Ralph Nader just created a fantastic idea for us Americans to get the attention of our Congressional representatives in Washington and hopefully get at least some of our government back for us instead of only for the already-wealthy and corporations. It is here, in its entirety: Sending Citizens Summons to Members of Congress
With the long congressional recess in August through Labor Day approaching, “We the People” have the opportunity to do more than complain about the Congress and individual Senators and Representatives. There are many issues affecting you and your communities that need to be addressed by members of Congress. Over the years, it has become increasingly difficult to reach the legislators in Washington, DC and when they return to their districts and states, they often only attend public events and ceremonies where they do little more than shake hands and smile.
The diminishing number of in-person town meetings by members of Congress are often stacked and controlled. The locations, attendees, and even sometimes pre-screened questions fail to provide citizens an opportunity to make their case to their legislators. Politicians crave predictability; they are control freaks.
Our five hundred and thirty-five Senators and Representatives need to be reminded that they were sent to Washington, DC by voters back home who entrusted them with the well-being of their communities and country. Many of these lawmakers then become indentured to corporate campaign cash that they must constantly beg for, often compromising with what is in the best interest of their constituents. For all this corporate campaign cash, these corporations want something in return – government contracts, giveaways, tax loopholes, weak corporate law enforcement, and other privileges and immunities, especially for giant multinational corporations that have tightened their grips of crony capitalism on Washington.
So what happened to your votes and your trust in your elected representatives? They were nullified and replaced with ungrateful politicians who have forgotten that the authority lies with the people.
It is time, during this August recess, for “We the People” to shake up the Congress and shake up the politics across the land. If anyone is skeptical of this possibility, they should recall August 2009 when the Tea Party noisily filled the seats of some town meetings called by Senators and Representatives in a Congress run by the Democrats. That is how the Tea Party movement came to public visibility, with the daily help of Fox News.
After that experience, many members of Congress were forced to reevaluate the power and influence of Town Meetings.
My proposal of a Citizens Summons can begin the process of showing your elected legislators who is truly in charge, as befits the Preamble to the Constitution – “We the People.” I am including below a draft Citizens Summons to your Senators or Representative. It covers the main derelictions of the Congress, under which you can add more examples of necessary reforms.
Your task is to start collecting signatures of citizens, members of citizen groups, labor unions, and any other associations that want a more deliberative democracy. The ultimate objective is to reduce inequalities of power.
Shifting power from the few to the many prevents the gross distortions of our Constitution and laws, our public budgets, and our commonwealth, that currently favor the burgeoning corporate state.
May you give your lawmakers a memorable August recess; they deserve to be shown the workings of what our founding fathers called “the sovereignty of the people.”
The Citizens Summons to a Member of the Congress:
Whereas, the Congress has tolerated the expansion of an electoral process, corrupted by money, that nullifies our votes and commercializes both congressional elections and subsequent legislation, creating a Congress that is chronically for sale;
Whereas, the Congress has repeatedly supported or opposed legislation and diverted the taxpayer dollars to favor the crassest of corporate interests to the serious detriment of the American people, their necessities, and their public facilities – such as access to safer consumer products, health care, and other basic social safety services. It has opposed raising the inflation-ravaged minimum wage and fair taxation, allowed endemic waste, fraud, and abuse by contractors, and authorized massive corporate welfare subsidies and giveaways;
Whereas, the Congress has narrowed or blocked access to justice by millions of Americans, leaving them unprotected and defenseless in many serious ways, while giving business corporations preferential treatments and allowing them full access to influence the three branches of government;
Whereas, the Congress has imposed trade treaty despotisms over our democratic institutions – the courts, legislatures, and executive departments and agencies – subordinating our domestic branches of government’s abilities to preserve and enhance labor, consumer, and environmental standards to the domination of global commerce’s “bottom line” and endorsed the usurpation of our judicial process by secret tribunals under the WTO, and other similar invasions of U.S. sovereignty;
Whereas, the access to members of Congress has increased for corporate lobbyists and decreased for ordinary citizens, Therefore, the citizens of the [INSERT state (for Senators) or the congressional district (for Representatives)] hereby Summon you to a town meeting(s) during the August recess (ending September 7, 2015) at a place of known public convenience. Your constituents will establish an agenda of how Congress should shift long overdue power from the few to the many, both in substantive policy and through the strengthening of government and civic institutions;
We deem this Summons to be taken with the utmost seriousness as we gain grassroots support throughout your congressional district (or state for Senators). We expect to hear from you expeditiously so that the necessary planning for our town meeting can take place. This Peoples’ Town Meeting reflects the Preamble to the Constitution that starts with “We the People” and the supremacy of the sovereignty of the people over elected representatives and corporate entities;
Be advised that this Summons calls for your attendance at a Town Meeting run by, of, and for the People. Please reserve a minimum of two hours for this serious exercise of deliberative democracy.
The names of citizens and citizen groups
(For any additional questions about this proposal, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
When what they should do, instead, is show, for instance, the bodies of the 26 people who were killed at Sandy Hook, instead, just as film maker Michael Moore and some of the parents said they should.
Let's not glorify the killer. Instead, let's show the carnage. Let's be honest. Let's face what happened and what keeps happening in America, week after week. Maybe then, after we do that, we'll all be rightly horrified and disgusted by what is happening so we'll do something to keep the mentally unstable and some with criminal histories, at least, from getting weapons easily.
With the shooting yesterday in yet another theater where 2 people died, along with the shooter, the following statistics are finally, finally coming out:
--In the last week, there were 5 "mass shootings" here in America. A mass shooting is defined as 4 or more people being killed.
--A mass shooting occurs, on average, approximately once per 2 week period, every month, every year in America now, according to FBI statistics.
--Since 2006, there have been more than 200 mass killings in the United States.
--The FBI counted 172 cases of mass killings between 2006 and 2011.
--30,000 Americans die every year in America to gun violence.
--People are far more likely to be killed by someone they know than by random assassins. Public massacres like Newtown, Massachussetts account for 1 in 6 mass killings. Breakups, estrangements and family arguments make up the majority of cases, though unrelated victims may be caught in the crossfire.
--The majority of mass killings are family related.
--Approximately 57% of victims knew their killier, even if they weren't the main target. 1 in 4 victims were close family members -- children, siblings, spouses, etc.
--77% of mass killings involve a gun.
--Nearly 3 out of 4 of the guns used in mass killings were handguns. 72.9% of the weapons used were handguns.
--A killer wielding a multiple-magazine assault rifle is the exception. More typically, the closest available weapon is used.
--Many mass killers do not face prosecution. About a quarter commit suicide after the crime, and others are killed by police. Still more are deemed incompetent due to mental illness. When cases do go to trial, they can often take years because of the death penalty or other complications.
--Often, a mass killing involves a failed safety net. Ineffective protective orders, gaps in the mental health system, immigration bureaucracy and other lapses have been implicated in many cases.
So the question becomes, once again, have we finally reached our "tipping point", America? Are we finally ready to address the shootings, the killings, the huge numbers of guns and weapons that are in our society and available to and for people who may well be mentally unstable and/or who have or may have a criminal history?
How many people will we allow to be killed until we act?
Regarding Sandra Bland, the American who was pulled over in Texas recently for a minor traffic violation and then horribly handled by first one, then two police officers, then detained and arrested, held for 3 days in jail and now dead, reputedly at her own hand, if you haven't seen the video, watch this first.
Any American not outraged by this event isn't aware of what happened or assume she's wrong because she's black or because they think that, no matter what a police officer tells you to do--like not smoke in your own car---has to be followed. There's no way she should have been detained, let alone arrested.
What's additionally outrageous is that Ms. Bland knew her rights and he violated them---her rights--and her and all because he seems to clearly have a chip on his shoulder, so to speak, and because he wanted her to get out of the car because she was smoking in her own car. His work was done but he wouldn't leave her alone.
And then, that they kept her in jail for 3 days? Really? I'm angry her rights were violated at the arrest and then, making matters far worse, that she's dead. It's outrageous. She was an innocent American and she's now dead and for no reason whatever. This officer and that police force not only didn't do their duties properly but did them wrong, horribly, tragically wrong. They certainly didn't "protect and serve." Far from it. The opposite, in fact. I say again, this is outrageous.
There's a report out today from St. Louis and their Post-Dispatch saying all Missourians are going to be asked---required?---to pay for a new St. Louis Rams football stadium so they can keep the team:
The public entity that owns the Edward Jones Dome plans to seek $50 million in state tax credits from the Missouri Development Finance Board to help build the proposed stadium aimed at keeping the NFL in St. Louis.
The St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority will formally present its request Tuesday when the finance board, which funds infrastructure and economic development projects, holds its regular meeting in Jefferson City.
This is just nonsense.
There are only two groups of people for this tax boondoggle. Well, only two besides the owners of the stadium who have their hands out. Those two groups are the rather small number of football sports fans in the area there support it and the people that want it for business purposes, also a relatively small group. That's it.
The entire state of Missouri--all the workers and middle- and lower-class people, all the rest of us shouldn't have to pitch in.
Basically, this would be pitching in millions of dollars for billionaires so they can make more money.
It's obscene. It's ridiculous
You know what else is obscene about it?
Those billionaire fatcats are also very likely Republicans and/or Right Wingers and "conservatives" and supposed fiscal conservatives who swear we should have "small government" and no welfare for others.
What is this but welfare? It's corporate welfare and of the worst, biggest kind.
This whole thing should get a resounding "HELL NO" from any and every government official in Jefferson City and all across this state.
Well, except for the government officials in St. Louis, of course, who are bound to want it.
And I'd say the exact same thing if it were on the West side of the state for the Chiefs or Royals, too.
The state’s cash balance could be even smaller next June than lawmakers realized when they approved a tax plan in June.
When lawmakers left Topeka last month, it was with the understanding the state would have $86 million in its cash reserves by the end of June 2016, which marks the end of the fiscal year, if the governor went ahead with $50 million in cuts.
But those estimates have already been lowered less than a month into the 2016 fiscal year. The state’s nonpartisan Legislative Research Department now says that the state will have about $67 million in its reserves by the end of the fiscal year – and that’s assuming Gov. Sam Brownback makes a full $50 million in cuts.
So far, the governor has identified only $2 million in cuts.
Since Republican Governor Sam Brownback and his Republican cohorts have taken over in Topeka, things have gone to bad to worse and now, to getting much worse.
Kansans need an election.
A great, big, fat, many state officeholders election, those poor things.
As further proof of the rather ugly financial, Kansas situaion, this broke late last evening:
Our own Kansas City Royals keep getting more and more local, regional and national coverage. The following was in none other than Sunday's New York Times.
What Davis is doing for the Kansas City Royals almost defies explanation. From the time he became a full-time reliever in September 2013 through the All-Star break, Davis had pitched in 117 regular-season and postseason games. His E.R.A. was 0.80, with 180 strikeouts in 1351/3 innings with no home runs allowed.
“I’ve been in awe of him since he picked up a ball,” said Chris Sale, the overpowering starter for the Chicago White Sox. “He went into that bullpen, and he has been lights out. I’m pretty sure nobody likes facing him. What, has he not given up a home run in two years or something? I can’t even go two starts without giving up a home run.”
So we just had to know. What's reputedly the most beautiful spot in Missouri?
Table Rock Lake
Though Missouri has no shortage of scenic lakes that are perfect for a summer weekend getaway, there are more than a few that also double as filming locales for Girls Gone Wild. The calm waters formed by the White River--and created by the Table Rock Dam--however, make this not only a naturally beautiful destination, but also one you could legitimately describe as “relaxing.”
It may well be, who can say? Besides, it's certainly subjective. It seems to me, if you see pictures of Table Rock Lake, it looks very like, for instance, Lake of the Ozarks but, oh well.
Yet one more instance of innocent Americans being gunned down.
So that's the question, America.
How long do we keep tolerating these shootings and killings?
How long until we merely require all weapons purchases undergo background checks for metal stability and criminal background?
No, it won't end all these incidents, no, certainly not. But if it reduces them even some and reduces even SOME shootings and killings, isn't that good? Isn't that a good thing? Isn't that an improvement?
That these people would, as I said above, laament or protest further equality busting out in our country is not just sad but wrong and unjust. It's not completely surprising but it is unfortunate, certainly.
Visitors to the Kansas Statehouse now can bring concealed guns into the historic building without a state permit.
The new law took effect July 1 and ended a requirement for residents 21 and older to obtain a state permit to carry a concealed firearm, The Wichita Eagle reported. The state last year began allowing people to carry concealed guns into the Statehouse if they had a permit.
Ending the permit requirement means people don’t have to undergo a background check or complete eight hours of firearms training to carry a concealed gun. Kansas is among a handful of states without such restrictions.
While dangerous, at least, they get credit for not being total hypocrties. They support guns everywhere. This will help give them just that.
Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/government-politics/article26734369.html#storylink=cpy
Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/government-politics/article26734369.html#storylink=cpy
This came today, this afternoon, over at Daily Kos:
Report: IranNuclearDealREACHED -
to be AnnouncedTomorrow
A likely sign that a deal has been reached, according to news reports, is that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov just touched down in Vienna, and the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is expected to arrive later today.
If the two unnamed envoys' accounts are accurate, it has been a historic couple of weeks for the Obama Administration, and, I daresay, for the entire planet Earth. w00t!
It's also reassuring to know that Israeli PM Netanyahu and his Goposaur pals in Congress will be powerless to thwart any agreement.
If true and if a good, strong, verifiable deal to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons, this is not just huge but great news for Iran, for the United States, for the entire Middle East and even, of course, the world. And yes, like it or not, it would be excellent, fantastic, even events for the Obama administration.
Now wait for every Republican in Congress want to shoot it down.
Right now, neither our own Missouri state legislature nor our national, Federal, Congressional legislature are funding the maintenance, repair and improvements of our infrastructure--our highways, etc. This just broke in the last week:
Noexpansionprojectsfor the nextfiveyears, saysMoDOT
No Missouri Department of Transportation expansion projects, such as new lanes, interchanges or bridges, are planned over the next five years. That represents a first in the department’s history, the result of a bleak funding outlook.
The belt-tightening comes as MoDOT braces for lean years after the death of a gasoline tax hike in the Legislature and rejection by voters of a sales tax increase that would have provided about $5.4 billion over 10 years for roads and bridges as well as ports, railways and public transit.
Steve Miller, chairman of the commission, said in a post on MoDOT’s website Monday that the plan is a “glimpse to a future that no Missourian should want.”
He also said the first contract awards of the new fiscal year, which began this month, were the lowest in memory and bad for Missouri contractors, who are now seeking work in our neighboring states with brighter prospects.
But wait. It gets better. worse.
Some contractors already are leaving the road business to focus on railroad work, or leaving the state entirely, said Len Toenjes, president of the Associated General Contractors of Missouri.
“Our folks are at their wits’ end with what’s happening, or not happening, in Jefferson City and are going to work elsewhere,” he said.
Without any growth in state revenue, Missouri will not be able to match available federal transportation funds by fiscal year 2017. Missouri can match $1 of state funds with $4 of federal funds.
Then it gets downright stupid:
MoDOT has reduced its workforce by 20 percent, disposed of more than 750 pieces of equipment and sold 124 facilities since 2011 for savings of more than $605 million, the department said.
MoDOT estimates that $885 million of federal reimbursements in fiscal year 2016 will drop to $491 million in fiscal year 2020 due to declining construction because of “insufficient state revenues.”
By 2018, the state could lose $400 million in federal funds, even though Missourians will still be paying federal gasoline taxes that won’t fund Missouri projects.
We're turning away money. We're turning away, then, Federal dollars because we don't keep up our end of the investment bargain. And at the same time, we're paying into the "Federal pot" but not able to take what we should back out of it.
To whom but Right Wing, "Conservative" Republicans does this make sense?
And this is just on the state level. For anyone following highway funding on the Federal level, in Washington, we know there, too, the Right Wing Republicans, just like our Missouri representatives, are blocking any increase in this funding. It's ridiculous. And this on top of the fact that gasoline costs are at their lowest in years. This should make their job of raising these funds, the gas tax, all the easier. But then, these are Republicans.
They haven't raised the gas tax in years--since 1992--we drive less, as a nation, than we used so that also shrinks the fund and we need more and more repair and updates to our highways and infrastructure. It's insane. It's certainly fiscally irresponsible.
Think about this, too.
If Congress, in Washington, were to pass a good, reasonable gas tax, as they ought, so we can get money to and in the Highway Fund and then were to pass a good, true, workable, comprehensive jobs/infrastructure bill---translated: DO THEIR JOBS---we could give more Americans jobs and get more Americans to work, improve our infrastructure and boost the economy, all three. Three total, huge wins. For anyone and anywhere else, this would be a no-brainer. But then we're dealing with Right Wingers. And Republicans. And people who don't want this president to be successful.
So screw you, America. You have to wait.
You have to wait until there's a Republican back in the White House.
Why the rise of green energy makes utility companies nervous.
A little bit from the article.
Mark and Sara Borkowski live with their two young daughters in a century-old, fifteen-hundred-square-foot house in Rutland, Vermont. Mark drives a school bus, and Sara works as a special-ed teacher; the cost of heating and cooling their house through the year consumes a large fraction of their combined income. Last summer, however, persuaded by Green Mountain Power, the main electric utility in Vermont, the Borkowskis decided to give their home an energy makeover. In the course of several days, coördinated teams of contractors stuffed the house with new insulation, put in a heat pump for the hot water, and installed two air-source heat pumps to warm the home. They also switched all the light bulbs to L.E.D.s and put a small solar array on the slate roof of the garage.
The Borkowskis paid for the improvements, but the utility financed the charges through their electric bill, which fell the very first month. Before the makeover, from October of 2013 to January of 2014, the Borkowskis used thirty-four hundred and eleven kilowatt-hours of electricity and three hundred and twenty-five gallons of fuel oil. From October of 2014 to January of 2015, they used twenty-eight hundred and fifty-six kilowatt-hours of electricity and no oil at all. President Obama has announced that by 2025 he wants the United States to reduce its total carbon footprint by up to twenty-eight per cent of 2005 levels. The Borkowskis reduced the footprint of their house by eighty-eight per cent in a matter of days, and at no net cost.
I’ve travelled the world writing about and organizing against climate change, but, standing in the Borkowskis’ kitchen and looking at their electric bill, I felt a fairly rare emotion: hope. The numbers reveal a sudden new truth—that innovative, energy-saving and energy-producing technology is now cheap enough for everyday use. The Borkowskis’ house is not an Aspen earth shelter made of adobe and old tires, built by a former software executive who converted to planetary consciousness at Burning Man. It’s an utterly plain house, with Frozen bedspreads and One Direction posters, inhabited by a working-class family of four, two rabbits, and a parakeet named Oliver. It sits in a less than picturesque neighborhood, in a town made famous in recent years for its heroin problem. Its significance lies in its ordinariness. The federal Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz, has visited, along with the entire Vermont congressional delegation. If you can make a house like this affordably green, you should be able to do it anywhere. I’ve travelled the world writing about and organizing against climate change, but, standing in the Borkowskis’ kitchen and looking at their electric bill, I felt a fairly rare emotion: hope. The numbers reveal a sudden new truth—that innovative, energy-saving and energy-producing technology is now cheap enough for everyday use. The Borkowskis’ house is not an Aspen earth shelter made of adobe and old tires, built by a former software executive who converted to planetary consciousness at Burning Man. It’s an utterly plain house, with Frozen bedspreads and One Direction posters, inhabited by a working-class family of four, two rabbits, and a parakeet named Oliver. It sits in a less than picturesque neighborhood, in a town made famous in recent years for its heroin problem. Its significance lies in its ordinariness. The federal Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz, has visited, along with the entire Vermont congressional delegation. If you can make a house like this affordably green, you should be able to do it anywhere.
Secondly, this. I wrote about this a year or two ago, the hope it can and would and should mean for us. This is from Bloomberg Business News.
Yes sir, congratulations, Kansas City. You hit the news. Heck, you even hit international news. Just for all the wrong reasons. This, from the UK: Black teen in critical condition after store employee 'shoots him for stealing 79-cent pack of cookies'
A teenager, first. And yes, black. And shot and in critical condition for 79 cents of cookies. And in the middle of the day, no less.
“It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising the sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin. Let us, then, look to the great cause, and endeavor to preserve it in full force.
Let us by all wise and constitutional measures promote intelligence among the people as the best means of preserving our liberties.”
~Founding Father James Monroe, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1817
The fact is, our Defense Department budget is not just large but huge. It's bloated, truth be told. It's famously beyond what any other one nation spends, many times over, it's wasteful, it's actually unaccounted for and downright immoral. It ends up actually weakening us. Professor Reich, once again, educates us Americans.
I saw this yesterday on Facebook on economist, writer, professor Robert Reich's page:
The heads of government-controlled housing finance agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will each get whopping raises -- from $600,000 this year to $4 million next. Congress set up Fannie and Freddie so Americans could get mortgages more cheaply. In the financial crisis the agencies were bailed out with nearly $190 billion of taxpayer dollars, and taxpayers are still backstopping them. They’re overseen by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, whose director, Mel Watt, just approved the pay raises. Watt says the $4 million pay packages are necessary to keep the two heads, Timothy Mayopoulos and Don Layton, from bolting for the private sector (Mayopoulos has been complaining about his salary). Baloney. The President of the United States will get $400,000 this year; the Vice President, $233,000; Senators, $193,400; the Chief Justice of the United States, $258,100; Associate Justices, $246,800; cabinet secretaries, $199,700. We don’t pay any of them $4 million to keep them doing their jobs.
Mayopoulos (below, left) joined Fannie in 2009 as general counsel after being fired by Bank of America. When Layton joined Freddie in 2012 after retiring from J.P. Morgan, he called it “a great opportunity to participate in public service.” Which is precisely the point. If they’re public servants, they shouldn’t be paid a penny more than cabinet secretaries. If they’re not public servants, and if Fannie and Freddie are just like any private-sector mortgage lenders, these two agencies should be abolished.