Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Republicans: The World is a Ghetto

“We shouldn’t demonize wealth the way this administration has,” he said. “How many of you look at your balance sheets and say, ‘You know what? This profit thing is overrated?’”Michael Steele

As America races head long into banana republic status what is so troubling is how many people have such a distorted view of what has caused it. Thanks to the constant refrain from the wing-nuts and teabaggers many Americans believe the cause of our economic woes is not from the greed of the rich but from the policies that created the middle-class in the first place. The problem is not that our political system is awash in corruption and corporate largess being fueled by wealthy people whose only mission in life is to get as much profit as they can at the expense of all else. The problem is not that the wealthiest among us refuse to pay their fair share to make our system more equitable. It’s amazing to me that if the wealthy spent as much time and money on playing by the rules and paying their share as they do avoiding it we wouldn’t be having this conversation or these deficits.

I wonder when did we changed from a society that provided an opportunity for many to improve their lot through policies that recognized that not only did it make economic sense to have a vibrant middle-class but also because it was the right thing to do into this selfish nation. Today that sense of collective good has been replaced by what’s in it for me. We have become a nation of hoarders. Don’t get me wrong I am not naïve or a revisionist that does not realize throughout our history there have always been greedy people among us, but today it has reached unprecedented levels. We have reached the point where people don’t matter, the environment doesn’t matter, and the future doesn’t matter. Many will say that this is the natural fall-out from a consumption driven and aimless society that despite its outward prostrations is not rooted in any deep and meaningful principles to guide us. While many claim an abiding belief in God just exactly who or what that God is has become a mystery to most.

A country without a memory is a country of madmen. - George Santayana

I understand the logic that deficits matter and there are those who are truly afraid it will ruin us, but there are two things that appears to be lost on this crowd. First, we have history concerning similar events not just in our country but nations around the world. Why is it so difficult for us to analyze those historical events and develop strategies based on what worked and what didn’t in those instances and move forward? The reason I believe that it is so difficult is because what has worked in the past and what will work now is a massive infusion of targeted spending to stimulate growth. You don’t have to be a Harvard educated economist to read a book and realize what is needed. In every case where there was failure the people tried to use austere method of cutting spending during a contraction in the economy. This isn’t debatable or conjecture, it is fact based in history.

The second thing that is lost in this debate is that deficits are caused by two events: spending and lost revenue. You can cut spending all you want but if you don’t maintain or increase revenues you won’t solve the problem. The rich and their middle-managers or the managerial class have for decades sought to reduce their tax burden through government policies and political corruption. A fact that seems lost on the teabaggers, many of whom are adversely affected by the policies they espouse. The troubling aspect about our current debate and election cycle is that easily obtainable facts are now controversial and debatable and many cases just plain ignored. As if to say we don’t know what got us out of the Great Depression. There are those who will argue that our economy today is different from the one back then. The truth is that it is not. We have created these excuses to keep us from acting in a similar way because it worked. Excuses like “structural unemployment”. The reason we have structural unemployment is because we don’t make anything anymore. We have outsourced our ability to produce our way out of this crisis. These policies worked so well that Democrats maintained a majority in Congress for decades following enacting these policies that laid the foundation for the biggest growth spurt in history. But what good are facts in an irrational tirade based on emotions and philosophical drivel.

In terms of types of financial wealth, the top one percent of households have 38.3% of all privately held stock, 60.6% of financial securities, and 62.4% of business equity. The top 10% have 80% to 90% of stocks, bonds, trust funds, and business equity, and over 75% of non-home real estate. Since financial wealth is what counts as far as the control of income-producing assets, we can say that just 10% of the people own the United States of America. - G. William Domhoff

My question is how many of those teabaggers with their colonial costumes and pointed hats are in this 10%? My guess is not many, if any. Just as the racists of the South turned the debate from slavery and Jim Crow to state’s rights, so the rich in this country have turned equitable distribution of wealth into the false argument of socialism or capitalism. The difficulty comes when so many of the people in this country are getting their information from sources that either confirm or reinforce their already currently held views. We have gone from a nation that read books to a nation that reads bumper stickers. So rather than having an honest and factually based discussion on the real issues we get this ginned up antagonism towards the people who are trying to level the playing field.

It’s strange to hear Rush Limbaugh constantly taking about class warfare and the Obama agenda because warfare would require both sides to be fighting. In America only one side is fighting and winning and that is the rich. If we are going to turn the tide in this country from the rich corporate class that is intent on raping the environment, creating a permanent underclass, and undermining our democratic principles then we will have to wage an insurgency campaign. Unfortunately, we are outgunned and with the collaborators we are out-manned. Those of us who realize where the real problems lie must begin to offset the well financed propaganda campaign which has already caused millions of Americans to vote and to campaign against their own interests. Our future and the future of America are at stake.

“Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.” - Edmund Burke

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Tea Party Independent Movement

When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of ANY nation. - Dr. Adrian Rogers

Remember back when it all began and the Tea Party was being hailed as this “new” independent movement that was going to change the face of politics in America? These average Americans were mad at everybody and no politician was safe regardless of party. Well, now that the primaries are over what have we learned about this new independent movement?

We have learned that they may dislike Dems, but they hate Republicans. They hate Republicans until they win I guess and then they are waiting in line for the hand-outs and infomercials they get to do on FOX. We have learned that these folks were the crazy cousins hiding in the attic of the Republican Party. We have learned that these folks are the reincarnation of the “Know Nothings, the Moral Majority, and the Christian Coalition. We have learned that they really aren’t independent nor or they grassroots. If the Tea Party were an independent movement why did all of their candidates run in Republican primaries? You would think that a third independent party would want to run on its own identity and not the failed brand of another party.

The Tea Party appears to be an attempt to push the Republican Party further to the right and not to advance any independent ideas or agenda. It’s almost laughable when I hear the Republican leadership talk about co-opting the teabaggers. Why would you need to co-opt a group that is already a wing of your party? I think this is just to give the impression that this is actually some new force in the political arena. The truth is that these folks are not new. Many of them are descendents of the same old cultural warriors from the past who are disguising their brand of intolerance behind fiscal responsibility. We hate them because they are spending too much money. Please ignore the fact that we say racist things, that we are anti-Muslim, and by the way anti-immigration too. Our real mission is reigning in the runaway spending and over reaching power of the Federal Government.

Obviously they have forgotten that the Feds gained most of their power of intrusion from the Bush years following 9/11. They have forgotten about the Patriot Act, the secret files, and the eavesdropping on millions of phone calls of Americans. I guess it is ok for the government to be able to spy on its citizens so long as the government doesn’t provide a safety net for its most vulnerable or protect all of its citizens from profit driven corporations. This really isn’t about the size or scope of government. The reality is this is about the loss of responsibility to one another. We are witnessing a major turn in our collective consciousness towards one another. We are no longer our brothers keeper; instead it has been replaced with every person for themselves.

For many years following the Great Depression and World War II we as nation made the decision that it was important to care for our less fortunate brothers and sisters. Since that time the wealthy through their wing-nut surrogates have been whittling away at that concept. Taxes have gone from a necessary and honorable duty to a transfer of wealth. My question is why don’t we hear about the transfer of wealth when corporations and the rich are receiving government handouts? No, government support is only bad when it is given to ordinary or impoverished people.

The teabaggers are not some new populist independent movement despite the stories to the contrary. They are the same rehashed groups that have always been a part of the Republican Party who every ten years or so come up with a new name. And as if on cue the media portrays them as some new movement worthy of deeper investigation. The only problem is that they don’t do any investigation. The media accepts the narrative of the front men that they are in fact different from other past groups. But if the media would only do their homework they would easily see that these shadowy groups are all connected at the hip to their past personifications.

Remember following the trouncing that the Republicans took after the last two elections the question was asked if America had grown tired of the old “culture wars” that the Republicans had used to their advantage? Well the wing-nuts were listening and rebranded themselves as fiscal conservatives no longer publically espoused their desire to control the behavior of their fellow citizens. It appears that depending on the mood of the electorate the wing-nuts will reinvent themselves in that image. The goal is not principled “pledges” or “contracts” the goal is power and whatever they have to become to gain that power they will become. Because of the anxiety over the economy they are now populist but make no mistake their agenda has not changed. Their goal is to move this country to the right.

In ten years they will rebrand themselves something else and we will go through this same process of how some new independent movement is shaking the country and in the end when the curtain is pulled back it will be the same old wing-nuts offering the same old failed policies under some new guise. You would think that we would be tired of this game, but as long as they can find these “regular” American hucksters who are willing to do and say anything for a dollar with the ability to cajole millions into these false arguments with their false remedies the dance continues. See you in ten years.

"Gay marriage is probably the biggest issue that will impact our state and our nation in the last, at least, thirty years. I AM NOT UNDERSTATING THAT." - Michelle Bachmann

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Friday, September 24, 2010

America is Not a Conservative Nation

Conservatism clings to what has been established, fearing that, once we begin to question the beliefs that we have inherited, all the values of life will be destroyed. - Morris Raphael Cohen

I am so tired of this false meme that America is a conservative nation that occasionally flirts with liberal principles. The truth is that the majority of Americans favor those so-called liberal policies that have defined this nation. The policies that created the largest middle-class the world has ever known and allowed many people the opportunity to better their lot in life. So if this is the case then why do we hear so often that this is a conservative country?

I believe that the reason this false premise is allowed to persist is because the true conservatives are the wealthiest amongst us, it is only in their interest to keep the status quo. After all what are the tenets of conservatism? Adherence to the Constitution is one of their favorites, a document that was written by a group of all white male property owners. Imagine if we had not amended the Constitution the state we would be in. Another one they like to espouse is smaller government, which is a euphemism for lower taxes. Then of course there are family values, but those values are “their” family values. Which anyone familiar with the family histories of the rich and powerful would almost surely scoff at the idea of emulating.

If we dig beyond the rhetoric it isn’t hard to see who the main beneficiaries of the conservative platform are. It isn’t the minorities, the immigrants, or the poor it is those who are already established and wealthy. Here is the strange part; this group only comprises about 2% of our population. So how has 2% of our population been able promote and embed this notion of conservatism into the larger population? It has been done systematically and at great expense on the part of the wealthy. We see this scenario being played out today if we look at those “grassroots” groups who are promoting this agenda. If we pull back the sheet we will see that the majority of them are being manipulated by these super rich puppet masters.

Even so you say people should be able to see through this ruse. That is where the folks I like to call the middle managers come in. These middle managers who include the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Glen Beck and the others are paid quite handsomely to pretend that they are just regular folks speaking to other regular folks about the evils that surround them. How is it that whenever we begin to ask the wealthy among us to pay their fair share that we hear the term socialism thrown about by this crowd? What the wealthy have done is hand selected these once regular folks who have the skills of manipulation and believability and promote them as people to be listened to while paying them handsomely to dupe the people. These people do not possess any real expertise on anything but the power of persuasion. How is it that they are constantly being shown to be wrong, misinformed, and outright liars and yet they continue to find a place to disseminate their garbage?

Over the course of the last few decades we have seen an erosion of the media into this obvious propaganda machine and all have played a role. Even those stations that claim to be unbiased have played a role by legitimizing these charlatans in the interest of equal time. There is no compromise or middle ground between right and wrong and good or evil. These outlets are being controlled by conservative wealthy people who behind the scenes manipulate these same outlets into offering up these ridiculous ideas and theories as legitimate alternatives. If this were not true then whenever anyone appeared on any news show and began to speak about tax-cuts and deregulation they would be lambasted. They would be lambasted not because of a disagreement between two competing and viable alternatives but because we have history and data that shows these ideas to be dishonest. But we continue to play this game every election and each newsperson pretends that they have never heard these arguments before and that they have no independent data to quote to demonstrate the outright deceit being perpetrated on the American public.

In the end what we have seen is the inexorable shift to the right based on this constant and unending refrain that we are a conservative nation by nature and that these conservative ideas have been proven true or at the very least untested. How can anyone with a straight face claim these ideas are true or untested? But no one in the media wants to lose their status or job by calling these clowns out for who they are and so the game continues. How anyone can say that America was a conservative country by nature is beyond me. It is obviously someone who is unfamiliar with their history. If we were a conservative people we would still only have 13 states. Conservative people do not explore and homestead in the wilderness. Conservative people do not leave their safety and cross mountains, deserts, and rivers.

It is unfortunate that we have allowed our spirit to be broken by these charlatans and the wealthy. Conservatism by its very nature is a fear of the future and the unknown. It prevents us from being innovative and flexible in shaping a new destiny for all Americans. The reason there has been no innovation in America in decades beyond the entertainment industry is because of this conservative attack on our spirit, the very nature that made us America. The sad truth is that the change or breaking of these shackles won’t come from some media call, but will come from the remnant of Americans who still yearn for freedom of expression not for the gilded few, but for all Americans. Oh and by the way those aren’t the teabaggers.

Conservatism discards Prescription, shrinks from Principle, disavows Progress; having rejected all respect for antiquity, it offers no redress for the present, and makes no preparation for the future. - Benjamin Disraeli

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Let The Co-Opting Begin

Rove pointed to unresolved questions about O'Donnell's financial practices, potentially dubious campaign tactics, and generally "nutty things" she'd been saying.

Former Bush Senior Adviser Staff Karl Rove today defended his earlier criticisms of Delaware's Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell and insisted he supports her campaign, since she is now the Republican nominee.

Asked today on Fox News whether he would endorse O'Donnell, Rove said, "I endorsed her the other night -- I said I'm for the Republican in each and every case."
- CBS News

As more and more teabaggers are nominated during the Republican primaries the new task for the Republican establishment and pundits is to try and make them appear “main stream”. Under normal conditions this would be difficult because the candidates would have to face the media, their opponents, and the voters. What we are seeing now is a new strategy being instituted by Sarah Palin and her ilk. The new strategy is to avoid the media except for Fox, the voters except for your supporters, and no debates. This election will be telling not just in the policies and visions of the teabaggers, but also a demonstration of the political strategy of evasion. Are the voters so angry that politicians are no longer required to answer tough questions or that their personal lives are no longer relevant?

I believe that former Senator Trent Lott said it best on one of the Sunday talk shows when he said that the Republicans have to figure out a way to co-opt the teabaggers into the larger Republican movement. I have a question why are the teabaggers a natural outgrowth of the Republican Party? If you follow the logic of the teabaggers which is difficult they are for smaller government and fiscal responsibility (among a host of other non-descript principles) then you would think that they would support the only Party in the last 35 years to reduce the national debt and recorded a surplus which would make them Democratic supporters wouldn’t it? So obviously the size of government or the deficits is not what is fueling the outrage.

I think what is troubling to Karl Rove and what should be troubling to the other so-called Republican leaders is that what the teabaggers are putting on display is what is at the heart of the conservative movement which is fear, racism, and tribalism. The teabaggers are like the crazy uncle that you keep in the attic. He is in the family but you don’t want anyone to know about it. The teabaggers are the raw nerve of the Republican Party. They are the ones who are the attack dogs for the Party. Let’s not be naive the reason the so-called Establishment Republicans are not challenging the teabaggers is because the teabaggers are the heart of the Republican Party. And now the trick that they want to play on the American public is to disguise this dark heart as being normal or main stream. These folks are not extremists. They are just angry main stream Americans who may go a little overboard but who could blame them during these revolutionary times.

The Beckster is even trying to talk the teabaggers into toning down the costumes, signs, and rhetoric. According to Mr. Beck now that the teabaggers have made a name for themselves it is time to clean-up their image. He is now offering fashion tips for the teabaggers. When I heard this I was instantly reminded of the Klan’s attempts to become main stream by placing David Duke on the public stage. The problem with managing a mob filled with hate, fear, and paranoia is that there is no managing it. Since a recent poll shows that 50% of the public does not have an opinion of the teabaggers their handlers have decided now is the time for a facelift. Their hope of course is that the public will not remember the signs, the rhetoric, or the racism. Or there is another opinion and that is they truly believe that the majority of Americans secretly share these intolerant views.

I can’t speak for the voters of Delaware, but what gives me cause for concern about Ms. O’Donnell and her shortcomings is simply this, if someone is dishonest in small things they will be dishonest in big things. Although the amounts of her misappropriations are small by Washington standards she has demonstrated a lack of basic honesty. If you will misuse a few thousand dollars how can you be trusted with millions of dollars? Ms. O’Donnell has learned that all Senators are millionaires and she wants to join the club. The fact that the teabaggers will support her or any candidate regardless of their personal integrity demonstrates to me that they are a red herring.

These folks are no more concerned about the deficits than they are concerned about death rays from Mars. You can’t say that you are concerned about the federal deficit and not have enough sense to do a simple history lesson and learn what Party has done more to increase the deficit. This isn’t rocket science a simple internet search will give you the details. But again this isn’t about knowledge or facts it is about a clash of cultures and a clash with the future.

I'm not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself. – Ronald Reagan

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why I Am Against Purity Tests

Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart; for his purity, by definition, is unassailable. - James A. Baldwin

There has been talk recently about the Dems needing to imitate the wing-nuts and teabaggers and create purity tests for potential candidates to demonstrate their allegiance to progressive issues. While I personally support many progressive ideas and feel that our country would be better served if some were enacted, I do not believe for a minute that we live in a progressive nation. If we enacted these progressive purity tests we would have a very small caucus because many of these progressive candidates could not be elected in many districts and states. I am somewhat of an oddity in my state as I am sure many of the folks who will read this. I am fortunate to be represented by a progressive Congressman but my state went for McCain.

In a blog I wrote during the Arkansas primary with Blanche Lincoln against Bill Halter I stated that while I am not personally opposed to primarying Democratic candidates who fail to tow the party line on major initiatives, but is it rational to believe that those who do not live in a state can dictate how progressive that state’s voters should be. Are there many progressives who believe that the Republican candidate will be a better advocate of their issues than Blanche Lincoln? At least with Lincoln she may not support the public option but she supported the concept of healthcare reform. Would the Republican have even supported the concept? Whether progressives will acknowledge it or not there are states where a progressive candidate cannot win. An excellent example would be what happened in Massachusetts with Scott Brown. Of course it can be argued that his opponent was a lousy campaigner but this was Ted Kennedy’s seat and the seat had been in the Kennedy family before Ted was elected. Was there anymore progressive a Senator than Ted Kennedy and his seat was not safe from teabaggers.

It has been argued that the use of purity tests and other tactics have moved the country to the right. I disagree. All one has to do is to look at the history of this country to realize we have always been a conservative country which has at times of great social stress reluctantly risen to the defense of the defenseless. Let’s not be confused this notion of a social democracy is ludicrous. All one has to do is to go back a few months to the healthcare debate and see how single payer was demonized and how many folks who would have benefited from it that were turned against it. So is it a lack of education or fear that allows people to choose against their own interests? If it is education then it makes sense to promote a progressive campaign to instruct voters on issues that serve their interests. If it is fear as I think it is then any attempts at promoting progressive issues will backfire with these voters. Unfortunately, in our country we have an extensive history of division and fear. Those divisions and fears have been encouraged and fueled by the rich and the greedy. Who else benefits from keeping America divided?

I believe that progressives have to continue to press the progressive agenda nationally but it must be done strategically. There is a wing of progressives who want to emulate the tactics and mentality of the wing-nuts. Just as there were wing-nuts who justified torture and ignoring the Constitution because of the tactics of terrorists, so there are progressives who are willing to sacrifice principle for victory. It will always be easier to surrender one’s principles in times of crisis and hardship rather than standing firm in the face of fear. We should not allow the fear of defeat to cause us to change what we stand for. Our strength lies in the certainty of our ideas not in the certainty in any individual. The one thing we should learn from the wing-nuts is that these purity tests don’t always work. The other thing is that purity tests work great for campaigning but not so well for governing.
News Flash – Politicians lie.

While I am opposed to purity tests I do believe that as a party the Dems have to develop a set of governing principles, not campaigning principles. Different candidates in different regions have to campaign to their local electorates based on where those electorates are not on where progressives in other regions may want them to be. When you institute governing principles then regardless of what region or state a Democrat comes from as a Democrat they adhere to these principles. It would be similar to the “Contract with America” only this one would actually be for the American people and not for the corporate elites. The time has come in this political climate for the Dems to make a compelling case of their vision for the future of America and draw the contrast between the two. I believe it has never been easier to draw those contrasts. As the wing-nuts and teabaggers move the Republican Party further right and they continue to blatantly show disdain for the average American as they rally behind the rich and infamous there has not been a better opportunity since the 1920’s to provide the American public with such clear choices.

Those choices however have to be articulated and put forward with clarity and with unity. These governing principles will not work unless the majority of Dems sign off on them. The American public has lost faith in the credibility government institutions and politicians because they will say anything to be elected. The Republicans say they are for smaller government and have continually increased the size and cost of government. Democrats say they stand for the average American but they have allowed jobs to be shipped overseas and have not fought for what they said they would. This is the opportunity for the Dems to put into writing what they stand for and then fight for it because this would provide them with the mandate they so desperately need. The President has demonstrated the ability to take very complicated issues and articulate them in a way that most Americans can understand, but this election will not be won by him alone. With these governing principles every candidate will be able to articulate the Dems future of America and let the voters choose. This strategy would allow the Dems to focus on the future and not get caught up in the diversions and smoke screens being offered by the Republicans.

Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle. - Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Made in America

“I have come to a resolution myself as I hope every good citizen will, never again to purchase any article of foreign manufacture which can be had of American make be the difference of price what it may” - Thomas Jefferson

At a time when we are losing manufacturing jobs in this country, we should be doing everything we can to help our manufacturers stay competitive. They are the backbone of our economy. - Debbie Stabenow

This is my ode to the America worker on Labor Day.

Remember the “Made in America” mantra that epitomized our once mighty manufacturing sector. I wonder today if there are any products left to put the Made in America tag on. While this is definitely an ode to manufacturing in this country, it is also an indictment against those who have reduced the standard of living for the middle-class so that they are forced to purchase inferior products at reduced prices. As the manufacturing base of this country has continued to shrink I believe there is a direct correlation to the shrinking middle-class.

From the beginning of our Republic the founding fathers realized that it was imperative for a nation to be able to provide for the needs of its citizenry internally. The welfare of a nation and its citizens would be directly influenced by that nation’s ability to provide not only goods but also subsistence or employment to its citizens. Alexander Hamilton put it this way:

Not only the wealth, but the independence and security of a country, appear to be materially connected with the prosperity of manufactures. Every nation … ought to endeavor to possess within itself all the essentials of a national supply. These comprise the means of subsistence, habitation, clothing and defense. - Alexander Hamilton

There are those who have tried to put forward a new dynamic over the last few decades that say outsourcing manufacturing and other jobs overseas is a natural outgrowth of our new global economy and the evolution of the post-industrial age. While this philosophy has served the corporations and the investment class very well it has left the middle-class in shambles. Since the off-shoring of jobs began in the 1970’s we have lost millions of jobs that were supposed to be replaced with cleaner, better jobs. Despite their rosy prognosis our economy has not been able to keep pace with creating new jobs that provide livable wages to these displaced workers. Instead what we have been given is more service oriented jobs that tend to be low-paying and many without benefits. So we have replaced good paying manufacturing jobs that provided a pathway to the middle-class with these low wage nowhere jobs that are providing a pathway to poverty or the working poor.

We are constantly being bombarded with the images of folks saving money at these big box retailers. What is not being shown in those commercials are all of the small businesses in towns all over the country who will not be able to open businesses or who has had to close businesses. These small business owners will not be able to return their profits to their local economies. What we don’t see in those commercials are the inferior quality of the products we’re being sold or the sucking sound as our trade deficit with China and other Asian countries continues to rise. While their standard of living improves ours declines. Researchers are beginning to believe that our economy can now perform at capacity using 25% fewer workers. That means we currently have a surplus of workers due to increases in our productivity. Yet while the American workers productivity has continued rise their wages have remained flat for almost a decade. With the wing-nuts assault not only on the middle-class but also against the unemployed how will our society deal with such a large portion of our fellow citizens not engaged in our economy?

Consider the depths of our new dependency. Imports, 4 percent of GDP for the first 70 years of the 20th century, are near 15 percent now, and 30 percent of the manufactures we consume. Pat Choate, author of Agents of Influence, gives the following levels of U.S. dependency on foreign suppliers for critical goods:

Medicines and pharmaceuticals: 72 percent
Metalworking machinery: 51 percent
Engines and power equipment: 56 percent
Computer equipment: 70 percent
Communications equipment: 67 percent
Semiconductors and electronics: 64 percent

There are enormous challenges facing this nation and one of the greatest is reestablishing our ability to manufacturing and produce things. Has our society been better served by dismantling our manufacturing sectors, by off-shoring jobs, or by removing the incentives for small business development? With our march into the future and our drive towards technology is it inevitable that we will continue to push so many of our neighbors into economic peril? Some would have us believe that we don’t need to produce anything that we will retool our workforce and reeducate our workers into more technical positions. I personally don’t consider just the economics of manufacturing as reason to reestablish it. I believe that there are some intrinsic values gained for a society that creates and builds things. It gives the society a sense of accomplishment and the people a sense of pride. The time has come for us as a nation to stop allowing the folks who have sought to gut our middle-class for their short-term profit and against our long-term benefit.

“As long as our culture continues to fawn over its downward-aspiring lowest common denominators, the United States will remain a social and political punch line. As long as we continue tracking the every deed and fart of the Paris Hiltons and Kevin Federlines among us, we will continue to come out sixteenth best with regard to producing and introducing to the human race things of true substance worth appreciating for their aesthetic ingenuity.” - Anthony Beal

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Stupid Is, As Stupid Does

I have opinions of my own - strong opinions - but I don't always agree with them. - President George Bush

The one thing you have to admit about the emergence of all of the teabagger candidates is that the political discourse in this country has gone from bad to worse. The intelligence quotient which has always been low in our political debates has certainly hit an all-time low. However, before I make that declaration I know that we still have two months remaining and anything is still possible. The recent performance of Arizona Governor Brewer and Republican Senatorial Candidate Angle in debates demonstrates what many of us have known to be true for a long time many voters select candidates not on perceived intelligence or merit but on identification with the candidate.

The one thing that has concerned me about the blanket assertion made towards blacks and President Obama (all black people voted for him because he was black) is that whites have been using identity politics forever. You don’t have to be a historian to realize that politics has rarely been a meritocracy. Can anyone argue that Bush II or Reagan were intellectual heavyweights? No group has used identity politics more than whites let’s not forget it has taken 44 white presidents to get to this one. So were all the whites who voted for whites racist? But I digress. Some have asserted that President Obama’s own educational achievements are fueling this wing-nut campaign against knowledge. I don’t believe this entirely because they had the same criticisms for any previous Democratic candidate who had similar achievements. Bill and Hillary were lambasted as cultural elitists out of touch with average Americans.

Let’s be honest stupid candidates are nothing new. What is troubling to me about the current trend of candidates especially the teabaggers is not that they are less than scholarly but the fact that their lack of knowledge is what makes them appealing to their constituents. There has been a steady assault on education by the wing-nuts for decades. We have been bombarded by the wing-nuts and their media outlets with the constant railing against the northeastern urban educated elite and their prejudice against the common folks. These are the folks who are leading the destruction of the family by promoting homosexuality. These are the folks who are destroying our social fabric by promoting affirmative action and giving away the country to lazy black folks. These are the folks who are destroying our education system by forcing integration. They are destroying “our America” with their social experiments.

There was a time in America when knowledge and education were valued and stressed as ways to overcome one’s humble beginnings. Many of our early presidents and statesmen were products of these opportunities. However, we also have an equally dark history of denying education to prevent groups from achieving success. We have been a country that has valued the pursuit of education not just for its material gains but also for the pursuit of knowledge. For many years we have led the world in educational achievement and have been the destination of the best and brightest of the world’s students. Over the last two decades our achievement scores have continued to drop and now we rank 18th among 36 nations. Now is not the time with a global economy for America to promote ignorance as a virtue. We need to promote education now more than ever for our young people. What message are we sending our young people with these simpletons vying for power and flaunting their lack of knowledge?

I mentioned the dark history of our nation denying education to blacks during slavery because of the belief that education made folks more difficult to control. My guess is that this is the underlying strategy of the rich and infamous who are funding these candidates and their agendas. There are those who want to dumb down our population to make us easier to control and what better way to do it than by implying that knowledge is somehow evil. Of course there is also their blatant desire to shutdown the Department of Education. We must resist this trend to devalue and demonize knowledge and education because it is putting our democracy at risk. What makes democracy work is an engaged and knowledgeable electorate and the more detached and uninformed the electorate the easier it will be to deconstruct social security, Medicare, and all of the other programs that have provided a safety net for our most vulnerable citizens. The same folks who are touting this knowledge is bad line are the same folks who are making sure their kids are attending all of the right schools. So are we to assume that knowledge is only bad for us?

With the lost of our manufacturing base we no longer have a path from high school to middle-class as we once did. What this has done is made education not only a luxury but a prerequisite for any decent job in our highly technical society. I am a firm believer that we have to reestablish our manufacturing base if we are to continue a viable middle-class. Let’s be honest not all of our kids are going to be engineers and neither should they have to be. Manufacturing in the 21st century will require some technical skills which will require knowledge and education. One of the benefits to the rich and infamous by dummying down the nation is that it reduces the competition for their kids for scholarships and employment.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t believe that education and secular knowledge should be the only characteristics to base a decision on who is qualified to serve this nation. But to ridicule intellectual curiosity as some kind of satanic plot to brainwash our children is dangerous. Our political system must be open to all and all have the right to seek public office but with that right comes a responsibility to be as knowledgeable as you can be about the material and issues that you are asked to preside over. Unfortunately, what many politicians learn the hard way is that governing is a lot more difficult than campaigning. Not knowing anything may have appeal with some voters on the trail but as we have seen with the last administration it does not make for good governance.

"Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped." - Elbert Hubbard

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Democrats Winning Strategy

History isn't on the GOP's side, either. If keeping the top marginal tax rate at 35 percent—the rate under Bush, and the rate that Republicans are fighting to preserve—spurs so much hiring, why didn't America experience any job growth at all during Bush's time in office? And if a top marginal tax rate of 39.6 percent—the rate under Bill Clinton, and the rate that Democrats are fighting to restore—is such a job killer, why did payrolls grow by 20 percent during the 1990s?Newsweek Blog

I have become so tired of the gloom and doom of the Democrats in the upcoming mid-term elections. It seems everywhere you turn the news keeps getting worse. Based on these reports there won’t be any Democrats left in the Congress following November. I believe that the Democrats can not only survive November but can also prosper. In order for this to happen they will have to do a number of things that Democrats historically don’t do very well.
The first thing they will have to do is to craft a coherent message that they all unite behind. Because of their lack of a national message the Democratic caucus is plagued by rogue members who feel little if any national allegiance to the party. Because so many of their members are products of local issues and electorates too often Democrats are left with the type of majorities we’ve had the last two years. The Dems have been a majority in name only and incapable of crafting a cohesive governing philosophy. What we don’t need and I am certainly not suggesting are litmus tests like teabaggers or wing-nuts, but instead we need to have certain principles that make us Democrats. I know that we have the general terms of working for the middle-class and for the downtrodden, but that is so open to interpretation that it provides little structure in times of great calamity like the ones we are in. As a party the Dems should craft a set of principles that all members of their caucus agree to work and fight for. And once accepted it should be provided to the American people as a contrast to the Republicans. This message should be honed and offered by all candidates as the governing philosophy of this party. Those who are unable to uphold these principles are free to run as independents or Republicans.

The second thing they should do is at every interview, town hall, and campaign stop carry a chart of the federal deficits under all presidents dating back to Eisenhower. This chart should appear in all of the ads and should become the mantra of the party. They should all provide the American public with an image of the failed policies of these fiscal conservatives who have always preached one thing and done another. This would be a symbol to all but the truly partisan of the duplicity of this party and their unrelenting assault on the middle-class. This is the type of symbol that resonates with the independent voters. This President and these Dems were elected by drawing just such a sharp contrast between their policies and the policies of the wing-nuts. Unfortunately, in America it is not enough to just talk about the lack of consistency and the hypocrisy of the Republicans many of our citizenry need an illustration to drive home points. The success of the bumper sticker rhetoric of the wing-nuts will bear this fact out. This point of preaching austerity and yet every chance they get to govern they raise the deficit to record highs must be repeated over and over. The Dems should take a page from the wing-nuts and that is if you repeat something long enough and loud enough people begin to accept it as fact.

Finally the Dems should propose sweeping public improvement and infrastructure projects to attack the intransigent unemployment that is gripping this nation. It is time to force the Republicans to either support the American people or be seen for the hypocrites they are. Regardless of anyone’s political persuasion few can argue against the historical truth of the “New Deal”. It is time for the American people to get another new deal. Just as FDR recognized the economy had been shanghaied by the wealthy of his time so it is again today. Instead of hoping to negotiate with those seeking short-term greed, it is time for this President to call them to task for the sake of the country. No group, no single person’s agenda can be allowed to supersede the greater good of the majority of Americans. It is time for the Dems to go on the offensive. If they truly believe that they have the best minds with the best plan for America then now is the time to show it. The time has come to craft a set of programs that will actually stimulate the economy and reduce unemployment and at the same time they must demonstrate how implementing these initiatives will in the long run reduce the long-term deficit by fueling the expansion of the economy. Just as the New Deal laid the foundation for the greatest expansion of the American economy in our history so it must be done again.

If the Dems are going to survive and keep the momentum now is not the time for timidity, instead it is the time for bold visions and actions. The Republicans have shown that they are devoid of any new ideas to address the major challenges we face as a nation. So rather than cowering in the corner waiting for the day of reckoning the Dems must provide the American people with a stark contrast of the future of America. If the Dems cannot defeat the rehashed ideas of the past then they are not worthy to lead into the future.

“When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened.” - John M. Richardson, Jr.

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