“Nine or ten dollars an hour? Twelve? Or all the way to $15?
For much of the country, significant minimum wage hikes are coming—at least in the areas where they haven’t happened already. Public debate on the issue in many states and cities has been reduced to a disagreement between the forces that want to keep increases to a small amount per hour and folks like Chicago’s “Fight for 15” group and new Seattle Mayor Ed Murray who propose a $15 per hour target.
People getting paid more for their work is a heartwarming notion, so it can feel pretty easy to get behind a $15 minimum wage on an emotional level. In terms of a more mathematical analysis, one sees macroeconomic cases made both for and against a high minimum wage: either that putting more money in the pockets of working people will strengthen spending and the economy or that increasing labor costs to business will result in higher unemployment.”
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.
Justice Stevens has apparently been playing a lot of baseball lately, playing the position of left fielder in a ballpark with a very large left field. He's talking about essentially doing away with the second amendment. His has been opposed to the death penalty and held this position on campaign finance for a very long time.
I agree with Justice Stevens on gerrymandering. I would set up a Federal Congressional Districting Commission, for a lack of a better term, to review states' redistricting decisions. States could still draw their own U.S. House districts but could no longer draw them for partisan advantage.
There will be a future post on this blog about campaign finance with more detail, perhaps this week. Voters need, at the very least, to know where the money that is going to candidates is coming front so that they can make informed decisions about their representation in Congress. Congress should pass full-disclosure of all political contributions.
As a Liberal Democrat that the Second Amendment embodies the right to self-defense and the right to life. For that to mean anything, you have to have the right to protect your own life. So, I oppose any constitutional amendment that would empower the state, at any level, to prohibit gun ownership for adults.
Sometimes it's great to be a lawyer, especially when you are talking about the First Amendment. But since I'm not a lawyer I'll have to use my skills as a Liberal instead and what I've read about the First Amendment to explain this.
The First Amendment protects the rights of individuals to say whatever they want to short of libeling, harassing, or inciting violence. Someone could have the most intelligent opinions or the dumbest and expression of all is protected as long as it does not cause legally actionable harm to others. For instance, you can believe that your next door neighbor is an asshole or have racist opinions about that individual but you can't act upon your beliefs by physically attacking them or damaging their property.
Bankers can have negative views about American Indians but they can't them deny them their services. They cannot foreclose on anyone because they do not like the community to which they belong.
The U.S. income tax is now the biggest book ever written in the history of the world, at least as far as I know, standing at over one-million pages. How would you like that for a book review homework assignment? This system is in drastic need of reform. I propose a National Progressive Consumption Tax or NPCT.
This eliminates, perhaps, the biggest book in world history and tells Americans that what they make and earn is legally and officially theirs but Uncle Sam will take a percentage of what they spend to provide the needed services that only the Federal Government can. This system eliminates a lot of taxpayer funded subsidies to businesses and wealthy individuals. No one would be able to avoid the NPCT except the working poor who would receive a scale of exemptions to replace the Earned Income Tax Credit. They would be eligible for other subsidies to help them move up the economic ladder simply by reporting their annual income to the IRS. The NPCT would be progressive because low-income people spend almost all of their money on the basic necessities of life which would be taxed at a lower rate than luxury goods.
The NPCT would be good for economic growth. Taxes on capital gains and business incomes could be reduced. Basic necessities would be taxed at low rates. Food, housing, and non-luxury transportation will be consumed because people have to have those things. The wealthy would continue to spend money on their play toys even if those things are taxed more highly.
Savings will be encouraged, resulting in less consumer debt. In the next recession, people would have the means to continue supporting themselves and we would have less need for public assistance.
There is no pure free market economy in the world today. I use the term private market instead of free market and private enterprise instead of free enterprise. Any type of economy that's subjected to taxes and regulations is not free.
Individuals in any civilized and lawful society are not free to do anything that they want. Freedom in a civilized society is the freedom to live as we please not the freedom to hurt innocent people. Even a hundred years ago, we didn't have a completely free market. We had labor laws and anti-monopoly laws. In his article today, Richard Ebeling suggested that the U.S. had a free market economy back then. What we had was a private economy where most of the country's resources were out of Federal hands. Roughly sixty-percent of the American economy was in private hands.
Scandinavia is a bit different. All of these countries are social democracies. Their national governments own about fifty-five to sixty-percent of the economy, the same as in Britain. The rest of their economies are in private hands. The old capitalist vs. socialist debate is exactly that, old and, I would add, dead. Because every developed and developing country in the world, Mexico for example, has some type of a capitalist economic system.
Many European countries have socialist-capitalist systems, private enterprise combined with a robust welfare state to provide insurance for people when they aren't able to take care of themselves. They also provide services that socialists believe shouldn't be for-profit, basic human services that everyone needs. The U.S. is a little different. We have perhaps the largest private sector in the world but with a large regulatory state and a modest safety net for people who are down on their luck.
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.
In the 1920s and 30s, the U.S. economy was a pretty freewheeling affair. Taxes were low and regulation of the economy was minimal. Libertarians were as close to utopia as they had ever been. When the first Franklin Roosevelt administration took office, they were confronted with the Great Depression. The New Deal that they fashioned in response, though it seemed radical at the time, was actually a very practical, mainstream, economic response.
The Conservatives were saying that this was a natural fluctuation of the market and that it would recover on its own. On the Far-Left, the Socialists were saying that this is capitalism at its worst and a great example of how it doesn't work. We need to replace it and come up with a completely different economic system.
FDR was a pragmatic Progressive and didn't enter the White House with a bold agenda for dealing with the Great Depression. He had ideas but nothing big and bold. In airplane pilot's lingo "He created the New Deal by the seat of his pants." Saying that the Roosevelt Administration made it up as they went along is probably too loose but they put in ideas as they got them. They had not developed a New Deal agenda as far back as the 1932 presidential campaign.
The Socialists were calling for steep new taxes on the wealthy. I'm sure they wouldn't have left what was left of the middle class off the hook. They called for nationalization of industries and creation of a Nordic-like welfare state. The Libertarians were saying that government should stay out of the way and let the economy fix itself, if anything lower taxes and regulations on private capital.
FDR's New Deal was in the middle. It affirmed American capitalism as a good system that empowers millions of Americans to be successful. What it lacked, and what the New Deal provided, was an insurance system, paid for by the economy itself, for people who need help when the system failed. This is how Social Security, Unemployment Insurance and Welfare Insurance were created. The New Deal, included, as well, new infrastructure investment to do needed work that the private sector was neglecting and to provide employment to millions of Americans. Mr. Science: FDR- A History of The New Deal
Thom Hartmann should change the name of his political segment "The Lone Liberal" to The Lone Socialist. The Lone Liberal segment on this show is where Thom Hartmann, the supposed Liberal, takes on at least two right-wingers in a debate but socialism is really what Mr. Hartmann is espousing. He says that wealth is basically a bad thing and should be eliminated that so there are no longer extremes of income.
If you don't want Americans to be as productive as they can be and to enjoy the benefits of their productivity, then take away their incentive to be productive and successful. Taxing people at 100 percent of any income over a billion dollars or 90 percent over a million discourages our most productive people people from being productive.
I disagree with Barton Hinkle's column, at least in this sense. The First Amendment protects against censorship by government. We don't have First Amendment rights to say what we please on the premises of our employer. That employer could have a rule that certain subjects cannot be discussed during office hours. If they find one of their employees in violation of that rule, they would be well within their rights to sanction that employee.
Private businesses are allowed to operate under their own rules as long as they aren't violating the law. The First Amendment is binding on government, not private, entities. In Reason today, Hinkle used the example of the Dixie Chicks in 2003 when they spoke out against President Bush and the Iraq War. Country music stations pulled their songs and refused to play them. These stations, as private enterprises, have the right to play whatever music they want and do not have to disclose the reasons for their choices.
This blog talks about free speech and censorship on a regular basis, including several posts this week. It talks about laws or proposals from either the Left or the Right that propose to constrain American public expression. Government censorship of citizen expression is unconstitutional except for the release of classified information. Some forms of verbal aggression agains others, such as libel, harassment, the incitement of violence or false public warnings such as yelling, "Fire," in a crowded public space, can expose the perpetrator to criminal or civil sanctions.
A proposed law declaring homophobic language prohibited on the public airways or in print media because it is hateful would be in violation of the First Amendment as would a law prohibiting music or movies with certain forms of adult content. Either would be government censorship that doesn't meet any of the exceptions that I mentioned in the previous paragraph.
I like this idea of throwing out the Electoral College and going directly to a popular vote to decide the President of the United States as much as like the idea that wealthy people should get more votes than other people simply because you have more money. Instead of all voters being entitled to one and only vote, which is the way it is now, and has been since 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The whole idea of having the Electoral College is so that elections in more states matter and that presidential candidates have to campaign even in at least some small states if those states are swing states. New Hampshire being a perfect example of that but Iowa is another good example of that as well. You take that away and the Democrats will go to the Democratic big states and Republicans will go to the Republican big states to lock down their bases and run up the votes needed to win. And then perhaps go to a few key swing states to get them over fifty-percent. With the rest of the country still getting to vote but without much influence in who is the next President of the United States.
Not saying the Electoral College is perfect and I agree to a certain extent that it is undemocratic because we've had unpopular people elected President of the United States before. George W. Bush case in point in 2000. But if you are familiar with this blog at least you know that America is not a pure democracy in the sense that everything is done by majority rule to begin with. We are a Federal Constitutional Republic in the form of a liberal democracy where our individual rights can't be taken away by a simple majority vote.
New York, New York, what a city. Trust me, that sounds funnier with my fake New York accent than it does with my fake Philadelphia accent, for some reason. New York might be the only big city in America except, perhaps, San Francisco that produces popular politicians who believe that it's their duty to protect their constituents from themselves. And that they do not get any negative political feedback as a result.
Maybe New Yorkers believe that they are too dumb to decide for themselves what or how much food and drink they should consume or whether or not they should smoke or when they should go to bed. Should they be able to smoke marijuana or have to go to jail for their own good if they do smoke or possess marijuana. Should they be allowed to look at pornography or not? Should they be able to gamble their own money or not? What's the next NYC prohibition, sex before marriage or sex with someone of the same sex?
Only in New York and perhaps San Francisco could big city politicians get away with trying to micro-manage the lives of their constituents. Just about everywhere else they would be seen for what they are which are nanny statists. You think the welfare state is too much government. Well some of those high taxes you would pay would also be directed towards the nanny state. Having cops on the street to put people to bed at night or take cigarettes or Doritos out of their mouths does not come for free.
1964 is a big year in 2014, for several reasons. There are a few huge fifty-year anniversaries coming up, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Barry Goldwater winning the Republican nomination for president and Ronald Reagan coming on the national political scene. The third one is the main point of this post because Ron Reagan is far and away the most popular Republican President in modern American history.
This is why Republicans are always quoting Reagan or calling themselves "Reagan Conservatives" whether they are or not. There are Republicans who call themselves "Reagan Conservatives" and then there are actual Reagan Conservatives or Goldwater Republicans who actually practice what they claim to be their political philosophy. They are for limited government and individual freedom, not big government intrusion into our personal lives.
John McCain, Jeff Flake, Rand Paul, and dMike Lee are all current U.S. Senators who are Reagan Conservatives because they stand by the key Reagan principles of limited government, individual freedom, peace through strength, and individual rights. Then, there are Republicans who falsely claim to be Reagan Conservatives in order to get elected such as Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Governor Rick Scott of Florida. They claim to be against big government except when they want Big Brother in our homes and bedrooms. They associate themselves with Reagan to gain political power. It is up to voters to validate their claims. Reagan Foundation: President Ronald Reagan- 1985 Corespondents Dinner
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.
A primary advantage of living in a liberal democracy is the ability to say what is on your mind without fear of government interference or sanction or suppression by private groups. The Constitution constrains the government's reaction and requires the public safety departments of government to protect all from private aggression. This freedom and protection are enjoyed even by those who say things that are offensive or ignorant. The Anne Coulters of the world can say Latinos aren't real Americans, women shouldn't have the right to vote, or complain about "the browning of America" as she did at CPAC 2014. The Bill Maher's of the Far-Left can take shots at Southern Anglo-Saxon Christians and Caucasian people in general. Again, neither side need fear censorship, sanction, or violence.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution creates large difference betweens the domains of public discourse in America and Europe. Europeans believe that they need government to protect them from things that they may find to be offensive, even if that means arresting or censoring people for saying hateful things in public. America is obviously a completely different society and culture. We are simply more individualistic and believe that freedom trumps all as long as we aren't harassing or libeling people or committing or inciting violence.
Keep in mind that the freedom to offend also comes with the possibility that you, yourself, may be offended without legal recourse other than publicly justifying and defending yourself. You will not be entitled to any official legal sanction against the person who offended you.
The First Amendment protection of offensive language must be equally defended for all, regardless of political affiliation, especially in a country that is as politically as divided as we are. Partisan media have equal rights and responsibilities when it comes to offending either side. Neither side is entitled to special treatment under the law.
As far back as early 2006, it was not only clear that Democrats would win back Congress that year, at least the House of Representatives with, perhaps, a 50-50 split in the Senate, but that then Senator Hillary Clinton would not only win the Democratic nomination for president in 2008 but probably win the general election as well unless the Republican Party was smart enough to nominate Rudy Guliani, Senator John McCain, or someone else on the Right, but who could win Independents and also beat Senator Clinton in the swing states.
Well, Democrats did win back Congress in 2006 (both the House and Senate) and Senator Clinton served in the majority party in the 110th Congress of 2007-08. But last time I checked, she's not the President of the United States, wasn't on the ballot at all in 2012 and served as Secretary of State in the first Obama Administration. Why is that? Well, she lost to then freshmen Senator Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination for president. Before his great keynote address for Senator John Kerry at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, most Americans had never heard of him.
As late as late 2007, then Senator Obama didn't seem to have much of a shot at winning the Democratic nomination for president. It was his great speech at the Thomas Jefferson dinner in Iowa in December of 07 that made him a major player and perhaps carried the Iowa Caucus for him that year. He was able to inspire people to get behind a cause for the society as a whole. This was his theme for president in 2007-08.
I'm not sure if the Clinton presidential campaign was expecting a cakewalk to the Democratic nomination for president but they weren't expecting a major challenger either. Quite frankly, most of the Democratic Party, including me, as well as most of the national media weren't expecting a strong challenge to Hillary for the Democratic nomination. At the time, the possibility of being the first female President of the United States, the Democrat who was the most electable, and what people saw as a strong resume seemed to be enough for Hillary Clinton to be President.
I have a prediction for 2015-16: If the Hillary campaign believes the same strategy for winning the nomination and the presidency will work in 2016 even though it failed in 2008, they'll lose and, perhaps, lose big. Not the presidency itself, because, as Newt Gingrich has acknowledged, there isn't a Republican standing who can beat her right now, almost regardless of the campaign she runs, if she avoids major mistakes and nothing emerges from her record that could seriously damage her. Her lack of a presidential vision and theme provides the opening that Brian Schweitzer, Martin O'Malley or Andrew Cuomo could exploit to defeat her for the Democratic nomination. Any of those three would have that vision and theme to use against her.
I understand all the yearnings to have the first female President of the United States. If the best candidate for president is a woman or Hillary wins the Democratic nomination, I'll vote for her. But running for the presidency of the United States is applying for the most important job in the world. To win that job you not only have to beat out all of the other applicants but you also have to show the country why you are the best applicant and what you intend to do after you are hired. Hillary hasn't done that yet. She's still playing it safe as if it were 2007-08 all over again.
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.
Jonathan Chait had a column in the, formerly liberal (ha ha) New Republic magazine arguing that, as we celebrate tax day, the U.S. should be thinking about increasing taxes on everyone across the board except for the working poor. He based his argument on the example of Scandinavia. They have much higher tax rates than we do and have traditionally had a very strong economy. They have good public services with a very generous welfare state and, as a result, have had strong economic outcomes.
Ross Douhat, a columnist for the, lets say, progressive New York Times opinion page wrote a response to Chait's column. In it, he laid out why higher taxes work in Scandinavia and why they wouldn't work here. For example, Sweden is physically about the size of Turkey but has only about nine-million people. Sweden is also not only energy independent but also a net-exporter of oil and gas. They produce a hell of a lot of energy with a lot of land and a small population to take care of. To put it in simple terms, they can afford to be generous with their welfare state.
The U.S., on the other hand, is physically the size of a freaking continent going from one ocean to another, with a three-thousand mile border on the North with Canada and a two-thousand mile border with Mexico on the South and a population of over three-hundred and ten million people. It is a net-importer of oil.We are still paying other countries for our energy supplies and paying them to defend them.
We have a seventeen-trillion dollar national debt and have been basically stuck in, or trying to recover from, one recession or another since 2001. We simply do not have the resources to pay for what we currently owe to our population. We also have a high poverty rate compared to the rest of the developed world. Our working class is struggling just to pay their current tax obligations. Most Americans simply can't afford Mr. Chait's, and others, socialist, big government tax rates now.
When our economy was booming in the 1980s and 1990s, our taxes were low and our government budget to GDP ratio was low. In plain English, the percentage of the national economy that the Federal Government spent was low in the 1980s and 90s. In both decades, we had low unemployment, high economic growth and record low poverty levels. This is what we are trying to get back to and we need to protect middle class tax payers by not increasing their rates. At the same time, we need to invest more in infrastructure, education and job training so that more Americans can live in freedom and not depend on income assistance.
If we want to encourage people to eat healthy diets and take care of themselves, we have to change the Federal Government's farm policy to stop subsidizing junk food and soft drinks and to change our Food Assistance programs so that low-income people can afford healthier diets. We need to change the crop allotments of the farm subsidy programs, which were set many decades ago, to reduce or eliminate subsidies for animal feed crops and to shift those funds to crops that are more healthy for human consumption. Food Assistance funds should not pay for junk food and drinks but should be targeted on healthy foods and drinks.
This is a good example of how encouragement, or subsidization, of positive behavior, which has been the New Democratic approach to problem solving going back to the early 1990s or further, beats the paternalistic big government approach that says, "Dammit, these things aren't good for you so Big Brother isn't going to let you have them."
The encouragement or subsidization approach realizes the fundamental fact that telling someone that they shouldn't or can't do something that they've been doing, and enjoying, for as long as they can remember will not stop them from doing it. But you can show them that there is a better way and give them financial incentives to improve their behavior.
A Liberal isn't a fascist. Liberals believe in the First Amendment which guarantees freedom of speech and assembly. They wrote it, for crying out loud, and the Fourth and Fifth Amendments as well. Tolerance of views with which they disagree is fundamental to liberal philosophy.
I'm not saying there aren't fascists on the Left. The Communist parties are examples. The Democratic Party, of which I'm a proud member, has a Far-Left fringe that would like to outlaw not only hate speech but certain forms of pornography that they view as sexist, and some right-wing media, A few months ago, Fred Jarome wrote a piece in the far-left magazine, Salon, arguing for nationalizing FOX News and news in general to make America a fairer and better place where the Federal Government controls the flow of information to the public. (Its hard to say that without laughing)
Every time I hear the words liberal and fascist put together, especially as "liberal fascists," I feel like throwing a baseball through a window. Thank God, marijuana has been decriminalized in Maryland so next time I see that I'll have that to calm me down or cool me out, whatever the phrase is, chillax.
Yesterday, Matt Welch had a column in the libertarian magazine, Reason, talking about big government paternalists on the Left. He said that Progressives not only want to manage American's economic lives but their personal lives, as well. Links to that article and to a post byThe New Democrat will be on this blog. Welch was basically talking about what he sees as paternalistic and prohibitionist Progressives, people who want to outlaw fun things for Americans' own good.
Today, Jacob Sullum, an editor at Reason, had a column in Townhall talking about prohibitionist, big government, statist Republicans. They want Uncle Sam to outlaw things that think are dangerous and deny Americans and the states the right to make these decisions for themselves. Today's Tea Party Republicans like to talk about principles and standing by them.
Before you can stand by your principles you have to have some and you can't abandon them every time somebody in the private sector or at the state level gets involved in activities that you personally do not like. If you invoke a Federal solution in such cases, you are putting yourself in the position of some kind of god or something that has the moral judgement and authority to make such decisions for the entire country. Except for Rand Paul and Rick Perry, you don't see a lot of Federalists in the Republican Party, right now.
The paternalistic statists on the Left want to outlaw, at the Federal level, hate speech, gambling, soft drinks, firearms, tobacco, and, perhaps, alcohol. Some of them want to continue marijuana prohibition and, even, outlaw right-wing media. This statist wing of the Left definitely exists and is the farthest left that the left wing gets, while still believing in some form of democracy.
There are paternalistic statists on the Right as well. If the crews of Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachmann ever had their way, pornography, gambling, same-sex-marriage and, perhaps, homosexuality would all be illegal at the Federal level with no provisions for options at the state level. And, of course, marijuana would remain illegal.
Labels and principles have real meanings. If you are going to call yourself a Federalist and a believer in individual freedom, you should know what those words mean and realize that you live in a liberal democracy where other people have the freedom to do things of which you personally do not approve. You should know, as well, that we are a Federal Republic with the police powers reserved to the fifty states by the U.S.Constitution. If you don't, then when you put labels on yourself, you are just calling yourself names.
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. Secular Talk: The Culture War is Over and The Right Lost
In the fall of 2011, Congress, with a Republican House and Democratic Senate, reached a debt ceiling agreement with President Obama. As part of that agreement, Congress took on the monumental task of finding an additional two-trillion dollars, I believe, in savings when they wrote the Federal budget for fiscal year 2012. The U.S. Congress has only three tasks every year, passing the budget, the appropriations bills that follow, and performing oversight over the executive branch.
Saying that Congress has the monumental task of writing the budget is like saying that Joe the cab driver has the monumental task of driving somebody to the airpot. That's his job. Joe probably drives somebody to the airport at least once a day. Or that Sally has the monumental task of waking up in the morning and getting ready to go to work. Unless Sally is unemployed, this is something that she does every weekday. For Congress, their routine duties area virtually beyond their capabilities. The petty, short-sighted, and utterly irrational partisanship consumes Congress everyday.
I'm a Democrat and I don't believe that both sides are equally at fault here. The Democratic leaders are willing to working with the Republican Leaders to do what needs to be done, whereas the Republican Leadership is scared (pardon the word) shitless of working with Democrats on anything because of the Tea Party. But Republicans have of course the Tea Party to contend with and not having to deal with a primary challenge if they do not compromise with Democrats and get a real deal. But Democrats have lets call them the Occupy Wall Street faction of their party that they do not want to have to deal with when they are running for reelection as well. And you prevent that from happening by not negotiating with Republicans especially on entitlements.
So, we are left with gridlock. The art of the possible, in the words of the great Progressive Democratic Senator Hubert Humphrey, becomes the skill of the impossible. Where both sides become experts on nothing, that is doing nothing as well as perhaps actual experts on nothing. Because if either side compromises they risk getting primaries,(to use a Congressional term) in the next election. "Hey I might not get everything I want or what I get perhaps even looks like nothing or the twin of nothing, but at least the other side aint getting anything either". Which is why the perfect name for any Washington pro sports franchise would be the Washington Gridlocks where nothing gets done.
Progressivism, at least as it has been practiced in recent times, has been a political philosophy that is about using government to make society better at supporting people in need, not to run everything for everybody and eliminate economic and personal choices on the assumption that Americans are simply too dumb to manage their own affairs. The Progressive era began with Teddy Roosevelt and was continued by his cousin Franklin through Harry Truman and up to Lyndon Johnson.
In the mid and late 1960s, the New Left appeared from within the Baby Boom Generation. This big government movement believed that the Federal Government needed to go much further, no longer playing its traditional supportive role but now directing people's lives, by force if necessary. It started as a protest against the Vietnam War. It evolved to believing that government should move towards the European welfare state to take care of people because capitalism is dangerous.
It presumed to know what is best for you and how you should live. Parts of it believed that compliance with its recommendations should be required. "If you don't live this way, Uncle Sam will punish you for your own good."
In 2012, Mayor Mike Bloomberg of NYC pushed a ban of extra large soft drinks through the NYC Council. It was later overturned in court. I respect Mayor Bloomberg very much for his honesty and business competence which transformed the NYC Government into a pretty efficient operation, able to respond quickly and effectively to problems facing the city. When he made those proposals, I, among others, called him a paternalist and a nanny statist.
This was a new manifestation of the motivation behind alcohol prohibition in the 1930s and the War on Drugs, from the early 1970s, from which we still suffer. The whole notion that government knows best on drink and drugs and punishment is the best mechanism for ensuring compliance has been proven wrong time and again.
The New Left wants to replace government's supportive role with a guarantee of general welfare. It would no longer be government's role to protect and support people in need but to direct how they should live. The means-tested safety net and public assistance are no longer good enough. We now need a welfare state to take care of everyone because government can do a better job of it than the private sector or individuals, themselves.
It would be enough for me, as a Liberal, if the New Left were just big government, high tax, socialist welfare statists but it gets worse. They want to interpret the general welfare clause of the constitution to support their case that government's role should go beyond economic support to include lifestyle management because personal freedom can be dangerous. They can't have people deciding for themselves what or how much to eat, drink, or smoke or what to say in public or to each other.
Gun control is an issue that is still pretty popular with Liberals and Progressives and Independents as well. But to give you an example of how the Left has changed and that now we have a center-left and a far-left some fifty years later give or take, gun control is not good enough doesn't go far enough today with today's so-called Progressives. Who are really the New Left in America and as leftist comedian and political pundit Bill Maher said on his show Real Time with Bill Maher. "Gun control is really a center-right position and the real alternative should be about gun prohibition instead in private hands.
What is the role of the media in this Brave New World? How does the government employ the media to support and promote its new role? Fred Jerome addressed this in Salon in January or February of this year. There's a link to his article on this blog. He makes the case for "democratizing the news," using FOX News as an example. He argues for nationalizing FOX News and, perhaps, news in general. He suggests that Americans should get their news from someone who'll decide what they need to know, which could be the U.S. Government. This, of course, would violate the First Amendment and our generally accepted concept of freedom of press. In addition, he envisions a world of a multitude of small circulation journals published by workers unions, community organizations, etc. He seems oblivious of the possibility that, under a socialist regime, a "Commissar of Truth" could exert control over all such spontaneously occurring news sources. Modern China is an example.
This blog talks a lot about political labels, for good reason. They have real meaning, when they are used correctly, and are a good way to analyze political philosophy. However they are mis-used so much in American political discourse, especially by people who know as much about liberalism and conservatism as fish know about auto racing, that I want to set out a scheme for separating the schools of political thought.
I'm thinking of something like a billboard of all of the great ideological politicians in American history, from the far-left to the far-right. Norman Thomas the great former Socialist Party presidential candidate would represent the Socialists. President Lyndon Johnson would represent the Progressives. President Thomas Jefferson or two-time Republican presidential nominee Wendell Willkie, who was actually to the left of President Franklin Roosevelt on civil liberties, individual freedom and civil rights, or President John Kennedy could represent the Liberals.
Mr. Conservative himself, Senator Barry Goldwater, could represent the conservatives. Of course, Ron Paul could represent the Libertarians and Ross Perot, the Independents, people who are not far enough left or right to be Democrats or Republicans, or sufficiently conscious, politically, to know where they are.
It's interesting to see how these labels play out in the real world. New York City is an interesting political laboratory. It is stereotyped as one of the most the leftist cities in America. People who live there will tell you that it's a very far-left, big government, high-taxing, nanny city where jumbo soda and junk food bans can get passed without politicians having to worry about losing their jobs. How else could someone as far to the left as Bill De Blasio be elected mayor?
New York City has moved to the left of FDR's progressive New York toward a socialist utopia where government is responsible for improving people's lives instead of the people having the freedom to do so for themselves, when provided the necessary opportunities by government. Progressives abhor a government that tries to run people's lives for them.
Real Progressives believe that government must provide or protect certain services and legal rights that are necessary for fully civilized life, e.g., public safety, civil liberties, public health, health care, education, public transportation, physical infrastructure, economic support for the unable, etc.
Government should not be involved in the management of the lives of individuals who are capable of succeeding on their own. This philosophy precludes government involvement in religion and personal decision-making across the board that doesn't involve individuals hurting innocent people. Like medical decision making, i.e., religious observances, the voluntary ending of life for the infirm elderly, termination of unwanted pregnancy, etc.
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.
The Republican Party learned a long time ago, lets say back in 1993-94 when they were planning a takeover of Congress, that they represent a lot of ignorant Americans whom they need to keep them in power. These people collect the public assistance, that the party likes to bash, to support themselves because they are too dumb to finish high school and get the skills that they need to be successful in life.
I mention this because the GOP, led by political wordsmith Frank Luntz, are the masters of the word game in politics, something that Democrats have only caught on to since 2005-06, when they saw their opportunity to finally win back Congress.
So, as Bill Maher said, the estate tax is the death tax.
To quote Representative Michelle Bachmann, same-sex-marriage and pornography are threats to national security, not just immoral.
Gun regulation is complete state-control of firearms in America.
Health insurance expansion and a Patients Bill of Rights are a government takeover of health care.
To the rest of the country, which finished high school and gets its news from some place other than the Washington Times or FOX News, these charges are garbage. But to uneducated Americans, who don't know any better, it looks completely reasonable to vote Republican in election after election to keep those immoral Democrats from taking over.
"The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is an American public broadcaster and television program distributor. It is a nonprofit organization and the most prominent provider of educational television programming to public television stations in the United States, distributing series such as American Experience, America's Test Kitchen, Antiques Roadshow, Arthur, Barney & Friends, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Downton Abbey, Finding Your Roots, Frontline, The Magic School Bus, Masterpiece Theater, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Nature, Nova, the PBS NewsHour, Reading Rainbow, Sesame Street, Teletubbies, Keeping up Appearances and This Old House."
"Bob Newhart's character on "The Bob Newhart Show" was purposefully made a psychologist to focus on his ability to listen "funny." Learn more about Newhart's resolve to keep his character authentic in PIONEERS OF TELEVISION "Standup to Sitcom," premiering Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 8:00pm ET."
Bob Newhart's unique sense of humor was the thematic core of the Bob Newhart Show. If you are wondering who the Bob Newhart Show was named after, you are probably also wondering what state Florida is in. I make that crack because it is a pretty good example of Bob Newhart's sense of humor. It was very dry, like the Mojave Desert, with no real physical or emotional expression. He would say very funny lines with a completely straight face.
Newhart played psychologist Bob Hartley, who lived and ran a private practice in Chicago. He played himself in the role as a very straight-laced, almost totally unemotional person who delivered a lot of great lines as if he were on stage.
This is sort of hard to explain in writing but he would deliver great sarcastic lines with a straight face that someone who isn't very quick or lacks a great sense of humor could easily take seriously. Anyone with a quick wit could easily tell that he was joking.
To give you an example: Bill Daily who played the Hartley's neighbor in their apartment building was always coming over without knocking on the door first and would just walk in. After he would come into the Hartley apartment, Dr. Bob would say:"Come in, Howard." after Howard was already in the apartment. That might sound simplistic and trivial but Newhart had such a quick and accurate way of uttering such lines that they were hilarious.
Source:Hang The Bankers- because the truth, honesty, and free speech, are more important?
"People often complain about libertarians being rude and obnoxious. It’s not nearly as widespread a problem as some would make it out to be, and contrary to popular belief, this did not begin with me. To the extent that it does exist, I have become to many this sort of picture of the asshole libertarian who doesn’t give a shit about your feelings or opinions. So I figured I’d put this list together of why libertarians aren’t nice to you. Even libertarians who are nice to you, I think will get a kick out of it, because despite their outward appearances, they are every bit as frustrated with your statism as we are. Feel free to bookmark it and produce it every time you hear someone make this complaint
Contrary to popular belief (and yes I feel like a geek for saying that) I'm not a Libertarian. Anyone who doesn't believe that will have all the evidence they need after they read this post. I know this is shocking and for anyone who is feeling completely overwhelmed feel free to get loaded on their favorite alcoholic beverage or perhaps something illegal to help calm them down. I hear marijuana has now been decriminalized in Maryland. I'm not interested in eliminating the Federal Government, except for perhaps three departments. Just don't ask Rick Perry which three those are.
There are several reasons that I'm not a Libertarian.
One: Unlike Alex Jones I'm sane, don't live in a mental hospital and am not an escaped mental patient.
Two: I'm not a big enough asshole to be a Libertarian and view everyone who doesn't agree with me one-hundred percent of the time as a statist or big government lover, as we saw in Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign.
Three: Referring to number one, I don't believe 9/11 was an inside job orchestrated by the United States Government. We were actually attacked by foreign terrorists, as all of the hard evidence indicates.
Four: Referring again to one, I don't believe Barack Obama is a foreigner, born in another country. I not only know where Hawaii is but I can find it on a map. Like ninety-percent or more of the rest of the country I believe Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961. His Hawaiian birth certificate is a hell of a big clue, the smoking gun, if you will.
The stereotype of Libertarians is that they are pot addicts who may have done time in prison for non-pot related activities. They are like from another planet where government doesn't exist and have the idea that because they didn't vote for the administration in power they don't have to follow their laws or rules.
As long as Libertarians are viewed through this stereotype as people who want to destroy government, at least where they live, they'll always be viewed as anarchists or escaped mental patients who don't deserve the keys to a big wheel let alone the keys to the car that governs the nation. But Libertarians aren't interested in political power, right. Just the power to be left alone. So I guess they have no real incentive to change their ways.
The thing about the Republican critique of the Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare, especially from the Tea Party, that has probably annoyed me the most, is the fact that they've never been able to present an alternative of their own. Even when they took back control of the House of Representatives in 2011, they offered nothing but but repeal and cut. "We'll get rid of ObamaCare or, at least try to, knowing that the Democratic Senate will block it and then we'll start over and do it again (50 times and counting)." The Keystone Cops were not that dumb. They probably would have stopped at 10. The GOP message seemed to be. "Let's go back to the old health insurance system, pre-2010, that left roughly fifty-million Americans without coverage and then maybe we'll come up with something better later (Please hold your breath).
Its is now 2014, another election year, with a new Congress and still the same players in charge. A Republican House and a Democratic Senate and over three years later still waiting to see the House Republican Leadership articulate an alternative to the Affordable Care Act. Had they had that alternative, gee I don't know, maybe back in 2009-10 when they were completely out of power, when voters were saying we don't like ObamaCare yet but we don't like the old system either the Republicans could have said, "We understand both your concerns and this is the alternative we would offer if we had the power to do it."
We have seen proposals from different Republican groups. including the Heritage Foundation and The American Enterprise Institute but without Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor in the House saying, "This is the way we should go. Lets assign that bill to the proper committees, have hearings, and even mark it up and maybe we'll get some House Democrats, who are worried about reelection because of ObamaCare, to join us." But, we're still waiting for the Republican congressional leadership to articulate a health care reform plan.
It seems to me, an outsider, even though I live in the Washington area, that Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stepped down, at least partially, because she was tired of dealing with the idiots in the Congressional Tea Party. These stupid and rabidly partisan members, especially in the House, showed her not an atom of respect. In hearings, they would use all of their time attacking the Affordable Care Act vociferously and mindlessly without regard to fact or reason. They were so ignorant and rude that, many times, they would not let her respond to their own questions. Secretary Sebelius would just have to sit there and listen to their rude, stupid, and ignorant verbal garbage.
The 1964 Civil Rights Act was one of the best pieces of legislation that the U.S.Congress ever passed and that a President ever signed into law. It is the overwhelming positive piece of the legacy of President Lyndon Johnson. It ended legal racial discrimination, the denial of access to public accommodations to people because of their race. It is still the law of the land because the property rights argument has never held water, when it comes to racial discrimination.
Former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, President George W. Bush's younger brother, has never shown that keen an interest in being President of the United States, that drive that says you not only want the job but that you believe you are the most qualified person in the country to do the job. He would have several strikes against him in the eyes of the ignorant far-right in the GOP (see above), immigration, education, civil rights, common sense, etc. He's simply not dumb enough to be a member of that part of the party. I don't see how he could win the GOP nomination and he seems to know this. He appears to be very reluctant to walk into the weed-whacker of the Tea Party's ignorance, stupidity and bigotry. This is good for the Democrats and bad for the GOP (Thank you Richard Nixon for your southern strategy) because he would be far and away their best and most qualified candidate for president.
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.