Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The New Republic: Noam Scheiber: 'Raising the Minimum Wage Isn't Just Good Politics: It's Good Economics'

Source:The New Republic- supporters for raising the minimum wage.

Source:The New Democrat

"The minimum-wage debate follows a predictable pattern any time it flares up in the media: Liberals say it’s a moral outrage that people can toil away at full-time jobs and still live in poverty. They nod at the overwhelming public support for raising the minimum wage as a way to shame reluctant politicians. Conservatives, for their part, insist that all the minimum-wage talk is just self-defeating do-gooder-ism: great for making Upper-West-Siders feel righteous, a lot less so for helping the people they claim to care about. In the real world, conservatives argue, raising the minimum wage costs jobs that the poor and young desperately need. At which point liberals mumble defensively and retreat to their original talking points, if they respond at all.

Monday’s New York Times piece on the renewed push for a minimum-wage increase is a handy case in point. The writers of the story—a nice, scoop-filled piece of reporting—talk about the issue’s potential to split Republican elites from the party’s voters, in classic wedge fashion. Intriguingly, they suggest it could goose turnout among young people and minorities, two Democratic-leaning groups that often vanish during midterm elections. And, of course, the story includes a de rigueur warning of doom and destruction from House Speaker John Boehner--“Why would we want to make it harder for small employers to hire people?”—which goes largely unanswered by anyone on the left.

Well, that’s no good. Yes, the politics of the issue sufficiently favor Democrats that they can ignore the GOP's economic argument—Republicans may resist, but that will only help Democrats on Election Day. But as White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer correctly points out to the Times, the hope isn’t just to retain a few Senate seats. It’s to improve people’s lives.

If they’re serious about doing that, Democrats can’t cede the intellectual fight. They have to expose the House GOP position for what it is—water-carrying for business, particularly the fast-food restaurateurs who are leading employers of minimum-wage workers and donate overwhelmingly to the GOP. Until that happens, Republicans will be able to hold out with a patina of respectability among mainstream journalists and commentators, who largely accept the GOP's job-killing claims.

When they engage at all on the job-market consequences of boosting the minimum wage, Democrats frequently cite a study by economists David Card and Alan Krueger1 from 1994, which looked at a (then) recent increase in New Jersey. After surveying over 400 similar restaurants in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Card and Krueger found that the hike had no effect on jobs, contra the Cassandra-like freak-out from fast-food proprietors. 

The paper was regarded as ground-breaking and, for its troubles, immediately got labeled “controversial” by the mainstream media thanks in part to persistent grumbling on the right. But in fact what made the paper so innovative wasn’t the conclusion per se, which other studies had arrived at. (For that matter, even when you tallied together all the studies that found a negative impact on employment, the effect that was very small. Recent studies have affirmed this.) What made it innovative was the methodology, which so cleanly tested the proposition. By comparing restaurants in New Jersey with restaurants just across the Delaware River in Pennsylvania, Card and Krueger were basically able to compare like with like, with the exception of the minimum wage law whose effects they sought to isolate.2 It was about as close to a laboratory experiment as you get in economics (other than, uh, these guys).

Even more relevant to the current discussion, however, was the rationale for why moderately raising the minimum wage wouldn’t kill jobs, as most of us might expect. After all, it’s one thing to look at a bunch of businesses and notice that they’re not cutting back. But unless there’s a compelling explanation for why our intuition on this is wrong, it’s hard to consider the study definitive. Even a study as well-designed as Card and Krueger’s could be flukish, or corrupted by hidden forces that aren’t evident to the authors or readers. Who knows, maybe McDonald’s managers in New Jersey are just unusually altruistic (though having patronized several fine Garden State dining establishments, I consider this to be extremely unlikely).

The bottom line is that backing the numbers with sound logical arguments is an important insurance policy against flukish-ness, and Card and Krueger identify a few. The first is that employers simply pass along the higher wages to customers rather cutting back on workers. And because the cost-increase tends to be small, and because customers accept the fairness of raising the minimum wage, they don’t buy fewer hamburgers or pizzas than before. As it happens, Card and Krueger found solid evidence that this was going on, as have many others. 

Before any conservative starts hyperventilating, it’s worth pointing out that this isn’t true of all industries, or even all employers in industries where it regularly happens. (In fact, Card and Krueger were skeptical of this story in their New Jersey study, before warming to a version of it in a subsequent book.) But this does happen a fair amount, and often in very pronounced ways.3 And the phenomenon goes a long way toward explaining why minimum wage laws frequently have so little net effect on jobs: If, in response to a minimum wage hike, some employers add a few workers while others cut back a bit, then it makes sense that the overall effect might hover around zero.

None of which is to say I expect the average Democratic pol to start lecturing minimum-wage denialists about monopsony employers any time soon. But if enough of us in the trenches band together and retake the intellectual high-ground, victory is likely to come a lot sooner.

I say this because even if the political resonance of the minimum wage issue helps Democrats wildly exceed expectations in 2014, they’re unlikely to retake the House. And, unfortunately, House Republicans have repeatedly showed they can hold out against public opinion for long stretches of time. What even they can’t do, however, is hold out against both public opinion and the received Beltway wisdom, as last fall’s shutdown fight demonstrated. The way to force Republicans to cave when public opinion won’t do the trick is to deprive them of any pretension to seriousness." 

"Howard Dean, S.E. Cupp, Hilary Rosen & Kevin Madden debate raising the minimum wage." 

Source:CNN Crossfire.

From CNN

There are both good political as well as economic reasons for raising the minimum wage in America. If it is done right and I’m going to give you an example of why it make sense to raise the minimum wage in America.

Raising the minimum wage in America if it is done right, makes so much good sense that I can give you two good examples from both a political, but as well as an economic example and give you both of them from the Right even though I’m a Liberal Democrat.

The political example would be this: Imagine you are Joe or Mary taxpayer in America and you work very hard for a living just to pay your bills and raise your kids and you are a little angry about that and feel overtaxed, because here you are playing by the rules and doing everything you can to pay your own way. But you are also paying taxes to pay for people who don’t pay their own way because they are low-skilled. You probably feel like you have an extra burden to pay to go along with yourself and your family, even though you are not getting any extra money to pay for that burden.

As a result, low-skilled workers work low-skilled minimum wage jobs and have to collect public assistance in order to survive. Because these low-wage employers are able to pass their employee costs onto you. And have you make up the difference for these workers housing, groceries and health care. But you raise the minimum wage to ten, twelve dollars and hour with a break especially for small employers and you keep their public assistance benefits where they are now, now these low-skilled workers can pay more for their costs of living. And Joe and Mary Smith (or whoever) and many others won’t have to pay as much in taxes to make up the difference. 

The economic example is pretty simple: You want more people working and fewer people collecting Unemployment or Welfare Insurance, then working has to pay more than not working so people are incentivized to work for a living. And not collect public assistance checks for a living instead. You raise the minimum wage to ten or twelve dollars an hour with a thirty percent tax break for employers especially for small employers and you have employers pay their share of the public assistance costs with like a payroll tax.

And tell employers they can get all that money back if they instead just pay their low-wage employees those costs. Or train them so they can move up in their organization or a combination of both. Now employers won’t be able to pass their employees costs on to the backs of average Joe and Mary taxpayer (or whoever) and many others and you would be able to cut the middle class tax burden in this country. The politics for Democrats are very good here.

And this would be a very good way to get Democrats to the polls in 2014 and get organize labor to help them out. It is actually good politics for Republicans as well if they are truly interested in reaching out to the working class. And not just there to carry the water for the wealthy and corporate America. Because they could say they are in favor of this as well so we can cut the taxes for average workers. 

It’s not just the minimum wage, but every physically and mentally able adult in America should be incentivized not just to work, but to pay their own away. No physically or mentally able adult in America should be able to collect more from public assistance and not working, then working any full-time job. What you would make in a week working a full-time minimum wage job, should be more then what you would get from a Welfare check and not working at all. We should not just raise the minimum wage to a working wage, but subsidize the employment of low-income, low-skilled workers, to encourage as many Americans as possible to make it in America on their own. 

Small Ivey: “Erik, this is a fantastic idea – cut the taxes for employers if they pay their employees more. How about this – how about making salaries paid to employees a direct tax credit, such that employers could reduce their taxes to zero if they pay their employees the money that would have been going to taxes. This would get the money right into employees’ pockets instead of needing to send it up to Washington and then back to the employees through welfare checks. Would teenagers get the higher wages too, or just adults with kids at home to feed?”

Thursday, December 26, 2013

NFL Films: Vince Lombardi Teaches The Power Sweep

Source:NFL Films- Green Bay Packers head coach/general manager Vince Lombardi (1959-68)

"Power Sweeps" - Winning Football with Vince Lombardi (Volume 7)" 

From Coach D

This photo is from another YouTube showing Coach Vince Lombardi teaching his power sweep. But the video that this photo is from, is currently not available online right now. 

Source:NFL Films- Green Bay Packers/General Manager Vince Lombardi.
I think the best way to describe Vince Lombardi's brand of football, at least offensive football, is to do it with a hypothetical.  

Imagine the night before your football game and you just found your opponent's game plan and playbook. You now not only know what plays your opponent is going to run and how they're going to beat you. Just one problem: even though you know exactly what the Packers (in this case) are going to run against you, you are not good enough to beat them. 

While the Dallas Cowboys in the 1970s and 80s ran so many different formations and plays to win their games on offense and the Redskins with different type of offense, but used a lot of different formations on offense in the 1980s, the Packers were beating their opponents simply by out executing their opponents and having better players. Losing to the Packers in the 1960s was literally the death by execution. They had the ball on 1st in 10 from their 20, you knew it was coming but you couldn't stop it. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Onion: 'Peter K. Rosenthal Looks Back at It's a Wonderful Life'

Source:The Onion- left to right: Donna Reed, Jimmy Stewart and a cute little girl.
Source:The New Democrat

"The Onion's movie critic Peter K. Rosenthal looks back at the holiday classic 'It's A Wonderful Life' in this week's Film Standard."
From The Onion
How can one Uncle Billy can completely change the complexion of a movie review? You know if I had an uncle who was that big of an asshole and screw up, I doubt my life would be so golly gee swell. (To use a term from that era) Especially if I was relying on a dip-shit like this to help me run my business.  
First of all, if I’m dumb enough to rely on a dip-shit to help me run my business, I’m probably not that much of a businessman to begin with. Maybe Uncle Billy has something that he can use as blackmail that keeps him in business with his partners. Maybe he saw Joe kissing Sally instead of his wife Mary and threatening to use that against Joe or something. But the people who go into business with someone like Uncle Billy are people who go out of business, because they are not smart enough to hire people who are not dip-shits to work for them. 
It's a Wonderful Life, is a classic 1930s, 1940s, 1950s Jimmy Stewart movie. Where he represents a a very simple man from a very simple time. (At least according to Hollywood) Where he's a very well-liked town and knows everybody there and they seem to like him, because he's just like everybody else in that town.  
In Jimmy Stewart's day you don't cuss, even words like damn and hell are considered sins. And if there wasn't for this little annoying thing like the First Amendment, you might get arrested for saying damn or hell in public. 
In Jimmy Stewart's day, Joe Smith is married to Mary and they have 2-3 kids. Of course Joe works and of course Mary stays home and raises their kids. Because it's considered a sin for women to work in Pleasantville. Because in Pleasantville women are not only not expected to work, but be subservient to their man. Perhaps Pleasantville is the capital of Saudi Arabia or at least part of Saudi Arabia. Except in Pleasantville the people aren't Muslin or Arab, but Protestant and tend to be Anglo-Saxon. Except for the servants, who of course are African-American and in some cases even use to be slaves. 
And George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) is curious what life looks like outside of Pleasantville USA. And is curious what life looks like outside of his collectivist town where everyone seems to almost be a clone of someone else. Where everyone talks and thinks the same way, lives their life the same way. Again absolutely no cussing, no dancing in public, no drinking on Sunday. Everyone says Grace before they eat, etc. 
And George wants to know if everyone else in America lives this way and perhaps what big city life would be like. The problem is that Joe is dumb enough to get in bed, I mean go into business with his Uncle Billy and of course Billy's nickname is screwup, or dip-shit and runs the business into the ground like a drunk autopilot crashes a plane. And now Joe is stuck in Pleasantville or Bedford Falls (to be precise) and left there pick up the pieces and put his life back together.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Atlantic: Josh Freedman & Michael Lind: 'The Past & Future of America's Social Contract'

Source:The Atlantic with a look at the so-called American social contract.

Source:The New Democrat

"In the 20th century, the United States moved from an economy based on high wages and reliable benefits to a system of low wages and cheap consumer prices, to the detriment of workers. What's next?" 

The problem of low pay has dominated headlines this year thanks to striking fast food workers, tone-deaf employers, and a spate of successful campaigns to raise state and local minimum wages.

Behind the news cycle, however, there’s a deeper issue than what Walmart or McDonald’s pay their workers today. Americans are once again wrestling with what they fundamentally want from the social contract—the basic bargain most of us can expect from the economy throughout our lives... 

"Michael Lind, historian, Policy Director of the New America Foundation's Economic Growth Program, and author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States (2012), on infrastructure reform and our innovation system after the 2008 crisis.  
Watch more!  Subscribe to the Intelligent Channel!" 

Source:The Intelligent Channel with a look at the so-called American social contract.

From The Intelligent Channel

When we are talking about the social contract, we should be clear about what are we talking about. Because this gets to the heart of what we want from government in America especially the Federal Government. Are we talking about the American tradition of the safety net that has helped contribute to the largest and most powerful economy and country in the world. Or do we want a Scandinavian welfare state.

With a welfare state the Federal Government would play a huge role especially in an economy of seventeen-trillion dollars in a country of three-hundred and ten million people in providing us with most of the services that we need to live well in America.

Or are we talking about building off of the New Deal not to turn Americans into Nordics economically and ideologically, but to empower more Americans with more economic power in this great vast diverse huge country of three-hundred and ten million people. And empowering more Americans regardless of race, ethnicity and gender with the economic power to live in freedom to be able to take care of themselves.
As a New Democrat I’m in favor of the third option of building off of the New Deal by not having government take care of more people. But using government to empower more people to be able to take care of themselves. Which would be great for the economy as well as the fiscal condition of the country. With fewer people collecting from the social insurance system and more people paying into the system. Because we would have a larger middle as well as larger upper class with more people starting new business’s. Because of the greater access to education including college and fewer people in the lower economic class either unemployed. Or working low-income jobs, but still collecting public assistance to survive.

And again and I’m not trying to sound partisan ideologically, but again this gets to what do you want from government. And who do you trust to provide people with the services that they need in life. Do you trust government to take care of everyone. Do you trust an unregulated and almost completely tax-free corporate America and so-called free market to work for everyone. Or do you trust an educated workforce and educated individuals to be able to make their own decisions with their own lives.
As a Liberal I believe an educated public with the right tools and education can take care of themselves and do not need big brother or big government or a nanny state to do that for them. And the main problem with our workforce right now is that we do not have enough workers to be able to make with enough of an education to have the power to be able to take care of themselves. And a big reason why the Left right now is debating what should the role of government, especially the Federal Government be to address the income and skills gap in this country.

I believe Liberals agree with Progressives or Social Democrats that the Federal Government should be doing more. But we differ on what that new role should be. With the lets say further Left of the party essentially wanting to transform America into Scandinavia economically and politically. With the JFK/Clinton New Democratic Coalition of Liberals saying that when people have the tools that they need, they tend to make good decisions with their own lives instead. And do not need government doing everything for them.

My message of economic power and creating what I would call and economic power system, for lack of a better term right now, is about education K-College and quality education for all through college. Once we establish that and lookout for the American economy especially as we move towards energy independence, rebuild our falling infrastructure system and actually start paying down some of our national debt.

The energy and debt are already under way, but the infrastructure still needs a new plan out of Congress to make that happen. And universal access to education and job training for our low-skilled and low-income workforce as well. Our population that collects from public assistance whether they are working or not. So they can get the skills that they need to also live in freedom, the economic power they need to be successful in America.

This shouldn’t be about big government versus small government at least on the Left. But more about big government versus limited, but good government only doing the things that we need it to do for people. And then let the people with this new-found freedom, let them fly and let’s see what Americans can do for themselves. Once they have the power over their own lives.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ed Valanzuela: Happy Birthday To You!

Source:Ed Valanzuela- Happy Birthday!

Source:The New Democrat

"Happy Birthday To You! (Traditional) - No copyright infringement intended for this version.
(gif borrowed without permission from funmunch.com who owns the copyright)
Thanks to somebody who gave me this mp3. Just wanted this on my pinoymusic channel. Pinoy kasi ang dating sa akin nito... 

Happy Birthday to my lovely and beautiful mother who turns, well she would probably kill me even from three-thousand miles away if I gave that out. But Happy Birthday mom and to having a lot more birthdays as well, no matter how long you live.

The New America Foundation: Michael Lind- 'The Next Social Contract'

Source:The New America Foundation- from Michael Lind's book.

Source:The New Democrat 

"The American social contract—the implicit division of obligations among individuals, families, employers, communities, and government—has long needed an update. Policies, programs, and assumptions designed for the single-earner families and industrial workplaces of the postwar era are consistently failing to provide security and opportunities for families today. New America took up the mission of designing a new social contract in 2007 and was the first organization to frame its vision in these terms. The initiative that followed generated vital ideas that continue to shape debate and policymaking. 

The American social contract is in crisis. Even before the Great Recession exposed its inadequacy, it was clear that the existing American social contract — the system of policies and institutions designed to provide adequate incomes and economic security for all Americans — needed to be reformed to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. What is needed is not mere incremental tinkering, but rather rethinking and reconstruction. Policies that have worked should be expanded, while others that have failed should be replaced. The result should not be just a modification of today’s partly failed economic security system, but a substantially reformed system incorporating the soundest elements of the old — a new social contract for a new America." 

From The New America Foundation 

"Michael Lind, historian, Policy Director of the New America Foundation's Economic Growth Program, and author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States (2012), on infrastructure reform and our innovation system after the 2008 crisis.  

Watch more!  Subscribe to the Intelligent Channel!"

Source:The Intelligent Channel- talking to economic historian Michael Lind.

From The Intelligent Channel 

Source:The New Democrat- I believe this is a cartoon about Theodore Roosevelt, who is one of the founding fathers of the American public safety net.

What Michael Lind is talking about her is borrowing a helluva lot of money for a country that's already deep in national debt (meaning the United States of America) to pay for things like infrastructure, research and development, and I'm sure a European democratic welfare state, as well. Perhaps making the political calculation that American taxpayers would never agree to pay for the new taxes and tax increases to fund all of these new government services and expansion of current government services. So this needs to be soled in a way that government can tell the people that they're getting all of these new so-called free government services (because no one will pay the taxes to fund them) and it's not going to cost them anything. 

If government could just borrow the money for everything that it does, you wouldn't need taxes for anything. Why do we have taxes? 

One, to pay for the government services that we get and actually need like defense, national security, infrastructure, the regulatory state, etc. 

Two, so government doesn't have to borrow the money form other countries to pay for the government services that provides for its people. Every national government in the history of the world has run deficits to pay for its government. That's just the nature of economics everywhere in the world, especially capitalist free world. But one of the good reasons for taxes to limit how much a national government can borrow, knowing that your foreign credit could actually run out, if foreign creditors don't believe you can pay back what you actually owe. So of course every civilized country in the world has to have taxes or tariffs to pay for its government services. 

What comes to what's called the social contract and I don't like that term because it's not as if taxpayers have a choice in whether to pay for the government services that it gets, short of  leaving the country. 

What I believe government's role in America is to see that everyone has a real shot at making it in America on their own and not needing public assistance at all or some universal welfare state to pay for their cost of living. 

Things like infrastructure investment, research and development, that government finances, can help in insuring that every American has the opportunity that they need to make it in America. 

But an overwhelming majority of Americans don't expect government to take care of them from cradle to grave. Otherwise the Socialists would've been running America a long time ago, instead of being stuck in third-party status or trying to overtake the Democratic Party.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

NFL Films: NFL: 1978- Week 12- Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants: Miracle at The Meadowlands

Source:NFL Films- Eagles DB Herm Edwards, with the Christmas gift of 1978, courtesy of Giants QB Joe Pisarcik.
Source:The New Democrat

"Check out where the Miracle at the Meadowlands lands on NFL Top 10 worst plays."

From NFL Films

There are games that can send mediocre teams to the playoffs and end seasons for teams that may think they are good and are in the playoff race. And 1978 Miracle at The Meadowlands is that game, because both teams were still in the NFC Playoff race at this point, but basically had to win this game. 

Especially the Giants at 5-6, or have to win out and probably get help from other teams to get the fifth and last playoff spot in the NFC. The Eagles-Giants rivalry is one of the oldest and best in the NFL, top 3-5 and has had a lot of staple games. But when you lose or win a game where the team that is leading late in the game, only has to run out the clock with victory formation and they blow that and fumble the ball instead, that becomes the staple game of this great rivalry.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The New Republic: Michael Kazin: 'JFK's Assassination Made Governing Harder'

Source:The New Republic- John F. Kennedy (Democrat, Massachusetts) President of the United States (1961-63) 

Source:The New Democrat

"There are many reasons to wish John Kennedy had dodged those rifle shots in Dallas 50 years ago this week. One that’s rarely mentioned is how his martyrdom raised expectations for future presidents that are nearly impossible to meet. Liberals, who put so much faith in federal power, have been particularly reluctant to free themselves of that burden. 

Historians and journalists will probably argue forever about what JFK achieved and what he would have accomplished in the remainder of his first term and a probable second one. But most Americans seem to have no doubts. In a new Gallup poll of presidential approval rates, Kennedy scores higher, by far, than do any of his successors. Three-quarters of the public rank his time in the White House as “outstanding” or “above average.” Reagan places second in this retrospective competition, with a paltry 61 percent. JFK’s enduring appeal just confirms liberals’ admiration for what David Greenberg has called “his commitment to exercising his power to address social needs, his belief that government could harness expert knowledge to solve problems.”

I guess my main response to Michael Kazin would be: "It depends on what you mean by liberal and liberalism." His idea of what it means to be a Liberal and what liberalism is, is very different from John F. Kennedy's. He talks a lot about the federal state and federal power, as if that's what liberal ism is and what liberalism is based on: "What can the national government do for the people, if we just gave them the power and money .to do those things for us. 

In other publications like Dissent and TruthOut, Mr. Kazin seems to have no issues being associated with terms like leftist or social democrat, democratic socialist, or even socialist. But since he wrote this article for The New Republic, which thanks to Chris Hughes and company, they're now more of a social democratic publication (even if they are closeted Socialists) and they've given up their liberal tradition of arguing in favor of the individual and individual rights, I guess you are not allowed to use words like socialist over there, for fears of seeming like a radical, Even if you share the same values and beliefs of the Socialists. 

As far as John F. Kennedy, he was obviously not a leftist. It's hard to imagine a stronger, more effective, cold warrior and anti-Communist, than John F. Kennedy, especially as President. Perhaps Ronald Reagan, but certainly no one else from the Democratic Party.  

It's true like any true Progressive (not Socialist) that Jack Kennedy believed that government, including the Federal Government, could be a force for good in helping people in need get the tools that they need to live a better life and live in freedom like anyone else. But we're not talking about Eugene Debs, or Henry Wallace, Norman Thomas, David McReynolds, George McGovern, or any of the other great Democratic Socialists from the past, or Bernie Sanders or Liz Warren today. 

President Kennedy puts limits on what he believed government should try to do for people, as well as what he believed Americans would want government to do for them and be willing to pay for. Because as all American taxpayers know, there's nothing free about government. Which is something that every leftist, or center-left politician has to weight when talking about new government reforms and programs. How are these policies going to be paid for and what are taxpayers willing to pay to receive those services. These are things that Jack Kennedy understood very well.  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

VOA News: Luiz Ramirez: 'Future Role of US Troops in Afghanistan Debated'

Source:VOA News in Afghanistan.

Source:The New Democrat 
"The number of U.S. troops who remain in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO forces in 2014 depends largely on what the Loya Jirga, or gathering of tribal elders, decides in the coming days when it reviews a draft security agreement between the Afghan and U.S. governments. An Afghan government spokesman said the two sides have agreed to allow home raids by U.S. troops if President Barack Obama acknowledges mistakes by the U.S. military in Afghanistan. The US says it has not agreed to this, and that Washington has its own conditions. VOA Pentagon correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from the Pentagon." 
From VOA News
"Voice of America (VOA or VoA) is the state-owned news network and international radio broadcaster of the United States of America. It is the largest[3] and oldest of the U.S.–funded international broadcasters.[4][5] VOA produces digital, TV, and radio content in 48 languages,[6] which it distributes to affiliate stations around the world. Its targeted and primary audience is non-American... 
From Wikipedia 
The only thing that American troops in conjunction with NATO should be doing right now is helping to train and develop the Afghan military so Afghanistan can defend itself from domestic and foreign invaders including the Taliban and other terrorists groups. We’ve been there twelve years and have our own problems back at home economically and financially. That these wars being put on the national credit card have played a big role in. As well as security interests in other places that we need to address. And we can’t afford to occupy other countries indefinitely. So we should be and are working to develop the Afghan military and central government so they can govern themselves. As far as American troops accused of criminal acts, they should be tried in America, just as long as they are held accountable. And not given the message that they aren’t accountable under law.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Professor Noam Chomsky: 'America Is Not a Democracy'

Source:The Film Archives- MIT Professor Noam Chomsky.

"Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, talked about his book, On Anarchism, in which he examines the political ideology of anarchism, from its history and early proponents to the author’s thoughts on its current usage and practicality. Noam Chomsky spoke at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts." 


"In practice Chomsky has tended to emphasize the philosophical tendency of anarchism to criticize all forms of illegitimate authority. He has been reticent about theorizing an anarchist society in detail, although he has outlined its likely value systems and institutional framework in broad terms. According to Chomsky, the variety of anarchism which he favors is:

    ... a kind of voluntary socialism, that is, as libertarian socialist or anarcho-syndicalist or communist anarchist, in the tradition of, say, Bakunin and Kropotkin and others. They had in mind a highly organized form of society, but a society that was organized on the basis of organic units, organic communities. And generally, they meant by that the workplace and the neighborhood, and from those two basic units there could derive through federal arrangements a highly integrated kind of social organization which might be national or even international in scope. And these decisions could be made over a substantial range, but by delegates who are always part of the organic community from which they come, to which they return, and in which, in fact, they live.

On the question of the government of political and economic institutions, Chomsky has consistently emphasized the importance of grassroots democratic forms. Accordingly, current Anglo-American institutions of representative democracy "would be criticized by an anarchist of this school on two grounds. First of all because there is a monopoly of power centralized in the state, and secondly – and critically – because the representative democracy is limited to the political sphere and in no serious way encroaches on the economic sphere."

Chomsky believes anarchism is a direct descendant of liberalism, further developing the ideals of personal liberty and minimal government of the Enlightenment.[20] He views libertarian socialism thus as the logical conclusion of liberalism, extending its democratic ideals into the economy, making anarchism an inherently socialist philosophy." 

"On Anarchism provides the reasoning behind Noam Chomsky's fearless lifelong questioning of the legitimacy of entrenched power. In these essays, Chomsky redeems one of the most maligned ideologies, anarchism, and places it at the foundation of his political thinking. Chomsky's anarchism is distinctly optimistic and egalitarian. Moreover, it is a living, evolving tradition that is situated in a historical lineage; Chomsky's anarchism emphasizes the power of collective, rather than individualist, action. The collection includes a revealing new introduction by journalist Nathan Schneider, who documented the Occupy movement for Harper's and The Nation, and who places Chomsky's ideas in the contemporary political moment. On Anarchism will be essential listening for a new generation of activists who are at the forefront of a resurgence of interest in anarchism - and for anyone who struggles with what can be done to create a more just world." 

Source:Amazon- Noam Chomsky's book

From Amazon

"Noam Chomsky: America is not a Democracy"

Source:CSPAN- MIT Professor Noam Chomsky.

"Democracy (Greek: δημοκρατία, romanized: dēmokratiā, from dēmos 'people' and kratos 'rule'[1]) is a form of government in which the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to choose governing officials to do so ("representative democracy"). Who is considered part of "the people" and how authority is shared among or delegated by the people has changed over time and at different rates in different countries, but over time more and more of a democratic country's inhabitants have generally been included. Cornerstones of democracy include freedom of assembly, association, property rights, freedom of religion and speech, inclusiveness and equality, citizenship, consent of the governed, voting rights, freedom from unwarranted governmental deprivation of the right to life and liberty, and minority rights.

The notion of democracy has evolved over time considerably. The original form of democracy was a direct democracy. The most common form of democracy today is a representative democracy, where the people elect government officials to govern on their behalf such as in a parliamentary or presidential democracy" 

From Wikipedia 

"Anarchism is a political philosophy and movement that is sceptical of authority and rejects all involuntary, coercive forms of hierarchy.[1] Anarchism calls for the abolition of the state, which it holds to be unnecessary, undesirable, and harmful. As a historically left-wing movement, placed on the farthest left of the political spectrum, it is usually described alongside communalism and libertarian Marxism as the libertarian wing (libertarian socialism) of the socialist movement, and has a strong historical association with anti-capitalism and socialism." 

From Wikipedia 

The Right likes to say that America is not a democracy, but a republic. The Far-Left (or left-wing, if you prefer) likes to say that America is not a democracy either, but for different reasons. America isn't their version of democracy, which is a majoritarian, social democracy, with a large, centralized, national state, where the chief executive would be elected by either the Congress, or House of Representatives in Congress, or directly elected by the people without an Electoral College. 

The Right is right (so to speak) that America is not a majoritarian, social democracy. We don't do everything by majority rule or vote. Our constitutional and individual rights can't be thrown out simply because you have one more vote in the House and one more in the Senate and a President that signs the bills that throws at least one of our individual rights out. Everything that Congress and the President does has to be constitutional, whether it's popular or not. 

But if you go by the Wikipedia definition of democracy (check above) America meets most of the components that you see in most democracies. The people elect their legislators and executives. We have a free press and guaranteed right to free speech. We have property rights that can't be taken away by a majority vote in Congress and a presidential signature. Actually, none of our constitutional rights can be taken away by Congress and the President. We have freedom of religion. America is a pluralistic country where everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or gender, has the same constitutional rights as everyone else. 

I think of America is a liberal democratic, constitutional republic, based on the values of liberal democracy and classical liberalism (meaning the real liberalism) but we're not the social democracy that leftists want and perhaps we'll never be. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Hamilton Project: Melissa Kearney & Lesley Turner: ‘Press Release: Supporting America’s Struggling Lower-Middle-Class Families’

Source:The Hamilton Project is a Washington based think tank.

Source:The New Democrat

“Washington, DC – On December 4th, The Hamilton Project at Brookings hosted a forum on opportunities to support America’s struggling lower-middle-class. Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin kicked off the forum with framing remarks, followed by two panel discussions anchored around new proposals for a secondary earner tax deduction and opportunities to strengthen SNAP. 

Links to the new papers and event materials – including full audio and video – are included below and can be found on the event page here. We’ve also included pull quotes from the three panel discussions for your convenience. The full transcript from the forum will be available tomorrow morning." 

Fifty to sixty thousand or even forty-thousand dollars a year might sound like a decent income in America. But when you count the fact the average American family brings in around fifty-thousand dollar a year, even with the Great Recession of 2008-09 and the fact that those salaries in large wealthy metropolitan areas like Washington, New York, Boston, San Francisco (to use as examples) where that money is not that much in those areas because the cost of living is so high because with all the benefits of living in a big city or outside of a big city in a big metro area, it really isn’t a lot of money.

Most Americans now live in metropolitan areas and many us live in large metro areas like the ones I mentioned. And then you might have to add education if you have kids and you live in an area without the right public schools for your kids, or you have high health care costs. Fifty-thousand dollars a year give or take which technically puts you in the American middle class might sound like decent money, but not if you have a high cost of living. And not because you are bad with money, but simply you have high costs that you have to meet for your own good and family.  

So those are the problems, a large if not the largest middle class in the world here in America, but a middle class that in a lot of ways is struggling just to make ends meet. And struggling to afford housing, education, health care, putting money away for retirement. Things that they have to do, but since they aren’t technically poor, they aren’t eligible for public assistance. That is what happens when your cost of living increases over lets say a ten-year period, but your wages drop. 

As a country with lack of economic growth, long-term high unemployment, all the jobs that were lost that haven’t been gotten back from the Great Recession and we are left with a percentage of the population the largest in our country our middle class that still have the same bills to meet and same obligations. But has fewer resources and again since they make too much money for public assistance, they have to meet these obligations out of their own pockets with fewer resources to pay those bills. 

In the future I’ll be writing posts about how I believe we can and should address these economic problems through things like a new middle-income tax credit, job training and education for our lower- middle class workers. But with this post I just wanted to first address the problems and then go from there. Like any good doctor would, (not that I’m a doctor) but to fix problems, you first have to know what the problems are.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

CBS Sports: NFL 1985-NFC-WC-San Francisco 49ers @ New York Giants: Pat Summerall Intro

Source:CBS Sports- San Francisco 49ers QB Joe Cool Montana, perhaps celebrating another TD against the Dallas Cowboys.

Source:The New Democrat

"NYG 1985 Wild Card Intro Vs 49ers"  

From NY Giants

The NFL on CBS was a great show for many reasons and Pat Summerall might of been the number one reason. But their timing and intros were classic and so well done and knew exactly how to put things and show things to people. 

Pat Summerall: "First New York Giants home playoff game since the 1962 NFL Championship that was at Yankee Stadium",  the day this wildcard game was played. Giants Stadium opened up in East Rutherford, New Jersey in 1976 and this was the first Giants home playoff game there. 

How does CBS Sports introduce this game, with Bruce Spingsteen singing Glory Days. The Glory Days of the New York Giants from the 1950s and early 60s. With Pat Summerall a former New York Giant of course doing the intro. A simple two-minute video or so and this is one of best NFL videos and intros of all-time. Just for those reasons. 

CBS Sports: NBA 1990- Detroit Pistons vs Portland Blazers: 'Game 5 Best Plays'

Source:CBS Sports- the Pistons trying to win their 2nd straight NBA Finals, in game 5 of the 1990 NBA Finals.

Source:The New Democrat 

"1990 NBA Finals - Detroit vs Portland - Game 5 Best Plays. The best highlights from the 1990 NBA Finals Game 5." 

From Gear Master 

The Blazers probably peaked a season too early in 1990 and not prepared to play in the 1990 NBA Finals mentally as far as knowing what it took to win the NBA Finals. And they were playing a very veteran team in the Pistons who had just played in four straight conference finals and playing in their third straight NBA Finals and going for their second straight NBA Finals Championship. 

The Blazers having not even being to the conference finals with this group before reaching the 1990 NBA Finals, against a very experienced, deep and intelligent Pistons team for the NBA Championship in 1990. So this was a matchup of a very good experienced team in the Pistons, with a great player in Isiah Thomas and a great head coach in Chuck Daly. Vs. a young and very talented Blazers teams, without a lot of big game experience. And that showed up a lot in at least four out of the five NBA Finals games.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Merkin Muffly: NBA 1983-ECQF-Game 3- Atlanta Hawks @ Boston Celtics: Highlights

Source:Merkin Muffly- The Hawks vs Celtics, 1983 NBC EC Playoff.
Source: The New Democrat 

“Deciding Game 3 of 1983 Celtic/Hawks, Ainge gets bit by Tree Rollins. Bird holds Dominique to 1 of 6 shooting.”

The Hawks and Celtics had a pretty good rivalry with each other in the 1980s, especially in the late 80s where they seemed to meet in the Eastern Conference Playoffs every year. The Celtics won every series including 83, but 85, 86 and 88 as well, but the Hawks played them very well even at the Boston Garden and even won some games there. 

The Hawks probably should’ve won the 88 series and I believe had a better team. They were up 2-1 or 3-2 in that series, if not both leads in the series with the opportunity to close out that series at home. But lost both games.

The Hawks in the late 80s always looked like they were going to make a real run at the NBA Finals in the regular season, but always failed to even get to the Eastern Conference Finals.

A difference between a good team and a very good team: the good team has potential, the very good team consistently moves on in the playoffs. And at least plays for conference championships.

Friday, November 15, 2013

American Experience: JFK, Extended Preview

Source:American Experience with a preview of their JFK documentary.

Source:The New Democrat

"The 2-minute preview for JFK, a new biopic coming to PBS and American Experience on November 11 & 12, 2013."  

The PBS version of John F. Kennedy is the best program at least I've seen of Jack Kennedy this month. Not that there has been a lot of quality programs and films about his so far in November. Because the rest of them have been about the assassination and why he was in Dallas in November, 1963. Or why he so highly regarded in pop culture as a cool president. But the American Experience program is truly about his life and his career. 

Jack Kennedy before Congress, in Congress, the famous 1960 presidential election against Richard Nixon, the Kennedy Administration obviously and all of the key moments that happened in his administration. How he put his administration together, the relationship he had with the Southern Caucus of right-wing Democrats in Congress that had the real power in the House and Senate. Even though he did have large Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate.  

President Kennedy's policies to stimulate economic growth and expand educational and college opportunities. The Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, his hard push for civil rights legislation. All of the things that you tend not to get from the commercial networks or the entertainment cable networks. But that you only get for the most part from PBS and films you see at the theater.

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