Sunday, October 31, 2010

PFAW Dot Org: Christian Right Form of Big Government

Source:FRS FreeState

It would be funny, if it weren't so tragic, when hypocrites who complain about big government, are in favor of incorporating the tenets of their religion in government rules to form their own version of big government.  A Christian theocracy in the U.S. would be just as oppressive as the Muslim theocracy in Iran.  Social freedom would be severely curtailed.  Women and ethnic and racial minorities would be treated as second class citizens.  Homosexuals would be treated as criminals. 

The whole idea of America is that the people are in charge of their own lives and have the right to choose the social paths that they take without interference by government. 

Our nation's forefathers rebelled against the United Kingdom to escape high taxes, authoritarian rule, and government enforced religious dictates.  Freedom of religion is part of our Constitution, the 1st Amendment thereof, so that Americans would have the right to decide for themselves whether or not to practice religion and which religion, if any, they would practice.

There cannot be any dictation  by the U.S. government on choice of  religion or practice of religious tenets.  The 1st Amendment is explicitly clear that government shall neither sponsor nor intrude upon  the practice of a religion.  There is an explicit separation between religion and the State in America, regardless of  what the Christian Right, Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle or Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell says or thinks.

I'm troubled, and somewhat amused, when Christian Conservatives complain about the intrusions of big government while they promote authoritarian Christian theocracy.  Are they completely ignorant of the provisions for separation of church and state in the U.S. Constitution or are they just ignoring it to achieve their religious goals?  Either one is truly dangerous.  They must be prevented from succeeding for the sake of the United States of America.

CBS News: Evening News: Cynthia Bowers: John Boehner Next Speaker of the House?

Source:FRS FreeState

I hate to say this but it's looking more and more likely that current House Minority Leader, John Boehner (not boner or bonehead, as many think) will become the next Speaker of the House going into the 112th Congress.  According to independent polls from Gallup, Politico, the Hill, etc., as many as 90 Democratic House seats are in play for Republicans.  Republicans have to pick up only a net of 39 seats to win control of the House, i.e., 39 out of the 90, while holding their own. That's only 43% of the seats in play to win control of the House.  I think that's too tall an order for Democrats fill to retain control if the House. 

For House Democrats, the only drama  on Wednesday morning will be the election of the next Minority Leader.  They were in this position for twelve straight and painful years from 1995-07, an experience they haven't forgotten. 

Assuming the polls are correct and Republicans do win control of the House Tuesday night, I think that current House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, will step down as the Democratic Leader and, perhaps, even leave the House all together.  She probably won't have the votes to be reelected Minority Leader, a position she held from 2003-07, very skillfully.  But times have changed.  House Democrats, especially Blue Dogs, assuming there any left after Election Night, (not a safe assumption) could argue that she led House Democrats to  defeat with all of the unpopular legislation that she talked them into passing, like the cap and trade bill that will never become law in its current form, deficit spending, and the Affordable Health Care Act (AHCA).

Blue Dog Democrats are fiscally conservative and generally don't support these things.  Not one single Blue Dog who voted for AHCA is mentioning that vote as they run for reelection.  They could argue that these unpopular votes, pushed by Speaker Pelosi and Leader Steny Hoyer, led House Democrats, especially Blue Dogs, to defeat.  The House Democratic leadership should have been smart enough to see this ahead of time.
This leads me to the status of House Leader Hoyer, who has a lot of support amongst all of the factions in the Democratic Party, progressives, liberals and Blue Dogs alike.  You could make a case that Leader Hoyer, whom I'm proud to have as a fellow Marylander, had a role in leading House Democrats to their defeat.  I don't think House Democrats have a clear leader going into the 112th Congress if they lose Tuesday night.  I think they'll have a leadership fight after Tuesday night.

I hope that the polls are wrong, as they were in 1948 when they predicted that President Truman would lose reelection but they probably are not.  Polling technology is much better and more accurate now than it was then.  House Democrats will have some regrouping and self-examination to do, which isn't always bad for a great political party, of which I'm proud to be a member.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

CBS News: Evening News With Katie Couric: Return to Moderation?

Source:FRS FreeState

Return to moderation?  As a liberal, I know exactly where I stand on the current issues of the day. I don't call myself an expert on anything.  Others can judge that for themselves.  I do know where I stand and I think my readers know that when I write about something I don't flip a coin to decide what my position is going to be or split the difference.  Nor do I look for a position that will offend the least. As someone who's not currently a politician, I have the freedom to say exactly what I think.

One of the things I love about blogging is that I can get all of the best available objective evidence before I make a judgement about what is in the best interest of the country, or whichever jurisdiction it is involved.  If it's an issue on which I'm confident that I'm well informed, such as civil rights, I can proceed without  further research.  I would like to think that the average politician operates in the same way but I have my doubts. 

When I'm considering voting for someone, especially for the first time, I'm not interested in a candidate who claims to be a moderate or centrist and says vote for me and I'll work for the best interest of the country, not possibly knowing what that could  be ahead of time.  Once in office, such politicians can take positions that come as complete surprises to their constituents.  I think voters have the right to know where candidates stand on the issues before they get to office.  After all, they're running to represent us. 

I especially don't respect politicians who claim to be moderates or centrists but vote like Liberals or Conservatives. They're centrists in their private lives but once it gets down to voting or governing their liberalism or conservatism comes out.  Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman  claims to be a centrist in public but its hard to tell the difference between him and Liberal Democratic Senator  John Kerry, one of my political heros, the "Northeast Liberal". The only issues they've disagreed on have been the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Sen. Kerry is very proud of his liberalism and Senator Lieberman is not. 

Then there's Senator Arlen Spector who's admitted to being a Goldwater Libertarian Republican in the past,  "Government out of my wallet and bedroom," and that sort of thing.  On domestic policy, Senator Spector tends to be more progressive than Senator Barry Goldwater had ever been, especially in medical research and infrastructure spending.  Senator Spector woke up from a Republican nightmare just eighteen months ago, saw the light and decided to become a Democrat again, a liberal Democrat, I might add. (Perhaps it had something to do with getting reelected.)

Senator Spector has a progressive record on civil rights, civil liberties, women's rights (incluiding reproductive), and gay rights and is as much as a centrist as the current Pope is a Muslim. I mean who did he think he was fooling? Arlen Spector should've remained a Democrat for his whole career, especially, in a blue state like Pennsylvania. He could've been Governor of Pennsylvania if wanted to.

He, along with Ted Kennedy, voted against Robert Bork for Supreme Court Justice.  As a Pennsylvania Democrat, he would've never had to worry about a primary challenge from the far right and probably not from the far left either. 

I have more respect for Liberals, Conservatives, Libertarians, Social Democrats, Socialists, Theocrats, and Authoritarians than I have for Centrists.  With the former, you know where they stand on the issues, whether you agree with them or not. Two politicians for whom who I have some of the most respect are Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, both Conservative Libertarians, because you knew where they stood and they were loyal to their principles.  They didn't take positions just for presumed political advantage.

Republican Senator Tom Coburn is a Republican for whom I have a lot of respect.  He is a true fiscal conservative, not someone who claims fiscal responsibility just because his party is out of power, but someone who's always been there.  I have a lot of respect for Liberal Democrat Jack Kennedy, even though he was a little late to the party on civil rights, but he finally made it.  He had clear liberal convictions on most issues.  I also have great respect for Jack's brothers Bobbie and Teddy.  They  were ahead of their big brother on civil rights.

I have a lot of respect for Liberal Democrat Sen Russ Feingold.  I desperately hope that he gets reelected on Tuesday night though it's not looking good for him.  Unfortunately his convictions are probably going to cost him his seat on Tuesday.   For Russ Feingold,  it's not about getting reelected. It's about doing what he believes is best for the State of Wisconsin and America.  Today, that might sound corny but it's true. The problem with Congress is not Sen Russ Feingold, it's that there are not enough Russ Feingold's who are willing to vote their convictions.  For a lot of members of Congress,  everything is about the next election. 

Does centrism have a place in politics?  I don't see it as a governing ideology. Could you imagine a  centrist as their party's nominee?  First of all, a centrist would never get the presidential nomination of the Democratic or Republican Party today. But, for a second imagine that did happen.  What would their campaign theme be? "Vote for me because I'm stuck in the middle trying not to get squashed?" 

The problem with Washington is not the lack of moderation.  The problem is a lack of bipartisan cooperation. Thats not moderation, thats combining the best from both sides of the aisle to make legislation that works.  We as a country have a long tradition of bipartisanship and we could use more of it today. What you get with moderation is splitting the difference.  A computer can do that and it's not Leadership.

Legalize Our Dream: Legalization of Marijuana in Utah?

Source:FRS FreeState

Utah probably has more registered Republicans, right-wing nuts and NRA members per capita than any other state in America.  You'd have a better chance of seeing a man with multiple wives there than an elected Democrat (sorry, bad joke).  The legalization of marijuana use (considered a capital crime by some Christian theocrats) is being considered by the State of Utah.  That is a sign that similar efforts in California should make headway and it's a message to the rest of America that it's time to rethink the War on Drugs.  Perhaps punishing people for what they do to themselves instead of what they do to others and treating them as drug dealers and career criminals is not the best approach to this problem.

I've made these points before so they might be as refreshing to read as a drivers manual but my argument hasn't changed.  Utah's exploration of marijuana legalization reinforces my argument so I'll take the time to make it again.

The prohibition of alcohol 80 years ago proved that if people want to do something badly enough they'll find a way to do it, regardless of the consequences.  If they can make a successful business out of it, it becomes doubly attractive.  That's one of the reasons prohibition was repealed. I believe that we should legalize marijuana and that let that be the end of it.  I'm not advocating the legalization of heroin or cocaine.  We should legalize marijuana with appropriate regulation and taxation designed to discourage, or limit, it's use.  We should treat marijuana the same way that we treat alcohol and tobacco, two legal drugs that both have negative health effects.

Junk food and drink, with their excessive fat, sugar, salt and caffeine are serious health hazards in America.  Obesity, which leads to deadly diseases, is caused by junk food and lack of exercise.  It is the 2nd leading cause of preventable deaths in America, right behind cigarette induced lung cancer.  Alcohol abuse is the leading cause of liver cancer.  All of you who drink, smoke, eat a poor diet and don't exercise and oppose the legalization of marijuana use should think about the choices you are making.  By the way, if you have all of these bad habits and stay the course, you'll have a hard time making it to the age of 60. 
Marijuana, used and grown without control in a black market in America, isn't a leading cause of any disease.   With legalization and regulation of use there would be control and record keeping for public health purposes.   Prohibition doesn't make attractive substances or go away.  We already have legal drugs in America that are killers but they're regulated to make them as safe as possible.  We can do the same thing for marijuana  We know it will be grown and used.  We should make it as safe as possible.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Open Mind With Richard Hefner: Milton Friedman: The Minimum Wage (1975)

Source:Ama Gilly- Professor Milton Friedman on The Open Mind With Richard Hefner, in 1975.

Source:FreeState Now

“It is immoral to say that people with low skills are not allowed to work.
Milton Friedman discusses the effects of minimum wage, dispelling the myth that it is a Good Thing.
PBS “The Open Mind” (December 7, 1975) 

50 Years of Research on the Minimum Wage:U.S. House of Representatives."

From Ama Gilly 

I disagree with Professor Friedman on one critical point: there’s no such thing as a free market as it relates to wages or anything else. The so-called free market doesn’t decide wages in America. Employers do that. So when he says that having a minimum wage forces employers to pay workers more than they deserve, he’s simply wrong about that. Businesses simply can’t survive without low-skilled jobs. That alone makes people who work those jobs essential jobs. So if anything, just based on my point and those facts, our minimum wage workers are definitely underpaid, because they’re essential workers doing work in America that has to get done.

Gral Hueter: Women On The Move

Source:The Daily Press 

When I'm walking down the street somewhere or sitting down in public and see an attractive well built  woman walk by, or she's ahead of me by ten feet or so, and she's wearing tight jeans in or over boots,  like cowgirl or work boots, of course I take a look, unless I'm in such a hurry that I don't have the time. Its hard for a guy not to stare at a women dressed like that.

I just love the sound that the boots make on the ground.  It's like listening to Frank Sinatra sing or Jimmy Hendrix play guitar.  It's poetry in motion to me. Men should thank attractive well built women who dress like that.  These women look great and are not afraid to show the world that they look great.   They're wearing what I believe to be the sexiest combination in women's fashion right now tight denim with boots. Of course guys are going to notice women dressed like that.  We would have to be blind not to.

I've said before that I'm not interested in what I call the hooker look, the boots over knees look. Women dressed like that look to me as if  they think that they need their sex appeal to make a living. When it comes to tight jeans with boots, I'm interested in women who wear modern jeans cut to show off their rear but not to the point of showing their rear cleavage when they bend over or stand up. Women dressed like this look sexy to me but also look like they use their intelligence in their profession.

I like sexy and intelligent women, women who are proud of their appearance, dress to display it in accordance within modern social norms, and stay away from the boundary of the hooker look.

CBS News: Evening News With Katie Couric: Democrats Final Push

Source:FRS FreeState

I think that this video makes it pretty clear that President Clinton tried to talk Representative Kendrick Meek into stepping out of the U.S, Senate race in Florida.  It's also clear that he tried to talk Rep. Meek into throwing his support behind Gov. Charlie Crist in the race.  Senate Democrats know that they'll have a net loss of seats on election day and might come close to losing their Senate majority.  They'll probably keep it but they could come damn close to losing it.  Any Republican seat that they can pick up will increase their chances of keeping the Senate, if only by a couple of seats. That's what the meeting between Bill Clinton and Kendrick Meek was all about.  Bill Clinton is probably the most popular current or former American politician right now.  I generally support his involvement because of his popularity, intellect, and political skills but any misstep he makes becomes a national story because of his status as a former president.

I believe the Democrats will hold the Senate just because of the long hill that Senate Republicans have to climb in order to take it back. Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, have to pick up a net of 10 seats to win the majority.  The last time a party picked up ten or more seats in the Senate was 1980 when Ronald Reagan won 49 states defeating a very unpopular President Jimmy Carter. 

If this was a normal election year, which it's clearly not (and water is wet), Republicans would only have a snowball's chance in hell of winning back the Senate because of that long hill and their Party's unpopularity, something the Democrats haven't effectively used against them.  If there's a tie, it will be broken by Vice President Joe Biden and the Democrats would elect the Leader and the Republicans, once again, the Minority Leader.  To win the majority, the Senate Republicans have to be almost perfect, literally, winning 10-12 Democratic Seats.  They're currently not leading in all of them.

I see Democrats pulling away in California with Senator Boxer and Washington State with Senator Murray, which is huge for the Progressive Democratic movement.  Sen Mike Bennett is coming back in Colorado and has basically tied with Ken Buck.  The tie goes to the incumbent if the momentum is on his side because voters are saying that they're taking a second look and reconsidering the Incumbent they know.  On the other hand, the Democrats will lose Arkansas with Sen Blanche Lincoln.  It looks like Wisconsin is slipping away with Senator Feingold, a senator for whom I have a lot of respect as a fellow liberal and for his honesty and his sticking with his liberal ideology, even in an election year but he's an 18 year Incumbent and still hasn't closed the sale. Illinois is still a toss up with Republican Mark Kirk trying to win Barack Obama's old Senate Seat. 

The House, unfortunately, is a different story for Democrats.  As it stands right now, I expect them to lose 45-50 seats, giving Republicans a small majority, in which case, they'd elect current Minority Leader John Boehner ("Bayner," not Boner or Bonehead) as the next Speaker of the House.  That's only a prediction.  We can't know yet but two things are clear: Republicans will pick up at least thirty-five seats, not enough to retake the House, and the battleground and swing seats are in the Midwest.  Good news for Democrats as Republicans haven't closed the sale there.

I think that voters there are taking a second look at Tea Party House candidates and whether or not they actually want these people to be their representatives. So House Democrats still have some hope of victory.  They could achieve that while losing thirty-five or more seats.  They would still be in the majority, electing  the speaker and the committee chairmen and would still control the agenda.  With the next two years being almost nothing but gridlock, they would at least still be in the majority with a likely Democratic Senate and the White House in their hands. That also means no bogus Congressional investigations from the House or Senate going after the Obama Administration.

This much is clear:  Democrats will lose a lot of seats in the House and Senate on Election Day. It's only a question of how many.  As I see it, the midwest will be the battleground for the House.  On election night, all of you political junkies, right, left, or in the middle, who are not sure who will be in control of the House or Senate in January, should look at the results in the House races in the Midwest. If Republicans are winning a lot of Democratic seats, they'e on the way to winning control of the House.  If House Democrats manage to hold their own in the Midwest and pick up a few Republican seats where they weren't favored, they could hold on to the House.

Another thing that's clear is that whoever controls the House and Senate in the 112th Congress will only have a majority of a few seats and that both chambers will be in play once again in 2012. There will be nothing but gridlock for the next two years because of the tight majorities in Congress.  Both parties will have their eyes on 2012, a presidential year, when they'll be battling for complete control of the Federal Government

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Learn Liberty: Aeon Skoble: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Source:FRS FreeState 

There are many types of of governments in the world, governments where freedom is vast economically and socially and people have the right to elect their own leaders with open and free multi-party elections and can freely speak out against their leaders.  This is called a liberal democracy, America for example.

Governments where freedom is tightly controlled and limited and government has a huge say in how people live, where you can even risk going to prison without a fair trial for speaking out would be an authoritarian government, with Iran a good example. Then there are governments where social freedom is vast, as in a liberal democracy with open and free multi-party elections where people can speak out against their leaders and government but where economic freedom might be limited and where the people are subjected to high taxes and the economy is tightly regulated. Sweden would be a good example. 

With liberalism and individualism, people have the right to live their own lives as they see fit for the most part as long as they are not hurting anyone else and where people can be as successful as their skills and production will allow, which is determined by a private market, and are not subjected to high taxes and controlled by excessive regulations. That is a liberal democracy, with America being the perfect example. In a liberal democracy, people have the liberty to live their own lives without worrying about government intrusion. 

With a socialist collectivist society, the government tightly controls economic freedom and taxes it highly, so when people "make too much money" compared with the rest of society, that money is taken away from them and given to people who do not have enough and lack the ability to make a lot more money and be more successful.  Even if their skills and production call for it, government will take it away.   This is called a social democracy, where you are no stronger than your weakest link. 

What makes America great and the greatest country in the world and why we're still the envy of the world and people still emigrate here is our freedom and form of government, where if you get a good education and skills, you can live your own life as you see fit and be as successful in life as your skills and production will allow, which is determined by a private market. 

America has been a liberal democracy for 234 years now and overall it's worked very well.  We are the best country in the world and when we move away from that foundation, we slip back.

Madi Heels: Platform Boots & Jeans

Source:Madi Heels- Sexy Blonde, in leather n denim and jeans in boots.
Source:The Daily Press

Here's another tall, gorgeous, and well built blonde with tight curves wearing a leather jacket, skin-tight denim jeans, and black leather platform boots, the jackpot for sexy outfits as far as I'm concerned.  Even a blind gay man would notice a woman like her walking down the street in that outfit.  (No offense to blind gay man, there's nothing wrong with that if that is who you are). It combines the two sexiest fabrics in fashion right now, leather and denim, with platform boots.

It's a burger and fries or Montana to Rice to use an NFL sports analogy for you NFL football fans especially San Francisco 49er fans. The ultimate combination it can't be beat except, perhaps, by replacing the platform boots with flat boots, which I prefer on women.  This women looks very sexy without looking like a hooker ( for the most part).  She looks like she might even have a brain and uses it to make her living, might not need her sexy physical appearance. to pay the bills. That's the sexiest combination to me, beauty and intelligence, as good as burger and fries or Montana to Rice, the ultimate of combinations.
Madi Heels: Platform Boots and Jeans

Sexy Latex Val: Sexy Val in Her New Guess Black Denim Jeans in Black Zipper Boots

Source:The Daily Press 

When I think of sexy women, not women who could pass as hookers, I think of women who are  attractive, well built, and wearing tight denim with boots, tight jeans in boots or jeans over boots.  You see biker chicks, rocker chicks,  cowgirls, female construction workers, and waitresses wearing them.  You see women wearing tight jeans to the office.  If you're a guy and you're religious, you should thank God for casual Friday.

This beautiful redhead takes it a step further by wearing a short tight top, and a black leather Jacket with skin-tight black denim Guess jeans and black leather zipper boots.  She is filmed, presumably, by her boyfriend or husband.  Out for the day, we see her out moving around in her sexy outfit. Val has a great body.  She knows it and is not afraid of the world seeing it because she knows who she is. She takes the attitude that if you have it, you should be proud of it and not be afraid to show it. Gotta love her for that.

By the way, I wish black denim jeans were more popular among women.  Black leather jeans are fairly common now.  Black denim jeans they might be just as sexy as blue denim jeans. They sort of have the look of leather jeans.  I  understand why women wouldn't want to wear black jeans in the summer in the State of Maryland where I live because of the heat and humidity.  But in the fall and winter, why not.

So my hat's off to "Sexy Val" for taking care of herself, looking great, and  not being afraid to show the world how great she looks. She makes black denim jeans look as sexy as possible and I would love to see more women take hear lead, especially in the winte, when those jeans would help keep them warm as well.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Liberty Pen: Video: Milton Friedman: Redistribution of Wealth

Source:The FreeState

The income gap in American society, or 
wealth disparity, is  a problem that slows the growth of GDP.  Consumers at the lower end of the economic scale are the principal drivers of the retail economy because they spend almost all of their income every month.  When they are not receiving an appropriate share of GDP, they reduce spending and drag down the whole economy.  People at the upper end of the economic scale store their surplus income in financial institutions, property investments, and luxury goods.  Such activities do not contribute significantly to the general economy.  

This problem will not be solved simply.  Aggressive government efforts to redistribute wealth (very high taxes on high earners) distort the natural operation of the economy by discouraging the creative energy that expands it. Generous payments to low earners create another distortion by signaling that acquiring the education and skills for success in life is not necessary because income support from the government will be unconditional.  The progressive nature of the current federal income tax provides some redistribution.  A substantial increase in this effect is probably unwise.

Attempts to solve this problem should focus on the creation of more wealth that benefits society as a whole.   Low and middle income people should be empowered to increase their income through education and training.  Government can also improve the  economic environment with trade agreements that are beneficial to the American labor market. These should provide that  American companies have the same access to foreign markets that foreign company's have here and that American companies pay no more in tariffs than foreign company's pay here.   Respect for and compliance with the rule of law should be required in any trade agreement.  

Taxes and regulations need to be monitored continuously so that their burden is no more than necessary for the desired result.  Through bureaucratic creep they can easily overwhelm employers, workers and consumers without any additional benefit.  Job outsourcing needs to be monitored so that laws and regulations don't encourage American companies to ship jobs oversees where slave labor, or slave wages, under unsafe working conditions, will be competing with American workers.

Elimination of the income gap in America is not desirable.  Reduction of the gap, with benefit to the GDP, is both desirable and possible by increasing the productivity and earnings of the lower economic strata.  This will not be achieved through   forced redistribution of wealth but by creating an economic environment that stimulates wealth creation and benefits  society as a whole.

Liberty Pen: Video: Milton Friedman on Bad Laws From 1978

Source:The FreeState

My definition of what Libertarian Economist Milton Friedman called bad laws are laws designed to protect people from themselves rather than from the abuses of others.   For example, 
a law making it illegal to attempt suicide and fail would be a bad law.  

Other examples of bad laws would be those requiring adults to wear seat belts or bike helmets. Adults who drive or ride in cars or ride bikes are more then capable of making these fundamental decisions for themselves. We don't need Big Brother to make these decisions for us.  After all if someone crashes in a car or on a bike, they are only hurting themselves.   I think that seat belt and bike helmet laws make sense for minors because they're not legally responsible.  Adults should have the right to make such decisions for themselves. 

Laws should be written to protect people from the abuses of others not from themselves.  It 
make sense that murder, rape, battery, terrorism, financial fraud, etc., are illegal because these laws protect innocent people from the abuses of others. But anti-gaming, marijuana, prostitution, homosexuality, etc., laws don't make sense because they are designed to protect adults from hurting themselves.

We have ourselves, family, friends and colleagues to protect us with their informed advice and we don't need Big Brother doing that for us.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Brittle 13: Video: Milton Friedman: Responsibility to the Poor

Source:The FreeState

In the 1930's, the FDR Administration had an agenda called the New Deal.  They passed a lot, if not most, of it.  It included legislation designed to help the lower and middle classes in America.  Before this, America didn't have a safety net, assistance for people who fell through the cracks of American capitalism and needed temporary financial assistance. It included legislation like Social Security so people who were too old or no longer physically and mentally capable of working would have a source of
 Income that they could rely on.  It also had welfare to provide financial assistance to people who didn't have the skills to support themselves.

In 1965, when over 1 in 4 Americans lived in poverty, President Lyndon Johnson announced the "War on Poverty."   It had an  agenda for a 
Great Society with legislation like Medicare which guaranteed senior Americans medical insurance, public housing so low-income people could afford housing, Medicaid so low-income people would be guaranteed some medical insurance,  aid to public education such as Head Start and other social welfare programs for the needy in American society.

Almost eighty-years later, after the New Deal, Great Society, and every other social welfare program created by the Federal Government, poverty is still a big issue in America.  Today, almost 1 in 5 Americans lives in poverty.  The so-called War on Poverty and its forbears have come well short, despite all of the good intentions behind them.  They haven't solved the problems because these social welfare programs were  improperly designed. They subsidized low-income people indefinitely (hoping their low-income would go away) instead of dealing with the causes of their low-income. 

Government's responsibility to the poor is pretty simple (though poverty as an issue is as simple as the Middle East peace process) but the problems can be handled simply by empowering the poor to get themselves out of poverty and into the middle class so that they are self-sufficient. 

The only viable path out of poverty is temporary, not indefinite, financial assistance so that people have income while  making the transition to self-sufficiency. 

Education is key so that people can finish their high school education and get a diploma or GED.  Beyond that,  college and vocational schools provide skills for good jobs and self-sufficiency.  Then, assistance with job placement can move low-income people from the welfare class to the working class.

The good news is that there's experience in empowering low-income people to be self-sufficient. In 1996 the 104th Republican Congress and President Clinton, back when Republicans and Democrats actually worked together for "the good of the country," passed Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (
TANF), better known as "Welfare to Work"  It took this approach by reforming welfare, transforming it to a temporary, instead of indefinite, financial assistance program.

No longer are low-income people  stuck in a "Culture of Dependency."  People on Welfare are
provided an opportunity to get themselves an education and job training to get the skills they need to get a good job. TANF also provides job placement assistance.  Almost fifteen-years later the results are in and look very good. Millions of people who were once on welfare have moved from the welfare class to the working class. 

Poverty is not a simple issue but it can be reduced by simple solutions and investments that might seem expensive at the time but pay off in the long term by moving people from the welfare class to the working class and making them taxpayers, perhaps, for the first time in their lives. We need to go back to the future and return to this approach, especially, now, when almost 1 in 5 Americans live in Poverty.

Friday, October 22, 2010

New Fashion 2013: Down by the Riverside: Leather & Denim in Boots

Source:The Daily Press

When I think of sexy women, I think of them in tight jeans with leather boots.  Whether they wear their boots with skinny jeans, the common look for five years now, or jeans over boot's, its a very sexy combination.  It combines two sexy looks, denim and leather, the two sexiest looks in fashion right now.

The body type is an important component of the denim and boots look. I'm not a fan of the valley girl look, a tall, rail thin, blond who doesn't eat full meals and is afraid of meat.  I'm also not a fan of obese women who look like they only eat meat and sweets and wouldn't know exercise if they fell over it.  I'm attracted to healthy, well built, women who eat full meals and keep themselves in shape.  I'm 6'5 and over 200 lbs.  I prefer women who are between 5'6 & 6'+ and well built.

About a year and a half ago, I saw a YouTube video of a beautiful, tall, brunette with a sweet face walking by a riverside wearing a black leather jacket, tight, dark, washed, skinny, denim jeans and black, leather, stiletto boots.  I commented, at the time and still believe today, that her look was the perfect combination, like a cheeseburger and fries. The woman, apparently British, replied to me that she prefers fish and chips (ha ha) but she took my point. Whichever analogy you prefer, it works.

I prefer seeing women wearing calf high boots in tight jeans.  It looks sexy but the women look intelligent and productive, independent of their sex appeal.  Thigh high boots strike me as hooker boots. Women wearing them  look like they need their sex appeal to make a living.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Reason: Video: Kennedy: Prop 19: Will California Legalize Marijuana?

If you're a true believer in limited government and a true disbeliever in big government then you're for Prop 19, the legalization and regulation of marijuana in California. If the Tea Party movement is a true libertarian movement, (about which I have my doubts) as  described by the mainstream media,  then they would be for Prop 19 in because they believe in limited government. But as far as I know, a lot of their members haven't taken a position on Prop 19 so it will be interesting to see what they do on election day in November. 

As I've said before I'm a Liberal because I agree with the Libertarian economist Milton Friedman who said "Maximize freedom and responsibility for the individual".  People have the right to live their own lives as they see fit, as long as they're not hurting anyone else with their freedom.  They are responsible for their decisions, good and bad and can decide for themselves whether or not they should use marijuana.

Personally I would never use marijuana because its a drug and I'm not comfortable letting drugs control who I am.  You can make the same case for alcohol and tobacco, both legal but regulated drugs in america with much greater health costs than marijuana.  I don't drink alcohol or smoke tobacco either because of the negative health effects that come with them.  But I do not believe that  government should regulate what 
people do to their own bodies.  I believe in the maximization of freedom.  If people know all the options, they'll generally make the best decisions for themselves and their families.  We don't need big government to make these decisions for us. 

Alcohol prohibition proved that if people want to do something badly enough, drinking for example, they'll find a way to do it whether it's legal or not and to hell with the consequences.  Alcohol prohibition was reversed. Prohibiting something doesn't make it go away.  It just means that it's done in hiding where there's no control over its use.  With legalization and regulation you have control.  Alcohol and tobacco are cases in point.  Laws should be written to protect people from the behavior off others, not themselves.

We are adults here. We can make these decisions for ourselves. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

CNN: Vice President Joe Biden: Not Your Father's GOP

Source:FRS FreeState 

Vice President Biden has a habit of telling the truth and what he really believes to a fault and in that sense he beats back almost every stereotype of a typical politician.  This habit often gets him into trouble, but today was an example of where the Vice President, whom I supported for Vice President of the United States in 2008, was dead on and telling it the way it helps him, the Democratic Party,and his administration, where he serves as the 2nd Ranking Officer. 

Vice President Biden was dead right: "this is not our fathers' Republican Party," and in my case my father's GOP would be the Republican Party of Dwight Eisenhower, Everett Dirkson, Barry Goldwater, Gerry Ford, and Ron Reagan, Bill Buckley, etc., the party of Classical Conservatism, the party that wants Government out of our wallets and bedrooms and off our backs. Today's Republican Party, the party run by the Tea Party or under its inspiration, is the Christian Right of the 1990s with an economic libertarian theme.

All the evidence you need to believe that is to look at some of their candidates, for example, Christine O'Donnell in Delaware or Sharron Angle in Nevada.  They've put up candidates who have been shown to be ignorant of the U.S. Constitution when they come out for amending it. Similar to the Christian Right of the 70's, 80's, and 90's, the Republican Party has moved away from the Culture War because they've either realized they were fighting a lost war or are regrouping.

At least at their leadership level, they've realized that Americans, at least outside the Bible Belt, are Liberal to Libertarian on social issues and that they're not comfortable fighting on this field even though you still see some Culture Warriors pop up from time to time on issues such as homosexuality, gay marriage, Islam, immigration, and lately with Sen Jim Demint calling for making adultery illegal. But for the most part Republicans, at least in the Tea Party, have pulled back from the Culture War battles and focused on fiscal policy.

I'll give the Tea Party credit for putting deficit and debt reduction back on the national agenda where it should be, but I fault them for not coming up with credible solutions to fixing our financial problems.  As much as the Tea Party/Christian Right rails against Big Government, they believe in what they are railing against.  No, they don't believe in the social democratic form of Big Government that's commonplace in Europe, but they believe in a far-right authoritarian conservative form of Big Government that's commonplace in Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and China, with limited social freedom. 

As I've said before as a Liberal, if the Tea Party were really a libertarian movement as the mainstream media has described them, and not just an economic libertarian movement, I would have respect for them, because we share things in common, such as actually believing in a true form of limited government.  But they're now the Christian Right of the 90's with an economic libertarian message, so I can't respect them. But I give them credit for putting national debt and deficit reduction back on the national agenda, where it should be.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Times of Earth TV: Sarah Palin Leads Push Head of U.S. Congressional Elections

Source:FRS FreeState

I hope the Tea Party leader who only speaks in quips and one liners (Sarah Palin) is the Republican nominee for president in 2012.  If I weren't a patriotic American, I would work and volunteer my butt off to make that happen. As a Democrat I see that Sarah Palin, who I admit is an attractive and charming political figure (easy on the eyes as well), has political talent, is likable, and definitely can inspire people.

But put her in a situation where she has to think for herself and doesn't have prepared material, as in an interview or a debate, and she's a disaster for the Republican Party. The Tea Party has served the Republican Party well as far as reenergizing the Republican base, which has been asleep thanks to George W. Bush because of the borrowing and spending of his administration. But these are short-term gains and the Tea Party hurts Republicans in the long term as they move farther right with Independents, who tend to be fiscally conservative but liberal or moderate on social issues. 

So as a Democrat, I hope the Tea Party and Republicans stay on the course that they are on. But as an American, I hope the Republican Party gets back to Goldwater/Reagan conservative libertarianism, meaning government out of our wallets and bedrooms and off our backs. It's good for them and the country that they've returned to their fiscal conservatism, but for them to be a major party down the road, they need to get back to their social libertarianism or moderation.

And hopefully the Christian Right will splinter off and form its own third party along with the Tea Party, which is even farther to the right of traditional Republicans on fiscal policy. As I see it, the Tea Party has served a useful role in reminding Americans of the need for fiscal responsibility in America. But to me they are just the Christian Right of the 1990s with an economic theme, because they've realized that their social or theocratic conservatism scares independent voters and they've lost almost all the battles in the Culture War.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Associated Press: President Obama Urges Democrats to Not Get Discouraged

Source:FRS FreeState

If Democrats fail to get their voters out in the mid-term elections, then there's no doubt they'll lose their majority in the House and be in danger of losing their majority in the Senate as well. Democrats are either tied or down among Independents with Republicans so their best shot at retaining control in both chambers in Congress is to energize their sleepy base, especially the social Democrats, and convince them that Republican control of either the House or Senate would be a disaster for the Progressive movement and would almost erase everything that Democrats have fought to accomplish the last 4 years.

Democrats are certain to lose seats in both the House and Senate in the mid-terms and they already know that the question is how many, but can Democrats hold Republican gains in the House to 30 or less where they would still have a 10-seat majority? Or will Democrats lose more then 30 in the House and come close to losing their House majority? Or will Republicans pick up more than 40 seats in the House and have a clear majority like the Democrats?  So the only victory Democrats can hope for in November is holding on to their majorities in both the House and Senate, which is why getting out their vote is critical for them to remain in control of Congress. 

John F. Kennedy Liberal Democrat

John F. Kennedy Liberal Democrat
Source: U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy in 1960