Saturday, March 7, 2015

These things happened this week.

This has indeed turned out to be a big news week.   There have been other weeks with bigger news stories (presidential elections, the end of a war, 9/11).   But I think this week stands out of the routine as having been very busy with the number of pretty big stories.

1.  It started off with a bang and hoopla over Netanyahu's speech to Congress.

2. The release of a Department of Justice "withering" and "scathing" report on racial bias in the Ferguson, Missouri police department and court system.

3.  The House Republicans gave up and finally passed a clean Homeland Security funding bill, which President Obama has signed into law.   The significance is that House Republicans are so divided, they cannot govern despite their majority.   They could not even pass their own bill of a limited 3 week extension, which paved the way for the Democrat-supported clean bill to be passed.

4.  The flap over Hillary Clinton's emails (which will turned out to be a tempest in a teapot, but the Republicans will milk it for all the political gain they can).

5.  A clash between a federal court order and an Alabama Supreme Court order over whether to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

6.  Oral arguments at the U. S. Supreme Court on the challenge to the legality of Affordable Care Act subsidies.

7.  The senate failed to over-ride President Obama's veto of the immediate approval to build the Keystone pipeline.

8.  ISIS continues to destroy 3,000 year old cultural and religious sites and art treasures in the territories they occupy.

9.  The economy added 295,000 new jobs in February for the 12 straight month of job creation of over 200,000 per month.   The unemployment rate fell to 5.5%, its lowest since well before the 2008 recession.

10.   Another looming scandal involving Chris Christie's administration.   (What week would be complete without one?)

11.  And Saturday culminates with the 50th anniversary of the Selma, Alabama civil rights protest march that turned so bloody with police violence.   There will be a big commemoration in Selma.   President Obama will speak.   Former president George W. Bush and about 100 members of Congress will attend.

And Saturday is not over yet.   Stay tuned.


Friday, March 6, 2015

DoJ says gay marriage bans are unconstitutional

The Supreme Court announced today that April 28th is the date for its hearing on whether the bans on same-sex marriages in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee are constitutional.   

These four states are the ones covered by the 6th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in a 2 to 1 decision last November that the bans do not violate the U. S. Constitution.   The two judge majority opinion based its ruling on the deference to the people rather than the court as the ones who should decide.

This negative decision differs from all other Circuit Court decisions on gay marriage bans, thus setting up the conflict that SCOTUS had been waiting for to take a case.

The ACLU immediately filed for a Supreme Court review of the decision.   And today, the Department of Justice filed its amicus brief, stating the opinion of the Justice Department lawyers that such bans are "incompatible with the Constitution" because they "exclude a long-mistreated class of human beings from a legal and social status of tremendous import."

Wow.   We have come a long way in official recognition.    And the change in public opinion is equally astonishing.  In the latest poll, only 1/3rd of the American people stated a disapproval of marriage equality.


Responses to a 2012 ShrinkRap post circulating on the internet

Someone, or some blog service, has picked up a rather inconsequential ShrinkRap post from July 12, 2012 about the Romney campaign, and it has been circulating on the internetSometimes there are literally hundreds of visits to that page a day, as well a dozen or more anonymous email comments to it daily.   

About 80% of them seem to be from (1) people for whom English is not their language and who do not seem to understand what they are reading.  They make generic posts hoping I will check out their web sites.  Among the others are:  (2) people who want to sell something;  (3) sometimes just complete gibberish;   or (4) occasionally there will be one from someone who obviously does understand and wants to open a dialogue or to ask questions about starting a blog themselves.

Unfortunately, for those few in #4, I cannot reply directly because their messages come from an "anonymous, no response" email address.   If anyone knows how to stop such a circulation of a 3 year old post that is totally irrelevant to anything going on in 2015, I would appreciate you sending a comment to this post.  

For those who write about some technical difficulty with the connection or who are getting multiple notification responses, I'm sorry that you're having difficulties;  but I have no control at this end over matters of individual reception.     If you are clicking on a link that has been sent to you and really want to read my blog, try instead using the direct link to my blog site:

For those who genuinely are interested in the content of what I'm writing, my apologies for not responding directly;   I invite you to continue commenting and I will respond in the comments section of the post you refer to.   I do look at all the comments that come in and post those that seem to be relevant to the specific content of my current posting.    However, because those comments are linked to that 2012 post, that's where any comments get posted.   Another reason to use my direct blog address above, which connects to the latest post.

For anyone who asked for information about starting their own blog, the free site that I used years ago to set this up was   Unfortunately it has been acquired by the much larger google empire.    However, simply doing an internet search will bring in plenty of sites to help people start their own blog.    Write into the search window something like "start your own blog" and you will get many possibilities, many at no cost whatsoever.


SCOTUS and the ACA arguments

Following Wednesday's oral arguments in the Supreme Court hearing on the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act subsidies, the conventional punditry wisdom is that either Anthony Kennedy or John Roberts, or both, could provide the swing vote(s) to uphold the law.

But here's the interesting thing.    None of the nine justices gave any indication of failing to see the catastrophe that will result in our health care system if the subsidies for federal exchanges are eliminated.   It's just that they differ on how to remedy the problem.

Scalia says congress can easily fix it by passing a law to change the wording. Does he really think this Congress would do that?  That seems almost sadistic to say with a straight face.  If that were possible, it would have already been done.   It's a simple and frequent procedure, where they go back and "correct" flaws in bills that have already been enacted.

Alito seemed to favor ending the subsidies but delaying the implementation for six months, which would give time for figuring out what to do.    Thomas of course said nothing as is his habit.

So, essentially, everybody realizes there is a real problem.   The four liberals want to fix the problem and have good legal precedent for doing so in that there is strong precedent for taking into account the intent of the law as a whole, rather than focusing on one sentence that seems to contradict the whole.    And that is a position that Scalia himself has taken previously in written opinions of other cases.   So, by all that's right, he should vote to uphold the law.

Scalia and Alito want to punt and say that it's not their job to fix botched legislation, since congress can do it.   And, if they don't, well . . . that's not our problem.  We're pure letter of the law kind of people.   And damn the consequences.

So what part do the individual justices' politics play in these decisions?    If Scalia takes the expected "not our problem" position, then he is reversing what he has written in a previous case.  And knowing of his conservative political position, it's hard not to think that politics influenced his vote on this.

As Johnathan Cohn wrote, "Justice Antonin Scalia, whose past opinions made clear that justices should not read passages of laws in isolation, seemed fully prepared to do just that in order to rule against Obamacare."

Actually, maybe it's not politics, in the sense of which party they vote for, but more like philosophy of government, how they see what government is supposed to do, and whether the consequences of their decisions should partly determine what they decide.

Undoubtedly this kind of "political" philosophy enters into decisions a lot.  And it seems "political" because what I described in the last paragraph is what most likely determines which political party someone favors.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

A hopeful sign in SCOTUS arguments on ACA

Bloomberg Business reported on Wednesday afternoon that stocks on hospital corporations went up significantly following Justice Kennedy's comment, during oral arguments on the challenge to the Affordable Care Act, that the Obama administration had a "powerful" argument when it said that the health care law would fall apart if the subsidies were ruled unlawful.  

Aside from the individuals that would be unable to afford health insurance if the plaintiffs prevail, the greatest direct economic hit would be to hospitals and medical insurance companies.   Tenet stock went up 7.4%, Hospital Corporation of American went up 7%, and Community Health Systems was up 6.3%.

Of course this does not prove anything;   but people investing their money usually respond to some subtle intuition about which side is going to win.   Kennedy's vote would be enough, along with the four liberals, to save the ACA.

It's my guess that John Roberts' uncharacteristic quietness today was to avoid tipping his hand because he intends to save the ACA -- if no one else does -- just as he did on the previous challenge.


The real way to do "trickle down"

You've heard of "trickle down" economics, the lie told by Republicans to make people think it's a good thing to cut taxes on "the job creators" and that profits and expansion will ultimately benefit the workers.    It just doesn't work that way -- and them saying it as a mantra every day of the year still doesn't make it true.

But here is an example of the benefits to the owner class trickling down to the workers.   Thanks to Daily Kos for bringing it to our attention.

The Barnetts own and operate a string of Burger King stores.   They recently won the Burger King "Franchisee of the Year" award -- including a Rolex watch and a new car.  But . . . 

The Barnetts and their owner-partners sold the watch and car, added some more to the fund, and divided it up among the more than 100 employees of their cafes.   One of the workers said it was almost an entire month's salary.  "They really made us feel appreciated."

The partners said it was an easy decision to make.   "The award needed to go to the people who got us here. It was the right thing to do. . . .  We're all better when we have people who work for us long term." 

There you have it, folks.    We'll have to find another term to use instead of "trickle down."  That is so contaminated by cheap talk and no action.   This is the real thing.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015


 What a week this has been for news -- and it's only Wednesday:

1.  We had Netanyahu's hugely controversial speech before Congress yesterday, which has been roundly panned by Democrats and liberal pundits, and even some in the Jewish community -- but it was even more jubilantly cheered by Republicans and visitors in the House chamber.   Jon Stewart has called that whole spectacle "by far the longest blow job a Jewish man has ever received."

2.  Then immediately after giving his conservative House Republican colleagues such a serving of red meat, John Boehner essentially told them:  "Sit down now do what we have to do by voting for the Senate's clean Homeland Security funding bill."    Tea Party conservatives were irate, but it passed the House by a wide margin, thanks to Democrats and a sizable number of Republicans.

3.  The Department of Justice will release today what is said to be a scathing report on its investigation that found blatant racial bias in the Ferguson, Missouri police department.   The investigation arose from the Michael Brown killing by a white police officer.     It will either result in a consent order agreement that will mandate major changes or, if they do not cooperate with that, the DoK cam dissolve the entire Bupolice department itself.

4.   The revelation by the New York Times that, during her entire tenure as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton used a personal email account exclusively rather than a government account that would be automatically preserved and archived.    Colin Powell has come forth and said that he did too.   Clinton has released 55,000 pages of copies of her emails, although some are suggesting that some were selectively left out of this data dump.    This is still a developing story, with conflicting accounts of whether a government email account was actually required at that time, as well as accusations that the Times story selectively left out information that they had that would have been more in Clinton's favor.    

5.  A states rights constitutional crisis showdown is brewing in Alabama, where Roy "Ten Commandments" Moore is now Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.    In January a federal district judge declared Alabama's gay marriage ban unconstitutional.   Moore had ordered probate judges not to issue licenses to same sex couples, causing much confusion.   Now the entire state supreme court has voted to order probate judges not to issue licenses or perform marriages for same-sex couples.    If the 5th Circuit Court upholds the district federal judge's ruling, overturning the bad, then we have a clash between federal and state courts -- and it could head to SCOTUS.

6.  All that, and it's only Wednesday.   But Wednesday will be the biggest day of all as SCOTUS hears arguments in the case that is challenging the subsidies in the Affordable Care Act.   If SCOTUS strikes down the subsidies for those who got their insurance in the federal exchange, instead of a state exchange, then millions would be unable to afford their newly acquired policies.   This could be big enough to destroy the program, which is of course what the plaintiffs want.   If they didn't, the questioned wording in the ACA law could very easily be fixed by Congress simply voting to insert the four words: "or a federal exchange."    It won't happen.

So a big week.  Stay tuned.


Afternoon PS:  You can add to the week's news that the Senate failed to override President Obama's veto of the Keystone Pipeline bill.

Washington Post even more blunt about the speech than NYT

Paul Waldman, writing for the Washington Post, was even more blunt than the New York Times editorial board.   Here's how he described Netanyahu's speech:

"Today’s speech to Congress by Benjamin Netanyahu may have been about theater (it isn’t like there was some confusion about his position on Iran that he had to come here to clarify), but it did put before the American public a forceful statement of the Likud-Republican position on the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.

"And in doing so, it may well have done Netanyahu and his American supporters far more harm than good. . . .

 "[W]hen he argued that Iran and ISIS are heads of the same beast, it began to sound awfully familiar, much like when George W. Bush argued that al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein must be working together (and let’s not forget that Netanyahu was an enthusiastic supporter of the Iraq War, which dramatically increased Iran’s power and influence in the Middle East).

"This is the Republican foreign policy perspective, as much now as it ever was: there is only black and white, no complexity, no compromise, and all enemies are the same. Iran is literally fighting ISIS in Iraq right now, but Netanyahu wants everyone to believe that they’re going to join together to take over the world. . . . 

"The real problem came, however, when Netanyahu began to address the current negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. . . .  and argued that America and the other nations involved in the negotiations should just walk away. . . . 

"So where would that leave things? Netanyahu argues that if the U.S. walked away, Iran would eventually capitulate on everything . . . . That’s his alternative: Do nothing, and instead of just going ahead and developing nuclear weapons, Iran will see the light and completely reverse everything it’s been doing.

"To call that position 'absurd' is too kind. You don’t have to be some kind of foreign policy whiz to grasp that there’s something weird about arguing that 1) Iran is a nation run by genocidal maniacs; 2) they want nuclear weapons so they can annihilate Israel; and 3) the best way to stop this is to abandon negotiations to limit their nuclear program and just wait to see what they do. But that’s the position Netanyahu and his supporters in the Republican Party are now committed to.

"If there is ultimately an agreement, the fact that Netanyahu has cast such a sharp light on the ridiculousness of the opposition to the negotiations will make the Obama administration’s job in selling it easier. Republicans will of course say that it’s too soft on Iran, no matter what it actually contains. And everyone will ask the next question: what’s your alternative? Short of an invasion, they have no real answer, and they won’t be able to convince anyone otherwise."
 *  *  *  *
I agree completely.    But Netyanyahu and his hawkish supporters would of course point out that he is not exactly saying "do nothing."   He wants to squeeze all the life out of Iran and destroy their economy.   That's what he thinks will bring them to their knees.   

And behind that scenario, of course, lies Netanyahu's real desire:   to bomb the hell out of Iran.  All his exaggerations (some of which have even been contradicted by his own Israeli spy agency, Mossad) are aimed at arousing the fervor, hoping Republicans and hawkish Democrats will force greater sanctions and thus result in Iran walking out of the negotiations.

The Iraq war didn't work out too well, did it?   And he lobbied hard for that.   But bombing them didn't do it there;   then we had to send in ground troops for a decade.   It left Iraq a shattered country, and only boosted Iran as a force and influence in the Middle East.   So now he has to destroy that.   Where does it stop, Bibi?


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

NYT editorial board pans Netanyahu's speech

Here is an excerpt from an opinion from the editorial board of the New York Times.

"Mr. Netanyahu’s speech offered nothing of substance that was new, making it clear that this performance was all about proving his toughness on security issues ahead of the parliamentary election he faces on March 17. He offered no new insight on Iran and no new reasons to reject the agreement being negotiated with Iran by the United States and five other major powers to constrain Iran’s nuclear program.

"His demand that Mr. Obama push for a better deal is hollow. He clearly doesn’t want negotiations and failed to suggest any reasonable alternative approach that could halt Iran’s nuclear efforts.

"Moreover, he appeared to impose new conditions, insisting that international sanctions not be lifted as long as Iran continues its aggressive behavior, including hostility toward Israel and support for Hezbollah, which has called for Israel’s destruction.

"Mr. Netanyahu has two main objections. One is that an agreement would not force Iran to dismantle its nuclear facilities and would leave it with the ability to enrich uranium and, in time, to produce enough nuclear fuel for a bomb. Two, that a deal to severely restrict Iran’s ability to produce nuclear fuel for a decade or more is not long enough. He also dismisses the potential effectiveness of international inspections to deter Iran from cheating.

"While an agreement would not abolish the nuclear program, which Iran says it needs for power generation and medical purposes, neither would walking away. Even repeated bombing of Iran’s nuclear plants would not eliminate its capability because Iran and its scientists have acquired the nuclear know-how over the past six decades to rebuild the program in a couple of years.

"The one approach that might constrain Iran is tough negotiations, which the United States and its partners Britain, France, China, Germany and Russia have rightly committed to. If an agreement comes together, it would establish verifiable limits on the nuclear program that do not now exist and ensure that Iran could not quickly produce enough weapons-usable material for a bomb. The major benefit for Iran is that it would gradually be freed of many of the onerous international sanctions that have helped cripple its economy. . . .

"Congress must not forget that its responsibility is to make choices that advance American security interests, and that would include a strict and achievable agreement with Iran. If it sabotages the deal as Mr. Netanyahu has demanded, it will bear the blame."
*  *  *
So now let's all just calm down and be glad it's over.   How ironic that Secretary of State John Kerry left Washington to go meet with his Iranian counterpart on the negotiating team in Switzerland on the same day that Netanyahu arrived in Washington for his campaign stunt and John Beohner's affront to the president of the United States.

May they both get what they deserve.


One more victory for Pelosi and the Democrats !!!! House caves and passes clean DHS funding bill.

Conservative Republicans in the House lost big time today.   Nancy Pelosi won through her leadership skill in holding her Democratic caucus firm, getting them to support John Boehner's one-week extension last Friday as we were on the brink of Homeland Security shutdown -- with the understanding that they would get a vote on a clean DHS funding bill this week.

Today, they had that clean vote, without the poison pill attachment of gutting Obama's executive action on immigration.    It passed decisively 257-167.


Susan Rice delivers tough message to AIPAC

On the eve of Israeli Prime Minister Benjaman Netanyahu's ill-conceived lobbying speech to Congress on Tuesday, President Obama's national security adviser Susan Rice addressed a meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and delivered a tough message about the realities of negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program.

As reported by Samantha Lachmann for the Huffington Post:
"Susan Rice, President Barack Obama's national security adviser, buttered up the thousands of American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference delegates here Monday evening with Hebrew phrases and warm anecdotes about her visits to Israel.

"Then she brought on the tough talk, telling AIPAC delegates that their lobbying activities threaten to blow up ongoing negotiations to limit Iran's nuclear program.  'We cannot let an unachievable ideal stand in the way of a good deal,' Rice said. . . .  

"Delegates gave Rice a standing ovation when she said, 'I know that some of you will be urging Congress to insist that Iran forego its domestic enrichment entirely.'   But she cut off the applause, saying that barring Iran from developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is not 'a viable negotiating position.'

"'As desirable as that would be, it is neither realistic nor achievable,' Rice said."

Other commentators on Netanyahu's lobbying effort before Congress have explained that the situation boils down to this:    Either we negotiate the best deal we can that will limit the level of concentration of uranium Iran can develop for peaceful nuclear purposes -- or else we walk away from the negotiating table and resort to military action to stop them.    The current U. S. position is that daily inspections continue and that Iran should never be allowed to get within one year of being able to produce a bomb.

Although Netanyahu is making nice now that he is here, saying that he intended no disrespect for President Obama or the office of the president, he has been very blunt in past remarks that his intention is to stop any deal we might make with Iran short of completely halting any nuclear program even for peaceful uses.    The alternative he seems to want is military action now. But, at least according to one analyst of the situation, speaking on MSNBC, only a major invasion with 500,000 troops on the ground could accomplish the complete stopping of their program.   Bombing their facilities won't do it. 

Netanyahu says he is coming to speak to Congress, because he does not believe they fully understand the situation.   But Netanyahu has been proven repeatedly in the past to exaggerate the threat of Iran.    For the past 20 years, he has been insisting that Iran could build a bomb within 3 to 5 years.  They haven't.   And he has repeatedly said that throughout the years, even though his own Massad intelligence unit has said that Iran is not engaging in activities that would lead to making a bomb.

So, here we are poised for the denouement of this international tension between the President of the United State and the Prime Minister of Israel.

Stay tuned.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Nathan Deal dooms rural hospitals in Georgia

In a purely cynical, dishonest, political move a few years ago, Georgia's Gov. Nathan Deal claimed that the state could not afford the expense of accepting the expansion of Medicaid in the Affordable Care Act, even though federal funds would pay 100% of the cost for three years, declining to a minimum of 90% after that.

We knew it was a bogus cover-up for a purely political opposition to President Obama's signature program.  Gov. Deal finds money to do the things he wants to do, but says we can't afford things he opposes politically -- even though it would be a vital benefit to needy people.

Even that would not have likely happened if the U.S. Supreme Court had not intervened and negated the incentive for states to accept the expansion.  The bill, as passed by congress and signed into law by Obama, would have severely penalized states that did not expand, by restricting the federal money the state was already receiving to help cover existing Medicaid costs.   That's what SCOTUS said was unconstitutional.     So it left it up to each state's free choice whether to expand.   And most of the Republican governors opted not to.

This is also an example of how, when you tamper with one part of a complex program, there are unintended consequences.    Hospitals had been receiving a partial compensation from the federal government for treating indigent patients who had no insurance.   Those funds were also reduced by the ACA because, with the expected expansion of Medicaid coverage, there would be far fewer indigent patients showing up in emergency rooms or needing hospitalization.

The result of the ACA cutting those funds and of governors' refusal to expand Medicaid has hit rural hospitals particularly hard.   A growing number of them have closed altogether;  others have converted to much reduced services.   Now many people live 50 miles or more from the nearest hospital -- often a critical difference in an emergency, or prohibitive for those without transportation.

Jay Bookman wrote his Atlanta Journal-Constitution column on this problem in the Sunday edition.    I will be quoting some of his information here:

"With an influx of newly insured Medicaid patients, those hospitals would at least have had a fighting chance of paying their bills and staying open. The contrast with southern states such as Kentucky and Arkansas, which did accept Medicaid expansion, is stark.   As Gallup notes, the two states have cut the percentage of their citizens who don’t have health insurance in half. As a result, once-struggling rural and urban hospitals in both states have regained their footing."

In a new study by Deloitte business consultants of the Kentucky experience, the amount of uncompensated hospital charges in 2014, after the Medicaid expansion, declined from $1.9 billion to $766 million, a decrease of $1.15 billion.

Bookman continues:   "In the report, Deloitte also documents other economic, medical and social benefits enjoyed by Kentucky as a result of its decision. The net economic impact of Medicaid expansion through 2021 is now projected by Deloitte at $30 billion, double the projection of a year ago. In 2014 alone, Medicaid expansion injected an additional $1.6 billion into Kentucky’s health-care economy. More than than 12,000 jobs, including 5,400 health care sector jobs, were created by Medicaid expansion last year. Deloitte now projects that by the end of 2021, some 40,000 jobs with an average salary of $41,000 will be created in Kentucky as a result of Medicaid expansion. None of that is happening in Georgia.

"And of course, hundreds of thousands of Kentucky citizens now have access to the medical care that will help them live longer, happier, healthier and more productive lives. How much is that worth? What could possibly be more important?"

* * *
This is far from the first, or only, thing for which Nathan Deal should hang his head in shame.  And he has just been re-elected for four more years.   It was not only an act of political cowardice and meanness -- it's not even good business sense.    And this from a governor who travels the globe trying to bring business to Georgia.   

Shame on you, Nathan Deal.    You are not a good representative of our home town, Sandersville, GA, where we both grew up.    I knew your Momma and Daddy, both school teachers.   They would not approve of what you have done.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

What happens when you tax the rich and raise the minimum wage?

What happens when you tax the rich and increase the minimum wage?     You get one of the best state economies in the country:   Minnesota.

Thanks to Walter Einenkel of Daily Kos for this:

"When [Democratic] Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton took office in 2011, Minnesota had more than a $6 billion dollar deficit and an unemployment rate of 7%Today, Minnesota's unemployment rate is now below 4% and they have a budget surplus of over $1.2 billion dollars. . . .  

"During his first four years in office, Gov. Dayton raised the state income tax from 7.85 to 9.85 percent on individuals earning over $150,000, and on couples earning over $250,000 when filing jointly -- a tax increase of $2.1 billion. He's also agreed to raise Minnesota's minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2018, and passed a state law guaranteeing equal pay for women."

Minnesota now does have the 4th highest top income tax rate.   But it also has the 5th lowest unemployment rate, and the median income is $8,000 more than the U. S. average.

This is a major challenge to the Republican mantra that increasing the minimum wage with destroy jobs and hurt the economy.   And that higher taxes on the "job creators" will kill jobs.

That tired old trickle-down economic theory is just wrong.  And the Republicans continuing to insist on it -- against evidence to the contrary -- is hurting this country.

Just compare what's happening in Wisconsin, Minnesota's neighbor to the south, under Gov. Scott Walker's austerity economy.   And Kansas, a little further to the south.    They have both slashed taxes -- and services.   Their economies are not helped by it, and those who need the services are suffering.