Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Lighter Side — "Rocky" Takes a Break & Ignores Events — We Should Too

Pic Snapped July 29, 2014 - Tree in My Backyard

I always keep my Panasonic DMC-TZ1 fully charged and handy just in case a good snapshot appears nearby whether it's some deer in my yard, or a few squirrels, a colorful bird, or even the aftermath of one of those awful storms we are noted for around here (e.g.,. ice storm, cyclone, etc.) ... Looking out our bedroom window this morning I saw this guy resting on a limb with a nut of some sort munching away without a care in the world.

My neighbor (his house is in the background) often tosses peanuts outside for them. Then the fun begins watching them fight over one or two as they stuff them in their mouth and then dash off to the high ground to enjoy their reward.

I thought this was a cute moment to capture especially since the world around us is going to Hell in the proverbial hand basket as it were. So, since "Rocky" was ignoring everything, I thought I would, too.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

GOP Education Plan: Abolish Public Schools and Right to Carry in Schools

The Only Book Any Student / Classroom Will Never Need

Bus Service Still Publicly-Funded
(K-12 Classroom Compliance Officers)

Typical K-12 Science Class Flyer

Teacher Ready to Meet Her Class in New School Year

The GOP wants to dismantle public schools badly and has for years ... to replace them with private, mostly Christian-based ... no wonder they dislike science so much ... they prefer the Bible as the only textbook for the classes...

On the move for many years… two examples here:

“Like most other conservatives and libertarians, we see vouchers as a major step toward the complete privatization of schooling. In fact, after careful study, we have come to the conclusion that they are the only way to dismantle the current socialist regime.” Bast spells out the agenda:

“Vouchers zero in on the government school monopoly's most vulnerable point: the distinction between government financing and government delivery of service. People who accept the notion that schooling is an entitlement will nevertheless vote to allow private schools to compete with one another for public funds. That fact gives us the tool we need to undercut the organizing ability of teachers' unions, and hence their power as a special-interest group.”

“Because we know how the government schools perpetuate themselves, we can design a plan to dismantle them.”

Right-wing billionaire Dick DeVos speaking at the Heritage Foundation, 2002:

“And so while those of us on the national level can give support, we need to encourage the development of these organizations on a state-by-state basis, in order to be able to offer a political consequence, for opposition, and political reward, for support of, education reform issues.”

“That has got to be the battle. It will not be as visible. And, in fact, to the extent that we on the right, those of us on the conservative side of the aisle, appropriate education choice as our idea, we need to be a little bit cautious about doing that, because we have here an issue that cuts in a very interesting way across our community and can cut, properly communicated, properly constructed, can cut across a lot of historic boundaries, be they partisan, ethnic, or otherwise. And so we've got a wonderful issue that can work for Americans. But to the extent that it is appropriated or viewed as only a conservative idea it will risk not getting a clear and a fair hearing in the court of public opinion. So we do need to be cautious about that.”

“We need to be cautious about talking too much about these activities. Many of the activities and the political work that needs to go on will go on at the grass roots. It will go on quietly and it will go on in the form that often politics is done - one person at a time, speaking to another person in privacy. And so these issues will not be, maybe, as visible or as noteworthy, but they will set a framework within states for the possibility of action on education reform issues.” 

Those two couldn't be any clearer about their agenda: They want to destroy teachers’ Unions and the public school system. 

And, the ever-popular billionaire Koch brothers, helping educate America, one student and one classroom at a time according to their understanding of how the country should be.

Background: In the spring of 2012, Spenser Johnson, a junior at Highland Park High School in Topeka, KS was unpacking his acoustic bass before orchestra practice when a sign caught his eye. “Do you want to make money?” it read.  

That poster encouraged the predominantly poor students at Highland Park to enroll in a new, yearlong course that would provide lessons in basic economic principles and practical instruction on starting a business. Students would receive generous financial incentives including start up capital and scholarships after graduation. The course would begin that fall.

Spenser Johnson eagerly signed up.

In some ways, the class looked like a typical high school business course, taught in a Highland Park classroom by a Highland Park teacher. But it was actually run by Youth Entrepreneurs, a nonprofit group created and funded primarily by Charles G. Koch, the billionaire chairman of Koch Industries.

The official mission of Youth Entrepreneurs is to provide kids with "business and entrepreneurial education and experiences that help them prosper and become contributing members of society."

The underlying goal of the program, however, is to impart Koch's radical free-market ideology to teenagers. In the last school year, the class reached more than 1,000 students across Kansas and Missouri.

How do we know that? Lesson plans and class materials obtained by The Huffington Post make the course's message clear with these points (do any of them sound familiar):  (1) The minimum wage hurts workers; it (2) slows economic growth, (3) low taxes and less regulation allow people to prosper, (4) public assistance harms the poor, and (5) government, in short, is the enemy of liberty. 

Whoa … vote GOP and change America forever. Don’t take my word for it, ask them. 

A quick word about some of those crazy state gun laws, and yes, they are crazy by any measurement. Of course, we have the right “bear” arms and own guns, etc., and I support that right, and even in some cases to carry one concealed, but that does not necessarily mean we should as many states are now advocating and passing laws accordingly (e.g., on campus, in bars, in public and even in some cases at church). 

Think hard about that and how looks to the world to see images of men and women with .45’s strapped on their hips shopping downtown, or some with rifle sling over their should at the local gas station or in public someplace – showing off and, yes that's what it is: Call it pee-pee envy.

Thanks for stopping by. If anything here sticks with you, fine. I would recommend further research. This is a fundamental and critical subject for the entire country.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ultra Rich With Inherited Wealth Out to Change the Country: But How

All Mine - Wow - What For???
(Momma: My diaper is full, too)

Opposition and Income Both Up 

Income Up Help Thy Neighbor Down

Income Up Ditch The Safety Net

Income graphs and heart of the story posted here from Salon.com article - a good read:

"Before we go any further, it should be noted that the wealth of the super-rich is notoriously hard to measure." 

"Often times, these individuals — having gained prominence in society due to their money and stature — have the means and the desire to hide the true extent of their fortunes and most do (called off-shore accounts in the Caymans or some Swiss bank)."

The heart of this story which I want to emphasize is this (with some of my own editing but not to distract from the original story – I do that to make the point stronger with my slant while keeping the point in focus):

“[The] … fresh new wave of many wealthy millennial Congressional candidates, who are usually enthusiastic and idealistic. These young Americans paradoxically promote a style of bland, Washington Consensus politics, what Pennsylvania House candidate (and proud millennial) Nick Troiano has billed “radical centrism.” As a generation generally lauded for our commitment to civil service, noted for our love of structure, and gently mocked for our aversion to risk-seeking, surely we must be the perfect generation to fix America’s broken politics. Right? Unfortunately, probably not." 

“Why? Our current political system, where the cost of running for national office is prohibitively high for candidates of any age, is almost certain to bend further and further toward affluent candidates in coming years."

“On its own, this is troubling enough as it threatens the credibility and productivity of our democracy. But when considering the political views of affluent Millennials — and the rest of the generation more generally — an ominous trend emerges."

So, I posted the three graphs from the story to make my point (graphs I, II, and III above).

“Radical change – um .. According to every metric reason examined, the famed liberalism of young Americans fades as soon as their bank accounts grow.”

Why is that – oh, yeah, to protect your wealth at any cost, and it usually costs plenty. That’s the heart of this story and my view, too. Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

GOP Hype: ACA (Obama-care) Costs Will Skyrocket — Reality: Oops

Enrolling in the ACA (Obama-care) Now Easy and Not Costly
(As the GOP predicted)

Drugs and Care and Treatment
(Big Costs)

First Question: What and why are health care costs to the Moon and back? 

The key components in health care spending and rising costs may not be what you think: rich doctors. Au contraire. Technology, administrative expenses, hospital costs, lifestyle choice, and chronic disease conditions (aided by massive Rx intervention) have all had greater impacts on rising overall health care costs than physicians.

The ACA (Obama-care) critics promised the law would send insurance premiums skyrocketing. They were wrong.  Or, if they're not wrong, they're at least not right yet.

Nearly 20 states have released preliminary information about premiums for insurance policies sold on their insurance exchanges, and the nightmare scenarios have not come to pass. In most of those states, the average increase across all exchange plans is in the single digits.

According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers analysis found in this article that our of 18 state initial filings, 10 would see see average premium increases of less than 10 percent — nominal hikes in line with the standard increases that have happened every year with or without Obama-care.

The outliers so far are Indiana, with an average increase of 15 percent, and Rhode Island, where the average premium will fall by about 1 percent.

Initial rates could still change: Several states have the power to review proposed increases and bargain for a better deal. But the early look at states' 2015 rates helps shed some light on whether Obama-care's second year will bring steep cost hikes.

Plus, we all have heard the GOP a million times: “Obama-care is a job killer.” Call this another potential oops moment. A few details can be found here  and here – FYI.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Crude Oil Export Ban Since 1975 Back in Play: New GOP Opportunistic Ploy

Nice Graphic Snatched from the ED SHOW on MSNBC

Do You Remember Those Days
(I do)

Some background firstThe Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 was signed into law by President Gerald Ford that blocked exports of U.S. crude oil and natural gas but allowed the president to exempt shipments “which he determines to be consistent with the national interest.”

(That law followed on the heels of the oil embargo from OPEC in 1973 that drove up gas prices and starting hurting the U.S. big time).

There were a few minor exceptions to that law over the years, such as limited exports from Alaska or to Canada. With the United States importing vast quantities of oil to meet consumption, the export ban wasn’t a big issue. But now with the surge in U. S. domestic oil production, the U. S. oil industry (pushed by the GOP) has been loudly demanding that the Obama administration lift the de facto ban on crude oil exports. 

Headlines now, and a lot based on the downing of the MH-17 over the Ukraine and GOP-generated panic coupled with an opportunity, they think to get the ban lifted entirely. A good rundown on that aspect is presented below from the ED SHOW (about 17 minutes):

Thought you'd like to know. Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Rational Ideas Based on Coherent Thinking Can Beat Back Big Money

Keep an Eye Focused


“The voice of the wealthy is the voice that is most clearly heard by politicians.”  — Bill Cavanaugh

Introduction: The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that more than $6 billion was spent on the 2012 elections. That’s a lot of money in American politics. That figure only includes election  campaigns expenses – it doesn’t include funds spent on lobbying or advocacy. More on this can be seen here.

To add to the enormity of the challenge, in 2010 the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v.
Federal Election Commission that corporations and unions enjoy the same free speech rights that
individual human persons have, and can therefore spend freely on direct political advocacy.

These developments have raised the stakes on the national conversation about the role of
money in politics. Americans of faith and moral commitment have a critical role to play
in this national conversation. At their best, leaders of faith and moral commitment can avoid
partisanship and instead tackle the subject of money in politics from the perspectives of right
and wrong, of what is morally sound, and of what will strengthen American democracy.

With all the new strategies employed in today’s elections – Super PAC’s, social media strategies,
campaign Ads masquerading as documentary films, and even astro-turfing – it is easy to forget
that the challenge of money in politics is actually an ancient problem. The challenge of money
in politics has been around at least as long as ancient works like the Bible, and probably since
the dawn of agriculture and cities.

And, here we are today, and even on this scale this story from Colorado makes me feel good about what I've preached about for years — that is the massive amounts of big money looking and trying to buy the system for their own narrow agenda and not necessarily for the general public’s good. 

The lesson here is a simple one: When we stand against big money like this story illustrates, we are on the right track, and being right is always the best course of action in the long run, no matter how long it takes. In short, there is not substitute for being right.

The story: Val Flores — a long-time educator with 43 years of experience in public education — won in the Democratic primary for the Colorado State Board of Education District 1 seat recently, despite running against a candidate who raised more money and received corporate endorsements than she did.

Flores said: “We have a large amount of work to do to bring our public school system up to the levels of excellence necessary for the twenty first century. We can get there by studying and applying the best practices available, by including our communities in the conversation about the education process, and by holding true to the values of a free public education system for all.”

Ms. Flores ran against Taggert Hansen, a candidate endorsed by so-called “education reformers” who have been pushing for policies that undermine public schools for years. Hansen received significant contributions from Education Reform Now, an organization funded by the Walton Family Foundation (Walmart folks) who happens to be one of many corporations funding legislative efforts to privatize education. 

You will note that the board of directors primarily is made up of former “capital management” types … that ought to tell you something … it’s the money and not the kids as their bottom line despite what they say otherwise. I think Val Flores saw that, too, and her message resonated with the voters and that's why she won.

My suggestion on this aspect of story is simple for anyone who agrees with me on this subject: 

Stop shopping and making the Waltons richer than they already are. The three primary Walton family members are Jim, Rob, and Alice and they are worth $152 billion by the most-recent reporting and now they are working to undermine public education by privatizing public schools. Keep that in mind the next time you shop at your local Walmart. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Open Carry Gun Laws in Public Places: How Can Anyone Call That Rational

GREEN Are "Open Carry" States
(Simple Question: Why - Just Because We Can)

The view of America that the world sees - Cowboy mentality and Wild, Wild West justice!!! Just because it's a right, is logically no reason to do it ... in a word: utter insanity. We have the right to adult sex, but on a park bench in front of kids? Hey, it's my right.

All this in your face seems to me pretty disgusting. Most of those guys look like they're out of work, have a shitty home life, maintain a lousy outlook in general, and suffer from pee-pee envy that Mel Brooks lectured on in the movie “High Anxiety” as Dr. Richard H.(arpo) Thorndyke.

High Anxiety

For the life of me I cannot reconcile law and order, massive gun violence in the country and states passing "right to carry gun laws" for just about anyplace, anytime, anywhere, and for one simple reason: 'cause it's our right. It may be their right, but I prefer to ask: Why? The Mel Brooks movie was fictional madness — what we see spreading across the county with these open-carry laws is factual madness.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

TransCanada: Keystone XL Pipeline Builders Back in the News

Bad News for Heartland U.S.A. Should Leaking Grow 
(Which is has grown recently)

So, they Can Move the Oil Anyway They Choose
(And not even a safe way)

This May Be Ambition
(But, what are they smoking in the other pipes)

Correct Label, but Nasty Stuff Inside

Updated story from Canada and the Keystone XL Pipeline builders in what I call a new venture in Canada that will impact the air considerably than ever. 

This new pipeline called, The Energy East pipeline, is bigger than the Keystone XL — in fact, it’s the most expensive pipeline project TransCanada has ever proposed.

If approved, Energy East would carry about 1.1 million barrels of tar sands crude across Canada each day. That’s more than Keystone XL, which would carry 830,000 barrels per day from Canada down to refineries in Texas.

Despite the company’s apparent attempt to avoid obstacles, the Energy East pipeline proposal has already gotten some push-back in Canada.

A February report from the Pembina Institute, for example, found Energy East would have an even greater impact on the climate than Keystone XL, with the potential to generate 30 to 32 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

In simple terms, that’s the equivalent of adding more than seven million cars to the roads, and more than the 22 million metric tons that the think tank predicts Keystone XL will produce.


The short answer is of course, it benefits TransCANADA, and for more and more HUGE PROFITS and not for jut about anyone else, except maybe those in oil thirsty China or India and other places who are willing to pay big money for this new supply of oil regardless of the damage the pipelines could cause in Canada and the U.S. along the way as they current leak like a sieve and as I posted later on, the clean up is taking longer than anyone predicted or suspected (the heavy crude sinks and cannot be easily skimmed off the water on top...

My assessment is simple and has been along on this effort: Their profit motives are NOT worth the risk to air and water and the land, period.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Define Utter Insanity: Georgia "Right to Open Carry a Gun Anywhere" Law

Find the Madness in This Photo

Hey, don't blame us, we only write the laws...
(/s/ GA Legislators)

This story is reported on from here and comes from this source in Valdosta, GA (pop. 55,000) on the first full day of the new Georgia law that basically says: "I can carry my gun anywhere I damn well please, since my state lawmakers said so."

The story is called: A "misunderstanding" between two armed men in a Georgia convenience store led to an arrest on the very day that the state's new expansive gun rights law went into effect. 

Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress summed the incident up for the newspaper this way: “Essentially, it involved one customer with a gun on his hip when a second customer entered with a gun on his hip." 

One wanted to see the other's license/permit and it went downhill from there. Story continues at the link. 

Now to my question about the gun-on-the-hip picture ... what's the madness in that photo?
Hint: See the gun's hammer? It's cocked which means it is easy to fire quickly ... why is that do you suppose. I guess it would amount to "who can draw and shoot the fastest... just like at the O.K. Corral, right?

Madness, utter madness.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Another Oil Spill: Near My Hometown, but Oil Profits Are Up

Pipeline Spills Since 2010
(Some still not cleaned up)

Route 51 Runs Straight Through My Hometown
(About 60 miles south of Patoka)

This update from MSNBC (the Ed Show) (about 6 minutes), plus update on BP:

An interesting article here ... the headlines:  "Cycling Along the Keystone Pipeline: Patoka, IL"
The heart of this story: There is no impact (pro or con) per se for that small community and the pipeline. However, should any of the storage tanks or pipeline burst or explode, well, that'd be a different story as they say.
Updated (May 29, 2014) is pretty good news - up to this point. Highlights and the headline:

A nearly $3 million jury verdict against a Texas oil and gas company highlights regulatory failures and health risks linked to fracking... 

Call this a family’s persistence that pays off: Between February 2010 and July 2011, Lisa and Bob Parr filed 13 complaints about air pollution from gas and oil operations near their ranch in Wise County, Texas. Sometimes they had trouble breathing, they told the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). They also experienced nausea, nosebleeds, ringing ears and rashes.

Other families were also alarmed. Between 2008 and 2011, the TCEQ received 77 complaints from Wise County, in the Barnett Shale drilling area in North Texas. One said the odor was so powerful that the complainant “couldn’t go outside,” according to the TCEQ report.

Frustrated and angry, the Parrs decided to sue. Their attorney warned them that lawsuits against the oil and gas industry rarely, if ever, succeed. But the Parrs persisted and last month won what appears to be the first successful U.S. lawsuit alleging that toxic air emissions from oil and gas production sickened people living nearby. A Dallas County jury found that Aruba Petroleum, a privately owned company based in Plano, Texas, “intentionally created a private nuisance” that affected the family's health and awarded the Parrs almost $3 million in damages.

More on my series about this topic: The waiting time for approval or not, of the Keystone XL Pipeline extension through the heart of mid-America. This interesting historical update from the ED SHOW (MSNBC) is about 16 minutes. A very good review of this most depressing and apparently growing issue: Pipeline breaks and oil spills.

A lot on this subject follows in other posts below ... I hope everyone gets fully engaged. The Keystone XL pipeline extension must not be approved ... too much is at stake. The potential risk and already proven risk to date is simply not worth it. This latest spill should reinforce that premise.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Modern GOP Conservative View of the World as Practicing Nihilists

The GOP-Conservative View of Life

Well-known Practicing Nihilists

The wide spread anti-government “movement” that we see and hear about daily has been generated and sustained by the political right, and it is very troubling.

It would not be so noticeable or bad if that side of the political spectrum actually offered something new or workable for the things they blast the other side about. Along the way all they do is come across like a spoiled brat or some angry old coot who love being a bully and then when called out for their bullying, they claim no one likes them. Worse, that they are being persecuted for defending their guns, Bibles, benefits that they pick and choose, a job where Unions are not allowed, life in a neighborhood that is all white with private schools and only Christian churches, and not much else, and oh, yes, everyone outside that sphere is bad.

As I was trying to put this piece together and describe what I wanted to say, I was lost, until I stumbled across these two articles. They express my views better than I can:

Therefore, I call this posting: “HISTORY KNOWS BEST.”

Introduction: GOP-Conservatives today have lined up in near-unanimous opposition to any progressive legislation introduced by President Obama either in his first term or now in his second term in office. Whether they have been railing against health care reform, a climate bill, or financial regulation, their ire has stemmed less from legislative specifics than from a generalized prophecy of doom.

For example: Mr. Obama’s proposals will move the country toward socialism, bankrupt entire industries and small businesses, and deny Americans their basic freedoms. These arguments, however, are not new.

Conservatives and not just Republicans, but various politicians and groups who have resisted major social changes — have recycled those bites throughout the twentieth century. They used them to oppose numerous progressive measures that Americans now take for granted, like women’s suffrage, child-labor laws, and Medicare just to name three important ones.

What follows is a collection of choice Conservative predictions about disaster that never came to pass. This new breed of GOP-Conservative and many from the newly-formed TEA “party” wing of the GOP (mostly ultra conservatives of the GOP) might prefer they be forgotten all together. 

Check out this list of historical reminders:  

“It may be impracticable that our distinctively American experiment of individual freedom should go on.”  — Sen. David Hill (D-NY), in 1894, bemoaning the creation of a federal income tax.

“Woman suffrage would give to the wives and daughters of the poor a new opportunity to gratify their envy and mistrust of the rich. Meantime these new voters would become either the purchased or cajoled victims of plausible political manipulators, or the intimidated and helpless voting vassals of imperious employers.”  — President Grover Cleveland, in 1905, on why women shouldn’t be able to vote.

 “The child will become a very dominant factor in the household and might refuse perhaps to do chores before six a.m. or after seven p.m. or to perform any labor.”  — Sen. Weldon Heyburn (R-ID), in 1908, on why child labor should remain unregulated.

“I fear it may end the progress of a great country and bring its people to the level of the average European. It will furnish delicious food and add great strength to the political demagogue. It will assist in driving worthy and courageous men from public life. It will discourage and defeat the American trait of thrift. It will go a long way toward destroying American initiative and courage.”  — Sen. Daniel O. Hastings (R-DE), in 1935, listing the evils of Social Security.

“It would make it practically impossible for any publisher in the United States to accept any food, drug, or cosmetic advertising without facing squarely into the doors of a jail.”  — Federal Trade Commission Chairman Ewin L. Davis, in 1935, on the dangers of empowering the FDA to regulate the food, drug, and cosmetic industries

“I do not think we can take the Chinese with their habits and mentalities in this year and time into our great American melting pot and in ten years or a hundred years bring them up to our standards of civilization.” — Rep. Compton I. White (D-ID), in 1943, on why we should not allow Chinese nationals to immigrate or become U.S. citizens.

“The Act represents a step in the direction of Communism, Bolshevism, fascism, and Nazism.” — The National Association of Manufacturers, in 1938, condemning a national minimum wage and guaranteed overtime pay.

“It is destroying the amicable relations between the white and Negro races that have been created through 90 years of patient effort by the good people of both races. It has planted hatred and suspicion where there has been heretofore friendship and understanding.” —Sen. Strom Thurmond (D-SC), Sen. Richard Russell (D-GA), and other Southern legislators in 1956, describing the perils of integrating public schools.

“It is socialism. It moves the country in a direction which is not good for anyone, whether they be young or old. It charts a course from which there will be no turning back.” — Sen. Carl Curtis (R-NE), in 1965, opposing Medicare.

“This bill could prevent continued production of automobiles . . . [and] is a threat to the entire American economy and to every person in America.”  — Lee Iacocca, executive vice president of Ford Motor Company, in 1970, on why the government should not regulate airborne contaminants that are hazardous to human health.

“The effects include serious long-term losses in domestic output and employment, heavy cost burdens on manufacturing industries, and a resultant gradual contraction of the entire industrial base. The irony of this bleak scenario is that these economic hardships are borne with no real assurance they would be balanced by a cleaner, healthier environment.”  — The National Association of Manufacturers, in 1987, on the perils of an emissions reduction program to combat acid rain.

“The doctor begins to lose freedoms. It’s like telling a lie, and one leads to another. First you decide that the doctor can have so many patients. They are equally divided among the various doctors by the government. But then the doctors are not equally divided geographically, so a doctor decides he wants to practice in one town and the government has to say to him you can’t live in that town, they already have enough doctors. You have to go someplace else. And from here it is only a short step to dictating where he will go.” — Ronald Reagan, in 1961, arguing against the creation of Medicare.

Forgotten in the minds of many, or merely conveniently set aside hoping that no one will remember. Woe, be it for the internet and quote archives. 

Summary: The only thing they see for the country is nothingness, except words prefaced with "anti -..."