Thursday, March 20, 2014

The New Republic: Issac Chotner: Ross Douhat Column On Young People: Individualism & Liberalism

This blog talks a lot about labels, especially what they mean in politics.  Thus, when I read a column in the  New Republic, that no longer looks like that great liberal magazine that once questioned the influence of governmental power in personal and economic lives, but now post columns that support both the welfare state and the nanny state, I feel the need to reply.

Young people love big government?  Do you really see a call for higher taxes, more centralized government  programs, and expansion of the war on drugs from young adults?  Do you hear them saying that legalizing same-sex-marriage would be a horrible mistake that would ruin our national moral fiber, that we not only need to outlaw same-sex-marriage but outlaw homosexuality all together?  Are they saying that privacy is dangerous and we need to prohibit not only currently illegal drugs but also currently legal drugs, e.g., like sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.

The polling data from my Generation, X, and Generation Y show that big government is not popular with these people.  They want the freedom to make their own decisions.  They don't want a nanny state trying to run their lives for them or a welfare state making most of their economic decisions for them.

Medicare, Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, help for the needy, public education, etc., such government programs at one level or another have always been popular and I imagine that they always will be.  These are social insurance programs for people who need them.  They intrude into personal space much less than a welfare or nanny state that seeks to manage the life of every citizen.

The future of American politics lies with the Ron Paul Libertarians on the Right, who may save the Republican Party from itself and eventually take conrol of it, and want government almost completely out of our lives, and the Brian Schweitzer (former governor of Montana) liberals on the left who believe in the safety net with equal rights and protections for all Americans, including  personal choice and autonomy over our personal lives.  Neither of these groups wants the government to try to run our lives for us.

However, the Bernie Sanders socialists and the social democrats on the far-left have their supporters and followers.  They, and the real welfare-staters, want to see a big, centralized, social democratic  government in this country. But they aren't a governing faction and will never be as long as they are putting down private enterprise and capitalism and trying to convince the middle class that they are under-taxed and that government simply needs more of their hard earn money. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Slate Magazine: Dave Weigel: Sarah Palin vs. Beltway Republicans: Conservatism in 2014

Source:The New Democrat

If Rick Santorum and Sarah Palin are the faces of Conservatism in America in 2014, then we might as well start planning its funeral and Liberals can declare victory in this ongoing ideological war of some 50 years now. The only two Conservatives at CPAC last weekend were Senator Rand Paul and former U.S. Senator/actor/talk show host/commercial spokesperson, whatever the hell Fred Thompson is up to now. But the rest of them, including Ann Coulter, who came down from Mars to give a speech about the so-called "browning of America," are all out to lunch at an all-you-can-eat- for-50-cents buffet and couldn't give an accurate description of Conservatism and what it means to be a Conservative to save their lives.

The far right of the Republican Party thinks the government is not too big when it comes to our personal lives, actually too small.  This wing of the GOP is alive and well with plenty of spokespeople for it like Senator Santorum and Ann Coulter, the Neoconservatives, which I and others call them. But anytime someone in the GOP seeking national recognition tries to run to the left of the far Right, which is where most of the country is no matter how far to the left of the far Right they are, they are put down by the Neo-Cons and labeled liberal or socialist.

2014 could've been the year that Governor Chris Christie took the reigns of the conservative movement and used it to launch his 2016 presidential campaign, but as it looks now, he might have a better shot at watching Election Night 2016 from jail than running for president at this point, let alone being elected President because of his corruption issues in a State, New Jersey, that may have invented political corruption. Actually, right now, New Jersey is competing with Illinois and Louisiana for the title of most corrupt State in America.

If there is a face of Conservatism in America, it would be Rand Paul, but again, the far Right is not going to allow a Conservative Libertarian, who is a Federalist on both economic policy and social policy, to be their GOP nominee for President. As long as the GOP needs a base that still believes it is 1955 and didn't bother to grow up and modernize like the rest of the country, they won't have that one national candidate who can bring the party together. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Hill: Judd Gregg: Dems Now Look Ahead to Hillary

At risk of sounding like a sexist, even though I'm not, I'm not on the so-called HRC Bandwagon just yet, because the campaign to elect Hillary Clinton president in the third month of 2014 is more than 2.5 years away from the 2016 presidential election and she's not running as a liberal or a progressive or a centrist but as what I call a safe, electable, "resume" Democrat. In other words, vote for her not only because she can win but also because of what she's done in the past and what she's been doing since her husband left the White House 13 years ago.

I have a prediction:  Senator/Secretary Clinton or whatever title she goes by now (I doubt it's First Lady) will not be elected president unless she's able to communicate why she wants the job other than being the first female President of the United States.  It is an awesome job in the real sense of the word because of the power and responsibility that comes with it. It is the most important job in the world and even the far left now understands that, as much as they may hate giving America credit for anything positive. Some Democrats, hopefully real center-left liberals, will run to fill the void left by Mrs. Clinton if she decides to run for president without a message and vision for the country.

That Democrat will probably be under 60, or just 60 in Brian Schweitzer's case, or perhaps in my generation and born in the 1960s or so.  That person will be charming and well-liked, and be able to communicate with young people, raise a lot of money from them, and get them to organize and work for him or her. This sounds familiar because that is how a freshmen U.S. Senator from Illinois got elected president in 2008.  He was from the post-Clinton generation and had a different message than Hillary did in 2008. Actually, he had a message and Hillary had a name and would have represented a milestone had she been elected President. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

NFL: Phil Clark- 'Football Championships Still Won by Complete Teams': Defense Still Wins Championships

Source:Sports Illustrated- The Seahawks defense, dominating Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense.
Source:The New Democrat

"Sports Illustrated's Boomer Esiason discusses why he believes the Seattle Seahawks had greatest defensive performance in Super Bowl history. Subscribe to Sports Illustrated." 
Source:Sports Illustrated- The Seahawks defense, dominating the Broncos offense, in Super Bowl 48.
From Boomer Esiason at Sports Illustrated

Roger Goodell and company may want to try to outlaw defense in the National Football League and try to make the NFL look like flag football, where perhaps even tackling may soon become illegal, because they believe offense makes money and defense holds down profits, turning the NFL into the AAML or the All About Money League instead of the NFL.  They are trying to get non-traditional football fans who are really only interested in celebrity culture and so-called reality TV, and perhaps are casual football fans at best, because they think some of the players are awesome or whatever. Defense still wins championships and it always will.

As Phil Clark said on his blog, you don't need a great defense to win the Super Bowl but you can't have the worst defense. And the only thing I would add to that is you can't have a bad defense either. You need to at least have a good defense.  A defense that gets stops, meaning consistently, prevents the other team from scoring. It doesn't get run over in the running game on a regular basis and doesn't consistently give up big plays in the passing game because it has a weak secondary or a weak pass rush, or a combination of the two.

If you look at all of the Super Bowl Champions, all 48 of them had defenses that were in the top 10 or near that and didn't give up a lot of points either. You can't say that about the Super Bowl runner ups, because several of them were toward either the bottom of the NFL or in the low twenties when it came to yardage and points given up. The 1984 Miami Dolphins come to mind very quickly and so do the 2007 New England Patriots, which were 18-0 going into Super Bowl 42 before they were upset by the New York Giants and did have one of the top defenses in the NFL that year.

There also have been explosive, high-scoring and yardage Super Bowl runner ups that were ranked pretty well in defense the year or years they went to the Super Bowl but not only lost the Super Bowl but lost it badly. The Buffalo Bills of the early 1990s come to mind very quickly, where they gave up a total of 140 points in their 4 losses, 30 or more in the 3 blowout losses, not because they had a bad defense but because they had an undersized defense going up against big physical teams with great running games: New York Giants in 1990, Redskins in 1991 Dallas Cowboys in 1992 and 1993.

And again the casual NFL fan who may only be interested in offensive football may say, well, what about the St. Louis Rams on 1999 or the Green Bay Packers of 2010 or the San Francisco 49ers of the 1980s or the Redskins of the 1980s. They were all very offensive-oriented teams that all racked up a lot of yards and scored a lot of points. True, but all of these teams, and the 49ers and Redskins specifically, were all consistently ranked high on defense in the top 10. I mean, the 1991 Redskins Super Bowl Championships team scored over 500 points, over 30 points a game, but they gave up only14 points a game and won a lot of blowouts.

The record and evidence are very clear, that if you are think about building a Super Bowl winner and you think you are going to put together a great offense and see how many points you can score that season or in that era, make sure you also invest well in your defense so you are not giving up nearly as many points and yards against your opponents as well, because when the playoffs come around, chances are you'll face at least one good defensive team that can move the ball and score points as well that may match up well with you. And you may need to get a lot of stops in that game to have a good chance at winning, as the 2007 Patriots found out the hard way in Super Bowl 42.

As much as Roger Goodell and company may want to change this, football still has three sides of it and the NFL is not arena ball, where it is mostly about offense. You still need to play good defense and have a good special team as well, no matter how many points you score and yards you put up. Breaking offensive records doesn't lead to championships but to having a good balanced team that scores, defends, covers kicks, kicks the ball, blocks and tackles, and so forth, which is still what it takes to win the Super Bowl. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Slate Magazine: Dave Weigel: Why The Left is Stronger Without The Democrats

Source:The New Democrat  

It's generally not a good idea to compare American politics with British politics because the center left in America is not nearly as far to the left as the British center today, but especially 30 or 40 years ago when the Labour Party still had very strong Marxist elements. You would have better luck finding Evangelicals who embrace pornography, homosexuality, and prostitution in America than you would be able to find almost anyone who considers himself a Marxist.

America is a Federal Constitutional Republic in the form of a liberal democracy and Britain is a unitary monarchy in the form of a social democracy with no national constitution. So British politics, Left or Right, is much further left than American politics, at least when it comes to the two centers, but the American far left doesn't look much different ideologically from the center left in Britain. The two centers in America are Liberals on the Left and conservative libertarians on the Right. The two centers in Britain are socialists on the Left and conservative social democrats on the Right.

But what both countries have in common is that the two major parties in both countries have broad coalitions and diverse ideological factions in them because neither country has two dominant political factions big enough to occupy their party on their own yet govern the country by themselves. So you see the radicals on both sides of the pond trying to get those they want in top leadership positions and their policies addressed, and to push this as hard as they can but often ending up settling for the best of what whoever is in charge gives them.

And because of this I like to look at the Democratic Party as a party of JFK/Bill Clinton Liberals and FDR/LBJ Progressives who are generally in charge of the party, at least since post-1988 but even post-1984, that moved past the McGovern coalition to become a mainstream center left party. But there is still that George McGovern social democratic coalition that is anti-war, anti-military, anti-law enforcement, anti-corporate, and even anti-profit in a lot of cases, and wants to make America into a British or Scandinavian unitary government in which most of the governmental power would rest with the Federal state.

And because of this, and with the growth of both Liberals and Progressives in the Democratic Party, younger voters tend to be very liberal on social issues but also tend to be business owners or managers of small businesses or perhaps even military veterans from the Afghanistan or Iraq war.  They tend to be liberal on social issues but not anti-corporate, anti-business, or anti-military, and of course I'm not saying Liberals are, because we aren't, but young people in America tend not to be social democrats on the far left who believe they are under-taxed and that people have too much individual power.

Because of this, unlike the Republican Party, the Democratic Party doesn't need its fringe to be successful.  Without the Democratic Party, the far left wouldn't be heard much in American politics. I mean, who the hell is Dennis Kucinich without the Democratic Party?  Most of the country would have never heard of him and because of this going forward, the far left would be better off outside the Democratic Party, attempting to create a united national socialist or social democratic party they could call home. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Associated Press:: Harriman Institute Director Mark Frye

Maybe we could see an international coalition of America, Canada, Britain, United Nations,  European Union, the Slavic states, not including Russia, but also Ukraine stepping up with economic sanctions against Russia and even starting to put together a force from NATO to be deployed, if necessary, to back Ukraine against any Russian invasion of Ukraine. And perhaps Vladimir, seeing this, would know he's better off backing off and getting out of Ukraine because he would be undermanned and underfunded against an international coalition like this.

CBS Sports: NFL 1978-NFL Today Complete Episode 11/12/78

Source:The New Democrat

1978 was one of the best NFL seasons of all time, and I believe the National Football League was at its best with rule changes as they relate to blocking and pass defending to equalize the defense and offense so neither side of the ball has an unfair advantage, with blockers now being able to extend their arms to block, which is critical when you are trying to block a 265-270 pound muscle man who probably runs a 4.7 forty.  Now the OL has a fair shot at blocking a big man like that based on the rules:  the coverage rules on defense, with defensive backs no longer being able to manhandle receivers at the line of scrimmage but at least run their routes even if they are not opened and completely covered.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Marilyn Monroe History: Marilyn Monroe- On The Jack Benny Show (1953)

Source:Marilyn Monroe History- Jack and Marilyn, on the Jack Benny Show, in 1953. 
Source:The New Democrat

"Marilyn Monroe On The Jack Benny Television Show 1953(full episode) Rare Television Appearance By Marilyn. September 1953." 

Source:Marilyn Monroe History- Jack and Marilyn on the Jack Benny Show, in 1953.

From Marilyn Monroe History 

There is no better way to kick off the Jack Benny Program than with Marilyn Monroe highlighting her excellent comedic abilities, which includes playing the dumb blonde but doing it intentionally for entertainment. Jack Benny is living out his fantasy with a goddess sent to his cruise ship.  He believes he has Marilyn all to himself, whereas he is just having a great dream as he lies in the sun next to a very large woman instead.

Jack did a similar show but with Jayne Mansfield instead of Marilyn. (Speaking of great comedians with a knack for playing the dumb blonde) And Marilyn had other abilities as an entertainer and could play drama well like in the movie Don't Bother To Knock where she plays an ex-mental patient who gets a job babysitting and becomes impatient with the girl she's supposed to be looking after and ends up locking the kid in a room. 

But like with Jayne Mansfield, I at least believe Marilyn was a natural comedian and someone who didn't need a script to be funny, because she was funny and and did funny things intentionally and was accustomed to making people laugh when she wanted them to laugh with her and not at her. 

She also had a habit of getting people to laugh at her with some of her irresponsible behavior. But she was a natural entertainer and a very good one, as well as a good actress.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

One Minute News: Actor, Writer & Director Harold Ramis Dead At 69

Source:The Jerusalem Post- Actor, writer, director, and comedian Harold Ramis. 
Source:The New Democrat

Harold Ramis will be missed for his comic writing and acting because he comes from the old school, which is about being funny, but being funny in an intelligent way. Instead of being funny in a clumsy way, telling the fans to look at the klutz, Ramis brought intelligence to his humor that wasn't obvious.  You had to think to get it. To me, Harold Ramis was a master of dry wit and humor that wasn't obvious, but definitely noticeable if you paid attention and figured it out.

Harold Ramis's movies were about real people who tended to be bright but were underachievers or slackers who needed inspiration to reach their full potential. The movie Stripes is the perfect example of that, where two lazy wiseass guys sign up for the U.S. Army because they needed something constructive to do. Groundhog Day is another example, where an obnoxious fellow who considers himself superior to the Pittsburgh weathermen gets stuck repeatedly in Groundhog Day and discovers what is really important and how to deal with his colleagues responsibly.

The movie Vacation, perhaps one of the top five comedies of all time, with Chevy Chase, is a perfect example of a middle-class family man who aims to give his family the vacation of their lives. He drives his wife and children from Chicago to Los Angeles to an amusement park called Wally World. He is over his head, with the trip turning into a series of disasters. The dog incident is hilariously brilliant, although theoretically should be sad.  Enough said!

Harold Ramis's movies weren't based on klutzy people and his humor wasn't cookie cutter, borrowing lines and humor from other films because supposedly everyone laughs at the same thing. His humor was smart and off the cuff, with a great innovative wit. Harold Ramis would have been a great writer for Saturday Night Live and MASH because he had their type of humor.  That is what I'll miss most about him.
Source:One Minute News

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Slate Magazine: Helen Bera: Against Solitary Confinement: States Finding it Impractical As Well As Immoral

Source:The New Democrat

The current use of the process of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons is deplorable.  There are no guidelines relating the length of confinement to severity of offense.  The process is used at the discretion of onsite officials.  This results in wide variations with some cruel and counterproductive results.  Indefinite solitary confinement is simply inhumane and can only intensify anti-social tendencies in inmates suffering any psychological disturbance.

Solitary confinement should be used as a punishment that is commensurate with the offense committed and the need to convince the inmate that objectionable behavior is unacceptable.  It may provide a needed cooling-off period when there is conflict in the prison population.  It should be managed by psychological professionals.

Inmates considered too disturbed to live in the prison population are sometimes subjected to  indefinite solitary confinement because the onsite authorities have no other strategy for managing them.  This experience only makes them worse and makes the job of dealing with them much more difficult for the prison staff whose professional training is often inadequate. These inmates need to be in prison hospitals where they can do their time and get the mental health care they need.  Rotting away in solitary confinement only makes them worse.  Cutting them off from the prison world and outside world all together just makes them meaner and angrier and more convinced that they have nothing left to lose.  They take that anger out on the first people they see.  The really hard to manage inmates, who have consistent records of violently acting out, should be in mental institutions where they can get the help that they need.

A lot of us when we were kids had the experience of being sent to the office for acting out in class and even doing an in-school suspension.  The penalty box in a hockey game is an example of what isolation units in prisons should be for the mentally healthy inmates, a place they go for short-term punishment but then they go back to their normal prison life. 

Film Society at Lincoln Center: Q&A With Raquel Welch On Myra Breckinridge

Myra Breckinridge is not the movie that made Raquel Welch a star. Myra Breckinridge was a loser at the box office no matter how funny it was.  It was one of the funniest movies I've ever seen.  It might of been an official loser but Raquel was great and hilarious in it and it was, in a several ways, a great movie.

Liberal Democrat

Liberal Democrat
Liberal Democracy