Sunday, June 27, 2010
Texas Democrats proved to be the party of inclusion at this year's state convention. Pro-life and pro-gun rights Democrats were given a place at the table.
Christy Hoppe reports in the Dallas Morning News:
CORPUS CHRISTI – At the Democratic state convention, it's easy being green, but loving guns and opposing abortion are still a work in progress.
n meeting rooms throughout this Gulf Coast city's convention center, various interests cloistered themselves to discuss their issues: environmentalists, Tejanos, blacks, veterans, the techno-savvy, young Democrats and the groups working for union rights – both gay and labor.
But interspersed among the Democratic family were the new in-laws of issues. For a party that hasn't won statewide office in 15 years, anti-abortion and pro-gun advocates are the freshly minted relatives in a marriage of inclusion and necessity.
"I'm a liberal Democrat, and this is an issue that should affect all of us," said gun caucus leader Daniel Barnett of Dallas.
Barnett, wearing a black T-shirt with the Texas Independence battle logo "Come and Take It" printed in white letters, turned his back to the gathered enthusiasts and threw a stuffed toy donkey over his shoulder like a bridal bouquet.
But the donkey was a stand-in for the real prize: a 30-round magazine. Two nearby women scrambled until the gleeful claimant waved the captured toy over her head and gratefully accepted the (empty) magazine.
About 60 people attended, and a number of candidates popped in – Barbara Ann Radnofsky for attorney general, Jeff Weems for Railroad Commission, a "Sportsmen for Bill White" representative.
"Why have we allowed Republicans to own this issue?" asked Neil Durrance, a gun owner challenging U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess of Lewisville. "They have convinced people that only Republicans believe we should own guns. Wrong!"
At the other end of the convention hall, Lois Kerschen of Democrats for Life America, was leading a smaller and less rambunctious group of about two dozen believers.
"No other issue kills 3,600 children a day," said the Houston woman, who prays outside of abortion clinics.
But Democrats, she said, offer the best solutions on myriad social issues and other issues. She said there are many anti-abortion Democrats, and more need to speak up.
But it's not easy, especially if a single issue trumps all others.
"Voting is a very strong problem for pro-life Democrats," she said.
Kerschen said she loves the party's nominee for governor, Bill White, but he supports abortion rights. "It's tough if you think it's the most important issue," she said.
Tom McCasland, who attended the meeting on behalf of White, said the candidate wants to reduce the number of abortions.
"The 'rare' part is something we can work with. It's a big-tent party, and there is room for all of us," he said.
And tents provide plenty of breeze to air out differences.
Democratic Party spokeswoman Kirsten Gray said that all of the 34 groups that requested meeting space were granted it by the party chairman.
It is a little different for the Texas Republican Party, which has denied issue booths to gay Republicans. This year, the GOP also refused space to We Texans, a group begun by tea party favorite Debra Medina, who unsuccessfully challenged Gov. Rick Perry in the primary.
Democratic tolerance is high, but it is not complete. One dissenter was asked to leave the convention center.
Perry spokesman Mark Miner showed up Friday to retrieve a guest pass that had been issued in his name. He had some Tylenol, NoDoz and Perry talking points to distribute.
"I guess they should have done a better job of screening guests," he said.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Chautauqua is an annual event in rural Nebraska which brings historical figures to life. This year's program focused on the 1930's with a stirring defense of the New Deal by Professor Patrick McGinnis as Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Adrian Sanchez reports in the Columbus (NE) Telegram:
COLUMBUS — Franklin Delano Roosevelt presented a historical narrative of the 1930s that echoed the challenges of modern America and provided his presidential perspective on the steps taken to endure through the crises.
The presentation was part of the Chautauqua 2010 festivities in Pawnee Park Thursday as Roosevelt spoke about his administration’s efforts to overcome a depressed economy, staggering unemployment, extreme weather conditions and international strife.
More than 150 people attended the event to hear Roosevelt, interpreted by University of Central Oklahoma emeritus professor of history Patrick McGinnis, speak on issues that resemble the problems that exist today using humor and research to bring to life one of the country’s most important presidents.
The Chautauqua continues in Pawnee Park north of the tennis courts tonight through Sunday.
Elected president in 1932, as the Great Depression entered its most desperate phase, Roosevelt, using broad executive power with the support of strong Democratic majorities in Congress put into motion his New Deal to aid in the nation’s recovery, but not without staunch opposition.
At the time, unemployment neared one-third of the work force, bankruptcies and bank failures wiped out the savings of millions and talks of revolution began among various groups of people.
Roosevelt’s proposals for social reforms such as Social Security, labor legislation and conservation measures were met with cries of fascism, communism and socialism labeling them as un-American ideology, Roosevelt said, to which he responded, “Have you lost any of the rights or liberties guaranteed in the Constitution?”
“Inaction and apathy are the most potent foes,” he said, in response to those who denounced his administration’s efforts.
Set in 1936, McGinnis as Roosevelt said while “the fact remains a great number remain unemployed” efforts such as the Civilian Conservation Corps helped more people work and earn wages than in the spring of 1933.
“Work must be found for able bodied but destitute workers,” Roosevelt said, because if a large portion of the populace continues to become dependent upon relief it will become “fundamentally destructive to the fabric of the nation.”
Roosevelt recognized his proposals were imperfect, stating, “with your help we can keep those imperfections to a minimum.”
He also was an advocate for conservation, stating “What God has given us we exploit without thought of future generations” and to continue in such a manner is “theft from those who come after us.”
Following the presentation, the character of Roosevelt responded to questions from the audience, many of which were reflective of current political topics.
In response to a question about letting the free market right the ship, Roosevelt responded, stating those businessmen did not bat an eye at accepting billions in government bailouts, yet objected to the out of work laborer receiving government assistance.
The New Deal “saved many, many self-serving businessmen from total collapse and destruction,” Roosevelt said. “When the government provides relief to them they see nothing wrong, but complain when the same relief is going to people out of work,” adding “the government’s money is the people’s money.”
One gentleman asked about government removing itself from people’s business.
“Before the Federal Securities Act nothing required disclosure when purchasing stocks,” he said, the seller just had to attest the stock was worth something, when often times it was worth very little.
As a result, the large quantities of money affected large quantities of people so the Federal Securities Act was adopted prevent such catastrophic events would occur again in the future, he said, providing just one example.
Another person questioned the long-term viability of Roosevelt’s Social Security program.
“We are the only nation that doesn’t have a minimum floor of retirement security,” Roosevelt said, adding, “the Social Security measure was carefully thought out by talented and well informed people. We are confident the funding of Social Security will be sound for years and year to come.”
But he added, “nothing we do is set in stone,” and if deemed necessary, the people can amend it and change it through their elected representatives. Will Rogers, as interpreted by Doug Watson, noted Prohibition was enacted and later repealed.
“I have continuing faith in the American people ... to correct problems that will face them,” Roosevelt said, later citing one of his most famous lines, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Monday, June 14, 2010
The following editorial from Charleston's The Post and Courier sums up the growing military threat posed by a rising China.
Naval challenge from China
Monday, June 14, 2010
Frank exchanges between Chinese and American defense officials in recent weeks may signal a long-term, rising threat to freedom of navigation in waters off the Chinese coast and to the security of Taiwan. If so, the United States should rethink its plans for downsizing the Navy as well as its East Asia policy.
Reconsideration of the plans for an ever-shrinking Navy may have already started. Last week, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., urged the Navy to slow its retirement of older ships and speed shipbuilding.
At 276 active ships, the Navy is smaller than at any time since before World War I. China, in contrast, has continued to expand its military.
Also last week, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was "genuinely concerned" about China's growing "expeditionary maritime and air capabilities."
And China's growing assertiveness drew a rebuke from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, speaking at a meeting in Singapore.
The "South China Sea is an area of growing concern," he said. "We ... oppose the use of force and actions that hinder freedom of navigation. We object to any effort to intimidate U.S. corporations or those of any nation engaged in legitimate economic activity."
The Chinese side has been equally blunt. The Washington Post reports that in a May 24 meeting with U.S. officials in Beijing, Chinese Rear Adm. Guan Youfei accused the United States of viewing his nation as an enemy. He singled out President Obama's recent decision to sell more arms to Taiwan for particular abuse.
In 1994 and 2001, China tested U.S. resolve to defend Taiwan. This time, so far, it has broken off U.S.-Chinese direct military talks and issued strong objections. But a more determined test may come. China sees the military balance tilting in its favor.
The Post reports that the president of a think tank run by the Chinese military, Cui Liru, recently warned, "For years, China has opposed arms sales to Taiwan among other things, but we were never strong enough to do anything about it. But our national strength has grown. And it is time that the United States pay attention."
China also has made claims to ocean resources and islands in the South China and East China seas.
If the United States wants to defend its interests and avoid an open fight with China, we had better start paying attention to the balance of military power.
Ohio's Democratic Governor Ted Strickland has won the NRA endorsement for his long-time defense of the right to keep and bear arms. In contrast, Strickland's Republican opponent John Kasich has a mixed record on gun rights.
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, picked up the support of the National Rifle Association Monday, offering voters a reminder of his culturally conservative views as he battles Republican John Kasich in a difficult re-election bid.
It's the NRA's first general election endorsement of the 2010 cycle.
"Our members will interpret your 'A+' rating and endorsement as an indication that you are a pro-Second Amendment, pro-hunting candidate who supports sportsmen and gun-owners on every issue," said Chris Cox, the chairman of the NRA's Political Victory Fund, in a letter to Strickland provided to CNN by a source familiar with the decision.
In backing Strickland, the NRA cited his vote while in Congress against the 1994 assault weapons ban.
Kasich, also in Congress at the time, voted for the legislation and earned an "F" rating from the NRA that year, though his ratings from the group have since climbed out of the cellar.
Strickland has a narrow lead over Kasich according to recent polling.
The endorsement is not a major surprise given Strickland's lifetime "A" rating from the NRA. Earlier this year, the group described Kasich's record on firearms as "mixed."
The gun rights group did not take sides in the 2006 governor's race between Strickland and his GOP opponent Ken Blackwell - but they did back Strickland in his Democratic primary.
The endorsement is the second bit of good news in recent days for Strickland as he campaigns against the headwind of a volatile political climate and his state's unsettling jobless rate.
On Friday, Strickland's campaign announced having $7.7 million on hand for the campaign – a $2 million advantage over Kasich. Both campaigns collected roughly $1.3 million during the most recent fundraising period.
Friday, June 04, 2010
Former Senator Fritz Hollings (D-SC) writing in The Huffington Post:
As a long-time admirer of Warren Buffett, I held up leaving for work earlier this week to hear him on Morning Joe. He concluded his optimism on the economy by exclaiming: "America works!" I'm sure he meant the people of America work, which makes the country work. But Buffett pinpoints our trouble -- America's money works in China which causes America's people unable to find work in America. Corporate America off-shores work or its production and jobs like gangbusters to China. And today's report of an anemic production of 41,000 jobs in the private sector last month proves the point.
The recession began in December 2007. Now, after trillions of dollars of stimulation in the past two and a half years, the private sector is only creating 41,000 jobs a month. Something else is wrong. And what's wrong with the economy is that Corporate America off-shores its jobs as fast as it can. Three years ago, Princeton economist Alan Blinder, estimated that over ten years we would be losing on an average of three to four million jobs a year to off-shoring. But Blinder is the only economist who mentions the problem of losing our economy. Paul Krugman and the rest of the economists keep calling for stimulation. And stimulation is spent. President George W. Bush and the Federal Reserve stimulated the economy $7.5 trillion in eight years. Household debt increased $7 trillion during the same eight years so that by the time President Obama stimulated the economy had been stimulated $14.5 trillion and we were losing 779,000 jobs a month. President Obama stimulated the economy last year $1 trillion, $885 billion, and, with four months left in this fiscal year, we have already borrowed and stimulated the economy $1 trillion, $148 billion (6/4/10).
We keep bailing the economy boat with stimulation and fail to plug the off-shore hole in the bottom. Plugging the off-shore hole is kept "top secret." Wall Street, Goldman Sachs and the financial houses, the big banks, and now Corporate America, oppose plugging this off-shore hole because that would stop the guaranteed and lucrative profits in China. If the President and Congress changed our tax laws and enforced our trade laws to make it profitable to produce in the United States, the incentive to off-shore would be destroyed.
For example, the President and Congress could eliminate the corporate tax and replace it with a 2% VAT by Labor Day and receive more revenues. Corporate America producing in China has a 17% VAT rebated at export and pays no tax on its imports to the United States, whereas, Corporate America producing in the United States pays an average of 27% corporate tax plus a 17% VAT when its export reaches Hong Kong, for a total of 44%. The 2% VAT would eliminate the 44% incentive to off-shore to China. Producing in China, Corporate America receives only 49% of the profit, but that 49% is guaranteed with no labor problems, health or legacy costs, no safety or environmental costs. The CEO back on Sixth Avenue in New York can have a quality control manager in China, and checking on production daily with the internet, the CEO has time for a round of golf. The President and Congress are kept quiet about the off-shoring with campaign contributions.
President Obama has no experience whatever in trade or globalization. Globalization is nothing more than a trade war with production looking for a country cheaper to produce. Since everything can be produced everywhere, the economist would have us believe that all the United States can do is hunker down and equalize our labor, pay, safety and environmental regulations, to meet the global competition. This is the race to the bottom, and, unfortunately, the labor leadership goes along by continually calling for more free trade agreements to protect labor and the environment. We ought to learn by now that the free trade agreements only protect Corporate America's investment. Labor hunkers down with pay cuts and downsizing as if nothing can be done. All we need to do is change our tax laws and enforce our trade laws to protect domestic production and the environment.
I have worked with corporate America to enforce our trade laws that protect domestic production, jobs, safety, and the environment. Our efforts in the Congress passed by both Houses were vetoed by both Republican and Democratic presidents at the behest of the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations, both run by the big banks making a majority of their money outside of the United States. But after NAFTA with Mexico and China being admitted to the World Trade Organization, corporate America gave up its efforts in the Courts and Congress to enforce our trade laws and joined China in the trade war. Ironically, corporate America is making communism work.
After World War II, Japan started a trade war for market share by closing its market, subsidizing its manufacture, selling its export at cost, and making up the profit in the closed market. This put General Motors in bankruptcy and Toyota #1. China enlarged Japan's assault by opening its market for foreign technology and expertise, cutting the cost of its export with minimum labor, safety and environmental concerns. China developed the trade war into a war not just for trade but the entire economy -- investment, research, technology, development, production, jobs -- the economy. Today all nations fight fiercely in globalization. Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Germany, France, etc., all have invaded the United States economy using their VAT tax advantage. For example, Germany, with its 19% VAT, recently announced the production of windmills in Charleston, S. C. With parts produced in Germany and exported at a 3% cost to Charleston, German production in the United States enjoys a 16% advantage over domestic production. Highballing the cost of producing parts in Germany, little income tax is paid for production of its windmills in the United States. Germany has established a beachhead to take over the energy jobs that the President and Congress keep saying we ought to develop.
We have lost and are losing more jobs to off-shoring than the recession. By the time President Bush stimulated, South Carolina had lost its textile industry, North Carolina its furniture industry, Michigan its automobile industry, Intel had left Silicone Valley for China, and Bill Gates had moved Microsoft research to China. But the President only moves to save jobs from the recession. And President Obama is our only hope. Under the Constitution, tax and trade measures must originate in the House of Representatives. No House member will introduce a tax or trade measure unless it's sanctioned by the White House. Moreover, Republican and Democratic House members are more concerned with campaign contributions rather than the economy. The President can plug the off-shoring hole and save the economy by the following:
1. Like President Nixon in 1971, President Obama should institute a 10% surcharge on imports to stop the deficits in the balance of trade. This would put the world on notice that the United States had come in from the cold in the trade war and would now compete in globalization.
2. Call for the Congress to eliminate the corporate tax and replace it with a 2% VAT.
3. Section 201 of our trade laws calls on the President to move with tariffs or import quotas when America production is endangered. Instead of enforcing Section 201, we waited for General Motors to go bankrupt, needing a bailout. Move with tariffs or import quotas on any endangered production.
4. We've got the troops, but our defense is endangered because of our reliance on foreign production for materiel and equipment to fight. The War Production Act of 1950 should be enforced to provide for the materiel and equipment necessary to our national defense. This would create millions of jobs.
If the President moves to create jobs by changing our tax laws or enforcing our trade laws, coming down on his head in opposition will be Wall Street, Corporate America and its entities, the Business Roundtable and the United States Chamber of Commerce, crying: "Free trade," "protectionism," "don't start a trade war." Wall Street and Corporate America want to keep profits in China flowing; keep the stock market up.
But President Obama is our only hope.
Thursday, June 03, 2010
From The Daily Yonder
Agriculture and Energy Secretaries Tom Vilsack and Steven Chu write about the benefits of energy independence for rural America:
Last month, President Obama outlined a broad energy security plan designed to end America’s dangerous dependence on foreign oil. As the President noted, this is about strengthening national security, but it’s also about strengthening America’s economic security.
Rural communities – which have been hardest hit by job losses for decades – will perhaps have the most to gain from the transition to a clean energy economy. For example, the economic stimulus bill signed by the President last year has already doubled the pace of investment in wind turbines, creating thousands of construction jobs in rural America as wind farms come online across the country.
There is also an enormous opportunity for rural America as we dramatically increase the use of biofuels, ranging from corn ethanol to promising new technologies like cellulosic ethanol and other even more advanced forms of biofuel.
Our goal is to more than triple America’s biofuel production in the next twelve years, cutting oil imports by $41 billion. Instead of sending that $41 billion overseas, we can invest it right here in America. Instead of depending on oil fields in other countries, we’ll depend on farm fields in America’s heartland.
This is an ambitious target – 36 billion gallons by 2022 – and it will mean a growing market for agricultural producers. We will build on the tremendous growth over the past few years in the production of corn based ethanol and soy based biodiesel, fuels that already play a valuable role in reducing oil imports.
Moving forward, these corn and soy based fuels will continue to provide a source of wealth creation for rural communities. In addition, we are developing new forms of biofuel that will create an even brighter future and a bigger role for rural America.
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