For all those in the Kansas City area, if you listen to the local NPR station, KCUR 89.3FM and aren't yet a member, PLEASE, PLEASE go here this week and give what you can. As low as $7 per month would be a huge help and very much appreciated. If you can afford more, it would be greatly, greatly appreciated. It's also tax deductible so there's that help, also.
There are so many great programs and such great local, statewide, regional, national and international coverage of news, arts, fantastic music and entertainment! (But you know that).
You can do it by check or credit card. You can also become a sustaining member and have your contribution made monthly by your credit or ATM card.
So, go, please, if you can and would and make your contribution. And thank you, in advance!
In its first Democratic endorsement in a century, The Cincinnati Enquirer endorsed Clinton on Friday. The last Democrat the board supported was Woodrow Wilson in 1916.
"Hillary Clinton has her faults, certainly, but she has spent a lifetime working to improve the lives of Americans both inside and outside of Washington," the board wrote. "It's time to elect the first female U.S. president – not because she's a woman, but because she's hands-down the most qualified choice."
The Dallas Morning News also endorsed Clinton in early September.
"This newspaper has not recommended a Democrat for the nation's highest office since before World War II — if you're counting, that's more than 75 years and nearly 20 elections," the board wrote.
Also in Texas, The Houston Chronicle endorsed Clinton in late July, saying that to choose Donald Trump "is to repudiate the most basic notions of competence and capability." Although the newspaper's board endorsed President Obama in 2008, it traditionally has endorsed Republican presidential candidates.
And finally, importantly and in sharp contrast:
Trump has yet to receive an endorsement from any major daily newspaper editorial board...
How or why any intelligent, informed, mature, discriminating adult in our nation could support this uninformed, irrational, emotional, immature simpleton for the highest office in the nation and the most powerful position in the world is beyond me.
An unusual yet oh-so-true and accurate description of that one political party. This is from at least a year ago. Not only is it still true but it's gotten worse, with their running the most infantile, irresponsible candidate for the presidency possibly, if not quite likely, in the nation's entire history. Note, too, that the quote comes, not from inside the country, but from clear across the world. It's an international opinion.
"Let's be blunt and acknowledge the biggest threat to the world's biggest economy are the cranks and crazies that have taken over the Republican party. Despite President Obama's goodwill and strong efforts, the national interest there was held hostage by the rise of the extreme Tea Party wing of the Republican Party. There can be few things more alarming in public policy than a political movement which was genuinely prepared to see the government of the United States default on its obligations in order to score a political point."
--Australia's deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, Wayne Swan
This is floating around on the internet today, this week, after the state legislature passed their ignorant, very loose gun law.
I imagine not enough Missourians are aware of the statistic in that 2nd panel. It's true. Our murder rate did increase. I only hope that last frame doesn't come to pass but feel pretty certain it will.
Imagine how much better our economy would be if we and President Obama had 2 houses of Congress that worked together, with the President, for the betterment of this same economy and the American people. Imagine if they weren't trying to block any and every good thing he's tried to do.
Meanwhile, in sharp, sharp contract, Republican, "trickle down economics" is famously getting these results, right next door, in Kansas.
An acquaintance of mine has insisted for the last 7 years, and still does, to this day, that President Obama is out to destroy the United States. If that's the case, he's surely going at it completely backwards.
It seems clear who to vote for this November and who to vote against.
It really does seem as though this campaign year, 2016, has been the year guns, somehow, inexplicably, took over in our election campaigns. They've nothing whatever to do with the office the candidate is running for but there they are, the men, the boys and their guns.
This was the first one I was aware of locally, here in Missouri. Mr. Eric Greitens, former Navy Seal--he wants to make sure you know--goes out in the countryside and "blows things up real good."
As if that weren't enough, unfortunately, a candidate I'm for very recently--just this week, I believe--released this video.
I ask you, what does assembling an automatic weapon, especially one meant for the battlefield, have to do with running a government, a bureacracy efficiently, intelligently and at small a cost as possible? The boys seem to have to have their guns and show them off.
It's not bad enough cities like Chicago and New Orleans and even our own St. Louis are showing the rather obvious pitfalls of having too many guns in our cities and society, no. Our state legislators have to push for yet more. And not only do they support more "open carry" citizens, they also want to allow them to carry guns virtually everywhere with no training required of any kind.
I say once again, Missouri legislators--the Republican and Right Wing ones, anyway--seem to want to follow Kansas down both a fiscal/financial as well as weapons rabbit hole, so to speak, and wreak havoc on us all.
And as though all that isn't enough, they also want to disenfranchise Americans and take their votes away with these ugly, obscene, un-American "voter ID" laws. It's so bad and blatant what they're doing, one Republican representative even admitted it.
We need to call "voter ID laws" what they are. It's nothing more than a return to "Jim Crow" laws of the South in the last 100 years. They disenfranchise the poor and minorities. Honestly, they do even more than that, however, since it's been shown that they also effectively take the vote away from the elderly and physically-challenged, as well. (See links, below).
And they--these Republicans and Right Wingers--are getting away with it.
I tell you, folks, once again, we have got to vote these people out, come November.
Jan Kern was bitten by a stray dog while traveling abroad and ended up with a jaw-dropping illustration of why the U.S. healthcare industry is completely sick.
That’s because she underwent a series of rabies shots in three countries at four medical facilities. What that revealed, and which will surprise no one, is that Americans pay way more for the exact same treatment than people in other nations.
Moreover, her experience highlights the lack of uniformity for drug prices, including commonly used medications. One facility might charge a few bucks for the same drug that costs thousands of dollars at a U.S. hospital.
“There’s no rhyme or reason to our medical system,” said Rick Kern, 61, who contacted me about his 62-year-old wife’s global healthcare adventure after reading my recent column on drug prices...
The Kerns are former Palos Verdes residents who now reside on Lake Tahoe. While traveling in Southeast Asia a couple of years ago, Jan was bitten by a stray pooch near Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple. The couple went to a nearby hospital, where a doctor recommended vaccination for rabies, necessitating a series of four shots.
The first shot at Royal Angkor International Hospital cost $125. That included $66.75 for the dose of Verorab, a $25 hospital charge and a $25 doctor fee.
Jan received her second Verorab shot at a clinic in northern Thailand. The bill this time: A mere $18.50, which provides the best evidence of the drug’s actual cost. Even with the clinic’s overhead factored in, a shot of Verorab, which is manufactured by French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur, was priced well below $20.
Things changed dramatically once the Kerns returned to this country. For her third shot, Jan visited Torrance Memorial Medical Center. It was a Sunday, and she had to go to the emergency room, so that added considerably to her cost. The tab for a single injection: $5,254.85.
Shot No. 4 was administered at the Redondo Beach branch of HealthCare Partners medical group. This time the bill was $427.
It’s important to note that the Kerns weren’t on the hook for any of these charges. They’d shrewdly purchased travel insurance before their trip, which covered all related medical costs, even once back in the United States.
Also, that crazy bill from Torrance Memorial was the hospital’s opening salvo in haggling with insurers. Such astronomic charges typically are paid only by those lacking coverage. The actual insured price invariably will be much lower.
And Verorab, which is commonly prescribed for rabies in Europe and Asia because it’s relatively cheap to produce, isn’t available in the United States. Costlier vaccines must be used.
Even so, the Kerns’ experience demonstrates the financial pitfalls that await anyone with a high-deductible health plan and thus responsibility for a greater share of medical costs. It also underlines the lunacy of U.S. healthcare pricing.
Clearly a big hospital like Torrance Memorial has more overhead expenses than a little clinic in rural Thailand — it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. But that doesn’t mitigate how a bill for less than $20 in another country can turn into a bill for over $5,000 in this one.
“Even if the Torrance bill was $1,200, that’s still a stark difference in prices,” said Nadereh Pourat, a professor of health policy and management at UCLA. “It shows that the free market doesn’t work for healthcare. It works for buying televisions, but with healthcare, there’s no price transparency.”
It's crazy what we allow for and in health care in these United States.
I keep saying, and its true, we just aren't that bright.
Sunday. 15 years since 9/11. And on a day when the Chiefs open the 2016 season at home - for me - who could forget that first football game after the attacks. At Arrowhead. And it was the New York Giants in town. I'll never forget walking to my seats that morning and catching a glimpse of a sign hanging from the club level. 'KC NY.'
We all loved New York for all the obvious reasons.
Anyone or anything from the big apple was a special guest that day. I don't know about the other 79,000 fans in the stadium that day but for me it was hard to think about football - yet - it was good to see it. It was more than a game. It was a step towards returning to some form of 'normal' and at a time when nobody knew what 'normal' would be. We all wanted to see how America and Americans would respond to what happened - long term. We were all so anxious to help in whatever small way we could.
There was a big "fill the boot" effort in the stadium thanks to members of the KCFD (at least in my section 134) who were busy raising money for the recovery effort in NYC. I may be wrong on the numbers but I think Chiefs fans raised something north of $200,000 that day and then the Chiefs matched what was raised. The singing of the National Anthem that day meant more.
Like most fans around us there was a lump in my throat and for once we all ended by singing 'Home of the Brave', Chiefs players & coaches had American Flags in their hands. Like I said we all wanted to help. We all wanted to do something. We all wanted people in NY to know that people in KC had their back. I don't recall the final score that day but I remember leaving the stadium thinking in any other environment this would have been just another football game.
The U.S. falls in our rankings for a sixth straight year with low scores on monetary freedom and bureaucracy. Denmark leads a strong showing by Europe at the head of the class.
And who are the top ten on this "best countries for business list" from around the world? Check it out:
Denmark has ranked first in six of the 10 annual editions of FORBES’ Best Countries list. The country has been in the news in the U.S. lately thanks to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who holds up the nation of 5.6 million people as a model socialist utopia. The country does have one of the highest individual tax burdens in the world in exchange for its wide-ranging services, but it is very much a market-based economy.
Denmark ranked in the top 20 in all but one of the 11 metrics we used to gauge the Best Countries for Business (it ranked 28th for red tape). It scored particularly well for freedom (personal and monetary) and low corruption. The regulatory climate is one of the world’s “most transparent and efficient,” according to the Heritage Foundation.
From there the list goes:
2. New Zealand
10. United Kingdom
So there you are. 9 of the 10 "top countries for business" are all in Europe and all Socialist.
Oh, and they all also have universal health care.
And no one goes bankrupt for health care costs.
So where is our own United States on this list, you might ask?
We aren't even in the top 15.
The picture isn’t as bright for the U.S., which slides four spots to No. 22. It continues a six-year descent since 2009 when the U.S. ranked second overall. The U.S. is the financial capital of the world and its largest economy at $17.4 trillion (China is second at $10.4 trillion), but it scores poorly on monetary freedom and bureaucracy/red tape. More than 150 new major regulations have been added since 2009 at a cost of $70 billion, according to the Heritage Foundation.
So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. For any and all who think Socialism is horrible, period, in its own right and that any nation having it is, therefore, bad for business. It just patently isn't so.
Not only is intelligent Socialism better for the people, it can be and is also, in plenty of places in the world, good for business.
I'll get to Missouri but first, I was struck by what organization it is in Kansas. Perhaps you'll be surprised, too.
> Largest employer: University of Kansas
> Employee headcount: 13,862
The University of Kansas spans five campuses and 13 schools, including the state’s only pharmacy and medicine schools. The university system employs 13,862 people. Excluding student workers, however, the headcount falls to 10,089, in line with the workforce of another major employer in the state, aviation manufacturer Spirit Aerosystems.
Now, here's the sad part.
> Largest employer: Walmart
> Employee headcount: 42,312
Walmart is the largest employer in Missouri by a considerable margin. As of March 4, 42,312 state residents worked in the retailer’s 157 locations throughout the state. The company’s presence in the state may be dwindling, however, as it closed four locations in early 2016 as part of a broader effort to focus on Supercenters and e-commerce.
But wait. There's more. It gets sadder. And more desperate and pathetic and pitiful.
As the world’s largest retailer, Walmart has an outsized impact on state labor markets. Walmart is the only company to claim the top employer spot in more than one state. In fact, the nation’s largest retailer employs the most people in 19 states.
I thought sure we'd be on here but we're not, thank goodness. Segregated and separated as we are, and by law, at the time, we aren't one of the worst.
As it turns out, however, St. Louis is, so Missouri didn't get left out. And the statistics are pretty brutal.
6. St. Louis, MO-IL > Black ppl. in black neighborhoods: 42.2% > Black population: 18.2% > Black poverty rate: 29.7% > White poverty rate: 9.0%
The St. Louis region earned a national spotlight in the summer of 2015 when Michael Brown, a black teenager, was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, sparking protests across the nation. Ferguson is a predominantly black neighborhood — and Brown’s death is inseparable from racial segregation in the area. One of the most damaging effects of residential segregation is funding disparities between neighboring school districts. Because property taxes play such a large role in school funding, well-off communities often have an interest in keeping poor areas separate.
Instead of one, St. Louis has 24, quite disparate school districts. This August, water fountains in 30 predominantly black St. Louis public schools were shut down due to lead contamination. Some of the area’s wealthiest communities with some of the best-funded schools are less than 20 miles away, and with state-of-art facilities, have reliable clean water.
As is common in large metro areas — not just the most segregated — the poverty rate among black St. Louis residents, at nearly 30%, is approximately three times the poverty rate among the area’s white residents. The St. Louis region earned a national spotlight in the summer of 2015 when Michael Brown, a black teenager, was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, sparking protests across the nation. Ferguson is a predominantly black neighborhood — and Brown’s death is inseparable from racial segregation in the area. One of the most damaging effects of residential segregation is funding disparities between neighboring school districts. Because property taxes play such a large role in school funding, well-off communities often have an interest in keeping poor areas separate.
Instead of one, St. Louis has 24, quite disparate school districts. This August, water fountains in 30 predominantly black St. Louis public schools were shut down due to leadcontamination. Some of the area’s wealthiest communities with some of the best funded schools are less than 20 miles away, and with state-of-art facilities, have reliable clean water.
As is common in large metro areas — not just the most segregated — the poverty rate among black St. Louis residents, at nearly 30%, is approximately three times the poverty rate among the area’s white residents.
So you see, it's not just about people of different colors being separated. It's about opportunities and jobs and education, right on down to wealth, certainly. Segregation becomes about perpetuating both wealth and poverty.
Coming at this time, when the local Catholic Diocese is just off a rather large child abuse sex scandal, the Bishop--and worse, the Church--got off easy, very easy. All the Bishop got for an hour were the easiest of, as I said in the title, "softball" questions. There was no "holding their feet to the fire", holding the Bishop and the Church accountable that, first, the sexual abuse of children in their care ever occurred and then, worse, that it was covered up. And it was covered up for years and years, at that.
The interview began hopefully enough with a recording of Catholics in an actual mass at the local Church of the Immaculate Conception, reading the written words of some of the now-adults who had been abused by the Priests here in this Diocese.
But from there, it was lost.
It was as though these children weren't ever abused, sexually abused.
Forget that the previous Bishop had been found guilty in a local, civil court, "LET'S MOVE ON!"
From there, the interviewer, Brian Ellison, immediately went into questions about the Bishop himself, where he came from, what his background and family life were like, etc.
Adults? In the Church? Covering up for the sexual abusers?? WE OUTTA' HEAH.
I can't imagine a more touchy-feely interview and conversation, given that so many children were, again, abused and sexually abused and by Catholic Church Priests and then covered up by some and ignored by others, all in the Catholic Church.
And sure, I understand that there has to be some "niceness", some respect to the guest but we're talking the sexual abuse of children here. It isn't over. Bishop Finn may have finally been foisted, however reluctantly, out of his position in and with the Church and Bishop Johnston is now in his place but for the people who were sexually abused, rest assured, it is not over.
The biggest question, I think, that needs to be both asked and answered and then held to, would be "What provisions have been made within the Church and within this Diocese to make sure sexual abuse of a child and worse, of children, never occurs again?"
It's true partly because this sexual abuse occurred at all but it's especially true because this is far, far from the first time these kinds of sexual abuse cases have occurred in the Catholic Church. Far from it.
Sexual abuse has occurred in Catholic Churches and schools and Dioceses, as the world knows, in not just areas, not just states of the US, but all across the US, all across Europe and, in fact, the world. And it's happened over not just years or part of a century but FOR CENTURIES. Literally for centuries. They don't like to talk about that or have you know it or think about it.
At what point does the Catholic Church learn? At what point do the Bishops and Priests and leaders in the Church learn from these abuses and put policies in place so they never occur again? (Reminds me of an old joke. Q: How many Catholics does it take to change a light bulb? A: CHANGE??)
Next was the question: "How are you going to clean up the mess he's (Bishop Finn has) left?"
For his answer, the new Bishop gave an extremely vague and, I'm sure, intentionally warm and fuzzy answer about there being lots of people in the area who care and who have "a desire to make a difference."
That was it.
They then brought on one Kathleen Chastain, Victim Services Coordinator of the Church.
And for that, I say we have to pause right there.
Note: This is a church. This is a Catholic Church. It's supposed to be about Jesus and Jesus Christ and love and everything good and they have to have a Victim Services Coordinator, Offices of Child and Youth Protection.
Does that not say something right there?
What other church organization, self-professed Christian or otherwise, has to have a Victim Services Coordinator, let alone Offices of Child and Youth Protection? (Those Catholics can sure do hierarchy and bureaucracy, can't they? Like no one else, governments included).
So Mr. Ellison asked Ms. Chastain how long her position has been around. Ms. Chastain answered that "...there has always been a Victim Advocate..."
Holy Mary, Mother of God.
That tells you how long the problem has been going on right there, folks. THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN A VICTIM ADVOCATE. But you think they'd maybe let Priests marry or something, to solve the problem?
NAAAAHHHH. Again, FUGGEDABOUDIT.
Forget that, apparently and even obviously, the "Victim Advocate" has little or no power or effect whatever or the problem wouldn't keep not just occurring in the Church but recurring.
What amazes me is that more Catholics aren't embarrassed by child sexual abuse in the Church.
The other thing that amazes me is that Catholics stay in the pews, they stay in the Church, even given all these, again, recurring sexual abuse cases of children. CHILDREN.
Ms. Chastain said her job "is to provide support for those suffering from abuse by the hands of the Church"--her words, not mine--"and then to provide outreach." She described "outreach" as "a more pro-active approach like the healing services we provide...". This is masses dealing with this issue of child sexual abuse.
Can you imagine that? Think about it. Can you imagine going to Church, ostensibly to be a better person, maybe to hear about God and Jesus and God's love and everything good and then HAVING TO SIT THROUGH AN ALMOST ONE HOUR MASS, kind of confessing THE CHURCH'S SINS, the Priests and Bishops sins and then going home? How screwed up is your Church if it's asking for forgiveness? And then, how screwed up is your Church when it has to ask the people for forgiveness again and again and again, in different locations, all round your nation, all around the world and for centuries? And you're still attending? You're still giving them money?
OH HELL NO.
Mr. Ellison asked Ms. Chastain if the local Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese ever put an actual figure on the number of people sexually abused here.
The answer? No.
Oh, heck, no because that would mean, a) you care and b) you intend to own up to your problems and faults and make restitution. The Catholic Church and their leaders will have none of that. They've already paid out millions upon millions of Church offerings from people in the pews. The last thing they want to do is maybe "come clean", at long last, and risk paying out yet more money. "Run along, run along. There's nothing to see here."
Ms. Chastain actually said "I don't know if there's any way we could put a number to that." That is, put a number on the actual childen---again, children---who were sexually abused in this Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese.
Isn't that a beauty?
The one question I wanted to hear both asked and answered was and still is---What, precisely, reforms and hard rules have been put down to make certain this never, ever happens again?
It was never asked.
For anyone who's ever been a Catholic and exposed to what they do, this is all pretty stunning because the one thing they make you do and say, week after week, in their Catholic Mass, is that we are "not worthy."
Jesus (said ironically and for effect). That's rich. They have sexual abuse scandals of children in their own care, from state to state to state and nation to nation, continent to continent, over decades and even centuries and they have the people in the pews, the followers, say they're "not worthy." Irony and hypocrisy doesn't get any heavier or thicker than that.
Then Mr. Ellison compliments Ms. Chastain and so, by default, the Church by saying she and the Church deserve credit for being so forthcoming "about how things were not addressed in the past."
That's pretty clueless right there. So they're talking "honestly and openly about how things were not addressed in the past." Big deal. WHAT, PRECISELY, ARE YOU DOING TO MAKE SURE THIS DOESN'T, THAT THIS NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN?
Then Mr. Ellison asks when this change took place.
Wow. That so totally does not matter. The only three things that matter are holding people accountable that let this happen to begin, the tending to the abused and then MAKING SURE IT NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN. Who gives a freak when this change, this new supposed honestly took place? That's irrelevant. Again, it's a softball, pointless, unnecessary question.
Mr. Ellison came close, close, to holding the new Bishop and the Church accountable, a little over halfway through when he pointed out that SNAP said the Church's services about these episodes were only, in effect, "window dressing" (my words) and for outward consumption, that they weren't real contrition or solutions. The Bishop quickly diverted the question by saying he was sincerely sorry and that if anyone doubted it, he couldn't stop them.
Well I'm glad he cleared that up.
"We're done here."
Mr. Ellison asked just what a Bishop does all day. Man, that is some hard-hitting question, right there. This entire conversation was dripping with, again, irony and hypocrisy on the part of the Catholic Church.
From there, it went on to questions from the callers and to "looking to the future", according to Mr. Ellison. The first caller, a Catholic, he said, tried to pin the Bishop down on the Bishops in the Church, through the Council of Bishops (see? more of that wonderful Catholic bureaucracy) holding individual Bishops accountable for their actions. It came close to the issues but that was as good as it got.
Look, I love NPR and KCUR but this interview went off the rails from the start and ended that way. It was weak and soft and empty. At the end, I'm surprised all three of them, the interviewer, the Bishop and the "Vitcim Advocate" didn't all get up, hold each other and sing "Kumbaya."
I'm just glad that Bishop Finn and now Bishop Johnston and all the Catholic leaders, nationwide and worldwide, were all able to sweep all this child sexual abuse stuff under the rug and move on.