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Book Review: We Can All Do Better by Bill Bradley

Former Senator, New York Knick basketball player, and Olympic athlete Bill Bradley offers his substantial insights into the workings of government and how, by focusing on cooperation and the good of the country instead of party, we can all do better. And by “we” he means all of us – the politicians, the media, and the American people. We are all in this together and only by working together can we find resolutions to all of the challenges that face us here in America.

But accomplishing this won’t be easy. Bradley begins by reminding us that even though politicians all love this country, it is easy for the “members of the club” to become absorbed into the cynicism that dominates Washington DC today. The “duopoly” of the two parties cater to the extremes and the media play along because it is easier – and more profitable – to turn gossip into news than to report honest policy discussions. And the people – you and me – force politicians into playing the game at either end of the spectrum where compromise is seen as treachery, and then turn around and voice our perpetual dissatisfaction because politicians are dancing in the corners in which we have painted them.

Still, Bradley notes that “the sad irony is that many members of the club may be idealists underneath,” and like most Americans living their daily lives, continue to believe in the country’s fundamental health and promise for the future. In the chapter, “Breaking the Logjam,” Bradley offers some concrete proposals to encourage economic growth and job creation in the immediate, the proximate, and the long-term. He dispels some of the common myths (e.g., that the wealthy are “job creators”) and offers solutions that will improve the employment picture now while positioning us to lead the world in the future. His ideas are too numerous to list here, but well worth the time spent reading the book. One quote, though perhaps oversimplified, summarizes his philosophy:

“I cannot emphasize enough the requirement of balance: asking something from everyone. Democrats want the rich to bear the burden; Republicans want primarily the poor to sacrifice. Both political parties champion the middle class and neither asks anything significant of it in this crisis. A true solution cannot give the middle class a pass.”

In short, politicians need to put country ahead of re-election. They need to be honest with us as citizens. And we need to be honest with them – and with ourselves.

In “Celebrating Selflessness,” Bradley provides the most emotionally inspirational chapter of the book. In it he relates stories that contradict the assumption by both parties that human beings are basically selfish. Instead, he says, most people may actually prefer to be unselfish if given the chance by politicians and the media. In “Raising All Boats,” Bradley discusses the major source of disheartenment – that the system is rigged to give all the benefits to the very wealthy while the middle class bears the brunt of the burden. “The elevator is no longer working,” he quotes, meaning that the middle class and the working poor can no longer count on getting ahead by working hard and being honest. This dissatisfaction becomes fertile ground for demagoguery from both parties.

In the remaining chapters Bradley cites such disparate leaders as Lincoln, T. Roosevelt, Wilson, FDR, and Eisenhower as recognizing the critical role of government and how “free markets” dominated during times of robber-barons, monopolies, and “too big to fail.” Further, he addresses our long-standing ambivalence about our role in foreign affairs and how our forthcoming challenges with China stem not from military prowess but from economic domination. In short, while America bickers amongst itself and accomplishes little, China moves its own future forward, which more and more intertwines with the future of the world.

Bradley argues that we need both “collective caring” and “personal responsibility” to move forward. In his final chapter, “The Path to Renewal,” he proposes that solutions should include taxing labor less and things more, adoption of a massive infrastructure program, investments in research, embracing talented immigrants while educating our own citizens for a lifetime in a world of constant change, reduction of our structural budget deficit, and leading the world “by example.”

There is so much more in this relatively short book and I strongly encourage anyone interested in the future of America to read it.

For a full discussion of the book please review the comments and links here.

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August 4, 2012 Posted by | Barack Obama, Book review, Mitt Romney, Republican | , , , , | Leave a comment

Without GOP, Unemployment would be Under 6%

Interesting article here. Especially this part:

President Obama proposed the American Jobs Act in his 2011 State of the Union address, and spent the next year promoting it at every opportunity…The CBO said the bill would not only have paid for itself within 10 years, but would have reduced the deficit by at least 6 billion dollars. According to an analysis by Moody’s it would have created about 1.9 million jobs.

The result of GOP obstruction with those two things cost us 2.3 million jobs and 1.9 million jobs respectively. US employment as of May 2011 is about 155 million jobs, which means those 4.2 million jobs that the GOP has prevented account for 2.7% of the unemployment rate.

To recap:

1) The previous Republican administration of George W. Bush, during most of which the Republicans also controlled both houses of Congress, passed a series of unfunded mandates (e.g., NCLB, Prescription Drugs), started two unending wars (one by deceit) and mismanaged them, eliminated budget surpluses within Bush’s first year in office, increased the debt by a huge margin, and then prior to leaving managed to plunge the USA and the entire world into an economic disaster that would have surpassed the Great Depression if it hadn’t been for the stimulus packages.

2) Starting before President Obama took office the Republican party agreed to vote against any efforts to stimulate the recovery, the Republican party has voted against the creation of millions of jobs through its dozens of votes against job programs, and the Republican party has increased the debt while holding 99% of Americans hostage solely to maintain and expand on tax breaks for the super-rich 1% and tax loopholes for the super-rich megacorporations.  Oh, and the Republican party also voted multiple times against programs that would have helped small businesses (the real job creators).

So after 1) killing the economy, and 2) holding back the recovery, the Republican party now argues that it is all Obama’s fault and the voters should put the very people who 1) killed the economy, and 2) held back the recovery back into office.

= definition of insane

July 11, 2012 Posted by | Barack Obama, Birthers, Jobs, Mitt Romney, Republican, Tea Party | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

SCOTUS Ruling on Health Care Law Shows How Dishonest the Republican Party Has Become

ImageWell, the Supreme Court (lovingly known by all as SCOTUS), has announced its decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (lovingly known by all as Obamacare). In a surprise to most people, Chief Justice Roberts joined with the 5-4 majority to uphold the law and the individual mandate. But the case demonstrates just how dishonest the Republican party has become.

After all, the key argument used by the Republicans in their attempt to overturn the law was a little something called the “individual mandate.” And guess who forced the inclusion of the “individual mandate” in the law in the first place. You guessed it – the very same Republicans who used it as the whipping post during SCOTUS deliberations.

The Democrats, you all remember, favored a “public option.” The public option would have created a public option (catchy, isn’t it) for insuring those who couldn’t afford the skyrocketing prices of private insurance companies.  The Republicans, of course, wanted to ensure that the hugely profitable big corporate insurance companies kept their huge profits so the Republicans convinced the Democrats that they (the Republicans) would support the bill if they (the Democrats) compromised. So the Democrats dropped their public option idea and took on the Republican idea.

The Republican idea of the individual mandate that the Republicans then turned around and started claiming was un-Constitutional.

What’s more shocking than this abject dishonesty is that the media once again gave the Republican party a pass on it.  So much for the “liberal media.”

This follows a pattern with the Republican party.  Remember that “cap-and-trade” bill the Republicans railed against?  Yep, another Republican idea (Democrats preferred a carbon tax). Republicans originally proposed cap-and-trade as a market based mechanism for dealing with the unequivocal science of man-made climate change. But then when the intentionally ignorant tea party extremist wing got all hot and bothered about it the Republicans simply rewrote all of history, started calling their own signature cap-and-trade idea “cap-and-tax,” and lied left and right about it.

You can add in this political witch hunt, something the Republican party does all the time – lie, then repeat the lie over and over, then hold other people “accountable” as if your lie was somehow not a lie.  The truth about the Fast and Furious (non) scandal.

There are more examples, of course. It’s become a habit. Actually, it’s become a political strategy.  And this dishonesty is hurting America.

June 28, 2012 Posted by | Affordable Care, Republican, SCOTUS | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Conservative icon, National Review, calls for Newt Gingrich to drop campaign for Republican nomination

The conservative icon, National Review, is calling for Newt Gingrich to drop out of the race.

According to a February 13, 2012 editorial:

“But it would be a grave mistake for the party to make someone with such poor judgment and persistent unpopularity its presidential nominee. It is not clear whether Gingrich remains in the race because he still believes he could become president next year or because he wants to avenge his wounded pride: an ambiguity that suggests the problem with him as a leader.”

And that’s from the conservative wing of the Republican party.

The National Review says that it is “Santorum’s Turn,” that Mitt Romney “remains the undramatic figure at the center of the primaries’ drama.”  It’s not so much that Romney is the best candidate.  In fact, “lack of enthusiasm for him has set it all in motion.”  Worse, “Romney is trying to win the nomination by pulverizing his rivals” [i.e., his fellow Republicans]. So much for Reagan’s 11th Commandment, though clearly the same lack of adherence to that commandment is true for all the other candidates as well.  Of course, you can add one or two (or more) other Commandments that Newt Gingrich has also violated.

How will this end?  Likely very badly for Romney.  Oh, and Gingrich?  He’s pretty much toast.

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Primary, Republican, Rick Santorum, Tea Party | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mitt Romney wins Maine caucuses…and wins CPAC straw poll…net gain of delegates – Zero

Ron Paul tried, but just missed beating Mitt Romney in the Maine caucuses.   The margin was probably due to the fact the voting has been going on for a week (i.e., started before Romney got embarrassed on Tuesday) and the caucuses for Washington County were postponed due to a major snowstorm.  Meanwhile, “severely conservative” Romney also won the meaningless straw poll at the end of the CPAC conference, beating out Rick Santorum as Ron Paul slid into fourth.

So with Saturday’s two wins Romney gets exactly the same number of delegates that Santorum got with his three wins on Tuesday.  Which is, of course, zero, zilch, nada, null.  The actual delegate choices come later in some cases and are non-binding in others, which makes one wonder why they spend so much time and money to hold these dog and pony shows.

In any case, this is good news for Romney since losing either or both of today’s non-events would paint him as a serial loser.  And that really isn’t a good paint job for the campaign bus heading into a general election.  Winning at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, aka, a conservative lobbying event, was actually quite a good outcome for Romney considering two important details.  First, Ron Paul won the CPAC straw poll the last two years, and second, it means Romney’s newest bizarre verbal gaffe didn’t hurt him too much.  At least with the white guys in the room.

When PGH first heard that Mitt had emphasized his “severely conservative” ideology we were as confused as everyone else.  “Highly” conservative? Maybe.  “Largely” conservative? Sort of.  “Always” conservative? Umm, no.  But “severely” has essentially no positive meaning in this context.  PGH’s first thought was “time to fire the speech writer.”  Seriously.  But then this was apparently an ad lib by the Mitt, and since the Republican party has fired pretty much everyone else that was running already, we guess Mitt is safe for now.  [Though Gingrich seems to have had a belly bouncing guffaw that Romney had said something even more nonsensical than Michele Bachmann, aka, “the perfect candidate.”]

So Romney survives another day in his inexorably slow bumpy road to the nomination.  The next few states (Arizona and Michigan on February 28 and Washington on March 3) seem to be tailor made for him.  Notably, Daddy was Governor of Michigan, though this must be balanced against Mitt’s stated desire to have let the automobile industry in Detroit fail and millions of jobs go down the tubes.  Who knows, Santorum could surprise everyone and do well in those states.  Then comes Super Tuesday on March 6 when there are some substantial delegates available in a wide variety of states – pretty much something for everyone.  Even Gingrich has Georgia (though not Virginia).

If Mitt can win all of the above then it’s finally over.  If the results look like a blindfolded drunk dart thrower than at least the media have something to talk about.  Because, after all, isn’t that the real reason they have these primaries and caucuses anyway – to give the media something to talk about for that boring two years leading up to an election?

February 11, 2012 Posted by | Caucus, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Primary, Republican, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Tea Party | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mitt Romney Wins Nevada Caucuses While Not Worrying About the Poor, Newt Gingrich Needs Your Prayers

Wow, what a week for Mitt Romney.  And what a week for Newt Gingrich.  Romney wins the Nevada caucuses but picks up an endorsement he might not want.

Okay, first for the wee little poor choice of words by Romney this week. And we of course mean the “poor” choice of words about not worrying about the poor.  Okay fine, the words were taken out of context and he didn’t really mean it the way it was portrayed by some.  But that doesn’t let Romney off the hook.  Not surprisingly, Romney’s intent had little to do with whom he is “concerned” about and a great deal to do with trying to convince middle class voters that he doesn’t represent exactly the kind of person/economic policy that benefits the very rich at the expense of the middle class. In short, he was trying to create a new reality to replace the one that isn’t so good for the middle class, i.e., the one that he supports.

Here are two insightful views on this topic:

Ruth Marcus: Why the poor should concern Romney

Eugene Robinson: Romney fails the empathy test

So on to the Donald Trump endorsement.  First off, Trump was “endorsing” solely and entirely as a gimmick to promote his reality TV show (is that still on the air? seriously?).  But what is really interesting about this endorsement is that Romney decided to accept it.  Mormons (Romney) have always opposed gambling, so hey, no problem accepting the endorsement in Trump’s Las Vegas casino.  I mean, that’s no bigger a stretch than Mormon’s opposing the drinking of alcohol unless, of course, you pay a $5 “membership fee” to join a “club” for “one night” (which, I’ve been told, is not a “cover charge in the local bar”).  That little detail aside, Romney’s acceptance of Donald “birther” Trump is sure to be a headline in coming months.  Already the Obama campaign has sent out an email noting:

“Yesterday, Mitt Romney said he was ‘humbled’ to accept Donald Trump’s endorsement. Seriously.”  “Yes, Donald Trump — birth certificate conspiracy leader — has decided that Mitt Romney’s his guy, and Romney has embraced him without reservation. He made a speech and even sent out a press release welcoming him.”

Good one, Mitt.  Embrace the buffoonish bigot tea party vote. That ought to help you with independents.  Especially now that the stock market is at highs not seen since before the Bush depression and the unemployment has been dropping as hundreds of thousands of jobs are being created per month.

Meanwhile, Gingrich is asking for prayers.

And he’ll need them since he is looking forward to Super Tuesday.  Yep, he’ll just skip Nevada, Maine, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Arizona, Michigan, and Washington since they don’t matter (and he can’t win) and focus on the Super Tuesday states (even though he didn’t even make the ballot in at least one of them – Virginia).  Well, that certainly is a plan.  Sort of like Rudy Giuliani waiting for Florida in 2008. That worked out well.  Oh, wait. Never mind.

 

February 4, 2012 Posted by | Birth certificate, Birthers, Donald Trump, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Obama, Primary, Republican | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rick Perry Drops Out – Romney Heads to the Cayman Islands!

Tea party savior of last week Rick Perry is dropping out of the Republican primary race after being ignored in New Hampshire (and most other places).  His departure won’t change much as the three individual people who would have voted for him in South Carolina will probably split their votes between the other tea party flavors left unlicked.

But his departure does demonstrate one thing that is incredibly important – the tea party begged him to jump into the race because they thought everyone else was woefully insufficient.  That didn’t stop them for raising those same others up on a pedestal in succession, the pedestal from which they fell face first into the mud once people started paying attention to what they had to say.  Think Yertle the Turtle and you get the idea.   Spaalaaaat.

This is who the tea party picks – Michele Bachmann (out), Donald Trump (not ever in, but the tea party begged the tycoon buffoon to run), Herman Cain (out and hiding from several women, think The Eagles), and, well, you get it.  Throw in Sarah Palin and you have some of the most unaccomplished “leaders” in America.

Which gets us to Mitt Romney.  PGH will have more on him later, but the latest news from Mr. $374,000 is “not very much” for speaking fees (plus millions of dollars in other income taxed at only 15%) is that he’s a poster child for how the super-rich get to hide much of their income from US taxation by popping it off to a beach resort in the Cayman Islands.

Oh, and he actually pulled back his hand that he had outstretched to the person speaking to him when he found out the person was “undocumented.”  Ooh, cooties.

More to come.

January 19, 2012 Posted by | Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Republican, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Tea Party | , , , , , | 2 Comments

New Hampshire Primary Shocker!

Romney wins!

Oh, that’s not a shock? My bad.

So even though they are still counting the votes as I write this, Romney has been projected the winner of the New Hampshire Republican party primary, just a couple of light clicks after winning in Iowa (if you can call an 8 vote – not 8%, 8 vote – margin a win).  Did someone say inevitable? Did someone say this months ago? Maybe a year ago?

Oh wait, there is a New Hampshire shocker to report – yep, Ron Paul will come in second!  Yes, that Ron Paul.

The reason for Paul’s surge in New Hampshire (and Iowa) are obviously due to his insightful and visionary ideas for the future greatness of America.  Oops, check that.  Mistook him for someone else.  No, Paul did well in Iowa and even better in New Hampshire because all the rest of the tea party nuts had already had their day on the artificial pedestal the tea party created for them.  Palin, Trump, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Gingrich, and Santorum all got their jet pack in the, umm, on their back and flew into the heavens…only to get the vapors and collapse back to Earth as soon as they spoke when people might actually be listening.  So that left Paul.  Who has been there all the time saying the same thing over and over (though not always taking the credit/blame for what he’s said in the past).  Ron Paul was ignored then, and when this “last man not stuck up on a pole to be eaten alive by the crows” falls back to Earth he’ll go back to being ignored again.  Of course, he will immediately be reincarnated as Rand Paul.  Wonderful.

Which leaves Jon Huntsman.  Huntsman made a name for himself this weekend and not only raised his standing to a third place finish in New Hampshire but put himself into the position of “the next white guy in line” for 2016.  Watch this space for more on Jon Huntsman after Romney officially wins the Republican nomination for 2012.  Of course, the 2016 countdown clock for Huntsman can’t start until after the November 2012 election, you know, just in case.

So we’re on to South Carolina, where Romney has the support of SC Governor Nikki Haley.  Then there is Florida, though by that time Perry and Santorum and maybe even Gingrich could have dropped out of the race and it will be an anointing rather than a primary.  Which should make the other 46 states wonder why they are going through the expense of holding primaries in the first place.

Then the fun begins – the tea party gets to show us all whether they actually have the principles they keep telling us…cough…that they have, or will the tea party vote for the guy they have been actively despising and calling all sorts of mean and nasty names?  And those are the Republicans doing this.

January 10, 2012 Posted by | Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Republican, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Tea Party | , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Huntsman Shows Class, Romney Shows He is a Corporate Raider Who Puts Himself Before Country

Jon Huntsman has a new campaign ad out today in New Hampshire.  It’s called:

Country First

The short video shows Huntsman responding to Mitt Romney during this weekend’s debates.  Romney attacked Huntsman for…serving his country.  Yes, Romney actually attacked a fellow Republican for putting his country first and not playing partisan politics.  Romney made it clear he is more interested in his own wealth and power than what is best for his country.

Huntsman shows what America is supposed to be. Country First. Mitt Romney shows what he is – Romney first. Party first. Damn the country, I want mine first. That attitude is reflective of his time at Bain Capital – the goal wasn’t to save businesses, it was to make money for the investors. And if that meant laying off workers and dismantling the company, so be it. They were unimportant to Romney – all that mattered was that Bain Capital and the individual wealthy investors made money.

And that is a very very sad commentary on what Mitt Romney represents.

See the video below:

January 9, 2012 Posted by | Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney, Primary, Republican | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Romney and a few non-Romneys Debate in New Hampshire – Winner Takes All! Film at 11!

Team Romney goes into tonight’s Republican primary debate with a ridiculously insurmountable double digit lead in the polls.  So Team Anti-Romney has one last chance to knock Romney from the thrown before Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.

Actually there are two chances since there is also a debate Sunday morning, but the timing is such that it’s really one debate split into two parts, presumably to capture both the asocial people with no Saturday night dates and those who don’t go to church on Sunday morning, so we can think of it as a last chance for the Anti-Romney forces to get noticed.

So watch tonight for whether anyone remembers Reagan’s 11th commandment (thou shalt not speak ill of fellow Republicans). Forget that Reagan and everyone else broke that commandment, and a few others, so many times that it became nothing but a meaningless platitude.  In any case, more than likely it will be all hands on Romney.  After all, the only way anyone stays in the race is to knock Romney down a peg or two or maybe three so that they have a chance for a comeback.  You can betcha the Gingrich, Santorum, Perry, Paul and Huntsman camps have been digging sharpened bamboo-spiked tiger traps for Romney all week.  I almost expect camouflage face paint (not so much for Paul, as he really wouldn’t carry that look off too well).  So expect all the non-Romneys to go for the severe wounding (metaphorically speaking) in New Hampshire, then the (equally metaphorically speaking) kill in South Carolina.

The South Carolina whose Governor has backed Romney.

You see where this going, right?

Anyway, it really doesn’t matter what they say tonight since no one is really listening and the words are political pomposity anyway.  What matters is whether Romney comes out of the debates inspiring pundits to think “The Coronation of Napoleon” or “Le Mort de Marat.”

Depending on that result, the tea party will have to decide whether to prostrate themselves in utter hypocrisy to support the nominee, or actually stand for the principles they claim to have.

January 7, 2012 Posted by | Mitt Romney, Primary, Republican, Tea Party | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment