Friday, May 9, 2014

PBS: Video: NewsHour: Shields and Brooks on the Flagging Labor Force, Congressional Mid-Terms & Foreign Policy

I agree with Mark Shields and David Brooks when they say that the jobs report is good news and a positive step.  If we get a few more reports like this it will be good for Democrats because Americans will see that the economy is improving.  More importantly, it will be good for the country to see job reports near three-hundred-thousand per month, several months in a row, and see many Americans gong  back to work,

As far as the mid-terms, that 27-60 right track wrong track direction for the country, according to the Washington Post ABC News poll, is like a baseball team that should be a strong contender but is 10-15 games out of first place at the all star break. Not something that could kill your season by itself but is bad news and a problem that Democrats are going to have to overcome and bring down or risk not just losing the Senate, in November, but taking big losses in the House as well.

When a big problem in foreign policy occurs, President Obama continues to be criticized for getting caught off guard and not having a vision from which he can derive responses.  Mark Shields hit on that in this video where he said that "President Obama is a great speaker but where he's lacking in foreign policy is an ability to make to clear what his vision is and what he believes."

Crooks and Liars: Opinion- Dave Johnson- "Democrats Who Move Right Lose Elections: There is No Center": Tell That to Red State Democrats

Source: Wikipedia-
Source:Crooks and Liars

The former great, RIP, Progressive Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tip O'Neal, had a saying, "All politics are local."  Well, of course, that is not all true but a lot of it is, especially when you are talking about Congressional elections where only voters in a district or state  vote for the next Representative or Senator for that seat in the next Congress.

This means that, whether you are a candidate or the incumbent, you have to know the district or state that you represent, or want to represent, in order to get elected and reelected. To put it simply, you can't be a Bernie Sanders Socialist running statewide in Mississippi and expected to get elected. Keep in mind that Senator Bernie Sanders represents Vermont, probably the most socialist leaning state in the union, with a population of around eight-hundred-thousand and only one U.S. Representative.

You can't be a religious-right candidate, who wants to incorporate their religious views into law, and expect to be elected statewide in New Hampshire, which just happens to be the most liberal-libertarian state in the Union. It, again, is small state with little more than a million people but it is the "Live Free or Die state" that doesn't like big government, economic or personal, and wants government to butt out of individual's lives.

I still give Senate Democrats the edge in retaining the U.S. Senate in November and I don't see them losing a lot of seats in the U.S. House either. I say that because, since 2005-06, they've figured out that the way to win House and Senate seats is by having their candidates represent the districts and states they are running in politically and ideologically. That means not recruiting Democrats who are as far to the left as, lets say, Elizabeth Warren, running in Red States but, in such situations, have fiscally conservative, socially moderate to liberal candidates instead.

They also recruit New Democrats, the real Liberals of the Democratic Party, the JFK/WJC wing of the party, to run in the Northeast and Midwest and even the West Coast and Mid Atlantic. Democrats who are very liberal on social issues and believe in economic opportunity and empowerment instead of  government dependence.  This makes them pretty liberal on economic issues as well.  You recruit for the district and state instead of saying that Socialist Bernie Sanders and New Deal Progressive Elizabeth Warren can get elected anywhere in the country.  That is beyond political fantasy.

The social democrat, Occupy Wall Street, wing of the Democratic Party believes in recruiting the most left Democrat possible and getting out the vote for that person.  The Democratic Party has many leftist members of Congress who work only to advance their agenda and will never work with Republicans on anything.  They wonder why Democrats lost 5-6 presidential elections from 1968-88 and lost the U.S. Senate in 1980 and Congress as a whole in 1994.

Senators Mark Pryor, Mary Landrieu, Kay Hagan, Mark Begich, Senate candidates Allison Grimes, Michelle Nunn, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Alaska, Kentucky and Georgia respectfully are the potential for Democrats to hold the Senate in 2014.  They are Senators from deeply red states but are perfectly tailored to represent them because these states tend to like candidates and incumbents who are somewhat independent and aren't afraid to go against their party establishment and aren't very far to the right or left politically.  They all have a non-elitist, non-Washington, common person approach to  politics.

Democrats hold the Senate now with a 55-45 majority because they have a lot of senators who represent red states.  They could easily pick up 3-4 more with Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi and Kansas, states with unpopular Republican incumbents because they recruit for the state instead of the party.  The  Republican Party hasn't figured this out yet.  They have 45 senators and are in the minority because they are fanatically bound to nominate the furthest right candidate no matter the district or state.
Sam Seder: You'll Never Guess What Red State Democrat Might Win

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Thom Hartmann: Dr. Ravi Batra- A Revolution is Coming!

Source: Thom Hartmann
Source: Thom Hartmann: Dr. Ravi Batra- A Revolution is Coming

Just an editor's note: I watched about seventeen-minutes of this video and didn't hear a damn thing about any revolution.  Actually seventeen minutes before I started writing about this video and continued to watch it while I was blogging.

I'm getting tired of hearing these bold predictions about ending unemployment in a year or two, as in Dr. Ravi Batra's case, or even ten years.  These predictions are worth as much as a paper cup of creek water. You would only drink that if you were dying of thirst and had nothing else to drink.  We need to be talking about bringing unemployment down to historic levels, between 5-6 percent, since the late 1980s and getting back to the size of workforce that we had back in 2006-07.

To do that we need Congressional action.  We need to finally get back to rebuilding our infrastructure. We moved away from that in the early 2000s and have fallen deeply behind as a result. We need more access to job training and education for our low-skilled, low-income adult population.  We need to get companies to invest in those communities.  We need a real national energy policy built around producing American natural resources which create jobs inside of the United States.

We need, as well, to lower taxes on all investments and profits made inside of the United States, along with eliminating corporate welfare, so that more companies, domestic and foreign, would be encouraged to invest and make money in America.  This would get us back to strong economic growth of three-percent or more and create 200-300 thousand jobs a month with a falling unemployment rate, debt, and deficit.  Our economy would be headed back to full strength.

The Week: Opinion- Shikha Dalmia- Affirmative Action is Doomed: Here's What Progressives Should do About it

Source: The Week: Opinion- Shikha Dalmia- Affirmative Action is Doomed: Here's What Progressives Can do About it

The rhetoric of affirmative action is running out of steam.  The real Roosevelt (Franklin and Theodore) and LBJ Progressives need to step up to the plate and say "We are losing ground badly on this issue and we need a real progressive alternative now."  They should tell the New Left Socialists who believe in equality at all costs, "Shut the hell up and go back to the kiddy table where you belong because the adults are now back in charge and we'll take us to the promise land."

What I'm saying here is that the real Progressives in America not the far-left Socialists and leftists and statist micro-managers on the Left who want to run Americans' lives for them, want to use government to see that all Americans have a fair shot at living in freedom and taking advantage of that freedom and the opportunities it provides.  They need to  restore the Progressive good name with a positive economic agenda built around education and economic development that would benefit communities that are struggling in America right now.

Instead of giving Americans access and status because of their race, ethnicity or gender, empower them to obtain that access and status for themselves.  Whether you support affirmative action or not, and I don't, even as we are moving to a majority-minority country, affirmative action is losing political support and support in the judiciary, as well. There isn't a current majority for support on the U.S. Supreme Court and there may never be again.

What what the real Progressives need to do to counter this is to say what we are going to do instead.

We are going to back strict and effective enforcement of civil rights laws as they obtain to race, ethnicity and gender with financial sanctions being assessed on anyone guilty of violating these rights,  the funds from those financial sanctions going to the victims.

We are going to empower all Americans who are disadvantaged by poverty to get themselves out of it.  We are going to target communities with high levels of poverty which lack education and infrastructure, regardless of race and ethnicity and encourage companies to invest in those areas with good jobs, more than service sector jobs.  We will make job training opportunities available from both the public and private sectors for low-skilled, unemployed Americans so they can get good jobs.  We will empower these Americans to build their own businesses in their communities.

We are going to have a real education reform agenda that will not have to be approved by the teachers' unions. Yes, we are going to give more funding to the low-income communities for their skills.  We are going to encourage well-qualified Americans to teach in underserved communities. We are going to allow parents to send their kids to the public school of their choice.  No longer will they be trapped in a failing school not getting the education they need to be successful in life simply because of where they live.  Teachers' pay will be based on how well their students are learning, not how long they've been teaching.

If the goal is to lift more people out of poverty and reduce it to the point that it is no longer considered a big deal anymore,  like inflation, here's a progressive agenda that would benefit millions of low-income Americans whether they are adults or not. If the goal is to have a progressive agenda that benefits millions of African and Latin-Americans, who tend to come from low-income communities, here's one  that benefits those communities and would make affirmative action a thing of the past, as it should be.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The New Republic: David Fontana: U.S. Justice Sonia Sotomayor Schuette Dissent: A National Treasure

The New Republic: Opinion: David Fontana: U.S. Justice Sonia Sotomayor: Shulette Dissent: A National Treasure

U.S. Justice Sonia Sotomayor Dissent on the Shuelette Michigan Affirmative Action Case
"Consider this language from Sotomayor’s dissent, which is so unusually compelling in its simplicity in describing the daily experiences of millions of Americans:

Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grows up. Race matters to a young woman’s sense of self when she states her hometown, and then is pressed, “No, where are you really from,” regardless of how many generations her family has been in the country. Race matters to a young person addressed by a stranger in a foreign language, which he does not understand because only English was spoken at home. Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: “I do not belong here.”
"To see why this language matters, let’s put aside the merits of the case, which Jeffrey Rosen ably discussed, and focus on the audiences that this Sotomayor Style enables her to reach. "
U.S. Justice Sonia Sotomayor
"In my colleagues' view, examining the racial impact of legislation only perpetuates racial discrimination. This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination. As members of the judiciary tasked with intervening to carry out the guarantee of equal protection, we ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society. It is this view that works harm, by perpetuating the facile notion that what makes race matter is acknowledging the simple truth that race does matter."  

The New Democrat 

At some point, supporters of affirmative action are going to have figure out what is it for and why they support it. Is it to make up for the injustices to ethnic and racial minorities and Caucasian women in the past? Is it to make up for the fact that African-Americans and Latin Americans are behind Caucasian-Americans in economic and educational status?

This might be just the third time that I've agreed with and quoted Chief Justice John Roberts on anything. His decisions on the Affordable Care Act and the Defense of Marriage Act in 2012 and 2013  might be the only other times.  He got it perfectly right here when he said "If we are going to have a society where race does not matter, than race cannot matter."  He wasn't singling out any race or ethnicity.  He said "Race," period. 

That means that the United States Government cannot condone racial discrimination, even for good intentions to help communities that have been left behind. If the public or private sector discriminates against or for people because of their race, ethnicity or gender there will be distortions in the space of public transactions. Certain people would benefit from your discrimination, others would not.  In a society where race doesn't matter, not just officially but in actuality, you can't have laws that condone racial, ethnic, or gender discrimination as affirmative action does. 

Brookings Institution: Sr. Semone Campbell: 'Faith Has Political Consequences'

Source:Brookings Institution

The American Left, especially the Far-Left, gets stereotyped as being Atheist.  This is reinforced by MSNBC at any point when they are talking about religion.  Ditto,  Salon, The Nation, the AlterNet or  Bill Maher.  But, there's also a strong Religious Left in America and Sr. Simone Campbell is a perfect example of it.

The people of the Religious Left have very strong progressive and social democratic political tendencies.  They believe that their religion tells them to look after people and their communities and that government has a strong role to play in this. They believe in social justice and that all Americans should have equal access to freedom and true equality.

You could make a good case that the Religious Left came of age in the 1950s and 1960s with the civil rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  It was pushing for civil rights and equality for African-Americans but, by the late 1960s, they had  won those battles and moved on to talking about and and pushing for social justice and giving the Federal Government a bigger role to see that more Americans have what they need to live well.

Not everyone on the Left is an atheist, as much as we get stereotyped that way. I come from an atheist family but I'm a liberal and an agnostic.  There are liberal catholics and progressive protestants and  even socialist christians. The problem with stereotypes is that even though they are all based on some truth, it's never the whole truth.  It's a biased characterization of a group that others want the public to see.  The popular religious characterization  of the left is a perfect example of that.

The Dish: Opinion: Andrew Sullivan: Why Rand Paul Matters: Senator Paul's Critique of President Reagan's Fiscal Policy

The Dish: Opinion: Andrew Sullivan: Why Rand Paul Matters

For me, though, these clips make Paul’s candidacy more appealing, not less. What the GOP needs is an honest, stringent account of how it has ended up where it is – a party that has piled on more debt than was once thought imaginable and until recently, has done nothing much to curtail federal spending. Reagan was a great president in many ways, as Paul says explicitly in these clips.
But Reagan introduced something truly poisonous into American conservatism.
It was the notion that you can eat your cake and have it too, that tax cuts pay for themselves and that deficits don’t matter. This isn’t and wasn’t conservatism; it was a loopy utopian denial of math. And the damage it has done to this country’s fiscal standing has been deep and permanent. It is one of modern conservatism’s cardinal sins. And Paul is addressing it forthrightly – just as he is addressing the terrible, devastating consequences of neo-conservatism for America and the world in the 21st Century.
What we desperately need from the right is this kind of accounting. It’s what reformers on the left did in the 1990s – confronting the failures of their past in charting a new future. Taking on Reagan on fiscal matters may be short-term political death, as Corn suspects and maybe hopes, but it is vital if the GOP is to regain some long-term credibility on the core question of government solvency. Compared with the ideological bromides and slogans of so many others, Rand Paul is a tonic. And a courageous one at that. 
The New Democrat 
I really respect Senator Rand Paul and love Andrew Sullivan (you know platonically) because of their damned straight honesty and forthrightness.  Andrew, on his blog, The Dish, today compared the supply side economics of the Reagan and G.W. Bush administrations with the overreach of the Democratic Party at the time of the emergence of the New Left in America. The base of that party became so radical in the late 1960s and 1970s that it gave liberalism and Liberals a bad name.  It took Bill Clinton ,in the early 1990s, to bring the Democratic Party back to Earth, so to speak, and make it a center-left party again. 
Senator Rand Paul was speaking the plain truth when he said that President Jimmy Carter had a better, more responsible and conservative fiscal record than President Ronald Reagan.  President Carter had a balanced budget as one of his goals and he pushed that throughout his presidency. He had a very rough economy and never got there but it wasn't because of the overspending of his administration or the Congress.  It was because of the bad economy of the late 1970s and early 1980s. 
President Reagan abandoned the goal of a balanced Federal budget by 1984 in late 1981 or early 1982 when his Economic Recovery Act became law.  He was getting intelligence reports about the U.S.S.R. and the mess its economy was in.  Perhaps he got the idea that this would be the time to end the Cold War and put the Soviet Union out of business.  That meant building up the Defense Department in an attempt to bring the Russians to their knees so that they had to negotiate with the U.S. in order to survive economically. 
The fact is that our last fiscally conservative president was George H.W. Bush who was no radical,  right or left.  He had a pretty conservative fiscal policy and a tight monetary policy.  Without the 1990 Deficit Reduction Act that he negotiated with a Democratic Congress we wouldn't have reached the balanced budget in 1998 that we did. President Gerald Ford is probably the most fiscally conservative president we've ever had as far limiting what the Federal Government would do and spend.  It is not Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush.  They were both supply side borrowers and spenders. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Real News: Anton Woronczuk Interviewing Bruce Dixon: "Affirmative Action Ruling Will Further Racial Inequality"

Source: The Real News: Anton Woronczuk Interviewing Bruce Dixon- Affirmative Action Ruling Will Further Racial Inequality

This is the third post from The New Democrat on affirmative action this week.  It is a very important subject because it effects the whole country even though it doesn't benefit the whole country.  With all of the falsehoods being put out on the U.S. Supreme Court affirmative action decision this week, I believe that it's important to set the record straight and explain the narrow decision delivered and the judicial restraint demonstrated by the Roberts Court on this key issue.

SCOTUS ruled in a 6-2 decision that public institutions, by themselves, can't have their own affirmative action policies that consider race, ethnicity or gender, even as just one consideration, when granting access to public benefits.

I'm not a lawyer but what SCOTUS said was that for state institutions to have affirmative action policies, they must be developed through democratic processes. That since affirmative action effects the whole state, these policies need to be developed democratically by legislatures or voters and not by executive branch entities.

Mises Institute: Mises Daily: Julian Adorney: "Killing the Maximum Wage Myth": Why a Maximum Wage Would be a Horrible Idea

Mises Institute: Mises Daily: Julian Adorney: Killing the Maximum Wage Myth

People on the far left get labeled as Socialists because they have a tendency to advocate socialist policies that are more common in Europe than in America.  The notion of  "maximum wage" that talk show host Bill Maher began advocating back in February is a perfect example of this.

It's is almost impossible to ignore the hypocrisy of Bill Maher on this issue, especially since he's part of the financial one percent  that he likes to bash and call greedy.  If he thinks that these people make too much money,  he could initiate the correction by living on three-hundred-thousand dollars a year, his suggestion for the Federal maximum wage.  He could donate the rest of his income to Uncle Sam or his favorite charity, if he has one.  He could begin by setting the example of unselfishness and compassion that he wants to impose on the rest of the country by law.

The idea of a maximum wage is a bad idea. Americans, as much as anyone, are guilty of human nature. We need to be incentivized in order to be as productive. "If you do this, we'll give that and the better you are at doing what we want you to do, the more we'll pay you for it". Capitalism and private enterprise are built on incentive, supply and demand. The better you are at something, the more money you'll tend to make by providing that service to the market.

Do we have overpaid CEO's and do companies and employers tend to set wage rates instead of the market as a whole?  Of course, but that doesn't get fixed by telling people "once you make a certain amount of money Uncle Sam is going to take most of everything above that amount from you." Instead, we should focus on the lower middle and bottom end of the economy and empower and incentivize those people to be as successful as possible.

Prison Movement's Weblog: Yuram Abdullah Weiler: Profit From Prisoners: How UNICOR Capitalizes on Inmate Labor

Prison Movement's Weblog: Opinion: Yuram Abdullah Weiler: Profit From Prisoners: How UNICOR Capitalizes on Inmate Labor

The United States has a high convict recidivism rate, i.e., a large percentage of our prison inmates come back to prison after they finish their sentences.   70 % of ex-convicts return to prison. We also have a relatively large prison population.  About 1 of every 100 Americans is either in prison, on parole, or under some other type of supervised probation.

Because of these factors, we have high prison costs.  Prisons, as they are currently structured do not pay for themselves. There are a few exceptions to that among state prisons that are like family farms.  There are a few prisons in Louisiana where inmates work full-time producing food and other products for the institution but also to sell on the market and to other government agencies.

This post is about how to reduce the recidivism rate, the prison population and the associated  high costs.  The first step is educating the inmates who've decided that they want to improve themselves and end their criminal careers.  Once they have marketable skills, they can  work in prison factories and other prison business's and make a living for themselves and their families.

We should make prison industries real enterprises producing products for the prisons but also for other government agencies and the open market as well.  Local business could manage these industries  using the inmate population as their staff.  Instead of paying the inmates 20 cents or a dollar an hour, as is done now, they could pay them the local going rate for the work that they do.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Economist: Richard Davies Interviewing Zanny-Minton-Beddoes: Global Aging: Time to Rethink Retirement

Source: The Economist-
Source:The Economist

This emphasizes the great need for improving the skills of workers, especially in America which ranks 39th in the world in education.  That 1 in 5 Americans lives in poverty is already unacceptable. The more educated your population is the better your country will be when it comes to economic freedom. The more likely they'll be able to save to the point that perhaps they don't even need Social Security and Medicare when they retire. Because they either have a well-funded pension plan, or a private retirement account that provides them the income that they need to retire and live well. Which would even include blue-collar workers because now they'll have more skills and be able to move into management in their current company.. Or perhaps start their own company. Instead of being stuck with the same blue-collar job for most of their career that pays around 40-50 thousand-dollars a year and struggle just to pay for their cost of living. Let alone able to plan ahead for their own retirement.

Our aging population means current and future workers are going to have to work longer and be more productive.  They need to put more money away for their own retirements and be less dependent on the public safety net to provide them needed income when they retire. Because Congress has very little political interest to save the Social Security and Medicare system. And Congress tends to only go big when it comes to reform when it benefits both parties politically. And most of the solutions that would save Social Security and Medicare are unpopular with either one party or the other. And I don't like making this assumption, but if you were to assume that Social Security and Medicare were to go broke, unless they're both saved at the last minute, that means more Americans need to do more thinking and investing on their own. And what Congress along with the states can do which would be popular is to expand education and job training for our low and middle-skilled workers. So they can get themselves the skills that they need to get a good job.

Private retirement accounts are an attractive policy option that encourages people to put money away,  matched by their employers, away for savings and retirement.  This allows people to finance their own retirements bringing down government costs. This is what is called Social Security Plus. The core of Social Security is still intact, but lower the payroll tax for low-income workers who get hammered by it. Raise it on the top-level workers and allow everyone to collect current Social Security when they retire. But also be able to have their private retirement account. Again money that they put away on their own that is tax free that is matched by their employers that is also tax free. Because the current economy and retirement system simply doesn't work for enough people. Unless you're currently wealthy or have a good government job. Which means you need more economic freedom in America so more Americans can benefit and live comfortably when and if they actually do retire.

Bloomberg News: Video: Rip Up the Script: "Why Canada's Middle Class Beats America's"

Strange title for an over two-minute video, two-minutes and seventeen seconds to be precise, that spends only twenty seconds talking about the Canadian middle class. Most of this video was about the decline of the American middle class, which should've been reflected in the title.  The last twenty seconds discusses why Canada wasn't hurt as much by the Great Recession as the U.S.

Why Canada wasn't hurt as much by the Great Recession as America and Europe?  Canada is larger than America geographically but has one-ninth the population. They have thirty-five million people v.s. three-hundred and ten million. Canada is also energy independent, sending energy to the U.S. via the Keystone Pipeline. They don't have the debt and deficit issues that the U.S. or a lot of Europe has and they tax business at a much lower rate.  Canada has a lot of economic resources with a fairly small population and a lot of land.  Physically, it is  the second largest country in the world, trailing only the Russian Federation.

Germany's economic system is similar to both Canada's and America's.  It has a robust private sector and a strong safety net.  It has modern infrastructure and taxes business's lower than the U.S. They have managed to keep their debt to GDP ratio down throughout the Great Recession.

The U.S. is trying to figure out how to become energy independent, how to finance and rebuild a crumbling infrastructure, educate more Americans and improve our 39th in the world ranking in education.  We have to move millions of Americans out of poverty.  Our poverty levels are roughly twice that of the rest of the developed world.  This requires improvements in education and job training. We need  to get our national debt stabilized and under control.

David Pakman: Study: U.S. an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

Source: David Pakman Show- A joint session of the U.S. Congress
Source:David Pakman Show

America is a democracy in the form of a Federal Republic.  We have a Federal system with fifty-states and three levels of government. Federal, state and local.  In contrast, the United Kingdom  has a unitary system where most of the power resides in London, with the national government. We are not a democracy in the pure majoritarian sense where the majority can always rule over the minority.  This is a damn good thing that I'll get into later.

Majority will can not violate the First Amendment or any of the other amendments in the Bill of Rights. Overturning these provisions requires agreement by two-thirds of the fifty states and two-thirds of the members of Congress.  As the Far-Right is learning in the Federal court system, government can't treat gays as second-class citizens simply because of their sexuality even if the the popular will is in favor of that.

The Far-Left and Far-Right statists are learning that just because they have the so-called popular will on their side and their ideas seem good to them,  they may not hold up as law if they are unconstitutional. The nanny statists in New York learned this in 2012 with their efforts to prohibit the sale of jumbo soft drinks.

I view America as a liberal democracy in the form of a federal republic. That is we elect our own leaders but also have freedom in own lives.  Our democracy needs to be guarded better to see that people with a lot of money don't have undo influence at everyone's else's expense.  The recent campaign finance rulings of U.S. Supreme Court are making this very difficult. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Thom Hartmann: Video: Our Tax system is Up-Side-Down!

Thom Hartmann says that he makes his living by producing services for the general public through his talk shows and writings, whereas investors like Mitt Romney make their money by investing in other companies.  When those companies do well, so does Mitt.  When they lose, so does Mitt, the differences between producing and investing.

I wouldn't go as far as Mr. Hartmann here and tax all rich people at ninety-percent. If you want people, to be doctors, lawyers, accountants, mechanics, business people etc., to be productive and successful then you shouldn't discourage them from being successful.  You shouldn't tax the hell out of them simply because they are successful.  I prefer taxation by the income you spend rather than the income you earn.

Reason: Hit & Run: Jacob Sullum: New Clemency Policy Could Free Hundreds or Thousands of Drug War Prisoners: A Better Approach in Dealing With Narcotics

Attorney General Eric Holder Speech on Criminal Justice Reform 

Reason: Hit & Run: Jacob Sullum: New Clemency Policy Could Free Hundreds or Thousands of Drug War Prisoners

President Barack Obama can end the failed War on Drugs in America and draft a new policy for dealing with narcotics in this country.  He wouldn't need approval from Congress.

The policy itself is called clemency. President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole are all on the record as saying that the War on Drugs is not working and we need a new approach for dealing with non-violent drug offenders.  We can cut their sentences, get them into halfway houses and reduce the population in our overcrowded prisons.

The Attorney General, under the direction of the President, has already decided that they aren't going after people for possession of marijuana who aren't intending to sell it. They could also say "we aren't going for long sentences and sanctions for people who are narcotics addicts or who are dealing small amounts of the harder illegal narcotics or people who are in possession of these narcotics without the intent to sell".

The result would be fewer non-violent drug war inmates going to prison and looking at 3-5 for simple possession of small amounts of these narcotics. They could be in halfway houses or doing community service or in drug rehab at their own expense instead.  This frees up a lot of prison cells for people who actually need to be there for the good of society, terrorists, gang bangers, murderers, rapists ,etc., criminals who pose a real threat to society.

American Enterprise Institute: Nicholas Eberstadt- The Government vs. the American Character

I agree with Nicholas Eberstadt on the growth of the entitlement state in America. . We use to be a society in which you took care of yourself as much as you could and when you couldn't, your friends, family and private charity helped you get by.  The Great Depression really changed that.  When it once was commonplace for millions of Americans to retire without a pension and be taken care of by their savings and their kids and for nobody to have health insurance, that doesn't work anymore.

Our economy has matured.  Healthcare technology is vastly improved, increasing life expectancy, and is much more expensive.  In our capitalist economic system, we now need insurance for people who hit  rough times.

In comparison with Canada and Europe, our public social insurance system is very modest. We shouldn't have an insurance system that takes care of everyone because that would incentivize welfare over work and encourage people to not do as much for themselves as they can. All we have is a safety net for people who can't pay their bills and survive any other way.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The New Republic: Jeffrey Rosen-: 'Liberals Should Be Happy About the Supreme Court's Affirmative Action Decision'

Source:The New Republic- affirmative action at SCOTUS.

"When the Supreme Court handed down yesterday’s decision upholding Michigan’s ban on affirmative action, the initial round of hysteria on the left didn’t last long. By afternoon, liberal bloggers and commentators were stressing that the decision in the Schuette case won’t mean the end of affirmative action as we know it. Above the Law, for example, offered 3 reasons affirmative action will still be okay. (1. “It’s up to the Voters”; 2. “College Admissions Committees are Smarter than Voters”; 3. “Private Schools will still be Awesome.”)

Jeff Rosen, as almost always, hit it on the mark today in his column in The New Republic.  He said that whether you agree with the Supreme Court decision on affirmative action at the University of Michigan  or not, you should at least agree with how they decided it.  Showing judicial restraint, they said that whether you have affirmative action in your state or not, should be decided by democratic processes, through the legislature and the voters.  It should be not be left to some unelected board or institution.

Today's so-called Progressives (Socialists, in actuality) are always talking about the need for more democracy in America, that too many important decisions are being left to a handful of people who represent powerful interests.  Yet they take the undemocratic position that an institution (in this case the University of Michigan) knows better than the voters themselves whether or not there should be affirmative action at this public university.  They believe in affirmative action and will seek to preserve it by any means necessary.

PBS: Video: NewsHour: Gwen Ifill Interviewing Marcia Coyle: U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Michigan Ban on Affirmative Action

Damn! A Supreme Court decision on which I agree with Chief Justice John Roberts. Well, to amend that, I would've voted with the Chief Justice on this affirmative action case but I would've sided with liberal Justice Stephen Breyer to this extent.  If you are going to have affirmative action laws, then you should at least have legislatures and executives who are accountable to the voters making the decisions, instead of leaving it up to colleges to draft their own affirmative action policies.

I'm against affirmative action and so is this blog.  I'm a Liberal, not a racist. I'm against affirmative action because I take the MLK dream about racial equality and tolerance seriously.  Americans should be judged by their character and not by the color of their skin.

We all want racial and ethnic minorities to be admitted to  colleges and do well in the American economy but you can't reward them because of their race,  ethnicity, or gender. We reward all people, regardless of race, ethnicity and gender, according to the skills they bring to the table, their personal and professional qualifications.

If there are communities in the country which are struggling,  you have to  make sure that they are not being denied access in society because of their race, ethnicity or gender.  That requires a strong and effective civil rights enforcement system.  Beyond that, there must be mechanisms to ensure they have  educational and job training opportunities so that they can be successful on their own.

PBS: NewsHour: Paul Solman Interviewing William Darity On a Government Jobs Program

Economist William Darity is saying that "since we could borrow over a trillion-dollars for the 2008 TARP bailouts and the auto bailouts that we could afford to borrow the same amount of money for a new Federal jobs guarantee". The problem is that we can't afford either and just because borrowing a trillion dollars is a bad policy for one reason doesn't mean it would be a good policy for another reason. You are still talking about putting an additional trillion-dollars on the national debt, that is all debt financed, and increasing the Federal budget by 37.5 percent .

It would be one thing if the economy was still in recession and you decided to do this as part of a short-term stimulus to put all of those people back to work.   But it sounds like Mr. Darity is talking about an indefinite Federal program,  all financed by the debt and adding an additional trillion dollars to the debt every year.

Ideas like this  are being put on the table now because the 2009 American Recovery Act simply didn't go far enough.  I agree with Progressive Economist Paul Krugman on this. The stimulus should've been 1.5 trillion dollars or more, a trillion  for infrastructure investment alone, the rest for middle class tax relief, business tax relief and public aide to state and local governments.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sam Seder: The Difference Between Libertarian and Neoliberal Ideology

Source: The Majority Report With Sam Seder- President Bill Clinton and U.S. Senator Rand Paul 
Source:Sam Seder

Sam Seder is basically right here.  Neo-Liberals, and I guess I'm one of them according to Sammy, believe that government has a role to play in helping the less-fortunate help themselves by providing childcare, education, help finding a good job, etc,  They also believe that government should help people when they are down with income assistance so that they can pay their bills in the short-term while they are improving themselves and preparing to go to work so that they can take care of themselves.

Libertarians call that big government and say that government has no role here.  They say that the market will take care of these people through private charities and privately funded foundations that deal with food assistance, health care, housing, education, job training, job placement, etc.  If government would just get out of the way, more Americans and business's would have the resources needed to help the less-fortunate and we would have fewer people in poverty.

American Thinker: Opinion: Christopher Chantrill: "Liberals Digging Their Political Graves": The Nonsense of Right-Wingers on Liberalism

American Thinker: Opinion: Christopher Chantrill: Liberals Digging Their Political Graves

Richard Nixon was a brilliant political strategist, whatever else you may think of the man.  In the late 1960s, he could see the country moving politically. The Democratic Party was moving left and away from the Confederate States, making an opening for the Republican Party to come back to power through the Confederate States.  His so-called, "Southern Strategy," was the result and the Republican Party is living with its consequences today.

Chris Cantrill, on the other hand, is not a brilliant political strategist nor even a reliable political reporter.  Reading an article by him on liberalism is like listening to an average American cab driver give a lecture on ancient Japanese history. This person does not know what they are talking about.

I don't like making my posts completely personal, so I'll critique Cantrill's article from here on. He says that Liberals aren't interested in creating a just society or a utopia but are interested only in power and elimination of opposition, which would result in a fascist state.  Once this is accomplished, they might work to create that utopian paradise.

The power that Liberals truly want is power to the people, creating an environment where everyone has power over their own lives, including the ability to vote for candidates across the political spectrum. Liberals also want freedom of expression.

Nixon acquired the label, "Tricky Dick," because of his relentlessly unscrupulous drive to eliminate all political opposition.  We see this factor in modern Republican tactics which are devoid of fact and reason. While decrying big government they call for big brother to constrain what people can do in the privacy of their own homes.

Cantrill's article was one of the dumbest that I've ever read.  It was full of falsehoods, if not damned lies.  We still have too many Americans who are dumb enough to believe this garbage, which Cantrill was counting on and why I felt the need to respond to it.

These overly partisan far-rightists are smart enough to know that the country is moving politically.  It is becoming more liberal everyday as the electorate becomes better educated.  The X and Y generations are perfect examples of this and, when the next generation starts going to college, it will just continue. Younger Americans now and, even more, middle aged Americans simply want control over their personal and economic affairs.  They do not want big government telling them how to live.  The far-right tries to combat this movement by making up garbage and saying, "This is why you shouldn't be a Liberal."

Washington Times: David Keene: A Better Way to Help the Dangerously Mentally Ill

Washington Times: Opinion: David Keene: A Better Way to Help the Dangerously Mentally Ill

This may be the first post on The New Democrat about an article in the Washington Times.  I'm not sure.  The Times is one of two small right-wing newspapers in Washington, D.C.  They are small compared with the progressive Washington Post, one of the most important big city news papers in the country, if not the most important.  The Washington Times, even with their supposed reporting, sounds, a lot of times, like the FOX News of print, a partisan political operation trying to pass themselves off as a news organization but really just repeating stuff from Republican or Tea Party sources and reporting things that really aren't news.

But today, David Keene writes what could be called a "compassionate conservative" piece about mental health care in America and what is wrong with it.  We lock up people who otherwise would be classified as mental patients who should be institutionalized but, since they were convicted of committing felonies, we put them in prison.  The prison staff isolates them in indefinite solitary confinement so they can't hurt anyone.  This is understandable, from the staff's viewpoint but it  treats the symptoms instead of addressing the underlying problems that cause these people to act out in the first place.

We have an underfunded mental health care system in America that results in a lot of damage to society, including the loss of innocent lives.  We have mental patients who are on the street when they should be institutionalized for their own good and for the good of society, not in prison but in real mental hospitals or, at the very least, in outpatient care with medication and regular appointments with  caregivers.  This is self-inflicted wound.  We've shot ourselves in the feet.

We have the resources in this country to fully-fund mental health care.   We should've done that as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.  Even some Congressional Republicans who, at the time, were in the minority in the House and Senate believed that we should have addressed this problem.  Even with all of the  shootings, post Gabby Gifford in Tucson, we have failed to act and, as a result, our country is still in danger of more shootings by mentally disturbed people who have no business being in possession of firearms.

I'm in favor of background checks to make sure that anyone attempting to buy a firearm does not have a mental health or criminal record but that, alone, won't solve the problem because as long as there are mental patients on the streets with access to firearms, either through the legal or black markets, we will remain at risk of further gun violence in this country.

Along with background checks on gun purchases we need to make mental health care part of health insurance for both private and public insurers.  People in mental hospitals should be eligible for public assistance while they are institutionalized to cover costs that their health insurer doesn't cover.  We need to make sure that, in the future, mental patients are not released because their hospital can no longer afford to treat them.

John F. Kennedy Liberal Democrat

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