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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sun endorses Rory Reid for Governor

"Reid’s common-sense plans lay out a clear vision that would spur the economy, help the citizens and move Nevada forward."
www.lasvegassun.comNevada is at a critical juncture in its history, and the next governor will have to guide the state through a budget deficit estimated at up to $3 billion. It will take a clear vision to find ways to balance the budget while preserving services that people are relying on.

This year poltics went back 110 years...making legal what got Nixon in trouble

www.nytimes.comThe fund-raising practices that earned people convictions in Watergate — giving direct corporate money to a campaign and doing so secretly — are back in a different, this time by tossing out 110 years of voter reform and restoring blind big money "investment" in legal form.

Sunday Morning News and Views Part IV

The parties are polarized, as is Washington, but the American people are not a polarized. The Internet and equally polarized 24/7 news channels have influenced the America people to buy into this polarized definition of the norm, instead of voting for moderates who will work together. 35% of Americans are moderate. 60% of grassroots Conservatives call themselves "moderate conservatives". 46% of Democrats consider themselves to be moderates. Yet, on the Republican side at least, the pendulum for candidates has swung not only conservative but in many cases ultra conservative.

What is ahead for the Congress? Will the two sides work together? The reality is that those who cross the aisle on legislation are pillared in their primaries come election time, particularly on the Republican side.

Is this a referendum on America? The president? Or a choice at the local and state level, where it belongs?

Will there be a stagnated non-productive congress for the next two years?

Republicans say it will depend on Obama, that he will move to the center (he is in reality a moderate Democrat not the communist liberal slime he is painted as, so this may mean become conservative).

Democrats point to the Republicans as "the party of no" positioning for this election going back as far as a two years when their candidate did not win the White House.

Sitting senators will campaign against fellow senators, which violates historic Senate decorum. Party politics have ended any decorum or sense of respect that once existed.

A health care bill that was based on Nixon, Reagan and other Republicans and constructed with heavy legislation added by Republicans, is now being called Obama-care and socialism during this election cycle. The bill that came out was a Republican bill now being sold as a "liberal democrat boondoggle."

A stimulus cut short from true compromise between the parties is now being called "failed" and "wasteful" by the very Republicans who voted for it, or who amended it to make it weaker in the first place.

Numbers are being bent on the cost of the stimulus, with tax cuts and projects that were proven to be, if anything, pessimistic used as if they are real dollars when selling the "failure" to the public.

Now more than ever politics have become about deceiving the most people most of the time, with the well funded Republicans proving to be the masters.

What about money and the election? Republicans say that people have the right to give money to whomever they want. They say that there should be no limit on contributions. They say that anyone can give what they want to anyone, even corporations. Republicans deny that foreign money is going into elections, which would be in violation of Federal Law.

Never before has a so called major news source been so patrician and actually offered direct fundraising through free advertising of fundraising campaign web sites in an election cycle (if at all). FOX  has changed news and elections forever.

Speaking of Mark Twain, Sunday Morning News and Views Part III

Mark Twain's autobiography will be published this month by the University of California Press, per his instructions, 100 years after his death. The book is strangely contemporary in its format, feel and reflections, as if he knew what things would be like here in the 21st century. Samuel Clemons spent time in my home town, Oak Park, Illinois, and in Virginia City, Nevada (where he came up with his famous pen name as a writer for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise), before calling northern California home

George Washington was not the man that Tea Party and others seem to think he was. He was wealthy, born into weatlh and married into high society.He was well read and well educated, reading Shakespeare and favoring the bawdy comedy of French authors. He believed in the welfare of his troops, their families and of Americans, no matter how poor or whether or not they were "free men". He saw a grand expansive vision of a government that did look out for its citizens and provide a wide range of services. But he did not consider himself a philosopher or writer. He was numbed as a young officer when he lost over 100 men in a single battle, never again forgetting the power and responsibility of command. He was liberal in his concern for the rights of the enemy, including the treatment of captured soldiers, He did not believe in torture and other "barbaric" tactics. He banned the common practice of "conscription", where soldiers were forcibly taken from civilian life at gunpoint, away from their families without any legal recourse.

This morning Pope Benedict XVI canonized Australia's first saint, Mother Mary MacKillop, who co-founded the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, an order which served the poor in Australia's remote outback regions. Liane Hansen speaks with James Martin, SJ, who, in a recent op-ed in the Catholic weekly, "America," called MacKillop "a saint for our time." Her order of nuns angered church authorities when the sisters reported a case of child sex abuse by a priest. In 1871, MacKillop was briefly excommunicated for insubordination.

This is National Save for Retirement Week. Each year since 2006, Congress has declared the third week of October a time to reflect on retirement saving. But thanks to the bad economy and falling housing prices, most Americans are actually in worse shape for retirement than they were just four years ago.

CAPTCHAS are the distorted word-puzzles that we must often complete to purchase tickets or create an e-mail account. Getting around this "safety" is now big business, because in doing so coveted tickets, discounts, access to posting on information sites and access to mass e-mail or "friend" addresses can be worth large money when resold or put to other use. It turns out CAPTCHA-solving has become outsourced to low-wage foreign workers, and a new paper details the economics behind this underground CAPTCHA trade. While the bad guys still can get in, the reality is that it does reduce the value for investment for many online pirates.

This past week, Google announced that it s becoming a major investor in a huge transmission project designed to bring clean electricity from offshore wind farms to the big cities of the mid-Atlantic. Those wind farms don t yet exist. But Google and Trans-Elect say once the transmission line is built, wind developers will come running. It seems simple enough. But a company that has been trying to build a massive transmission line to connect the windy Great Plains to power-hungry Chicago and points east warns that it will be anything but simple. That Midwestern project has been stuck in a bureaucratic quagmire. And experts warn that since offshore wind is much more expensive and harder to permit-Google and Trans-Elect face even greater hurdles.

Sunday Morning News and Views Part II

"Showbiz is fantasy...you have to make people believe they can be someplace special and a part of something wonderful"

-Liberace

The Liberace Museum's last day of operation is today. See it while you can. It's a symbol of a generation and an icon of show biz history.

Oct 17, 1937 was the day American Science received a huge boost, as physicist Albert Einstein set foot in the US seeking religious and political asylum. Time Magazine's Man of the Century was born in 1879, the German Jewish Scientist was already a two time Nobel Prize winner before his emigration to the US, one for the theory of relativity (E=MC squared). He came to the US after the Nazi take over of Germany, warning President Roosevelt of the Nazi threat and of their atomic bomb program. This led to the US bomb program, and with it the end of the Second World War. In 1940 he became a US citizen, settling in at his beloved home of Princeton. In 1955 at the age of 75, Einstein died. He did not live to see bobble heads, T shirts and just about everything in his image as the almost patron saint of modern science.

Ted Fishman 's, "Shock of Gray" reports on how  the world's population is rapidly aging and reports on the economic and political ramifications. The trend is spread out across the world, with Europe and East Asia facing pressure on their historic respect for the elderly, by a growing number of young people who lack work or perceived future because of older people above them. We have a world where populations are growing older, with the baby boom maturing, and a larger generation coming up who do not see the potential for the future or growth that their parents and grandparents have. The rise of contract workers instead of employees has also had a major impact, with contract workers having an advantage over salary, hourly or unionized workforce, resulting in a decrease in opportunity and wage potential for the majority of the population. Today you can live to be a vital 90 year old or a hobbled, limited, dependent and ill 50 year old. Can we rely on others? Children who traditionally cared for their elderly cannot pay to care for themselves.

In the US a gray movement drives the current Tea Party and Republican backlash against President Obama and his policies, well financed by older conservative industrial, insurance industry and banking interests. From Germany to the streets of Kabul, unemployed young men deal with their angst as even their parents find jobs at risk to even older citizens and to foreign nationals willing to come in and work for low wages. The international marketing focus on youth has led to resentment from the older population, while driving products aimed at empowering them to feel or act younger. Areas of the world from Africa to the Middle East to Asia find bulging youth populations up against the traditions, and for them restrictions, of their elders. With all workers world wide seeking to improve the standard of life for themselves and their families, industry seeks to leave developing countries almost as soon as taking root, migrating from the US to Mexico, to China, to Vietnam to lesser developed nations in search of low paid and compliant work forces.

Social mores, rules, structures are in constant conflict as older citizens compete with youth, seek to maintain their youth and find

Fishman's book takes all these issue and others and boil them down to the conflicts and pressures of an aging population in an world of rapid change.

Sunday Morning News and Views part I

An independent audit of world banking and the trends that led to the Great Recession has concluded that we were on the parapets of a real depression, world wide, and that lost assets in the US are far greater than the governments worst public estimate. Tens of trillions were lost, and if it were not for bailouts (world wide, not just the US) and the stimulus, which it calls too limited instead of the popular false interpretation in the US of "failed" the US and the world would be in a real depression today.

An observation. Have we lost our Christian sense of values? It seems that the current political shift either lives in a fantasy world or that they have deliberately cumulatively decided to put blinders on when it comes to the children, young adults, workers, poor, urban minorities, women in trouble and all those who would suffer if government is drastically reduced. The callas feeling that those who have less, were raped, lack education or are top heavy in this "post" recession someone brought it on themselves. What happened to "the least of my brothers", turn the other cheek and let he who is without sin toss the first stone? The hatred, bitterness, lies, falsehoods, images of Obama as Hitler, swearing at the podium and other behavior of conservatives who have taken over the Republican party in this election is all but the Christian they claim to be. They have embraced the "founding fathers" in their rhetoric, but what would the founding fathers think of them?

The CEO of Ford is in Paris, where he was interviewed by the BBC this morning for "the Business". The gist of the story is that FORD avoided a bailout by a company wide cooperative effort to make short term sacrifices and to shift to a differing type or accounting, both money and manpower. Unions and American workers sacrificed as certain functions were shifted overseas, where FORD was already set up to do the work at lower overhead, with the investment of funds earned put back into retooling and even building new US Plants. Those plants are now online and FORD is back to "normal", not "high" US production. Ford sold foreign assets as part of the deal and to bring their tent into a manageable line of vehicles instead of the broad and less manageable multiple car-line model of the 80's. He is soft spoken and "manager" sounding making theoretical and in effect artificial models and techniques sound real and even motivating.

"It seems for the Republicans winning the election and meeting the interest of their top constituents, those making more than a quarter of a million dollars a year, is more important than the health of the country and the economy"", according to senior economist George Soros."You can be sure that with a Republican Congress regulations we need to maintain our integrity internationally will not be introduced."

Financier and philanthropist George Soros sees the need for us to unite politics with prosperity. He says end the Bush tax cuts. It is a choice, pay our taxes or have things get worse. He strongly favors additional stimulus and the need for the government to do more  and not less, as those campaigning for congress seem to think. He says rhetoric has made us in danger of a major second downturn and recession, or depression. The fist stimulus was short term with short term goals, not sustainably. 70% of the GDP goes to consumption, where as in China that number is less. Now is the time to rebuilt the road system, to have an intelligent electricity grid, to build high speed railroads. He agrees with Obama's plan to end the Bush tax cuts but to reduce the tax burden on the middle class. He says business is having excellent profits, increasing liquidity and eventually to devour each other and to invest overseas, not to create employment.

President Emeritus of the National Bureau of Economic Research at Harvard and former head of the Council of Economic Advisers, economist Martin Feldstein, says the Fed will be buying up debt but he feels that they are investing too much in bad assets, to tune of a trillion dollars. He says the economy is very weak with exports, payroll, housing prices, manufacturing and individual buying power all down. He says that "quantitative easing" will not have a significant effect. We need to tackle the mortgage problem, with on third of homes nationally underwater. Four and a half million homes are in foreclosure or 90 days in the rear. With house prices still coming down, there will be even more of a mortgage and banking crisis. He favors a two year extension on tax cuts but the eventual end of Bush tax cuts on higher income individuals. He would also not commit to a middle class tax cut beyond two years. The value of the dollar will come down to bring us back into balance, even if it means the loss of the dollar as a world currency. He feels the jury is out of politics, as he no longer sees compromise as possible as both parties become polarized in their views and one party continues to block all action. The election will have no impact on this deadlock no matter who wins this fall, in his long term view.