Gadget

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

John F. Kennedy Liberal Democrat

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

Monday, June 30, 2014

New York Times: Opinion: Joseph E. Stiglitz: Inequality is Not Inevitable: How to Expand Economic Opportunity For All

Wall Street

New York Times: Opinion: Joseph E. Stiglitz: Inequality is Not Inevitable

As I've made this point on this blog before comparing the Scandinavian economies with the United States simply does not work. You would be better off comparing Scandinavia with the small Arab states in the Persian Gulf. What do they call have in common? Small populations that are energy independent and produce enough energy for other countries as well. And in Scandinavia's case a lot of land to go with those small populations with all of that energy. To put it simply Scandinavia can afford to be very socialist with high taxes and big centralized government social insurance programs.

America is huge country that is in between two of the largest oceans in the world. With a three-thousand mile border with Canada to the North and a two-thousand mile border with Mexico in the South. We also have three-hundred and fifteen million people and are energy dependent on countries in Scandinavia and the Persian Gulf. And while we are energy dependent countries in Europe and Arabia are dependent on us for their national defense that we as American taxpayers have to pay for. We simply have more limited economic and financial resources right now to be that socialist.

Which means Americans have to do more for themselves and where government comes in is to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to obtain freedom both economic and personal. The freedom to manage their own lives without government to take care of everyone. The freedom to be an individual and not try to turn America into a collectivist socialist state. And that means having universal quality education for all students. And not sending kids to school based on whether they live. But instead based on what is the best school for them that their parents would decide. And not funding schools based on where they are located, but what they need to be successful.

Making job training and education available to all low-skilled adults whether they are currently working or not. So they can get themselves the skills that they need to get themselves a good job and live in freedom as well. And rebuilding this country with a real national infrastructure plan so all communities especially the underdeveloped ones have the resources they need to be economically attractive to business's with good jobs.

You don't close the income and success gap in America by taking from the people who are already economically successful to take care of everyone else. But instead empowering the people who need to get themselves the skills that they need so they too can be successful and make it in America on their own.

Forbes: Opinion: Ron Paul: How We Can Solve the Problems With Public Education in America


Forbes: Opinion: Ron Paul Addresses How We Can Solve the Problems With Public Education in America

First of all just to respond to a couple of points that former Representative Ron Paul made about public education in America. As far as the U.S. Department of Education being unconstitutional. The Federal courts have already ruled on this and guess what the U.S.D.E still exists and is in place since 1979. And I'm not a fan of it and don't believe we need it. And would rather see a White House Office on Education and make to part of the Domestic Affairs Council or something. But it is constitutional under the commerce and welfare clauses as the courts have already ruled. Maybe the commerce and welfare clauses should be what you focus on and whether U.S.D.E should be in place on policy grounds instead of constitutional grounds. That would be a better avenue to go.

As far as homeschooling, I'm not a fan of it, but if parents who are qualified to teach in America decide to do that for their kids, more power to them. The real focus here should be on public schools because parents who can afford to send their kids to private schools will continue to do that especially if they feel those schools are better than what the public schools have to offer. But for everyone else the overwhelming ninety-percent of us public schools are going to be the avenue for them. So you want public schools working better and the means no longer sending kids to schools based on where they live especially if they live in a bad school district which a lot of low-income students do. And instead letting their parents decide where they go to school instead.

Stop funding schools based on where they are located. And instead fund schools based on what they need to do a good job in a fiscally responsible manner. That means changing how schools are funded and moving away from the regressive property tax.

Stop paying educators based on how long they've been teaching. And instead pay them based on how well their kids are learning.

As far as students loans and student debt instead lets just make college affordability universal. Free college for the qualified for college students who go to an instate public university. If you go out of state and college financing plan that would be paid for by a combination of students, parents, employers and even government chipping in over a twenty year period to finance the students college education.

Instead of making education in America what is best for the private school industry, or make it what is best for teacher unions we instead should make it what is best for the students themselves. And that means choice within the public school system. Paying teachers based on how well their students are learning. Funding schools base on need and not location. And making college affordable for all qualified students.

Washington Examiner: Opinion: Michael Barone: Why Government Isn't Working and How to Make it Work Better

Seat of Power
Seat of Power
To put it simply government doesn’t work very well when it tries to do too much, or doesn’t do things that it shouldn’t be doing. There I said it and have made that clear. So there’s no reason to go on with this post. Well not exactly because there’s good government which to me at least is limited to only doing the things that we need it to do. There’s bad government which to me at least is government that tries to do too much. Which is what big government is all about. But then there’s another form of bad government that I call small government which is government that doesn’t do enough. Like addressing the crumbling infrastructure in the country which would be a perfect example.
Good examples of bad government from a big government point of view is government doing too much. Like trying to manager our economic or personal lives for us. Like taxing us to the point that we aren’t able to make current or future economic decisions for ourselves. Like when it comes to retirement which is what I’ve seen from the far-left in America to nationalize the retirement system in the country and make Social Security the sole provider of retirement income. Or taxing us to the point to pay for so many public services that we aren’t able to make those decisions for us.
Or big government telling us what we can eat or drink, or what we can watch on TV or what music we can listen to. Or who we can sleep with or who can marry or what we can smoke. Government will never be perfect anywhere in the world, but it works best when it is confined to doing the things that we need it to do. Leaving the people with the freedom to manage their own economic and personal affairs for themselves and leaving them with the consequences and responsibilities of their own decisions.
With government there to protect us from predators foreign or domestic, finance our infrastructure, see that everyone can get themselves a good education, help people in need get themselves on their feet. But not trying to manage the people for themselves and make decisions for them that they can make for themselves. 


The Washington Post: Opinion: EJ Dionne: The Vital Incoherent Center: What Makes up the Political Left & Political Right

American Voters

The Washington Post: Opinion: EJ Dionne: The Vital Incoherent Center

Again it depends on what you mean by liberal and conservative and you do lump Religious Conservatives, Neoconservatives and Libertarians in with Conservatives on the Right and do you lump in Progressives and Socialists, or Social Democrats in with Liberals on the Left. If that is how you do that then Conservatives will be the largest voting block in America. Because that includes the Bible Belt, with the Libertarian West and the Neoconservative large military at call costs traditional American Neoconservatives.

With Liberals or Centrists coming in second because when it comes to American politics Americans tend to have strong feelings on the issues one way or the other and are not stuck in what is called the mushy middle when it comes to Centrists. And Socialists whether they self-define their politics as socialist or not do not make up a very strong voting block in this country. 10-15 percent at best the religious-right badly outnumbering them.

But that is not how I define political labels or make up my mind which political camp people fall in. What I do instead of saying "someone is on the Left so they are automatically are liberal. And someone who is on the Right they are automatically conservative". What I do is look to see how far to the Right are they. If they are center-right, I call them conservative. A little further Right I call them libertarian. Lets say far-right people who I could call big government Republicans or rightists people who want to impose their social values on the rest of the country through government, I call them Religious Conservatives or Neoconservatives.

Same thing with the Left. Center-left such as myself would be the Liberals. A little further Left people who are a little more government oriented, but do not have a new government program or tax increase to solve all of our problems for us, I would call Progressives. People who are lets say on the far-left  people who believe in big centralize government is the only way to ensure economic, social and racial equality and tend to have big government ideas to solve all of our problems for us. And tend to like high taxes and tend not to like the military or law enforcement, I call people of these politics Socialist or Social Democratic. Occupy Wall Street comes to mind or the Green Party.

If you just looked at the center-right and center-left in America and people who tend to not be against government all together, but who do not want government trying to run their lives for them from either a personal or economic perspective you would see that is where a solid majority of the country is. Whether they call themselves Liberals or Conservatives, or even Conservative Libertarians. And based on that I would say Liberals and Conservatives make up the overwhelming largest voting blocks in the country. With Independents who may consider themselves to be Centrists but have similar views as Liberals and Conservatives. That they don't want big government, but they don't want an ineffective government either.

Americans tend to want government to do the basics that we can't do for ourselves, or that we need them to do as well to see that certain things get done that need to be done. Like protecting the country, protecting the streets, seeing that everyone gets an education. Funding infrastructure, helping people in need get on their feet. These are not big government or small government ideas, but limited good government policies that Americans tend to support whether they are liberal or conservative. And that is where Americans tend to be and we tend not to like the fringes on the Left or Right.

Friday, June 27, 2014

PBS: Video: NewsHour: Shields and Ponnuru on House GOP vs. Obama, missing IRS emails



As far as the Republican primary elections last Tuesday, it was a great night for establishment Republicans in Congress. With none of them losing with Representative Jim Lankford winning his primary overwhelmingly. But the biggest victory would have to be for Senator Tad Cochran who has been in Congress since 1973 when he was first elected to the House. In a really bad year for Congressional incumbents with Senator Cochran being one of the biggest porkers in Congress and perhaps the biggest porker in the Senate. Winning his primary against a Tea Party favorite because African-Americans voted for a Mississippi Republican.

As far as Speaker John Boehner's suit against President Obama. This reminds me of when the Speaker back in 2011 decided to take up the defense of the Defense of Marriage Act that the Obama Administration decided not to defend. Then the Speaker appointed some Republican representatives to defend the law in court. With a lot of people in both parties pretty much deciding that DOMA was dead because of the makeup of the Supreme Court when it came to homosexuality and privacy. And with recent Federal curt decisions going against DOMA. The Speaker's suit is just as dead because it will probably never even be heard in court at least not while Barack Obama is still President.

As far as the missing IRS emails. The IRS already has a great person running the IRS who has a lot of respect from both political parties. (Perhaps Tea Party not included) They already have multiple investigations into this issue and the Justice Department is looking at it as well. So another House investigation into it looks like more wasted taxpayer money on the behalf of House Republicans. A skill they mastered during the Bush Administration wasting taxpayer money.

LBJ Library: Video: President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society Speech at the University of Michigan, 5/22/1964



Whatever you think of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society speech whether you love it or hate it, or like it, or dislike it, this is one of the best and most important speeches in American history. Because it laid out a vision of what a Great Society would look like with everyone living in freedom and living out of poverty with access to a good education and being able to make a good life for themselves. That was the vision of this speech and what LBJ wanted to create for America.

The problem I have with this speech and perhaps the only problem I have with this speech is how much faith he put into government to create this society. Especially the Federal Government almost as if it not completely that the Federal Government would build this speech by itself for us. What came after this speech was the Great Society Federal social insurance system all really from the Federal Government. Instead of laying out an agenda of how can the country including government, but the people themselves and even the Federal Government together can create this society for America.

USFL Forever-ESPN: USFL 1984- Jim Simpson Interviews Philadelphia Stars General Manager Carl Peterson

Source: USFL Forever-ESPN: USFL 1984- Jim Simpson Interviewing Stars President & GM Carl Peterson

The USFL was already in trouble by 1984 financially with most if not all of their clubs losing money. And this really didn't have anything to do with fan support. The fans were there for this league to still be in business as a spring/summer league today. But the league simply grew too fast with eighteen clubs by 1985. And most of these clubs being in established NFL markets. Like Washington, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Tampa, Dallas, Houston, Denver and Los Angeles.

I'm not sure the old USFL could've been saved at this point, but moving their games to the fall which was the plan for 1986 was probably the thing that killed the league. Going up against the NFL in their markets in their territory the same time the NFL is playing. Perhaps the only thing that would've saved the old USFL at this point was going back to the old spring/fall schedule. And contraction or relocation of USFL clubs that were in NFL markets.

WPXI News: Legendary Steelers Coach Chuck Noll Dies: The Creator of the Steel Curtain Dynasty

Source: WPXI News: Legendary Steelers Head Coach Chuck Noll Dies

Chuck Noll the greatest NFL head coach of the 1970s and the creator of the Steel Curtain Dynasty. The man who built the Pittsburgh Steelers at least as far as it related to their football operations and football department. Art Rooney founded the Steelers and gave the City of Pittsburgh major league NFL football. The Steelers except for a handful of seasons under the great head coach Buddy Parkers were a losing franchise and for the most part never really in contention to be winners let alone contenders and champions. Chuck Noll made the Steelers franchise and what it is as one of the best franchises in professional sports not just the NFL that it is today.

Chuck Noll built the Steelers primarily through the draft as the Steelers head coach/general manager which meant who not only led the team on the field, but also was in charge of player personal for the club. And the Steelers under Noll invested heavily and well in scouting and the draft to see what the Steelers weren't getting the players that other NFL clubs were getting over the years that kept the Steelers at the bottom of the NFL. And went to schools to get players that not many other NFL clubs were looking at. Which is how he drafted DT Joe Greene from a small southern school. Same thing with WR John Stallworth and MLB Jack Lambert from a small school in Ohio.

If there is just one NFL Draft that built an NFL Dynasty it was the 1974 NFL Draft. That is where the 'Super Steelers', or Steel Curtain Steelers was created. Before 1974 the Steelers were a solid NFL contender in the AFC under Chuck Noll making the AFC Playoffs in 1972 and 73. But the 1974 Draft is where they drafted four NFL Hall of Famers who all played their entire careers in Pittsburgh under Chuck Noll. WR's John Stallworth and Lynn Swann, MLB Jack Lambert and center Mike Webster.

Chuck Noll was a great head coach because he knew how to draft, what kind of team he wanted and how to get the best out of the players he had and how to play them. And his basic message was very simple, "this is what I expect of you and what I need you to do and I wouldn't ask it of you if you weren't capable of it. And if you give me your best effort and execution, we'll be champions together". Or how Coach Noll called it Whatever it Takes. Which is "do whatever you can to win for the Steelers and we'll go a long way together". And it worked very well of the Steelers in the 1970s.





Detroit Pistons Official: Video: Unforgettable Moments: The Jordan Rules



The Jordan Rules was a Detroit Pistons defense that was designed to stop the great Michael Jordan from the Chicago Bulls. It was created by the great Pistons point guard Isaiah Thomas and one of the Pistons assistant coaches. I believe Brendan Malone and this defense was designed to let anyone else beat the Pistons besides Michael Jordan. Which meant anyone else from the Bulls could beat them and have big games which of course didn't happen pre-1991. Whether it was Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, Bill Cartwright whoever it might be.

This all came about because in the late 1980s the Pistons and Bulls, Detroit vs. Chicago which is a great sports rivalry because of those two big cities to begin with and that they are fairly close together and they met in the NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs four straight years from 1988-91. Two very physical and good defensive teams meeting in the playoffs to go to the NBA Finals. So these series always meant a lot and this was a time when the Pistons were looking to win their first NBA Championship after coming very close in 1987 and 88. With the Bulls looking to take their place and jump ahead of them.

The Jordan Rules itself were fairly simple. Again anyone but Jordan can beat them meaning anyone besides Michael can take open shots and get good looks at the basket. Now they still have to execute and take advantage of those opportunities. But when MJ has the ball at least two guys on him every time he tries to drive and keep him off of the wings where he got most of those incredible dunks. Force him into the lane and to go up against the Pistons big men where he would either take a hard foul. Or would just be stopped with the Pistons getting the ball back.

And the other thing being make MJ work on defense. Whoever he is guarding in the Pistons backcourt. Or if he's guarding Mark Aguirre the Pistons small forward. Make MJ run through a lot of hard screens from either Bill Laimbeer, Rick Mahorn, James Edwards or Dennis Rodman. And give Jordan's man a lot of shots and good looks at the basket. So MJ doesn't have anytime to rest on the court. And pre-1991 before Scottie Pippen became the great player that he became the Jordan Rules was the only successful defense against Michael Jordan.
Jordan Rules 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

RAND Corporation: Opinion: Brian Michael Jenkins: Iraq Observations: The Future of Iraq

Iraq

RAND Corporation: Opinion: Brian Michael Jenkins: Iraq Observations

I posted this a few days ago on this blog about then Senator Joe Biden proposing back in 2007-08 to partition Iraq which of course the Iraqi people would have to approve themselves. And how that may of seem radical then and even a few months ago when Iraq still look fairly stable. But now with the chaos going on in Iraq that 3-4 state solution inside of a Federal Republic of Iraq with a federalist system. Which each state having autonomy over their own domestic affairs now looks like a very reasonable approach.

It wouldn't make much sense to propose that now especially in an ongoing civil war in Iraq. Some level of security would have to be retained first that leaves the country as one. Without the North breaking away from Baghdad and the South and West remaining part of the Federal Republic as well. But assuming the Federal Government and Iraq with their military can regain control of the country at least to the point that the country is still officially one country, then maybe the partition idea would make a lot of sense.

The partition idea would have to have a responsible government in the Province of Baghdad where Baghdad City is also located which in the Central West of the country. A responsible government in the West where the Sunnis would govern. A responsible government in the North where the Kurds would govern. And a responsible government in the South where the Shia would government. Meaning the terrorists in each of these areas would have to be defeated first. Which is no small order considering the current Federal Government in Iraq.

Campaign For America's Future: Opinion: Isaiah Poole: Transportation Crisis: "Republicans Looking For Hostages, Not Solutions": How to Fund American Infrastructure

Construction Workers

Campaign For America's Future: Opinion: Isaiah Poole: Transportation Crisis: Republicans Looking For Hostages, Not Solutions

One of the advantages of being able to talk about solutions and issues and offer ideas to solve those issues when you know you don't have a shot in hell in being successful is that you can offer and write any plan you want and just wing it. Why not because you know it won't pass anyway, so what do you have to lose. Which is how I'm going to focus on infrastructure investment because even though the Democratic Senate may reach some compromise before the end of this Congress. The Republican House is not interested in really passing anything right now and only interested in trying to investigate the Obama Administration.

Back in the day (and yes I'm old enough to remember this) when cooler and smarter heads were running Congress the House would pass their infrastructure bill every year with the funding to pay for it. And then send it over to the Senate which was already working on their own bill. And they would either take the House bill or add an amendment to it like something to do with how to fund the bill. Or adding new infrastructure projects to it. Because back then members of Congress especially the leadership knew the importance of infrastructure for the economy. Plus they wanted to get reelected and wanted to give their constituents reasons to reelect them. "Hey I got us this new road or bridge" etc.

Take the Tea Party out of the House of Representatives and that is how Congress would still be operating today. Either under the old Republican Leadership in the House or under Democratic Leadership. And they would work with the Senate from either party and we wouldn't have this one-trillion-dollar debt or more according to the U.S. Core of Engineers. (hardly socialist radicals) Because Congress would've kept up with the construction and repairs of our current roads, bridges, airports etc. As well as funding new projects that the country needed.

Funding infrastructure investment in America from a practical and even political point of view with a majority of the country is fairly simple. These projects are generally funded through gas taxes. If there isn't enough money in the transportation fund to pay for them. Then you can either raise those taxes. Pass a tax on oil, tax alcohol, increase tobacco taxes to pay for these projects. You can tax things that wouldn't hurt people especially alcohol and tobacco things that people don't have to have. In order to pay for the infrastructure. This would be my plan to finance infrastructure investment in a partisan climate where there's probably a better chance of watching sharks fly then for this plan to become law.

The Atlantic: Opinion: Jonathan Rauch: The Great Secession: Balancing Religious Freedom With Tolerance in a Liberal Democracy


The Atlantic: Opinion: Jonathan Rauch: The Great Secession

I'm not an Atheist or a believer, but an Agnostic who is also a Liberal Constitutionalist who believes in the United States Constitution which is what my liberalism is based on and what liberalism in general at least in the classical sense and I would argue today's sense as well is based on. So even if I as an individual don't exercise every single individual right given to me as an individual, I still believe that rights that others practice should be enforced just as strongly and equally with the rights that I take advantage of.

Freedom of Religion under the the First Amendment in the United States Constitution is a perfect example of that. I do not practice religion myself, but for those who do they clearly have that right in the United States as they should and I support their right to practice their religion whatever religion that is. I also support Atheists free speech rights to speak out against religion and other Agnostics right to be neutral when it comes to religion. And these rights should be enforced equally with the Freedom of Religion.

So if a conservative Christian lets say which is different from a political Conservative, but if conservative Christians believe that homosexuality is a threat to the country and everything good that we stand for and everything else, they obviously have that right to believe that and speak out against homosexuality under the First Amendment. And Christian preachers obviously have the right to tell their followers about what they think about homosexuality as well.

But speech and beliefs are different than actions especially when you are in public. You want to believe Gays are fags and Lesbians are dykes and call them those things, you have that right. But to deny them access to things you offer the rest of the public because of your religious beliefs is where Freedom of Religion stops. And where equal access and protection comes in once you declare you are open for the public. You don't want to have involvement with homosexuals, that is your right. As long as you do not declare open to business to the public. And you can live in your own private world with people who look at things just the way you do.

Christians at least the people I have come across and dealt with are as good and decent Americans as Americans and people come. And really do live under the Ten Commandments like treating people the way you want to be treated and live and let live. And are generally the first people to treat the needy and volunteer their time and and money to good charitable causes. It is in the fringe in their community the bigots that give Christianity a bad name especially with the non-fundamentalists among us whether they are religious or not. But Christianity itself shouldn't be seen a religion of hate and discrimination when most Christians are good decent tolerant people.

Townhall: Opinion- Jeff Jacoby- "Lift the Embargo but Liberate Cuba First": How America Could Help Free Cuba


Source: Townhall-
Source: Townhall: Opinion- Jeff Jacoby- Lift the Embargo but Free Cuba First

I'm in favor of lifting the American embargo on Cuba all together conditionally. And that means getting certain things from the Castro Regime in Cuba first.

That they allow their people to share the same benefits of trade that they allow their tourists and allow their people the same access to the country as they allow their tourists. And they allow their people to mingle with the tourists. Instead of trying to showcase Cuba as this beautiful paradise where people can live freely. As they are holding eleven-million Cubans prisoners and showing them the prison of a communist state.

That the Castro Regime in Cuba doesn't tax away most of the benefits from trading with America and pockets to bankroll its regime. That the money from trading with America goes to the Cuban people themselves with the government still being able to tax those benefits. Just not being able to pocket most of them. Similar to how trade tariffs work where trading between two countries goes to the people in the economy. But the governments get some, but not most of that back in taxes.

That normal travel would resume between Cuba and America. Americans would be free to travel to Cuba and go through Cuban customs. And Cubans would be allowed to travel to America and go through American customs. Or be able to leave Cuba freely from any other country instead of being held prisoner in their own country.

Cuba releases all current political prisoners not terrorists that they are currently holding. They release people that are simply being held for protesting the Castro Regime and stop arresting political prisoners in the future.

Why I take these positions? Because Cuba is the only country in the Americas that we do not trade with and that costs Americans money. Because every other country in the Americas, as well as Europe, Arabia and Asia all trade with Cuba. Money that could go to American companies and American workers for things that we would otherwise sell to Cubans.

Also the hypocrisy in the Cuban Trade Embargo because they are an authoritarian state. Well guess what we still trade with China which is still a Communist Republic. We traded with Russia when they were a Communist Republic. The Soviet Union back in the day a country of four-hundred-million people. More people than what the United States has today by the way. The People's Republic of China a country of over a billion people. What makes Cuba so special a third-world country of eleven-million people that doesn't represent any military threat to America even just ninety miles way.

You trade with authoritarian states and what happens is that people in those states get to see what your country is about and what it has to offer. How your people live and what they are about and what they are missing which is freedom. What it is like to not be a prisoner in your own country. And I agree it is not the Cuban Trade Embargo that wrecked the Cuban economy. The Communist Regime did that, but the trade embargo does not help the Cuban people which should be our number one concern when it comes to helping this country. And we can do something to help the Cuban people and give them a taste of freedom.
Mango News: U.S. President Obama Urges Congress To Lift Cuba Embargo


Constitution Center: Constitution Daily: NCC Staff: Danielle Allen Traces Equality in the Declaration of Independence: Freedom and Equality in a Liberal Democracy

Declaration of Independence
Declaration of Independence
Freedom vs. equality which I guess has been an ongoing debate between Progressives and Libertarians perhaps for an indefinite time now. And this whole discussion is really relates to what is called income inequality. And the Progressives concerns with it and Libertarians there to say that “people should be allowed to keep the fruits of their labor. And even if they make a lot more money than their fellow Americans because they earned that success”. With Progressives there to counter that “if we don’t look out for struggling Americans then that affects everyone because of the lost purchasing power. But also because the social costs that come from it”. But also because they believe society has a role to essentially take care of the less-fortunate among us.
As the great libertarian Economist Milton Friedman said “without freedom there isn’t any equality”. Why because if people don’t have the freedom to do as much for themselves as they can and have the ability to take care of themselves as much as possible, than they won’t. So yeah if you encourage people not to be successful by taxing most of their money way from them to take care of others you may reach equality. A country that has a lot of struggling people in it where most of the country struggles. And very few Americans having much if any freedom at all. But that is not the society that most Americans want.
Americans tend to want to be as successful as they can and you accomplish that by making sure people have the freedom and tools so they can do that. It is not a freedom vs. equality issue for me as a Liberal. But how you get to a society and an economy where as many people as possibly can have the tools to get the freedom they need to be successful in society and not need public assistance to financially survive. And to get there instead of having government take so much from the successful and people who live in freedom we empower as many people as possible who want to work and be successful in life to get themselves the tools to be able to accomplish that for themselves.
Which means things like expanding education and job training for low-income adults whether they are working or not. And making those opportunities for anyone who needs it. And having an education system that produces more high-skilled students and workers. The question for me at least is not freedom vs. equality. To that is a false choice like choosing between food or water.
To me it is how you produce a society where many people as possible that is people who want to live in freedom and would work hard for it, how are they able to accomplish that for themselves which is living in freedom. And then allow them to enjoy the fruits of their labor or at least the most of it so they are encouraged to be successful in the future as well. That is how you have a society that is both free and equal. Not take from the very successful to take care of the rest of the country. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Fiscal Times: Report: Rob Garver: Senate Alums Know How to Fix Our Broken Government

U.S. Congress 

The Fiscal Times: Report: Rob Garver: Senate Alums Know How to Fix Our Broken Government

There really isn't any plan that would fix our U.S. Congress that is so unpopular that only its members, family and staff for the members and perhaps some mental patients approve of the job that it is doing. First of all which might seem foreign to Europeans and social democrats in America is that we have a bicameral Congress with a House and Senate. That is right we do not have a Congress and a Senate which some on the Left (MSNBC comes to mind and others) do not seem to understand. And they are independent of each other and have to work with each other to pass laws out of Congress.

Which means the House would have to fix itself and the Senate the same for Congress as a whole to be fixed. And in the future this blog may propose to plan to do both. But what Congress can do together is pass laws regulating how its members are elected.

Like taking the responsibility away from state legislatures in how House districts are drawn. Not taking the power away from the states or the legislatures completely. But giving state elections commissions to the authority to draw up districts. And not draw them up to favor any political party. But draw them up that represents the state as a whole. So Republicans or Democrats wouldn't have more House districts because their party controls the state house and the legislature. Because now those seats would be drawn based on party membership of the state. Not based on which party currently controls the state. These commissions would make their suggestions. The legislature and governor would have to approve them to become law. And then the Federal Election Commission would have to approve them as well to make sure they are consistent with party registration of the states.

Another idea would be full-disclosure that would cover all political contributions. Whether they are given to incumbents, candidates or third-party groups. All contributions would have to be fully-disclosed the amount of money that is given, plus by which individual or group gave the money.

These are some of the things that Congress the House and Senate could do working together could do to fix Congress. Because their members would be less willing to take money from groups that are controversial and feel the need to hide. But also less willing to be associated with them in third-party groups like when one of these groups runs an ad against their opponent. But House districts would now be drawn in a way where they are less partisan. And where the representative would be representing a more diverse population without the ability to take such partisan stances on issues. Because it could cost them politically.

Democracy Journal: Opinion: Mike Konczal: "The Voluntarism Fantasy": The Advantages of the Public/Private Social Insurance System

Private Charity

Democracy Journal: Opinion: Mike Konczal: The Voluntarism Fantasy

I was waiting to read from Mike Konczal in his piece some call for nationalizing private charity and completely nationalizing private charity all together and giving the Federal Government complete control over the charity system in the United States. He stopped short of that and instead proposed to nationalize the retirement system and completely turning Social Security into the sole source when it comes to retirement in this country. As well as call for nationalizing Medicaid, which is another bad idea. But that is a different topic. But apparently there are even limits that the most socialist amongst us put on government.

A problem that Socialists have in America is that they are collectivists living in a very individualistic society. And they don't trust people to do the right things when it comes to their own lives. Especially from an economic point of view and charity would be one example of that. But even to a certain extent a personal point of view as it relates to their prohibitionist policies as it relates to what Americans should be able to eat and drink.

The fact is Americans donate a lot of money to charity every year. And every time there is some humanitarian crisis in the world the rest of the world tends to look at America first. And we always respond both with our government assistance. As well as our private charities stepping up and individuals either volunteering their time, or money and sometimes both to help people in need either in this country, or in another country. Private charity has worked very well in America and if anything should be expanded and encouraged even more. Not messed with by government.

Not making the argument that private charity would be a suitable replacement to public assistance. Just making the case that we need to do both. One to encourage Americans to do what they can for struggling Americans. Because there actually is a big limit to what can government can do well for the people. But there is also a limit to what Americans can do for each other especially in a struggling economy that shrunk in the last quarter. And you need government to step in and try to make up the difference.

Roll Call: Report: Steven Dennis: Senator Tim Kaine, "President Obama Must Get Congress's OK Before War on ISIL in Iraq"

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine

Roll Call: Report: Steven Dennis: Senator Tim Kaine, "President Obama Must Get Congress's OK Before War on ISIL in Iraq"

Even though technically President Obama may not need Congressional approval to take the country back to war with the War Powers Act. As long as he reports back to Congress within I believe ninety days after sending the country to war. President Obama really needs to go to Congress before he commits this tired and broke country that sill is struggling to recover from the Great Recession back to war. Especially fighting for a country that doesn't seem to want to defend itself. Which is the situation that Iraq is in right now.

We are still at the very early stages of anything substantial from a military perspective of America doing anything when it comes to the Iraqi Civil War. The President doesn't seem to want to send the country back to war and it seems like only the Neocons the inventors of the preemptive War in Iraq want to see us go back to war. And why would any intelligent person take their advice on anything anymore when it comes to foreign policy. But military involvement in Iraq from an American perspective is still on the table. And no one really except for the Neocons want us involved in someone else's war.

And for all these reasons even if they are just political President Obama assuming he's still interested in governing this country and not just surviving the last thirty months of his presidency. President Obama needs to come to Congress and for the House and Senate to give him approval to take us back to war. And what he'll see there is similar to what happen in Syria which is very little if any support in the House or Senate from either party except for the Neocons. Because America is tired of protecting, defending and occupying other countries for them.

Washington Examiner: Opinion- Cal Thomas- The Difference Between Republicans and Democrat


Source: Cal Thomas-
Source: Washington Examiner: Opinion- Cal Thomas- The Difference Between Republicans and Democrats

The Republican Party and Democratic Party are so politically diverse inside their party and even to a certain extent are both culturally diverse. Both parties represent states and districts all over the country even though both parties are stronger in some areas and weaker in others. So it is hard to layout what are the differences a Republican and a Democrat since there are so many different Republicans and Democrats in both parties.

But if you want to say the Republican Party is the conservative party and the Democratic Party is the liberal party even though the Republican Party is made up of Conservatives, Libertarians, Neoconservatives religious Conservatives which are different from political Conservatives and Libertarians. And the Democratic Party is made up of Liberals, Progressives and Socialists. And both parties have centrists that are more conservative than liberal and vice-versa, but aren't that hard core and partisan as others in their party. Putting all of that aside and you might be able to explain and see the difference between Republicans and Democrats.

I believe the better way to tell the differences between Republicans and Democrats is to look at the differences between Conservatives and Liberals. Who both are supposed to represent the main reasons why we have a two-party system. Because one party gives you the conservative viewpoint and the other party gives you the liberal viewpoint. And at least in a classical sense it is not so much policies and goals that separate Conservatives from Liberals. Because both sides tend to believe in and want the same things. But the role of government as it relates to the private sector and how involved government should be.

Conservatives and Liberals at least in the classical sense both believe in individual freedom. Both believe in personal responsibility. Both believe in opportunity, believe in law enforcement and a strong defense and even limited government. But where we differ is where does government come into these areas and how they it should be limited and what should it do.

What is government's role when it comes to opportunity for Americans who need it?

What should government do when it comes to law enforcement and where should it stop?

How strong should our defense be and what role does foreign policy and diplomacy have in making sure our country is as secure as possible?

How limited should government should be and when does it become either too small and not having what it needs to serve the country? And when does to become too big and intrusive and stopping freedom for the individual?

It is not so much that Conservatives and Liberals are different because again we tend to have similar goals and believe in similar things. The War on Drugs and criminal justice and sentencing reform, privacy and another War in Iraq are perfect examples of that. Where both sides are coming and working together to get the same outcomes on these issues. But where we differ is what is government's role in these areas and what should it be doing and how much should be invested in it.
Steven Ross: Cal Thomas- Press Different Expectations For GOP, Democrats


Brookings Institution: Up Front: Melissa S. Kearney & Benjamin Harris: Fighting Poverty Need to be a National Policy Priority

Clinton Initiative on Poverty

Brookings Institution: Up Front: Melissa S. Kearney & Benjamin Harris: Fighting Poverty Needs to be a National Policy Priority

This blog covers and writes about poverty a lot as it should. But writing about something a lot can make it difficult to put things in a new an interesting way and makes it difficult to sound repetitive and boring. So this post will be different in the sense and look at poverty simply and purely as an public investment pure and simple. "We as taxpayers give people who aren't able to make it on their own in life this amount money and this is what we expect in return from the money that we give you". Instead of looking at public assistance almost entirely from a public charity perspective.

The question for me at least as a New Democrat and Liberal is not whether or not we should have public assistance in America. But what is it for and what we should get in return. Yes what we should get in return that public assistance is a hand up and not a handout. Again "we give you money to help you sustain yourself in the short-term and this is what we expect you to do while you are getting our money". That is where the hand up and public investment function kicks in. The money people on public assistance yes receive money to survive in the short-term, but they are also getting help improving themselves as people.

Preparing themselves to not only reenter or enter the workforce, but reenter or enter the workforce with the skills needed to get themselves a good job. Which is what Welfare to Work from 1996 was about at least from the Clinton Administration and other New Democrats. "You get help to pay your immediate bills and cost of living with a wide variety of assistance. But what you do in return is finish your education and making sure your kids are not only in school, but getting a good education as well. So you get the skills you need to get yourself a good job and so do your kids if you have any".

If we simply look at public assistance from the perspective of public investment and investing in human capital included in that immediate cost of living instead of looking at simply, or mostly as public charity then public assistance would be popular in America. Because hardworking Americans who perhaps struggle just to pay their bills, but who are not poor would support these policies. Because they would not only see them as public investments in their fellow Americans, but the country as a whole.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Politico: Opinion: Kenneth Vogel & Tarini Parti: The Existential Crisis of the Liberal Millionaire

Wealthy Democrat 

Politico: Opinion: Kenneth Vogel & Tarini Parti: The Existential Crisis of the Liberal Millionaire

Just so we are clear that Liberals and Democrats (and I mean real Liberal Democrats) aren't against millionaires and wealth. How I know that because the Democratic Party if anything may have more wealthy millionaire individual donors than the Republican Party. It was Barack Obama who had the most contributions from Wall Street in 2012. Not Mitt Romney in case anyone wasn't familiar with that. Wall Street doesn't back incumbents and candidates they believe are against them, or trying to put them out of business, or being wealthy.

There are plenty of Liberal Democrats who are multi-millionaires and if anything worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Hollywood is a perfect example of that and Democrats always get more contributions from Hollywood than Republicans. And the Hollywood types who are all in favor of being economically successful and being wealthy. But tend to be very liberal if not libertarian on the social issues. As well as tend to like liberal economic policies as it relates to education and infrastructure investment.

And these liberal donors back Democrats that they like who tend not to be on the Far-Left. They back center-left Liberal Democrats like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry in 2004. And are very friendly with the Bill Clinton's in the Democratic Party. So when you hear things that "Liberal Democrats are against wealth and being rich", you should look at the Democratic donor list and where Democratic politicians get their political contributions. You'll see a lot of union contributions, but you'll also see a lot of contributions from very wealthy Liberals as well.

The Nation: Opinion: Katrina Vanden Heuvel: My Real Family Values

Senator Chris Dodd & President Bill Clinton

The Nation: Opinion: Katrina Vanden Heuvel: My Real Family Values

Wow this is not only the first post I've posted involving Katrina Vanden Heuvel, but I actually agree with probably everything she wrote in her Nation column today. She is quite a bit further to the left of me and has strong socialist or social democratic tendencies and I'm of course am a New Democrat ideologically.

But what I liked about how she wrote her column today is that she said. We meaning America "are the only developed country in the world that doesn't have paid family maternal/paternal leave". That is leave or pay for workers who take time up to take care of their newborn babies. Whether they are mothers or fathers". Well that is not completely true which she mentioned in her piece. We have the Family Medical Leave Law since 1993 and she also correctly pointed out that for workers/parents to qualify for that benefit they have to meet tough requirements and restrictions.

Katrina also said that we not only should have Family and Medical Leave making it universal for all workers. Well for me at least all workers who make under a certain amount. For high-end workers I would make that pay voluntary for the employer, but middle especially lower-end middle class workers and of course low-income workers should definitely be eligible for this benefit. But Katrina also said that employers should be required to pay their employees family leave, as well as sick leave. But she also said that employers should be paying for these benefits. Not create a new federal program to finance them.

I read The Nation everyday and no not because I tend to agree with them, but the opposite is true. I like to know what intelligent people who I tend not to agree with, or at least disagree with roughly half the time or more and what they are thinking. With The Nation especially when it comes to policies like this I'm almost automatically expecting them to propose some new federal big government program to accomplish whatever goals they are trying to accomplish. With of course some new tax or tax increase to finance it.

But today Katrina Vanden Heuvel proposed not only a new national family and medical leave proposal. Which is certainly a goal for Liberals, Progressives and Socialists even in America. But her proposal was mainstream and took a center-left approach in how to accomplish it. Which was to pass a new law requiring employers cover their employees with these benefits. Instead of proposing some new federal big government program to cover these benefits. Which is the idea that Danny Vinik proposed today in The New Republic.

Liberty Pen: Video: FBN's John Stossel: Alan West & Alex McFarland on Personal Freedom



I have a real hard time listening to people who claim to be against big government and essentially say that "big government is essentially bad except when we are in favor of big government". So they say basically "go ahead and make all the money you want and well and go spend that money any way you want just as long as we approve". And we they are confronted on that they say "well we don't allow people to murder or rape or hurt innocent people in any other way". As if that is what the issue is when it is not.

The whole notion of personal freedom is exactly that. It is personal and as long as you aren't hurting innocent people with your personal choices and invading some innocent person's personal freedom and space and living up to your responsibilities that come with your personal choices, we are still talking about personal freedom. So when so-called Conservatives say they believe in freedom and against big government and then of course are talking about all of these economic policies I question them about how they feel about personal choice and social issues. To see how much they really are against big government, or do they just say they are against big government when it is convenient for them.

Economic freedom is not worth much without personal freedom. Because without personal freedom we won't have the freedom to be able to make personal decisions with our own money. Because big government Right or Left or in between will always be they're saying "no we don't approve of those personal choices and we must stop you". What you need for a society to be free is to have both economic and personal freedom because they go hand in hand.
Big Government 

Washington Examiner: Opinion: Gene Healy: The War in Iraq Was a Bipartisan Disaster

Preemptive War
Preemptive War
I actually agree with Gene Healy on this even though I put most of the responsibility for the War in Iraq on President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney and their supporters. But the fact is the War in Iraq never happens without Democratic support in Congress. Because President Bush wanted a bipartisan vote for the Congressional resolution that gave the authorization for the War in Iraq  that passed both the House and Senate with an overwhelming bipartisan vote. And Democrats under Leader Tom Daschle controlled the Senate for President Bush’s first two years. And then of course all of those appropriations bills and the mountain of debt that was created to fund the War in Iraq and the occupation following the 2003 invasion.
Democrats in the Senate could’ve said one word that would’ve prevented the War in Iraq from ever happening. The word is no and said no “we are not going to support this because we do not believe the case has been made for the War in Iraq and do not support this rush to war. Especially in an election year 2002 with both the House and Senate in play”. Now of course Democratic loyalists are going to say that “President Bush had a very high popularity rating and going up against him in an election year would’ve been bad politics”. Fine that is the political argument for supporting the war a political argument that has played a big part in millions of Iraqi’s being dead and thousands of Americans being dead.
Of course war has consequences, but so does politics especially when political decisions are made that affects human lives. Like whether or not to send American soldiers to a country we certainly weren’t very familiar with pre-2003, but I’m not sure we’ve are very familiar with now. Especially since a country that looked fairly stable just a few months ago now looks like they are in the early stage of a civil war. With the argument being that “we must do this to prevent Iraq from arming terrorists who would kill Americans”. And argument that still have never materialized with any credible evidence. Especially since the Hussein Regime in Iraq at the time didn’t even have weapons of mass destruction.
American Neoconservatives deserve most of the blame for the War in  Iraq and I’m not trying to take any of that deserved blame away from them. But the fact is we are not there today had Congressional Democrats not of backed that war. And they had the opportunity to prevent this war from happening in the first place. And instead decided to back a popular Republican President. And we’ve paid a heavy price for the decision ever since. 

The New Republic: Opinion: Danny Vinik: "President Obama's Promise to Raise Middle Class Taxes Makes Governing Harder": Why Raising Taxes on the Middle Class to Address's America's Needs is a Bad Idea

Middle Class Home

The New Republic: Opinion: Danny Vinik: President Obama's Promise to Not Raise Taxes on the Middle Class Makes Governing Harder

I'm just going to be real here and say that Socialists have this belief that if government especially the federal government or central government (depending on the country) is not doing something or running something that is supposed to benefit the country than that program or policy is not 'substantial'. They also believe that there's no such thing as a bad tax increase except for maybe when it comes to the poor. Because all taxes and tax increases benefit the people because it goes to government to serve the people. Now whether you call yourself a Socialist or not and I doubt Danny Vinik from The New Republic does, these are socialist beliefs.

So when Danny Vinik says that anything that President Obama does that doesn't increase taxes on the middle class as well as the wealthy, or is not a Federal Government run program is not 'substantial' as Mr. Vinik says in his New Republic column today he is just making that point for me about how Socialists view taxes and the role of government especially the national government. If you want paid family leave in this country is very simple to do without raising taxes on anyone. It is called a paid family leave law and you have a paid sick leave law as well. You just pass a law that requires to pay their employees these benefits once they are eligible for them. Instead of having a new government program to run them.

As far as raising taxes on the middle class. The last thing you want to do in a struggling economy especially with a struggling middle class is to make the lives of these people even harder and make it harder for them to pay their bills. Especially as they see their income falling and their bills and cost of living rising. Which is exactly what would happen with a middle class tax increase either through the income tax or payroll tax. And neither Democrats or Republicans are interested in doing this at least at the leadership level. And only the socialist left believes this would be good policy.



Monday, June 23, 2014

National Post: Staff- An Historical Look at How Iraq Was Formed: A Three-State Solution For Iraq


Source: The National Post-
Source: National Post: Staff- An Historical Look at How Iraq Was Formed

Back in 2006-07 then U.S. Senator Joe Biden as he was then Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee in 2006 and then when Democrats won back Congress in 2006 he became Chairman of that committee proposed a radical idea about Iraq which was beaten down by both Republicans and Democrats in the last few years. His idea was that Iraq would remain a one independent country, but that three new states would be created inside of Iraq. Kurdistan in the North. A Sunnistan or Sunni-Arab state in Western Iraq. And a Shiastan or Shia-Arab state in the South.

Well since Iraq reached a certain level of sustainability and competence under the Maliki Administration the last seven years or so with a real federal united republic being formed there. So Senator Biden's idea about breaking up Iraq into these three ethnic and religious states or divisions similar to Britain looked well cooky if not radical. Since Iraq seemed to have reached some level of legitimacy and sustainability as a united federal republic.

Well over the last few weeks thanks to the ISIS now in control of parts of Iraq, ISIS being the Islamic terrorist group Iraq's future as an independent united nation looks at best up in the air. With the idea of Northern Iraq breaking away from the rest of the country now seems to look credible if not definite. And Senator Biden's idea about a three state Iraq not only looking less radical, but a strong proposal that had it gone through in 2007-08 maybe Iraq is a unified country right now not looking at a civil war. With all of the competing factions having the power and responsibility over their own domestic affairs.
The Informer: The History of Iraq