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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday Morning News and Views part V

Can we restore civility to government? Former Republican Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming has joined a chorus of legislators crying to the politics of a constant election cycle and patrician polarization to end. Senators, Congressmen, and legislators at state and local levels, need to talk with each other and compromise if they are to govern. Despite the anger and polarized perceived electorate this election cycle, most Americans know that we need to work together to get things done and in effect govern. NPR's All Things Considered met with two legislators calling for a pledge letter to move toward civility and work together. Among the reasons given for the current state of affairs are cable news, the 24/7 news cycle, the entry of large dollars into campaigns and, perhaps the most important, a work load that keeps legislators from simply talking with each other.

Sharon Angle's pastor preaches against Harry Reid, who as a Mormon is aligned with an anti-Christ of sorts, a sect instead of a true faith. Yet her supporters include a large Mormon contingent, key to the Tea Party and "anybody but Reid" movement.

The Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) is also the faith of Glen Beck, who it seems has taken a much stronger and more militant take on a relatively obscure church teaching. Beck is fond of using "the constitution is hanging by a thread" as a rallying cry. It turns out that comes from LDS prophecies.  NPR also featured a story on the "White Horse Prophecy" where the church steps in to restore civility and structure to government.

(source of illustration: http://chamberofsecrets89.wordpress.com/2008/01/22/controlling-anger-before-it-controls-you/)

Sunday Morning News and Views Part IV

Thursday evening Harry Reid and Sharon Angle will take part in a statewide broadcast debate. In preparation for the debate Sharon Angle has backtracked on her previously broadcast and recorded campaign "promises", among other things saying she does not favor privatization of the Veterans Administration. Despite her now public attack on the Republican party, she is now using Carl Rove and other strategist lines and strategies.,

David Axelrod and Ed Gillespie were the guests on Face the Nation. Gillespie is a major Republican strategist. Axelrod was a key member of Obama's campaign staff in 2008, and is now a senior advisor to the president.


Does administration favor a national moratorium on foreclosures? Axelrod says that the president vetoed a bill he wanted to sign, because it unintentionally would make it easier to make mistakes. This should move very quickly but accurately before it can do major damage tot he housing market.

The Republicans and the US Chamber of Commerce are spending foreign funds to finance their attacks on Democratic incumbents, including efforts to unseat Harry Reid. However the amount of foreign money may be less than Democrats claim. They say that foreign money does not go into their political fund, but have not opened their books to show that that is the case. Axelrod says the US chamber will spend over fifty million dollars on political campaigns this election, with no disclosure on where their money is actually coming from. Undisclosed donors are using benign names like "American Crossroads Fund" and "Coalition of Senior Citizens".  


The impulse of millions of people who support the Tea Party is one to be respected, say Axelrod, who says that they do need to be aware that candidate they support are also totems for Wall Street and often gain most if not all of their money from special interest that are more concerned with controlling out government than the issues and beliefs of Tea Party followers. The concept that Freshmen can change the world just be being new is also an idealistic one that may or may not work.

Ed Gillespie is the former chairman of the Republican Central Committee. He called Axelrod either woefully misinformed or woefully dishonest, He claims that Carl Rove and he do not run American Crossroads...something that Axelrod did not actually claim in the broadcast but which Gillespie says he did. He says he is not responsible for interested parties, but only his role in the Republican party campaign and polices. He says that Axelrod and the president are abusing power and doing blind attacks.

Glliespie says that Congress needs to debate disclosure of funds and that the court did rule. All politicians can do is operate under the rules and the rules do not require disclosure or immediate disclosure.  Confidentially should be respected. I am for everybody playing by the same rules.

He denied that big business, foreign money or special interest fund campaigns to defeat Democrats. He says it is the Democratic process and the people. All people, regardless of income or position, have a voice in the process and that voice includes their pocketbooks. Despite the relatively low amounts spent by unions, he used the usual Republican stand using "unions'" as an example that special interests have a voice on both sides. He would not comment on questions concerning the large lopsided PAC money flowing behind Republican candidates or directly against Democratic incumbents.

He kept blaming "liberal non-profit" groups without answering questions about the much larger conservative but"benign: even patriotic named special interests and non-disclosed officers or donation source groups.

On the Supreme Court allowed use of corporate and hidden funds without limits...

"These rules are not a threat to Democracy, but to their power" says Gillespie, who says it is up to the American people and the congress how campaign financing is regulated. Blind donations of unlimited amounts is legal and can be used by the law as it exists today.

Gillespie's take on the Tea Party is that "they have been a little disruptive in the primary process...leading to 'some' unconventional candidates". This is the first time since FDR that Republicans have outpaced Democrats in the primaries. Growing pains are better than shrinking pains,

I have a lot of respect for Sarah Palin, and think she would be a force in the primaries if she choose to run. The questions is can you go beyond you original base of support and build on it enough to win?

Bankrupting America.org is another group of special interests advertising heavily in Nevada and nation wide. While this group also does not disclose its funding sources,

 

A reminder that it is good to disagree, healthy to debate and productive to have well reasoned educated responses.

This blog is not meant to be truth or fact for on high, but opinion, intermixed with news and information. The purpose it spark discussion, investigation of all sides of an issue, research and positive civic responsibility and values.

I am openly a Democrat, unionist, identifying with lower middle class to poor, pro-education, with a strong belief in the potential of every individual and of our society.

So...with that in mind...

Stacking the races:

Republican endorsements for Harry Reid:

Former Republican First Lady Dema Guinn (seen with here husband Republican Governor Kenny Guinn above)
Republican First Lady and State legislator Dawn Gibbons
Republican State Senator and leader Bill Raggio
Republican Advisor, Ronald Reagan campaign advisor and Ambassador Sig Rogich
All are "local Nevada endorsements."

Democratic endorsements for Sharon Angle: Zero.

Angles solid endorsements: national conservative talk hosts and personalities instead of those who know and understand Nevada.

Angle continues to focus on national media and conservative media in Nevada, while avoiding local reporters at all levels within the state.

Reid talks to all levels of media, including highly antagonistic FOX News and local as well as national conservative talk radio.

Angle's platform consists mostly of tearing down while Reid talks about building and shares plans.

Angle actually says we have the right to rise up against our own elected government, in other words treason, if they do not like the way Washington is going.

Angles only track record is she is not Reid.

Which is enough for those who are funneling millions into the state from out of state to "sell" Nevada that it would be better off to lose the powerful US Senate Majority leader position, in favor of someone who is ignored by her own party, who promises the self-proclaimed Tea Party Candidate "juice" if he endorses here and who seems to see Reid like power (earned over decades) just by sitting in the Senate chair.

This is the first year where big bucks can be spent without disclosure, foreign money "invested" secretly and corporations can take of their gloves and "invest" in political action committees without their customers knowing they are doing so...where fewer than one in five Americans "trust" Washington politicians, and where the voters do not even try to understand the complex economics that almost sent us into a depression, anything can happen.

Republican economist are saying we did not spend enough in stimulus and government investment in the economy, yet campaigns are saying that Obama and the democrats spent too much. People do not listen to logos. They listen to emotion and their "guts."


Moving on to the Governor's race it is interesting that that Republican Brian Sandival does not feel he needs any platform or plans despite the state's record budget crisis, because his opponent, Democrat Rory Reid overuses the world "plan" and happens to have the seemingly unpopular last name of "Reid". In this case millions of dollars against his father may keep him from the statehouse.

Of course whomever sits in the Governor's Manson faces a "no win" scenario with a population against taxes despite a drastic reduction in tax revenue leading to a major shortfall, with government already trimmed thin to downright anorexic.

People are driven by resentments and anger, and seem to favor candidates who are not qualified to be legislators, in other words who are not politicians.

Of course this cycle we also see campaigns being waged with sound bites, half truths, lies and advertising instead of honest debate, reading, research, debate and discourse,

It's gasoline poured on an open fire that seems to be the force behind the upcoming election, not issues and reason.

Sunday Morning News and Views Part III

Oct 10 1924 film director Ed Wood was born. Widely seen as the worst film makes of all time, his films are a part of America's film iconic history. In 1953 his film debut was "Glen or Gleda" (about transsexualism), and his masterpiece "Plan 9 form Outer Space" premiered in 1958. Plan 9 featured a brief appearance by his friend, fallen film star  Bella Lagosi (best known as Dracula), who passed away during production. Wood died in 1978 at only 54. In 1994 Johnny Depp played Ed Wood, in a film directed by Tim Burton, earning Martin Landau a best supporting actor academy award for his portrayal of Bella Lugosi.

Thursday is the official dedication of the Hoover Dam bypass bridge. Of course it seems redundant after weeks of Hoover/Boulder Dam 75th anniversary celebrations, unofficial "openings" of the bridge and other hype. Remember that the bridge itself is a major engineering marvel, will widen the Mex-Can International highway to 4 traffic lanes (up to total) and will shorten and save money for interstate trucking between Phoenix, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. Meanwhile the lack of construction of a promised "Boulder City bypass" is expected to cause delays exceeding those that have existed due to construction and literally cut Boulder City in half, potentially causing new traffic jams, noise and diesel pollution in the relatively clean El Dorado Valley.

Painted in red and draped with propaganda slogans, Vietnam's capital has turned 1,000 years old in an extravagant ceremony and massive parade. It's meant to stoke nationalism and show the outside world how far the once war-ravaged country has advanced.More than 30,000 people marched in Vietnam's biggest-ever
parade, with goose-stepping soldiers, colorful dancing dragons and 10 military helicopters displaying huge Communist Party and Vietnamese flags.The procession, a third of which was military, started Sunday in the capital's historic Ba Dinh Square where former President Ho Chi Minh declared independence from the French colonialists 65 years ago. Ho's massive granite mausoleum provided the backdrop for the festivities.

North Korea has introduced the heir apparent, Kim Jong-Un, to its people in a massive military parade. The event marked the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Workers party. The parade was televised live, for the first time ever, underlining its importance.

Change the map. The French Antilles no longer exists. Today is it being divided up with two new countries, a few independent city-states and portions becoming provinces of the parent country.

Waffling: Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle is distancing herself from previous statements that she wants to privatize Veterans Affairs, dismantle Social Security or reduce unemployment benefits. Angle spoke to a conservative radio host yesterday before a crowd of supporters in Las Vegas.She claims that statements which were clearly captured on video and audio tape, were twisted and exaggerated by Harry Reid and his organization. She is riding the wave of a record amount of money pouring into the state from third party national interests, geared entirely at unseating US Senator and Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Sunday Morning News and Views part II

It's a scenario many Las Vegas homeowners can readily identify with: Casinos that owe more than their buildings are worth and can no longer afford their debt payments are facing off with lenders who want to recover as much money as possible on ill-timed loans.

The final unemployment report for the quarter has net gain in private sector jobs, but with growing municipal and other government cuts the overall effect was an overall job loss of over 96,000 jobs, and stable national unemployment. This figure is expected to increase as many states, counties and cities are just not hitting the height of their need to "trim" jobs (Wall Street Journal Report wording, not mine).

The Report still talks about tax cuts, which would cause even higher loss of local to national services and infrastructure, but would improve private sector jobs.

Democrats and most Republicans agree that the midterm election will lead to even more "policy paralysis" and a lack of action for the next two or more years, which means we are not going to see significant economic improvement until we have an effective government. The party of "no" has frozen government, and inexperienced regressive legislators who may get elected will have a steep learning curve, with some legitimate argument that their efforts to turn back the clock cannot work in the new world economy.

On thing that is not new, no matter how emotional the or current the bitter battles seem to be, across coffee tables and in restaurants, in classrooms and in bars, on television or on the streets of state capitals. We are a conservative reactionary nation, prone to pull back into out tortoise shell between major world wars or crisis, and retrench. Peal Harbor found the US with almost no military due to a reactionary response to the expense and international nature of the First World War. This country, separated by oceans that no longer represent the "moats" they once did, from the problems of Europe and Asian. We were the great island of Democracy where we could put American first and pretend the rest of the world would go away, or do just fine without us. We would fall back on our concepts of family, church and limited state in times when most people had core families and lived easy horseback distance from the house they were born in.

When faced with stress and major upheaval, the US has always had a swing to the right, to the conservative, the urge to pull the blankets over our heads and feel secure in our immunity to all ill.

Tea Party and reactionary Americans are talking about going back to the intent of the Founding Fathers. That intent is not clear or easy to determine, even if you agree that that is the way to govern. Democracy is a "liberal" or better said "progressive' experiment, a way of breaking away from a top controlled dictatorship, or elite and Royal dictated government which historically worked but not always in the best interest of the future. The Las Vegas Sun puts another light on how, even if we do "go back to the intent of the founding fathers" Americans on both sides of the issues may find they do not like or agree with what they find:

Who’s right and who’s wrong? Well, it comes down to your interpretation of what is and what’s not constitutional, especially your reading of Article I, Section 8 — the part of the Constitution that enumerates the areas of Congress’ authority. The disputable bit of that section is one phrase — the nonspecific grant of authority to Congress “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay for the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States.”

Reid and Angle — and their counterparts in races across the country — aren’t the first to get hung up on what counts as legitimate welfare and defense-providing activities. That debate’s been raging since the days of Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.

It may seem a little academic to dredge up a classic history lesson in the midst of an of-the-moment election, but it doesn’t take much close listening to hear the echoes of the Founding Fathers in the fights taking place. Then, as now, the dispute centered on one key disagreement — what the role of the federal government should be, and how far it ought to dip into states’ purview's and people’s lives.

Sunday Morning News and Views Pt 1

The power of the PACS:

First off, it is illegal for foreign money to be spent on US political campaigns, yet with the Supreme Court opening the floodgates to multi-nationals to invest at will using their "US" assets, and for less than full disclosure of campaign contributions, foreign money is almost certainly flowing in this fall's midterm election. Democrats charge, for example, that the US Chamber of Commerce is using foreign dues money and investments to finance campaigns to unseat incumbents and reverse health care reform (disclosure, I am for health care reform in that for the first time in my life pre-existing conditions cannot be used to deny me insurance or charge me an inflated premium). Oil money from BP and other off-shore companies can now flow, theoretically, undetected into America's political campaign war chests.

When the U.S. Supreme Court this year determined that corporations and unions had the same rights as the rest of us and could contribute copious amounts of money to candidates and political causes, the ruling was applauded by some and greeted by others with prophecies of doom. The Las Vegas Sun has considerably lower dollars reported than national media has reported on the Nevada races, an estimate over $180 million total for Nevada alone. The Las Vegas Sun story today follows a long series of similar reports in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, on NPR and in other media.

From the Las Vegas Sun: Proponents hailed it as an expansion of First Amendment rights. Opponents said it would open a floodgate of special-interest money, further wresting control of the political dialogue from average citizens to the benefit of the powerful. The reality of what that decision has so far wrought — good and bad — is on display in Nevada this campaign season as this new breed of spending — unlimited and much of it anonymous — is pouring in to influence voters who will decide the high-profile race between Republican Sharron Angle and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

According to the Sun Nevada’s Senate race ranks sixth in the nation for outside spending, according to figures from the Center for Responsive Politics, and the highest per capita as Republicans and special interest seek to knock out the Senate Majority Leader, Reid, and a key race in any chance at a house majority for Republican interests, our Third Congressional District (Dina Titus). High media cost and populations have California and New York's US Senate races as the most expensive, with the US Senate race in California near the top of all Congressional races.

The Sun reports the same things that national media focused on over the last ten days, the tremendous amount  of  money spent by a new form of political actors, the Super PACs which can accept unlimited contributions from corporations, labor unions and individuals and can spend that money expressly advocating for a candidate of their choice. Labor unions are limited by their size, membership and various other Federal laws. Private PACS are not, so the decisive advantage lies with Republicans and Republican business interests.

There's growing anger about how the foreclosure process is working. On Friday, Bank of America extended its moratorium on foreclosures to all 50 states as it looks at how it has been repossessing homes. Other lenders have suspended foreclosure activity in 23 states. Some lawmakers are calling for a national moratorium, and state attorneys general are ramping up investigations. What this ultimately adds up to is still unclear.