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Friday, January 22, 2016

The National Interest: Opinion: Daniel McCarthy- 'The Ugly Truth of Barack Obama’s Last-Gasp Liberalism': Really?

This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat: The National Interest: Opinion: Daniel McCarthy- 'The Ugly Truth of Barack Obama’s Last-Gasp Liberalism': Really?

I feel a little strange commenting on the Obama presidency and it’s impact on America and the rest of the world when it still has a about a year left in it. There are several president’s who’ve accomplished a lot for good in bad in their last year in office. President George W. Bush for example had to deal with the collapse of Wall Street and the banking system in his last year as president. But with Daniel McCarthy essentially arguing that liberalism American and otherwise is dead, I sort of feel the need to weigh in on this. Since again we still have a Center-Left president who is a Liberal, or Progressive, even if he’s a moderate one when it comes to civil liberties and freedom of choice issues.

When Barack Obama came to office, the American economy was literally collapsing. He inherited a budget deficit of over a trillion-dollars and a national debt that rose seven-trillion in the previous eight years and was a eleven-trillion when he took office. Plus the Great Recession just added to that with an economy shrinking at seven-percent and we were losing seven-hundred-thousand jobs in each of the last two months of the Bush Administration. Which adds to the unemployment rolls which adds to the deficit and debt with so many people who previously had middle-income and better jobs now receiving Unemployment Insurance from the Federal Government.

President Obama, had a lot to deal with in his first days as president, plus weeks and months. Like passing a Federal budget and the appropriations bills that the previous Congress and President Bush failed to pass. He had to get a stimulus bill through Congress to get the economy to stop dropping and buy it time to start recovering again. Which is what happened by the summer of 2009. America started creating jobs again by the spring of 2010. The President had forty-five-million Americans without health insurance and lot of those people simply couldn’t afford it. All of this on top of an economy that was falling. Which were the reasons for the auto bailouts, the American Recovery Act, the Affordable Care Act, Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform. All of this legislation in his first two-years as president.

And that is before you get to the President inheriting two wars in the Middle East. With no clear end to when either one would be over and the hundreds of billions of dollars that was borrowed from other countries to pay for those wars. Seven years later is America perfect and is every problem that the President inherited completely solved with nothing left for the future president to have to deal with? Of course not, but that is not how you judge presidencies. You judge them by the State of The Union from which the president inherited to how it was when they left office. Wages aren’t as high as we would like them and the size of the American workforce isn’t as large as it was in 2008. But the economy is no longer falling. The deficit is now 1/3 of what it use to be at around four-hundred-billion dollars. In April we will have seen six straight years of job growth and by the summer seven straight years of economic growth. More Americans now have health insurance than before.

I’ve always seen Barack Obama as a progressive pragmatist. Not as a Socialist, which the Tea Party loves to throw at him, especially the Birthers. Or a Neoconservative/Moderate Republican that actual Socialists like the Noam Chomsky’s of the world see him as. I see the President as Progressive who has big progressive goals and values, but won’t fight to the death for them and come up empty. So of course he’s not Bernie Sanders. He’s someone who goes issue by issue and looks for the best solution to each issue and then looks for the best solution possible. He had a Democratic Congress for his first two years and a divided Congress with a Republican House and Democratic Senate for the next four. And his last two years he’ll have a Republican Congress. So of course he’s had to compromise even with his own party in Congress a lot.

America really at least since the 1960s with the Cultural Revolution and then add the Reagan Revolution of the late 1970s and early 1980s, has always been as Barry Goldwater like to say a big government out of our wallets, bedrooms, boardrooms and classrooms country. Which is why both Center-Left Liberal Democrats (the real Liberals) like Jack Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and yes Barack Obama, have done pretty well politically in this country. And why Center-Right Conservatives (the real Conservatives) like Barry Goldwater, Ron Reagan, George H.W. Bush and you could add Dick Nixon as well, have done well in America as well. Because they’ve tended to know where the people are and share their values and what they can accomplish politically as president. Senator Goldwater, was obviously never president, but he fitted in well with the Center-Right.

Liberalism, is not dead. Assuming Hillary Clinton is the next Democratic nominee for president and she becomes president, whether she governs as a Liberal or a Progressive, she’ll try to move the country forward from the Center-Left. And if she does that she’ll pretty successful politically. As long as she knows where she wants to go and can avoid big government and political scandals and handles issues competently. So in this universe as long as Liberals are actually that and don’t try to govern, or win office as Socialists and even Democratic Socialists, Liberals as long as they stay as who they are and stay in the Center-Left as people who believe in both personal and economic freedom and creating a society where everyone can succeed and use a limited government to help create that, they’ll do very well politically. Which is the politics that Barack Obama has always represented.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Nome De Plume: Rita Hayworth- Put The Blame on Mame

This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review: Nome De Plume: Rita Hayworth- Put The Blame on Mame

I saw the entire Gilda movie for the first time last week and I really believe this is Rita Hayworth at her best. And she and Glenn Ford, are great together. Glenn Ford’s character in Gilda, reminds me of the Sam Rothstein character from Casino. Gilda, played by Rita of course, not that different from Ginger played by Sharon Stone in Casino. A women who marries rich to live well, but not in love at all her wealthy husband with her husband knowing that, but loves her to the point he plays like an over possessive father and not a husband. With Gilda almost being like a sixteen or seventeen-year old girl who wants to breakout and have her freedom.

Ginger, in Casino was not a singer, or an entertainer at all. More like a part-time gambler and former prosecute who gets Sam Rothstein’s attention played by Robert De Niro, at his casino. Gilda, played by Rita is a singer and dancer. Which a lot of Rita’s characters were. She was this red-hot adorable sexy goddess, with an incredible voice that helped keep her very young for a long time. She was great in Gilda again as a women who was really just trying to have a good time in Argentina and perhaps escape her past in America and live as well as she can. While having men around her that loved her perhaps too much and were very possessive of her. She does a great job in this video Put The Blame on Mame and just one reason to watch Gilda.

Monday, January 18, 2016

CKDTA: ABC News- Dark Days at The White House

This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat: CKDTA: ABC News- Dark Days at The White House

ABC News, wasn’t number three on the network news battles back in the early 1970s. But they were buried in last place which just happened to be third back then. Well behind CBS News and NBC News. They would have been what the CW is today behind CBS, NBC, ABC and even FOX. They simply didn’t have the viewership of the other networks, because they didn’t have the affiliates and perhaps just barely qualified as a national broadcast network back then. But they were able to cover Watergate and did have their own nightly newscast and did have very good people working for them. Like Howard Smith, Frank Reynolds, Harry Reasoner, Sam Donaldson, Peter Jennings and a young Ted Koppel.

Watergate, was nothing more than a local Washington city burglary in the summer of 1972. At least that’s how it was portrayed early on. With some real differences even early on. 1972 was a presidential election year. It wasn’t the Watergate Hotel itself that was burglarized, but the Democratic National Headquarters that had their office at the Watergate that was burglarized. The burglars had both CIA and White House connections with the Nixon Reelection Committee. The White House under President Nixon, involved themselves early on in this story in the summer of 72 when the President told his Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman to tell the FBI to get out of the story. Which wasn’t learned until the summer of 73 with the Senate Watergate investigation.

Without The Washington Post and a certain extent Walter Cronkite at CBS News, all of those stories that broke in the spring and summer of 73 about Watergate, do not come out. Because The Post was hammering away and digging into Watergate from day one. Because Watergate happened in their city and they had all the connections including in the Federal Government, but the local City Government as well to investigate this story. And that is when you see organizations like The New York Times, CBS News, NBC News, ABC News, and others, starting to not just look into Watergate, but what else the White House might have been involved in and their other illegal operations back then.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Federalist: Opinion: David Harsanyi- Republicans, Don't Be Hypocrites On The Filibuster

This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat: The Federalist: Opinion: David Harsanyi- Republicans, Don't Be Hypocrites On The Filibuster

Senate Republicans, have all the motivation in the world to not only be in favor of the filibuster, but to want to keep it even though they’re current in the majority in this Congress. They could easily be in the minority in the next Congress next year. They currently have a better shot at losing their majority than keeping it if you look at how many more seats they have to defend and how many of those seats are in blue states. Illinois, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, to use as examples. Senator Rob Portman, will have a tough reelection campaign in Ohio which is swing state. 2016 presidential election where they’ll most likely be facing Hillary Clinton, where there will be a huge Democratic turnout. And their candidate might be Donald Trump. And I can’t wait to see every ad against him.

Senate Republicans, need to ask themselves a question. Do they really want to be in the 115th Congress with another Democratic president, a Republican House with a much smaller majority and a Democratic Senate with 52-53 seats or more, that doesn’t have a filibuster to deal with. With Senate Democrats passing bills that they and Hillary ran on in 2016. With a Republican House that is now divided because they lost a bunch of seats and aren’t sure where to go from there and perhaps just waiting on the 2018 mid-terms and hoping a President Hillary Clinton is unpopular then. And this is all before you get to the whole hypocrisy of the so-called Senate filibuster debate from both sides. Where there isn’t a Democratic, or Republican position on the filibuster. But a majority and minority position. The majority is against the filibuster. The minority is in favor of it.

Senate Republicans under Mitch McConnell, had eight years in the minority. And in that time became not only very skillful with the filibuster, but Senate rules in general. To try to obstruct and stop Senate Democrats on practically everything in hopes of winning back the Senate. So it’s very hard for them to make the case that the filibuster is a bad thing, because it slows down not only the Senate, but Congress as a whole. Because when the House passes something generally on party-lines the Senate is unable to act on it, because they end up debating what amendments should be allowed and how long to debate. And one side accusing the other of obstruction, with the other side accusing the other of being overly partisan and not allowing for enough amendments. And people wonder why Congress is so unpopular.

The Senate filibuster, is kind of like Unemployment Insurance. You don’t want it and rather not have it, but you’re sure as hell glad it’s there if you become unemployed and you don’t think you’ll be working again anytime soon. At least not making the type of money that you’re accustom to making. The Senate filibuster is there to hold the majority accountable and even the administration accountable when one party holds the White House and Congress. But with the opposition having enough seats in the Senate to slow things down if not obstruct them. When the majority is overly partisan and doesn’t want to work with the opposition and even allow for amendment to bills. Senate Republicans, in 2017 if they’re at around 45-47 seats in the Senate, are going to be glad they didn’t abolish the filibuster.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Johnny Machine: Bugsy 1991- A Gangster Goes Hollywood

This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review: Johnny Machine: Bugsy 1991- A Gangster Goes Hollywood

Bugsy from 1991, is one of not my favorite films, but also one of my favorite gangster films. Right up there with Goodfellas, which could be my favorite gangster movie and Casino. This is a great film and even though it is not completely accurate and it doesn’t advertise itself that way anyway, this is a very funny film. Warren Beatty, makes Benjamin Bugsy Siegel, seem like a very funny charming guy. Not sure if Bugsy was that way in real-life, or Beatty just makes him look that way in the movie, because that is how he wanted to play him, because he’s a very funny charming guy. But Beatty makes Bugsy look like a cold-blooded killer with another side to him. That loves his family and the people he cares about as well. But won’t stop to kill someone who gets in his way.

Bugsy, is about the career of Benjamin Bugsy Siegel. Who is a Jewish mobster from New York who operates out of New York, who is sent to Los Angeles on business. To become partners with Italian gangsters over there. To actually buy out their business there and take it over with those people working for him and his bosses back in New York. When Bugsy gets to Hollywood, he can’t find anything he doesn’t like about it and decides he wants to go into films as well. Which is where he meets his long time mistress Virginia Hill, played by the beautiful and adorable Annette Bening. She’s not just an actress and mistress, but becomes his business partner as well. That is the legitimate side of his business dealing with gambling.

Bugsy, is then sent to Las Vegas, which was still a hick Southwestern town in the early 1940s when this movie first takes place. To check out a casino there and to report back on it. And instead passes on that dump of a casino there and discovers that he could develop a casino industry with his own casino-hotel there. And make millions if not billions of dollars there and make Las Vegas a gambling mecca. All this stuff in the movie is completely true. Bugsy Siegel, had a lot to do with the development and economic success of Las Vegas. And a big reason why it goes from a town of maybe ten-thousand people back in the 1940s, to a big city of over five-hundred-thousand people today and one of the fastest growing cities and metro areas in the country now.

Bugsy Siegel, was not a good guy at all. He was a cold-blooded killer who had witness’s whacked and personally murdered perhaps twenty people or more himself for getting in the way of his illegal business’s. But Warren Beatty, does a great job of giving Bugsy a very likable charming funny side. That people could actually like especially if they don’t know he’s a gangster and personally responsible of the murders of so many people. This is a two and a half-hour film that is worth every minute. With a lot of great lines, with a lot of humor and not just from Beatty, but Annette Bening does a great job and so does Harvey Keitel as Mickey Cohen and so many other great character and actors in this movie. This is truly one of Barry Levinson’s best movies.

Friday, January 8, 2016

AEI Ideas: James Pethokoukis- Ben Carson's Flat Tax Plan Represents Many of The Least Helpful Impulses in GOP Tax Policy

This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat: AEI Ideas: James Pethokoukis- Ben Carson's Flat Tax Plan Represents Many of The Least Helpful Impulses in GOP Tax Policy

During really the last six years or so of the tax cut and deficit reduction debate in Washington, people who call themselves Conservative Republicans, have argued that they wouldn’t support a tax increase, or a tax hike under any circumstances. The so-called fiscal cliff and the extension of the Bush tax cuts in late 2012 was part of this. However Representative Michelle Bachmann, when she ran for president in 2011, her campaign didn’t make it to 2012, or she ran for president in a non-presidential year, argued for increasing taxes on low-income workers. Adding an income tax to their payroll taxes. Ben Carson and others, now support a 15% flat tax that would be a fifty-percent tax increase on lower working class workers who currently pay 10% in federal income taxes before refunds and so-forth.

If you’re truly against tax hikes at any point, then you’re against any flat tax that raises taxes on anyone. Every flat tax that has ever been proposed has been both a lower and middle-income tax hike. I have a hard time taking anyone seriously who call them self even a fiscal, or economic conservative, when they support a flat tax. Because they’re supporting a lower and middle-income tax increase, but also on the people who American economy depends on the most to drive economic growth. You pass a lower-income tax on people and they’ll stop working and become completely dependent on public assistance, because they can’t afford your tax increase. We need to encourage these people to not only work, but further their education so they can get a good job and no longer be low-income. Not discourage them to work at all.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

CKDTA: PBS"s Summer of Judgment: The Watergate Hearings

This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat: CKDTA: PBS"s Summer of Judgment: The Watergate Hearings

I believe the Senate Watergate hearings which brought Congress into this investigation starting in the Senate, was critical in this investigation. White House Chief Counsel John Dean, who was running the Watergate coverup for President Nixon, becomes famous in these hearings. We find out about White House taping system, which is what brought down President Nixon. Because everything he said and did about the Watergate coverup at least in the White House was on tape. The smoking gun where President Nixon tells his Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman to instruct the FBI to drop their investigation was on the tapes. So the Senate Watergate hearings were critical in this investigation.

PBS, which was less than ten years old at this point, was critical in these hearings as well. And this was really the start of PBS becoming a major player in the broadcast news business and with them starting their PBS News division. With their nightly newscast, The NewsHour, their newsmagazine show Frontline, their weekly political talk show Washington Week and all of their documentaries. They were the C-SPAN of the 1970s at least during these Congressional hearings in the Senate. They broadcasted these hearings gavel to gavel live and then replaying these hearings in prime time later that night. Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil, became media stars during these hearings. And other news divisions, CBS News, NBC News and ABC News, covered these hearings as well.

I believe that a lot of the people who worked for President Nixon were by in large good productive people. Bud Krogh and John Dean, are good examples of that, but they believed in Richard Nixon so much that they would do anything for him and were simply too loyal to this man. And got in over their heads and ending up doing things that they probably wouldn't have done had they not have met Richard Nixon, or some with those personality traits. And I think you see a lot of that with these people who essentially ended up testifying against their former boss. Of course they did that as part for their plea agreements, but these weren't career criminals, but people who did bad and illegal things while working for Richard Nixon.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Notes On Liberty- Opinion- Fred Foldvary- Natural Rights and Taxation

This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat on WordPress: Notes On Liberty- Opinion- Fred Foldvary- Natural Rights and Taxation

Natural rights and taxation. They go hand in hand. We all have the freedom to be ourselves and live our own lives, makes our own beds, but then have to live in the beds that we makes for ourselves. Or build a different bed. That is called personal freedom and responsibility. Taxes by themselves, don’t go against freedom. They’re simply fees that we all pay for the government that we each consume. Can taxes be too high and discourage economic and personal freedom and can government be wasteful, of course. But that is what liberal democracy is for. To to clear out that waste and bring those high taxes down.

We choose what government we get by the leaders and representatives that we elect. And if we don’t like the jobs they’re doing, we can repeal and replace them. To coin and a House Republican term from 2011. Taxes, should only fund what we need government to do and set at a rate that gives government what it needs to perform those services. With limited government comes limited taxation. So with limited government you don’t need taxes so high that it discourages personal and economic freedom. Because again you have a limited government. And a large private sector with a lot of freedom of choice in it.

So as a Liberal I want and have the freedom to live my own life the way I see fit, short of hurting any innocent. But I and every other America has the responsibility to pay for the government that we consume, but also live up to the personal responsibility of our own decisions. Natural rights to me, are the rights that we have to be ourselves. To live as individuals and not as some member of some socialist, or religious collective. Where the state decides how we should live and what we need to live well in society.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Josh Burdick: CBS News Special on Watergate, June 1992

This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat: Josh Burdick: CBS News Special on Watergate, June 1992

The story of Watergate is so tragic. This idea that President Richard Nixon would be worried about losing the presidency to George McGovern, who was the Bernie Sanders Democratic Socialist of his time. In an era when Socialists were looked down upon as Marxists and Communists, is so laughable I almost want to feel sorry for President Nixon and his White House. With or without Watergate, President Nixon was in cruise control and headed for the landslide reelection that he got in 1972. The Democratic Party, was divided between mainstream Progressives and New-Left Socialists, the Green Party of their time that wanted to move America in a new radical direction.

Watergate, was not a shot in the foot, but a grenade at someone's foot that takes both feet off in one blow. And that is it is a really weak grenade. It never had to happen and what made this story even more tragic is that President Nixon wasn't behind Watergate itself, but the cover up that came after. Had he and his Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman, stayed out of the story and let the Washington PD and the FBI do their jobs, the Nixon Campaign might have taken a little hit in the polls. Because the burglars were connected to their campaign. But they would have gotten that back plus a lot more because of their convention and the Democratic convention later that summer.

But that is not the worst part of Watergate. Watergate, destroyed what otherwise would have been a promising presidency where President Nixon was putting together a foreign policy record that was perhaps second to none compared with any president before him. With ending the Vietnam War, opening up Russia and China to negotiations and diplomatic relations, Middle East talks involving Egypt, Israel and what would become Palestine. Plus his domestic agenda that would become what is called Welfare to Work today, health care reform that is the Affordable Care Act today, a national energy policy, to move America off of foreign oil. All of these policies that the Nixon Administration were working on in their second term. That went away because of Watergate.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Prager U: Dennis Prager- How Big Should Government Be?

This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat: Prager U: Dennis Prager- How Big Should Government Be?

Dennis Prager, did a great job of over generalizing here. By suggesting that the Left, as if there is one Left, puts all their faith in big government. While the Right, again as if there is only one Right, puts all their faith in the individual and market. Which is just complete nonsense and since the New Year is still new, I’ll be nice with that. Of course there isn’t one Left and there isn’t one Right. Thats why we have terms like Center-Left, Far-Left, Center-Right and Far-Right. Because different factions on the left-wing and right-wing, believe in different things and different policies. To the point that they can sound ideologically like they’re on the other side from each other.

Both the Far-Left, where you have Democratic Socialists and people who I at least call Neo-Communists, who aren’t completely Marxist, believe in big government. And then you have Neoconservatives and Religious Conservatives, Christian and Muslim, who believe in big government as well. It’s just that the Far-Left version of big government looks different from the Far-Right. The Far-Left big government, has more to do with economic policy. Even though they’re now involved in limiting free speech that they disagree with and trying to use government to tell people what they can eat and drink. And then the Far-Right big government, has more to do with social issues and personal behavior. And using big government to control how people behave and what they can do n their own personal time.

As a Liberal who of course who is on the Center-Left, I’m more interested in the differences and similarities that Liberals have with lets say Conservative Libertarians. The Rand Paul’s of the world, when it comes to the role of government. Both sides both believe in limited government. Both sides believe in a strong, but limited national defense to protect American interests and use American power where we can make a positive difference and promote our interests. Both sides even believe in a regulatory state. Not to run business’s, but to protect consumers and workers. And even to protect American business’s from unfair and illegal foreign competition. Both sides even believe in limited government aid to the underserved to help low-income people improve their own lives.

Where Liberals and Conservative Libertarians disagree is not whether government should be limited or not, but how limited. What’s the role of the states and localities and even non-profit private sector, to help the poor. To use as an example. Where should American force be used to save people from horrible authoritarian regimes that are murdering their own people. And how should we work with our allies to deal with situations like that. How big should the regulatory state be and what exactly should it do. But it’s not as if one side puts all their faith in big government and the other side puts all their faith in the individual. When the fact is factions on both sides believe in big government and believe in individualism.