Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Slate Magazine: Jay Porter: A Small Business Owner's Case For Raising the Minimum Wage

Source:The New Democrat 

There are several reasons why I'm in favor of raising the Federal minimum wage.  Minimum wage workers are under paid for the work that they do and the services that they perform for their employers. Cashier handle most, if not all, of the money that their employer receives. They provide a necessary and essential service to their company.  The company can't stay in business without it.

Underpaying service workers reduces their ability to live a decent life.  Taxpayers then have to assist these workers in meeting their costs of living.  There is also a cost to the economy in decreased economic growth because of the purchasing power that these workers don't have.  Henry Ford realized this at the beginning of the 20th century.

Do I believe everyone is entitled to earn at least a middle class living simply for being alive?  Of course not, I'm not a Socialist but I do believe that everyone is entitled to be paid the money that their work and services bring to the table.  $7.25 an hour for workers who are critical to the success of a business  is underpayment.  The cost of that underpayment is passed to taxpayers as public assistance and lost  economic growth. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Robert Shiller: 'Better Insurance Against Income Inequality'

Source:The New Democrat  

I could blog about indexing taxation of income for the wealthy in a couple of ways.  One would discuss the fact that it would never pass this Congress, especially with a Republican House.  Also, vulnerable Senate Democrats up for reelection in red states don't want to talk about tax increases in an election year. They want to get reelected and keep the Senate in Democratic control.

This proposal will never become law but, just for the hell of it, we can talk about why its not good policy, which is yet another reason why it won't become law.  The idea that taxes on certain people could  go up automatically without specific congressional or executive branch action is undemocratic.  Money is power and the government should not rule that some people should have less of it without due process and complete transparency.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Minister Malcolm X: 'We're Going to Have to Go to War Against The Racists'

Source:Minister Malcolm X- Minister Malcolm X, talking about racism in 1963-64.
Source:The New Democrat 

Minister Malcolm X: 'We're going to have to win the fight against the racists." The video has since been deleted or blocked on YouTube.

This could easily be interpreted as saying that the supporters of equal rights and freedom for all Americans: "Are going to have to win the war against the racists in the courtroom and on the political battlefield." Which is what they have done for sixty or so years now. The bigots, both racists and homophobes, have been losing ground, since the Eisenhower Administration and Brown V. Board of Education.

The opponents of Malcolm X, especially on the Right and Far-Right, whether they are racists or not, will take his statement to say that he was calling for a violent revolution and for the African-American community to start attacking law enforcement, especially Caucasians and others who are in their way.  This is not what he was saying.  He was saying that if you are physically or verbally attacked, you have a right to defend yourself.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Washington Post: George Will: Progressives Are Wrong About the Essence of the Constitution

Source:The New Democrat  

The more I hear from today's, so-called, Progressives, the more I believe that they are from a different country or, at least, have lived a long time in another country. They don't seem to see the U.S. Constitution for what it is.  They say, "Look, this is how other countries do it and it works there so we should do the same thing here."  They seem to be ignorant of the Constitution's constraints on the Federal Government.

These people are really Social Democrats.  They believe that the United States should be ruled by majority rule.  If we ever let the will of the majority decide everything without that annoying document that keeps interposing the Federal court system,  we could build the socialist utopia that they've always wanted and take care of everyone.

The Social Democrats, in the absence of the Constitution, would move to a parliamentary social democracy where Congress, actually just the House of Representatives, would pick our President for us.

The Constitution protects our individuals rights, our ability to live our private lives with minimal interference from government.  Today's Neo-Right Republican Party doesn't like that.  They claim to favor democracy but support the banning of homosexuality and same-sex-marriage.  They complain that the courts are thwarting the will of the people and being undemocratic when one of their big government behavioral control proposals is rejected.  They are either ignorant of the Constitution or hypocrites.

As George Will said in his column today, the U.S. Constitution is not about protecting American democracy but  protecting the constitutional rights of individual Americans.  Government at all levels is prohibited from infringing these rights even if certain of them become unpopular and a popular will emerges to limit these.  The U.S. Constitution protects Americans from big government even if an overweening big government becomes popular. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Washington Post: Alyssa Rosenberg: If Conservatives Lost the Culture War, That Doesn't Mean Liberals Won it

Source:The Washington Post- 
Source:The New Democrat

When people use the term "Culture War," it's not immediately clear what they're talking about.  It could be some pop culture war between Hollywood and Nashville, the capitol of country music, or, perhaps, the broader Bible Belt. Well, that sort of conflict is really not of much significance.  A more significant  Culture War is in the arena of politics and the way Americans look at life and how they believe they should be living it.

All the evidence you need to know that Liberals won that Culture War is that it's no longer 1955.  We no longer watch black and white TV or get together in the living room to listen to the radio. The man of the house is no longer likely to say, "Honey I'm home," when he comes home from work, with honey responding "How was your day dear?  Your favorite drink is by your chair in the living room."  Honey may not be there.  She may still be at work.

This may sound simplistic but we are in a completely different era where both men and women believe that they can do anything they want to if they work hard and get a good education and the skills they need to be successful. Gone are the days of stereotypical masculine and feminine roles.  African-Americans no longer live, for the most part, to serve Caucasian-Americans by working in their homes.  Gays are no longer trapped in the closet. Men and women no longer feel that they have to be married in order to have sex or live with their romantic partner and have and rear children.

The 1960s was obviously not a perfect decade but it was a liberating (great liberal word) decade for millions of Americans, thanks to the Baby Boom generation.  Today, 40-50 years later, we as a country, at least outside of the Bible Belt, feel that we have the freedom to live our own lives and do as we please without the threat of government or the religious and social establishment interfering.  Now, legalized gambling, legalized marijuana, same-sex-marriage, homosexuality, and  adult pornography are all mainstream.  Bye bye, Billy Graham, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Phyllis Schaffly.  You lost the Culture War.

As much as the Christian Right may want to put the whole country in a time machine and take us back to Leave it to Beaver Land (1955), those days are long gone.  America, today, is much more free than it was then and it seeks ever more personal and economic freedom.  It is never going back. 
Source:Secular Talk

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The New Republic: Jonathan Cohn: Tax Day 2014: 'More Taxes Would Make For a Better Society'

Source:The New Democrat

Well, I guess it is official now, with this piece from Jonathan Cohn, The New Republic (his link is  above)  the classic American liberal magazine is dead.  Or perhaps, it has just been taken over by Socialists or Communists and the Liberals there are now forced to write pieces endorsing big government and critiquing the Right.  Or perhaps the Liberals at TNR were simply kicked out and sent away.  Maybe the TNR Liberals were kidnapped by the new TNR big government statists.

Jonathan Cohn calls tax day a time to celebrate. What's next?  He and the other big government statists are going to call for making tax day a national holiday or something?  Here's some helpful information. If you believe middle class Americans are under taxed, which apparently Mr. Cohn does, arguing in his piece today that all Americans except for the working poor should be taxed more, you are not a Liberal. 

People who believe that middle class Americans, auto mechanics, law enforcement workers, teachers, nurses, bus drivers, government workers in general (not including politicians, but Representative Jim Moran disagrees with that) and military personal are under-taxed are, simply, wrong.  These are workers who generally make 40-70 thousand dollars in a good year serving their fellow citizens and their country.  Mr. Cohn, playing the role of Uncle Sam, says,  "I have all of this new government that I want to create at your expense and I need your money. I'm the government and I'm a socialist, its my money to begin with and I'm just nice enough to let you have some of it!"

People who believe that hard-working middle class Americans are under taxed are not liberal and, I  argue, not progressive either.  You don't hear socialist U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders or progressive senators Tom Harkin and Sherrod Brown calling for increased taxes on middle class Americans.

People who believe that hard working middle class Americans, who technically aren't poor but who live paycheck to paycheck and will need Social Security to have any type of solid retirement income, are under taxed are socialist, big government, statists.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Slate Magazine: Jamelle Bouie: Jim DeMint, Abolitionism & Constitutional Conservatives

Source:The New Democrat 

Representative Michelle Bachmann announced she was running for president in, I believe, August of 2011.  Her  presidential campaign lasted all of four months.  It was one of the shortest presidential campaigns in American history.  When she announced that she was running for president, she called herself a constitutional conservative.  In the same speech, she came out in favor of amending the U.S. Constitution to prohibit pornography and same-sex-marriage. I remember this well because I wrote a blog, then, about her presidential campaign announcement.

At the risk of stating the obvious, it seems to me that if you call yourself a constitutional conservative,  you believe in conserving the U.S. Constitution.  The fundamental meaning of conservatism is the minimization of change. 

When I heard Representative Bachmann describe her politics as constitutionally conservative and then suggest two new constitutional restrictions on personal behavior, I was thinking, "Could this radical and conservative be the same person?"  The U.S. Constitution is one of the most radical liberal documents ever written on the subject of individual rights.  I would expect that a constitutional conservative would want to conserve and protect the constitution, not amend it to curtail individual rights.  It is very clear that Representative Bachmann understands neither the U..S. Constitution nor conservatism.

The real constitutional conservatives of the past were Robert Taft, Barry Goldwater, and Ron Reagan. Those of today are Ron and Rand Paul, the Cato Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, and  Reason Magazine.   The love the United States Constitution for what it is and are not trying to amend or change it.  They want it observed as it is.  They, especially, do not want to give more power to government to control the behavior of individual citizens. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The New America Foundation: Reniqua Allen: Civil Rights in Present Day

Source:The New Democrat

The 1968 Fair Housing Law was one of the best acts of the civil rights era of the 1960s.  It said that if you serve the public selling and renting homes, the public is the public and it includes everyone.  People can't be denied housing in the United States simply because of their race.  This followed the 1964 Civil Rights Act that banned racial discrimination and the 1965 Voting Rights Act that banned racial discrimination in voting, as well.

The lack of adequate housing for African-Americans today is not about race but about education and good jobs. Too many African-Americans do not have them compared, with the rest of the country.   Poor, rural, Caucasian-Americans and American-Indians also lack them.  These things are due to the lack of quality education and economic development in these communities.  People in these communities are not denied quality housing because of their race.

If you want to close the housing gap between low-income Americans of any race or ethnicity and middle class and wealthy Americans, you have to close the education and achievement gap and provide better schools and educational opportunities for low-income Americans, regardless of race or ethnicity. Kids who are in school now and their low-skilled, low-income parents need better education and opportunity.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Onion: Video: Landmark Supreme Court Decision Lats Americans Cram Cash Directly Into Politicians Throat

Source:The Onion- I guess food prices are so expensive in Washington for Senator Mark Warner (Democrat, Virginia) that he has mistaken money for vegetables.

Source:The New Democrat

What the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance did last week was, essentially, to make bribery legal so that members of Congress will no longer have to feel guilty about taking money for voting for this or voting for that.  Or in the case of the U.S. Senate, voting to not vote,  if you are familiar with the Senate cloture rule.  If you are familiar with the Senate cloture rule, you are probably qualified to teach Greek or ancient Mongolian history because the cloture rule is just as complicated.

Free speech? Give me a break, we are now talking about paid speech. The people with the most money have the most influence, which has always been the case in Congress.  The only thing these Supreme Court decisions have done is to make that legal. Congressional influence will be sold to the highest bidder.  Policy luncheons and committee hearings will be replaced by fundraisers and get togethers in private clubs and junkets where only the members of Congress who are the best boys and girls at delivering what special interests want are invited.

I wonder if I can get out of paying taxes at all if I just stuff a thousand dollars down my representative's or senator's throat.  Or, say that I owe this much in taxes.  How about I just give it to you, Senator Smith or Representative Jones, and write it off of my taxes. I get out of paying income taxes and you get the money you need to get reelected and we can do the same thing again in a couple of years. This might sound like an exaggeration but Americans politics is now at the point where public service, whatever the hell that is anymore, is now private service to the highest bidder.

We now have a Representative from Virginia, Jim Moran, a Democrat for whom I have a lot of respect  and like politically. No joke, I really do, (with only one finger behind my back).  He has the balls to say that members of Congress are underpaid.  No, seriously, he actually said that.  This guy only works half the year, lives full-time in Alexandria and gets to go home every night.  Only a handful of members of Congress get to do that.  Congressman Moran makes $174K per year as a part-time worker.

$174K a year is the average salary for an associate lawyer. What does he do with the rest of his time and spend all of his money on?  Wait, I've got it, he needs more money to pay for more fundraisers or, perhaps, to hire people to stuff money down his throat so he can keep getting reelected. Yeah, thats it. Guess what, that is not what the people who live in his district, who can't afford to make big political contributions, are paying him to do.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Drew Carey: Whose Line Weird Newscasters: Not Necessarily the News

Source:The New Democrat

"Whose Line is it Anyway?" for anyone who's interested in the full title of the show and, if you are,  you probably keep score at home when you are watching bowling on TV.  This is a show that is almost completely off the cuff.  Four comedians or comedic actors on stage are given scenes to act out. Sounds simple enough, right?  The trick is that they have to act out these scenes as strange characters.

Weird Newscasters is a perfect example.  Two comedians are pretending to be news anchors but they have to play these anchors as weird characters.  One is an alcoholic who won't let the bar close down before he gets at least one more drink. One is a weatherman who's doing the weather as a construction worker who gets turned on every time he sees a woman walk by.  Another is a sportscaster who lets out big belches every time he talks about sports.

That's what you see in this scene.  This is a show that I would love to do myself or, at least, play the game.  I could give myself my own character to play or take what is given to me.  I would love to play the anchor of the 3 am news and call it the Insomniac News Hour, or something like that.  There would be breaking news about Lindsay Lohan being pulled over for speeding and then a cut to "The Insomniac Classic Movie, "Attack of the Killer Lettuce," or something stupid like that.

This is my favorite game on Whose Line because it doesn't look a lot different from what actually passes as news today.  They go on for days about things that should be one day stories or only be given brief mentions.  Instead, they're still being covered a week later by the same people and shows.  News about Justin Bieber replaces really important issues like government spying on Americans and privacy. Today if you watch The Onion or Whose Line you might get the same amount of real information as you get from CNN, MSNBC or FNC.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Drew Carey: 'Whose Line Super Heros'

Source:Drew Carey- comedian Colin Mocherie on Whose Line.

Source:The New Democrat

"This is my first Superheroes upload. This is from late season 3."

From Drew Carey

Who's Line is it Anyway had a segment called Superheros in which several comedian contestants played made up, non-existent (even in Hollywood), SuperHeros.  To begin, one contestant would be given the beginning of a scenario about some made up crisis.  For example: "Oh no, we are all out of Starbucks coffee, what am I going to do?  I'd better call my SuperHero friends to help me out!"

The first actor would make up a SuperHero name and play a role that the host, Drew Carey, would pick from many suggestions given by the audience.  An additional actor would join the ensemble every thirty seconds or so. The first actor would give the second actor a made up SuperHero name and the second actor would give the third actor a made up SuperHero name.  The plot would be improvised in real time until all of the actors were involved.

So you would see four actors with these crazy SuperHero names and let's say the crisis is no more Starbucks coffee in the entire world. The first SuperHero would be Caffeine Addict Boy (or something like that) and he would bring in Latte Girl and she would bring in Alcoholic Man telling them that the situation is okay because he has a ten year supply of scotch and bourbon so no one will go thirsty. And somehow all of these clowns would save the day and things would go back to normal for them.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Tony Baretta: Myra Breckinridge (1970) Starring Raquel Welch

Source:The New Democrat

Myra Breckinridge may be the best movie that ever flopped at the box office.  It lost more than the 1962 New York Mets who lost something like 120 games that season.  I don't believe the movie made a dime.  It was too far ahead of its time.  If it were made today with the right cast, it would probably be a huge success.

Raquel Welch plays Myra Breckinridge and really makes the movie worth watching all by herself. Watching her, it is very difficult to look at anyone or anything else.  She is at her hottest, sexiest, cutest and funniest.  She shows the world that she is much more than a hot and sexy babe.  She has great wit and stage presence.

Myra is a former gay man who is now a transgender woman.  She goes to Hollywood to claim what she believes to be her inheritance.  Her uncle,  Buck Loner (John Huston), an over-sexed horny bastard, runs an acting school that he inherited from his parents.  Myra thinks that he owes her half of it.

Buck has no idea that his nephew, his sister Gertrude's son, is now a women calling herself Myra Breckinridge.  She tells her uncle to pay up or she's going to a get a lawyer to get what she believes is hers.

To buy time, Buck gives Myra a job on the school faculty.  He tries  to prove that Myra never married his nephew and that he doesn't owe her anything.  He's right that she never married his nephew.  She is his nephew and she's now a woman.  She has a fake marriage license that keeps her in the game  until she can get what she really wants, the five-hundred-thousand dollars that she believes her uncle owes her.

While Myra is trying to get her money, she uses her time at the school to do research on modern young straight men with the goal of dominating them, one day.  This movie is hysterical.  It has all sorts of funny characters including a gay man  who plays the part of the queen perfectly.  There's also  a very young, baby-faced, Farah Fawcett who's actually cuter than Raquel, but not as sexy. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Alfred Hitchcock: North by Northwest (1959)

Source:The New Democrat

North by Northwest is my favorite movie of all time.  Cary Grant is my favorite actor of all time and Alfred Hitchcock is probably my favorite director of all time.  I have a couple versions of this movie on DVD, saw it on Turner Classic Movies a couple of nights ago and again on  DVD last might.  I decided to write a blog about it today because I've been thinking about it a lot. This movie is Cary Grant, perhaps the best comedic actor of all time, at his best.

North by Northwest has all the ingredients of a great Hitchcock movie. A great plot, great writing, great cast,  Hitchcock's sense of humor, that Cary Grant shares, and James Mason. The very sexy and beautiful Eva Marie Saint (On the Waterfront, The Russians are Coming) has a big role in the movie. According to my father, she's smarter, sexier, and more beautiful than Grace Kelly or Marilyn Monroe.  She reminds him of my mother.

Then, there's Jessie Royce Landis who plays Roger Thornhill's (Cary Grant) mother, a great smart ass,  even though she's only four years older. 

The movie is a Cold War thriller about a man, Van Damme (James Mason), who exports American weapons and national security secrets.  Thornhill gets caught up in it, accidentally, and you have a great movie.

Thornhill is a charming playboy New York advertising man who's just living his life as a very successful businessman.  He's kidnapped by Van Damme's henchmen at a New York bar.  They believe he has inside information about Van Damme's organization.

The Van Damme crew tries to murder Thornhill but he gets away.  He tries to get back in touch with Van Damme and instead connects with Lester Townsend, someone Van Damme had pretended to be.  The Van Damme crew, trying to murder Thornhill, instead murder Townsend.  They believe he also knows something about their organization that they want kept secret.  Thornhill is now not only on the run from Van Damme and company but also fron the NYC PD, the New York State PD, and  the Feds.

Thornhill once again escapes and is now on the run from everyone because of the murder he didn't commit.  This time, he escapes by train where he meets Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) who just happens to be an undercover Federal agent pretending to work for Philipp Van Damme.  She's actually working to bring down Van Damme's and his organization.  She has Thornhill believing she's on his side and helping him to escape.  She's actually just using him.

This movie starts in New York, moves to Chicago and then Indiana where the Van Damme crew tries to murder Thornhill and Thornhill is trying to meet the real George Kaplan to find out what this whole thing is about. The problem is that George Kaplan doesn't exist.  Back to Chicago Thornhill gets arrested again, thinking that he would be safer with the police than on the run. The Feds grab him instead and use him to help bering down Van Damme and company in Rapid City where Philipp Van Damme has a home.

This is one of the best action suspense comedies you'll ever see.

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