Friday, December 28, 2012

Learn Liberty: Antony Davies: 'Who Favors More Freedom: Liberals or Conservatives?'

Source:Learn Liberty- Antony Davies, talking about Liberals and Conservatives.
"Prof. Antony Davies analyzes the fundamental differences between liberals and conservatives.  He then proposes an alternative method of viewing political issues, which looks at policies and their respective impact on individual freedom.  Prof. Antony Davies concludes that the conventional liberal/conservative dichotomy encourages us to ignore first principles, and hence, overlook contradictory views.

Want to advance liberty?:Learn Liberty."

From Learn Liberty

One of the things I don't like about American politics is that it tries to take complicated issues and philosophies and tries to divide them into two factions as if those factions are in sink on all of the issues and that the left and right is only made up to two political factions that agree on everything and all of the issues even though we do have a left and a right and so does every other country at least in the democratic world.

But the left and right are basically just the two ends of the political spectrum. But both sides of the political spectrum have multiple and diverse factions on both sides. It's not just About liberal vs conservative, but the left and the right where the left is made up of more than just Liberals, but the left has Progressives, Social Democrats/Democratic Socialists, as well as Communists. And the left has people who describe their politics as Socialist-Liberal or Socialist-Libertarian. People who Are socialist or social democratic on economic and perhaps foreign policy, but liberal-libertarian on social issues.

Whereas the right has Conservatives or Conservative-Libertarians, but they have people who are more classically libertarian and they have people who are neoconservative and religiously conservative. (Which is different from politically conservative) People who may be conservative on economic policy, but more statist on social issues and foreign policy.

So left vs right is not just about liberal vs conservative. And Liberals and Conservatives at least Liberals and Conservatives in a classical sense generally don't view themselves as liberal vs conservative in the sense that they are enemies, but competitors who have competing political ideologies. But not out to destroy the other side and they also have more in common than I believe Americans tend to think.

And they both have the same goals and see their philosophy as the best to achieve their goals which is individual freedom for all Americans. The ability to chart one's own course in life and be able to live their own lives as they see fit. As long as they aren't hurting innocent people with what they are doing.

Which is one example why Liberals and Conservative-Libertarians hate the War on Drugs (to use as an example) because we both believe in economic freedom as well as social freedom, we both believe in limited government and a limited foreign policy and national security. That our military can't be everything for everybody. And that it should be limited to protecting our own national interests and helping others that deserve it when we can, but that we can't do everything.

Where Liberals and Conservatives tend to differ is government's role in helping people who can't take care of themselves and need a hand up to be able to do that. Conservatives tend to be more hawkish on foreign policy and Liberals tend to be more internationalist, but we both believe in limited government and fiscal responsibility. But Liberals and Conservatives are the two dominant political factions in America. Center-Left and Center-Right where most Americans tend to be on one side or the other, rather than being Far-Left or Far-Right.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Revolution Volume I: The 1960s Counter Culture & Rise of The New Left

Source:Amazon- Roger Kimball's book.

Source:The Daily Press

“In The Long March, Roger Kimball, the author of Tenured Radicals, shows how the “cultural revolution” of the 1960s and ’70s took hold in America, lodging in our hearts and minds, and affecting our innermost assumptions about what counts as the good life. Kimball believes that the counterculture transformed high culture as well as our everyday life in terms of attitudes toward self and country, sex and drugs, and manners and morality. Believing that this dramatic change “cannot be understood apart from the seductive personalities who articulated its goals,” he intersperses his argument with incisive… 

From Amazon 

“I’m into the study of revolutions, not the coopting of revolutionary rhetoric to sell capitalist merch. I’ve cut together clips of 1960s radicals discussing the politics of their time to give young people a sense of the intense revolutionary fervor of that era. Americans today have been presented with a flattened out, cliche image of 60s radicalism and have lost any sense of just how tumultuous that period was. This is what America looks like when it’s actually working. I’ll be tracing the history of revolutionary and countercultural movements in America from the 60s to the 90s in an ongoing series of youtube clips. (I added on the Church of the SubGenius at the end but that comes much later.)”   

Source:Roger Dolittle- Dr. Martin L. King speaking at the 1963 March On Washington. Perhaps the best speech ever given in American history.

From Roger Dolittle

I believe the best way to look at the New-Left political movement and Students For a Democratic Society, which is definitely part of that movement, is to look at the Irish nationalist movement in Northern Ireland, Britain and it’s relationship with the Irish Republican Army. Or the Palestinian nationalist movement in Palestine and its relationship with Palestine and Israel. SDS aren’t Nationalists, but they were the military wing of their political movement. 

Source:Students For a Democratic Society- protesting the Vietnam War.
Radicalism is not new to America, we were founded thanks to a revolution, a revolutionary war with the United Kingdom. And I believe every generation at least in the 20th Century is different with different values from the previous generation, at least when they’re young and then perhaps moderate and become part of mainstream society as they get older and become more experienced. So it’s not radicalism that’s new to America, but perhaps each generation as their own culture revolutionary movements.

I think what’s different from the 1960s with young Baby Boomers and perhaps Silent Generation babies that were perhaps seen as the mentors and role models of the Baby Boomer Hippies and radicals, is socialism and communism and the beliefs that those things aren’t actually wrong and bad and that the Cold War, especially in Vietnam and America’s involvement there was wrong.

I believe what the young radicals in America believed was that the people who were wrong, were the American establishment which was made of Conservatives and Progressives who were seen as trying to push American liberal democracy and capitalism onto the rest of the world, especially in the third world like in Asia and Latin America.

What these young folks believed that the people who were wrong were the people who were running America and they wanted a change. And even a revolutionary change in America as far as how it was governed. And decided to speak out and organize and even use violent means to accomplish their political goals.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Foreign Affairs: Lauren C. Bell: 'Fixing the Filibuster'

Source:Foreign Affairs- a blast from the past when the U.S. Senate actually had filibusters.

"By many measures, 2012 was the U.S. Senate's least productive year in two decades. Republicans blame the Congressional Democrats. Democrats blame the filibuster. 

Obstructionism is not unique to the United States. Most parliamentary democracies, including Great Britain's and Japan's, have also faced gridlock. In 1992, the Japanese opposition tried to stall a vote on whether Japanese self-defense forces should assist UN peacekeeping missions by introducing five motions that had to be brought to a vote first. They then resorted to ushi aruki (cow-walking), or taking as long as humanly possible to make one's way from one's seat to the ballot box 20." 

"This book remedies the near-complete lack of individual senator-level data available to scholars. Moreover, the dataset that Bell compiles represents a much more comprehensive list of Senate filibusters than any that has previously been compiled. Data are available for the entirety of the period from 1790 to 2008. The text provides a fully current (through the end of the 110th Congress) list of Senate filibusters from the first recorded instance in 1790. This new list undergirds a comprehensive historical analysis of filibusters and a full exploration of both micro-level (individual senator) determinants of filibustering and macro-level (institutional) factors that affect filibustering and its consequences. Beyond compiling and sharing the raw data on who filibusters what, Bell demonstrates that senators' filibustering behavior is frequently an extension of senators' legislative behavior more generally. The book makes it clear that filibustering is simply one strategy among many that senators employ as they try to advance their sometimes competing goals of representing their constituents, serving their political parties, and crafting good legislation. Building on work by Franklin L. Burdette (1940), Richard S. Beth (1994), and Gregory Wawro and Eric Schickler (2006). Filibustering in the US Senate offers a readable, accessible analysis that clarifies the meaning of important terms and offers practical insights into the uses-and abuses-of Senate legislative procedures. The timeliness of Filibustering in the US Senate, its interesting subject matter, and the accessible nature of the analysis will appeal to general and professional readers of political studies, as well as to practitioners in government.

Source:Amazon- Lauren C. Bell's book.

From Amazon

Lauren C. Bell is Professor of Political Science at Randolph-Macon College (Ashland, VA). She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of Wooster (Ohio) and Masters of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center at The University of Oklahoma. She is a former American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow on the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary (1997-98) and a former United States Supreme Court fellow at the United States Sentencing Commission in Washington, DC (2006-07). She is the author or co-author of several books and has published single- and co-authored articles in several peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Politics, Political Research Quarterly, The Journal of Legislative Studies, The Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, and Judicature." 

Source:Amazon- author Lauren Cohen Bell.

From Amazon 

As a Liberal Democrat, (meaning someone who believes in liberal democracy) I'm a big fan of checks and balances, because I never want to see one party, or one individual, or a small group of individuals, ever have so much power, that they're no longer accountable to anyone or on anything. And in many cases that's the role of the filibuster, as well as it gives individual senators the ability to not just be heard, but to get votes and perhaps even their amendments attached to major legislation. 

But I'm not an absolutist on anything and I'm not comfortable with the Senate Minority Leader being as powerful as the Majority Leader or having as much power, since the Minority Leader has fewer seats, even when he leads a large minority (like today) and generally represents fewer people and voters. 

The country is so divided politically today and for other reasons, thanks to gerrymandering in the U.S. House and a lot of those members then getting elected to the Senate and bringing their hyper-partisanship to the upper chamber of Congress. As well as so much unchecked money in the political system. 

The Senate filibuster is longer used as a check against the House or a check against absolute power. It's now used today by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and before that by Harry Reid and Tom Daschele, simply to stop and prevent legislation from even being offered and even allowing for the Senate to take up debate on legislation. It is how used to stop legislation, as well as even nominees who have bipartisan support, from even getting votes. 

The Senate should be never be like the House and perhaps vice-versa. But it needs to be a place where it can get its work done, regardless of which party is in charge. The minority party should always have minority rights to not just be heard on all legislation and nominees, but to offer and get votes on their amendments and alternatives. But at the end of the debate, when all members have been heard, when all relevant amendments have been voted on, the Senate needs to be able to act, regardless of which party is in charge and who controls The White House.

The title of Lauren Cohen Bell's book is Fixing The Filibuster. So I'm thinking she's not for eliminating it either and neither am I. But if you are going to have a cloture rule in the Senate, filibusters need to be real. That means no more votes just to end debate and when those votes fail, everyone goes home or you just have another roll call or the Senate is in recess. 

At that point, led by the Minority Leader, you should need to have 41 or more senators stays on the floor, hold the floor, and talk about pending bill on the floor. With the Majority Leader able to call for a vote to end debate lets say every hour. 

No more filibusters on relevant amendments or executive or judicial nominees, motion to proceed, relevant amendments offered by either side, etc. That way both sides are involved at the Senate will finally be able to move again, unless the minority party really wants to talk a bill to death and has 41 or more votes to do that. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Robert O. Self: 'All in the Family: The Realignment of American Democracy Since the 1960s'

Source:Amazon- Robert Self's book.

"In the 1960s, Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and War on Poverty promised an array of federal programs to assist working-class families. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan declared the GOP the party of "family values" and promised to keep government out of Americans' lives. Again and again, historians have sought to explain the nation's profound political realignment from the 1960s to the 2000s, five decades that witnessed the fracturing of liberalism and the rise of the conservative right. The award-winning historian Robert O. Self is the first to argue that the separate threads of that realignment―from civil rights to women's rights, from the antiwar movement to Nixon's "silent majority," from the abortion wars to gay marriage, from the welfare state to neoliberal economic policies―all ran through the politicized American family.

Based on an astonishing range of sources, All in the Family rethinks an entire era. Self opens his narrative with the Great Society and its assumption of a white, patriotic, heterosexual man at the head of each family. Soon enough, civil rights activists, feminists, and gay rights activists, animated by broader visions of citizenship, began to fight for equal rights, protections, and opportunities. Led by Pauli Murray, Gloria Steinem, Harvey Milk, and Shirley Chisholm, among many others, they achieved lasting successes, including Roe v. Wade, antidiscrimination protections in the workplace, and a more inclusive idea of the American family.

Yet the establishment of new rights and the visibility of alternative families provoked, beginning in the 1970s, a furious conservative backlash. Politicians and activists on the right, most notably George Wallace, Phyllis Schlafly, Anita Bryant, and Jerry Falwell, built a political movement based on the perceived moral threat to the traditional family. Self writes that "family values" conservatives in fact "paved the way" for fiscal conservatives, who shared a belief in liberalism's invasiveness but lacked a populist message. Reagan's presidency united the two constituencies, which remain, even in these tumultuous times, the base of the Republican Party. All in the Family, an erudite, passionate, and persuasive explanation of our current political situation and how we arrived in it, will allow us to think anew about the last fifty years of American politics." 

From Amazon 

"Robert Self, Author, "All in the Family: The Realignment of American Democracy Since the 1960's" 

Source:C-SPAN- Robert Self talking about his book.


Just to talk about Robert Self's political labels first and then I'll get into the sitcom All In The Family and it's impact on American culture: 

If you were to listen to Robert Self, you would think that Liberals are people who want to transform the American economy and bring European economics and political culture to America. Even the economic system that's based on a universal welfare state, is called social democracy everywhere else, at least in the developed world and Liberals everywhere else are considered center-right everywhere else, because they're not collectivists and big believers in individual liberty, which is what liberal is actually about. 

But in America, even terms like social democrat, let alone democratic socialist or just socialist, scares the hell out of American leftists., who are still stuck in the closet politically in America. So they go by liberal or progressive, even though in many cases they're neither, because their whole political philosophy is built around expanding the state in America, especially the national state.

If you were to listen to Robert Self's definition of Conservative, you would think Conservatives are just cultural and political dinosaurs, who are stuck in the 1920s, not the 1950s, who think women's place in the world is at home, gays place in the world is in prisons or mental hospitals, minorities (racial, ethnic, and religious) are not to be heard or seen, unless they're serving Caucasians, especially Anglo-Saxons and taking care of them. 

So to listen to Robert Self, a Liberal is an antiestablishment, hippie/hipster, revolutionary, who wants to transform America and is against everything that America is supposed to stand for, including individual freedom for everyone. 

And a Conservative is some fundamentalist redneck, who doesn't even like the idea of big, urban, centers, let alone multiculturalism. And is stuck in a cultural and political time warp, woke up from their cultural comas and discovered that it's no longer 1920 and that America is this vast, diverse, multicultural, multi ethnic and racial, liberal democracy and can't believe that women and minorities are even allowed to vote, let alone work and own businesses in this country. 

As far as All in The Family, what it was about and it's effect on American culture and politics: 

when that show goes on the air on CBS in January, 1971, America was divided both culturally and politically. We were going though a political and cultural revolution. But not in the way that American leftists specifically think we're. 

By 1970, it was common for women not just to be voting, but to be working outside of the home, even running businesses. Gays were coming out of the closet. Minorities (ethnic and racial) were all over American culture, sports and even politics, because legally, they could no longer be discriminated against simply because of their race, ethnicity, or religion. 

The Archie Bunker (played by Carrol O'Connor) character represents the backlash to the cultural and political revolution of the 1960s and early 70s. 

Before the Cultural Revolution, Anglo-Saxon-Protestants, especially Anglo-Saxon men, dominated American culture and politics. And by the late 1960s, they discovered that they no longer did. Which is how I believe at least that Richard Nixon gets elected President in 1968, thanks to this blue-collar populist movement from Anglo-Saxon, but other blue-collar European ethnics in America, that all supported Richard Nixon in 1968 and 72. 

Archie Bunker represents even as a fictional TV character, the backlash of the cultural revolution, coming from working class Anglo-Saxons and other working class European ethnics in America.

The Hill: Elise Viebeck & Sam Baker: 'Advocates for Mental Health Have Momentum After Connecticut Massacre'

Source:The Hill- Newspaper.

"The mental-health community has begun a major lobbying effort for federal action in response to last Friday’s school shooting in Newtown, Conn. 

Major advocacy groups are already meeting with Capitol Hill offices and formulating an agenda that they say has forward momentum as a result of the new public dialogue on mental illness.

{mosads}“The field as a whole has agreed. There is a lot of interest among other national organizations in getting something done,” said Rebecca Farley with the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. 

Advocates say the most important objective is strengthening community-based mental health services. They are also focused on early diagnosis and treatment of ill children, and efforts to erase the stigma that surrounds mental health problems.

The advocates already have a number of bills to rally behind.

The Excellence in Mental Health Act, from Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), would create federal standards and oversight for community mental health providers. 

Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) has sponsored legislation to support new mental health services in schools.

And Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) have a bill to encourage first-aid-style training on mental health in colleges. 

Outside of Capitol Hill, advocates are preparing their own efforts. Wayne Lindstrom, president and chief executive of Mental Health America, said a coalition of mental-health groups would soon be sending a proposal to the White House and congressional leaders.

That letter will ask lawmakers to double the country’s capacity to provide mental-health services.

“It’s probably going to be a hard one to bite off and chew, but we feel a strong need to put it on the table,” Lindstrom said.

Polls taken since last Friday’s massacre have found that the public supports a renewed emphasis on mental health treatment." 

From The Hill

"If you're uninsured, you can get mental health care from Sacramento County, but there are narrow parameters you need to meet." 

Source:KCRA-TV News- with a look at mental health care in Sacramento, California.

From KCRA-TV News

This is something that should've been taken care of during the healthcare reform debate of 2009-10 that produced the 2009-10 Affordable Care Act. This should've been part of that law that was finally passed and signed in 2010 by President Obama and maybe we could've avoided some of the tragedies that have happened since. Because these shooters could've gotten the mental healthcare that they needed under their health insurance. But hopefully this will be taken care of in 2013.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The New Republic: Adam Winkler: Franklin Roosevelt: 'The Father Of Gun Control'

Source:The New Republic- President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Democrat, New York) 1933-45.

"Just as many southern Democrats opposed gun control, many Republicans from the west and northeast supported it. In California, Republican Governor Ronald Reagan pushed lawmakers in his state to adopt new laws making it more difficult for radicals like the Black Panthers to walk around carrying guns openly.  “There’s no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons,” Reagan said at the time. Less vocal than Reagan was his fellow Californian Richard Nixon, who would be elected president later in 1968. “Guns are an abomination,” he told his speechwriter, William Safire.

Yet the NRA and gun owners were once again able to scale back the most ambitious proposals for gun control.  As finally enacted, the Gun Control Act of 1968 banned the possession of firearms by felons and drug users, prohibited the import of cheap handguns known as “Saturday Night Specials,” and required licensed gun dealers to report gun sales. National gun registration was dropped. A testament to the complex partisan lineup, every member of the mostly Democratic delegation from Texas voted against the law, except one. Republican congressman George H. W. Bush voted for the law, bemoaning that “much more” should be done.

Over the next twenty years, the country underwent a historic political realignment. Conservative southern Democrats switched to the Republican Party and liberal Republicans increasingly identified as Democrats. The partisan breakdown of support for gun control was also transformed.

Cognizant of the growing strength of the emerging gun lobby, Democrats, who had long called for stricter gun control in the party platform, softened the language in 1976 to acknowledge “the right of sportsmen to possess guns for purely hunting and target-shooting purposes.” This didn’t satisfy anyone, however, especially the many gun owners who believed guns were about personal protection in an era of rising crime and decaying cities. Gun enthusiasts knew that if the right to bear arms was simply about recreational activities, it might not last long. Ever since, the Democratic Party has fumbled around trying to find language that both calls for gun control and recognizes the Second Amendment.

The NRA, now committed to a more extreme view of the Second Amendment hostile to nearly any gun control, became a key partner in the New Right coalition that lifted Reagan to the presidency. Reagan, who understood the politics of gun control in this new environment better than anyone, gave up his support for gun laws. His turnaround was so complete that even after being shot in 1981 he refused to support new restrictions on guns.  Once freed from the constraints of office, he changed his tune once again, coming out in support of the Brady background check law that was named after his press secretary and enacted in 1993." 

What Adam Winkler seems to be implying here is that if you are front the South, you tend to be on the Right, regardless of which party you are affiliated with and if you are from the North, you tend to be on the Left, again regardless of which party you are with. 

I think it's more like if you are from a metropolitan area, whether from a major, if not big city, or you live in a major metro center, you are more likely to even be center-left, than center-right. And if you are from a rural community, north, south, east, west, or in the central, you are more likely to be center-right, than center-left. If you are highly educated, more likely to be center-left. And if you just have a high school diploma, more likely to be on the Right. If you have a couple years of college, more likely to be on the Right.  

My point is, depending on what polls you look at today, there's still roughly 3-5 or 2/3 of the Democratic Party that still supports the 2nd Amendment, but don't view it as absolute and would like more regulations to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally incompetent. 

The base of the Democratic Party is certainly not the rural South, or the rural Midwest, rural North, like upstate New York or Central Pennsylvania, or even the rural West Coast. The base of the Democratic Party is in the major cities and metro areas in the country, the suburbs It's not like the Democratic Party is overwhelmingly against the 2nd Amendment and wants to see it repealed.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

James Miller Center: President Clinton- 'On Columbine and Gun Control

Source:James Miller Center- President William J. Clinton (Democrat, Arkansas) addressing a joint session of Congress, about the Columbine shootings.

"In his 2000 State of the Union address, President Clinton talks about the Columbine tragedy and gun control." 

From the James Miller Center

Whenever there's some type of tragedy, especially one involving kids being murdered and gun down especially in places where you would think they would be safe, gun control advocates use it as another opportunity to call for gun control. They don't even bother to mention that young people who had their whole lives ahead of them were murdered for no reason other than to use that tragedy to call for more gun control. 

What we should be doing in a time like this is taking life one day at a time if they can even do that. It's not gun control that I have a problem with, as long as its common sense gun control and its constitutional. It's the timing of people who make their advocacy. Especially people if they probably had their way would repeal the second amendment all together and outlaw guns in the hands of private citizens all together and completely leaving the power of guns in the hands of government. Which is a scary thought for anyone who believes in liberal democracy, because that type of thing happens in authoritarian states.

Do we have too many gun tragedies in America, of course we do and do we need better smarter regulations. As well as do a better job of enforcing the laws on our books, yes we do but this tragedy just happened on Friday. I'm writing this post on Saturday literally twenty four hours after this tragedy occurred. 

Imagine if you lost a relative to gun violence, especially a kid son or daughter who was at school of all places, what you would be thinking about twenty-four hours after your son or daughter was murdered, gun control, probably wouldn't be the thing you would be thinking about. You might still be in shock at this point or doing whatever you can to help law enforcement investigate this tragedy and find out exactly what happened. And if there's anything you can do to help them, there will be a time to take up gun control and deal. 

There are times to push for policy positions and politics, tragedies are not the best time to do that. Thats the time for the victims and again their friends and families to cope with the tragedy as best as they can. And for everyone else to do what they can to help those people through that tragedy, we are going to have. 

A brand new Congress in less then a month and a President who just won reelection to work with that Congress with a Democratic Senate that just added seats and with a Republican House that will have about ten more Democrats. Right now we still have the fiscal cliff to deal with, so before we start to address new issues, how about we finish what's left to do in the current Congress first.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Foreign Affairs: Robert Greenstein: 'Prosperity Isn't Free'

Source:Foreign Affairs- This just in: people in San Francisco calling for higher taxes on themselves. Also in the news: if you go days without breathing, you could suffocate.

"A group of upper income professionals who call themselves "Tax-Us" rally in San Francisco. (Robert Galbraith / Courtesy Reuters)

Efforts to address the "fiscal cliff" -- the combination of tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts that will come into effect around the first of the new year if policymakers don't avert them -- should center around two related goals: protect the economic recovery in the short term, and promote growth, opportunity, and shared prosperity in the long term.

The most urgent short-term goal is for the United States to avoid the sizeable risk of returning to recession. If the scheduled tax"  

Just to talk about the photo and the caption of the cover photo of Robert Greenstein's article: people in San Francisco, perhaps especially wealthy people in San Francisco, since San Francisco is one of the wealthiest big cities in America with a very high cost of living, with the high quality of life, etc. So when even rich people there call for higher taxes and not just the hippie-leftists who are still stuck in the 1960s culturally, ideologically, and everything else, I'm not surprised by that. Now, if people in let's say Mobile, Alabama or Biloxi, Mississippi. anywhere in Utah, Nevada, or Arizona, we're calling for higher taxes on themselves and not just the man or woman standing next to them, I might be impressed by that.  

As far as the so-called fiscal cliff: if Democrats and Republicans in Congress believe that avoiding the fiscal cliff would help them politically and blaming the other side if and when we hit the cliff could hurt them politically, then a good deal will be struck. And that probably means some form of tax reform that eliminate loopholes that benefits mostly wealthy people, including wealthy people in hippie-leftist San Francisco. And you might see some agriculture and Welfare reform involving new work requirements for people receiving any form of public assistance, on the spending side of the Federal budget. Otherwise, we're headed for another recession in 2013.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The New Republic: Richard D. Kahlenberg & Moshe Z. Marvit: 'Right To Work Isn't A Civil Right. But Unionizing Should Be'

Source:The New Republic- as it's still called, but it's no longer a great liberal publication. It's not even a liberal publication anymore.

"The adoption of so-called "right to work" legislation in Michigan, of all places, represents an historic setback for organized labor. First, Republicans went after public employees in the birthplace of public unions, Wisconsin. And now they have taken the fight to private employee unions in the cradle of modern industrial unionism. Conservatives are right that, if they can win in Michigan, they can win almost anywhere.

Despite the arguments advanced by right to work proponents that they are trying to make Michigan more attractive to businesses, this legislation was a calculated effort by conservatives and business interests like the Koch brothers to redistribute political power from Democrats to Republicans (hence the exemption for police and firefighters, who are friendlier to Republicans) and from workers to employers. Previously in Michigan, no one was forced to join a union, but workers who benefited from collective bargaining were required to pay fees to cover the cost of that bargaining. The new law eliminates that requirement, allowing employees to benefit without paying a fee, thereby weakening unions’ ability to participating in politics and negotiate for better wages. As President Obama noted, right to work legislation is really about "the right to work for less money."

Nevertheless, there is an important lesson for liberals and labor in the Michigan story about the power of rhetoric. "Right to work" is a mendacious slogan but a politically resonant one. It's mendacious because everyone in every state has the right to work; the legislation simply gives employees the right to be free riders--to benefit from collective bargaining without paying for it. Yet members of the media mostly employ the phrase without qualification. (Even those that say "so-called" right to work repeat the phrase over and over again.) This past Saturday, the Washington Post'sfront page featured stories on gay marriage going before the U.S. Supreme Court and the right to work debate in Michigan--and a casual reader could assume that both stories were about "rights" ascendant.

The brilliance of the slogan is that it pits the individual's "right" to choose whether to pay dues (and who likes paying dues?) against the interests of large institutions (labor unions). Labor responds with a justifiable plea about the need for workers to be united and pay their fair share for representation (and, ultimately, better wages). But when the fight is framed as individual rights vs. solidarity, rights usually win. Indeed, when asked to identify government's most important role, 59 percent said in a 2010 Rasmussen poll that it is to protect individual rights and liberty.

Rather than continuing the losing battle of solidarity vs. rights, it's time for liberals and labor to engage in the battle over what kind of rights workers should enjoy. The most vivid way for labor to recapture the rhetoric of "rights" is to propose amending the Civil Rights Act to make it illegal to fire or otherwise discriminate against employees for trying to organize a union. Currently, employers frequently target the ringleaders in a union drive, terminate their employment, and scare everyone else, paying only very modest financial penalties for violating our labor laws. Making this behavior illegal under the Civil Rights Act would substantially toughen penalties and help Americans understand that such abusive employer behavior involves a violation of the basic individual right to choose to join a union. It would be much harder for legislators to vote against "civil rights" for workers than it is for them now to oppose "labor law reform." 

Some members of the labor movement are beginning to talk about labor organizing as a civil right.  In Canton, Mississippi, the United Auto Workers has been arguing that “worker rights is the civil rights battle of the 21st Century” as its tries to gain collective bargaining for a mostly black workforce at a Nissan Motors plant. If successful, this effort would provide a powerful response to opponents of labor – in the heart of the anti-labor South no less.

If organized labor is to survive in the United States, it can't just fight against the idea of individual rights. Instead, it needs to embrace them in a new campaign that makes Americans understand that the right to organize is being violated by employers every day -- and that the winners are the 1 Percent and their Republican allies.

Richard D. Kahlenberg is a senior fellow at The Century Foundation and Moshe Z. Marvit is a labor and civil rights attorney.  They are coauthors of Why Labor Organizing Should Be a Civil Right: Rebuilding a Middle-Class Democracy By Enhancing Worker Voice (2012)." 

I think what The New Republic is really talking about here, even though they wouldn't put it this way and aren't advocating for it, but this is really about choice. And in this case the right to be or not be part of organized labor in America and in this case in Michigan. You don't think non-union members should benefit from the benefits of unions, fine, I agree with you. So they shouldn't. The fix here is for non-union members to negotiate their own workers benefits and pay on their own and not be able to benefit from benefits that they're not paying for, which is being part of organized labor.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Washington Redskins: Slingin Sonny Jurgensen

Source:Hogs Haven- Hall of Fame QB Sonny Jurgensen, against their heated rival the New York Giants, at Yankee Stadium.

Source:The Daily Press

“Though he started his career with the Eagles, no player is more identified with the Redskins after six decades as a player and announcer than the ‘Old Redhead.’

Now in his sixth decade with the team as either a player or announcer, it seems strange to remember that Sonny Jurgensen, the quintessential Redskin, spent what by NFL standards would have been a fairly lengthy career in a different uniform.

To hear new Eagles Coach Joe Kuharich tell it in 1964, in fact, his quarterback was starting to decline at at 29. Thus Jurgensen was shipped to the Redskins in a deal for 24-year-old Norm Snead after seven turbulent years in Philadelphia.

Legend has it Philly bartenders donned black armbands the day Sonny was traded, but Eagle fans were far from crushed. Having watched the uber-intense Norm Van Brocklin lead the team to an NFL title in 1960, the transition to Jurgensen’s freewheeling style both on and off the field was difficult for many to stomach, even though he was setting team passing records that still stand.” 

From Hogs Haven 

“Decades before RGiii was even born, Sonny Jurgensen riddled enemy defenses for the Redskins with picture-perfect bullets. Host David Spada catches up with the Hall of Famer for a look back at his amazing career on Sports & Torts.” 

Source:David Spada- Redskins Hall of Fame QB Sonny Jurgensen (1964-74)
From David Spada 

Sonny Jurgensen isn’t one of the top 10-20 NFL quarterbacks because he’s one of the best winner ever. His career record doesn’t indicate that he’s one of the best winners ever. We’re not talking about Fran Tarkenton or Dan Marino, John Elway, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubauch, Johnny Unitas, as far as the amount of games that he won. He also played for a lot of mediocre and bad teams where a good year for the Redskins in the 1960s was 6-8, 7-7, 8-6, so I’m not putting Sonny down.

I’m not making excuses for Sonny, because he did play a long time without leading a team to a championship. (Eighteen seasons from 1957-74) But for the most part, he played for a lot of mediocre teams. These are records that generally doesn’t get teams to the playoffs. So even as Sonny was playing for mediocre teams, he was a great QB on those teams, the best player on these teams. Doing every he can for teams that weren’t very good, had good players, great even, but not very good all around teams. Teams that struggled to win every week.

The way I describe Sonny Jurgensen, was a championship caliber QB who played on a lot of mediocre and even bad teams. I still believe that had Sonny played in Super Bowl 7 against the undefeated Miami Dolphins the Redskins would’ve given the Dolphins only loss that year. Because the Redskins did have a great team on both sides of the ball and I believe a better all around team than the Dolphins. That at least had more talent. But of course Sonny was hurt with a busted ankle, so that didn’t happen.

The reason why the Redskins didn’t championships in the 1960s and 70s wasn’t because of Sonny Jurgensen. They weren’t very good in the mid and late 1960s because of the players they had around Sonny. No running game, a weak offensive line and a defense that probably gave up more points than Sonny and those great receivers put up every week, to where they were one of the highest scoring teams in the NFL every year, despite not having much of a running game.

I believe Dan Marino is the best QB of all time as far as just throwing the football. And had he had the running game and defense that Joe Montana had in San Francisco with the 49ers, Marino leads the Dolphins to four Super Bowl championships or more in the 1980s and 90s. We’ll never know that of course, but that’s how great Dan The Man was. But no one handled the ball better than Sonny, as far as play action and knowing exactly when to throw the ball. And what to put on the ball, then Sonny.

I don’t believe a QB ever had better eye-hand co√∂rdination than Sonny. The ability to pick spots on the field as far when to throw the ball, how much to on the ball and where to throw the football. He was sort of like the Larry Bird of the NFL when it came to ball handling. And had great eye-hand co√∂rdination which is why he was such a great QB. Even though he never led a team to winning a championship.

Brookings Institution: Russ Whitehurst- 'Explaining the Education Choice and Competition Index'

Source:Brookings Institution- Senior Fellow Russ Whitehurst, talking about education reform.

"Parents need to have a lot of information about schools—not just test scores—but information on a school's athletic, music and other programs so they can make an informed choice on where to send their children to school, says Senior Fellow Grover J. "Russ" Whitehurst. Learn more and explore the Brown Center's 2012 Education Choice and Competition Index at:Brookings." 

From Brookings

When people speak about school choice, they are generally talking about vouchers that would go to parents who live in an area where their kids are forced to go to a bad school and can't afford to send their kids to private schools. So they would get a voucher to be able to send their kid to a private school, 

I'm not in favor of private school vouchers. If states and localities want to do this, then thats their business, unless it's Maryland or Montgomery County where I live, then that would become part of my business. 

But school choice is really about being able to send your kids to the right school for them, no matter where you live. Instead of students being assigned to a public school based on where you live. And there is something called public school choice that would allow parents to send their kids to the schools of their choice, that they believe is the right school for them, again no matter where they live, which is something I'm in favor of.

I'm in favor of public school choice because it would bring needed competition to public education in America. And have public schools literally competing with each other for students every year, rather than automatically being assigned students no matter the of level of education that they provide for their students. 

So if schools do a good job, there are, going to be plenty of students that are going to want to go to that school. But if a school is failing, then that school would end up losing a lot of students, the students they currently have. As well as new students they normally would have in the future. 

If schools were still a monopolies, choice and competition is one answer to how we reform public education in America because it would literally. Put schools against each other and make competitors out of them and force them to go a good job or end up losing students, money, and perhaps even educators in the future, because it would end up being a place where people don't want to go.

You can still be in favor of teachers unions and the right to organize, as a Liberal or Progressive and still be favor of quality public education, as long as you are in the business of public education. Rather than teacher unions and be in favor of reforms that would bring about better schools in this country. And school choice is just one example of a reform that would improve our public schools.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Hill: Judd Gregg: 'Time for President Obama & GOP Leaders to Stand and Deliver on Deficit Deal'

Source:Wikipedia- former U.S. Senator Judd Gregg (Republican, New Hampshire)

"We are now in one of the unique times in American governance. The music has stopped and everyone either has their chair … or has none.  The players know and understand their portfolio of power.

This is important.   

Under our system, unlike a parliamentary system, there are only narrow windows of time when the people who govern can actually govern free of the need to focus primarily on the next election.

{mosads}President Obama, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the leaders of the Senate — Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — must understand that this is a time of political opportunity that will not occur again for four years.

It is truly their chance to leave a significant and constructive mark on America.

In the parlance of John Wayne, it is a time to stand and deliver.

“Stand” in this context means “stand up to” Republican and Democrat special interests. 

Both parties have, as part of their core elements, groups that do not wish to govern.    

Rather, they wish to stay in the corners of the ring and shout — artificially firing up their constituencies so that they can mine their followers for contributions and power.   

On the left, this is the cause of big labor and the AARP. On the right, it is the cause of the self-anointed definers of religious purity and the anti-tax cabal.

These groups do not want action. 

They have no interest in solving America’s most obvious problem — the danger of our growing and debilitating federal debt, and its implications for the future of the nation.    

These groups dominate the politics of upcoming elections.  

They cannot, and do not, wish to contribute to solutions that involve governing, because governing in our system — by definition and experience — requires compromise.

For the president, these groups are more difficult than for Republicans — because the Democratic base played such a large role in securing his victory.   

But President Obama hopefully will appreciate the folly of following the course they demand. It would spark a fiscal crisis and lead to the potential failure of his presidency. 

The opportunity to actually govern has a very short shelf life.  It will be squandered if the president allows these folks to call in their political debt in an aggressive and unrelenting way.   

Such action would lead to no action, and no action will lead to calamity for the nation. 

The Speaker and Senate Minority Leader McConnell simply need to tell their base groups that governing well on issues such as entitlements and tax reform — the big issues — is the only path way to restoring the credibility of the GOP as an organization that the American people can respect and trust.   

Let the interest groups send out their fundraising letters so they can maintain their employment and income. They did us no good on Nov. 6, and they will not be contributors to the Republican Party’s resurrection now.

There are clear and reasonable paths to a major and effective agreement on spending, revenues and the debt.   

None of these would have draconian impacts on the recipients of benefits, today or in the future. And on the revenue side, real reform will lead to a stronger, market-oriented tax law that generates more revenues.   

In the context of our economy and the size of our government, we do not need, nor should we pursue, harsh actions on benefits or excessive tax increases.  

We can deliver better programs involving less spending and growth-oriented tax policies, which will do a great deal of the needed work of debt and deficit reduction. 

Here are two approaches. They can be varied and adjusted, but would accomplish real governance on the basic issue of producing a survivable fiscal policy.

First, take the Romney proposal on deduction caps and couple it with a chained consumer price index  for spending. Keep and extend the discretionary cap from the August 2011 budget agreement, and you have the makings of real progress.   

It is also simple and clean.

Second, adopt a Bowles-Simpson-plus plan by taking the original proposal and adding healthcare savings.    

This is more complex and would need more legislative work, but it certainly gets us where we need to be on deficit reduction.

There are other good ideas, too, like those being proposed by Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) or those that combine some of the work of the Senate supercommittee and the Gang of Six.  

The pathways to success are there.

The time to govern is here.

Let’s hope the president and the Republican leadership appreciate how rare and important this time is.

Judd Gregg is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Foreign Operations. He also is an international adviser to Goldman Sachs." 

From The Hill 

"Judd Alan Gregg (born February 14, 1947) is an American politician and lawyer who served as the 76th governor of New Hampshire from 1989 to 1993 and was a United States senator from New Hampshire; in the Senate, Gregg served as chairman of the Senate Health Committee and the Senate Budget Committee. He is a member of the Republican Party and was a businessman and attorney in Nashua before entering politics. He currently serves as the Chair of the Public Advisory Board at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.[1] Gregg was nominated for Secretary of Commerce in the Cabinet by President Barack Obama,[2] but withdrew his name on February 12, 2009.[3][4][5] He chose not to run for reelection to the Senate in 2010,[6] and former State Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, also a Republican, was elected to succeed him.[7] On May 27, 2011, Goldman Sachs announced that Gregg had been named an international advisor to the firm.[8] In May 2013, Gregg was named the CEO of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, a Wall Street lobbying group.[9] He later stepped down as CEO in December 2013 and became a senior adviser.

For the United States presidential election in 2016 Gregg endorsed former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and upon Bush's suspension of his campaign Gregg endorsed Ohio Governor John Kasich." 

From Wikipedia 

It's rare if ever, (actually it's never happened yet) that I would rather be serving in Congress (House or Senate) or anywhere in the U.S. Government, then instead of writing about it from the private sector and this is just the perfect example of that. 

The fiscal problems that America currently faces, are actually fairly simple. We have a trillion-dollar deficit, 18 trillion-dollar national debt, in a 20 trillion-dollar economy. Sounds like a gigantic problem, if you actually believe in fiscal responsibility and don't believe in borrow and spend politics and at the very least, would like to the government back to a situation where the economy at the very least, is at least growing faster than the debt and deficit. But this situation is actually fairly simple to solve. 

The U.S. Government has future obligations that it simply can't pay based on its current fiscal structure. It's also trying do too much and just in entitlements, but in other non-senior related public assistance programs, like Food Assistance and Welfare, but national defense as well. Because of our current tax code and unfunded tax cuts from 10 years ago that still have never paid for themselves, the government is not even bringing in enough revenue to pay for the things that in our Federal system, it actually has to do, like securing the border, regulating commerce, defending the homeland, etc. 

We never going to either grow our way out of our oversized deficit and debt, or going to slash and burn our way out of either, or tax our way out of it either. American taxpayers are going to have to finally understand that the U.S. Government simply can't do for them, that taxpayers don't want to pay for, but want those services anyway. We need more Americans not just working, but who are economically independent and not taking money from public assistance, including from the tax code. 

Instead of relying on old political sayings, I have a new one that hopefully one day will also become cliche: We only get and can have as much government that is first constitutional, but that we're willing to pay for. 

I think what Senator Gregg is saying here as someone who served in Congress for 26 years, who was also a governor of a state where he had to balance the budget according to the New Hampshire Constitution, that this is the time when President Obama, Speaker Boehner, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, need to become leaders and worry about the future, instead of right now. That we just had an election that left us with another divided government, including a divided Congress and they need to start leading for the good of the country, even if it can hurt politically in the present.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Joshua Tree (1993) Starring Dolph Lundgren & Kristian Alfonso

Source:IMDB- Kristian Alfonso, kicking Dolph Lundgren where it counts.

Source:The Daily Press

“A framed prison escapee unknowingly kidnaps a female cop en-route to a rendezvous with the corrupt cop who put him behind bars.”  

From IMDB 

“A Los Angeles police detective (George Segal) tracks a fugitive (Dolph Lundgren) who heads for the desert with a deputy sheriff (Kristian Alfonso) as hostage.”  

Source:Rotten Tomatoes- Dolph Lundgren

From Rotten Tomatoes 

"Dolph Lundgren stars in Joshua Tree, a high-caliber action movie where six thousand square miles of sand and dozens of turbo-charged super cars set the stage for a bloody, bullet-riddled showdown with a ruthless killer."

Source:Shout Factory- Dolph Lundgren

From Shout Factory 

I gotta admit, Joshua Tree or Army of One and this movie for some reason has two titles depending on how you see it, or what network it is on, but this movie is not a very good movie. Sure it has a decent car chase and there are some pretty good action scenes and perhaps I'm just not much of a Dolph Lundgren who is mostly famous for Rocky 4, ( sorry, I'm horrible with Roman numerals) fan. But this movie is worth watching for other reasons. George Seagal is his usual smart-ass funny self. And Kristian Alfonso plays a great sexy tough cop, looking for her big case.

Dolph Lundgren plays an escape convict who of course is innocent of why he was put in prison. But he's hardly innocent of much else and gets a break and manages to escape from prison when their bus breaks down. He is a career criminal and learns that his best friend and partner has been murdered by the crooked cop, sergeant or lieutenant that put him away played by George Segal. So while he's out of prison he's on the run and kidnaps a rookie or somewhat inexperienced police officer played by Kristian Alfonso who it out of uniform and steals her pickup with her in it.

They are on the run together because he doesn't want to go back to prison and has her as her hostage. He won't hurt her though if she doesn't give him any reason to. She later takes his side even after attempting to escape from him and gets ditched by him in the desert when he believes he doesn't need her anymore. But she now believes that he's innocent of why he was put in prison and that the crooked cop and his crew are the bad guys here and does what she can to help him as a cop.

Not a good movie except for a few parts, but Kristian Alfonso simply looked great in it. The hot sexy baby version of Kristian that I wish she brought out more on Days of Our Lives is the Kristian we see in this movie. And she looks great and adorable kicking ass in her classic Levis denim jeans and boots and plays a hot, sexy cop that I can't imagine any man his right mind would want to ditch. And she and Dolph save the day sort of and the bad guy and gal put away some bad cops. 

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