Thursday, April 21, 2016

Last Call For The Prince Of The Universe

The soundtrack to your life just lost another artist.

Legendary Minnesota pop musician Prince, hailed worldwide as a versatile musical genius, was found dead Thursday morning at his Paisley Park recording studio complex in Chanhassen. He was 57. 
The Carver County sheriff’s office reported that responders found the artist, unresponsive, in an elevator and were unable to revive him with CPR. He was pronounced deceased at 10:07 a.m. 
The news stunned fans from Chanhassen to the White House, spreading around the globe within minutes as mourners, many awash in purple, paid respects and shared their sentiments. 
President Obama’s facebook page called Prince “one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time ... a virtuoso instrumentalist, a brilliant bandleader, and an electrifying performer.” 
Gov. Mark Dayton said Prince’s “tremendous talent was matched only by his generosity and commitment to improving his community ... (his) contributions to the betterment of our state will be remembered for years to come.” 
Upon hearing the news, mourners began lining up with flowers and stuffed animals outside the studio on Audubon Road, some sobbing and embracing. Shocked condolences flooded social media. Lawmakers paused for a moment of silence at a state legislative hearing. Sports teams and corporations turned their social media pages purple. Target announced plans to bathe its Minneapolis headquarter building in purple light. Maplewood-based 3M turned its logo purple and added a tear.

Prince got me through the tough times and the good.  Being a young black nerd in the 80's and 90's was not a whole hell of a lot of fun, guys.  Prince however, he was a genius. He could play basically any instrument and played it like a legend, he created the technology he needed to play his sound, and he did it all his way, and to hell with everyone else. He made it okay to be black and different and believe me, I needed that message more than any of you could possibly imagine growing up.

We all just lived in the world he inhabited and now it's more than a bit darker.

Four months in and we've lost Prince, Rickman, Bowie, Shandling, Phife Dawg and Maurice White. 2016 is summarily fired.

Pape-al Bull

Kentucky's 1st District, where long-time Republican Mike Whitfield has run Western Kentucky politics for more than 20 years, is up for grabs in May's primary as Republicans slug it out.  The big name is James Comer, the state's former Agriculture Commissioner and one-time gubernatorial hopeful who lost to current Gov. Matt Bevin last year.  Comer dropped everything here in NKY when Whitfield announced his retirement and headed to Paducah to try to win his seat.

The problem is Comer has run into the Trump Tea Party wing of the KY GOP, and they definitely have their man for the job already.  Meet Mike Pape, everyone!

And yes, this is how Mike Pape plans to win, by fully getting behind Trump's wall and Cruz's Obamacare repeal at the same time.

Comer has the fundraising advantage, and the only Democrat in the race, Army veteran Sam Gaskins, is of course a pro-coal "moderate" who wants the EPA gone because that's what you do here in Kentucky.

We'll see how Gaskins makes out, but the real race in KY-1 is between Pape and Comer.

The Lunch Bullies

Republicans really do want to get rid of free school lunches for millions of poor kids, because those people are all lazy and don't deserve it.  One problem though: the latest GOP proposal to do just that would affect an increasing number of red state school districts where austerity is already king.

The changes would take away schoolwide free meals programs from more than 7,000 schools that educate almost 3.4 million students in low-income areas, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports. Another 11,600 schools that have not yet taken advantage of the free meals option for all students would lose access to it under the proposal. Instead of using what’s called Community Eligibility, these schools would have to reinstate individual applications and verification procedures for huge numbers of students.

The draft bill circulating in the House Education and Workforce Committee lists no author. But sources told ThinkProgress that the push to make free meals harder is coming from a specific handful of Republican congressmen on the subcommittee in charge of pre-school, primary, and secondary education issues.

The list includes Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI), who has a track record of wild-eyed claims about anti-poverty programs, and Subcommittee Chair Todd Rokita (R-IN), who famously cross-examined a woman who raises her children on a $10.88 hourly wage at a 2014 hearing. Neither congressman's office immediately returned requests for comment on the school food restrictions.

Meanwhile, the list of schools that would be affected is making some Republicans realize that the idea would have an impact in their own districts. The draft legislation has yet to be formally introduced, making it relatively easy for lawmakers to walk away from the proposed restrictions on school meals without anyone having to cast a committee vote against a colleague's pet project.

The community eligibility system should be a winner even for fiscal conservatives. Determining free meals eligibility on a schoolwide basis rather than kid by kid lets under-funded districts "shift resources from paperwork to higher-quality meals or other educational priorities," the CBPP report notes.

The proposal would change the definition of how poor a school district has to be before it can skip the paperwork and feed all of its students. Currently a school qualifies for community eligibility if 40 percent of its students are automatically qualified for free school meals based on their participation in another anti-poverty program. The GOP draft measure would raise that threshold to 60 percent.

Republicans really do want to pull the trigger on this, but they're afraid they'll get savaged in elections.  I don't know why they;re worried, red state Republicans would rather die than admit their kids are on assisted lunch programs at school.

Then they figure Republicans will put that funding back for the right kind of people who deserve it.

And so that story goes.


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