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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Huge Supreme Court News Breaking




US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia 

dead at 79


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia found dead at a West Texas ranch, according to multiple reports.

The news was first reported by My San Antonio. Scalia was 79.

He was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan.


It will be fascinating, now, to see the fight that erupts between President Obama and the Republicans in Congress about and for his replacement. The President no doubt already has a "short list" of people he would have on the Court.  He will no doubt select someone with an impeccable background. Regardless, the Republicans will have to be against him or her. They "let him have", so to speak, a woman already with Justice  Sotomayor. They likely won't let him put up another female.

Rest in peace, Justice Scalia.

Link:  Barack Obama Supreme Court candidates


The Income Problem



Thursday, February 11, 2016

Entertainment Overnight -- Okay, Go


Best work in music videos, hands down, every time by these guys.




We Have To Close This "Revolving Door"


We have got to close this "revolving door" between government and business and we must close it legally and formally and soon as possible.


Represent.Us's photo.

So Done


The field of 2016 presidential candidates includes 16 Republicans and five Democrats. (AP)

I am so done with this election.

Done with candidates.

Done with debates.

Done with the two political parties (though done with one far more than the other, truth be told).

Done with announcements.

Done with campaigns.

Done with announcements, all of it.

And even ignoring we have, still, a little more than half of this month to go, ignoring February, we have 9 more months of this to go until the actual November election date.

Don't get me wrong, however.  I still know how important this election is and I'm still engaged and still decidedly for my candidate for the presidency but holy cow. These things go on and on and on.

We should be better than this.

We should be smarter than this.

And we are.

Or we could be.

I've written about this before. We could fix this and rather simply. Probably not easily but simply.

The Problems With Our Government--and Our Elections


We need to do what the Brits did, years ago, and limit our elections to one or, at most, two months in length, by law. This way, the big campaign money wouldn't be needed.

Too many Americans likely don't know that's what the Brits did or that that's how they run their elections---or that we could.

Could you imagine elections that don't last 2 years? I know I could. How much better, how much improved would that be?

We wouldn't have to waste all this time and all the money we do on the elections. 

Government officeholders wouldn't be perpetually running the next election race, just to get re-reelected.

We wouldn't have to go through this nonsense.

Inventions by Black Americans, Part I





What Is It That's Different About This President, Anyway?


Last week, this took place:




Then, this, yesterday.

Agencies of the U.S. government make regulations to implement acts of Congress – such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation limiting carbon emissions from power plants, under the Clean Air Act. Sometimes plaintiffs challenge the legality of such a regulation, arguing the agency exceeded what Congress intended – as plaintiffs have done in this case. Occasionally, plaintiffs ask the courts to put the regulation on hold until the courts have fully considered their lawsuit – arguing they’ll otherwise suffer irreparable harm while awaiting a ruling. Often, as in this case, the lower court refuses. But never before in history has the Supreme Court overruled a lower court that refused such a stay, and decided itself to put a regulation on hold. Yet that’s what the five Republican appointees on the Court did yesterday evening -- blocking the Environmental Protection Agency’s landmark regulation. They gave no reasons.

The result is to freeze the heart of Obama’s climate policy until the courts have fully considered its legality. When might that be? The D.C. Circuit’s Court of Appeals has scheduled oral arguments for July 2, so a ruling from that court could be early next fall. The Supreme Court might then hear an appeal in late 2017 and decide by 2018. Of course, the five Republican appointees might then decide the regulation is illegal, or by then a Republican president might simply refuse to put the rule into effect. (Several Republican candidates, including Marco Rubio, don’t believe carbon emissions are contributing to climate change.)

In this case, the five Republicans on the Court decided that the plaintiffs – coal companies, power plants, utilities – will suffer irreparable harm over the next two or three years if the regulation is put into effect. But what about the irreparable harm to the environment from two or three more years of gunk being spewed into the atmosphere? Why should harm to profits take precedence over harm to life on earth? What planet are the five Republicans on, anyway?         --
Robert Reich

What is it?

I'm trying to think.

What is it about this President, this one President that's different that Congress treats him differently than any other.

Let me see...

Barack Obama


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Republican, Right Wing Nightmare Kansas Has Become


Along with Republican Kansas Governor Sam Brownback wanting to take money from the state's pension fund in order to pay for his and the Republican Party's fiscal screw ups and nightmares, there's this, too:


I won't paste the entire article here, describing what these irresponsible putzes are doing or trying to do but here's a snippet:

Brownback’s plan takes $28 million, or 1.5 percent, out of elementary and secondary education, including $5 million from Johnson County schools. The districts taking the biggest hits will be Olathe, Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley. The Republican governor also sliced more than $16 million, or 2 percent, from higher education.

So much for the education and growth of our children for our own and their futures, huh?

It's a pretty important article. I would absolutely recommend any and every adult Kansan read it and see what these chuckleheads are doing or trying to further do to your state and take from your children and even you, yourself.  

Really, Kansas.  You're better than this.  You were always smarter, much smarter than this.

Could we dispense with that whole "trickle down", cut the taxes for the wealthy and corporations idea now, locally and nationally?

Please? Finally?  Forever?

Meanwhile, seems the Republicans just don't have anything going right for them over in our neighbor state:

Director of Governor's Council of Economic Advisors arrested after DUI


Put another way, this news makes much more sense:


For a "Brownback advisor" to be drunk. 

Yes, I have to say, that explains a lot.

It explains, maybe, the last several years of governance in Kansas.


How Is What Kansas Governor Brownback Wants To Do Even Legal?


Kansas Governor Brownback and his very Republican cohorts are at it again.  Some more.

They haven't screwed up the state enough so they've come up with yet another terrific idea.  Have you seen this?

Brownback defends using public pension funds to fill Kansas budget hole


This is incredible.

There they are, Kansas pensions---people's money, retirement money, at that, just sitting there, like a big pile of rescue for Governor Sam "I Can Screw Up Anything" Brownback  and he wants to tap into it, take money away from and out of it, and all because he and the Republicans in his state slashed taxes for the rich and corporations, screwing up Kansas' budgets.

This is conceivable, sure, just as sure as the first robbery by one person from another ever was. 

What it also is, however is unconscionable.  

He and his Kansas Republican Party screw up, they deplete the state's coffer and budgets and so what does he want to do to fix his empty bank accounts?

He wants to take money from former and current Kansas state employees pensions and all because, well, hell, it IS just sitting there, after all.

I ask again---how in God's name is this even legal?

Why can a sitting state governor arbitrarily tap into an already set up retirement fund of working people when it has and had nothing, ever, whatever to do with a state's budgeting or taxes?

And more, is there no one in Kansas to stand up and call this out for the blatant, ugly, irresponsible, misplaced theft and wrong that it is?

No Kansas Churches or clergy or ethicists or ANYONE in the entire state who cannot and will not call him out on this?

Anyone??

Bueller?

I ask again, how is this legal?  Why is this legal?  Can't it be made illegal and soon as possible so this highly immoral travesty doesn't take place and so it can't possibly happen again, in the future?

Anyone?

At least there's this. At least our own Kansas City Star is standing up against this theft, this nonsense.

Don’t let GovSam Brownback delay payments for Kansas pensions


Entertainment Overnight -- Incredible


Play with volume at least somewhat up.




Monday, February 8, 2016

How Do We Fix the Broken Government? (Guest Post)


Author/economist/professor Robert Reich writes:

The Chicken and the Egg 

At the core of crony capitalism lies a chicken-and-egg dilemma: 

How is it possible to get big money out of politics when the political system is controlled by big money? 

Even candidates who pledge reform but depend on big money to get elected give up on reform. Bill Clinton said he’d clean up the system but once in the White House did no cleaning (in fact, he offered the White House’s own Lincoln Bedroom to wealthy campaign-donors). Barack Obama bemoaned the role of big money but in 2008 became the first candidate of a major party to decline public financing — and the spending limits that went with it — since the system was created in 1976, after the Watergate scandals, and has since done nothing to stem the tide.

Since the Supreme Court's “Citizens United" decision, that tide has been washing away what's left of our democracy. By the 2012 election, donations from the richest 0.01 percent were 40 percent of all campaign contributions.

The only answer is a citizen’s movement that propels a candidate into the White House who’s not only committed to ending crony capitalism, but whose campaign is based on small donations. That movement is occurring right now, and that candidate is Bernie Sanders.



We All Know What the Big Problem In Government Is


If you think about it, we all know what's wrong with our government.

It's the money.

It's the money buying our elections, buying our representatives, buying their---our---legislation and so, buying our laws and finally, our government.

It all radiates out from there.

I thought of it again today, when I saw this: 

The POLITICO 100: Billionaires dominate 2016


Economist/professor/author Robert Reich put it this way today:

So far in the 2016 election, the 100 biggest donors have contributed $195 million ― more than the $155 million contributed by the two million smallest donors combined (according to an analysis of campaign data by “Politico.”) The five Republican members of the Supreme Court who in “Citizens United” contended they were protecting the First Amendment rights of Americans were obviously doing no such thing. They were drowning the First Amendment rights of the vast majority.

The top twenty are below. (The “Politico” article lists all 100.) They have not donated out of the goodness of their hearts, or their concern for a better America. These are investments -- no different from their other investments. If their candidates win, they will get substantial returns.


1. Wilks Family $15,000,000
2. Robert Mercer $12,500,000
3. Hank Greenberg $10,010,000
4. Toby Neugebauer $10,001,000
5. George Soros $8,025,000
6. Richard & Elizabeth Uihlein $6,550,000
7. Norman Braman $6,100,000
8. Kelcy Warren $6,000,000
9. Paul Singer $5,608,213
10. Tom Steyer $5,042,744
11. Haim and Cheryl Saban $5,000,002
12. Diane Hendricks $5,000,000
13. Robert McNair $4,500,000
14. Steve & Alexandra Cohen $4,000,000
15. Jerrold Perenchio $3,972,127
16. Mike Fernandez $3,370,520
17. Ken Griffin $3,150,000 
18. Ronald Cameron $3,055,000
19. Larry Ellison $3,000,000
20. Donald Sussman $3,000,000

And that's just the top 20.  Can you imagine giving or being able to give 3 million or 5 million or 12 or 15 million dollars away, just so you could get the governement representation and legislation you like and want? Heck, most of us would like to imagine what it's like to even HAVE 1 million dollars, let alone the luxury of being able to give it away.

And Left, Right, Republican, Conservative, Liberal, Democrat, we all know what the problem is in government in our nation. Everyone but the already-wealthy and corporations know what the problem is, know how to fix it and want the solution, too.

And so, to do this, to truly Get the Big, Ugly Money Out of Our Election System and Government, we have got to do at least two things.  We have to overturn the Supreme Court's Citizen United ruling first and then end campaign contributions.  Entirely.  All of them. Enough of that talk of ending "dark money" that we don't know who is giving. End it all. Shut it down.  It's totally doable.

But it has to come from us. We have to demand it. We have to end it And we have to end it soon as possible.




The Failed Brownback/Republican Experiment That Is Kansas Gets Yet More National Press


When your very failing and failed economic and taxation policies of and for your state cut the state's financial coffers drastically so you have to cut state spending budgets and steal money from children's funds, literally, you're bound to get some press. Bad press. We've seen it repeatedly, understandably, coming out of Kansas.

Well, they just got more today, this time from The New York Times and economist Paul Krugman.

File:Flag-map of Kansas.svg

The Time-Loop Party



...there’s the assertion that taxing the rich has terrible effects on economic growth, and conversely that tax cuts at the top can be counted on to produce an economic miracle.

This doctrine was tested more than two decades ago, when Bill Clinton raised tax rates on high incomes; Republicans predicted disaster, but what we got was the economy’s best run since the 1960s. It was tested again when George W. Bush cut taxes on the wealthy; Republicans predicted a “Bush boom,” but actually got a lackluster expansion followed by the worst slump since the Great Depression. And it got tested a third time after President Obama won re-election, and tax rates at the top went up substantially; since then we’ve gained eight million private-sector jobs.

Oh, and there’s also the spectacular failure of the Kansas experiment, where huge tax cuts have created a budget crisis without delivering any hint of the promised economic miracle.


With all this coverage of the debacle that is Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's and his Republican Party's rather large economic and governing failure, how long will it be until Kansans finally, finally wake up and vote all those people out of office over there in Topeka?

It can't be soon enough those poor things.


From Kansas: Letter to the Editor


I saw this letter to the editor to the Editor of the Lawrence Journal-World yesterday, Sunday, out on Facebook.

Kansas State Flag

Letter: Sad state of affairs


To the editor:

I became an avid newspaper reader in 1939 and have maintained that practice into my eighth decade. In all that time, through wars and depression, I have never been as concerned about our political system. From the deadlock in Washington to the would-be oligarchs in Topeka, I believe our democracy is threatened. I will limit this letter to two immediate concerns.

Our education system is under attack. In our state, the teaching profession has been decimated by the failure to fund schools and the removal of teacher rights. As a retired teacher at Lawrence High School, I am concerned about the exodus of good teachers and the quality of education for ALL our youth. Democracy is dependent on an educated and informed electorate.

After retiring, I secured a position as a bailiff in the district court. In 23 years, I worked for a number of judges, some still on the bench and some retired. Every one of them, in my opinion, was well-qualified and fair-minded. Training to correctly interpret and apply the law is a long and difficult process. Our current administration would change a fair method of selecting judges to make it political. It appears to be a clear violation of the separation of the powers of our government.

So what next? Shall we build a wall around Kansas to prevent a mass exit of teachers, judges and our youth? Maybe we could fund it without raising taxes by transferring funds from education, transportation or anything that would benefit those of us who are not wealthy.

You can't say it any better than that.

Mr. Brownback? Kansas Republicans?


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Entertainment Overnight -- Sunday Edition




Link:   Blind Willie Johnson


A Way to Help Fix America


A way to help fix America. A way forward, to Get the Big, Ugly Money Out of Our Election System and Government.  It's not the ultimate plan I'd want or that we could do by ending campaign contributions completely and making them, campaigns, only 1 or two months long by law but this would be a good--no, great--start.


You can join the group and find more about them (us) at the following links.



And this, obviously, is their YouTube channel.

We can do this. We must. And this change has to come from us. It's the only way it will change, for the good, for good, for the people. 

No one but the already-wealthy and corporations aren't for getting the legalized bribery out of our election system and government. At least on this, a large percentage of Americans agree.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Quote of the Day -- Albert Einstein




'''There is separation of colored people from white people in the United States. It is not a disease of colored people, but a disease of white people. 

I do not intend to be quiet about it.'"

Albert Einstein, Lincoln University, 3 May 1946, as quoted by J. W. Woods, in "Lincoln U. confers degree on Einstein," Baltimore Afro American, May 11, 1946, p. 2, col. 5 (continued from p. 1, col. 5). No version of this statement appears in the "On race and prejudice" section (pp. 309 ff.) of Alice Calaprice's The ultimate quotable Einstein (Princeton University Press, 2010). Other versions:

"'There is separation of colored people from white people in the United States. That separation is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. I do not intend to be quiet about it.'"

As quoted by Fred Jerome and Rodney Taylor, in Einstein on race and racism (Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2005), 142, citing the Baltimore Afro American (above).



Further Tragedies From Missouri and Kansas Republicans


This is why Missouri needs Republicans out of office in Jefferson City.


Recipient of large campaign donation checks unmoved by calls for ethics reform

We, Missouri, are the only state in the Union that doesn't have limits on campaign contributions.

It's shameful. 

It's stupid. 

It's irresponsible. 

It's certainly not for the people.

It's legalized bribery and it needs to end and soon as possible.

And here's a quick, terrific example of why Kansans need Republicans out of office in Topeka:


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas apparently won't join several other states that have passed recent laws aimed at making it more difficult for domestic abusers to have weapons.

That's brilliant, huh? A man might abuse his wife or partner but can still  get weapons due to the Republicans actions.

Republicans clearly, clearly need to be voted out of both state houses.

Let's get busy.


Pretty Incredible Kansas City and American History


Dang, Kansas City. Did you know this part of our history?

CurlyNikki's photo.

I just ran across this on a friend's Facebook page. Once I saw this, I had to search it out so I did just that. I came up with this, quickly.

Rector, Sarah (1902–1967) 

 The Black Past: Remembered


A bit from this link:

Sarah Rector received international attention at the age of eleven when The Kansas City Star in 1913 publicized the headline, “Millions to a Negro Girl.” From that moment Rector’s life became a cauldron of misinformation, legal and financial maneuvering, and public speculation.

More here:

Remembering Sarah Rector, 

Creek Freedwoman


It was fascinating and initially sad but fortunately turned out well, overall.  Rather than copy and paste it all here, I highly recommend going to one of the article links here and reading. It's incredible Kansas City history but American history on a larger scale, too.

Additional links:

The Unlikely Baroness | This Land Press






Friday, February 5, 2016

Entertainment Overnight -- Acapella


Good, fun version.




Hate Liberals?


Is that you?

You hate "libruls"?

They're--we're--libtards?

Really?

The West Wing poster

"Liberals got women the right to vote.

Liberals got African-Americans the right to vote.

Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty.

Liberals ended segregation.

Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act.

Liberals created Medicare.

Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act.

What did Conservatives do?

They opposed them on every one of those things...every one!

So when you try to hurl that label at my feet, 'Liberal,' as if it were something to be ashamed of, something dirty, something to run away from, it won't work, Senator, because I will pick up that label and I will wear it as a badge of honor."


--Matt Santos, character in The West Wing

Conservatives, also, under the George W. Bush administration, got us into two, count 'em, two wars and crashed the economy, too, by the way. And by economy, I don't just mean the US, national economy, I mean the world economy. There was very nearly a global, economic meltdown.

More.

John F. Kennedy

“If by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people-their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties-someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal", then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal.”

--President John F. Kennedy

They, Liberals, are for the people, first and foremost.

So yeah, call me a Liberal.  I'm good with that. 

Link:  150 Achievements Of Liberalism


The Kansas City History Too Few Know


The Kansas City, Missouri Public Library group does some wonderful things with presentations that need to be more well-known and probably, possibly, hopefully attended. There's one coming up that I believe more Kansas Citians should know about, attend and learn from. It's this one.




Desegregating the Swope Park 

Swimming Pool


Perfectly timed for Black History Month, of course, this gives us insight into the not-that-long-ago past of the city when more of the us were centered around Swope Park and that the main, biggest swimming pool was segregated.

That's whites only. White people only.  No blacks. Something unthinkable today, still unconscionable then but the law and practice of the land.

Not only is it terrific, even important history we all should know and never forget but none other than Thurgood Marshall, Jr. is going to be on the panel, discussing the topic. 

Some information on the event.

Nearly three years before the Supreme Court’s ruling against school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka – the commonly acknowledged start of America’s civil rights movement – the burgeoning struggle for equality was stirred by a 1951 case in Kansas City. The local branch of the NAACP filed suit, successfully, to force the city to end racial segregation at the Swope Park swimming pool.

The plaintiffs’ lead attorney was a future Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall. His son, Thurgood Marshall Jr., joins longtime Kansas City activist and former mayor pro tem 
Alvin Brooks
in a discussion of the case, examining the arguments on both sides, the social context of the times, and the elder Marshall’s role in the outcome. KCUR-FM’s Steve Kraske moderates the conversation.

Co-presented by KCUR and the Federal Court Historical Society of Western Missouri.


Here's a little history on the pool, too, prior to the event.

The WPA gave $400,000 to build the Swope Park swimming pool, a state-of-the-art facility with a refreshment stand, dressing rooms, and space for 3,000 people. The pool opened to white Kansas Citians in 1941, and after a heated court battle it opened to the black community in 1954.

That WPA is, of course, for those too young to know, the Works Progress Administration. You know, our own Federal government, of all of us, supposedly.

It was right around this time, in 1954, when the Swope Park pool opened for blacks AND whites of the city--heaven forbid!--that the "white flight" began in earnest, sending all the honkies and crackers out to the hinterlands of Southern Kansas City and over the state line to Johnson County. God forbid we live together.

So once again, NPR, National Public Radio is also stepping up, with the Library, to bring and present this material to and for us all.

Kudos and many thanks to KCUR, the Kansas City Public Library and all for bringing this to us. 

Here's hoping for a great turnout. 




Oh, It's "Wealth Distribution", All Right


Right Wingers and Republicans always claim that taxing and taxes and government regulations and other things from Democrats or Progressives are "wealth redistribution" and that they and we want nothing whatever of it.

But they're all for this kind of weath distribution, for sure.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

We Americans Don't Seem to Learn From History


This week, I watched the first screening of PBS' Murder of a President  on American Experience, telling the story of US President James Garfield, his life, his deeply tragic assassination and death 200 days later.

James Garfield

It was fascinating to the point of riveting. Such great and deep history. Sad it isn't taught in our schools. Seems he was a brilliant man who fought for the people and even for the slaves of the nation, a very welcome rarety.

Too bad we don't still, to this day, have such Republicans.

Anyway, it pointed out to me, once more, how we Americans don't learn from history and I'll tell you why.

We all know our President Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed, also tragically and needlessly, in 1865, at the hands of a mad man.

At the time, Presidents didn't have security guards and protection. So the assassin came in, had access to the President and shot and killed him easily, if horribly enough.

You would think we would, as a nation, learn something from that, right? Like that we need to protect our presidents?

Nah.

We're Americans. Learn something?  Heck, no. Not from the past, not from recent history, nothing.

16 years later---sixteen whole, long years---then-President James Garfield, still unprotected, was headed to a train station, rather famously as it was in the newspaper, for pity's sake, so a crazy man came up and shot him, repeatedly. It didn't kill him instantly but soon enough, it was done.

No body guards. No protection. Nothing.

So a couple centuries later, do you think we'd learn anything from, say another countries military foray into another country?

Do you think we'd pay any attention to the world and international, military history of, say, France, that had attacked and fought the people of Vietnam?

Oh, hell, no.

Go ahead. Attack. Go in. Think you're going to win. Think you're going to win the people over. With bombs.

We all know how that went.

Couple decades later?

Not just one nation but two.

Iraq?  Afghanistan?

Oh, heck, yes, let's attack.

Forget that the British and Soviets both attacked and fought and were repelled and in effect beaten in these places and by these people.

Ignore it.  Go ahead and attack.

We're Americans.

We don't need to learn from history.