Politics Your Way A Place to Voice Your Political View http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way <![CDATA[ Tonight's State of the Union Set The Stage for the Remainder of President Obama's Term]]> President Obama discussed a number of top priorties
which will set the tone for the remainder of his term.
Immigration was one of these priorities. There is
bi-partisan agreement to fix the system so that 
communities all over the United States can benefit.
 
President Obama explained that the Afghanistan War
is ending and that a small group of forces will
remain together with NATO to oppose terrorism. He
called for investments in military capability, as well
as, ending our participation in unending wars. The
President committed to closing Guantanimo Bay.
 
The President called for equal pay for women, as well
as, raising the minimum wage to uplift people from
poverty. He called for insourcing labor from
overseas and closing corporate loopholes. 
 
The President called for a renewed emphasis on infrastructure
to rebuild roads, transportation and waterways. In addition,
he called for job centers that emphasize providing the skill
sets that employers need. The President urged more people
to go to college yet he also called for a renewed support
for early education as a top investment for 4 year olds.
 
President Obama called for funding basic research so that
advanced products and services can move forward. He cited
paper-thin materials that match the strength of steel.
The President cited natural gas as a strong energy
independent source to cut carbon pollution. In addition,
he indicated that every 4 minutes- an American home goes 
solar.
 
The President called for a reform of unemployment insurance, 
as well as, a restoration in cuts. Specifically, he asked CEOs
to assist in the hiring process for unemployed. The President
also asked for employment for returning veterans from the
major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At one point, he pointed
to the miraculous turnaround of a veteran nearly killed from
a roadside bomb.
 
The President called for new savings vehicles to supplement
the existing pension systems. Specifically, he cited a new
savings bond with a guaranteed minimum return. He cited the
inroads to providing the uninsured with health care under
the Affordable Care Act. In addition, the President urged
Americans to help get someone covered under the new law.
 
President Obama praised diplomatic efforts in places like 
Iran, Syria and the Middle East. He explained the importance
of verifying that Iran is downsizing its supply of enriched
uranium in exchange for a removal of sanctions. He 
explained that a similar verification process is under way
to eliminate chemical weapons in Syria. He asked for
upholding the dignity of Palestinians while steadfastly 
supporting Israel.
 
The President cited diplomatic successes achieved by 
Presidents Kennedy and Reagan as models for giving
peace a chance. He spoke of doubling access to electricity
and reducing poverty in Africa, as well as, our strong
alliance with Europe. His closing remarks urged the team
USA to bring home the gold at the Olympics.President Obama discussed a number of top priorties
President Obama discussed a number of top priorities
which will set the agenda for the remainder of his term.
Immigration was one of these priorities. There is a
bi-partisan agreement to fix the system so that 
communities all over the United States can benefit.
 
President Obama explained that the Afghanistan War
is ending and that a small group of forces will
remain together with NATO to oppose terrorism. He
called for investments in military capability, as well
as, ending our participation in unending wars. The
President committed to closing Guantanimo Bay.
 
The President called for equal pay for women, as well
as, raising the minimum wage to uplift people from
poverty. He called for insourcing labor from
overseas and closing corporate loopholes. 
 
The President called for a renewed emphasis on infrastructure
to rebuild roads, transportation and waterways. In addition,
he called for job centers that emphasize providing the skill
sets that employers need. The President urged more people
to go to college yet he also called for a renewed support
for early education as a top investment for 4 year olds.
 
President Obama called for funding basic research so that
advanced products and services can move forward. He cited
paper-thin materials that match the strength of steel.
The President cited natural gas as a strong energy
independent source to cut carbon pollution. In addition,
he indicated that every 4 minutes- an American home goes 
solar.
 
The President called for a reform of unemployment insurance, 
as well as, a restoration in cuts. Specifically, he asked CEOs
to assist in the hiring process for unemployed. The President
also asked for employment for returning veterans from the
major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At one point, he pointed
to the miraculous turnaround of a veteran nearly killed from
a roadside bomb.
 
The President called for new savings vehicles to supplement
the existing pension systems. Specifically, he cited a new
savings bond with a guaranteed minimum return. He cited the
inroads to providing the uninsured with health care under
the Affordable Care Act. In addition, the President urged
Americans to help get someone covered under the new law.
 
President Obama praised diplomatic efforts in places like 
Iran, Syria and the Middle East. He explained the importance
of verifying that Iran is downsizing its supply of enriched
uranium in exchange for a removal of sanctions. He 
explained that a similar verification process is under way
to eliminate chemical weapons in Syria. He asked for
upholding the dignity of Palestinians while steadfastly 
supporting Israel.
 
The President cited diplomatic successes achieved by 
Presidents Kennedy and Reagan as models for giving
peace a chance. He spoke of doubling access to electricity
and reducing poverty in Africa, as well as, our strong
alliance with Europe. His closing remarks urged the team
USA to bring home the gold at the Olympics.

Overall, the State of the Union for 2014 was highly
constructive. The President praised the negotiation efforts
of the JFK and Reagan era, as well as, the rise to power of the
Speaker of the House whose father was a barkeeper.
Clearly, the President was in a mood to reach across the
aisle to gain the badly needed consensus to get things
done during the remainder of his term.  In many ways, the
audience was supportive with frequent clapping by the assemblage.
]]>
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<![CDATA[ Former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa Passed This Week]]> a recurring illness which ultimately claimed his life. He was born
in 1918 and died this week at the age of 95. President Obama
paid tribute to his life shortly after the world news announced his
passing.

Mandela was known for his lifelong struggle against the evils
of the apartheid system in South Africa which existed in one
form or another over the past 500 years. Mandela was freed
from virtual prison captivity in 1990 to global accolades and a
Nobel Prize shared with FW De Klerk shortly after securing 
his freedom.

In his Nobel Lecture, Nelson Mandela explained the evils of
apartheid and his role in dismantling the institution which
enslaved millions in South Africa over the centuries. Here in part is
his speech to the assemblage:
We speak here of the challenge of the dichotomies of war and peace, violence and 
 
non-violence, racism and human dignity, oppression and repression and liberty and 
 
human rights, poverty and freedom from want.
 
We stand here today as nothing more than a representative of the millions of our 
 
people who dared to rise up against a social system whose very essence is war, 
 
violence, racism, oppression, repression and the impoverishment of an entire people.
 
I am also here today as a representative of the millions of people across the globe, 
 
the anti-apartheid movement, the governments and organisations that joined with us, 
 
not to fight against South Africa as a country or any of its peoples, but to oppose 
 
an inhuman system and sue for a speedy end to the apartheid crime against humanity.We speak here of the challenge of the dichotomies of war and peace, violence and 

We speak here of the challenge of the dichotomies of war and peace,
non-violence, racism and human dignity, oppression and repression and liberty,
violence and non-violence, human rights, poverty and freedom from want.
 
We stand here today as nothing more than a representative of the millions of our 
people who dared to rise up against a social system whose very essence is war, 
violence, racism, oppression, repression and the impoverishment of an entire people.
 
I am also here today as a representative of the millions of people across the globe, 
the anti-apartheid movement, the governments and organisations that joined with us, 
not to fight against South Africa as a country or any of its peoples, but to oppose 
an inhuman system and sue for a speedy end to the apartheid crime against humanity.

His speech was well received. Mandela later on served as President of South Africa.
A hallmark of his program for restoring democracy to all the people of South Africa
was his emphasis on forgiveness and reconciliation between and amongst the 
various constituencies which make up South Africa.

This week Nelson Mandela will be honored throughout the world for his life and
ongoing work to achieve a unified nation free from the former system of apartheid.
We speak here of the challenge of the dichotomies of war and peace, violence and 
 
non-violence, racism and human dignity, oppression and repression and liberty and 
 
human rights, poverty and freedom from want.
 
We stand here today as nothing more than a representative of the millions of our 
 
people who dared to rise up against a social system whose very essence is war, 
 
violence, racism, oppression, repression and the impoverishment of an entire people.
 
I am also here today as a representative of the millions of people across the globe, 
 
the anti-apartheid movement, the governments and organisations that joined with us, 
 
not to fight against South Africa as a country or any of its peoples, but to oppose 
 
an inhuman system and sue for a speedy end to the apartheid crime against humanity.
We speak here of the challenge of the dichotomies of war and peace, violence and 
 
non-violence, racism and human dignity, oppression and repression and liberty and 
 
human rights, poverty and freedom from want.
 
We stand here today as nothing more than a representative of the millions of our 
 
people who dared to rise up against a social system whose very essence is war, 
 
violence, racism, oppression, repression and the impoverishment of an entire people.
 
I am also here today as a representative of the millions of people across the globe, 
 
the anti-apartheid movement, the governments and organisations that joined with us, 
 
not to fight against South Africa as a country or any of its peoples, but to oppose 
 
an inhuman system and sue for a speedy end to the apartheid crime against humanity.
]]>
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<![CDATA[ Pre-Kindergarten Gets A Boost in NYC]]> Mayor-Elect Bill De Blasio is beginning to line up support
in the New York Legislature behind the idea of
having pre-kindergarten in the NYC Public Schools.
The idea involves getting 4 year old children into
formal programs which teach them the fundamentals of
language acquisition and elemental counting systems.
 
The Tulsa, Oklahoma school systems have had an excellent
experience with pre-kindergarten according to early
testing. Other municipalities are on target to follow suit.
 
Expected benefits are considerable. First, students can get
an earlier introduction to ELA and Math. This early introduction
serves as a reinforcement learning experience for kindergarten
and the first grade. In addition, parents get earlier relief by 
having their 4 year old children occupied gainfully while
parents either work or have a temporary respite to do routine
chores while the children are in school. 
 
Everyone benefits. Children are placed in a learning environment
earlier. Kindergarten and first grade teachers get a headstart 
because the children that come to them will have had an earlier
beginning on formal schooling. Parents benefit by having their
children in school longer. In short, the program is a win-win
situation for everyone.
 
Readers can find out more about the pre-kindergarten program by
purchasing "Pre-kindergarten Gold" 2013 by Dr.Joseph S Maresca.
Go to Amazon/Kindle and download the book. It's free tonight
and tomorrow (Dec.3, 2013 and December 4, 2013)

 
ebook/dp/B00GYI9FWG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386122682&sr=1-1&keywords=pre-
 
kindergarten+gold
 

 
ebook/dp/B00GYI9FWG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386122682&sr=1-1&keywords=pre-
 
kindergarten+gold
 
 

 
ebook/dp/B00GYI9FWG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386122682&sr=1-1&keywords=pre-
 
kindergarten+gold
 
 
]]>
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<![CDATA[ 50 Years After The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy]]> President John F. Kennedy in Dallas. The time seems as though 
the event happened more recently. Many things happened that
year. Khruschev visited the Berlin Wall on 6-28-1963. Pope John XXIII
died on 6-3-1963 and Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have A Dream "  
speech on 8-28-1963.

At the time, President Kennedy could have won re-election easily.
Some argue that there was little reason to travel to Dallas that
fateful day on 11-22-1963. As things turned out, the Democrats
carried Texas in the General Elections of '60, '64 and '68.

More importantly,  some Americans wonder what could have been.
Many things could have been completed in a Kennedy second term.
Examples are the ending of the American involvement in Vietnam.
In addition, this country could have embraced the all-volunteer army.

President Harry Truman wrote an article critical of the CIA one month
after the assassination. Essentially, he explained that he envisioned the
CIA as an information gathering/consolidation entity rather than an
evolving operational one. President Kennedy might have reconstituted
the CIA back to the original charter as envisioned by President Truman.

Other potential accomplishments could have been an expanded Peace
Corps, as well as an examination of the feasibility of National Health Care.
The dismantling of the Berlin Wall was another burning issue to address
between President Kennedy and the Russian leader - Nikita Khrushchev.

All of these things were possible under a continued Kennedy Administration.
Many of them happened years later. In closing, the memory of President
John F. Kennedy was commemorated on this day some 50 years after the
assassination. Local newspapers reprinted the headlines and in some
cases re-issued the entire newspaper sold on that date.]]>
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<![CDATA[ This Book Reads Like an Expanded "Talking Points"]]> I have read several of Bill's books.  While this is one of the weakest of his that I have read, it is still a very good and extremely fast read.  In this one Bill postulates on things like responsiblities to be a good parent, the dangers of addictions, the failures of the news media and the importance of religion in one's life.  Though I don't always agree with Bill, I always enjoy how he presents things.  He makes some very compelling arguments as to why the word "Christmas" should not be forceably omitted from retail ads and in other areas where people no longer use the word.

He lays out good strategies for parents teaching good morals to their children.  In one case he seems to be bothered that in one Univerisity program a "watered" down version of the Koran is required reading.  He then gives a "watered" down version of the interview he had with the 'offending" professor from the school.  I would like to see the full interview to see if certain cogent arguments were omitted.

I easily finished this book in one sitting, wiishing it was longer.

]]>
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<![CDATA[ An Exciting Time For New York]]> This Wednesday is the final debate between the
major party candidates. They are Bill de Blasio
for the Democrats and Joseph Lhota for the Republicans.
Recent debates have been lively since the public is
beginning to focus on the candidates for the final
time before voting commences.
 
The principal areas of contention are the closing of
hospitals throughout the city, the stop and frisk
program and pre-K programs to mention a few. The closing
or phasing out of hospital operations like St.Vincent's
has had a negative impact on the involved communities.
 
Hospitals are under increasing pressure due to higher
labor costs, the indefinite delay of capital programs and
uncompensated care. The answers are not easy. Hospital
mergers have been a possible route; however, this option
involves inevitable layoffs of staff.
 
The Hill Burton Program was a popular option because the
federal government forgave hospital mortgage loans in exchange
for free or significantly reduced medical care delivery to the 
poor and the middle class workers up to $98 thousand incomes.
 
Hill Burton hasn't been expanded since the late '90s and
this was a mistake. The Hill Burton Program provided hospitals
and medical schools with badly needed funds to provide
uncompensated care in exchange for mortgage forgiveness. The
Hill Burton Program has worked well since 1946 and still is funded
in over 100 facilities throughout the United States.
 
The idea that hospitals are a profit center is essentially 
misleading. Hospitals are non-profits in theory and in actual practice
in many places. The practical consequence of large numbers of
uncompensated care patients has created huge stresses on the system.
Perhaps, the migration of more medicaid money to the States would mean
relief to close the accumulated budget deficits. Another unexplored
option is to tax junk food so that funds could pay off the tremendous
deficits some hospitals have accumulated over time.
 
The "Stop and Frisk Program" has had some success in reducing crime;
however, there are issues of racial profiling which boil to the
surface on occasion. Proponents argue that crime will rise if the
program is terminated while opponents point to alternatives like
a working model(s) in other cities. 
 
London has resolved this issue to some extent with more street
cameras. Mayor Dinkins strengthened community policing by placing
more local people in key neighborhoods which required additional
monitoring. Community policing has had more than a modicum of
success in practice throughout NYC. Increasing police force
strength has been another option popularized during the Clinton
Administration.
 
Bolstering pre-K programs could be an important step in
readying children for the early grades. Pre-K should cover
things like instilling good study habits early, setting
boundaries, the dynamics of small group behavior, good
citizenship and health/wellness. The early grades need to do
a better job in instilling good habits that carry through 
the 17 years of a formal education from grammar school up 
thru the college graduation. Initially, pre-K could
begin as a half year program with a view toward expanding
the experience to a full year.
 
Currently, Mayor Bloomberg has provided a good foundation
for the next mayor. Ground Zero has been rebuilt substantially
and the downtown area has been expanded. Crime is down although
some work needs to be done to manage "Stop and Frisk" issues.
 
ELA and Math standards have been raised and the schools
throughout the city are making adjustments to the new standards.
Graduation rates have risen.

The subway system has added new facilities including upgraded
platforms, elevators and LED notifications of the time and train schedules.
Air quality has improved. Cigarette smoking is on the decline. Lastly,
more jobs are coming back to the financial district. More work has to be done
in employing blue collar workers in higher paying jobs or the skilled trades
like solar energy and infrastructure upgrades.
 
 
The coming years should prove to be an exciting and challenging
time for all New Yorkers. Hopefully, the next mayor will build
upon the success areas and address problem areas in ways
that will be effective and unobtrusive.
]]>
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<![CDATA[ Raise the debt ceiling soon and come up with a plan to sustain investor confidence!]]>
The Affordable Care Act or Obamacare is at the heart  of many of the concerns, as well as a plan to restrict the so called uncontrolled federal spending.  Obamacare was a done deal when it was voted in. Chief Justice John Roberts sealed the deal by voting affirmatively to uphold the penalty provisions of Obamacare as a tax because Congress has the authority to make and levy taxes.

Even the staunchest Republicans will admit readily that they cannot overturn Obamacare as a practical matter. Some things can be done to strike a fair compromise. Some in Congress don't like the idea of a Medical Review Board appointed by the President. Organizational changes can be made to give the appointment power to the Secretary of HHS.  Ultimately, the Secretary must decide whether or not to take the recommendations of the Medical Review Board. Lastly, Congress could include the Hill Burton Act Health Care Law under the definition of compliance with Obamacare. Many thousands of people receive free or low cost coverage under the Hill Burton Act and its authorized facilities. Constructively, Hill Burton Health Care coverage is a form of health care policy for the poor and middle class with incomes under $98 thousand dollars.

A hallmark of the Hill Burton Act is the exchange of free healthcare or significantly reduced prices for healthcare for a forgiveness of the mortgage debt on medical care facilities. This program has worked wonderfully since 1946 and it should be continued and even expanded.

The penalties for not obtaining the health care are very unpopular with voters and many in Congress including some Democrats. This can be remedied by doing away with the penalty tax in favor of raising taxes on the consumption of junk food. This would have dual benefits. First, more money would be raised. Second, taxes on bad food would force some people to make better food choices in their diet.
This gets to the heart of why health care is so expensive. People simply eat too much bad food and they don't exercise enough. Requiring and funding high school and collegiate gymnastics is another way to combat obesity and childhood diabetes; thereby lowering medical costs in  the aggregate.

Taxes on liquor and alcohol have been beneficial in raising billions of dollars to offset the horrendous costs of things like lung cancer and pancreatic cancer from bizarre levels of sugar consumption and excessive alcohol .  We really need to tax products with large amounts of sugar in the manufacturing process. This alone would serve to reduce sugar consumption and lessen childhood diabetes which is becoming a national crisis for the health care pricing and delivery systems both publicly and privately.
Taxing tobacco has lead to reduced usage and lower lung cancer rates.

The national debt has been growing at an alarming rate due to the Iraq/Afghan Wars and the aftershocks of the Great Recession which is still in the rear view mirror. The only way to cure the excess debt is to set the debt limit within a rational increment of the GDP growth, as was done under President Clinton and his Congress. A robust economic growth scenario is not too far down the road. Unemployment is dropping in many places, although underemployment is still an issue. Some states like Nebraska have achieved historically low unemployment rates hovering around 5% or less.

The energy outlook is good. America will become a net exporter of energy well before 2017. So the fundamentals are good. The Congress must pass interim legislation to run the government and quiet the considerable concerns of investors both here and abroad. Anything less will not be serving the interests of the American people or our strategic global trading partners. In closing, lawmakers should consider that America's creditworthiness both domestically and overseas is an over-riding consideration with regard to a successful bipartisan resolution.]]>
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<![CDATA[ Implications of the Shutdown]]> The U.S. Government began closing down this week except for the
most essential services. Such things as the national parks and
tourist facilities have been de-funded at least temporarily.
President Obama met with leaders of the Congress; however,
both sides are readying for some tough negotiating.
 
President Obama is looking to preserve The Patient Protection
and Affordable Care Act intact while Republicans are contemplating
ways to dismantle the program. Some commentators have suggested
placing Congress under the Obamacare instead of allowing them to
have a 75% reduction in cost for health care delivery. The idea is
to have everyone subject to the same rules so that the Obamacare
can be retrofitted to practical implementation imperatives down
the road.
 
In addition, Congress could repeal the penalty provisions of
Obamacare and raise money by taxing excess or wasteful consumption.
In addition, the incentives in the healthcare system should reward
wellness attainment and not simply manage disease processes.
 
 
Americans already are discovering that the government shutdown
could pose a risk to public safety by having government agencies
operate on a skeletal staff for an indeterminate period of time.
The top Republican leaders realize that Obamacare is a done
deal in actuality. The real battle is not with Obamacare but with
raising the debt ceiling which was done multiple times under 
President Reagan. 
 
The key to the debt ceiling is to strike a bargain on containing 
debt within a predetermined relevant range in alignment with a 
growing GDP, as well as a larger population in the U.S. over the 
Reagan, Bush and Clinton years. The bargain between President
Clinton and the Congress on government spending resulted in
balanced budgets and surpluses as far as the eye could see.
 
Today, President Obama and the Congress must strike a similar
debt deal and make it stick by staying out of costly foreign
entanglements.
]]>
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<![CDATA[ Why economic liberty and religious liberty are inexorably linked.]]>
I suspect there are millions of us out here. I am talking about upstanding, hard-working, God-fearing Catholics who know in their gut that our nation has been headed in exactly the wrong direction for the past several decades. Furthermore, we are very distressed when we observe significant numbers of clergy and religious, including many in positions of higher authority, advocating for economic policies we deem to be destructive while supporting candidates that appear to dismiss many of our church's most basic teachings. We are Tea Party Catholics and we often struggle to articulate why we feel the way we do and what changes we believe need to be made. Samuel Gregg is an Australian writer who shares many of our concerns. He has written a marvelous new book called "Tea Party Catholic: The Catholic Case for Limited Government, A Free Economy, and Human Flourishing". This is a book that speaks to us! Here at last is the information conservative Catholics need to refute the tired old arguments that Catholic progressives have been making since the 1960's. I found Mr. Gregg's arguments to be consistent, coherent and deeply-steeped in Catholic tradition. Clearly, Catholic teaching has an awful lot to offer in this ongoing debate. There is abundant food for thought in this volume.

As you might expect Samuel Gregg has precious little use for the "liberation theology" that was embraced by the progressive wing of the Catholic Church back in the 1960's. "Liberation theology" is a radical movement that believes the Church should act to bring about social change. Although Gregg believes that many who embrace this philosophy are extremely well-intentioned he finds a number of critical flaws in this approach. Throughout the pages of "Tea Party Catholic" Gregg does a workmanlike job of refuting the major tenets of this philosophy in a very convincing way. History has shown that this is a philosophy closely associated with socialism and in the long run can be very destructive to the human spirit. Furthermore, Gregg insists that such utopian thinking not only denies the reality of human sinfulness but also suffocates human freedom in the name of justice. It would be nearly two decades before conservative Catholic thinkers finally began to the tenets of "liberation theology". We learn that the conservative American theologian Michael Novak staunchly defended American capitalism in his landmark 1982 book "The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism". This book caused quite a stir back in the day and was roundly criticized by New Deal Catholics, progressive religious orders and even the United States Conference of Bishops. Over the years Novak and others would write several more books on this subject. Gregg draws from these works as well as the writings of John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Thomas Aquinas to help substantiate his points.

What I found most exciting about "Tea Party Catholic" was Gregg's vigorous defense of capitalism, free markets and property rights. It all makes perfect sense to me. Gregg makes it crystal clear that a society cannot expect to enjoy religious liberty if it does not at the same time embrace economic liberty. The author discusses at considerable length the very Catholic idea of "human flourishing" whereby the end is the excellence that every person is capable of realizing through the reasonable use of their freedom. The many facets of "human flourishing" include life and health, friendship, traditional marriage (open to children), knowledge, integrity, beauty, work, religion and the exercise of "creative reason". It is this line of thinking that encourages each and every one of us to engage in works of charity. This means lifting people out of poverty—not just material poverty, but moral and spiritual poverty as well. Meanwhile, Samuel Gregg also offers some thoughtful insights on the very divisive immigration issues that are now confronting our nation.

I firmly believe that "Tea Party Catholic: The Catholic Case for Limited Government, A Free Economy, and Human Flourishing" should be read by all Catholics regardless of their political leanings. For those of the liberal persuasion it will help you to understand precisely where Tea Party Catholics are coming from. Meanwhile, for those of us who embrace more conservative values reading "Tea Party Catholic" will arm us with the critical information we need to intelligently argue for our beliefs. Another government program is usually not the answer. Samuel Gregg makes his case brilliantly in this meticulously researched and extremely well-written book. Very highly recommended!]]>
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<![CDATA[ Should The USA Act Against Syria]]> The United States has drawn a line in the sand; whenever,
a country uses chemical weapons-particularly on innocent
civilians. The Senate is poised to authorize President Obama
to use force while the road to approval by the House of
Representatives is more uncertain.

The evidence depicts photos of dead Syrian men, women and
children. Clearly, the most basic tenets of the United Nations
have been violated seemingly by Syria using chemical weapons
to kill its own people . Despite this evidence, Assad has denied
the use of the chemical weapons in a recent interview. If his version
of the story is to be believed, who is responsible for the use of
chemical weapons?
 
Along comes the chance for a way out of this dilemma.
The Russians have indicated a willingness to broker a
deal by getting Syria to destroy its stockpile of
chemical weapons. If this offer is real and verifiable, there
could be a way out of a potential showdown.
 
For the United States to intervene and neutralize Syrian
chemical weapons, there would be a risk of confrontations
with the Russians, as well as reprisals from a host of
antagonists. In addition, the USA could become an unwitting
ally of Al Qaeda by intervening to neutralize Assad's
stockpile of chemical weapons. Some policy analysts advise
against our involvement because they can foresee a potential
conflagration with no easy end in sight. The Brits have voted
down the chance to get involved side-by-side with the USA.
 
Shortly, President Obama will provide more detailed
guidance on how the Administration intends to proceed.
Secretaries Kerry and Clinton both agree on the potential need
for our involvement. There is an essential agreement in the
United States Senate and some House members like Congressman
Peter King are on board also. The preferred route is negotiation
so that President Obama can claim realistically that the
certain threat of force was dispositive in bringing the
impasse to a successful and non-violent conclusion.
]]>
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<![CDATA[ Primary Day and Its Aftermath]]>
On the Democratic side, Anthony Weiner's proposal for a single payor health care system could actually
save a number of hospitals from the brink of financial hardship. Many thinkers in the area of health care; such as, Gary Null have sung the praises of the single payor health care system to cut out insurers
from the pricing system. Bill De Blasio promises to concentrate his efforts on bringing back the Middle
Class by taxing the people who could most afford to pay. Bill Thomson has a similar message regarding the Middle Class. Christine Quinn is seen as a smooth transition from the Bloomberg Administration with some important differences in eliminating the "stop and frisk" policy of policing and a less stringent emphasis on testing in the schools with more emphasis on student learning and experimentation. John Liu has demonstrated considerable expertise in his current role as the City Comptroller. The candidates on the Democratic side have promised an end to "stop and frisk" policing.

On the Republican side, John Catsimatidis has considerable private sector experience. He is a proponent of lower taxes and would keep the current police policies intact along with the continued stewardship of Commissioner Kelley. Joe Lhota has vast experience at the helm of the transit system and he has been endorsed by former Mayor Giuliani. John Catsimatidis has been endorsed by former
Governor Pataki.

On Tuesday, voters will make their choices at the polls with Bill De Blasio and Joe Lhota favored although there could be some significant surprises in a year where the lead has changed three times in the Democratic race for the mayoralty. Stay tuned for the decision which will be clearer by late evening on this Election Day.]]>
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<![CDATA[ Precious memories and shattered dreams.]]> "John Kennedy helped us believe in ourselves, that we, as Americans could do big things.  He lifted our spirits and made us proud of ourselves.  His youth, his attractiveness, his elegance of phrase.  And of course, Jackie.  He was Mr. Cool.  His self-effacing humor, as demonstrated by this comment when he visited France, `I am the man who escorted Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris and I enjoyed it.'" -- Roger Wilkins

For those of us in the Baby Boom generation it was the seminal event of our lives.  The assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy would alter the course of history in ways that we still cannot fully comprehend.  Now, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the untimely death of our beloved young President author Dean R. Owen has cobbled together the thoughts and reflections of more than 100 notable men and women who were in one way or another connected to that dreadful day in Dallas.  For those over the age of 60, his new book "November 22, 1963:  Reflections on the Life, Assassination and Legacy of John F. Kennedy" is sure to bring back a flood of memories about a very dynamic and optimistic time in American history.  You will discover that there exists among those interviewed a wide cross-section of opinion about the actual accomplishments and the ultimate legacy of the Kennedy administration.  At the same time, it becomes abundantly clear that just about everyone had an enormous amount of love and respect for this man.  As former Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach remembers it "He was personable, well-mannered. He was intelligent and he was articulate.  He got along well with people". A great many others offered similar recollections of the fallen President.

So what do these people recall about Kennedy's brief tenure as President?  A number of individuals cited his extremely adept handling of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis as his greatest achievement.  Many believe to this day that his firm and courageous actions in the heated confrontation with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev helped to avert World War III.  A few mentioned his memorable "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech in West Berlin on June 26, 1963. Still others recall his commitment to exploring outer space. I found the reflections of civil-rights leader Julian Bond to be quite revealing.  Bond had not been all that impressed with JFK and believes that at the outset of his Presidency he was simply not all that interested in civil rights.  After all, he had not had much opportunity to interact with black folk in his lifetime. But once the President witnessed the violence going down in Birmingham, AL in September 1963 his thinking began to evolve and he soon began advocating for civil rights.  Very interesting indeed!  Meanwhile, Casey Murrow, son of the legendary broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow, remembers John Kennedy's clarion call to public service and how many young people opted to go in that direction. Josiah Bunting III, who met and was inspired by the President while a student at Virginia Military Institute(VMI)recalls "We wanted to be in the Peace Corps. Or in he Marine Corps. Or we wanted to be priests. Or get PhDs. This American fixation on running a hedge fund--we didn't care about that. I'm not sure we'll ever recapture that time or that feeling." JFK convinced the American people that politics and public service were truly honorable professions.

As you might expect some of the most poignant memories presented in "November 22, 1963" are about the assassination and its aftermath.  I was very moved by the experience of Nelson C. Pierce who worked as an usher at the White House.  In the early morning hours of November 23, 1963, Jacqueline Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy returned to the White House after their long ordeal.  Mr. Pierce was on duty and as he recalls "I wondered what I would say to the first lady.  As she came around the corner, and of course she was still in her pink suit with bloodstains and I knew immediately.  Our eyes met.  And we had a rapport and I knew that I didn't need to say a thing.  She realized how I felt.  We were all silent."  Those words nearly brought tears to my eyes.  And of course as we all know the national nightmare was not yet over.  Lee Harvey Oswald would be shot to death on national television just 30 or so hours later.  In the weeks and months that followed a stunned and downcast nation would go into a sort of funk.  It was a very human reaction to an unspeakable series of events.  As broadcast journalist Sid Davis recalls "You could understand the sadness of the Kennedy people.  They had just lost their hero. They campaigned with him. They took him to the presidency.  And they had such an exciting future to look forward to in running the country. But it all went away.  It was destroyed by one guy with a $14.95 rifle".

There is an awful lot to like about "November 22, 1963:  Reflections on the Life, Assassination and Legacy of John F. Kennedy".  Dean R. Owen has given us a very nice addition to the historical record.  I particularly enjoyed reading about the experiences of the broadcast journalists who covered these historic events all those decades ago. Perhaps the most surprising story of them all appears near the  end of the book. A young woman by the name of Priscilla Johnson McMillan knew both John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald.  Simply amazing!  "November 22, 1963" is enhanced with a Forward by the celebrated White House correspondent Helen Thomas along with 16 pages of memorable photographs. This is a pretty easy read so "November 22, 1963" would be a marvelous way for young people to get up to speed on the events that helped to shape the lives of their parents and grandparents.  A terrific idea nicely executed.  Highly recommended!

]]>
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<![CDATA[ The evidence speaks for itself.]]> Wouldn't it be nice if we had a President who was actually on our side?  The evidence is clear and overwhelming that since January 20, 2009 this has not been the case in the United States of America.  The situation is unprecedented in American history. The man who promised to "fundamentally transform America" has been relentlessly and systematically using every means at his disposal to undermine our laws, our institutions and America's free market economy while simultaneously chipping away at freedom of speech, the right to keep and bear arms and the religious liberty that so many Americans have fought and died for.  It is quite apparent that Barack Hussein Obama and his "progressive" supporting cast in Washington D.C. have precious little regard for the rule of law, due process or the United States Constitution.  Although a great deal of this information is out there the vast majority of the mainstream media has simply refused to report it.  High crimes and misdemeanors are everywhere to be found.  Aaron Klein and Brenda J. Elliot believe they have the goods on the 44th President of the United States and they present their devastating case in the new book "Impeachable Offenses:  The Case For Removing Barack Obama from Office."  For those who pay attention lots of this information is neither new nor surprising.  However, the sheer volume of lies, abuses of power and misappropriation of funds presented in this book is staggering.  For any fair-minded individual reading and digesting what Klein and Elliot have to say the conclusion is really inescapable...the time has come for President Obama to be impeached!

In the opening chapter of  "Impeachable Offenses" Klein and Elliott explain what "high crimes and misdemeanors" really are.  Trust me, you will recognize the behavior in this administration.  From there the authors enumerate chapter and verse dozens of situations where this President has clearly abused his powers, overstepped his authority and aided and abetted the enemies of the United States.  In my view his most egregious offense continues to be his handling of the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya. The authors have uncovered some startling new information that is sure to make your blood boil.  If we had some courageous members of Congress and an honest and engaged press there is little doubt in my mind that Mr. Obama could be removed from office just for went down in Benghazi.  Meanwhile, the press continues to ignore the outrageous conduct of Eric Holder and the Department of Justice in Operation "Fast & Furious".  The authors get us all up to speed with the latest available information.  Then there is the outrage of the Fort Hood massacre where 13 people were killed and 30 injured by an avowed Islamist Major Nidal Mallik Hasan.  Recall the President pleading with the American people "not to jump to conclusions" about what was clearly a terrorist attack by a Muslim extremist.  And the list goes on and on...

Time and space limitations allow me to list just a fraction of the reasons why this President deserves to be removed from office.  There are lies too numerous to mention, incestuous relationships, the unconstitutional passage of Obamacare and this administration's steadfast refusal to safeguard our nation's borders. You will be quite interested to discover the background of a young woman named Huma Abedin and the incredibly sensitive position she held in Hillary Clinton's State Department.  If that were not enough, the authors discuss the growing power of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Security Agency (NSA).  Does the fact that DHS continues to stockpile hundreds of millions of rounds of high-powered ammunition concern you?  Do you worry how the government leviathon intends to use the reams of personal information being collected in the $1.2 billion "data farm" in the Utah desert?  What kind of country are we becoming?  Then of course there is the President's support of and connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.  Klein and Elliot present incontrovertible evidence that the President and a frightening number of individuals within his administration have ties to this Islamist terrorist organization.

There comes a time when the American people must set aside their political differences and demand an honest and accountable federal government.  We have a bad actor in the White House. In "Impeachable Offenses:  The Case For Removing Barack Obama from Office" Aaron Klein and Brenda J. Elliott have presented overwhelming evidence that this President has violated the public trust by spending billions of taxpayer dollars on extremely risky "green" ventures (BrightSourceEnergy, Solyndra and GridPoint Inc. etc.), willfully ignored our immigration laws, helped to instigate revolutions against our allies in both the Middle East and North Africa, is deliberately undermining our national security and has boldly lied to the American people about what really went down on that violent night in Libya a year ago.  Meanwhile, Mr. Obama continues to use the power of the federal government to reward his allies and punish his political enemies.  I found "Impeachable Offenses" to be a painstakingly documented and extremely well written book.  Given what is at stake here "Impeachable Offenses" is well worth your time and attention.  Read it and pass it on. Highly recommended!

]]>
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<![CDATA[ Maginnis dismantles the argument for placing women in direct fire, close ground combat situations.]]>
In these days of bread and circuses, military matters are just about the last thing on the minds of most Americans. And that is just fine and dandy with those on the Left. On January 24, 2013, the retiring Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced the Pentagon was lifting its ban on women serving in combat. There were no hearings, no debate and virtually no input from the American people. The decision was hailed by top administration officials and their mouthpieces in the media as a victory for women's rights. Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Robert Maginnis believes this decision to be both irrational and cowardly. He has meticulously enumerated his objections in his compelling new book "Deadly Consequences: How Cowards Are Pushing Women into Combat". No matter where you think you may stand on this incredibly important issue I urge you to read this book. If you are in favor of the idea I suspect that after you are exposed to the facts you just might be inclined to change your mind about sending our mothers, daughters and sisters into hand-to-hand combat.

As far as Robert Maginnis is concerned placing women into these kinds of perilous situations is the worst kind of social engineering. The author presents a mountain of physiological and psychological evidence that supports the notion that the vast majority of women are simply not cut out for this kind of activity. For example, studies have shown that women in the military suffer three times the number of ACL injuries as their male counterparts. Furthermore, contrary to what you might have heard in the media surveys have shown that most women serving in the military are not exactly clamoring to fill these kinds of positions. And think about this: taken to its logical conclusion the Obama administration's decision to lift all combat exclusions for women virtually guarantees that the Supreme Court will one day declare a male-only draft to be unconstitutional. That is a very scary thought indeed! Maginnis also believes that placing women in direct fire, close ground combat positions will have a very detrimental effect on morale and compromise this nation's ability to fight in a conventional ground war. It will damage the warrior spirit, compromise standards, increase the number of sexual assaults and ultimately result in a reduction in retention rates. He fears for the women who become POW's. Chances are that the enemy is not going to share our "enlightened" point of view. The bottom line is that this is an ill-advised and very costly policy decision.

My guess is that after reading "Deadly Consequences: How Cowards Are Pushing Women into Combat" you will come to the same conclusion that I did: it is simply unconscionable to send young women into situations that the vast majority are totally ill-equipped to handle. What is even more infuriating about the policies being espoused by radical feminists, the Obama administration and so many members of Congress is that these extremely dubious policies are being formulated behind closed doors by people who have never even served in the military. As the author points out, the House of Representatives has not conducted full public hearings on the issue of women in combat for more than three decades, while the U.S. Senate has not done so since 1991. Maginnis offers up a series of probing questions that should be asked of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other military experts during such hearings. He finds it shocking that no senior military officials have yet resigned to protest this policy and that so many conservatives in Congress have remained silent. Meanwhile, he is extremely critical of the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin E. Dempsey for acquiescing to these policies. For those who have never served in the military or taken the time to ponder this issue "Deadly Consequences" should prove to be a real eye-opener. Robert Maginnis states his case in a very passionate, logical and most convincing way. The American people need to come to their senses and demand that this policy be reversed forthwith. Very highly recommended!]]>
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<![CDATA[ WARNING: Reading this book just might cause your blood to boil!]]>
As I began reading Jerome R. Corsi's extraordinary new book "Bad Samaritans: The ACLU's Relentless Campaign to Erase Faith from the Public Square" I experienced a noticeable rise in my blood pressure. I have always considered the ACLU to be an onerous and anti-American organization but my opinion was based more on gut instinct than actual facts. Although I had read about many of the insidious lawsuits filed by the ACLU in newspapers and magazines over the years I was blissfully unaware of much of the long and sordid history of this organization. In "Bad Samaritans" Jerome Corsi has given us a comprehensive overview of this unseemly organization. You will be introduced to Roger Nash Baldwin, the man who founded the organization and discover the prominent "progressive" radicals who fund the ACLU today. In addition Corsi documents the radical left-wing agenda that the ACLU has been relentlessly pursuing for the past 90 years. There is just no two ways about it...."Bad Samaritans" proves to be a real eye-opener.

In "Bad Samaritans" you will be introduced to the role played by the ACLU in a number of the most significant legal cases of the 20th century including the Scopes Monkey Trial and the landmark 1947 Supreme Court case Everson vs. Board of Education. You will also discover that this organization came down squarely on the side of eugenicists like Margaret Sanger back in the 1920's and 1930's. In case you did not know Sanger launched something called "The Negro Project" back in 1939 which was essentially a network of birth control clinics in black areas across the country. The ultimate goal of her project was to reduce African-American birthrates in both the rural South and in the major urban areas of the North. And, as Corsi points out Sanger was also opposed to the idea of charities helping the poor because such charitable aid would "increase the longevity of their offspring". The radical agenda of Margaret Sanger and the goal of the eugenics movement was the promotion of higher reproduction among more desired people and traits and reduced reproduction of less desired people and traits. One has to wonder why so many African-Americans continue to embrace the "progressive" agenda today.

But at the end of the day what is bound to command your attention in "Bad Samaritans" is the agenda that the ACLU is pursuing here and now in 2013. Decent, hard-working Americans should be appalled. It seems to me that the ACLU is almost always on the wrong side of issues. For example, they support the agenda of NAMBRA (North American Man-Boy Association) while actively litigating against the Boy Scouts of America. The ACLU is also vehemently opposed to allowing the idea of Intelligent Design to be presented alongside the theory of Evolution in our nation's classrooms. And not surprisingly, the ACLU remains the leading advocate of abortion in any and all circumstances including the gruesome procedure known as "partial birth abortion". The ACLU also believes that everyone, children included, has the right to view pornography while fully supporting and promoting the radical LGBT agenda as well as the Occupy Wall Street movement. Like I said, reading "Bad Samaritans" just might make your blood boil! Meanwhile, it goes without saying that the ACLU continues pursue cases that will ensure that all symbols of the Judeo-Christian ethic are removed from the public square while siding with Muslims who want to build a mosque new Ground Zero. Outrageous and unacceptable! Jerome Corsi also spends a bit of time profiling a group called the Alliance Defense Fund, a group formed back in 1994 specifically to oppose the ACLU's godless and radical agenda. I want to learn more about this organization!

If you are concerned about the influence being wielded by the ACLU then I would urge you to pick up a copy of "Bad Samaritans: The ACLU's Relentless Campaign to Erase Faith from the Public Square". I can assure you that this is a well-written and meticulously documented book. I must tell you that this just might be the most important book I have read thus far in 2013. Very highly recommended!]]>
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<![CDATA[ So Everything Labelled "Conservative" Is Really "Liberal"?]]>
The book is more a "thesis" than it is actual book and the reader gets the gist of it after the first couple of chapters. That is the only thing that prevented me from giving it a full five stars.]]>
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<![CDATA[ A great way to engage that "progressive" young person you really care about.]]>
In "Letters to a Young Progressive" Mike Adams leaves no stone unturned in challenging the full gamut of progressive thinking. In his letters, Adams addresses issues ranging from institutional racism, speech codes on college campuses, feminism, redistribution of wealth, same-sex marriage, cultural relativism, abortion rights, gun control and progressives' theories on crime and delinquency to name but a few. In each case Adams wastes little time in pointing out the flaws in the progressive argument and offers up what he considers to be common sense alternatives. In my view it proves to be a very effective technique. He makes his case in a powerful yet easy-to-comprehend way. Sadly, it would appear that all too many of his students have either never been exposed to many of these ideas or have turned their back on them as a result of the indoctrination that they have received at school. I have witnessed this personally on a number of occasions and it is a very sad thing to see. Life is too short to spend years harboring irrational anger about things and ideas you really don't understand in the first place. One has to wonder what parents are really paying for when they pack their kids off to college these days.

In these turbulent times that find Obamacare, so-called immigration reform and gun control being shoved down our collective throats, the lessons learned in "Letters to a Young Progressive" could go a long way towards changing the perspective of that young person that you care so much about. There is so much at stake here. As Mike Adams points out in his book "Thinking about these issues will actually help you navigate the current political climate. Our politicians are increasingly asking us to trust the government with ever-greater involvement in our affairs. However badly government messes things up, the solution is always more government." Amen! And so if you are a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or friend of one of these young whippersnappers I would urge you to consider sending them a copy of Professor Adams' book. Your thoughtful gift just might help to turn that student around and spare him/her a whole lot of grief. Life is too short. We need to encourage these young people to think for themselves and not just accept at face value all of the nonsense that they are being taught. An ambitious idea well executed. Highly recommended!]]>
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<![CDATA[ His Holiness Pope Francis Commences Papacy This Week]]> His Holiness Pope Francis is scheduled to be installed as the 266th pontiff on

Tuesday, March 19, 2013. At this time, the Church has quite a bit on the

agenda. Examples of things to get done include evangelization, reform of

governance within the Church, interfaith issues, the role of women in the

Church, the growing use of surrogates, clergy misconduct issues and

transforming the reporting mechanisms between the Synod of Bishops and

the papacy.

 

Perhaps the most important thing to be done at the outset is to transform

the reporting relationship between the Synod of Bishops and the pope.

This was an effort begun by His Holiness Pope Paul VI.

 

The Synod consists of a group of bishops who have been chosen from

different areas of the globe. Their mission is to create a closer unity between the Pontiff

and the bishops in order to strengthen ecclesiastical discipline and to consider questions

pertaining to the activity of the Church across the globe.

 

The Synod has many responsibilities. Reporting on specific geopolitical

issues to the pope is the area which has caused the most questions surrounding

the Church's actions or lack thereof in the "Dirty War" in Argentina. This war

was the subject of growing questions about then Father Bergoglio's advising

several Argentine priests to give up their pastoral work for a period or lose

the protection of the Jesuit Order in Argentina.

 

The Church was not the only party to have been faced with difficult choices in the "Dirty War".

On October 6, 1976, Argentinian Admiral Cesar Augusto Guzzetti had been

told by Acting Secretary of State Charles W. Robinson "The problem is that the United States

is an idealistic and moral country and its citizens have great difficulty in comprehending the kinds

of problems faced by Argentina today. There is a tendency to apply our moral standards abroad

and Argentina must understand the reaction of Congress with regard to loans and military

assistance. The American people, right or wrong, have the perception that today there exists in

Argentina a pattern of gross violations of human rights."

 

Examples of human rights violations include the activities of "I wish Pope Francis God's rich blessings for his office."

 

Adolfo Perez Esquivel best summed up the situation as it existed in Argentina in his

Nobel Lecture of December 11, 1980. (excerpts)

I speak of my own Argentina where situations have led to systems of injustice that we share with the rest of our large Latin American fatherland. These have devolved into violence from both the Left and the Right which have resulted in the murdered, the injured, the disappeared, the tortured, prisoned, and exiled.

 

This situation, anguished and unjust, is shared by all responsible sectors of national life. It is felt with sorrow by the families of the disappeared, and especially the mothers, like the mothers of the Plaza de Mayo whose valorous and international action for peace is a patient witness bearing the sorrow of uncertainty about the fate of their sons.

 

The churches, the workers' organizations, the political parties and the institutions for the defense of human rights have all demanded a solution of this problem that stands in the way of a real meeting of the Argentines.

 

I do not wish to speak more of the above mentioned injustices, since I do not believe the latter is the struggle for you here. These are things I must deal with in my own country and confront with the present government.

This week, His Holiness Pope Francis begins the journey of a new papacy. Everyone wishes him well in this new endeavor.

Credits: First Published on Blogcritics

Ref:  http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB104/index.htm "Dirty War"

 

One day earlier, on October 6, 1976, Admiral Cesar Augusto Guzzetti had been told by Acting Secretary of State Charles W. Robinson "that it is possible to understand the requirement to be tough." But Robinson also remarked on the "question of timing of the relaxation of extreme countersubversion measures" before Congress voted sanctions on Argentina. The memcon with Robinson goes on to note that "[t]he Acting Secretary said… The problem is that the United States is an idealistic and moral country and its citizens have great difficulty in comprehending the kinds of problems faced by Argentina today. There is a tendency to apply our moral standards abroad and Argentina must understand the reaction of Congress with regard to loans and military assistance. The American people, right or wrong, have the perception that today there exists in Argentina a pattern of gross violations of human rights."

 

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<![CDATA[ Thomas Sowell's treatise on the state of race relations in America is simply brilliant.]]>
It is a book that is long overdue. Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher and the author of more than three-dozen books. Sowell is an African-American who takes great umbrage at the views being espoused by the chattering class of American intellectuals who continue to advance the notion that society-at-large is to blame for the social and economic disparities that exist in our nation. According to the intelligentsia, deep-seated racism continues to be present in the minds of most white Americans. In his superb new book "Intellectuals and Race" Dr. Sowell thoroughly and systematically dismantles the liberal argument about race. In this meticulously researched offering Sowell takes a look at societies around the world to back up his assertions. Time and again he demonstrates that more often than not it is internal factors within a race or group of people that account for many of these disparities. He compares the problems plaguing the white lower class in Britain with those of African-Americans here in America. You may be quite surprised to discover that the problems facing both groups are virtually identical and have continued to escalate over the past fifty years. The solutions offered by progressives and liberals have clearly not worked. Thomas Sowell believes he has key to solving many of these persistent problems.

In "Intellectuals and Race" Thomas Sowell gets us all up to speed with the history of intellectual thought about race over the past 100 years. There are some fascinating twists and turns along the way. In the early part of the century progressive intellectuals clearly sided with people like Margaret Sanger and author Madison Grant who favored the sterilization of males in what were considered to be "undesirable" populations including Negroes, southern whites, and immigrants from southern Europe. You will discover that the Progressive view of the world began to shift significantly in the 1930s. The intelligentsia had at long last come to the conclusion that there were really no substantive differences in mental ability between the races. But during World War II the Progressives, who now had re-branded themselves as "liberals", began to attribute socioeconomic disparities between races to racism. Liberals steadfastly refused to assign any of the blame to the internal cultural environment of the minorities themselves. Rather, the genesis of the entire problem was said to be in the minds of evil white people. By cleverly positioning themselves in this way the intellectuals could claim the moral high ground by being against the so-called "oppressors" and on the side of the downtrodden. Some 70 years later this continues to be the case and Thomas Sowell points out why this set of circumstances has caused incalculable harm to the African-American community and to other minorities as well.

You may recall that the initial thrust of the civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King was simply to extend the same rights to all citizens regardless of race. But according to Sowell, the tumultuous events of the late 1960's encouraged radical elements within the black community to call for a dramatic new approach. Thus, the era of multiculturalism was born. It fit perfectly into the Progressive narrative. Less fortunate groups were not to be blamed for disparities in income, education, crime rates or family disintegration, lest observers be guilty of "blaming the victim" instead of indicting society. Sowell discusses the ramifications of this controversial philosophy and also devotes a section of the final chapter to what he calls "The Race Industry". As you might expect he finds just about all of this stuff to be extremely counterproductive.

The sad fact of the matter is that liberal politicians and commentators have been successfully playing this game for more than half a century now. Unfortunately, it is going to be extremely difficult to repair the damage that has already been done. We need to begin to change hearts and minds about race in this nation. Bill Cosby has attempted to lead the way on a couple of occasions and has been roundly criticized for his efforts. Nevertheless, I truly believe that Thomas Sowell is onto something quite profound here and he presents his case in a very logical, thoughtful and courageous way. I found "Intellectuals and Race" to be an particularly well written book and at a mere 140 pages it can be read in just a couple of sittings. Trust me when I tell you that there is an abundance of common sense in this volume. Very highly recommended!]]>
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<![CDATA[ The Voting Starts March 12, 2013]]> The Vatican previously annnounced the commencement of the Papal Conclave starting the afternoon of March 12, 2013. The last cardinal arrived very recently allowing for 4-5 days of prayer and group discussions between the participants prior to the actual balloting.

Essentially, the cardinals will discuss the role of priests and nuns in the Church. Traditionally, the Church has required the religious orders to adhere to a vow of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Poverty means that members lead a simple life devoid of ostentatious showings of wealth and its accoutrements. This requirement is in place to set an example for the parishioners and to prevent or limit conflicts of interest which could interfere with delivering Christ's message and the message of the Old Testament. A simple life means basic possessions like clothing and a minimum of personal belongings consistent with basic sustenance.

Chastity means a direct personal service to God and to the Church and its mission. Obedience means an undivided commitment to the Church devoid of outside reporting relationships. People who seek membership to religious orders must make these vows to become priests or nuns. People who make these vows and break them are disciplined or expelled. Vows are made freely.

Generally speaking, these vows are non-negotiable once made. In recent years, the Church has allowed surrogates to assist with administering the prayer services. These assistants help with various functions during daily services, marriage ceremonies, baptisms, funerals, last rights and maintaining the physical buildings where services are held. In addition, they assist with outreach into the community.

The overall mission of the Church is best summed up by Pope Emeritus Benedict when he called for reproposing the Gospel "to those regions awaiting the first evangelization and to those regions where the roots of Christianity are deep but who have experienced a serious crisis of faith due to secularization."

Just what are the teachings of Christ? The teachings are found throughout the gospels. Examples are Christ recognizing the faith of the blind man while returning the gift of sight. Other pronouncements include: "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's". Jesus told the rich man to lay down his wealth and follow Him in order to secure a place in the afterlife. The rich man went away.

Shortly, the cardinals will cast a series of ballots in order to select a new Pope. Members of the Roman Curia could put forward a popular candidate who might prevail early. Otherwise, the cardinals will be searching for a candidate who best exemplifies all of the above. There may be an emphasis on the candidate's philosophy, pastoral work and writing in the area of The New Evangelization.


Credits: First Published on Blogcritics

 

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<![CDATA[ A New Pope Could Be Elected As Early As Next Week]]> On Thursday, February 28, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI vacated the papacy. According to Church rules:

"When the Roman See is vacant, or completely impeded, no innovation is to be made in the

governance of the universal Church."

 

In his resignation, the Pope referred to his health issues and opened the door for the College of Cardinals to put in

place a younger man. Traditionally, papal successors have not been clones of the predecessor, as witnessed by

Pope John Paul II.

 

The College of Cardinals (members under 80 years old) will convene sometime within the next weeks to name a successor. Pope Benedict XVI could have some influence in the voting since he has appointed many of the

younger members. The Conclave could vote on the basis of familiarity with Church Administration and select 

Angelo Cardinal Sodano, Patriarch of Venice (at 85) or Angelo Scola at (71). Other youthful members of the

College of Cardinals include Josip Cardinal Bozanic of Zagreb (at 63), Oscar Andres Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiega

of Tegucigalpa ( at 70), Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York ( at 61) or Marc Cardinal Ouellet (at 68) of Canada.

Another possibility is in the selection of Christoph Schönborn (at 68) , Archbishop of Vienna, a plausible European

candidate and proponent of the New Evangelization as is Marc Cardinal Ouellet and others.

 

The Conclave could focus on an American candidate; such as, Timothy Cardinal Dolan (age 63) with experience

in important pastoral issues in both rural and inner city America. If an American choice cannot emerge in the

Conclave, then the assembly could select a candidate like Marc Cardinal Ouellet of Canada or Oscar Andres Cardinal

Rodriguez Maradiega of Tegucigalpa.

 

The Conclave could select a cardinal from Africa as it did with Pope St. Miltiades or

Pope St. Gelasius centuries ago. Francis Cardinal Arinze (age 80) is a member of the

College of Cardinals from Africa. He has considerable familiarity with issues of the sacraments; however,

his advancing age could become a factor. Clearly, the Conclave must consider age as an issue because

stability and continuity of the Church is important during these times. In addition, some good candidates have

declined to be considered further for the papacy; such as, Giovanni Cardinal Columbo, Archbishop of Milan

in October, 1978. Just after his declination to be considered further,  Karol Wojtyła was elevated to the papacy

and became Pope John Paul II.

 

Within the next few weeks, the Conclave will convene again as it did in 2005 and 1978. If past history

is any indication, the new pope will have some prominent distinguishing characteristics from the previous one.

Credits: First Published on Blogcritics and now amended and updated thru March 5, 2013

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<![CDATA[Robert S. McNamara, Marshall McLuhan, the Vietnam War--and Me Quick Tip by RonPrice]]> INDIVIDUAL CONSCIENCE
----Not a simple subject----
Section 1:
Tonight I watched a 2009 doco entitled: The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.1 On the spectrum from heroic patriot to craven traitor, Daniel Ellsberg is portrayed in this doco as firmly on the side of the heroic. In this detailed, clearly told and persuasive film, directed by two nationally known documentary filmmakers, Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith. Viewers are shown what many have probably now forgotten. Given the changes and chances of this complex world, an event 40+ years ago is an eternity.  The official Ellsberg story I’m sure has been forgotten by most people, except modern history scholars and teachers.
I found, as I often find with docos, that I am reminded of things I have forgotten in this changeful life with all its highways and byways.  In our world of image and print-glut, we all drown in information. I’ve been drowning in information since the autumn of 1963 when I entered university.  In some ways a doco like this is, for me at least, a rest for my brain from the complexities of contemporary reality in 2013 and a chance to enjoy some alpha-waves while returning, visually, to events long ago when I was young. There is a rich nostalgia there; sometimes it is not so rich, just a bit tedious. A good director, though, can bring it all alive again, some event in my young adulthood, my 20s in this case.
Section 2:
In 1969, US military analyst Daniel Ellsberg2 read a top-secret report commissioned by former secretary of defence Robert McNamara on America's involvement in Vietnam. While writing this piece I chanced upon another doco entitled: The Fog of War: Robert S. McNamara. This latter doco was on ABC2TV, 9:30-11:15 p.m. 3/3/’13.
TheDaniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers docodetailed a history of lies in relation to the war in Vietnam by every president from Harry Truman, who financed the French to retake its former colony, to Eisenhower, who called for the cancelling of national elections there, through to Kennedy and Johnson. The latter claimed he sought no wider war while at the same time whipping-up the Gulf of Tonkin incident which happened in August 1964 just as I was about to start my honours history and philosophy course at a university in the lunch-pail city of Hamilton Ontario.  I was at the time finishing my summer-job as an electrician’s assistant for Stelco of Canada, now US Steel Canada and living alone above a restaurant in Dundas at the centre of Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe. My father had died 3 months before and it was my first months of living alone. I was 20 years old.
The report commissioned by McNamara convinced Ellsberg that the war had been a crime from the start; he felt that he had to do something to stop it. In 1971, he leaked a series of classified documents, soon to be known as The Pentagon Papers, to The New York Times. I was just getting ready to come to Australia from Canada at the time. The Pentagon Papers, their aftermath leading up to Watergate and the resignation of President Nixon, were historical events immersed in the complexities and burgeoning issues of my own life in Australia from 1971 to 1974, my years from primary school teacher to university tutor and from marriage number one to marriage number two.
Section 3:
Utterly gripping, this intimately rendered and, at times, sinister documentary goes inside Ellsberg's head, recounting how he arrived at what he felt was his act of honourable sedition. It was a journey, he believed, that stretched back to his boyhood when his father fell asleep while driving, killing his mother and sister. "It left an impression on me that someone you loved and respected, an authority, could fall asleep at the wheel, not because they were bad but because they were inattentive to the risks."-Ron Price with thanks to 1 The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, ABC2, 8:30-10:15 p.m., first shown onABC1, January 2011; and 2For a summary of the life of Daniel Ellsberg go to Wikipedia.
A problem, of course, or perhaps
the problemis that, if you exalt…
individual conscience to the
position at the top of moral
trees around the planet, then
you exalt the individual over
the group and that can be, &
often is, dangerous delusion!(1)

(1) We have inherited a dangerous delusion from Christianity in one of its many modern dresses, among other historical sources, especially Protestantism’s and democracy’s complex and tortured history, that our individual conscience is supreme. In the end, in the context of both our role in the community and our role in the greater world, we must be prepared to sacrifice our personal convictions or opinions, at least some of them, if we are to participate, that is, in some formal group. Most people I have known in my 70 years are basically uncommitted except to family, job and self-interest, with the occasional flick at whales or women’s rights. The elevation of the private conscience in the West has been supreme all my life, especially in North America and Australia where I have lived and had my being.
Section 4:
The belief that individual conscience is supreme is fine to a point, but if people are to function as a group within an institutional form to give formal expression to that group then, in the end, individual conscience must be subsumed within the collective conscience, so to speak, of the group. Most people, again, in my experience, never find any group with which to affiliate and thus commit themselves to a larger cause, except, as I often say: sport, gardening, having fun, perhaps whales for a day or a series of quixotic quests.
With reference to the absolute pacifists, or conscientious objectors of war, for example, their attitude, judged from this collective consciousness/group standpoint, is quite anti-social. Due to its exaltation of the individual conscience it leads inevitably to disorder and chaos in society. Extreme pacifists are thus very close to the anarchists, in the sense that both of these groups lay an undue emphasis on the rights and merits of the individual. The other main objection to the conscientious objectors is that their method of establishing peace is too negative. Non-co-operation is too passive a philosophy to become an effective way for social reconstruction. Their refusal to bear arms can never establish peace. There should first be a spiritual revitalization and how that will come about is the 64 thousand dollar question which only history and the future will reveal.
Section 5:
The conception of social life I am advocating here is essentially based on the subordination of the individual will to that of society. It neither suppresses the individual nor does it exalt him to the point of making him an anti-social creature, a menace to society. As in everything, what I am recommending follows what you might call ‘the golden mean'. The only way that society can function is for the minority to follow the will of the majority.

For an extended discussion of this concept, a difficult one for individuals in modern society, a society which in many ways exalts the individual over the group, go to this link(1) http://info.bahai.org/article-1-9-1-3.html
(1)Wendy M. Heller explores the religious origins of the organizing principles of civil society, tracks their secularization in the modern era, and examines the prospect of an inclusive global moral order based on the enduring concept of covenant. This article appeared in the 1995-96 edition of The Bahá'í World, pp. 185-222.
Ron Price
21/11/’11 to 5/3/’13.
I have added below a piece on Robert McNamara, viewed through the insights of communication theorist Marshall McLuhan(1911-1980) who died just as I got a job in a tin mine on the wet-west coast of Tasmania and six months after I finally was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder after a near 20 year hiatus. I wrote the following piece after watching The Fog of War: Robert S. McNamara, ABC2TV, 9:30 to 11:15 p.m., 3/3/’13. The above and what is below makes a total of nearly 7000 words, far too much for the average reader at internet sites.
McNAMARA: A CONTEXT
Part 1:
I want to thank David Skinner, who was an associate editor of the Weekly Standard, an American neoconservative opinion magazine published 48 times per year for much of the following. Skinner wrote this piece, from which I am quoting liberally, in an essay published in 2000 in a journal entitled The Public Interest. The Public Interest(1965-2005) was a quarterly public policy journalfounded by the New York intellectuals Daniel Bell and Irving Kristol in 1965. I had been a Daniel Bell enthusiast as far back as the mid-1960s when I was studying history, philosophy and sociology at my hometown university. Skinner’s essay appeared during the first year that I was retired from FT work after a 50 year student-working life. Skinner is now editor of Humanities, a magazine published by the National Endowment for the Humanities.1  Much of what follows is from Skinner which I had the pleasure of reading after I had also retired from PT and most casual-volunteer work in 2006.1  
I have just added a few personal notes and comments to provide for me, and for those readers who have come into my life in cyberspace, some context for Skinner’s excellent overview of the famous communication theorist Marshall McLuhan. I have appended this piece to my comment on that TV doco on Robert S. McNamara which I watched the day before yesterday.3  These 7000 words provide, I hope, a context of relevance in relation to both McLuhan and Robert McNamara for those readers with the time and the inclination.  For those without the time and with little inclination, I encourage you to skim and scan what follows.  If the worst comes to the worst or, to put the idea a little differently, if you do not have much interest in the topics under review here, just stop reading now and get on with what turns you on and stimulates your sensory and intellectual emporium.
Part 2:
“A new non-literary culture exists today”, writes Skinner quoting Susan Sontag, “of whose existence, not to mention significance, most literary intellectuals are entirely unaware."  These words of Sontag’s are found in her ground-breaking 1965 essay, "One Culture and the New Sensibility."
Many who come to this now lengthy essay, this essay which places the life and views of Robert McNamara on the Vietnam war as viewed through a McLuhan lens, will know nothing of Sontag. Rather than reinventing the wheel, I will encourage those who would like to have some background on Sontag, another famous writer who came into the lives of many readers and thinkers from the 1960s onward, to do a little googling.
I was just starting my third year of university in an honours sociology program in Ontario Canada when Sontag and McLuhan were making their first big-literary-hay. “This new sensibility”, Sontag argued, “collapsed the distinction between highbrow and lowbrow. It embraced popular culture and celebrated modernist music as well as painting. The masses had little taste for much that was the literary culture.  This new sensibility advanced a new understanding of the senses.”
 In a milieu that took as its dictate to "modify consciousness" and to "organize new modes of sensibility," Marshall McLuhan played the role of leading commentator, explaining this new world to the rest of us. At least this idea, this role of McLuhan’s, had some significance back in the 1960s when I was at university, dealing with the rigors of an undiagnosed bipolar disorder, working an endless stream of summer-jobs, and starting out in my teaching career, my first marriage and my relationship to a new organization, a new religion which I had been, by then, associated with for more than a decade.2
Part 3:
McLuhan was born in 1911 in Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, Canada. His interest in literature and a well-earned scholarship brought him to Cambridge for his graduate work where he met F.R. Leavis.  He studied under I.A. Richards, and became consumed with G.K. Chesterton. After Cambridge, and during the first Baha’i teaching Plan, 1937 to 1944, he taught at the University of Wisconsin and St. Louis University where, in 1943, he completed his Ph.D. thesis on Thomas Nashe, the seventeenth-century satirist and thinker.  I mention this Baha’i program because I have been associated with its extension for 60 years.
In many ways, McLuhan’s life was and is a story of contradictions. A Catholic with six children, he was famous among an increasingly anti-religious cultural elite that was suspicious of family life. He became a scholar interested in all the obscurities that had ever flowed from the pen of James Joyce; he first made a reputation outside the academy for intensely cerebral commentary on the nature of everyday language, and that of newspapers and advertisements. A compulsive letter writer, and as bookish as any professor of history or English, he made a career of declaring the demise of print. I found McLuhan a stimulating writer in my tumultuous days at university, 1963 to 1967, and into the early 1970s.
His many books include The Mechanical Bride in 1951, a deconstruction of advertising as both art and propaganda, and The Gutenberg Galaxy in 1962, an often impenetrable whirlwind of a book described by the historian E.H. Carr as "a unique and unforgettable experience." But it was McLuhan’s 1964 Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, at one point the best-selling nonfiction book at Harvard University, that made him a truly famous serious person.  I was just starting my honours history and philosophy program in 1964 and read everything that McLuhan wrote.
His 10 or so books, many of them co-written, and dozens of articles and essays comprise a formidable pile of literature. But the most difficult task in writing about McLuhan is explaining, aside from his off-the-cuff opinions, what he actually thought. Quoting him at any length can have the unfortunate effect of mystifying the reader. Many a McLuhan sentence will work like a koan which is a paradox to be meditated upon and is used to train Zen Buddhist monks to abandon ultimate dependence on reason as well as to force them into gaining sudden intuitive enlightenment. A koan, once explained, loses its purpose along with its edge. At the high point of his fame, McLuhan’s often impenetrable style seemed to offer proof of his importance as a thinker.
Around the time of Sontag’s essay, McLuhan was becoming a genuine celebrity whose name would later come up in all sorts of places. Woody Allen gave him a hilarious cameo in Annie Hall, in which McLuhan explained to a pretentious communications professor who had the gall to invoke the author’s name in public that he, in fact, knew nothing of McLuhan’s work. His name was regularly mentioned on television and in newspapers and magazines. He was a famous author and a very successful lecturer who confounded corporate seminars with riffs from his cultural dialectic.
He was paid very well to do so. McLuhan was a forerunner of today’s celebrity intellectual who can become famous, if not rich, for his scholarship. Tom Wolfe wondered if McLuhan was the "most important thinker since Newton, Darwin, Freud, Einstein and Pavlov." In the sixties, and for a good part of the seventies, McLuhan enjoyed the life of a prophet with honour. He was certainly a seminal influence on both my thinking and my writing, as well as the direction of my commitments in religion and philosophy.
Part 4:
Rather fittingly, one of the best examples of McLuhan’s thought comes straight from the realm of the senses, Playboy magazine. In a 25-page interview in the March 1969 issue, McLuhan’s ideas emerge straightforward and well explained, in large part due to the interviewer’s willingness to risk looking dumb for asking obvious questions. It turned out that many of McLuhan’s opinions, despite his reputation for being some kind of super-scholar and untimely thinker, were standard radical chic, while others were radical even by the heady standards of 1969. I did not read that article in Playboy in 1969 working at the time with the white goods manufacturer Bad Boy P/L in Toronto Canada, and recuperating from six months in two mental hospitals and two psychiatric wards from June to December 1968.
McLuhan explained: Black Americans are more in touch with the ancient rhythm of tribal memory; the black power movement was good; hippies dropped out because they just couldn’t relate to the rat race; TV had precipitated a showdown between the young and their print-oriented elders; the artist is a social prophet; "LSD ... gives the potential of instant and total involvement with one’s environment, both all-at-once-ness and all-at-oneness"; there’s no point in making marijuana or other drugs illegal; like the "Negro," the American Indian is "under tremendous social and economic pressure to ... detribalize and this generates great psychic pain"; the United States is balkanized by a war of identities and will eventually wither away; "political democracy as we know it is finished."
"If he is right," Tom Wolfe wrote, "it matters." Right about what, though, is not always clear. Wolfe nicely summarized McLuhan’s thinking and put it in a readable context that is missing from McLuhan’s own writing. Quoting McLuhan, Wolfe starts, "‘Print gave tribal man an eye for an ear.’" Children, Wolfe explicated, were growing up in a new sensorial environment, one dominated by television, and had distinctly different sensorial habits, which alienated them from their print-oriented elders. The schools were falling apart? Well, that’s because teachers were print-oriented. Young people were dropping out? Well, that’s because the hustle and bustle of cities, with their lateral buildings and grid formations, just didn’t seem important to the new generation.
Of course, by now the schools that are falling apart have teachers who were raised on television and the sixties drop-outs now have careers and families to protect, so what they once dismissed, the rat race and all that, is now quite important to them. Even the decidedly print-generation presidential candidate Richard Nixon, whose loss to John F. Kennedy in a televised debate is often used to explain the demise of such politicians, went on to be elected to the White House twice.
The predicted print versus TV generation showdown never came to pass. Not that this has stopped contemporary commentators, many of whom look to McLuhan for inspiration, from making the same predictions about computers and the Internet. And yet, McLuhan, in spite of his singular talent for bombastic overstatement, was onto something: Modern media has changed life irrevocably. Since the 1950s, it has often been said that today’s children are raised on television. For many years now, that idea could be taken literally. A popular cable sitcom of the early 1990s used as its main gag TV and movie clips from the 1950s to illustrate a middle-aged character’s inner life. The permanently boyish character’s entire frame of reference seemed to be comprised of old westerns and screwball comedies. Returning the compliment, people who realize the role TV played in their lives have granted old shows - their theme songs, regular characters, and standby plot devices - a semi-serious mythical status. And this is just the lighter side of modern media.
Part 5:
Specific habits and resulting social types have been changed by television. Reading seems to have become a mere life-style choice, and the "bookworm" seems to be a thing of the past, a type that lives only in old movies: the ugly, four-eyed sister with no social skills. Describing what McLuhan discovered about the society that produced such people, Wolfe wrote, “The visual or print man is an individualist; he is ‘cooler,’ with built-in safeguards. He always has the feeling that no matter what anybody says, he can go check it out. The necessary information is filed away somewhere, categorized. He can look it up.”
What was happening to people under the influence of television, McLuhan pointed out, couldn’t be discovered at the library or in public records. The Dewey decimal system held few clues to the mysteries of post-print life. One had to look to oral culture for answers: The medium that Orson Welles used to scare the bejabbers out of housewives in New York and New Jersey with his reading of The War of the Worlds had more to teach us than all the texts in the New York Public Library.
McLuhan opened up a world of inquiry to thoughtful people. The medium may not have literally been the message, but it was a message. New media create new environments, he told everyone. He overstated the extent to which new media determine new environments, but he was pretty much right that life was being reshaped by these media.
Vietnam in many ways is an excellent example of the new environment that TV helped create. The sheer number of Baby Boomers coming of age and filling the ranks of the student movement gave antiwar protests social heft, but it was television that transmitted these same images to living rooms across the country. Similarly, the faces of American soldiers and their enemies came home via television. A Vietnam veteran once told me that the one thing he’ll always remember about the war was the TV cameras. For much of the time, it was like being on a movie set, he said, with news reporters and their equipment following him and his fellow soldiers all over the country. Thus did the narrative of the war gain flesh and motion, turning it into something to react to.
 Part 6:
Vietnam was also the drama of print man struggling in this new environment. Robert McNamara, the man who brought quantitative analysis and corporate leadership to the job of secretary of defence, was viewed as quite modern in his thinking. But the war abroad and the conflicts at home showed otherwise; this was a new kind of war because it was in a new kind of environment. Indeed, as McLuhan described life then, it was tribal. The American creed meant little to the draft dodgers, the drop-outs, the various splinters of the new Left. The doco, The Fog of War: Robert S. McNamara3 shows the dilemma that McNamara faced in a war whose context was so-complex that, on reflection many years later, McNamara preferred not to think about it.
McLuhan should be credited with teaching us to deconstruct these communications phenomena and their social aspects. While the world was changing McLuhan the literary critic, who had already taught  readers of serious journals and magazines how to think about media, became enough of a celebrity to be able to tell everyone that television and other technologies were changing their lives.
Describing McLuhan’s opus has left many commentators in a bind. Some writers resorted to making lists to describe what might be called McLuhan’s main ideas: "ratio of senses," "the medium is the message," "global village," "media as extensions of man." Unfortunately, the more specific one gets with McLuhan’s ideas, the worse he comes off. Despite this, he is and was a significant figure, though hardly a first-rate thinker.
It was McLuhan’s contention that man’s nature is divisible. Like many thinkers who have wrestled with the exact parts of human nature - e.g., Plato with his division of the soul into three parts (reason, appetite, and passion) - McLuhan argued that the key to understanding human phenomena was isolating the dominant part. According to him, in the post-Gutenberg world, man’s sense of sight was dominant as a result of the new importance of literacy and the declining importance of oral media.
Part 7:
The obvious contrast here is with tribal cultures, wherein one’s sense of self and community is established through hearing. Visually these communities make for a small world, but hearing, or rather listening, connects the present with the past and each member of the tribe with the whole tribe. Though it may seem trivial, McLuhan contended that the big loser in the sensorial shift that resulted from the printing press was the sense of smell. Oral tribal societies place less emphasis on the importance of not smelling bad, because the scent of a person is one way his presence becomes known; his scent connected him to the tribe. One of the problems, McLuhan surmised, with the twentieth century is that people disguise their natural scent. The new global village, he ruefully reported, didn’t smell like a village. All this may be true, but from here McLuhan got really carried away: He came up with an idea for a new underwear line that would actually harness body odour to bring individuals closer to each other.
Probably McLuhan’s most famous coinage after "global village," was “the medium is the message.” This one sentence did more to articulate the most original part of his thought than any other. McLuhan used a famous T.S. Eliot quotation to explain his argument. The purpose of a poem’s content, Eliot wrote, is "to satisfy one habit of the reader, to keep his mind diverted and quiet, while the poem does its work upon him: much as the imaginary burglar is always provided with a nice bit of meat for the house-dog." As a description of Eliot’s own poetic method, it’s a useful reminder of the formalist ambitions of modernist poetry; it is not an explanation of any other kind of poetry. Yet it works for McLuhan, who took a great interest in modernist poetry, painting, and music. Like a lot of other half-radicals, he believed that artists make up a class of intellectual vanguards who see the future before the rest of us. If modern art has divided and dissolved form, it is because reality itself is no longer unified enough to give us the portraits and landscapes of earlier periods.
Somehow the artist’s senses and sensibility are ready to greet the future while the rest of us have to wait for the formal announcement. Eliot’s announcement about the key to modernist poetry is, for McLuhan, an announcement about the key to all media. Rather than concentrate on the rivalry between form and content, McLuhan was mainly concerned with more common categories of media: newspapers, magazines, movies, radio, television. What these media share is that none of them is crucial to survival, yet we consume their products as if they were food, clothing, and shelter.
The content of newspapers is news, or as McLuhan put it, bad news. Newspapers as a general matter don’t carry much else, except for advertisements. This distinction gave McLuhan one of his best quips ever: Advertisements were the good news in newspapers. It matters not that the makers of advertisements have something else in mind. When ads appear in newspapers, they become an antistrophe to the bad news reporters bring in. The same holds true for the news part of the newspapers: Their content is predetermined by the medium. They reflect and confirm the societies from which they spring. They can bring to their readership only what is already within the readership’s experience. Thus the content of a newspaper is already decided. The medium dominates, or even is, the message.
And as a matter of experience, newspapers reduce events to visual matter that are measured in inches and column size. Newspapers hierarchize events by the placement of stories: local versus national, human interest versus business, front-page versus miscellaneous two-inch slug. The very environment of a newspaper suggests relationships between events that are imaginary. Or as McLuhan said, "A man does not read a newspaper so much as bathe in it." Newspaper reading is a ritual comfort.
This makes for the kind of discussion that usually starts with a statement like, "If a Martian were to come down and look at us humans right now, doing what we’re doing, this is what he might conclude." The fictional Martian might conclude that the talking heads on the evening news have no legs and live inside the television set, or might reach any number of conclusions that have no bearing on what the great percentage of humans actually understand about what other humans and their institutions do. Only a Martian would mistake a newspaper for that which it purports to represent.
Nevertheless, the Martian conceit gives us a weirdly revealing perspective. We say someone is "in the know" because every morning he sits down with dozens of long broad sheets of paper, scans through nationwide events of the last 24 hours or so, learns the names of scores of people who are historically insignificant, and has nothing but dirty newsprint on his hands to show for it. Obviously, it is something of a ritual, a custom as opposed to a really important activity.
Part 8:
Global village Modern communications technology: from the telegraph and the newspaper, to the telephone and to radio and television---has connected people. Technology connects individuals and societies. One no longer need wait for traders to pass through town to learn what’s going on in other parts of the world. Information can be transmitted instantaneously. Like a village in which little that is important remains private, the lives of individuals and societies are made known to other nations by way of modern communications. Modern man and the modern nation-state are connected to other men and other nation-states like the residents of a small town. McLuhan is on to something here but then, typically, takes it too far.
At one point, for example, McLuhan proposed staging a musical about the Cold War, which he believed would generate such mutual understanding between the Soviet Union and the United States that the Cold War itself would be defused. Nor is it surprising to find out that when McLuhan was rated A-1 draft status by the U.S. government during World War II, he quickly started looking for another academic post in his native Canada. McLuhan was unconvinced that the Cold War was the result of any kind of substantive, life-or-death disagreement. However, he was capable of some interesting observations about the respective natures of capitalism and communism. For example, in Understanding Media, he wrote that it was possible for capitalism to simply out-perform communism in delivering material goods and thereby undermine communism’s appeal. Yet even this is more a measure of his faith in technology than an indication that he understood or appreciated the economics and politics of the Cold War or the differences between communism and capitalism.
McLuhan made the idea that the media were extensions of man the subtitle of Understanding Media. It is easy to overlook how radical McLuhan’s thesis was, partly out of our not-unjustified habit of accepting metaphors as metaphors. McLuhan believed that metaphors, similes, puns, and other literary tricks have the power to reveal the true nature of things, rather than just expedite the writer’s task of getting points and information across. One of his favourites, "ABCD-minded," by which he meant absent-minded, came from James Joyce. McLuhan used it to pinpoint the obliviousness of literate print-oriented man to other media; literate man literally forgets his other senses.
The relationship of media to man’s senses isn’t just a matter of emphasis but of mental response and resulting social consequences. Any changes in the hierarchy of man’s senses changes man himself. Industrial or visual man, who, by way of economics, is divided into rational parts, is the ultimate individualist because of the divisions he has learned from the alphabet and the printing press. Tribal or audio-tactile man is the ultimate communitarian because of the sense of oneness he has with his immediate surroundings - the result of his reliance on his hearing and sense of touch. The primary media of these different cases, print and speech respectively, literally extend the senses to which they correspond, eyes and ears, and the world is recreated in their image.
Technology makes the man. And if print gave tribal man an eye for an ear, electricity returned man to sensorial balance. Tribal man, in no way an individualist, enjoyed a feeling of connectedness to the rest of his world. Living in a village, physically unremoved, within shouting distance, enveloped by the scent of his people, his self was inseparable from the tribe. His senses had the capacity to contain the entirety of his social life. Whereas print, McLuhan argued, turned man into an individualist with new abstract commitments, electricity brought man back to the tribe.
Part 9:
Man’s return to tribal, sensorial balance started with the telegraph and was completed with television - which McLuhan considered audio-tactile, and not primarily a visual technology. Movie stars, he pointed out, who took television work found that fans no longer kept their distance but suddenly treated them with great familiarity. Their voices, their bodies, their appearances, were suddenly domesticated by their presence in the TV viewers’ living rooms and by the cool, low-definition technology of television itself. Television, he argued, closed the gap that print had opened up between man and the tribe. "It is the total involvement in all-inclusive now-ness that occurs in young lives via TV’s mosaic image." The child of TV "wants a deep commitment from society."
McLuhan’s argument about the changes in man’s sensorial life is literary in nature, and it is an argument only a literary critic would make. McLuhan saw life as a kind of text, or rather something outside of man to which man’s mind responds and then connects with. This connection ends up altering that which man is connected to, and it changes man himself. Reality is merely perceived. There is no underlying truth, outside of those revelatory moments when man’s technological inventions effect a change in perception - McLuhan believed he was living in such a moment - after which political and social change rush in. Outside of the five senses, there is nothing that really concerns McLuhan, making him the ultimate hedonist. For McLuhan, everything (and I mean everything) is but a by-product of the meeting of technology and the senses.
And not only are media extensions of man, but man is an extension of media. On the second to last page of Understanding Media McLuhan wrote, "As the machine and the motorcar released the horse and projected it onto the plain of entertainment, so does automation with men." Released from the labour of pulling carriages and ploughs, the horse went into the circus, professional racing, and the kiddy-ride business. Automation and cybernation (or computerization), McLuhan contended, will similarly turn man into an unnecessary organism, one without any essential purpose, a circus animal the world keeps around for laughs.
Possibly the most troubling aspect of McLuhan’s ideas is how they apply to historically significant events. The following paragraph from Understanding Media expresses a most peculiar understanding of celebrity and demagoguery:
Part 10:
It was no accident that Senator McCarthy lasted such a very short time when he switched [from radio] to TV. Soon the press decided "He isn’t news anymore." Neither McCarthy nor the press knew what had happened. TV is a cool medium. It rejects hot figures and hot issues and hot people from the hot press media. Fred Allen was a casualty of TV. Was Marilyn Monroe? Had TV occurred on a large scale during Hitler’s reign he would have vanished quickly. Had TV come first there would have been no Hitler at all.
One could dismiss this passage, and countless others like it, on the basis that it is no more than an early attempt to gauge the consequences of television. The only problem is that the passage actually means what it says: Television levels the important, the historical, and the merely entertaining, forcing them all to win and lose and live and die by the same rules - ratings, newsworthiness, the success and endurance of "image." Because Hitler was no Jack Parr, McLuhan’s favorite TV personality, he would never have made it, not just in the TV business but in the world remade by television.
What exactly about television McLuhan believed would neutralize Hitler, with all other things being equal, is never clear. What is clear is that McLuhan believed only an already re-tribalizing people that hadn’t yet reached sensorial balance could accept a hot, high-definition leader like Hitler. According to McLuhan, the Weimar Republic never had a chance; the policy of appeasement carried out by England and other nations was irrelevant; statesmanship, laws, the study of politics and history are all powerless against the ebb and flow of sensorial balance.
While political philosophers may believe education in ideas is important, McLuhan believed an education in media was necessary. He thought an understanding of media was key to any defence against its machinations. His argument may be understood as a bid for power: An education in media, obviously, would place authority in the hands of mediologists.
McLuhan, always the showman, established, through his book Understanding Media and other books, a reputation as the single person who could justify the ways of technology to man. His account of man’s lost tribalism not only credits technology with the role of supreme and sole cause of historical change but also credits it with eventually making man superfluous. McLuhan’s vague understanding of economics and naive faith in machines led him to conclude that ultimately automation and computers will do all of man’s work for him. In turn, he completely undervalued humanity’s resilience. For McLuhan, man is but the object of technology’s mysterious powers.
McLuhan’s writings and prognostications have been taken up by a new generation of writers and thinkers looking to explain the social consequences of the newest technologies. In the September 1998 issue of Civilization, the magazine of the Library of Congress, guest editor Jarod Lanier, a pioneer in virtual technology and a contributing editor to Wired magazine, wrote, "In these days of the endgame of humanism, we see technophobic militancy  against new abortion methods, MTV and other identity-transforming technologies. There is more militancy there than militant activism against economic or political injustice." There is, in this view, nothing that can be done about partial-birth abortion, drugs, and music videos because man operates at the behest of his technologies, not the other way around.
Part 11:
While some have adopted McLuhan’s more apocalyptic rhetoric, current trends are accomplishing a correction of sorts. In a recent issue of Wired magazine, "the voice of the digital revolution," one writer had the terrific idea that perhaps the good capitalist Peter Drucker had more to teach them than their "patron saint" Marshall McLuhan. Drucker was an Austrian-born American management consultant, educator, and author, whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation. He was also a leader in the development of management education, and he invented the concept known as management by objectives.
All the same, the McLuhanish point that people who do not understand technology should be afraid, very afraid, gets a lot of mileage. The words McLuhan spoke resonate for many young professionals in the computer industry and their cheerleaders in the computer-industry press. Take the following snippet from McLuhan’s Playboy interview.
“Through radio, TV, and the computer, we are already entering a global theatre in which the entire world is a Happening. Our whole cultural habitat, which we once viewed as a mere container of people, is being transformed by these media and by space satellites into a living organism, itself contained within a new macrocosm or a connubium of a supra-terrestrial nature. The day of the individualist, of privacy, of fragmented or "applied" knowledge, of "points of view" and specialist goals is being replaced by the over-all awareness of a mosaic world in which space and time are overcome by television, jets and computers - a simultaneous "all-at-once" world in which everything resonates with everything else as in a total electronic field, a world in which energy is generated and perceived not by the traditional connections that create linear, causative thought processes, but by the intervals, or gaps.”
This is a vision of change in which the only people who play any role in their own fates are programmers, designers, and producers, where the computer- and media-illiterate are but pebbles on the side of the road to a new world. It’s a self-serving vision - one that gratified McLuhan’s disciples but should be resisted by the rest of us.-Ron Price with thanks to 1David Skinner, McLuhan’s World and Ours, The Public Interest,Vol. 138, Winter 2000, pp. 52-64; 2By 1965 I had been involved with the Baha’i Faith for a dozen years; and 3The Fog of War: Robert S. McNamara, ABC2TV, 9:30-11:15 p.m. 3/3/’13.
end of document
 
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<![CDATA[ Finally Affordable Housing Is Here!]]> San Francisco and New York City are experimenting with

a somewhat new concept in urban housing-the micro studio

apartment. A micro-studio has between 220 and 350 square feet

of space. This is just enough living space for a small family unit

of 1-3 people.
 

The driving forces behind this new concept are the high cost

of living space in cities, the need for new housing, events

like Hurricane Sandy, lower energy costs and the desire

of young people to collect fewer possessions.
 

The advent of the net computer, ipads, Kindle and phones

like the Blackberry has meant that people now collect

fewer books in favor of access to information by computer.

In addition, people have more opportunities to socialize

outside the home with more volunteering, multiple jobs,

gym memberships and a host of activities that keep

people engaged outdoors.
 

There are numerous advantages to the micro-studios.

For instance, beds can be folded into the wall with

combinations like bed/closet or bed/shelving.

Kitchen appliances can be built into the walls.

Energy costs are lower due to the need to heat/air condition

a much smaller/compact living space.
 

Opponents have argued against the concept for fear

of placing too much stress on public accommodations,

medical care delivery and local transit due to higher

densities of people living in the same neighborhood.

In NYC, Mayor Bloomberg has agreed to waive the existing

zoning laws on a limited basis in order to incubate the

micro-studio concept in Manhattan. The new

micro-studios would be between 250-350 square feet.

Currently, San Francisco is considering a floor of 220

square feet in its zoning laws.
 

The only remaining question is whether or not people

will embrace the micro-studio apartments on a large

enough scale to whet the appetites of construction

builders. Is the micro-studio an idea whose time

has come or is the notion simply another passing fad?


Credits:  First Published on Blogcritics

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<![CDATA[ Essentially the play-by-play of the Left's vicious and relentless attacks on those who dare disagree]]>
Just in case you hadn't noticed, the overwhelming majority of the vitriol on display in the public square originates from those on the Left. Honest, hardworking, law-abiding conservatives like myself have been putting up with it for years and it has only gotten worse since Barack Obama became President. Most of us are bound and determined not to stoop to the same tactics employed by our ideological adversaries. Progressives will deny they engage in such tactics but author Ben Shapiro has done his homework and has assembled a comprehensive anthology of some of the left's "greatest hits" in his compelling new book "Bullies: How The Left's Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans". Shapiro leaves very little doubt how the left has managed to get its way over the past quarter century and makes it abundantly clear that conservatives need to figure out some way to counter these tactics. Given all of the obstacles in our way it is not going to be an easy task.

Pick the cause. Be it climate change, gay marriage, gun control, abortion rights, religious liberty, illegal immigration or Obamacare--if you dare to disagree with the radical positions espoused by those on the Left than you are going to be instantly and brutally attacked by government officials, the mainstream media, Hollywood and the union thugs who stand to gain from these policies. Unlike conservatives, those on the Left including the President of the United States have absolutely no problem playing the race card, the class card and the sexism card to get their way and really don't care who gets hurt in the process. Ben Shapiro shines the spotlight on incident after incident where these tactics are employed and concedes that "the strategy is working and will continue to work as long as American's remain silent." And that is what the left is counting on.

I could enumerate chapter and verse some of the most heinous and downright ridiculous examples cited by Ben Shapiro in "Bullies". For example, in Denair, California a 13 year boy was forced to remove an American flag from the back of his bicycle because according to school officials the flag "raised racial tensions". Absolutely ridiculous! Then there is the left's passionate and irrational hatred of conservative Republican women like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman and Michelle Malkin who have the audacity to espouse traditional American values. The attacks on these ladies have been vulgar and vicious by such leading liberal luminaries as Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher, David Letterman and Al Sharpton. Or how about what happened when the President of the Chick-Fil-A restaurant chain Dan Cathy dared to support the notion of traditional marriage in a televised interview. The leftist bullies immediately sprung into action. Gay and lesbian activists decided to hold a "Kiss In" at selected Chick-Fil-A outlets while Mayor Rahm Emmanuel of Chicago and Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston sought to ban the chain from their respective cities. This in spite of the fact that there was absolutely no evidence to suggest that Chick-Fil-A discriminates against gays. So much for tolerance! And so far as Obama's Department of Homeland Security is concerned it is conservatives and not terrorists that are the real threat to America. Progressives clearly and consistently seek to stifle any opposition to their agenda and have absolutely no problem destroying lives and ruining careers in the process. It's just what they do. For those of us who read and pay attention to current events little of what Ben Shapiro has presented in "Bullies" comes as a surprise. However, it is shocking when you see all of it assembled in one place and come to realize just how far the progressive tentacles extend in America in 2013.

Ben Shapiro believes that these left-wing bullies are the most despicable people in America. I would concur. These folks have absolutely no interest in due process, the rule of law, civil discourse or for that matter the United States Constitution. These are all viewed as impediments to implementing their radical socialist agenda. Shapiro closes with some words of wisdom and encouragement from his friend and colleague the late Andrew Breitbart. They are words that conservatives need to take to heart. Clearly the time has come to fight back! For those Americans who only casually pay attention to what is going on out there "Bullies: How The Left's Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans" should prove to be a real eye-opener. This is a meticulously researched (40 pages of helpful footnotes) and very well written book. Very highly recommended!]]>
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<![CDATA[ The Hearings On Confirmation Should Prove Interesting and Insightful]]> the President's Intelligence Advisory Board, as well as on the Council on Foreign Relations. His experience in the private sector is equally impressive.

In 2007, Hagel was one of a few Republicans who supported a Democratic- proposed troop withdrawal from Iraq within 4 months. In referring to Iraq and Afghanistan, he stated that : “We can help them buy time or develop, but we cannot control their fates. "

The calculus of  power between Iraq and Iran has been a delicate balancing act. During the '80s, Iraq killed just under 200,000 Iranians while losing 60,000 lives itself. Disturbing the balance of power in the region is an act  with unknown consequences. By August of 1988, the UN obtained a mutually agreed upon ceasefire between Iran and Iraq.

The early '90s brought the Desert Storm coalition to Iraq to stop its aggressions in Kuwait. A decade later, the U.S. forces returned to Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein despite the fact that President George Bush - The Elder decided against changing the Iraqi regime in the early '90s.

The status of the area is in flux even today with Iraq trying to rebuild its war-torn economy and Iran faltering under the weight of numerous sanctions. The decision to assert military power requires a complex analysis of the past history of the region, the current calculus of power between Iraq and Iran, as well as the willingness and capacity of either nation to undermine its neighbors.

Hagel voted in the affirmative for the Chemical and Biological Weapons Threat Reduction Act, which sets forth criminal penalties for possession of Chemical or Biological weapons. He cosponsored the American Missile Protection Act,  deploying an effective National Missile Defense system capable to defend the U.S. against limited ballistic missile attacks.

Hagel was considered briefly by the Obama team to be a running-mate in the '08 election. His experience does qualify him to be under serious consideration for the position as Defense Secretary. There are some areas where disagreements may surface.  For instance, Hagel voted in favor of the Patriot Act. This vote will  not endear him to all Libertarians.

Overall, President Obama nominated Hagel due to his experience in government and the private sector, as well as his principled stances in containing our involvement in foreign wars. Most importantly, Hagel will be needed to bring to the Pentagon a fresh outlook on the role of the Pentagon in asserting American military power in the world, as well as the all important area of cost containment.

Hagel can look forward to right-sizing the Pentagon budget while recognizing the limitations to the notion of asserting America's military power to further the idea of a Manifest Destiny. Another constraining factor impacts the Pentagon. That is nature itself. The Eastern coastlines of the U.S. have been under assault from a number of major hurricanes and floods. The aftermath of these natural disasters has required years of rebuilding and the active intervention of the Army Corps of Engineers. The recent Hurricane Sandy is unprecedented in the Northeast corridor. And so, the Defense Department must consider the impact of weatherization as an important consideration in protecting our citizens from great harm.

Right now, there are important foreign policy challenges in the world. Examples are the unwillingness of Iran to cooperate fully in eliminating its pursuit of nuclear weapons components and related technologies. Syria has had social unrest together with harsh governmental policies in recent years.  Yet, Assad will not step down. In addition, North Korea has expressed interest in having a reunification with the South.

All of these issues individually and collectively will pose considerable challenges for our diplomatic and defense efforts well into the future. Ultimately, the United States must discover the proper balance between diplomacy, the use of soft power, sanctions and an assertive military posture to deflect the challenges which the future will most certainly present.  Lastly, Chuck Hagel will be running the Defense
Department, if confirmed.  The overall efforts in the execution of soft power and diplomacy will be done by the diplomatic team, as well as the new Secretary of State- John Kerry (former senator). Overall policy will be set  by President Obama.

References:
http://www.lp.org/introduction/why-not-stick-with-the-establishment

Credits:

http://blogcritics.org/politics/article/obama-names-hagel-for-defense/]]>
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<![CDATA[ Anticipating Practical Implementation Issues With Legalizing Marijuana]]> Medbox has offered to help the State
implement the regulations by installing inventory management systems and robotic dispensaries that comply with the maze of  regulations which can be anticipated on a reasonable basis.

Currently, the medicinal use of marijuana is legal and it is implemented through marijuana vending machines which dispense the substance. The machinery in use would have patients scan their fingerprints onto a collection device that validates their online medical prescription for marijuana. The manufacturer, Medbox is currently working on adapting this device for recreational users.

From a practical standpoint, Washington must define recreational use and provide reasonable quantity limits for consumers . Potentially, legalization could be a huge revenue source for the states, if implemented with due care.

No matter what the state law says, employers will have an important say in defining just what constitutes reasonable usage in the workplace. Occasional marijuana usage can be detected within a 2 to 7 day window in standard urine tests. Regular marijuana users can be detected up to a month window and heavy pot users can be detected up to 3 months. Saliva tests can detect marijuana usage up to 24 hours. Hair tests can determine usage for up to 3 months.

Municipalities will need to define legal usage of pot for a number of critical services like police, fire, ambulance workers, emergency room personnel, airport controllers, pilots, subway conductors, taxis and a whole variety of  personal services provided by people who are responsible for the safety of individual members of the public during the conduct of their daily work.

Public school teachers, para-professionals, administrators, custodians, school crossing guards, cafeteria personnel and the building maintenance people represent important strategic constituencies where clear regulations will be needed to keep pot usage within well defined legal limits just as
is done with alcohol, tobacco and firearms. It is to be noted that politicians are still considering alternative ways to restrict guns in order to enhance the public safety.

Society will be on the road to fully implementing the legalization of pot for both medicinal and recreation purposes. Undoubtedly, the road will be bumpy. The stakes are high. The potential tax revenues could be a huge boom for state tax collections everywhere. Time will tell whether or not pot legalization can happen in an orderly fashion while still protecting the public from harm as is done imperfectly with alcohol, tobacco and firearms.

Reference:
1. http://medbox.com/MedBoxCompanyInformation.htm
2. http://www.thedrugspot.com/drug-testing/marijuana-tests.html

Credits:
http://blogcritics.org/politics/article/on-t...alization-of-marijuana/]]>
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<![CDATA[ The Next Big Challenge Is The Debt Ceiling!]]> The package will be felt by most Americans according to the Tax Policy Center.
The impact is hardest with an increment in the payroll tax which amounts
to about $1,000. per worker for those earning in the vicinity of $50,000 per
year. The workers' payroll tax rate has been 4.2% in recent years. Now, the rate
has been lifted to 6.2%, on the first $113,700 of worker pay.

The Tax Policy Center estimates that households making between $40,000 and
$50,000 will face an average tax increase of $580 in 2013. Those making between
$50,000 and $75,000 will face an average tax bite increment of over $800.
High-income households should expect higher tax rates on ordinary income,
capital gains, dividends and the new health reform taxes. The new tax rates
apply to families earning $450,000 a year income or more and individuals making
$400,000. or more.

The biggest gains for the Treasury aren't in tax increases alone. It's in job growth and
the revenue from adding taxes from newly hired workers. 2013 will be a better year for
college graduates with demand growing for degrees earned in engineering,
computer applications, accounting and finance.  The most dramatic pick-up
in construction is expected in 2014, with 300,000 more jobs according to an
economic analysis at Moody's. Even State governments are expected to hire again
with new hires projected to increase slightly.

Lawmakers and President Obama have yet to tackle the details of projected cuts
in spending; such as, defense spending. There are cost savings to be achieved
from the historic draw-downs of troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition,
there are other areas for savings like military base closings and procurement in things
like drone manufacture.

Various ideas have been discussed concerning the migration of Medicaid funding
to the States who may be able to administer the program more cheaply. The States
have the databases of information for local residents and therefore some duplicate
record-keeping could be avoided or lessened.

One of the biggest areas for potential revenue is in excess consumption taxes for
junk food, sugary sodas, cigarettes and even marijuana as an outgrowth of
legalization in Washington State. Taxing these items would provide a boom for
social programs like Medicaid which have come under financial stress.

For now, the first fiscal cliff has been avoided. The stock market is rising on
the news of a deal and Americans may look forward to a better year for the
economy and employment. The next hurdle will be the federal debt limit.

Article first published as <a href='http://blogcritics.org/politics/article/cong...sident-obama-avert-the/'>Congress and President Obama Avert The Fiscal Cliff &mdash; For Now</a> on Blogcritics.]]>
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<![CDATA[Rush Limbaugh Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]>
If I want to listen to a media personality with a conservative slant, I'll go listen to Nick DiPaolo's stand-up material or his appearances on various radio shows (mainly Opie & Anthony).  Nick DiPaolo is hilarious and loaded with razor-sharp wit, Rush Limbaugh is neither.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/whatcanisay/reviews/d/UserReview-Rush_Limbaugh-232-1396025-229810.html http://www.lunch.com/whatcanisay/reviews/d/UserReview-Rush_Limbaugh-232-1396025-229810.html Sun, 11 Nov 2012 04:07:03 +0000
<![CDATA[Paris Hilton Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> http://www.lunch.com/whatcanisay/reviews/actor/UserReview-Paris_Hilton-232-1009080-229133.html http://www.lunch.com/whatcanisay/reviews/actor/UserReview-Paris_Hilton-232-1009080-229133.html Sun, 14 Oct 2012 16:53:05 +0000 <![CDATA[ Questions To Pose At The Debates! The 1st Presidential Debate Between Pres. Obama & Gov. Romney]]>
A number of very important questions have been discussed in the public domain. The more prominent ones will be addressed here. The first thing on the minds of voters concerns the direction which
America and the world are headed. A related question is America's role in the world and the limits of Manifest Destiny.

Do we carry a big stick or are we part of a coalition of countries with common goals and ways of implementing them? This related question is important because it gets to the heart of financial and military commitments which will be required over time. Our role in nation building is another key question to debate.

The next area is balancing the federal budget consistent with incremental growth in the GDP, as well as a more robust tax revenue base achieved from a thriving economy at some point. The debate needs to focus on how and when the federal budget will achieve balance, as well as strategies to stay that way. There are models for budget balancing in the years 1973 and again in 2000.

Health care delivery systems are another issue. The Patient Care and Affordable Act is scheduled for full implementation by 2014. Voters need to know how the current Social Security System will be impacted by The Act or the Ryan/Wyden Plan. In addition, the candidates should opine on whether or not the overall goals of the public health care systems should promote disease management or health and wellness.

In addition, the debate should focus on taxing junk food, soda, beer, cigarettes and potentially marijuna in order to obtain the revenues needed to preserve the existing public health systems and programs. A related question is reforming the Tax Code to raise additional revenues through a flat tax, applying consumption taxes to the underground economy or excess consumption taxes on non - nutritive foodstuffs.

Another important issue is creating enough energy to support American industry, consumers and possibly energy exports. Growth in solar energy, wind, geothermal, nuclear fusion, coal gasification, natural gas, ocean wave and related modalities need to be discussed, as well as safety issues in all of the energy modalities. Nuclear power plant safety is a continuing concern in light of random earthquakes and other contingencies.

The government's role in safety regulation should focus on the approach each candidate will take for energy production and the necessary regulation to protect  the public and the environment from avoidable harm, as well as random Acts of G - d.

America's population has grown at a robust rate of nearly a million people a year since 2000. Candidates should address this population growth and its impact on reducing the unemployment rate, increasing tax revenues, maintaining the current infrastructure, preserving the social safety net and managing domestic tranquility now and in the future.

Although the Vix Index has stabilized since 2008, the debates need to focus on how investors will be protected from intermarket gyrations in the riskier derivative financial products. Will counterparties assume the risks of  loss or will margin requirements be put into place to reduce exposure to investors and the stock market itself ?

The October 3rd debate will give Americans a glimpse of the candidates speaking extemporaneously, as well as the benefits and limitations of the various approaches offered. Voters should tune in and listen attentively.

Article first published as <a href='http://blogcritics.org/politics/article/cruc...-the-2012-presidential/'>Crucial Issues For The 2012 Presidential Debates</a> on Blogcritics.

____________________________      The First Presidential Debate _________________________

The first debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney commenced at
9 p.m. on October 3, 2012. The venue was at the University of Denver. Jim Lehrer of
the PBS NewsHour moderated the debate. The main focus of tonight's debate was
domestic policy. Specific areas for discussion included the economy, the role of
government and the process of governing. In summary, the candidates made the
following statements with President Obama opening the debate.

President Obama opened by discussing the stock market crash of '08. Obama explained
that over 5 million jobs were created in the recent 30 months, that housing is beginning
to move forward and that taxes have been cut.  Obama cited the "Race to the
Top" program implemented in 46 states and the hiring of 100 thousand new math and
science teachers. In addition, he cited investments in wind and solar power energy.

Obama stressed that he lowered taxes for small businesses 18 times and that 97% of
small businesses have not seen taxes go up. Obama criticized unfunded wars and
explained his own cuts to discretionary spending of nearly a trillion dollars.

Obama went on to state that his $716 billion dollar Medicare savings meant that insurance
companies will no longer be overpaid for basic services. Instead, the Medicare
savings will go for funding prescription drugs. Obama explained that putting Medicare
under a voucher system could result in costing seniors a lot more. Ultimately,
he explained that Medicare does a better job of minimizing administrative costs
than a private enterprise outfit would do. At bottom, a voucher system could put seniors
at the mercy of insurers.

Obama explained that patients could keep their own insurance and that children could
remain insured under a parental plan until age 26. Obama explained that his plan would
result in rebates and that group rate plans would drive costs down by 18% or more.
Obama stated that his plan was tried and worked well in Massachusetts without
destroying jobs. In addition, Obama praised the work of the Cleveland Clinic in
reducing costs while providing quality healthcare. He fears that repealing Obamacare
could result in 50 million people losing insurance.

Obama stressed that budgets reflect choices. He feared that cutting taxes could
result in also cutting things like education. Obama cited the efficiency of community
colleges in crafting education programs that provide skills that employers need.
Obama explained that his education programs cut out banks as the middle man
to provide more affordable student loans directly to students.

Obama explained that his programs in implementation would make the middle class
stronger. His administration pushed through three trade deals which would result
in higher exports. He cited the newly found pride auto workers have in building
American cars again in record numbers. In addition, the dual wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan are ended or winding down. Obama praised the fight to end the excesses
on Wall Street and praised the Dodd/Frank legislation to regulate the financial sector.
Obama concluded by stating that he would fight every day on behalf of the American
people.

Former Governor Romney opened by discussing the cornerstone of his programs which would
include creating 4 million new jobs by pursuing energy independence, opening up more
trade to Latin America, supporting education, balancing the federal budget and
strengthening small business. Romney indicated that new business start-ups are down
and that trickle down government has not worked.

Romney explained that his programs will not add to the deficit. He stressed that he will
not support decreasing taxes on the wealthy. Instead, his administration would cut
taxes for the middle class. Romney indicated that 54% of the people work for small
business. He criticized the Obama Administration for increasing tax rates on small
business from 35% to 40%. Romney explained that lowering tax rates for small
business would grow the economy and balance the budget through more tax revenues.

Romney explained that he would not cut taxes that add to the deficit. In addition, he
decried the fact that the number of people on federal food stamps grew from 32 million
to 47 million people. Romney stressed that we cannot spend more than the government
receives in tax revenues. He would lower spending, cut out Obamacare, cut some
subsidies and increase government operational efficiency. He criticized President Obama
for accumulating more debt than any other previous president combined.

Romney took on a $2.8 billion dollar tax break for oil companies and contrasted that
with $90 billion dollars of federal money that went to green energy. He stated that
you picked losers like Solyndra. Romney would like to send Medicaid money back
to the individual states who could the money more wisely and efficiently.

Romney indicated that the Ryan/Wyden plan would result in no change for current
retirees or people near retirement. He explained that cutting $716 billion dollars from
Medicare would result in physicians opting out of Medicare. He wants the Medicare
Program to be there for younger people too. Romney would repeal Obamacare because
it would cost over $2500 more for insurance than current pricing. Romney believes
that the private sector could provide better choices for people.

Romney indicated that consumers need transparency in the financial sector, as well
as limits on leveraging transactions on Wall Street. He believes that the Dodd/Frank
legislation is too much regulation. In addition, Romney criticized the idea of banks
being too big to fail. Romney would repeal Obamacare because it would cost over
$2500 more for insurance than current pricing. In addition, he fears having an
unelected Independent Payment Advisory Board of people who might disturb the
relationship between physicians and their patients.

Romney praised what he did for health care in Massachusetts without raising taxes
or putting into place an advisory board. In addition, he explained that he worked
with a legislature which was almost exclusively people from the Democratic Party.
He explained that people with pre-existing conditions would be covered under
the Ryan/Wyden Plan, as well as coverage for young adults on their parents'
plan up until age 26. Romney explained that the Cleveland Clinic experience is
a private sector plan. He explained that government should not direct doctors
and tell them how to treat patients.

Romney explained how President Reagan reduced tax rates to grow the economy.
He explained that great schools are needed like in Massachusetts which rates first
in the nation. He cited the Declaration of Independence and the need to protect
life, liberty, religious freedom, care for the elderly and the pursuit of happiness.
Romney would like individuals to have the right to pursue their dreams. He decried
the fact that 23 million people are out of work and that 50% of college graduates
cannot find work. Romney would like federal funds to follow each child rather than
an allocation to a bureaucracy alone. Romney would not cut funding to education.

The debate closed with the candidates being greeted by family members on stage.
Both President Obama and Former Governor Romney performed well in the first debate.
Neither candidate stumbled in any major way.

The candidates do differ in their approach to government. President Obama
believes that the government has a role to play in health care, education
and regulating financial institutions. Former Governor Romney believes that
financial institutions need some regulation in areas like transparency and
leveraging limits. He would put more Medicaid money in the hands of the states,
as opposed to the federal government. In addition, he would not cut taxes for the
rich. Instead, he would cut taxes for the middle class small businesses.

First Published on Blogcritics]]>
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<![CDATA[ "The Summer of His Years"]]>
Some things stay with you forever. To me it's the song, the title of which is the title of this review, that I heard that week on television on the show "That Was The Week That Was". Even after all of these years I can still recall all of the words, and can sing (quite badly) the melody.

Bill O'Reilly and his co-author have given us a worthy sequel to their best-selling "Killing Lincoln", and related the events around another horrid presidential assassination. It's more relevant because it is so much nearer to many of us than something that happened more than a century before.

As with the first book, the authors go into the backgrounds of both the killer and his victim. While I'm sure that there are a plethora of books that relate many of these facts, this book seems to have gotten together many of them in one place, and tell us, or at least tell me, many things about which I was unaware. Of course, the events are seared in the memory, but there are things that most of us probably did not know.

Kennedy's life is laid out in some detail, both the good and the bad, in what I thought was an evenhanded approach. Lately it seems that his reputation as a philanderer has stained his memory, but this book recounts all of the brave and honest things he did in his life, and in how he really tried to make the country a better place for all. Oswald's life is recounted also, and we see his miserable existence, and are given what the authors, at least, believe is his reason for his action.

There are no conspiracy theories scattered about in this book. The conclusion appears to be that Oswald acted alone. Whether that is correct I don't know, and none of us will probably ever know. I've been to Dealey Plaza and seen the "grassy knoll" of legend, and can't imagine how anyone could have fired from that spot without being seen by a multitude of spectators. The Plaza is a shrine to Kennedy, and the sixth floor window on the Texas Book Depository building is kept open, a chilling sight.

Those who are interested in history being delivered in a very readable way will like this book. Those who don't like the author for whatever reason will pan it, I'm sure, without even reading it. They should realize that Kennedy is presented in a very good light, and it just shows what this country lost when he died.]]>
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<![CDATA[ Voter fraud continues to be a threat to the future of our republic.]]>
As I prepare this review Democrats are gathering in Charlotte, NC for the 2012 Democratic National Convention. And lo and behold delegates are required to present a photo ID to gain admission to the Time Warner Cable Arena. Given their position on Voter ID the hypocrisy of the Democratic Party is simply stunning. To those who have studied this issue and to the vast majority of the American people the evidence is overwhelming--Voter ID should be instituted in all 50 states. John Fund, National Affairs columnist for National Review has been on this story for years. His 2004 book "Stealing Elections" is considered to the seminal work on the subject. Hans von Spakovsky also knows voter fraud issues intimately. He spent four years at the Department of Justice working in the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division. He was appalled at what he saw. Fund and von Spakovsky have collaborated on an eye-opening new book "Who's Counting?: How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk". It is a stunning expose of how elections are routinely stolen and who is responsible. Until major reforms are undertaken you will never look at our electoral process in the same way again.

The authors trace the origins of the problem back to the passage of the National Voter Registration Act or "Motor Voter Law" back in 1993. This dubious legislation requires state governments to allow for registration when a person applies for or renews their driver's license or applies for welfare. No identification is required. God forbid that someone would have to take an hour to appear at their local Board of Canvassers to register. Progressives characterize that as a "hardship". Meanwhile, liberals around the country have been busy ramming through legislation such as "no fault" absentee voting whereby people are allowed to vote by mail for virtually any reason. Once again no ID is required. The evidence compiled by Fund and von Spakovsky makes it abundantly clear that the opportunity for voter fraud increases exponentially with the use of absentee ballots. And that is just fine and dandy with some unscrupulous candidates and political organizations. The authors have dubbed chapter 6 of their book "Absentee Ballots--The `Tool of Choice' of Vote Thieves" and cite specific examples of voter fraud that occurred in Greene County, Alabama back in 1994. A federal investigation uncovered the following: 1) 60 ballots sent to one P.O. Box, 2) absentee ballots stolen from voters mailboxes, 3) voters threatened with loss of public assistance and 4) votes were cast in the name of voters who were dead or who no longer resided in the county.

Sticking to the Voter ID issue Fund and von Spakovsky go on to cite an interesting case from my home state of Rhode Island where Voter ID was passed just last year. One of the chief proponents of Voter ID was Harold Metts, a 69 year old African-American state senator and a lifelong Democrat. Metts revealed that he had been fielding complaints for years from his mostly black and Latino constituents in the inner city of Providence. What is truly instructive is the event that convinced him that Voter ID was needed. His own state representative Anastasia Williams, an outspoken liberal herself, revealed that she and her daughter had their votes stolen in 2006 by people voting in their name. Metts joined forces with the Democratic Secretary of State Ralph Mollis to campaign for passage of a Voter ID law in the Ocean State. Much to my surprise the law was passed by our mostly Democratic legislature and signed into law by our "lefty" independent governor Lincoln Chafee. It was a reform that was long overdue!

Throughout the book von Spakovsky recalls his stormy four year tenure at the Department of Justice. While there he discovered that the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division was packed with liberal lawyers. Conservatives need not apply. To me the most disturbing observation made by the author is that there are nearly 80 lawyers assigned to enforce voting rights laws while there are just two to investigate voter fraud. It is abundantly clear where the priorities of the department lie. And it has only gotten worse under Attorney General Eric Holder who simply refuses to investigate alleged voter fraud. Meanwhile, what I found equally disturbing in "Who's Counting?" are the persistent calls by those on the left to abolish the Electoral College. The latest was made by former Vice President Al Gore in just the past couple of days. The authors argue passionately and convincingly the National Popular Vote (NPV) would be a very bad idea. They also reveal that there is an extremely sinister plan afoot by those on the left to circumvent the constitutional amendment route to achieve this goal. Very disturbing indeed!

When I was growing up my father warned me about people who would "do anything to win". That was great advice but unfortunately there are growing numbers among us who fit that description. "Who's Counting: How Fraud and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk" presents us with a comprehensive and rather chilling overview of the challenges we face in conducting honest elections in this nation. In the final chapter of the book entitled "What Is To Be Done" the authors offer up a number of common sense solutions to correct many of these problems and abuses. While the need for Voter ID may be the centerpiece of their presentation, John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky cover a number of other problems and abuses that compromise our electoral process in great detail. The next time someone tries to tell you that voter fraud is grossly exaggerated or virtually non-existent don't you believe it! Rather, refer that individual to "Who's Counting?" Tell them that this is an extremely well written and meticulously researched book with more than 30 pages of endnotes. Then challenge them to come up with some credible evidence to the contrary. Very highly recommended!]]>
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<![CDATA[ "Wouldn't it be better to connect the dots, imagine the unimaginable, and take necessary precautions]]>
Let's not mince words here. Much of what you learn in "Cowards" is bound to frighten you. It should. Take Kevin Freeman, an economic analyst commissioned by the Pentagon to evaluate the fallout from the 2008 economic crisis. What Freeman has to say about it is chilling. Mr. Freeman concluded that terrorist organizations could indeed wreak havoc on our economy in myriad ways. You sure won't hear about this from Rachel Maddow or Wolf Blitzer. Their complete lack of intellectual curiosity is astonishing! Yet, when a Washington Times reporter asked a high-ranking government official about these threats he simply dismissed it by saying "Nobody wants to go there." Meanwhile Kevin Freeman was told in no uncertain terms that there would be retribution if he ever publicly discussed his findings. Now if you listen to our esteemed U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano you would think that all is just hunky-dory along the Mexican border. Nothing could be further from the truth. Did you know that more than 100 tunnels have been discovered between Mexico and the United States. You will find a compelling full-page photo of one of them on page 105. And were you aware of just how violent the Mexican drug cartels really are? What I learned in this book sent chills up my spine.

Speaking of frightening you will learn in "Cowards" who George Soros really is. His organization Open Society Institute (OSI) supports a cornucopia of far-left organizations and foundations. His goal is the fundamental transformation of American society. Sound familiar? Soros counts among his allies the public employee unions and a whole host of radical organizations. The more you read about this guy the more scary he becomes. You only need to read about his "Secretary of State Project" to know just what I am talking about. Incredibly, Soros has come out of the shadows and is now pursuing his radical agenda right out in the open. This only serves to prove the stranglehold this man has on the media and so many of America's leading institutions.

In subsequent chapters of "Cowards: What Politicians, Radicals and the Media Refuse to Say" goes on to discuss several more of the most pressing this nation is facing including our pathetic educational system, the threat posed by radical Islam and the relentless attack on free speech and religious liberty that we see all around us. "Cowards" is punctuated by impressive photographs and memorable quotations. I found the format of this book to be a bit dizzying at first but once I got used to it I realized that it is extremely effective. It reads and looks like a textbook which I believe is exactly what Glenn Beck had in mind. After you read "Cowards" be sure to pass it on to a relative, friend or neighbor. I would characterize this volume as a "handbook for patriots". The American people really do need to know what is going on out there. And they are certainly not going to learn the truth in the mainstream media. Very highly recommended!]]>
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<![CDATA[ Barack Obama lacks the temperament, management skills and vision to tackle the job.]]> David Scheiner, MD has been Barack Obama's personal physician for the past 22 years. And he is none too happy with the health care program that was championed by his most famous patient. "I look at his healthcare plan and I can't see how it can work. He has no cost control. When Barack Obama planned this health program, he didn't include anyone who actually practiced medicine in the trenches the way I do. My main objection to Barack Obama is that he is a great speaker and a lousy communicator. He's got academic University of Chicago-type people around him who don't care."  These candid remarks found on page 16 of Edward Klein's best-selling new book "The Amateur: Barack Obama in the White House" really do help to set the stage for the authors' stinging 258 page indictment of the man who would be king Barack Obama. Culled from nearly 200 interviews with the people who know Obama best "The Amateur" paints a portrait of an aloof, divisive, stubborn, arrogant, ungrateful and rather thin-skinned President who believes that he alone possesses all of the answers to our nations ills. For those of us who have followed the Obama presidency closely much of what is disclosed in "The Amateur" really comes as no great surprise.  Still, to find all of these incidents and stories enumerated in a single place can simply be mind-blowing.  For a good many Americans what Edward Klein has to say in this book should prove to be a real eye-opener.

Politically, as the 44th President of the United States prepares to launch his re-election bid, he is confronted by a whole host of problems, quite a few of his own making.  Mr. Obama has managed to alienate a good many of the people who supported his candidacy four years ago including the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Oprah Winfrey, Caroline Kennedy and the "First Day People"--African-American leaders in Chicago who helped to pave the way for his political ascent. I was amazed to discover that Rev. Wright agreed to be interviewed for this book. Wright recalled the first time he met Barack Obama in 1985:  "what I remember is that he came to talk to me as a community organizer, not in search of Christ".  I found that remark to be very telling indeed. Of course we all know the rest of the Reverend Wright story and how in spite of their deep-rooted relationship Barack Obama abruptly disowned him when he became a political liabililty back in 2007. Then there is the American media mogul and talk show host Oprah Winfrey who went out on a limb to support Barack in the 2008 Democratic primary against Hillary Clinton.  Oprah's support cost her a significant share of her audience and yet despite her determined efforts to help  elect the first black President of the United States it appears that she has been largely been ignored by the Obama's since the election.  Hmmm....there seems to be a pattern developing here.  Trust me, there are plenty of other examples of this sort of thing chronicled in "The Amateur".

Barack Obama has now been President for nearly 3 and 1/2 years.  According to many observers quoted in the book his adminstration is still rather amateurish. Some go so far as to say that it is in total disarray. Why?  Many attribute it to the cadre of idealogues Obama has surrounded himself with, most notably his senior advisor and most trusted aide Valerie Jarrett.  According to Klein "the White House official responsible for "public engagement" has conspicuously failed to engage." Klein goes on to say "I heard this complaint about Jarrett from practically everyone I interviewed for the book--Republicans and Democrats, African-Americans and Jews.  They all blamed Jarrett for keeping the President isolated from those whose good opinions he needed the most."  It is no wonder that Obama does not have a close relationship with any member of Congress.  The truth is that the President is a loner who seems to prefer his own company to that of others.  One has to wonder if Mr. Obama possesses the suitable psychological make-up to be President.

Prior to reading "The Amateur:  Barack Obama in the White House" I read a new book by Bill Lane called "Losing It:  Behaviors and Mindsets that Ruin Careers".  Lane was the head speechwriter for Jack Welch when he was the CEO of General Electric.  In the book Lane points out a host of character flaws and mindsets that if left unchecked can torpedo promising careers.  Frankly, I could not help but think that many of these personality flaws--arrogance, a lack of preparation, wishful thinking, incuriosity and landing a big job for which you may not be qualified are latent in our current President. For many Americans it is frightening to contemplate that such an unqualified individual could ever become our President and commander-in-chief. For conservatives like myself Edward Klein is merely preaching to the choir. But if you are an independent voter I urge you to do your homework and read a few books about the candidates and the important issues facing our nation before the upcoming election. By all means, one of those books should be "The Amateur:  Barack Obama in the White House". You will discover lots of pertinent information you just won't find in the mainstream media.  This is an engaging and well-written book that those in the White House sincerely hope you will not read.  Very highly recommended!

]]>
http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/d/UserReview-The_Amateur_Barack_Obama_in_the_White_House-538-1824468-224418-Barack_Obama_lacks_the_temperament_management.html http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/d/UserReview-The_Amateur_Barack_Obama_in_the_White_House-538-1824468-224418-Barack_Obama_lacks_the_temperament_management.html Mon, 28 May 2012 21:37:28 +0000
<![CDATA[ Free or Reduced Health Care Costs in Exchange for Debt Forgiveness]]> patients who earn under $98T in income. The facility has a mortgage to pay off and in exchange for
mortgage forgiveness, free or reduced cost medical care is given to local patients. The program has
worked well the 66 years of its existence.

In medical schools, students and faculty provide the medical care. Rosters of local patients are
registered for care. The medical diagnosis and care are rendered. Then, the facility receives a
proportionate share of mortgage forgiveness based upon the level of care given locally. The program
applies to medical and dental schools, as well as local neighborhood clinics and some nursing homes.

Particulars may be found here.
http://www.hrsa.gov/gethealthcare/affordable...lburton/facilities.html

What services are covered under the Hill-Burton program?
Each facility chooses which services it will provide at no or reduced cost. The covered services are specified in a notice which is published by the facility and also in a notice provided to all persons seeking services in the facility. Services fully covered by a third-party insurance or a government program (e.g., Medicare and Medicaid) are not eligible for Hill-Burton coverage. However, Hill-Burton may cover services not covered by the government programs.

  1. Where can I get Hill-Burton free or reduced cost care?
    Hill-Burton obligated facilities are obligated to provide a certain amount of free or reduced-cost health care each year. Obligated facilities may be hospitals, nursing homes, clinics or other types of health care facilities. See the Hill-Burton Obligated Facilities List to find a Hill-Burton obligated facility in your State. You may apply for free or reduced-cost care before or after they are provided at the Admissions Office, Business Office or Patient Accounts Office at the obligated facility.
     
  2. Who can receive free or reduced cost care through the Hill-Burton program?
    Eligibility for Hill-Burton free or reduced cost care is based on a person's family size and income. Income is calculated based on your actual income for the last 12 months or your last 3 month's income times 4, whichever is less. You may qualify if your income falls within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services poverty guidelines or, at some facilities, if your income is as much as twice (or triple for nursing home services) the poverty guidelines. For complete information on the Hill-Burton program, including the list of facilities obligated to provide it and a link to the poverty guidelines, please see the Hill-Burton Web site.
     
  3. What does "income" include?
    Gross income (before taxes), interest/dividends earned, and child support payments are examples of income. Assets, food stamps, gifts, loans or one-time insurance payments are examples of items not included as income when considering eligibility. For self-employed people, income is determined after deductions for business expenses. For more specific information, see the revised poverty guidelines.
     
  4. When can I apply for Hill-Burton assistance?
    You may apply for Hill-Burton assistance at any time, before or after you receive care. You may even apply after a bill has been sent to a collection agency. If a hospital obtains a court judgment before you applied for Hill-Burton assistance, the solution must be worked out within the judicial system. However, if you applied for Hill-Burton before a judgment was rendered and are found eligible, you will receive Hill-Burton even if a judgment was rendered while you were waiting for a response to your application.
     
  5. Is United States citizenship required for Hill-Burton eligibility?
    No. However, in order for a person to have a Hill-Burton eligibility determination made, one must have lived in the U.S. for at least 3 months.
     
  6. Can I apply for Hill-Burton assistance on behalf of an uninsured relative or friend?
    Yes. You can apply for Hill-Burton assistance on behalf of any patient for whom you can provide the information required to establish eligibility, (i.e., you must be able to provide information regarding the patient's family size and income.)
     
  7. Do I have to wait until I am sick before I can apply for Hill-Burton assistance?
    Hill-Burton is not health insurance. In order to apply for Hill-Burton assistance you must have already received services or know that you will require a specific service in the near future.
]]>
http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/d/UserReview-The_Hill_Burton_Act-538-1812462-222936-Free_or_Reduced_Health_Care_Costs_in_Exchange_for.html http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/d/UserReview-The_Hill_Burton_Act-538-1812462-222936-Free_or_Reduced_Health_Care_Costs_in_Exchange_for.html Thu, 26 Apr 2012 13:24:03 +0000
<![CDATA[ A prophetic commentary from 47 years ago.]]>

I heard this 1965 essay from the legendary ABC radio commentator Paul Harvey for the first time just a few weeks ago. It is shocking! Sounds just like the society we are living in today. It sure makes me realize just how far this country has fallen in the past half century.  Be you liberal or conservative I urge you to give it a listen.  It is less than three minutes long.  Let me know what you think.  As far as I am concerned Mr. Harvey was right on target.   Very highly recommended!]]>
http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/d/UserReview-If_I_Were_The_Devil-538-1810462-222668-A_prophetic_commentary_from_47_years_ago_.html http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/d/UserReview-If_I_Were_The_Devil-538-1810462-222668-A_prophetic_commentary_from_47_years_ago_.html Sun, 15 Apr 2012 12:50:55 +0000
<![CDATA[ The intense ideological battle for the heart and soul of America is really nothing new...]]>
I think that it is fair to say that most Americans have only a passing knowledge of the writings of philosophers such as Plato, Thomas More, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Charles de Montesquieu and Alexis de Toqueville. Some would attribute this to the "dumbing down of America" that has been inexorably taking place in our schools over the past half-century or so. But the truth is that all of these individuals as well as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels have exerted a great deal of influence over American political thought in the 235 years of our nation's existence. Plato, More, Hobbes and of course Karl Max all come down on the side of "collectivist" or "utopian" states whereby individuals must necessarily become subservient to the interests of the state. In such an environment individuals "must be managed and suppressed by masterminds for the greater good." There is no tolerance for individual self-interest or even self-preservation. A person's labor and property belong to the state or are controlled by the state. Citing lengthy excerpts from the extensive writings of each of these individuals, Levin points out the obvious flaws in this line of thinking. Mr. Levin succeeds in arming his readers with the ammunition they will need to refute the arguments offered by the leftists and statists in this country on a wide variety of issues like universal health care, the progressive income tax and an ever-expanding and intrusive federal government. To paraphrase an old boxing expression "in this corner" we have the Barack Obama's, Nancy Pelosi's, Lincoln Chafee's and Chuck Schumer's of the world.

Part Two of "Ameritopia" hones in on the writings of John Locke, Charles de Montesquieu, and Alexis de Toqueville who all champion a much smaller, less intrusive government. John Locke in particular had an enormous influence on our Founding Fathers as they went about the rough and tumble business of fashioning the Constitution. It is an indisputable fact that for most of the history of the world mankind has been ruled by despots and repressive governments. The Founding Fathers wanted something much different. John Locke wrote that "laws made by men and governments without the consent of the government are illegitimate and no man is bound to them." Regarding personal property rights Locke explained that there is always going to be an unequal distribution of property resulting from the manner in which a man applies his labor. This is just plain common sense. "As much land as a man tills, plants, improves, cultivates and can use the product of, so much is his property. He by his labor does, as it were, enclose it from the common. He gave it to the use of the industrious and rational; not to the fancy or covetousness of the quarrelsome and contentious." Amen! Meanwhile, another major influence on the thinking of the Founding Fathers was the French philosopher Charles de Montesquieu. Montesquieu warned of "the dangers of a republican government attempting to transform a civil society--including superceding the effects of religion, family, commerce, traditions, customs, mores etc. through legal coercion." Sounds like a page from the Saul Alinsky handbook does it not? Finally, Montesquieu goes on to observe that "There are two sorts of tyranny: a real one, which consists of the violence of the government, and one of opinion, which is felt when those who govern establish things that run counter to a nation's way of thinking." Many of us would argue that this is precisely what has been going on for the past three years.

In the final section of "Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America" Mark Levin explains how the statists have advanced their agenda over the past eight decades and why the 2012 elections stand as a watershed in American history. The choices we face have never been more clear. If you are one of those people still sitting on the fence I urge you to read "Ameritopia". Meanwhile, if you are someone who is largely in agreement with the principles espoused by our Founding Fathers I would wholeheartedly encourage you to pick up a copy of "Ameritopia" as well. Mark Levin's compelling book will help to crystallize the arguments in your mind as your attempt to educate your friends, relatives and neighbors in the coming months leading up to the election. Kudos to Mark Levin for an extremely well thought-out and well-executed project. Very highly recommended!]]>
http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/d/UserReview-Ameritopia_The_Unmaking_of_America-538-1788678-222510-The_intense_ideological_battle_for_the_heart_and.html http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/d/UserReview-Ameritopia_The_Unmaking_of_America-538-1788678-222510-The_intense_ideological_battle_for_the_heart_and.html Mon, 9 Apr 2012 08:28:35 +0000
<![CDATA[ Learn the Historical Roots of the Tea Party Movement]]> COVENANT OF LIBERTY, Michael Patrick Leahy takes the reader on a journey through history looking at the movement. As he writes in the introduction, "If we remain faithful to our inheritance and carry forward the core values of the Tea Party movement with authentic grassroots intensity over the next generation, the future of our country is bright indeed. Based on my personal experiences over the last three years, I have no reason to doubt that we will succeed in this effort, and that our posterity will be able to say of us, They restored the covenant of liberty."(Page 5)

The information in this book is well documented and the writing is solid. If you want to know where the Tea Party came from, then you need this book.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/book/UserReview-Covenant_of_Liberty_The_Ideological_Origins_of_the_Tea_Party_Movement-538-1804643-222095-Learn_the_Historical_Roots_of_the_Tea_Party.html http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/book/UserReview-Covenant_of_Liberty_The_Ideological_Origins_of_the_Tea_Party_Movement-538-1804643-222095-Learn_the_Historical_Roots_of_the_Tea_Party.html Tue, 20 Mar 2012 15:13:19 +0000
<![CDATA[ "... talented people actually like to be asked to do something very, very difficult" (Mitt Romney)]]>  

From early 1999- March 2002 Willard Mitt Romney (born 1947 in Michigan) was Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) for the 2002 Winter Olympics. In the fall of 2008 SLOC was in big trouble. Federal indictments might come down at any minute against both two former officials and against the ongoing Comittee itself for dubious actions to persuade overseas Olympics officials to vote for Salt Lake City to host the games. A friend of Mitt's asked Mitt's wife Ann to help talk him into stepping in to save Salt Lake City's bacon. 

 

Ann, married in 1969, mother of their five sons and suffering severely from Multiple Sclerosis (MS), knew her man. Mitt came around to turnaround. As Ann Romney later  told the Boston GLOBE, her husband tackled only big messes: "He loves emergencies and catastrophes" (TURNAROUND Ch. 3 "Strategic Audit"). Or as Mitt himself said: " "... talented people actually like to be asked to do something very, very difficult" (TURNAROUND Ch. 5).

By 1998 Mitt Romney had made himself fairly well known inside the Massachusetts where he had studied at Harvard, lived and worked for three decades -- not as arcane financial turnaround wizard, but as Republican candidate for the US Senate in 1994, soundly squashed by incumbent Ted Kennedy. He knew that he would lose, but expected to make citizens think about alternative principles of governing. He confessed that he failed, for Ted Kennedy's campaign brilliantly put him on the defensive as Mormon, money-maker and more. No time for big issues debating.

 

A half-hearted Mormon through high school, Mitt Romney grew passionately convinced as missionary for two years in France and later bishop-equivalent for Boston). In 1998 Mitt Romney was not a household word even in Mormon-dominated Salt Lake City that ancestors of his had pioneered. He had fortuitously, just built a nearby ski lodge for his family and lived there during the run-up to the Olympics.

But Salt Lake City was to launch Mitt Romney as a figure of US national prominence and also as a man known worldwide to sports lovers and to the leaders of the international Olympic Games movement. It is striking that "the turnaround kid" flew three days after the Winter Games closed back to Boston to mount his successful run for Governor of Massachusetts. Four years later, February 2007, he launched his first run for President, losing the Republican Party nomination to Senator John McCain. 

 

Throughout his 1994 Senatorial campaign against Kennedy, during his turnaround of the 2002 Winter Olympics, his governorship and in his first run for President, Mitt Romney applied (or against Kennedy and McCain failed to apply, to his detriment) again and again the methodology for success that he had first learned earning law and business degrees at Harvard. The five hundred data-driven "cases" that Romney studied at Harvard Business School fitted right in with a new international consulting firm Bain & Company, founded by dynamic young BIll Bain.

In 1977, aged 30, Romney joined Bain & Company. Romney internalized "the Bain Way" of immersing a team of consultants inside a company both during and after "Strategic Auditing" of problems. Some of the team would then stay on after reports had been written to assure a successful turnaround. 

 

All this and more appears in TURNAROUND: CRISIS, LEADERSHIP, AND THE OLYMPIC GAMES by Mitt Romney with Timothy Robinson. The dustcover of the original 2004 edition describes Romney, accurately, as the sitting Governor of Massachusetts. Reissued in 2007, to coincide with his run for President, TURNAROUND's author was no longer Governor of Massachusetts. But he remained the Turnaround Kid. He was the man who could convert red ink into black ink -- losses into profits.

 

Mitt Romney without doubt turned around the 2002 Winter Olympics. From an anticipated deficit the SLOC ended with a $56 million surplus. He had applied the ideas and practices of mentor Bill Bain:

 

-- (1) Form a team of very bright people;

 

-- (2) Give that team the vision of where they are going ("serving people" in the Olympics, for instance);

 

-- (3) Use the Vision to make the team co-operative, united, not backbiting and self-seeking;

 

-- (4) Do a Strategic Audit of the organization spewing red ink;

-- (5) Focus on important things, not trivia -- don't, for example, waste time trying to improve a strong team member's weaknesses, find someone else strong where he/she is weak;

 

-- (5) Turn the client organization around into profitablilty.

 

As a certified "Bainiac," Romney had proven himself in his two decades in business as risk-averse, reality-rooted and determined to succeed. As CEO of SLOC and a co-author of the 2002 Olympics, Mitt Romney demonstrated skills that arguably qualified him to be first a State Governor, then a National President, especially of a nation spewing red ink.

 

-OOO-


 

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http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/d/UserReview-Mitt_Romney_TURNAROUND_CRISIS_LEADERSHIP_AND_THE_OLYMPIC_GAMES-538-1804650-222064-_talented_people_actually_like_to_be_asked_to.html http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/d/UserReview-Mitt_Romney_TURNAROUND_CRISIS_LEADERSHIP_AND_THE_OLYMPIC_GAMES-538-1804650-222064-_talented_people_actually_like_to_be_asked_to.html Mon, 19 Mar 2012 12:59:58 +0000
<![CDATA[Kony 2012 Quick Tip by devora]]> http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/d/UserReview-Kony_2012-13-1804647-222043.html http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/d/UserReview-Kony_2012-13-1804647-222043.html Sat, 17 Mar 2012 22:26:24 +0000 <![CDATA[ "Smart -- or dumb -- is forever"]]> I am curious to know when and why lawyer, radio talk show host and blogger Hugh Hewitt decided to write A MORMON IN THE WHITE HOUSE? 10 THINGS EVERY AMERICAN SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MITT ROMNEY (2007).

 

Hewitt's base is California. Romney's for three decades had been Massachusetts.  On February 13, 2007 Romney officially announced his run for U.S. President as a candidate within the Republican party. He had stopped being Governor of that state for only two months when Hewitt's book was published in March 2007.

 

Hewitt clearly believed in early 2007 that Willard Mitt Romney was far better qualified to win the Republican nomination than GIuliani or McCain. Hewitt would not have expected Romney to drop out of the race -- as he did on February 7, 2008 --  and declare for McCain. Being a Mormon was, according to Hewitt, Romney's biggest handicap and it should not have been.

 

For under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution a religious test for Federal office is impermissible. And thoroughly unorthodox Presidents have included Freemason George Washington, agnostic Thomas Jefferson and never baptized Abraham Lincoln. One by one Hewitt strikes down objections to "a Mormon in the White House."

 

What qualified Romney to become President in January 2009, according to Hugh Hewitt, was a combination of generations of Mormon family grit, love of challenges and determination, a morally blameless personal and family life (ailing wife, five telegenic sons), personal drive and the "case study" education behind his Harvard joint doctorate in law and business. Added to that were Romney's apprentice and managerial years at metro Boston's global management firm Bain and Company and later his founding and ownership of related Bain Capital, which not only turned ailing companies around but bought into them and later sold at huge profits for Romney personally and for his colleagues.

 

Romney explicitly used "the Bain way" when he salvaged the 2002 winter olympic games in Salt Lake City. By then he and his wife were determined that there was more to life than piling up money. Mitt would follow his father, governor of Michigan and Presidential candidate, into a life of at least a few years of public service. The "Bain way" had as elements sending a team of bright, rising "Bainiacs" to spend months at a company, feeling for its problems, gathering data, making recommendations and hanging around to make sure suggestions were implemented.

The Bain Way was in evidence when Romney was governor of the Bay State. Romney is the Bain Way and, in the eyes of author Hugh Hewitt, there is no better way for an American President to be President.

 

Hewitt rightly flags Mitt Romney's book, TURNAROUND, as a case study in Romney's own words as to how he and a dedicated "gold medal" team saved the 2002 winter Olympic games after initial mismanagement corruption by others and in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on Washington, D.C. and Manhattan. As Romney wrote in TURNAROUND:

 

Bain and Company consultants ... "begin by hiring the right people."

 

"'I like smart people. Bill Bain, my old boss, used to joke that most things can be fixed but smart -- or dumb  -- is forever." (Ch. 2)

 

In TURNAROUND Romney wonders how it is that one great leader can turn around ailing companies with 10,000 or more employees. Romney did not become President on his first run in 2007-2008. Should he triumph in 2012, readers can expect to see a White House redecorated in "the Bain Way."

 

-OOO-

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http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/book/UserReview-A_Mormon_in_the_White_House_10_Things_Every_American_Should_Know_about_Mitt_Romney-538-1583445-221935-_Smart_or_dumb_is_forever_.html http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/book/UserReview-A_Mormon_in_the_White_House_10_Things_Every_American_Should_Know_about_Mitt_Romney-538-1583445-221935-_Smart_or_dumb_is_forever_.html Tue, 13 Mar 2012 10:51:53 +0000
<![CDATA[James Carville and Paul Begala vs. Ari Fleischer on understanding the Republican Party Quick Tip by MichaelN]]> http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/person/UserReview-James_Carville_and_Paul_Begala_vs_Ari_Fleischer_on_understanding_the_Republican_Party-538-1796595-219562.html http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/person/UserReview-James_Carville_and_Paul_Begala_vs_Ari_Fleischer_on_understanding_the_Republican_Party-538-1796595-219562.html Wed, 25 Jan 2012 12:53:27 +0000 <![CDATA[Barack Obama Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/politician/UserReview-Barack_Obama-77-1010013-219365.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/politician/UserReview-Barack_Obama-77-1010013-219365.html Fri, 13 Jan 2012 01:56:39 +0000 <![CDATA[Rick Perry Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> http://www.lunch.com/whatcanisay/reviews/d/UserReview-Rick_Perry-232-1490151-219364.html http://www.lunch.com/whatcanisay/reviews/d/UserReview-Rick_Perry-232-1490151-219364.html Fri, 13 Jan 2012 01:49:36 +0000 <![CDATA[ Bill is the New George Carlin!]]>
Bill is very strong on saying that anyone not believing in climate change is living a fantasy, that the conservative Republican pundits have repeated certain untrue messages over and over that they are now accepted as being true (especially with things invovlving universal healthcare).

Though Bill is a comedian, he seems to be one of the few "liberal" voices that backs up what he says with cogent arguments (unlike the zannies at MSNBC). Nobody is immune to his ironic barbs including Democrats, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Though the bulk of his complaints are against the most conservative Republicans and pundits like Hannity and Limbaugh.

Bill has a funny preface which he even attacks the reader for being silly for reading the book's preface. In it he also states that this book is the second of a trilogy so another one will be coming in a few years (he needs time to build up more material).

If you can put all political predjudices aside and just read the book you will find it hilarious. I know I have seen several of the most Conservative of guests (Ann Coulter, Dan Issa ) laughing out loud at his New Rules segment on his HBO Real Time show.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/d/UserReview-The_New_New_Rules_A_Funny_Look_at_How_Everybody_But_Me_Has_Their_Head_Up_Their_Ass-538-1789941-216536-Bill_is_the_New_George_Carlin_.html http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/d/UserReview-The_New_New_Rules_A_Funny_Look_at_How_Everybody_But_Me_Has_Their_Head_Up_Their_Ass-538-1789941-216536-Bill_is_the_New_George_Carlin_.html Wed, 21 Dec 2011 21:44:40 +0000
<![CDATA[Marijuana Legalization Quick Tip by woopak_the_thrill]]>
If it does get legalized, I hope the restrictions and guidelines don't get as annoying as with cigarettes. SF had gotten very silly with some ordinances, that smokers have begun to lose some of  their civil liberties.

]]>
http://www.lunch.com/whatcanisay/reviews/d/UserReview-Marijuana_Legalization-232-1452234-216259.html http://www.lunch.com/whatcanisay/reviews/d/UserReview-Marijuana_Legalization-232-1452234-216259.html Sun, 11 Dec 2011 22:12:04 +0000
<![CDATA[ why can't people learn how to drive when they are on the road.]]> angry.so when you are out on the road just remember to go about you're buisness and ignore all those people who are also going about their buisness.]]> http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/activity/UserReview-Driving-538-1461650-215465-why_can_t_people_learn_how_to_drive_when_they_are.html http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/activity/UserReview-Driving-538-1461650-215465-why_can_t_people_learn_how_to_drive_when_they_are.html Fri, 18 Nov 2011 18:19:09 +0000 <![CDATA[ Dealing Forthrightly With Inequities]]> The Occupation of Wall Street, Zuccotti Park and burgeoning movements across the USA and abroad have a singular aim, which is to achieve a more equitable distribution of wealth to the lower and middle classes. More than a half million dollars in cash, clothing, food and other donations have come to the protesters in Lower Manhattan. Even some elected officials have come to the aid of the protesters. Sub-groups of protesters have emerged all over the United States.

When the occupation first evolved in Zuccotti Park on or about the night of Sept. 17, only a few hearty souls spent the night. At this point over 200 people including students, union members and other interested parties have joined the occupation.

The focal point of the movement is summed up as follows: “We are the 99 percent.” Ostensibly, the other one percent are the holders of most of the wealth in the United States. Over the past decades, more money has been flowing to the corporate top echelon as CEO and senior staff average salaries have ballooned from 40 times the entry level salary to 400 times and growing.

And so, the challenge is to deal with this aspect forthrightly. Only the boards of directors, professional human resource entities within corporate organizations and trade associations have the power, discretion and authority to adjust compensation more equitably throughout the respective member organizations. This is not something that any governmental unit can mandate except through moral suasion and perhaps changes to the tax code.

A number of corporate organizations have made successful changes in the equitable distribution of profits, among them Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream and Avis. From the outset, Ben and Jerry's set the executive salary structure at a very reasonable level. Avis changed ownership multiple times in the seventies and eighties, becoming employee-owned in 1987.

President Roosevelt was able to limit executive compensation successfully by ultimately taxing exorbitant salaries at a much higher rate. The basic threshold was over $25,000, or equivalently, $350,000 or so in today's inflated dollar. After $25,000, salary increments were taxed at 90 percent or more. These resources were used to pay down the national debt, which ballooned after the conclusion of World War II, which followed the Great Depression. In the days of the Great Depression, corporate organizations increasingly found other forms of non-cash compensation such as stock options to reward the top corporate executives and alleviate cash flow problems.

A mainstay of the protest is that the organizational structure is organic or non-hierarchical which may limit the effectiveness of the struggle. The participants have yet to formulate a clear vision with specific goals and conditions precedent to ending the occupation or translating the movement into a political force like The Tea Party movement and others.

The Civil Rights movement was a proactive movement of people with an important mission to advance civil rights throughout the United States and even beyond. The factor which coalesced the movement was a mission and assertive leadership at the top of the organization.

Another important dynamic in satisfying the quality of life issues that plague the Wall Street protesters is bringing unemployment and underemployment to much lower levels. The extreme automation, downsizing and computerization of American industry have replaced people with machines at an increasing rate. However, the United States inevitably will experience a labor shortage as the baby boom generation retires this decade and thereafter.

At bottom, the United States needs to export more goods and services, as well as nourish the growth of new industries and processes such as solar and wind energy, the artificial sun, whole/organic foods production and distribution, electric and natural gas vehicles, the electronic grid, small business, patenting, home remodeling, municipal transport systems and the whole infrastructure area in general.

The small family farm has been dying for decades. This cottage industry needs to reformulate and grow. This act alone would serve to bring down unemployment, underemployment and food prices, which have been on the rise. 

Credits: First Published on Blogcritics]]>
http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/d/UserReview-Occupy_Wall_Street-538-1770967-215129-Dealing_Forthrightly_With_Inequities.html http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/d/UserReview-Occupy_Wall_Street-538-1770967-215129-Dealing_Forthrightly_With_Inequities.html Tue, 8 Nov 2011 03:56:48 +0000
<![CDATA[ The Best History Book I Have Read In About Five Years!]]>
I could barely believe how Lee's soldiers could have fought so fiercely with no food or sleep for days, while marching over a great distance. Some of the fights included men fighting like wild animals, using teeth and anything else.

The grandeur of Lee's actual surrender is utterly amazing. Now for the conspiracy. It is told in such a way that all the way up until Booth fires the fatal shot, you are hoping that he will change his mind. The level of detail about that April 14th is so amazing that the authors had to sift through an incredible amount of research and then sort it chronolgically. Amazing!

For real history buffs there are reprints of the Harper's Bazaar articles about the assasination and the hunt for Booth and the others.

Had I had a book like this in College, I probably would have taken a lot more history. The people that write those droll history textbooks should take a lesson from this book!]]>
http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/book/UserReview-Killing_Lincoln_The_Shocking_Assassination_that_Changed_America_Forever-538-1769710-214744-The_Best_History_Book_I_Have_Read_In_About_Five.html http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/book/UserReview-Killing_Lincoln_The_Shocking_Assassination_that_Changed_America_Forever-538-1769710-214744-The_Best_History_Book_I_Have_Read_In_About_Five.html Sat, 29 Oct 2011 12:33:36 +0000
<![CDATA[ A principled conservative leader reflects on the past two tumultuous years.]]> Jim DeMint of South Carolina was elected to the United States Senate in 2004 he hardly expected to become a household name.  After all, DeMint had represented South Carolina's 4th Congressional District for three terms and most Americans had never heard of him to that point.  But Jim DeMint was a committed conservative who was extremely unhappy with the direction the country was heading in. To him it didn't seem to matter whether it was Democrats or Republicans in charge.  The federal government continued to grow at an alarming rate.  While in the House of Representatives DeMint had opposed two of President George W. Bush's major first-term initiatives which were the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001 and The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act in 2003.  Furthermore,  he was unhappy with the way President Bush was handling the war in Iraq and was steadfastly opposed to the whole notion of earmarks.  He decided he would run for the U.S. Senate in 2004 and was determined to fight for fiscal sanity in Washington if elected.   When Senator Jim DeMint took his oath of office in January 2005 he had no idea that one day soon he would become the spokesman for a cause and one of the leaders of a movement.  "The Great American Awakening:  Two Years That Changed America, Washington, and Me" chronicles the raucous first two years of the Obama administration when it became crystal clear to Jim DeMint and millions of average Americans that radical changes were needed to alter the way Washington was doing business.  

If Jim DeMint was unhappy with the direction that George W. Bush had been taking this country he was positively outraged by the approach taken by President Barack Obama and the Democrats in early 2009.  Mr. Obama was spending money like a drunken sailor, bypassing Congress with both a series of executive orders and  the appointment of so-called "czars" who were not subject to Congressional oversight.  This was not the "change" most Americans had been looking for.  Jim DeMint assumed that the Republicans in the Senate would fight the President tooth and nail on many of these important issues.  He would be sadly mistaken and discovered that far too many of his colleagues were much more inclined to "go along to get along" than to stand up for conservative principles.  And so he decided to take matters into his own hands and formed the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF), a political action committee that is "dedicated to electing strong conservatives to the United States Senate" in the spring of 2009.  The first candidate endorsed by SCF was Pat Toomey who was challenging the incumbant Republican Senator Arlen Spector in Pennsylvania.   

It was at about this time that a new grassroots conservative movement known as the Tea Party was beginning to emerge all across America.  Members of the Tea Party were hardly the wild-eyed radicals they were being portrayed as in the mainstream media.  Rather, they were the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker who owned and operated small businesses.  They were also hard-working Americans who went to work each and every day, paid taxes and obeyed the law.  These folks were genuinely frightened by the direction President Obama and the leaders in Congress were headed in.  The Tea Party stood for fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets.  They also want existing immigration laws enforced and strongly opposed Obamacare.  Despite the public outcry the Obama administration pressed ahead with its radical agenda.  During the summer of 2009 Tea Party members would make their displeasure known at town hall meetings in cities and towns from Maine to California and from Florida to Alaska.  The Tea Party was not going away and Senator Jim DeMint counted himself among its most ardent supporters.  He was asked to speak at several of their rallies and was all too happy to accept.
 
The rise of the Tea Party dovetailed quite nicely with Jim Demint's Senate Conservative's Fund.  Enthusiasm for the cause was building and several more articulate and highly-qualified conservative candidates would come forward to compete for seats in the United States Senate.  Jim DeMint would put principle ahead of party and lend a hand to all of them.  He was viewed by leadership as something of a pariah and his determination to support true conservatives would place a strain on his relationship with several of his Republican colleagues.  No matter.  Jim DeMint firmly believed he was doing the right thing and the election results in 2010 would seem to bear that out.  "The Great American Awakening: Two Years That Changed America, Washington, and Me" is a great way to look back at these two turbulent years in American politics. Jim DeMint offers interesting perspectives on what has gone down so far and what is likely to take place in 2012. It sure isn't boring.  Highly recommended!]]>
http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/d/UserReview-The_Great_American_Awakening_Two_Years_That_Changed_America_Washington_and_Me-538-1772137-214462-A_principled_conservative_leader_reflects_on_the.html http://www.lunch.com/Politics_Your_Way/reviews/d/UserReview-The_Great_American_Awakening_Two_Years_That_Changed_America_Washington_and_Me-538-1772137-214462-A_principled_conservative_leader_reflects_on_the.html Fri, 21 Oct 2011 21:57:05 +0000