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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

On Robin Williams, on this year and on life






On Ending the Afghanistan War (guest quote)


The Afghanistan War quietly ended Sunday in a small ceremony reminiscent of Obama's end of the Iraq War. No pomp, no banners reading "Mission Accomplished," no John McCain screaming for more death and war.
Obama has almost come full circle in curing America of the Bush cancer that almost destroyed us. He now has only to close Guantanamo Bay and the coffin should be shut on the Bush era. I see signs he is trying really hard to close that embarrassing prison that symbolizes American atrocities.

--Mike Nesbit, FB friend


A Brief Education on US Inequality


From professor, economist and author Robert Reich



How the Wealthy and Corporations are Cleaning our Collective, Financial Clocks


We know the wealthy and corporations are fat and getting fatter and we know it's because, with campaign contributions, they can buy their--our, yours and my--legislators and so, their legislation, our laws and finally, our government.

But how about some details? We know they're doing it but who are some of them and what are they doing?

Fortunately, a terrific article at Alternet right now, tells who's doing what and what, more exactly, they're doing here:



Main Street is going broke. Wall Street is cashing in.

---Exxon has almost 80% of its productive oil and gas wells in the U.S. but declared only 17% of its income here. The company used a theoretical tax to account for 83% of last year's income tax bill, and paid less than 2% of its total income in current U.S. taxes.
---Chevron has about 75% of its oil and gas wells and almost 90% of its pipeline mileage in the United States, yet the company claimed only 13% of last year's income in the U.S., and paid almost nothing (less than 1/10 of 1%) in current U.S. taxes.
---Pfizer had 40% of last year's sales in the U.S., but claimed losses in the U.S. and $17 billion in profits overseas.
---Bank of America, despite making 84% of its 2011-2013 revenue in the U.S., declared just 31% of its profits in the United States.
---Citigroup had 43% of its 2011-2013 revenue in North America but declared less than 3% of its profits in the United States.
---Apple still does most of its product and research development in the United States. Yet the company moved $30 billion in profits to an Irish subsidiary with no employees, with loopholes in place to avoid establishing residency in any country. The subsidiary files no returns and pays no taxes. Apple CEO Tim Cook said, "We pay all the taxes we owe."
---Google's business is based on the Internet, the Digital Library Initiative, and the geographical database of the U.S. Census Bureau. Yet the company has gained recognition as one of the  world's biggest tax avoiders.
This doesn't even mention GE, General Electric paid a NEGATIVE AMOUNT in taxes. That is, we paid them to be in business and reap their profits.
We think of them as American countries--and they, likely, no doubt, too. And they do the vast majority of their business here in the US, in our own country, but contribute a fair amount so the country works and works  well? Contribute so our schools and roads and highways and airports and  bridges and all our infrastructure is supported?
FUGGHEDABOUDIT.
We have got to kill campaign contributions, folks. We have to. And it has to come from us.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Entertainment Overnight -- Christmas Hangover





What Hope Looks Like


From Robert Reich



In spite of a Republican Congress in the new year, here's to hope.


Two of the best scenes from TV, possibly ever


First from now gone "West Wing":



And then, more recently, from HBO's "Newsroom":

Why America isn't the greatest country in the world anymore from nrcbtnue on Vimeo.

Both written, rather no surprise, by Aaron Sorkin.


With the New Year and New Congress


With the coming new year and a new, now Republican Congress, it's important---so important---that Missourians and Americans realize all that the Transcanada tar sands Keystone XL pipeline is and what it would mean to Americans. This only benefits the oil company, Transcanada and wealthy people. It takes that foreign oil, has it cross our country--it's fields and creeks and water sources---and goes out to world markets. This does not benefit America. No way.



More here. Links:

Oil field fumes so painful, Alberta families forced to move



Buyout packages allegedly silence Albertans struck with industry-related cancer



Contact your representatives in Congress and President Obama. Tell them America neither needs nor wants this Keystone XL pipeline.  

Contact the U.S. Congress and the White House


Thank you, in advance.

We can do this.


Quote of the Day -- Capitalism, the Republican Party and our current situation


This Pope gets it. No wonder the Republicans don't like him and say as much.

It's one thing to dislike economists and their data. It's difficult to dismiss the leader of the Catholic Church, on these issues.

The Way Forward in Energy


This, then, is a part of what our future could and should be and for so many reasons:


Imagine having our streets laying in the sunlight, generating electricity, as our glass commercial towers and home roofs are, also.  Far cleaner, no need for coal, far less pollution, cutting carbon dioxide emissions, all that. Doing away with coal, coal mines, the dirty, literally sickening, even killing industry we know it still is.

This is the way forward. This gives hope and in more ways than one.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Entertainment Overnight -- so much talent


Love her.




America: We're number....what?


Vocal Progressives's photo.

Don't You Wish You Had Control of Your Own Raise?




It's going on again down in Jefferson City:

Proposed raises for state elected officials: $1,994,336


It seems clear they decided they wanted $2000 more per year but they didn't want to be too terribly obvious. 

Doesn't everyone wish they could propose and then vote on their own pay raise with all your fellow co-workers, all your pals?

And before anyone goes all nutso on this, yes, I know a state commission came up with this plan. It's just that it seems pretty cushy for them. Their pay raises get considered every 2 or 3 years and they themselves do vote on them.

The bigger question, for me, is how soon are we going to, first, get the minimum wage up to a true, "livable wage", say in the range of $15 per hour? Whose looking after the "little guys and gals" on the street? And then, second, how soon--if ever---can we get it pegged to rise with the inflation rate? It's only then that people will get and have that true, livable wage and we'll get that much closer to having better demand for goods in the nation. It would benefit all, all around.

Let's get this party started.



Kansas' Money Solution?


It's well known now that Kansas Republican Governor Sam Brownback and all his political party cohorts over in Topeka at the state capitol screwed up their state's budget with "trickle down economics" ideas--that is, slashing tax rates and then waiting for tax coffers to fill, instead, because business would (somehow) rather magically appear and, they said, even increase.

Now, we see, yet again, how this idea is a terrible and non-working idea. Instead of bringing in more money, it actually does just the opposite. Kansas now needs approximately 280 million dollars for its budget because of this terribly failed Republican idea, imposed on Kansas and Kansans.

So, a possible solution?

Perhaps Kansas needs to look no further than next door, to Colorado:


Crime in Colorado’s capital city, Denver, has dropped by more than a tenth, local law enforcement data reveals, and the state as a whole is expected to collect around $30 million in revenue this year as a result of weed taxes.

Economically speaking, rolling back the weed ban in Colorado has done wonders as well. The Associated Press reported this week that nearly $19 million in recreational marijuana was sold throughout the state in just the month of March, with $1.9 million of that going immediately to Denver to be divvied up by lawmakers to various state programs.
By the end of the year, weed taxes are expected to net Colorado around $30 million, which as of this week will be used on a plan that puts that money into mostly child drug use prevention and outreach, the AP reported, which means more school nurses and public education efforts funded by marijuana excises. The New York Times reported this week that those taxes have so far provided the state with around $12.6 million. According to Reuters, the latest year-end projection in total revenue generated is around $98 million—exceeding the state’s original estimate by 40 percent.
Would it be a total panacea for the Jayhawks? No, certainly not. Colorado is a much more populated state so the revenue wouldn't be as large. But could it help? Colorado's example seems to show it would, yes.
It would bring in more money for the state and it could free up the police to work on other, more important issues and problems, including a reduction in crime and crime rates.
At any rate, Kansas needs solutions to their money problems, again, thanks to Sam Brownback and all the Republicans in the Statehouse and all those who elected them into office. 
This could be a not-so-small part of that solution and get the side benefit of possibly lowering crime, too.

What Capitalism Begets


Capitalism, at its finest.  

Think About It: The U.S. is Both the Richest Country as Well as the Most Unequal


America is the richest country in all of history... with a whole lot of poor people.

America is the richest country in all of history. We have the largest economy and the largest number of millionaires and billionaires. At the same time, we lead the developed world in economic inequality. In 1965, CEOs received $20 for every dollar earned by the average worker. Today the gap is $354 to $1.

But wait.  It gets better. Much better, as the article proves:

  • We are among the leaders in child poverty.
  • We lead the developed world in homelessness.
  • We lead the world in student debt. 
  • We lead the world in prisoners.

Unfettered, open-market, low-regulation, screw the working-, middle- and lower classes.

This, folks, is not sustainable.



Saturday, December 27, 2014

Entertainment Overnight -- Pre-Sunday






Want less crime in Kansas City? In America?


Of course we want less crime. Naturally. We all do.

We'd all like to see less crime in our neighborhoods, our cities, heck, our nation. Certainly.

How to get it?

It's an old idea. And we can keep it simple.

Chicago gave hundreds of high-risk kids a summer jobViolentcrime arrests plummeted

We invest in our kids, in our people, in our citizens. We invest, heck, in our own infrastructure.

We have to stop buying so many bombs and guns and bullets and bombers and start investing more--much more---in our people and our nation.


It's not rocket science.


Sen. Blunt takes a---deserved---written beating


 Show Me Progress of Missouri wrote a good, true and fair piece on our own Senator Roy Blunt so The Daily Kos couldn't help but reprint:

Remember after Sandy Hook when Roy Blunt was adamant that he would not support legislation that might restrict Second Amendment rights? By which he meant the right of citizens to amass stockpiles of just about any type of weapon. Which was, incidentally, the right of the same folks to enrich organizations that sponsor the NRA, which, in turn, offers tangible aid to politicians like Roy Blunt. Instead he sought to blame government for failing to keep those pesky mentally ill folks under control:

Blunt said in an interview that federal funds have been handed to some communities in states that move people from mental institutions, where federal dollars were used to help them, "and put them back into the community without much monitoring whether people are ready to be in the community or not."
So guess who he blames when a mentally troubled individual shot two policemen in New York?  His constituents, Missourians who exercised their 1st amendment rights to free speech in Ferguson this summer. Evidently the 2nd amendment trumps just about every concern, including public safety. First amendment? Not so much - at least when it involves issues that get old white guys, the only constituency that matters to Blunt, all itchy and bothered. God forbid that police should be accountable.
And, of course, there's the mental health dodge that was trotted out in the wake of Sandy Hook, but not so much in the case of the NYPD shooter. When a NRA-loving, gun enthusiast shoots a school full of little children, we blame the shooting on his mental problems, not his collection of lethal weapons. But when a troubled and violent man, angered by one more miscarriage of justice, goes off the deep end and the innocent suffer, Blunt wants to blame the folks who expose the bigger, original problem and demand that it be addressed. Nice distraction.

Links:

Roy Blunt: Confusing the symptoms with the disease.


This week at progressive state blogsweak coal ash ruleswar on secularismRoyBlunt confused


Quote of the day -- on our world's priorities


"The world produces more food than we can consume. Our manufacturing productivity is at levels never before seen, there is plenty of land for all. What has changed is that the bosses are now taking all of the new profits from productivity gains for themselves. Not sharing with workers or with taxing authorities, it's greed, through and through."

--Booth Martin



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Entertainment Overnight -- Holidays Edition






Taylor Swift's Holiday Gift to President Obams


When I first saw Taylor Swift's latest video, I just didn't care for it. It's too pop, it's too cute, it's more of just being all about her.

What a fool I was.

Today's news made me realize, it's not about herself at all. It's about President Obama, clearly.

Did you see the latest report on our national economy?


Gross domestic product for the third-quarter leapt a better-than-expected 5%.

The U.S. economy’s third-quarter performance was the strongest the nation has recorded in more than 10 years, as consumers continue to spend more as they feel emboldened by a stronger job market, a stronger housing market and rising stocks.
Gross domestic product for the third-quarter leapt a better-than-expected 5% according to the Commerce Department’s “third” estimate. That growth exceeded the prior quarter’s 4.6% increase. It also was the greatest advance since the third quarter of 2003, according to Bloomberg.
U.S. stocks rallied Tuesday following the data, driving the Dow industrials above 18,000 for the first time.
With this, on top of all the other good news on and about America in these past 6 years, all the Republicans and Right Wingers and Tea Party members and just the haters in general, it makes me think of Taylor Swift's latest.



Haters gonna' hate, Mr. President.

Shake it off.




Happy holidays


Bizarre, extremely elaborate military uniforms, sure but those Brits know how to class up the holidays:



Happy holidays to one and all.


Our Screwy National Priorities






What Capitalism Is Not


It's corporatism.

Quote of the day -- Americans, Together


We need to be and remain Americans, together, first and last.

And this is a failed presidency


Right.



And in case anyone out there isn't aware or convinced of more of the successes of this administration:

Updated! A List of 276 Accomplishments by PresidentObama with Citations!



Sunday, December 21, 2014

Entertainment Overnight -- Holidays Edition, redux





Entertainment Overnight -- Winter


Don't watch as much as listen





A Possible, Surprising Inspiration


A great story, on at least a few different levels.





Okay, Let's Get This Straight...


Wait for it...


Sad ... because it's probably true.... Check out all the HRC news you can get your hands on here: http://bit.ly/Ymc2Hu

(thanks to BNR fan Kris Power for sharing!)

Quote of the day


The Koch brothers and the Walton family members come immediately to mind:

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Winter Song


Fantastic group, Walking on Cars





Entertainment Overnight -- Holiday Edition


Very timely.In  at least a few ways.



Happy holidays, y'all.


Carl Sagan, On Humanity's Future


Carl Sagan

"In the past few decades, the United States and the Soviet Union have accomplished something that — unless we destroy ourselves first — will be remembered a thousand years from now: the first close-up exploration of dozens of other worlds. Together we have found much out there that is magnificent, instructive and of practical value. But we have found no trace, no hint of life. The Earth is an anomaly. In all the solar system, it is, so far as we know, the only inhabited planet.
We humans are one among millions of separate species who live in a world burgeoning, overflowing with life. And yet, most species that ever were are no more. After flourishing for one hundred fifty million years, the dinosaurs became extinct. Every last one. No species is guaranteed its tenure on this planet. And humans, the first beings to devise the means for their own destruction, have been here for only several million years.
We are rare and precious because we are alive, because we can think. We are privileged to influence and perhaps control our future. We have an obligation to fight for life on Earth — not just for ourselves but for all those, humans and others, who came before us and to whom we are beholden, and for all those who, if we are wise enough, will come after. There is no cause more urgent than to survive to eliminate on a global basis the growing threats of nuclear war, environmental catastrophe, economic collapse and mass starvation. These problems were created by humans and can only be solved by humans. No social convention, no political system, no economic hypothesis, no religious dogma is more important.
The hard truth seems to be this: We live in a vast and awesome universe in which, daily, suns are made and worlds destroyed, where humanity clings to an obscure clod of rock. The significance of our lives and our fragile realm derives from our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life’s meaning. We would prefer it to be otherwise, of course, but there is no compelling evidence for a cosmic Parent who will care for us and save us from ourselves. 
It is up to us."
--Carl Sagan, who died on this day, 1995

OMG: The Tea Party and I Agree On Something?


I didn't think this could, let alone would happen. I ran across something the Tea Party and I agree on:

Members of the Tea Party movement protest in San Francisco in May; Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Tea party fumes over campaign finance plan


Activists see high dollar limits as a power grab by GOP establishment

From the article: 

Tea party activists are attacking a campaign finance rider in the $1.1 trillion spending bill that they view as a sneaky power grab by establishment Republicans designed to undermine outside conservative groups.

The provision would increase the amount of money a single donor could give to national party committees each year from $97,200 to as much as $777,600 by allowing them to set up different funds for certain expenses. The change would be a huge boost for party committees that have faced steep challenges in recent years from well-funded outside groups.

Yes, it surprised me. But actually, it shouldn't. I have said for a long time, in my campaign to educate Americans on campaign contributions, that we need to  Get the Big, Ugly Money Out of Our Election System and Government and that the only way to do so was/is to kill campaign contributions. Unequivocally. And I've always thought and said most all Americans agree on this, too. Well, unless they're fatcat Republicans. Or wealthy. Or someone high up and well paid in a corporation.

But the Republicans see the big money as on their side since, as we've seen in the last 50 years, they consistently and repeatedly write and propose legislation that is for the wealthy and corporations---their donors---and not for the American people, not for the nation. They don't do any of the sort for the middle class, the lower class or the working people of the country. They just don't. Heck, there's no big money in it.

So rather than cut campaign contributions, or even keep them the same, they keep opening more and yet more floodgates of cash. All for themselves. What was the Citizens United ruling but just one more example? And that came from the US Supreme Court, not Congress.

The Tea Party grew out of the Republican Party and they've been a nightmare, let there be no mistake about it. Too often, they've been seen and shown to be racist, in public, with their signs and they are the extreme of the extreme in the Right Wing of the nation. But on this, they--we--see clearly. The Republicans are trying still more to have it all their way or the highway, especially with cash, especially with money, the big money, in campaign contributions.

And these Republicans don't want anyone to get in their way. Not the other political party, not the current, sitting president, not even the Right Wing of their own party.

Heck, they don't even want the nation to get in the way of their own needs and wants.

America be damned.


Here's Your Welfare in America


What Should be the Republican Congress' Number One Priority in the New Year


John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.

We'll have a new Congress in the new year, of course and unequivocally, the number one priority of the new Republican Congress in the new year, in 2015, this January should be

...........DRUM ROLL.........

A JOBS/INFRASTRUCTURE BILL.

And for three excellent reasons:

---Americans need the jobs

---The nation's infrastructure needs the updating and improving and this is widely known and accepted and finally

----The economy needs the boost

It's self-evident. This should be easy. If this were golf, it would be a "gimme." (Google it).

But it won't happen because, America be damned, the Republicans don't want success on this President's watch, during his term.

So screw you, America.

The Republican Party and their own needs are far more important than you.

Try to have happy holidays.


Quote of the day -- On Our Free Markets. And Humanity


Bernie Sanders's photo.

Entertainment Overnight -- Holiday Edition




Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Andrew Hawkins' Statement


His response to his wearing a t-shirt about the Tamir Rice shooting and killing:

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“I was taught that justice is a right that every American should have. Also justice should be the goal of every American. I think that’s what makes this country. To me, justice means the innocent should be found innocent. It means that those who do wrong should get their due punishment. Ultimately, it means fair treatment. So a call for justice shouldn’t offend or disrespect anybody. A call for justice shouldn’t warrant an apology.
“To clarify, I utterly respect and appreciate every police officer that protects and serves all of us with honesty, integrity and the right way. And I don’t think those kind of officers should be offended by what I did. My mom taught me my entire life to respect law enforcement. I have family, close friends that are incredible police officers and I tell them all the time how they are much braver than me for it. So my wearing a T-shirt wasn’t a stance against every police officer or every police department. My wearing the T-shirt was a stance against wrong individuals doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons to innocent people.
“Unfortunately, my mom also taught me just as there are good police officers, there are some not-so-good police officers that would assume the worst of me without knowing anything about me for reasons I can’t control. She taught me to be careful and be on the lookout for those not-so-good police officers because they could potentially do me harm and most times without consequences. Those are the police officers that should be offended.
“Being a police officer takes bravery. And I understand that they’re put in difficult positions and have to make those snap decisions. As a football player, I know a little bit about snap decisions, obviously on an extremely lesser and non-comparative scale, because when a police officer makes a snap decision, it’s literally a matter of life and death. That’s hard a situation to be in. But if the wrong decision is made, based on pre-conceived notions or the wrong motives, I believe there should be consequence. Because without consequence, naturally the magnitude of the snap decisions is lessened, whether consciously or unconsciously.
“I’m not an activist, in any way, shape or form. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred I keep my opinions to myself on most matters. I worked extremely hard to build and keep my reputation especially here in Ohio, and by most accounts I’ve done a solid job of decently building a good name. Before I made the decision to wear the T-shirt, I understood I was putting that reputation in jeopardy to some of those people who wouldn’t necessarily agree with my perspective. I understood there was going to be backlash, and that scared me, honestly. But deep down I felt like it was the right thing to do. If I was to run away from what I felt in my soul was the right thing to do, that would make me a coward, and I can’t live with that. God wouldn’t be able to put me where I am today, as far as I’ve come in life, if I was a coward.
“As you well know, and it’s well documented, I have a 2-year-old little boy. The same 2-year-old little boy that everyone said was cute when I jokingly threw him out of the house earlier this year. That little boy is my entire world. And the No. 1 reason for me wearing the T-shirt was the thought of what happened to Tamir Rice happening to my little Austin scares the living hell out of me. And my heart was broken for the parents of Tamir and John Crawford knowing they had to live that nightmare of a reality.
“So, like I said, I made the conscious decision to wear the T-shirt. I felt like my heart was in the right place. I’m at peace with it and those that disagree with me, this is America, everyone has the right to their first amendment rights. Those who support me, I appreciate your support. But at the same time, support the causes and the people and the injustices that you feel strongly about. Stand up for them. Speak up for them. No matter what it is because that’s what America’s about and that’s what this country was founded on.”
This guy was never "on my radar", so to speak but he now has my respect, for what that's worth.

Quote of the Day



"I believe that the entire effort of modern society should be concentrated on the endeavor to outlaw war as a method of the solution of problems between nations."

~General Douglas MacArthur