrich themselves and doctors to get rich. It should be a non-profit thing. Perhaps elections should not be a profit-making endeavor or cost two billion dollars. Of course, we're American, the exceptionalism, exceptionally stupid on this point but we are exceptional."

--Bill Maher, in an interview yesterday with David Gregory on "Meet the Press"

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Entertainment overnight

America. The beautiful.

Bill Hupp's photo.

War and Peace

If true, and I suspect it is, it's quite an indictment of humanity.

Kansas' WuShock and WSU in today's NYT

Big sports article:

Noah, the ark, the Bible, Christianity and God

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Entertainment overnight -- flashback

Yes, a flashback, in at least two different ways:

Yet more amazing stupid out of Jefferson City

The Republicans and Right Wing just won't let up on this issue--or on women and women's rights:

Missouri Lawmakers Are Pushing 32 Separate Abortion Restrictions To Regulate One Clinic


Of all the issues the state legislature could and should focus on in Jefferson City but they keep returning to this one.

Women's reproductive rights.  That's it.  Only one.

Thirty-two bills, if you can believe it, just to shut down the one, last women's clinic in the entire state.

Are they paying any attention whatever to the fact that Interstate 70, from all the way on the East and the Illinois border and St. Louis, all the way through the center of the state and Columbia, all the way West to Kansas City and the Kansas border, needs updating and improving and widening and repairing?

Oh, hell, no.

It's Johnny and Jamey one-notes down there:  "Abortion! Abortion! Abortion!"

It's as I've said before, why any woman would vote Republican is beyond me.

But for that matter, why any black person, or elderly or Hispanic or gay or middle- or lower-class person would, either, is beyond comprehension.

And the thing is, these Republicans aren't bright enough to be embarrassed or ashamed, either, for themselves or their state, either one.

Quote of the day -- on a jobs/infrastructure bill from this Congress

“The middle class of America is collapsing … poverty is up and the rich are doing phenomenally well. What do you do? What you do is say that in America we are going to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. By doing that we're going to create millions of jobs,” 

--Sen. Bernie Sanders said Friday on The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News.

America needs the jobs an infrastructure bill from this Congress would provide.

We need the infrastructure repair and improvements.

The economy needs the boost.

Why isn't this being done?

Why isn't this a "no-brainer"?

Why aren't we raising hell?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Entertainment overnight -- we miss you, brother Ray

Entertainment overnight

Love this group.

Why and how Charter schools are so wrong

New Jersey is learning what people in the Kansas City area should when it comes to Charter schools:

Christie's charter school nightmare: “White flight..."

"We are creating separate but equal school systems,"  --Hoboken school board president.

From the article:

While New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie deals with burgeoning scandals surrounding accusations he used the Port Authority and development deals for political ends, he now finds himself in a flap surrounding charter schools in Hoboken.
As charters in the city have exploded in number and size, “they’re fostering white flight, and they’re bankrupting us,” the city’s school board head charged in a Wednesday interview. “We are creating separate but equal school systems,” warned Hoboken Board of Education president Leon Gold. (As Salon has reported, Christie-style ed reform has also sparked controversy in Newark.)
It's what I've said all along.

Charter schools do two things. First they drain funds away from the public school system, when there's already far too little for the schools, shamefully.  And second, they do what the Hoboken school board president points out above. That is, they set up a second set of schools, virtually always for the more wealthy--read: white--students. Truly, yet another separate and unequal group of schools for the more fortunate, the wealthier population.

It's not just unequal and/or unfair, either. 

It's unjust

It's obscene.

It's grossly immoral.

It's not what any good, fair country or society should be about.

Least of all America.

Kansas Citians would do well to learn from all this.  And shut down the entire Charter school program.

An economist's proposal

And it's both fair and intelligent. Logical, even. Too bad it won't take place.

"The $26.7 billion in bonuses Wall Street banks handed out just a few months ago during bonus season at the end of 2013, would be enough to more than double the pay for all 1,085,000 of America's full-time U.S. minimum wage workers (according to a just-released study by the Institute for Policy Studies, based on new data from the New York State Comptroller).

Those giant bonuses weren't exactly the result of the bankers' extraordinary insights and skills. Most if not all came as a result of the hidden taxpayer subsidy given to Wall Street banks in the form of a virtual guarantee against failure that reduced their borrowing costs by .8 percent. Multiplied by the total liabilities of the 10 largest banks, that taxpayer subsidy was $83 billion last year, roughly equal to their profits.

Get it? If we taxed that bank subsidy away and gave it to low-wage workers in the form of a wage subsidy instead, it would double the pay of minimum-wage workers."

And that higher pay to minimum wage workers could and would lift plenty of people out of poverty and that would, then, take more off government assistance but also create more demand in the economy for goods.

We all win. The nation wins. We move forward, in at least a few ways.

It would be progress.

Quote of the day -- on speaking up

Like ·  · 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Entertainment overnight -- Nocturno


Why a higher minimum wage pays us all (guest post)

From none other than the very, very business-friendly Bloomberg News:
Economists and government officials endlessly speculate on the impact of raising the $7.25 federal minimum wage.
Most recently, a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said that raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour might cut employment by 500,000 workers. That is balanced by the projection that higher pay could also boost about 900,000 people out of poverty.
But some places in the U.S. already have real-life experience with raising their minimum wage.
Washington state, for example, has the nation's highest rate, $9.32 an hour. Despite dire predictions that increases would cripple job growth and boost unemployment, this isn't what happened.
At 6.6 percent, the unemployment rate in December was a click below the U.S. average, 6.7 percent, and the state's job creation is sturdy, 16th in the nation, according to a report by Stateline, the news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts.
In Seattle, where metropolitan-area unemployment is 5.3 percent, that $9.32 sounds so yesterday. The mayor and City Council are practically in a race to see who can move faster and with more gusto to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Safe bet: They will make a move by summer. Seattle could then surpass San Francisco, another city that fancies its role as a laboratory. The City by the Bay's is the highest (not counting airport workers), at $10.74 an hour, and officials are discussing a new rate of about $15.
While Seattle and San Francisco are unrepresentative of the nation, they have helped pressure their states to raise their minimum wages. Fifteen years ago, Washington voters approved an initiative giving the lowest-paid workers a raise almost every year, with increases now tied to inflation. Those increases produced the highest U.S. rate, although California could lap that in 2016 when it hits $10 an hour. Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Democratic legislators have been pushing to raise the statewide amount to almost $11 or $12 an hour, but that now seems unlikely this year.