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Monday, June 30, 2014

Entertainment Overnight -- Flashback

Different media, from long ago:

Kansas' budget--and image--taking a beating

Yesterday, I posted an article from The New York Times, telling of Kansas' tax and budget issues and problems due to their governor, Brownback, and his Republican allies in the Topeka statehouse, slashing taxes for the wealthy and corporations and putting the burden on the middle- and lower-classes. Last evening, for Monday's paper, the Times posted this column, from economist Paul Krugman:

Mr. Krugman rightly points out once again, as I did yesterday, that the "trickly down" theories of Ronald Reagan and the Republicans have been fantastic failures:

Two years ago Kansas embarked on a remarkable fiscal experiment: It sharply slashed income taxes without any clear idea of what would replace the lost revenue. Sam Brownback, the governor, proposed the legislation — in percentage terms, the largest tax cut in one year any state has ever enacted — in close consultation with the economist Arthur Laffer. And Mr. Brownback predicted that the cuts would jump-start an economic boom — “Look out, Texas,” he proclaimed.

But Kansas
isn’t booming — in fact, its economy is lagging both neighboring states and America as a whole. Meanwhile, the state’s budget has plunged deep into deficit, provoking a Moody’s downgrade of its debt.

There’s an important lesson here — but it’s not what you think. Yes, the Kansas debacle shows that tax cuts don’t have magical powers, but we already knew that. The real lesson from Kansas is the enduring power of bad ideas, as long as those ideas serve the interests of the right people.

Why, after all, should anyone believe at this late date in supply-side economics, which claims that tax cuts boost the economy so much that they largely if not entirely pay for themselves? The doctrine crashed and burned two decades ago, when just about everyone on the right — after claiming, speciously, that the economy’s performance under Ronald Reagan validated their doctrine — went on to predict that Bill Clinton’s tax hike on the wealthy would cause a recession if not an outright depression. What actually happened was a spectacular economic expansion.

The zeitgeist seems to have finally become that Kansas' emperor has no clothes. 

At last.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Entertainment overnight -- Cowboy Edition

Quote of the day -- Sunday edition III

"I've been a deep believer my whole life. 18 years as a Southern Baptist. More than 40 years as a mainline Protestant. I'm an ordained pastor. But it's just stopped making sense to me. You see people doing terrible things in the name of religion, and you think: 'Those people believe just as strongly as I do. They're just as convinced as I am.' And it just doesn't make sense anymore. It doesn't make sense to believe in a God that dabbles in people's lives. If a plane crashes, and one person survives, everyone thanks God. They say: 'God had a purpose for that person. God saved her for a reason!' Do we not realize how cruel that is? Do we not realize how cruel it is to say that if God had a purpose for that person, he also had a purpose in killing everyone else on that plane? And a purpose in starving millions of children? A purpose in slavery and genocide? For every time you say that there's a purpose behind one person's success, you invalidate billions of people. You say there is a purpose to their suffering. And that's just cruel."

Brownback--and Brownbackistan--in more news today

Yessirree, ol' Kansas Governor Sam Brownback just keeps getting the news coverage lately, doesn't he?  Just seems it's nothing he's going to like. Here's another, today, from The New York Times:

With the wonderful byline:

Kansas Tax Cut Leaves Brownback With Less Money

Gee, imagine that.

Except isn't that what a lot of people SAID would actually happen?

A bit from the article:

Kansas has a problem. In April and May, the state planned to collect $651 million from personal income tax. But instead, it received only $369 million.

In 2012, Kansas lawmakers passed a large and rather unusual income tax cut. It was expected to reduce state tax revenue by more than 10 percent, and Gov. Sam Brownback said it would create “tens of thousands of jobs.”

In part, the tax cut worked in the typical way, by cutting tax rates and increasing the standard deduction. But Kansas also eliminated tax on various kinds of income, including income described commonly — and sometimes misleadingly — as “small-business income.” Basically, if your income results in the generation of a Form 1099-MISC instead of a W-2, it’s probably not taxable anymore in Kansas.

The idea of the Right Wing and Republicans that if you cut taxes, more companies want to come to your state--and Kansas, at that?--is just silliness, if not absurd.

That whole "trickle down" theory of Ronnie the Raygun's was just so much patent hokum.  From the time he was elected--1980--to now, we've had 3 decades to see this play out, economically and for the nation.

Except it's anything but played out.

It's left us with fewer jobs, higher profits for corporate America and the wealthy, low growth and at least as low demand for goods and services in the marketplace. It has famously actually shrunk the middle class.

But the Samster wanted more of it.

And for a while, his cronies in the Republican Party and even Kansans gave it to him.

But the chickens are coming and have come to roost and it isn't pretty.

Less money in the coffers. Less money in the budget. Less money for schools.

Fortunately, it seems like Kansans are finally waking up and they aren't liking what they have, what they see and what they're left with.

Quote of the day -- Sunday Edition, No. 2

Quote of the day -- Sunday edition

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Entertainment overnight -- CW II

John Boehner sues the President

A Veteran of the Iraq War says what needs to be said...

...and things only Veterans CAN say:

Absolutely Nothing: A Veteran's Savage Indictment of the Iraq War

It should be required reading for all of-age Americans.

Hope--and a smile--for 2016

Washington Post columnist and political reporter Chris Cillizza  wrote a terrific summary of the current possible Republican candidates for president in 2016 this week:

NoMitt Romney isn't running for president

If this list doesn't give one hope for 2016, for that election and even for America, nothing can.

10. Paul Ryan:  The Wisconsin Republican's total lack of interest in making a play for a House leadership post following Eric Cantor's stunning loss earlier this month left me, again, wondering just what the heck he wants out of his political career. The answer is elusive but now seems to be that he wants to bide his time and see where the party -- in Congress and nationally -- goes over the next few cycles. At 44 years old, he can afford to wait. (Previous ranking: 9)
9. Bobby Jindal: The Louisiana governor is running for president. The latest piece of evidence was a two-day swing through Iowa, stopping by the state Republican convention and raising money for the state party. Jindal, in his day job, is building a record that hard-core conservatives will love. He rejected the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act and, more recently, issued an executive order to withdraw the state from the Common Core education standards program. (Previous ranking: 7)
8. Ted Cruz: The last week in politics has to give the Texas Republican Senator some pause. His preferred candidate in Oklahoma's Republican Senate primary got walloped on Tuesday, the same night tea party insurgent Chris McDaniel inexplicably lost to establishment pick Thad Cochran in the Mississippi Senate runoff. Cruz has a loyal base of support. But, it's not big enough to be the nominee. (Previous ranking: 6)
7. Mike Huckabee: The former Arkansas governor is doing the sorts of things one does when he wants to run for president.   He stumped for Mike Campbell, a candidate for North Carolina South Carolina lieutenant governor earlier this month. He's giving the wink and nod statements of interest that are part of the game. And, polling in Iowa at least shows he remains popular; a recent Des Moines Register poll showed Huckabee had the second highest favorable ratings of any potential 2016 GOPer. (Paul Ryan was at the top.) (Previous ranking: 8)
6. John Kasich: The Ohio governor is the "it boy" of the smart-set in DC at the moment. He looks to be on his way to a comfortable re-election victory in the swingiest state in the country at the presidential level. He's run for president before and no one we talk to says he doesn't want to again.  If Kasich wins this fall and shows some interest in the race, he could move up these rankings. (Previous ranking: N/A)
5. Chris Christie: Just when he thought he was out, they pulled him back in. The news, which broke this week, that the feds are investigating the New Jersey governor's use of Port Authority funds to repair the Pulaski Skyway, further complicates Christie's political rehabilitation efforts. Whether or not anything in this latest investigation gets to Christie remains very unclear but it's just another bad storyline that he has to deal with at a time when he wants to pivot to the process of running for president. (Previous ranking: 4)
4. Scott Walker:  Speaking of bad headlines, the Wisconsin governor has had to weather some of his own lately over allegations of illegal coordination between his 2012 recall campaign and outside groups aiding that effort. But, earlier this week, an attorney for the special prosecutor tasked with looking into the allegations made clear that Walker was not a target of the probe. That was a nice piece of news for Walker -- and should help him quiet the storm of coverage that had popped up over the past 10 days or so. (Previous ranking: 5)
3.  Rand Paul: Paul is the most interesting candidate running for the Republican presidential nomination. He's also the one -- with the possible exceptions of Rubio and Jeb Bush -- who can make a credible case that nominating him would expand the GOP into parts of the electorate it hasn't been able to reach in recent years. Paul remains somewhat unpredictable -- that's also part of his appeal -- and it remains to be seen whether he could win a one-on-one fight with a more establishment candidate. (Previous ranking: 2)
2. Marco Rubio: The last time we wrote about the 2016 presidential field in this space, we recommended buying stock in the Florida Senator. That's still our recommendation -- particularly as Walker and Christie have stumbled a bit as of late.  Rubio's record in the Senate -- with the exception of immigration reform -- is solidly conservative and he is probably the most naturally gifted candidate in the field.  We keep hearing whispers that Rubio's record during his time as Speaker of the Florida house is ripe for an opposition researcher but we're not there yet. (Previous ranking: 3)
1. Jeb Bush: Until he says "no" -- and we still think that's more likely than him saying "yes"  -- we are going to keep the former Florida governor at the top of these rankings. That ranking is largely built on his last name and the political and fundraising muscle it represents. As Philip Bump noted in a recent Fix post, however, Jeb's record on core conservative policies is not so good. (Previous ranking: 1)
When you add  in the facts that, first, the Republican Party needs the Hispanic vote in 2016 and beyond, in order to win--or start winning--in elections and that, second, most of the Right Wing but especially the extremists in that wing, like the Tea Party, etc., want nothing whatever to do with that namby-pamby "immigration reform", it seems a sure bet the Republicans are doomed come the big election year.
Leastways, it's what we're hoping, that's for sure.
At this point, however, this is all just enough to brighten a Summer weekend. 
Have a terrific one, y'all.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Entertainment overnight -- new to me


To any politician or pundit on the Right calling for the US to go into Iraq again -- from an Iraq War Veteran

I’ll tell you what, let’s go back to Iraq.
Oh, yes, let us do that.
I’ll dig out my uniform and strap on my pistol and gird up my sword and ride into battle yet again.
Just so long as Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Paul Ryan, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, and every single one of those powdered, Botoxed talking heads at Fox News are in the vanguard. That’s right, you cowards, you put on a uniform and you lead the charge this time around. The Koch brothers and Mitt Romney can pay for it, every goddamned penny, we’ll bleed them until they’re dry and then we’ll pull the gold fillings from their teeth to pay for it right along with the rest of their Wall Street cronies. You fuckers got rich off the last one, you can damned well pay for this one. And when you run out of money, we’ll take your blood, fair’s fair.
Strap John McCain into the cockpit of an A-4 Skyhawk and let him fly air cover.
If he gets himself shot down and taken prisoner again, well, you know what? Fuck him, leave him to the enemy because frankly his hate and bile and raging insanity have done more damage to this country than Bowe Bergdahl ever did.
The terrorists can keep him.
Peace love and understanding tell me
Is there no place for them today
They say we must fight to keep our freedom
But Lord knows there’s got to be a better way
War what is it good for
Absolutely nothing…

Edwin Starr, “War” 1969
Originally posted by Jim Wright on Stonekettle Station.

On the anniversary of Helen Keller's birth

"It is wonderful how much time good people spend fighting the devil. If they would only expend the same amount of energy loving their fellow men, the devil would die in his own tracks of ennui."  --Helen Keller

Links:  Helen Keller Quotes

Helen Keller Quotes

Brownbackistan--and der Leader--in national news

And it's good news for Kansas, Kansans and even the nation, I'd argue.  From Daily Kos

Brownback: My ideas just need a little more time to bake!

Sam Brownback, in deep red Kansas, is in dire shape

Whoa! We knew GOP Gov. Sam Brownback was unpopular, but this unpopular? A new SurveyUSA poll finds Democrat Paul Davis, the state House minority leader, beating Brownback 47-41 (with Libertarian Keen Umbehr at 5), an improvement from Davis' already-remarkable 43-39 edge last October.pair of PPP polls taken in between also placed Davis on top, and the only contradictory numbers have come from a Republican pollster (which had Brownback at just 42) and Rasmussen, which, well, Rasmussen.
What's more, Brownback has a weak 55-37 lead in the GOP primary against his Some Dude opponent, Jennifer Winn, the mother of a man charged with felony murder after a drug deal turned deadly. Winn has now become an advocate for marijuana reform (as well as hemp legalization) and says she has no specific beef with Brownback. In other words, she's a classic non-serious candidate who should be polling in single digits at best, but here she is nearly cracking 40. Ya think Kansans are sick of Brownback? (If you want to know more about why, click here.)
But wait.  It gets better.
In fact, Kansas voters don't seem to be too thrilled with Republican office-holders in general. In the Senate race, veteran GOP Sen. Pat Roberts only manages a blechy 43-33 advantage on Democrat Chad Taylor, his most likely general election opponent. A Taylor upset seems almost impossible on paper, but for an inoffensive incumbent like Roberts to be mired in the low 40s in a state like Kansas is really remarkable. Roberts does seem to be keeping his tea-fueled primary challenger at bay, though, with a 56-23 lead on physician Milton Wolf. Given that Wolf has actually gotten some attention and is at least running a traditional outsider's campaign, that makes Brownback's primary showing look even worse.
Seems as though at least Kansas, if not more and more Americans, the country over, are finally catching on to the Republicans and who, exactly, they are and are not working for.
'Cuz it surely ain't the average citizens and workers on the street.

Overland Park, KS: 17th of the "Most Snobby Cities in America"

Not in the top 10 but a link to the full list here:

I mean seriously, Overland Park?

That's like being a snob about white bread.

Or macaroni and cheese.

(And Topeka, Kansas 48th?  TOPEKA?  Snobby?  Seriously?  About what? What IS there to the place, let alone to be snobbish about?)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Kansas, Missouri, the US and gun deaths

From the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence on Facebook comes the following article and chart:

How Many Gun Deaths Are There In Your State?

Then, after looking below, note Missouri is HIGH on the list, in the top 1/2 at number 14.  Kansas, while still lower, is also high, at position 23.  And check out next door neighbor Iowa, at near bottom at 43.  People say there's so much killing going on in Chicago yet Illinois comes in down at 37.

Interesting stuff.

But pitiful, too.

Notice, also, that it's the "Red", Republican, Right Wing states where most of the killing occurs.


You can bet it's not.

Fight to end campaign contributions

Surely we agree our government is badly broken and bought and paid for by the wealthy and corporations:

Please join:

Mayday PAC

Let's fight back.  We must.

Let's get our country back.  Back for the people.

A plan to end corruption in our government

It's a plan.  It's a start.

We have to end campaign contributions. We have to get our government back, back for the people, all the people, not just the wealthy and corporations.


Mayday PAC: The Super PAC Built to Destroy Super PACs

Tech Titans From Both Parties Get Behind Super PAC

Get the BigUgly Money Out

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Entertainment overnight -- breaking talent

At times, he strongly reminds me of Ben Howard (so naturally I enjoy his work).

Links:  Popcast: Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith, British Pop Imports

Ben Ratliff - ArtsBeat Blog - The New York Times

We shouldn't even have to say this

But we do have to say it.  Unfortunately, we have to shove it down the throats of far too many people in business and WAY too many people in the political Right Wing and the Republican and Tea political parties:

I mean, first, it's just good business sense. It should be common sense--not that that's common, mind you, as was said centuries ago.

It should also be just common decency. Why should people have to fight, for pity's sake, for a living wage?

If one is working 40 hours per week at their job, why shouldn't that be enough to have food, clothing, shelter, health care and transportation, as it used to be?

Didn't Henry Ford himself show the way, that that was the good thing even for himself, let alone his employees?

Heck, yes he did, famously so.

So finally, here's the one last, big reason we shouldn't have to ask this question and shouldn't have to have this debate.

Does Christianity and Christ's teachings mean nothing to a nation that is supposed to be "Christian"?

How "Christian" is it, exactly, to pay another person less that a true, "living wage"?  Especially when the difference of the obscenely low wage being paid---minimum at $7.25/hour--and a true, living wage--whether $10.10/hr or $15 or whatever--is going straight, in profits, into the owner's pocket.

How obscene is that?  Morally obscene.

The answer is that it is grossly so.

I worked for a man like that, for 15 years.

He thought himself quite the Christian, too.

He also said, paraphrasing here, that nothing is a lie if the person you're telling it to believes it or you're not caught.

True.  He said that.  Aloud.

And on Sunday, you could see him in church, scurrying about, dressed up in his tie, with his wife--who also thought herself right up there next to Jeezus.

That is precisely how these people are, in business, who don't pay a living wage.  Like Walmart.  And all the others. Grossly immoral, taking home all the money they can get their hands on, then thinking themselves fair and, in fact, Christian and moral.

If only I believed in Hell.

So Thad Cochran sneaked through

Yes sir, Senator Cochran, down in Mississippi, just barely slipped through yesterday and did, in fact, sneak past State Senator and Tea Party member Chris McDaniel:

With History in Mind, Black Voters Aided Cochran

African-Americans, who coordinated their support for Thad Cochran, said the sacrifice of the Rev. George Lee, who tried to register blacks to vote in the 1950s, was felt in Tuesday’s vote.

This is all pretty entangled and politically fascinating. The Tea Party, fighting within and tearing up the Republican Party and Right Wing and now black Americans, voting for the likes of Thad Cochran, of the political party who votes against the best interests of those same black Americans.


I thought Robert Reich's comments on the election today from his Facebook page, were insightful as ever:

Mississippi Republican Senator Thad Cochran’s razor-thin margin of victory last night over State Senator State Senator Chris McDaniel, his Tea Party-backed challenger, in the Republican primary there, should be small comfort to the establishment GOP – or to any American. Cochran relied on black Democrats to put him over the finish line, prompting McDaniel to charge that his rival “has shown his true colors. … By reaching out to liberal Democrats he has confirmed what we’ve always known: that he doesn’t have our best interests at heart.” 

Excuse me, but “our” best interests? 

McDaniel and the Tea Party played on the growing fears of working-class whites that their economic decline has been due to a conspiracy of blacks, Latinos, immigrants, and the federal government – from which they must “take America back.” The billionaire oligarchs who funded McDaniel through their various front groups want anxious white Americans to believe this dangerous fiction, and they and their money aren’t going away. That’s why it’s so important to create a new political coalition that unites working-class whites with the poor and middle class, to take back America from the oligarchs.

It's also why it's so important to fight to end campaign contributions so we can get the government and legislators back working for the people--all the people--and not just for the corporations and wealthy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

On the next elections

Given Eric Cantor's crashing and burning recently, in his election, and the rise of David Brat and his Tea Party support, there are some things that need to be pointed out:

1) Naturally and very obviously, this helped the Tea Party greatly. Beyond that, it will likely have helped the Koch brothers and their money and all the capability of that money a great deal, also.

2) Thad Cochran, in his upcoming election, will, I predict, lose in his election, and for two reasons, at least. First, he's running against a much younger, newcomer from, yes, the Tea Party, and he's an attractive candidate, at least to some--and likely, enough--people.  Second, Sen. Cochran recently shot himself in the figurative foot when he declared he Did 'All Kinds Of Indecent Things With Animals ....    


3) In New York, I'd have to say, it looks as though 84 year old Representative Charlie Rangel will also likely lose in his race, after all these years in office, and will be sent home. He is the age he is, he was censured in office not that long ago, he's been there since the 70's and he has tough, tough competition. Fortunately, in a way, he has two competitors but it will likely be enough to do him in.

Fascinating stuff. I know I'll stay tuned in.

A Headline to Love

From Crooks and Liars:

Bad Guys With Guns Hold Up Patrons Outside Gun Ranges, Take Their Guns

The irony.

The delicious irony.

Herman Cain agrees with us

"Cept we said this about him and Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann and Bill O'Really and nearly everyone on Fox "News", too:

Herman Cain: 'Stupid People Are Ruining America'

Monday, June 23, 2014

Must-see movie coming soon

Can hardly wait.

Joplin, Jeezus, Father's Day and guns: Surprised?

Missouri, if you don't embarrass yourselves, there are plenty of the rest of us who are:

I love the introduction to the article:

What kind of gun would Jesus shoot? It’s a question that theologians have debated throughout history without being able to settle on a satisfying answer. Some subscribe to the school of thought that he would carry something small and tasteful, like a .32 caliber hand gun, because there’s little room for anything bigger in those flowing robes. Others say he’d wield an AR-15, because Jesus is a badass and anything less than maximum destruction power wouldn’t make sense for the Prince of Peace.

And then for the serious, sick part:

That’s apparently what a church in Joplin, Mo., had in mind for a Father’s Day promotion last week, in which fathers were offered raffle tickets to win one of two AR-15 rifles. For every child he brought with him, he’d get another chance at taking aim with the Lord.
“We thought instead of a lot of small things, we’d give away stuff the guys were interested in,” Heath Mooneyham, the head pastor of the appropriately named Ignite Church told The Joplin Globe.
And just in case you think this is--hopefully, right?--a lampoon by The Onion or some such, check it out:<
If you watch even the first few seconds of that, you learn "Pastor Heath" was going to give a sermon on "excellence."
He no doubt ran into it once.  Somewhere. Maybe.

The World's Warmonger

Driving back to Southwest Missouri yesterday afternoon, I came on what seemed to me to be a rather large convoy of diesel trucks about 1/2 way there:

If you'll notice, they're 5 across.

And then this shows they are also 4 deep meaning there are 20 trucks here, total.

It immediately got me thinking, about these trucks, about their destination, everything.

Here they are, our own American government no doubt bought them, likely at full price, from some corporation. 

Then the government--we--had them painted beige--"desert sand", no doubt, right?

And now we're going to send them overseas, to Afghanistan, likely.

Then think about that.

We're pulling out of that war shortly. We're getting out.

But right now, we're probably sending these over there.

Can you imagine the collective costs?

I mean, sure, it's probably only in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and given that the American Pentagon/Department of "Defense" budget is at least $711 billion, this is, certainly a tiny, tiny fraction of that budget.

But wait. It gets more interesting.

As I left, after I took these pictures, 21 MORE of these trucks came convoying up the freeway, no doubt to get with these.

Yet more hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So what's the point?

Can you imagine what all those hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on this portion of war could do for kids in our schools?  Or for any other number of things that would actually be useful and helpful in the world?

Saturday night at the Uptown

Ever since I first heard it, I've marveled that parents could name their child, their son Adonis.

This was there Saturday night, anyway.

Who could but wish them well?

A truck and tractor pull like no other

Because this one was Peculiar:

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Entertainment Overnight -- So much soul

Problems with soccer

For Americans, anyway (with tongue firmly and deeply in cheek):

1)  The field is the size of a runway for a Boeing 747

2)  Having the game last--what?--8 hours each, with no breaks, commercials, half-times, songs or anything

3) Who knows WHEN the match will actually end because at any time, they may well add ADDITIONAL minutes to the time clock

4) Then there's the fairly old problem Americans have with soccer that--gasp--IT CAN END IN A DRAW.

No one wins, no one loses.

Oh, yeah. That's Socialism or Communism or some dang thing right there.  That just isn't right.

5) Finally, when does this thing end, this World Cup?  September?  November?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Entertainment overnight -- A Change-up

The commentary makes it:

Question for The Kansas City Star

The StLouis Post-Dispatch rather quickly--and wisely, I think--ended publishing Right Wing columnist George Will after his first article on rape that was strongly anti-women.

Now, Mr. Will is at least "doubling-down" on his comments and defending them:

George Will Stands By His Incendiary Sexual Assault Column

I love that he also tries to blame, in this video, the Obama administration for his situation.

So the question is, Star, how soon until you do the same?

It's not about following the "big brother across the state" or that big competitor or anything like that.

He has defended rape and rapists and belittled the situations of rape and possible rape.. Additionally, there are plenty--plenty--of Right Wing, Conservative columnists out there to choose from, heaven knows.

What part of this man's writing could or would you possibly want or want your readers to have now?