Blog Catalog

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Entertainment Overnight -- Redo, Redux

Nice cover. Nice remake.

Yet More Bad News For Kansans

Bad news seems to keep pouring out of Kansas. This hit yesterday:

Kansas State Finance Council issues record $840 million debt certificate

Gov. Sam Brownback and top legislators voted Friday to issue a record $840 million certificate of indebtedness for the upcoming fiscal year despite adoption of massive Kansas tax increases to boost revenue.

The 2015 legislative session came to a close as the State Finance Council accepted conclusions of the governor’s budget director that state government would have insufficient resources “for certain periods” to meet expenditures in the fiscal year starting July 1.

The previous record for short-term borrowing of “idle” state funds was set during the 2009 fiscal year as national recession crashed state revenue and deep cuts couldn’t stem the budget crisis. Three certificates were issued by the council to borrow $775 million. That foreshadowed a 1-cent, three-year increase in the statewide sales tax in 2010.

Kansas Governor Under Investigation For Campaign Finance Irregularities

One year ago at this time, the council approved a debt certificate of $675 million for the current fiscal year. Brownback had promised the state’s fiscal fortunes would improve, but legislators returned in January to confront a revenue shortfall requiring a series of mid-year budget adjustments.

Those same lawmakers followed that action this month by approving tax increases of more than $400 million to close a projected deficit in the 2016 fiscal year. Brownback signed into law bills raising the cigarette and general sales taxes, shrinking itemized deductions and imposing a tax on managed care organizations. He is required by the legislation to make $50 million in budget cuts.

On Friday, Democratic lawmakers gathered in the Capitol for sine die — typically a ceremonial final day of the annual session — expressed exasperation with expansion of the state’s debt position. This type of debt must be repaid by June 30, 2016.

House Democratic Leader Tom Burroughs, D-Kansas City, said escalation in borrowing illustrated the precarious financial condition of state government.

He said the root causes were decisions in 2012 by Brownback and the GOP-led Legislature to exempt 330,000 businesses from the income tax and to reduce individual income tax rates.

“This is a direct result of Governor Brownback’s failed fiscal experiment,” Burroughs said. “Until members of the Legislature take steps to implement a responsible and sustainable budget, the state will continue to be forced to borrow money to cover expenditures.”

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said “incompetence and mismanagement” of the budget led to a trifecta during the 2015 session.

Here's the "money line", so to speak.

“Governor Brownback and the Republican Legislature are responsible for the longest session in history, the largest tax increase in history and, now, the largest certificate of indebtedness in history,” Hensley said.

Then, if that weren't enough, this just hit today, about an hour ago:

The state's overall tax collections were $22.5 million less than forecast in June, Kansas officials said Tuesday.

The shortfall follows signing by Gov. Sam Brownback of bills adopted by the Republican-led Legislature raising taxes by more than $400 million annually to allow for a balanced budget in the fiscal year starting July 1.

So the good Governor's "supply side", Right Wing, very Republican "trickle down economics" plan which cuts the tax rates of the wealthy and business shows again it just doesn't work.  Then, not only does it not work, time and again in the US since President Reagan's brilliance brought out all those 30 years ago but it continues to still create worse and worse problems for the sunflower state.

While the state's motto is Per aspera ad astra, I don't think anyone thought it should be "to the stars through difficulty" that Kansans are to create and bring on themselves.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Entertainment Overnight -- RIP

Rest in peace Chris Squire, Yes bassist.

How Far Down, Kansans, How Far Down?

How far down, Kansans, are you going to let Governor Brownback and the Republicans take you before you finally, finally say "Enough!"?
Now, this, today, from the Wichita Eagle-Beacon, no less, from right in the heart of the state:

Kansas Governor Under Investigation For Campaign Finance Irregularities

Kansas school districts this year will get less than half the monetary incentive they expected from the state as part of a 2012 initiative to enhance career and technical education.

A memo sent to school districts from the Kansas State Department of Education last week says the per-pupil payment for students who obtained certificates in certain high-demand fields will be “approximately $450” for the just-completed school year. That’s down from a $1,000 per-student incentive promised in the initial legislation.

“It’s been a great program. It’s been highly successful,” said Dale Dennis, deputy education commissioner. “But the appropriation was just reduced due to the state’s fiscal condition.”

So it's a great program, it's for the kids, for the students and for education in technology but due to Governor Sam Brownback's and his Republican Party's "trickle down" tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, the program gets cut and the kids go wanting.

Less education.

Less experience.

And this is a good idea how?

Read more here:

To Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and All In the Republican Party and Right Wing

Ways To Save the GOP (Heavens forbid)

And God bless Tom Tomorrow

Quote of the Day -- Timely

What part of equality do people not understand?

Nelson Mandela's photo.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

For the Religionists, Upset by This Week's Supreme Court Ruling on Equality

This applies to Right Wing Christians, Mormons, Islamists, Muslims, Hasidic Jews, all y'all.

You realize you're all in the same figurative boat on this, right?

You get that, right?

Jesus, Republicans and other Bullshit's photo.

The Last Week in America

They're both improvements.

Southern Poverty Law Center's photo.

Worried About Gay Marriage?


Quote of the Day

Michael Trepp's photo.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Entertainment Overnight -- The Times They Are A-Changing

No time any more so than now.

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

And thank goodness.

Corporate America, Running Amuck

If you've been paying attention at all to the news lately, especially about corporations and what they're doing and doing to us Americans, it's likely you've been disheartened. I know I have been. And I don't even have high expectations of them.

First there was this, from AT&T, last October, putting unfounded charges on their customers bills:

AT&T Fined $105 Million by FTC for 'Cramming' Charges

Then there was this, a few weeks ago, again from and about AT&T and the way they supply internet service:

AT&T Fined $100M for Throttling 'Unlimited Data'

It seems AT&T said if you got internet from them, you'd have "unlimited data." Trouble was, they didn't bother to tell those same customers that when they got to a certain level of data usage, their internet speed would slow. Nice, huh?

Then there was this, yesterday, from Google, also on computers:

Google Secretly Spying On Computer Users

Then there was this from Whole Foods last year:

Whole Foods Will Pay $800,000 for Price-Gouging

Finally, not to be done there, this came out yesterday, too:

So for anyone, anyone who thinks we can or should do with little or no government, when corporations and the wealthy can do these kinds of things to us, I say they must be crazy.

Or they're part of these corporations and doing these very same things to us all.

What Capital Punishment Really Is

The father of one of the Boston bombing victims has it right.

"The punishment of the death penalty is nothing more than revenge."

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The American History We Don't Want to Know

Face2Face Africa's photo.
Face2Face Africa's photo.

Face2Face Africa's photo.

Lynching was a form of terrorism used against Blacks during that time period, where mobs of Whites would hang, burn, shoot, and beat Blacks to death as a form of intimidation and control.

One of those who lost their lives was soldier William Little.

An excerpt:

"The year 1919 was a time of resurgence by the Ku Klux Klan. Seventy-six Blacks lost their lives to mob violence in southern states that year. One of them, Private William Little of Blakely, Ga., was apparently lynched precisely because he was wearing his uniform.

"The accounts of the time state that a few days after being mustered out, he took a train home and was beaten by local Whites for wearing his uniform around town.

"The mob made him remove it.

"A couple of days later, he was caught wearing it again -- Little protested that he had no other clothes -- and was beaten to death and left at the end of town."

EJI plans to build memorials and monuments to the slain throughout the South in an effort to not only dignify the dead but force Americans to face their history.

Read more and listen to jazz singer Billie Holiday's ode to those who lost their lives during that time here:

Note to Republican Congress: NOW LEAVE OBAMACARE ALONE

Once again, the United States Supreme Court has ruled in favor and support of the Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare":

Justices Back Key Element of Health Law

Now, could we please, please, for the love of God and all that is good, stop waisting time and energy and millions and millions of dollars trying to undo this legislation? It's legislation, it needs to be pointed out, that has made it possible for nearly 20 million Americans to get health care insurance and so, coverage.

Paul Krugman has it right.

And while we're at it, could we get all those Republican governors and state legislatures---including Kansas and Missouri--to set up their state organizations so even more Americans can take advantage of this legislation, this help? It's unconscionable that it's not already been accepted and put into place.

Entertainment Overnight -- RIP Michael

Quote of the Day -- On America and Guns

Chris Murphy, connecticut congressman running for Senate in 2012

Here's some of what Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy had to say on the Senate floor yesterday morning:

"These mass shootings have become as commonplace as rainstorms. Since 2011, the number of mass shootings in the United States has tripled – tripled! And after each one of these, the forces of the status quo – the defenders of the gun industry – tell us that we can’t talk about policy reform in the days after a shooting. One prominent commentator called those of us who dare talk about change in the wake of Charleston sick.

How convenient. How convenient that at the moment the world is watching, when the country is asking themselves what we can do to make sure that another mass slaughter doesn’t happen again, the rules say we can’t say a word. But think about how these rules would work. Because Charleston happens ten times over ever since day across this country. 86 people die on average every single day because of guns. If you can’t talk about antigun violence policy the day after a large number of Americans are shot, then you will never talk about antigun violence policy.

The U.S. gun homicide rate is 20 times higher than that of our 22 peer nations. 86 people die every day from guns. That’s four Sandy Hooks, 10 Charlestons – every day. Since Sandy Hook, there has been a school shooting, on average, every week. How on earth can we live with ourselves if we do nothing, or work, if we don’t even try?"

Michael Jackson, In Memoriam

Michael Joseph Jackson, August 29, 1958 -- June 25, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

FDR's "Second New Deal" -- Still Waiting

Franklin Delano Roosevelet

On Janurary 11, 1944, with the second World War mostly over, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called on the nation to make sure every American had the following:
We're still waiting. Most especially we're still wating for that first one, a true, living wage.

Republicans seem intent on making certain Americans aren't guaranteed a true, living wage or protection from monopolies or large, powerful corporations or the ultra-wealthy, for that matter. They also seem strong-headed to end Social Security and the protections against poverty it has proved since its creation.

It doesn't bode well for the people, for the nation.

FDR himself was correct in this. His words then were as true then as they are today.

"... unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world."

It seems we've forgotten his words.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Important Article on Race Today

Columnist/economist Paul Krugman penned an excellent, even important article in the New York Times that was released today.

...racial hatred is still a potent force in our society, as we’ve just been reminded to our horror. And I’m sorry to say this, but the racial divide is still a defining feature of our political economy, the reason America is unique among advanced nations in its harsh treatment of the less fortunate and its willingness to tolerate unnecessary suffering among its citizens. 

Of course, saying this brings angry denials from many conservatives, so let me try to be cool and careful here, and cite some of the overwhelming evidence for the continuing centrality of race in our national politics. 

My own understanding of the role of race in U.S. exceptionalism was largely shaped by two academic papers. 

The first, by the political scientist Larry Bartels, analyzed the move of the white working class away from Democrats, a move made famous in Thomas Frank’s “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” Mr. Frank argued that working-class whites were being induced to vote against their own interests by the right’s exploitation of cultural issues. But Mr. Bartels showed that the working-class turn against Democrats wasn’t a national phenomenon — it was entirely restricted to the South, where whites turned overwhelmingly Republican after the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Richard Nixon’s adoption of the so-called Southern strategy

And this party-switching, in turn, was what drove the rightward swing of American politics after 1980. Race made Reaganism possible. And to this day Southern whites overwhelmingly vote Republican, to the tune of 85 or even 90 percent in the deep South. 

The second paper, by the economists Alberto Alesina, Edward Glaeser, and Bruce Sacerdote, was titled “Why Doesn’t the United States Have a European-style Welfare State?” Its authors — who are not, by the way, especially liberal — explored a number of hypotheses, but eventually concluded that race is central, because in America programs that help the needy are all too often seen as programs that help Those People: “Within the United States, race is the single most important predictor of support for welfare. America’s troubled race relations are clearly a major reason for the absence of an American welfare state.”

Just this, above, a portion of the article points out truths, sure, but also ends up being quite an indictment of Republicans in general, the Republican Party itself and much of the Right Wing in this country.

I believe there will be 3 reactions to the article.

First, there will be the Right Wingers and Republicans who deny it completely, out of hand, immediately.

The second group will never see or so, be able to consider these points.

Finally, there will be a small, tiny, even number of these people who read the article and accept its truths.

We have a long, long way to go in America, regarding race and wealth and poverty, that's certain.

More Guns? Really?

Addicting Info's photo.

Quote of the Day -- On Guns and Where We Go From Here

Coalition to Stop Gun Violence's photo.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Entertainment Overnight -- On Father's Day

I wasn't there that morning
When my Father passed away
I didn't get to tell him
All the things I had to say

I think I caught his spirit
Later that same year
I'm sure I heard his echo
In my baby's new born tears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years

Entertainment Overnight -- To My Daughter, On Father's Day

love you

Bad Portents for the Nelson-Atkins?

This article is in the New York Times today:

Chinese art has become a prized liquid asset for superrich collectors, who, instead of putting their treasures on display, often deposit them in carefully guarded, climate-controlled warehouses. But the media’s emphasis on the white-hot market for contemporary Chinese works overlooks a more interesting story: the effort by the Chinese government, state-run companies, private collectors and even, quite probably, some criminal networks to bring Chinese antiquities back home.

One impetus for this effort is the Communist Party’s embrace of traditional culture as “a foundation for China to compete in the world,” as President Xi Jinping said in October. Having for decades viewed antiquities as relics of feudal oppression and bourgeois decadence, the party now says art can “lead people to live a life abiding by the code of morality,” in that way contributing to social stability. This is a turnabout from the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), when museums were ransacked, and countless antiquities destroyed. Old art is again prestigious; new buyers seek canonical work for the social status, not just potential profit, it confers.

The party has taken its new stance on culture at a time of rising nationalism. China openly promotes efforts to repatriate works pillaged during its self-defined “century of humiliation,” from the Opium Wars of the 1840s and 1850s to the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949.

We shall see. 

It doesn't look like it will be an issue, when you read the article, but one never knows.

Happy Father's Day


Quote of the Day -- On This Father's Day

If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.

Quote of the Day -- Sunday Edition

Happy Solar Day 2015

Solar Day 2015

Recognition for Clean Energy, Energy Conservation and Sustainable Living

The SolarDay Mission Statement

1 – To create a national and international day of awareness and celebration of SolarDay, including: 
A – The many benefits of solar energy and energy independence,
B – The creation of more sustainable lifestyles and businesses,
C – The adoption of green and clean-technology that does not adversely affect the planet and the atmosphere,
D – Through SolarDay activities in the U.S. and worldwide experienced by hundreds of millions of people and governments with the objectives of 40 nations participating by 2014.
E – Gain official recognition of SolarDay by the U.S. government as an annual day of recognition of solar energy and the goal of energy independence as a fundamental part of citizen and business sustainability objectives for the country.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Entertainment Overnight -- Redux

Easier said than done.

Fantastic Question

Occupy Democrats's photo.

President Obama---and Statistics---On Guns in America

Seen yesterday:

"I've had to make statements like this too many times," Obama said. "Communities like this have had to endure tragedies like this too many times. We don't have all the facts, but we do know that once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.

"Now is the time for mourning and for healing. But let's be clear, at some point we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries."

For proof?

Gun crime is more prevalent in the US than in other rich countries

In 2012, Max Fisher compared gun homicide rates in wealthy countries, using UN data. The US was far ahead of the non-Mexico members of the OECD, with only Chile anywhere close:

A big part of this is that the US just has many more guns per capita than any other country:

firearm ownership

That doesn't explain all the variation in homicide rates; lots of poor countries, particularly in Central America, have gun homicide rates many times that of the United States. But among developed countries, homicide is much, much higher in the US, even after the great crime drop of the 1990s, and even including non-gun methods, as this chart from Duke sociologist Kieran Healy illustrates:

healy assault gun

The President is right, of course. So many statistics show and prove it, again and again, in so many ways.

It would be nice if finally, finally, this horrific incident out of Charleston, North Carolina brought us to the point where we do a few simple, intelligent things about guns. Things like requiring background checks for mental stability and criminal history for ALL weapons purchases in this nation.

Hey, we can hope.

Links to more articles:

Kansas and the Guv All Over the Internets

Check out all the press Kansas and their glorious leader are getting lately:

No law will be safe when Brownback is in office. Or at least the ones he doesn't like, anyway.

From Yael Abouhalkah at the Star:

That cackling sound is GovSam Brownback having last laugh on Kansans

From Barbara Shelly at that same local Star:

Only in Sam Brownback’s Land of Oz is a $400 million tax increasenot a tax increase

More nationally, there's these two from Salon online magazine:

From "Talking Points Memo"

Also from TPM:


Here's some about his latest scheme to attack the Judiciary and make it Right Wing and partisan. This from Barbara Shelly at the Star again:

GovSam Brownback and Kansas Legislature mount breathtakingassault on judges’ independence

While this one is from Slate magazine:

The Kansas Supreme Court Has Only One Option: Sue Gov. SamBrownback

Finally, from the Ottawa Herald rather sums it up for the rest of us:

How long until Kansans end this?

Read m
ore here: