Friday, February 28, 2014

Biography: Jayne Mansfield

Source:The New Democrat

To put it simply, Jayne Mansfield was the ultimate hot baby-face goddess who never grew up, and in all of her 34 years, I'm not sure she ever looked old enough to even drive. That is how I see her, as someone who never quite became an adult woman emotionally, and I believe she was never very happy even though she basically had it all and was a very good entertainer. She had a very quick comedic wit and the ability to sing and act as well.

She wasn't a dumb blonde, but someone with real talent. She was immature and never quite grew up or appreciate what she had, but if she had lived a normal, she would probably have won many awards with her comedic wit and versatility and ability to entertain people in multiple ways, but she never understood and was not able to appreciate any of that.

I haven't seen many Jayne Mansfield movies but Who Will Spoil Rock Hunter with the great comedic actor Tony Randall is the perfect example of a movie where you get to see all her talent, where she could purposely play the role of the dumb sexy blonde, which is how she wanted to be portrayed, when behind the scenes she was as smart and cunning as anyone and knew how to get what she wanted when she wanted it.

In Who Will Spoil Rock Hunter, Tony Randall plays a struggling advertising executive who needs a big client to make a lot of money for his company. And that is where the Jayne Mansfield character comes in as an incredible Hollywood bombshell who needs what Rock Hunter can give her, which is credibility and good publicity on Madison Avenue and to be taken seriously. And she and Rock make for good partners in that film

The Economist: Inequality in America: How to be a True Progressive

Source:The New Democrat

I've mentioned before that I do not qualify as a Progressive, at least from today's popular definition of it, someone who believes in using government to make society better and fairer with new government social programs that are generally run by the Federal Government, but I'm not sure that a lot of today's Progressives qualify as Progressive either with their constant assaults on corporate America and private enterprise and private power along with being so anti-military and law enforcement and not only in favor of the welfare state but also the nanny state, believing that Americans have too much freedom in how they manage their personal lives, with new prohibitionist ideas as they relate to what people eat, drink, smoke, as well as who and how we communicate with each other.

And these are just some of reasons why I call myself a Liberal.  I am a Liberal, at least as far as it is classically defined, but I don't like being associated with big government statists right and left, and today's so-called Progressives are really left-wing statists but not very liberal or progressive and not so much interested in progress.  True Progressives believe in moving forward and using government to make that happen as much as they are interested in growing the size and scope of the central state.

But I do view myself as a Progressive in the sense that I believe in progress and moving forward and even using government to help bring that about. But where I would differ with real Progressives, FDR or LBJ Progressive Democrats, is that I don't believe the Federal Government has all of the answers and therefore shouldn't have all the power.  As a true Liberal, I want to see that power go to the people who need it.  The income gap, as I prefer to call income inequality, is the perfect place to start.

I agree we need a new approach in how we deal with the income gap and having hundreds of programs that are really about subsidizing people in poverty, whether they are working or not, to meet their needs. This is not so much empowering them to meet their needs, which is not the right approach (this is where I agree with The Economist) but scrapping the minimum wage and replacing it with an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit is not the way to go, and this is where I agree with Progressive economist Jared Bernstein on who is an actual Progressive Democrat.

What would happen if this new conservative idea about the EITC were to ever happen is that you would end up transferring money from hard-working middle class Americans and, in a lot of cases, Americans who are just barely middle class, to the wealthy and to employers, because now they wouldn't have to pay the minimum wage and would be able to pay their low-skilled workers wages that are much lower, because these low-skilled workers would get that money back and perhaps more money from middle class tax payers instead of their employers in the form of an expanded EITC.

And this is where both the Earned Income Tax Credit and increasing the minimum wage are both critical and both needed because they would both increase wages for people at the bottom and increase their purchasing power. This is for people who spend all of their money, which drives economic and job growth, because they have no other choice because of how little money they make, but it also encourages people to work and not go on welfare or stay on welfare because they would know they could get more money working than not working.

But this alone doesn't solve the income gap because we need to not only be targeting Americans at the bottom when it comes to the income gap but also people in the struggling middle, who can see the bottom of the economic scale from where they sit, which is why unemployment insurance should be expanded to include back-to-work centers or programs that will help them pay their bills as they receive assistance to help find a good job through education and job training and assistance. Welfare insurance puts people to work and provides educational and job training assistance for workers who collect any form of public assistance.

A mid-term election, especially the one that will affect the last 2 years of the Obama Administration, is not the right time for President Obama to take on his far-left flank with all these new work and education-over-dependency ideas, because he needs these voters behind him and congressional Democrats as they run for reelection and for the House and Senate in 2014, but these are things he could propose in his budget this year, and put on the agenda for the next Congress, whoever is in power, or even if it is divided again.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Justin Sluss: The Seven Year Itch- The Piano Scene in the Apartment

Source:The New Democrat

Everything Marilyn Monroe did was adorable and I love this scene from The Seven Year Itch because it stars a married man whose wife and son are away for the summer at a lake in upstate New York. So this successful New York advertising man has this big apartment to himself for the whole summer in New York and if you don't think New York summers are hot enough, well first spend some time in Washington and Maryland.  For this guy, played by Tom Ewell, summer gets even hotter when Marilyn Monroe's character moves into his building.

This is a great innocent scene with two people spending quality time with each other. He has this hot babe all to himself and he plays the innocent. They eat potato chips with wine together and play the piano and just talk to each other as friends. He could have started an affair with her. The end is history.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mr. Duffle: Wynton Marsalis Septet Happy Birthday

Source:Mr. Duffle Pud- Happy Birthday.
Source:The New Democrat

"Couldn't bear to see the awesomeness of this video disappear from YouTube." 

Happy Birthday Big Daddy, who is now, well I won't give that out in public, but still my Big Daddy no matter how long he lives and I expect a lot more birthdays to come, or I might kill him myself, ha, ha.

The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson: Raquel Welch

When I think of Raquel Welch, I think of a red-headed gorgeous baby-face goddess, at least at first sight, and she's all of that and I'm sure a lot more physically, but that is not the whole picture, as she says herself in this video. She's had a great career spanning over 50 years as a model, an actress, and a singer, as well as a dancer and now an author, and I'm not sure many people realize that because it is so hard to get pass her goddess-like physical appearance.

Raquel Welch now is not only better looking than most women young enough to be her daughter but even those young enough to be her granddaughter. She is now 73 years old and will be 74 this September, but you would never know that or even guess if you saw her for the first time today.  Again, that is not the whole picture when you talk about her movies, like Myra Breckinridge (based on Gore Vidal's book) or The Last of Sheila, with an all-star cast that included Dyan Cannon, James Coburn, James Mason, and Richard Benjamin, or Mother Jugs and Speed from 1976.

In the 1960s, when Raquel became a star similar to Marilyn Monroe, she was hired because of her incredible physical appearance, but by the 1970s she was getting very good parts with real substance, like The Last of Sheila, Mother Jugs and Speed, The Kansas City Bomber, and others, and embarking on a singing career. More people were beginning to see that she was more than just a goddess but a great entertainer as well.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Movie Clips: Vertigo (1958) Judy Jumps

Source:The New Democrat

The movie Vertigo had several sad scenes.  Madeline, played by Kim Novak, supposedly dies  and Scotty, played by Jimmy Stewart, who was in love with Madeline,  is committed to a mental hospital because of his reaction to her death.  But Judy, also played by Kim Novak, a goddess of a women dies for real.  She is my favorite character in the movie because with all the supposed freedom in the world,  she was so vulnerable.

Profiles in History: Marilyn Monroe's Subway Dress From The Seven Year Itch

Source:The New Democrat

One of the most famous scenes in Hollywood history happened in one of the most conservative times in American history, the 1950s, when women weren't expected to show off their physical beauty and were looked down upon when they did. In this scene, the goddess of Hollywood, Marilyn Monroe, showed millions of people around the world part of what she had to work with from a physical standpoint and a big reason why she was so popular.

Movie Clips: Vertigo (1958) Judy Becomes Madeleine'

Source:Movie Clips- Kim Novak, as Madeeiine in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo.
Source:The New Democrat

Scottie (James Stewart) convinces Judy (Kim Novak) to do her hair like Madeleine and is overwhelmed by her appearance." 

From Movie Clips

Scotty played by Jimmy Stewart falls in love with Madeleine played by Kim Novak who also happens to be the wife of a client of Scotty's who is a private detective conducting and investigation of Madeleine for Madeleine's husband. Madeleine apparently dies but not really and Scotty finds a woman who looks a lot like Madeleine only she has red hair instead of blonde and he becomes obsessed with Judy the red head because she reminds her so much of Madeleine but Judy and Madeleine are the same woman.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Associated Press: Democratic Governors Push For Minimum Wage Hike

Source:The New Democrat

I'm all in favor of increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour; actually I would even go up to 12.00 dollars an hour over a 5-year period and even index the minimum wage for inflation so it keeps up with cost of living increases, just as long as it comes with a 30-percent tax break for small employers and nonprofit employers, who are responsible to their employees and customers but simply can't afford big increases to their payrolls. If you increased the minimum wage this way, you would get some Republican votes for it as well and get it passed in more places.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Onion: Open Relationship Gives Couple Freedom to Emotionally Drain Other People

Source:The Onion- Joe & Sally Wilson from Smithville, Ohio. Actually, I have no idea who they are.
Source:The New Democrat

Sure, why take your frustrations out on your spouse when you can take them out on your mistress. Instead, you could just say, "Honey, look, I don't want to argue this with you," and go meet your mistress and have it out with her instead and then if there's anything you didn't cover with her, your wife will be there at home for you to finish off your critical arguments about whose turn it was to wash the dishes or pick up the kids from school or pay the monthly porno bill. Marriage is just to valuable of an institution to waste badgering your own spouse. Especially when you have so many women who are free (and need money) and you just meet them instead and take out your frustrations on them. And leave the important discussions about who should pick up Johnny and Sally from their soccer practice. Who should cook dinner, who should answer the phone and really go at each other on such life and death important issues like that. And leave the real arguments about who is spending too much money on the credit card with your mistress. And go off on her about spending so much money on fur coats, jewelry, weekend getaways, etc. 
Source:The Onion

Friday, February 21, 2014

NFL Films: Jim Brown Ultimate Highlights

Source:The New Democrat

For anyone who's not a math junky or a professional accountant or statistician who understands more than numbers and stats when it comes to sports and is actually interested in what goes on in football games and how plays happen and what the offense has to do to be successful and exactly what the defense needs to do to stop the offense, I'm going to explain why Jim Brown, the former great Cleveland Browns running back, is the greatest running back of all time, if not the greatest football player of all time. And then I'll even throw in some numbers for the younger stats-addicted generation as well.

To look at Jim Brown, sure, you could look at his numbers and say they were very impressive, especially considering he only played nine seasons and 116 games and rushed for over 13,000 yards, averaged 5.1 yards per carry, and scored over 100 touchdowns. He averaged over 100 yards a game rushing in his NFL career as well but that still wouldn't be enough to give Big Jim all of the credit he deserves, and you would need to go much further than that.

Another way to look at Jim Brown would be his size and physical talents: 6'2", 225-230 pounds, 4 or 5 percent body fat.  He could outrun not only a lot of receivers back in the 1960s but also outrun a lot of receivers today. He ran a 4.2 or 4.3 40-yard dash; I mean, he was literally a human horse with all of that power, size, and strength constantly going up against defenders; he was not only stronger, bigger, and faster than another man of that size and and speed coming right at you, but you had to stop him and that meant tackling him.

The way I look at Jim Brown is the way I look at all running backs; that is, what do defenses have to do to stop him? Based on that alone, forgetting about the stats for a minute, Jim Brown is the greatest running back of all time because he was simply the hardest to defend against and was always one broken tackle away from scoring because of his size and speed. There are plenty of running backs with that quality but no other running back was a bigger threat to score than Jim Brown.

The Today Show: Charles Manson (1987)

Source:The New Democrat

Charles Manson has made a couple of admissions of guilt. I'm not a lawyer but this is what it sounds like when he says perhaps he should've killed more people. I'm paraphrasing here, but that is pretty close, and perhaps the closes, he's come to taking responsibility for the brutal Manson Family murders of 1969 of people the Manson Family didn't know or had ever heard of. The interviewer asked a basic straightforward question and got a fairly straight answer from Charlie.

I believe a borderline silly question has to be asked of Charlie Manson: Do you feel responsibility or remorse for the murders?  It is a silly question because you know what he's going to say:  Remorse for what, what murders, what about everything you've done to me and so forth.  It has to be asked because he's the one man who knows exactly how many people he's responsible for killing and you are looking for new information here and, if nothing else, to get a new reaction out of him.

This is not much of an interview but certainly entertaining. The interviewer is not asking many questions but really just letting Charlie do his shtick, his routine, and letting him go off on the world and what he thinks of things and letting him speak and make up for lost time spending so much of his time not just in State prison but in solitary confinement, during which the world that is still fascinated by the man gets to see how he is doing and what he is thinking.

Monday, February 17, 2014

CBS News NightWatch: Charlie Rose 1987 Interview of Charles Manson


Source:The New Democrat

I can feel a certain sympathy for Charlie Manson because it is easy to see why he is so pissed off at a society that provided only the corrections system as an early home for him. Never knowing his biological father, with a criminal mother who rejected her son, being shipped around from aunt and uncle to aunt and uncle, and then ending up in reform school, he received no encouragement as a child or the emotional and physical skills to tackle life's demands.

I am not excusing Manson's crimes, but many career criminals in the United States emerge from similar rough beginnings. Ted Bundy would be an exception to that, as well as Manson's soldiers, but the life of Charles Manson is a lesson for society that it shouldn't give up on the younger generation, because it could come back to bite them if young people end up looking for an avenue to express their resentment or hatred for the society that neglected them.

I'm not sure there's someone more qualified than Charlie Rose to interview Charlie Manson, because of his intelligence, the work he puts into his interviews, and his vast knowledge about so much that is news-related.  His interviewing skills are unmatched.  He knows when someone is being straight with him and knows when they are leaving out important facts.  His bullshit radar is superb, and Charlie Manson found himself up against someone who was more than his match in Charlie Rose in this interview.

ABC News: 20/20 Dian Sawyer 1994 Special On The Manson Family

Source:The New Democrat 

The Manson Crime Family, which is what I call it instead of a cult, because of all the crimes they committed and people they either seriously hurt or killed, is one of the worst crime families of all time with regard to their large number of victims.  Charlie Manson, the leader of this family, was a professional criminal and, until he put the Manson Family together, wasn't a very successful criminal because of all the time he had already spent in prison.

Charlie Manson, even though he was not an educated man (I believe he didn't even make it to high school) is very intelligent and talented, has a quick mind, and knew how to use his mental skills, charm, and narcotics to make people do exactly what he wanted them to do as in the case of middle class, talented, educated, and intelligent people like Tex Watson and the Manson women.

Charlie Manson felt he had been screwed his entire life and searched for a way to express his anger and get his payback.  He found the perfect cast of characters to do his evil work, a group of people who felt lost, didn't fit into the establishment, and were looking for a leader.  They found Charles Manson instead and he led them to ruin their lives and those of the victims and their families.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Slate Magazine: Bob Garfield: 'Why I love Big Government: a Valentine For Big Government'

Source:Slate- Who needs individual freedom, when we can all be taken care of by our Uncle Sammy? LOL
Source:The New Democrat

"Seventy-two percent of Americans say big government is a greater threat to the U.S. in the future than is big business or big labor, a record high in the nearly 50-year history of this question. –Gallup Organization, Dec. 13, 2013

You are hulking and awkward, humorless and impatient. You are pathologically regimented and nerdy almost beyond belief. You are penny-wise and pound-freaking-ridiculous. Every now and then your behavior is simply reprehensible. So maybe this is perverse, because also—ewww­—you’re my uncle. But I am so in love with you."

You can read the rest at Slate

"Ayn Rand Institute Learns To Love Big Government"

Source:Secular Talk- Also in the news: Donald Trump admits to being a liar and a crook. LOL
From Secular Talk

Bob Garfield in his column in Slate today was explaining what he loved about big government and laying out a lot of the things that government does and calling them big government. The problem is that not all government is big and all civilized developed countries have a certain level of government that collects taxes to fund the operations that the people need government to do. Having a government does not necessarily mean that the government is big.

Big government actually is government trying to do too much and trying to make decisions for those qualified to make them for themselves, whether these decisions are economic or personal. 

The safety net, the Postal Service, the military, law enforcement, homeland security are not big government, but trying to replace successful private industries with these agencies in the safety net or eliminating privacy with law enforcement, homeland security and defense would be big government because people would not have the freedom they need over their own lives.

There is small government that leaves almost everything up to the private sector. There is big government that basically tries to manage the economy even if it does not own the entire economy, but at the very least tries to manage the people in the economy for their own good. 

But there is also big government that tries to eliminate personal choice and privacy because it does not trust the people to make decisions about their own lives. And these would be the differences between big government and a limited government. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The New America Foundation: Justin King: Senator Ron Wyden Wants Children's Savings Accounts

I somewhat covered this last week with a blog on retirement and unemployment accounts for people so they can save for retirement and not have to burn those accounts when they are unemployed, especially for long periods of time like as we have seen in the Great Recession. But Senator Ron Wyden, the incoming Chairman of the Finance Committee, taking over for Max Baucus as he leaves the Senate to become U.S. Ambassador to the People's Republic of China, would like to empower all Americans, especially lower end middle class workers and low-income workers to save for themselves but also to start what would essentially be trust accounts for their children. He has a good idea and I hope he will push it.

We could do this simply by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is the tax credit that goes to low-income workers to get them off of the Federal income tax rolls.  We could expand the eligibility to individuals earning up to $30,000 a year and couples earning up to $40,000 a year and stop taxing savings completely up to, let's say, 10 percent of one's income so people could afford to save but also encourage employers to match what their workers put away for savings and also perhaps have a Federal match of the worker's savings as well for workers who are earning up to $100,000 a year.

I suggest allowing Americans to open two types of savings accounts that would be separate from their retirement and unemployment accounts and allow for middle class and low-income workers to for both themselves and their children and put money away that would be matched by their employers and the Feds as well. That would be tax-free as long as it is not being spent for non-emergency reasons and this would allow all Americans to build up nest eggs and not wipe out their retirement savings or consume so much in public assistance during economic downturns. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Slate Magazine: Tanner Colby: Affirmative Action: Its Time For Progressives to Admit its Not Working

As a liberal I believe in the notions of equal opportunity and justice for all. Without those two concepts liberalism simply doesn't mean a hell of a lot and it would just be a class philosophy. Taking from the few to care for the many is what separates liberalism from socialism. Liberalism is about empowering everyone, at least everyone who needs freedom, not taking from one pot to take care of everyone else, but expanding the pot for everyone.

Affirmative action, or what is called affirmative action, which means affirmative action for African, Asian, and Latino Americans, as well as Caucasian women who have fallen behind Caucasian men in the economy and education system, goes against the rock-solid liberal values that make liberalism the great philosophy that it is.  Instead of punishing  people for doing well, give them payback for discriminating against others.

Affirmative action denies one group of Americans economic and educational opportunities because of their race, and because of the fact that so many members of their race, and in some cases race and gender, already have those opportunities, it is simply unconstitutional and if we didn't have so many judges with socialist notions of equality at all cost, affirmative action would have been thrown out as unconstitutional 40 years ago.

As a liberal I also believe you can't achieve equality without liberty. For people to be as successful and as free as possible in society under a Rule of Law system, they must be able to achieve their full potential if they choose to and that is just one more problem with affirmative action: That if you want to empower the people who've been left behind in society (and in some cases at least it does have to do with their race, ethnicity or gender) the simple way to do that is to empower them and give them the tools they need to be as successful in society as possible.

The way to achieve liberty and equality for all, equal opportunity, and justice for all is first to throw out affirmative action, or at least reforming it to the point that it only benefits people who come from poverty regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender, but my preference would be to throw it out and replace it with a system of strong civil rights enforcement, so you hit bigots in the economy and education. system in their wallets, so it would be in their economic disadvantage to deny people access because of race, ethnicity, or gender.  You would have an education system for students where everyone regardless of income level can go to a good school in this country and that means having educational choice and a universal job training system for low-skilled adults. 

Top Model Baby Belle: Elton John- Candle in the Wind Tribute Marilyn Monroe

Source:Top Model Baby Belle- from Elton John's beautiful tribute to Hollywood Babydoll Marilyn Monroe.

Source:The New Democrat

"Marilyn Monroe video montage, song and music by Elton John - Candle in The Wind. Squidoo Below you will find the song lyrics for Marilyn Monroe, Elton John - Candle In The Wind." 

The best tribute to Marilyn Monroe because it perfectly sums up Marilyn Monroe's life is that she was a candle in the wind that blew out far too soon and left a huge hole that no one else could fill, or has filled since.  She is one of the best looking woman who has ever come from Hollywood and also a good actress and a hell of singer.  She was also very funny, and a lot of that humor was intentional, and even though she is stereotyped as a dumb blond bimbo, she had a quick wit and mind but many inner problems as well.

Marilyn Monroe was dead at 36 in 1962 from a drug overdose. It was a probable suicide but in a lot of ways summed up her life perfectly about a woman so perfect on the outside with so much talent but not much going on in the inside with regard to the ability to manage her talents and abilities. She was a woman who could attract the President of the United States and the U.S. Attorney General but was incapable  of managing her own affairs.

She was a goddess on the outside but on the inside thought of herself as a loser without self-confidence and someone who apparently didn't see much point in living and didn't enjoy life. She had the talent and ability to work for anyone but a childlike inability to manage her life. She was lost outside her crib and could not manage life in the real world.

Monday, February 10, 2014

HBO Films: Magic & Bird a Courtship of Rivals

Source:The New Democrat

This film is about the two men who saved the National Basketball Association in the 1980s. And to know that, you have to be familiar with the NBA back in the late 1970s. The fact that the NBA finals were shown on tape-delay television means the game is played at one point. The network back then was CBS and CBS Sports, which recorded the game and broadcast it. The game was played at 8 or 9 pm, but then CBS Sports aired the game at midnight after the local TV news.

Regarding Earvin Magic Johnson's and Larry Legend Bird's second or third season, sports fans wanted to see the NBA again and their ratings were back up and all of their games are now being shown live. The reason for this is that both players were great to see, but why were they great to see: Because of what they were about, which wasn't themselves but their teams and winning. All they were interested in was winning, and as the great NBA basketball head coach Pat Riley said, Magic and Legend were about team first and team last and everything else in between and nothing else.

The only thing that Magic and Legend cared about was winning and the fact that they were the two best. Players, at least of their generation playing for the two best teams of this era, and playing in opposite conferences, Larry Bird playing for the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference, and Earvin Johnson playing for the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference, and for either to win the NBA finals, most likely they would have to beat the Celtics or Lakers. It meant for the two best team players of all time to win the championship. They would have to beat each other to do that.

I am not sure whether Larry Bird and Earvin Johnson would have been as great as they were had they not played in the same era and were from the same generation. Had they been clearly the best players of their era without anyone to push them for the top and had the Celtics been the best team of this era without the Lakers to push them and vice-versa I am not sure they would have been as great as they were without the other player and team pushing them. Because part of Legend's and Magic's greatness was the other pushing them to make them as great as they were:  the competition of the rivalry.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Myzbert: Rounders (1998) The Final Hand: Matt Damn vs John John Malkovich

Source:Myzbert- Actor Matt Damon: as Mike in Rounders. 
Source:The New Democrat

"Movie Rounders.
Matt Damon
Edward Norton
John Turturro
Famke Janssen
Gretchen Mol
with John Malkovich
and Martin Landau"


Great scene because this is really about a guy Mike McDermott who at best is a part-time law student, but who really makes a living as a gambler a poker player. Who makes his money reading other people’s faces and mannerism’s who is in a deep hole of ten-thousand dollars. Actually a hole he inherited from his friend Worm who ran up a big debt losing in poker and Mike is trying to help his irresponsible friend out. And that is where he get’s into trouble because his friend is not good for the debt.

So Mike goes into this game hours away from having to pay his debt off. Or get his ass kicked by gangsters he owes the money to thanks to Worm. So he goes to the one guy who has the money that he could win from him to get the money he needs to pay off the debt. And so he’s down to his last play late in the game fourth and twenty. And he comes through and makes the play or risk getting his ass handed to him and perhaps not surviving the experience.

This is the ultimate scene about one guy putting everything on the line and coming out on top. Beating the best poker player in New York City by not getting lucky which is really not what poker is about. But by using his poker skills to read KGB and beat him at his own game and not only wins enough money to pay off all of his debts. But walk away from the game with a profit and he kicks KGB’s ass at his own game and walks away the winner.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Erik Schneider: My Giant Bike

Source:Erik Schneider- Griffin's Cyle in Bethesda, Maryland.
Source:The New Democrat

This story is almost exactly a week old, actually more like ten days. But a week from last Wednesday the Wednesday before the Super Bowl, I took my bike out for a ride on a cold late Maryland afternoon. Which isn’t uncommon for me, but what was uncommon was that the gears weren’t working properly. The gears were stuck in low gear if not the lowest gear making the bike very difficult to accelerate. Imagine driving a car on the road especially a highway with the top speed of twenty miles an hour. Well that is what it is like riding a bicycle stuck in low gear.

Source: Erik Schneider-
The next day somehow the gears are back to running normally and I didn’t do a thing to the bike. Or have anyone look at it or fix it, but the gears were back to running normally. But last Friday I had a bigger problem with the gears in that they were now stuck in high gear. So I’m trying to ride up steep hills with the bike in top gear. Kinda like trying to push a piano up a flight of steps with just your hands. Lucky for me I’m an avid rider and I’m in very good physical and biking shape. When they were stuck in top gear I knew I had a serious problem and needed to get the bike to the shop.

So last Saturday I take the bike in high gear ride it all the way over to Big Wheel Bikes in downtown Bethesda, Maryland. About two miles from where I live and this is a place that gives excellent service. I’ve been a regular customer there for almost four years now since the summer of 2010. And they told me they didn’t have the parts to fix the gear changer on the bike. But that I should call them back Tuesday and the manager there would call around and see if he can get the new parts by then, but he wasn’t sure if he could at all.

The guys at Big Wheel even suggested that if I didn’t want to wait that long which I didn’t I bike ride everyday, that maybe I should take the bike over to Griffin’s Bikes just up the street. And maybe they could fix it that day, Griffin’s just happens to be one of Big Wheel’s competitors. I use to be a regular customer of Griffin’s but in late 2009 I go in there just for a tune-up which are normally like three-hundred bucks for my old bike. The bike is four years old at this point and guy there was basically trying to sell me a new bike. Saying that if he gave it a tune-up I might only get a couple more months out of that bike.

I take the bike over to Big Wheel in the summer of 2010 and get another tune-up after the last tune-up came from Griffin’s in the fall of 2009 and they fixed the bike right up and I got almost another four years out of it. I go to Big Wheel partly because of my last experience at Griffin’s, but also because Big Wheel was suggested to me by two people who know a lot about bikes that I respect. The last two years for my old bike were pretty rough. The whole bike except for the base of it has essentially been rebuilt including the breaks and the gears would’ve had to have been replaced as well.

I go to Griffins last Saturday because Big Wheel couldn’t fix the gears right away. And the guy there asks me if he can look the bike all over because he very quickly was seeing a lot that wasn’t right. About the bike and basically concluded that what it would take to rebuild the bike it would simply be cheaper to get a new bike. And what I asked him was how about if you completely repair the old bike and I’ll get a new bike from you and use the old bike as a spare. He told me that fixing the old bike would be somewhere around a thousand dollars and it wouldn’t be worth the time. So I decided to dump the old bike except for the parts that still worked like the basket, headlight, backlight and so forth. And had them transferred to my new bike.

I bought the old bike in the summer of 2005 for five-hundred dollars. I bought my new Trek mountain bike today that has all the new features as my old 2005 Giant Boulder. Great bike by the way when it was running for six-hundred and fifty dollars. Griffins saved me something like four-hundred dollars by getting me a new bike. And the thing I can’t figure out is how come Big Wheel didn’t figure out that my old bike needed a hell of a lot of new work on it. On top of the work I had on it late last year and the summer as well and just tell me, “how about we dump this bike and sell you a new one and save you some money”.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The New America Foundation: 'Solving the Retirement Puzzle: The Potential of MYRAS to Build a Personal Safety Net'

Source:New America Foundation- with a look at pensions in America.

Source:The New Democrat 

"The growing recognition that millions of Americans are ill-prepared for retirement has prompted a
number of state and federal policy proposals to promote retirement security. Yet even the most
promising proposals fail to acknowledge a prerequisite to sustaining long-term savings: access to
flexible resources that can be tapped in an emergency or can support productive investments that
can pay off over the long haul. One recently announced effort – the Obama Administration’s
myRA program – is designed to facilitate access to a savings vehicles for the mostly low- and
middle-income Americans who miss out on current savings opportunities. As currently designed,
the program is unlikely to have a significant impact at scale on the long-term prospects of this
group of workers. But with certain adjustments and policy reforms, myRAs could facilitate the
creation of personal safety nets that would both provide short-term financial stability and lay the
foundation for a secure retirement. Short-term, flexible savings are a crucial but overlooked piece
required to solve the retirement puzzle." 

"During The State of the Union Address 2014, President Barack Obama announced they will be launching a new MyRA program - a government run IRA, or retirement account." 

Source:Associated Press- President Barack H. Obama (Democrat, Illinois) delivering his 2014 State of the Union, to a join session of Congress. Vice President Joe Biden (Democrat, Delaware) and Speaker of the House John Boehner (Republican, Ohio) in the background.

From the Associated Press

When President Obama announced his MyRa program and expanding retirement savings in the State of the Union last week, he was talking about encouraging people to save for retirement. Which is something that we should be doing as a country with so few Americans having independent retirement savings from Social Security. Aleta Sprague of The New America Foundation points out correctly that this lack of retirement savings is a problem in America, but a another big problem and perhaps bigger is the lack of savings period. And when money get’s tight for Americans, they dip into the IRA that they have to pay today’s bills. Instead of keeping money they need in their retirement account.

What President Obama is proposing is that Americans have the option of setting up their own retirement account. That could be matched by their employer and that money be put away in their retirement account. Which is a good idea and I support that. But the problem now is that so many Americans the overwhelming majority of today’s workforce simply can’t afford to put money away right now. So what we need to be doing is expanding capital and assets for low-income workers and the lower-end of the middle class. So they can afford to put money away and be able to save for a MyRa system to be able to work.

Now what I support doing is a few things. To talk about retirement savings is create what is called Social Security Plus and make it a universal option for all income levels to be able to participate in this program. And not make it mandatory or have Social Security takeover the entire retirement system in the United States. Which some on the Left have suggested, but what I would do is give workers the option to increase their own payroll tax that would be matched by their employer. From 6.2% up to 9.3% again that would be matched by their employer and the money would be tax-free. And go into a individual retirement account and allow for workers to put money they make outside of their full-time job into their Social Security Plus IRA. Again that would be tax-free as well.

My SSP-IRA would again be a universal option to all Americans. Including low-income workers and lower-end working class workers. Because they would not only be able to participate in SSP-IRA, but get all the money they put into SSP-IRA back in a tax credit or a tax deduction. So they could afford to be part of this program as well. But again we also need to increase individual savings and I would even create private individual Unemployment Savings Accounts.

People could put money into their USA while they are working again matched by their employers. And when they are out of work or they see their income falling, but their bills are the same or are growing, they could go into their USA instead of the IRA to cover their bills until they go back to work. Or see their income go back up. And again a USA would be a universal option as well because low-end middle class workers and low-income workers could participate in this program as well. Because they could get their money back in a tax credit or a tax deduction.

If we want to expand savings and retirement in America, which I believe we need to do, we first have to expand income so more Americans can afford to save and retire. And that just doesn’t mean having more workers, but having more workers with good jobs that allows for them to put money away in the first place. And have less Americans struggling in the middle class and less Americans in poverty. Whether they are working or not so the resources are there to allow Americans to be able to put money away.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Slate Magazine: Matthew Yglesias: Work-Ethic & The Welfare State

Source:The New Democrat

This is the real debate we should be having when it comes to poverty in America. How to encourage people who are on Welfare whether they are working or not working either continue to work or go to work or go back to work. And when you have a safety net where people can get more in benefits not working at all or working fewer hours or making less money because they could get more money at home collecting public assistance, you are not encouraging people to work, but encouraging people not to work at all.

This is why the minimum wage debate is so critical because that is at the heart at this debate. If you want people to work, then work has to pay and when you are looking at jobs that only pay the minimum wage which is just $7.25 an hour and people at these jobs could collect more in public assistance benefits, you are incentivizing low-skilled workers to not work or quit their jobs. Because they could get more money collecting Welfare Insurance, Public Housing, Medicaid, Food Assistance and other benefits.

This is also why this little discussion about the Earned Income Tax Credit is so important. Something that was signed into law by President Richard Nixon no one’s Socialist in the early 1970s. And called the most successful anti-poverty program in history by President Ronald Reagan no one’s Liberal. Even though he does look pretty liberal compared with the Far-Right of the Republican Party today. But now you have Tea Party Republicans saying we should repeal that. Even though the EITC encourages people in low-income jobs to continue to work and not quit their jobs to collect public assistance.

So what I would do is to increase the minimum wage to ten-dollars and hour or more. With a thirty percent tax break for small employers which would have to be clearly defined. And apply today’s minimum wage for a full-time worker on minimum wage to people on Welfare Insurance. While they collect their other public assistance benefits as well. Including things like assistance for education and job training so they can get themselves a good job.

Expand the EITC to singles making twenty-five thousand dollars a year. And for couples up to thirty-thousand dollars a year to encourage these people to work. And also include benefits for them so they can get the education and job training they need to get a good job and get off of public assistance. This is how you encourage work over Welfare by making it clear to people they can make more money working. Whatever the job is than not working at all.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Slate Magazine: Tanner Colby: How The Left's Embrace of Busing Hurt The Cause of Integration

Source: Slate Magazine-
Source:The New Democrat 

As a Liberal I believe in things like equal opportunity, Equal Justice Under the Law, wrote a blog about that yesterday. Equal Protection Under Law all of these great liberal values that I believe puts me in a solid majority in America. And Equal Protection Under Law covers things like not denying people things simply because of their race, ethnicity, gender, religion and I would add sexuality to that as well. And as good as integration is and the benefits of America when we are able to work together as a country because it combines the strengths of the entire country and uses all of those strengths together, these things only work together when they are voluntary.

We can write all the laws that protect our constitutional rights and to make sure they are all enforced equally for all Americans. And I support those things, but we can’t force people to socialize with each other. To live with each other and even to work with each other or go to school with each other. What we can do is teach people especially kids that none of us are better because of our race or ethnicity, or gender. And teach people not to hate or to love or to judge people especially people from different backgrounds because of these factors. But we can’t force people to live, work and socialize with each other either.

Integration by law meaning that it is legal is great because it means we can’t be denied things simply because of our heritage and how we were born. That instead we are judged by our personal and professional qualifications, but not because of how we were born. But when you try to force people to go to school or to work or to socialize or to live with each other, you are taking people’s freedom to make the most personal of decisions away from them. And are now forcing integration on to people instead of making it an option for them.

Forced integration is just as bad as forced segregation, because instead of forcing people to be separate because of their race, you are now forcing people to be integrated because of their race. And taking the power and choice out of the people’s hand and now forcing it on them. If you treat people to be tolerant and love people for being people, then most likely they’ll decide to integrate with others as they meet them. Because they’ll learn they have things in common with other people and make that decision for themselves.
Source:WHS Digital Stories

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The New Republic: Noam Scheiber: Socialized Law: A Radical Solution For Inequality

Source:The New Democrat

This is an issue even though I haven’t been blogging much about it in the last few years. A few posts here and there, but it is an issue that I’ve thought a lot about a Liberal who does believe in Equal Justice Under the Law even though we may never achieve that. It would sort of be like trying to wipe out poverty or racism or something. But still like a lot of issues that America deals with is an issue just because of who we are as a people and the resources that we have in this country is something we can do a lot better on especially since we are pushing the point of achieving universal health coverage in this country.

If we can get to universal health coverage in this country, universal quality education something we can achieve as well, we can get at least damn close to universal legal services in this country. Where everyone has access to quality legal representation either in criminal or civil court. No matter their economic and educational levels with something like a legal insurance system. Legal savings accounts and beefing up legal aid in this country by encouraging good qualified wealthy lawyers to work for legal aid offices. We could accomplish universal legal services in this country as well.

This is an issue I think a lot about especially as I’ve blogged about the criminal justice system and criminal justice reform and seeing all of those Americans in prison in the United States. A lot of them for illegal narcotics or other non-violent offenses. And then seeing that a lot of these convicted offenders come from low-income backgrounds and thinking would they have been in that situation had they had the resources to get the type of defense that they needed. Now a lot of these offenders are guilty and I’m not disputing that, but some of these offenders could’ve at least gotten a better and shorter sanction if they just had better access to legal services and not represented by someone whose probably overworked and just trying to get through the case.

What we have right now when it comes to legal services is basically the Medicaid of legal services. A bare bone operation that is overworked and underfunded. Not enough people working in legal aid or public defenders offices and the people who do work there are overworked and underpaid for all the work that they are doing. And we can do better than that by setting up a legal services insurance system where people could put money away tax-free. As well as legal savings accounts where can people could put money away tax free. And even expand the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income workers so they could save money for this as well.

We could also require wealthy law firms to give away free services to low-income clients and defendants. Money they could get back from their taxes and require well paid and resourced lawyers to defend low-income defendants and clients for free. Again money they could get back from taxes and have them donate some of their time to legal aid offices. So that all Americans can have access to the legal representation they need so they have the best defense, or representation that they need. And where the wealthy no longer get’s off simply because they are wealthy.

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