Thursday, August 29, 2013

Inspirational ~ The March on Washington 50 Years Ago and Today: Martin Luther King and Barack Obama

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Pic via National Archives Tumblr

The Original Speech by Martin Luther King in Washington, August 28, 1963

Scenes from the Original March, via National Archives:

President Obama, August 28, 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

Women's Equality Day 2013

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Each year the President of the United States proclaims Women's Equality Day on August 26th, the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment which gave women equal rights to men, especially the right to vote. Now we just need to once and for all equalize pay for women and insure that our daughters continue to have the freedoms hard won since the 1970s women's rights movement.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hero Without a Gun ~ Antoinette Tuff

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Decatur, Georgia, School Bookkeeper Antoinette Tuff is the personification of "courage under fire," only she didn't have to shoot back when an armed gunman ran into the school where she worked last week. Instead, this heroic lady used a combination of psychology, compassion and gentle persuasion to convince a mentally ill young man armed with 500 rounds of ammo to lay down his weapons and give himself up. Not a single child or teacher was injured. If only every scenario could end this way ~ Newtown ~ the Zimmerman Case. People like Anoinette Tuff are all too rare in this world! We need leaders like this to refute the NRA and show us a better approach.

Sign the MoveOn.Org Petition: Antoinette Tuff for The Presidential Medal of Freedom

Excerpts from the 911 Tapes, via NBC News
Tuff even mustered up the courage to talk Hill into surrendering — a one-on-one negotiation captured on the tape.

"Don't feel bad, baby," she can be heard telling the young man. "My husband just left me after 33 years. ... I've got a son that's multiple disabled."

Later, she can be heard reassuring him that "it's all going to be well."

After about 20 minutes, she won him over.

Tuff: "OK, he said that they can come in now. He needs to go to the hospital."

Operator: "OK, and he doesn't have any weapons on him or anything like that?"

Tuff: "He's laying on the floor. He's got everything out of his pockets. There isn't anything. The only thing he has is his belt. Everything is out of his pockets. Everything is sitting here on the counter, so all we need to do is they can just come in, and I'll buzz them in."

Only after the ordeal was over did Tuff reveal just how scared she'd been the whole time:

"I'm going to tell you something baby — I've never been so scared in all the days in my life," she told the unidentified operator. Then, she started crying and exclaimed, "Oh, Jesus! Oh, God!"

To which the operator told the courageous bookkeeper: "You did great. Hold on. Hold on"

Stunning New Ad Against Stand Your Ground Laws

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Previous Posts:
Marching for Trayvon to Change Stand Your Ground Laws
Snark in Pictures - George Zimmerman Found Not Guilty
Florida Gun Owners are NOT Freelance Cops

This is a shocking new public service announcement from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence based on the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Florida. One reason it is so chilling is that it accurately recreates the night of the shooting through the use of witness testimony and actual 911 recordings.

My heart nearly stopped when the gun went off.

Happy Birther Day to Senator Ted Cruz, the Cuban-Canadian-Maybe American

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Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is the darling of the Tea Party and one of their great hopes for the 2016 Presidential race. Cruz is also the son a foreign national (from Cuba) and an American mother - just like President Obama. However, Cruz has the distinction of the being born on foreign soil, in Canada - unlike President Obama, who was born in the state of Hawaii. And yes, it really is a state and yes, he really does have an official birth certificate.

Now Senator Cruz has released his birth certificate and it plainly states he was born in Calgary, Alberta in 1970.

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And while Cruz has chosen to downplay this factoid up till now, the Dallas Morning News did some digging, forcing Cruz to grapple with his origins. And one thing has become abundantly clear - in order to run for national office and keep his Tea Party ties intact, Cruz will have to officially renounce his Canadian ties. The problem is, that can take from 6 months up to a year, and by then the GOP primary race will be lining up at the starting gate.

Certainly Cruz is eager to shrug off his similarities to Obama, and doesn't want his followers to see him as anything but Pure American. But Democrats who have had the idiocy of Birtherism shoved in their faces through two hard fought elections will be just as persistent in bringing up Cruz's status as "foreign born" from now until the GOP picks a candidate for President. Progressives will be more than happy to cast aspersions at the man who wants to repeal Obamacare, impeach the President, and shut down the government. What a gift for all of us to know that Ted Cruz is actually "less" American than Obama. Poetic justice, karma, call it what you will. What goes around comes around.

Happy Birther Day to You, Mister Cruz!

Dallas Morning News
“Generally speaking, under the Citizenship Act of 1947, those born in Canada were automatically citizens at birth unless their parent was a foreign diplomat,” said ministry spokeswoman Julie Lafortune.
For the first time, Cruz released his birth certificate Friday in response to inquiries from The Dallas Morning News.
Dated a month after his birth on Dec. 22, 1970, it shows that Rafael Edward Cruz was born to Rafael Bienvenido Cruz, a “geophysical consultant” born in Matanzas, Cuba, and the former Eleanor Elizabeth Wilson, born in Wilmington, Del.
Her status made the baby a U.S. citizen at birth. For that, U.S. law required at least one parent who was a U.S. citizen who had lived for at least a decade in the United States.

. . . “They can feel as American as they want. But the question of citizenship is determined by the law of the territory in which you were physically born,” she said. “It’s not up to the Cruz family to decide whether they’re citizens.”
As a Cuban, Rafael Cruz probably could have requested citizenship for his son, experts said. Even if he’d wanted to, the Cuban Constitution bans dual citizenship. And the chance to register the child passed long ago.
“The U.S. and Cuba have very similar legal patterns and requirements,” said David Abraham, a professor of immigration and citizenship law at the University of Miami.

The situation reflects the overlapping jurisdictions, said Demetrios Papademetriou, president of the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute, who called birthright citizenship common in English-speaking countries.
“If Ted Cruz was born in Canada, he is Canadian. He is American. He is a dual citizen,” he said.
. . . The relinquishment process is easy enough. It can take from a few weeks to a year. There’s a four-page form with a $100 fee. Applicants must appear before a special judge to prove they have citizenship elsewhere and aren’t engaged in fraud.

From Daily Beast
First-term Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas), who is already considered a 2016 contender, was born in Canada to a mother who was an American citizen and a father who was then a citizen of Cuba. It’s the exact same fact pattern: foreign birth, citizen mother, non-citizen father that birthers thought applied to Obama. The only difference is that this time it’s true.
The issue has already come up for Cruz earlier this week when ABC News asked Donald Trump, who has been perhaps the most prominent birther, whether the Texas senator was eligible. “If he was born in Canada, perhaps not,” said Trump. The real-estate millionaire and reality-show host went on to say, ”I don’t know the circumstances. I heard somebody told me he was born in Canada. That’s really his thing.”
. . . The irony is that the circumstances of Cruz’s birth almost perfectly mirror the scenario offered by birthers, even down to the fact that the Texas senator nominally entered the world a British subject by dint of being born in Canada in 1970.
The result is a delightful paradox. Any liberals who try to cast doubt on Cruz’s citizenship will likely be using almost the exact arguments they scorned when falsely applied to President Obama. And, of course, any birthers who defend Cruz while still insisting Obama’s tenure in the Oval Office is illegitimate aren’t just being conspiracy theorists. They are being hypocrites as well.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Fantastic Short Film about GOP Greed by Actor Ed Asner

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This is a great short film by Ed Asner, reminiscent of the simplistic Schoolhouse Rock vids from the 1970s, explaining the stock market crash of 2008 in terms of the greedy 1% versus the struggling 99%. We need more clear explanations like this to give everyone some perspective - especially folks who vote against their own self-interests time after time. It's obvious to the Democrats that the super-wealthy just need to pay more taxes and honor the social contract, but it will take years to reverse the damage done by the Tea Party and Grover Norquist.

Still - this is an educational and well-done video. Thanks, Mr. Asner ~ Lou Grant would be proud! :)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

RIP ~ Captain Kangaroo's Sidekick Cosmo Allegretti

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Left-Cosmo Allegretti as Mr. Bainter the Painter
Middle - Bob Keeshan as Captain Kangaroo
Right - Hugh Brannum as Mr. Green Jeans

One of my earliest memories is eating my cereal - probably in a high chair - while watching Captain Kangaroo. I loved the Dancing Bear and Grandfather Clock. I loved Bunny Rabbit and especially Mr. Moose, who dropped the iconic ping-pong balls on the Captain's head day after day. All of those characters and more were the creation of actor and genius Cosmo Allegretti, who died this week. :( Farewell, faithful sidekick who made Mr. Moose so entertaining, and snarky ~ the boomers will remember you forever!!!

From E-Online
The actor and puppeteer, responsible for such characters as Mr. Bunny Rabbit, Grandfather Clock and Dancing Bear on the classic children's show, died July 26 in Arizona. He was 86 and had emphysema, friend and attorney John Munzel told reporters.
Allegretti was working as a set painter on Captain Kangaroo but ultimately became talent after he volunteered to create a replacement for someone else's puppet.

. . . In addition to creating the hand puppets Mr. Bunny Rabbit and Mr. Moose, Allegretti was also either the voice or hand (or both) of Dennis the Apprentice, Miss Frog, Mr. Whispers, Dancing Bear, Grandfather Clock and Uncle Ralph. He was also TV Fred, who appeared behind the blackboard in the Captain's Treasure House, and the artist behind the Magic Drawing Board.

. . . "We had a meeting and we were listening to a record that we'd just received," Keeshan said. "Believe it or not, it was a record, not a tape or a CD, but it was a record called the 'Dancing Bear.' We just sat around and said, 'How do we do this?' Somebody said, 'How about Gus in a bear suit?' Gus being Gus Allegretti. Gus said, 'Yeah, I'm game,' and so we had a nice bear suit made that Gus crawled into.

"It was not a lot of fun but he is a great talent. Then we just had him dance to this record, the 'Dancing Bear,' and that was that. Then we got mail. A lot of people said, 'Oh, we love that dancing bear. Let us see him again.'"

J.P. Morgan Bank Faces Criminal Charges

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I've been covering JP Morgan Chase Bank for a long time, and there is just so much wrong with the way they do business! But because CEO Jamie Dimon is slippery and charismatic, they have drifted along without legal consequences even while making shady deals (The London Whale) and losing tons of money for their investors.

Let's face it - we need accountability to have closure for what happened in 2008 when the stock market crashed. And these Wall Street banks are still playing fast and loose with OUR money! As Elizabeth Warren said, "Too big to fail has become too big for trial."

Previous Posts:
May 12, 2012: The London Whale
May 18, 2012: JP Morgan Fall-Out Continues
June 14, 2012: Dimon Cozies Up to Senate Banking Committee
March 17, 2013: Senate Grills JP Morgan Bank

Now JP Morgan is under criminal investigation from both Federal and State Officials:

From Huffington Post
The Justice Department told JPMorgan in May that prosecutors had “preliminarily concluded” that the bank violated civil securities laws related to mortgage securities it packaged and sold from 2005 to 2007, the bank disclosed in a quarterly securities filing. JPMorgan has already been sued over similar practices by Eric Schneiderman, New York attorney general, and has settled similar cases brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
. . . JPMorgan -- once a darling in Washington -- on Wednesday disclosed a raft of expected enforcement actions that have been broadly mentioned by the bank and its chief executive and chairman, Jamie Dimon, but never before in such detail. Once finalized, the enforcement orders may further damage the bank’s already-battered reputation and lead to heightened scrutiny of its practices.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is investigating JPMorgan's collection and sale of delinquent consumer credit card debt, including its use of sworn documents to pursue bad debts. Kamala Harris, California attorney general, has sued the bank over similar practices.

From Reuters
One of the major criticisms by homeowners, investors and politicians is that federal and state investigators have failed to bring criminal charges against high-level executives over lending and securitization activities that contributed to the housing and financial crises. No top executives at large Wall Street or commercial banks have been convicted of criminal charges related to the crises.
"Criminal probes of banks over MBS have been exceedingly rare," said Adam Levitin, a professor at Georgetown Law.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

President Obama in Chattanooga

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MY President came to MY hometown of Chattanooga! It was a great day with people lining Lee Highway and Bonny Oaks Drive with welcome signs hoping to catch a glimpse of the great man.

The Tea Party staged their own rally with "Impeach Obama" signs, but were restricted to the old Target Parking Lot for "security reasons" far away from Bonny Oaks and Amazon where the President made his speech. Ha - was it something they said, perhaps?

The Tennessee GOP made a silly video talking about how the President should "learn something" from the "Real Muricans" in our state - a state that gets plenty of government money, farm subsidies, etc. Luckily, Obama for America (OFA) had their own video welcoming video. The good definitely cancelled out the bad on this day.


Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke Describes Limo Ride with Obama
After being one of the first people to welcome President Barack Obama to Chattanooga, Mayor Andy Berke described his ride from the airport to the Amazon fulfillment center in the presidential limousine, known as "the beast."

"No big deal," Berke joked.
But although the ride may have been brief, Berke said the face time with the president was invaluable for the city. Berke said that during their transit from the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport to Amazon, he shared stories of the city's success with Obama.

"The opportunity to spend a few minutes with the president of the United States comes only once in a lifetime," Berke said. "I certainly wanted to make sure that I portrayed Chattanooga in the best possible light because I think the president was genuinely curious about what we're doing here. It was a fantastic opportunity."

Berke said he and the president discussed items such as the city's record Internet speeds, efforts to reform education in the state and Chattanooga in general.