Archive for the ‘politics’ Tag

Best Part of the Debates

After the debate itself, the most intriguing thing is not to see what the pundits think about the Political Campaign Televised debate, but to read what commentators think about the pundits take on the debates. Most of the 26 commentators to the New York Times insisted that the pundits in their view of Hillary Clinton winning last night’s debate got it wrong.

The cynical and exhausted viewpoint is below but it was in the minority:


Chappaqua 12 minutes ago

Does it matter? Hillary Clinton was slated to be the Democrats choice in 2016 ever since she screwed up in 2008 and lost to Obama. Hillary will be the Democrats presidency nominee come “Hell or High Water” regardless of what happens as a result of the FBI investigation. I think that is very obvious to all who have been paying attention over the years. The GOP is giving her the election and she is going to sit back and enjoy the ride. What a shame we can’t get our best people into politics. However, I understand why we can’t. Who would want to get into this circus as the main event and get ripped to shreds in public by a bunch of cut throat people who lie for a living.

Most people not only argued that Sanders performed better they expressed how acutely aware they are of the media’s pro-Clinton bias:


new york 12 minutes ago

While it was not a runaway success for Bernie, anyone saying that Hillary had the edge must have been watching a different debate. In the first 10 minutes, she struggled to answer a question about holding government officials responsible for Flint, while Bernie was direct in his promise to trim away anyone responsible. Later, she resisted questions about her actions and opinions during Bill’s term, suggesting that words and actions from 20 years ago hold no bearing on the future, that it is foolish to look to the past when looking to the future. And she dodged the (admittedly difficult) question about race and refused to release Wall Street transcripts “unless everybody does,” which is a ridiculous argument. Given how on-point Mr. Cooper and Mr. Lemon were as moderators, I’m surprised they did not push her on this response.

Yes, Bernie was a little angrier than usual, and I agree he came off as disrespectful to Hillary by raising his voice when she tried cutting him off. More annoying still was his tendency to trail off from questions to his more regular stump speech lines about health care and tuition (though this only happened 2 or 3 times). All in all though, my takeaway was that Hillary’s answers were vague and full of platitudes, at worse deflective. I can’t think of an instance where she unequivocally promised any one thing to the audience, even when they asked her too (like the Flint mother demanding action in the first 100 days).

Stop spinning, NYT.


Earth 15 minutes ago

There seems to be a big disconnect between the pundits in the media and the general public. If you read the NYT or listen to CNN, Hillary “was given the edge” in the debate.
However in a TIME poll taken right after the debate that is still open of more that 58,000 viewers 87 % of them saw Sanders as the winner and only 13 % thought that Mrs. Clinton had performed better.
I find this very interesting.


Texas 15 minutes ago

When Hillary said she’d release her speech to Wall Street “when other people release theirs,” it made me sad to think that she might be the person I will end up voting for in November. While I trust her to support civil and equal rights, she has become entrenched with the 1%.

E. Rodriguez

New York, NY 15 minutes ago

So we’re going to leave out how Hillary was booed when she responded that she was going to keep her speech transcripts secret, that she was absolutely flustered on how to respond when it came to her support of TPP, NAFTA, and other disastrous trade bills. Her lack of enthusiasm for clean energy and acceptance of the woefully inadequate ACA.

These were all things that held her back in the debate, and it’s funny how the pundits conveniently leave out all of Hillary’s mistake but seem to think Sanders had a worse performance.

  • Dave is a trusted commenter Cleveland 17 minutes ago
    “Hillary Clinton Is Given the Edge”

    Passive voice, right in the headline, to dodge responsibility for what is clearly the newsroom’s opinion. Choose a different list of commentators and pundits that you decide matter, or look at the Twitter numbers and online polls, and you could have just as easily written the story “Bernie Sanders Is Given the Edge”.

    And, as some other commenters have pointed out, trying to announce who “won” a political debate is just plain silly when nobody actually knows what the voters thought, and that’s the only opinion that actually matters. But apparently this exercise matters more than what caucusgoers in Maine did, based on the placement and size of the stories.


    Carolyn Saint Augustine, Florida 17 minutes ago
    Well, obviously, if it’s the New York Times, it’s going to cherry pick in favor of Clinton, although this piece is milder in its favor. But then, if we had all listened to the media and the pundits instead of our hearts and minds, Bernie Sanders wouldn’t be such a serious contender for the presidency. So, we’ll just keep plugging along despite the lopsided reporting, and support Sanders with our small donations all from average Americans, and enjoy the enormous progress we have made – and continue to make – toward a true democracy and a better nation.

    Reply 16Recommend
    moviebuff Los Angeles 17 minutes ago
    Sanders was more compelling and convincing on the environment, foreign policy, taxes, banking regulation, infrastructure, education, health care, campaign finance reform, fracking, the Flint water crisis and destructive trade agreements. So yeah, of course the Times would say Hillary had the edge.

    Reply 20Recommend
    david root edgartown, ma 18 minutes ago
    Mr. Priebus, Did you watch the Republican debate? I would rather jump off a
    cliff than support one of those candidates. Regards.

    Reply 18Recommend
    Lilburne East Coast 44 minutes ago
    I love Bernie Sanders but he needs to stop waving his finger in the air the whole time Hillary Clinton is responding to a question.

    It seems rude and it is rude.

    Reply 45Recommend
    Rainflowers Nashville 15 minutes ago
    And Hillary, bless her heart, needs to stop shouting and smirking.

    Reply 5Recommend

    ArtUSA New York 15 minutes ago
    I agree 100%. He’s done this in every debate and it’s distracting and intrusive.

    Reply 2Recommend
    Boonskis Grand Rapids, MI 44 minutes ago
    The stories on “who won the debate” are extremely disingenuous and treat readers as though all they are interested is in performance and not issues. I strongly support Sanders on the issues (climate change, race relationships) and to me the facts speak for themselves. How all the papers are getting that Clinton “did better”, when her answers on these issues are simply “status quo” instead of moving forward, is – to my mind – simply one more reflection of how the media are a little too tight with big business and the status quo. Be honest and give voters the credit they are due: the person who won is the one who is closest to your views on the issues.

    Reply 75Recommend

    serban is a trusted commenter Miller Place 3 minutes ago
    Hillary represents the status quo just as much as Obama represents the status quo. Both are realists that understand that the US is not fertile ground for radical change, there are too many conflicting interests and it is not possible to impose a vision if large segments of the population are opposed to it. Incremental change is possible, radical change without breaking the threads that keep the country together is not. Cruz is the most dangerous candidate because his vision will tear the country apart. Trump is dangerous because he has no clue on how to govern, his only goal is to have his name flashed across the sky. Sanders vision is more appealing as it is at least one that promises a just society, however, it is one that cannot be fulfilled without a mass movement behind it. That movement simply does not exist at this time, enthusiastic young people and progressive democrats are not sufficient. No question that there are people in the US that are hurting and pessimistic about their future, but they are not flocking to him, rather they are going for Trump who is offering scapegoats to blame for their situation. Until those disaffected Americans are brought behind a candidate like Sanders his vision will remain a distant mirage.

    Reply Recommend
    Fred Jones Toronto, Canada 44 minutes ago
    Is it really surprising that folks, who are members of the corrupt elite against whom Bernie crusades, would prefer Hillary, who is one of them after all.

    As a non-member of the US kleptocracy I thought Bernie cleaned the floor with her.

    Reply 73Recommend
    gregory Dutchess County 44 minutes ago
    Hearing the Democratic candidates talk about programs and history and funding and race and so forth was a big change from hearing the Republican candidates call each other names and spout ideological slogans and never mention concrete examples of the problems people face of how they would address them. Building “the wall” and putting our tax returns on a 3×5 card don’t qualify as serious ideas in my book.

    Reply 41Recommend
    Susan Tillinghast Portland Or 45 minutes ago
    These debates have become meaningless. They are about as relevant as waiting to see which candidate wins at tactic toe. Hillary is a master at these things. She is not a master at cleaning up American politics.

    Reply 21Recommend
    linda5 New England 17 minutes ago
    Sanders supporters insisted that Sanders needed more debates so he could show he is , get his name out, etc.
    Now they want no more debates because Sanders comes across as your testy, out-of-touch uncle

    Reply 4Recommend



Five-Ring Circus

The cycle of national group bids to host the Olympic Games usually has not generated the type of openly negative discussion that occurred this year in the United States. From newspaper articles to blogs, to “Olbermann” on ESPN, Boston’s winning bid to represent the U.S. as a potential Summer Olympic site generated a firestorm of criticism and even some incredulity.

Sports historians, social scientists and other academics have written extensively regarding the cost of constructing stadiums Early books, such as Dean V. Baim’s The Sports Stadium As a Municipal Investment, used economic analysis to demonstrate that the stadiums cost significantly more than their projected cost. Few stadiums built from the 1960s through the 1980s ever earned a net positive financial gain.

One prime example was the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, built for the 1976 Summer Games and used by the Montreal Expos baseball team. According to Robert C. Trumpbour’s New Cathedrals, the stadium left the city with a $ 1 million debt. Paying the debt through the mid-2000s, according to Garry Whannel in Culture, Politics and Sport marred the memory of the games in the minds of citizens. The memory and current circumstances regarding the stadium have not improved as the stadium has basically been empty since 2005,

The books on stadiums have focused on stadium proponents main argument: that stadiums generate economic growth. Andrew Zimbalist, an economist at Smith College has written extensively about the falseness of this purported reason for supporting public financing of stadiums. He and Roger G. Noll’s book Sports, Jobs and Taxes concluded that sports teams and stadiums were not a source of local economic growth and employment and that the public financing provided to the team far outweighed the new jobs and taxes that the team and stadium provided the city or state. The message about the economic viability of stadiums started to reach more of the public.

In some cities, opponents of publicly financed stadiums made pitched but unsuccessful efforts to stop these expenditures, In 2004, Kevin J. Delaney and Rick Eckstein captured these battles in their book, Public Dollars, Private Stadiums. Intriguingly, stadium proponents downplayed the economic gain argument, and adopted two others to win the financing in cities ranging from Pittsburgh and Cincinnati to Denver, Phoenix and San Diego.

The Olympic Games offered two key assets to the hosting city and nation. The first, particularly important during the Cold War, centered on national pride. The second, promoted the economic gains that the Games reportedly brought. Proponents asserted that economy of the host country attained growth spurred on from new construction that occurred before the start of the Games. The gains continued during the games from event and visitor spending during the event.

Montreal showed that the economic gains often still leave a debt. Ferran Brunet’s study, “An economic analysis of the Barcelona’92 Olympic Games: resources, financing and impacts,” offered a somewhat more positive example. The author observed the typical underestimation of the cost to the Olympics, “In the development of the Olympic project the forecasts went from 237,000 million pesetas in April 1985, to an estimated 768,368 million in March 1991, to the final figure of 1,119,510 million pesetas in July of 1993.” The city and national governments and private partners invested this money and actually generated $ 2.2 million in profit. The Games provided a rise in employment and a stronger sense of confidence and world presence for the city and nation. However, when I visited a decade later, much of the Olympic area in the city appeared empty and devoid of people and games.

Do cities in the United States need the Games for similar reasons? Atlanta won the 1996 Summer games and sought to use them to promote tourism and attract businesses to the region. Again, pre-Olympic projections expected the creation of 77,026 jobs and $5.14 billion into the state economy. Despite Barcelona’s success, it’s jobs total capped out at less than 67,000. According to Steven P. French and Mike E. Disher in “Atlanta and the Olympics,” Atlanta spent over $200 million each for an indoor stadium and Olympic stadium. Much of the money came from private sources and very little public funds.

At the close of the Games, the estimate of economic benefits from the Games fell over a billion dollars below initial projections. What organizers either did not consider or perhaps include was the Olympics would not bring new spending. The games shifted spending away from other entertainment activities and other revenue-generating activities could not occur in Atlanta because of the presence of the Olympics. Additionally, visitor spending on food and lodging totaled less that expected.

In their book Olympic Dreams: The Impact of Mega-Events on Local Politics, authors Matthew J. Burbank, Gregory D. Andranovich and Charles H. Heying analyzed how three US cities fared in their attempt to use the Olympics as an approach to economic growth. They argued that the Atlanta region benefited from the tourist, employment and construction windfall. City officials replaced aging infrastructure, although residents paid double the cost for water and some other utilities since the changes. Their chapter focused on urban development aspects that did and didn’t happen with the Olympics. That will be the focus on the promises and deliveries for US cities with hosting the Olympics.

Faith in Politics

No this is not a post on the role of religion in US politics. My faith has diminished over the years as candidates who represent a liberal consensus dominate the Democrats and the Republicans are beyond the pale when it comes to paying a fair percentage of ones incomes to help the greater society. They watch as roads buckle, bridges crumble and seem to rejoice over money exploding in bombs all around the world.

The Democrats consensus centers on accepting globalization’s cost in terms of jobs, wages and people’s psyches. They are linked to the financial interests and seem to believe that that industry should be a big driver of the economy. They use the term middle class and help the poor, but seem incapable of effectively articulating the many significant reasons why these groups of people need a fair income, let alone devise a strong program that would help accomplish the goal of putting more money in these peoples’ pockets.

Much to my surprise yesterday, the Washington Post ran an article on a possible campaign by former Senator Jim Webb. When I read this paragraph in a recent speech that he gave, I felt a glimmer of real hope.

“It’s rare when the economy crashes at the same time we are at war,” he said. “The centrifugal forces of social cohesion are spinning so out of control that the people at the very top exist in a distant outer orbit, completely separated in their homes, schools and associations from those of us who are even in the middle.”

What I’d ask of Webb is to lay out the consequences of having a situation that he describes where the wealthy are in another orbit. I’d argue among the results are domination of the political players which has led to a stagnant political environment, ability to frame arguments such as corporations should exist to benefit their share holders, which translates to the wealthy few accumulate great gains while monies that used to be allocated to research and development, the creation of new products and jobs goes by the wayside. All that made worse by trade policies that benefit the wealthy and the corporations and hurt the workers as they cut jobs and wages.

Another article makes some of the realities of the economic recovery clear:

Part of this mystery isn’t one at all: the economy simply isn’t as healthy as the headline numbers suggest. Unemployment has fallen, in part, because so many people have given up looking for work rather than finding it, and there are still millions of part-timers who want full-time jobs.

But then there are deeper factors at work. The economy has gotten bigger, but much of that growth hasn’t reached the middle class. Indeed, the top 1 percent grabbed 95 percent of all the gains during the recovery’s first three years. And that’s not even the most depressing part. Even adjusted for household size, real median incomes haven’t increased at all since 1999. That’s right: the middle class hasn’t gotten a raise in 15 years.

But one of the biggest, and least appreciated reasons Democrats might be struggling, is that the middle class is poorer, too. Median net worth is actually lower, adjusted for inflation, than it was in 1989. Even worse, it’s kept falling during the recovery.

Yes, even after the economy started to grow again, and the stock market started to boom, and housing prices began to bounce back, the median net worth of the average American household continued to decline.

I’m interested in seeing what is to come.

Sex, Politics and Sports

Busboys and Poets in the District featured a discussion with Dave Zirin, sports editor of The Nation, magazine and the first open trans NCAA athlete last night.  Kye Allums played basketball at George Washington University.


In November 2010, he announced his trans status. A very animated speaker, Allums said he took the step because other players on the team would not come out about their relationships. He had enough of that so he decided to make it easier on the other players by starting the coming out process.

Zirin and Allums discussed LGBTQ issues in sports and Zirin’s newest book, Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down. Zirin has written about politics and sport team owners, noting the tax breaks and subsidies that they receive for new stadiums from the public treasuries. He has also documented the political stances many of team owners have taken, ranging from George Steinbrenner and his contribution excesses to the Christian conservative values of the owners of the Colorado Rockies of Major League Baseball and the Orlando Magic of the NBA.

Last night, Zirin offered a good summary of the connections between masculinity, heterosexuality and being proficient in sports. Starting with Muscular Christianity and eugenics in the late 19th century, through the arguments against lesbians coming out in college basketball, American culture has promoted the social good of the supposed connections between gender norms, sexual norms, and playing, or in women’s case, not playing sports.

Hello Dolly

Went to Fords Theater to see a production of this old war horse or classic musical by Jerry Herman. It came out in the 1960s and ran for six years, the longest running musical of its day.

Set in the 1890s, it hints at the Gilded Age and its disproportionate sharing of the wealth. The barber of the mean, wealthy man Hoarce Vandergelder, tells him, “You’ll have to sit still, Mr Vandergelder. If I cut your throat it’ll be practically unintentional.” As a musical the piece does not going into any detail about the country’s problems.

but as I watched this period piece, I heard one line that resonated with me today and would mean something to the Occupy Movement, among the other 99%. Dolly says, “Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around, encouraging young things to grow.”

Parade Magazine and ts What Do People Earn: What People Think?

Parade Magazine every once in awhile shows all the readers of its Sunday magazine how much a variety of Americans earn in the US. You can deduce from that information, which Americans have the best chance of having the wealth in the country: owning stocks and bonds, real estate, etc.

But, surprise, most people in the U.S. don’t know how much wealth others have.  This chart is from a paper called “Building a Better America One Wealth Quintile at a Time” by Dan Ariely and Michael I. Norton. The first line shows the actual distribution of wealth in the US. The tops 20% hold over 85% of the land, assets, etc. Yet, folks perceptions are way off. Find your estimated income and then look at the chart to see how close your income group comes to knowing how the money is spread in the US.

Best of all, look at how the various income groups and voters think that the income ought to be distributed in the US. It is so different from the way it is, that the disconnect is not funny but pathetic.


Show Me The Money?

Remember the slogan from the movie Jerry McGuire: Cuba Gooding’s character, a wide receiver on a championship football team, had played well so he expected to get his just due of a fair salary. Don’t we all deserve that after doing good work?

Well, this has not been the case in the United States since the 1970s. The top 1% of the country’s grabbed the lion’s share of the wealth over the 1979-2007 period. What did that mean to the rest of us? Middle-income households lost $13,042 in 2007 alone. Families in the bottom fifth lost $6,010.

Things have only gotten worse since the recession with the top 1% grabbing 125% of all growth in the last few years, leaving the rest of us with scraps that amount to much less than before.

Here’s a chart showing where the wealth is in the U.S.


Compassion for Others?

With all the talk in Washington and in Wall Street about the need to cut Medicare, Medicare and Social Security, one has to wonder where is the concern fora nyone other than theirselves? The economic gains made during the last few years have gone disproportionately to these same people who want to cut the government’s benefits to others. The wealthiest 1% of Americans gained 125% of the growth. Which means the rest of the 99% got only 75% of that growth.

This is bad policy in an American economy that gets 70% of its growth from consumer spending. How do you spend when you’re unemployed, underemployed, or getting less even if you have a significant job! But ultimately, the key question to ask the one percent is: Where is the concern for others in general?

As many people know, the old days, (the 1950s through 1970s) when the company provided a pension for an employee are long gone. That was a big portion of the retirement nest egg and it was taken away from employees by companies that wanted to maximize profits so that their stock prices would go up. The stockholders would get wealthier on the back of the companies retired employees.

Columnist Harold Meyerson illuminates this point in the editorial below:

To the let’s-cut-entitlements crowd, what’s wrong with America is that seniors are living too high off the hog. With the cost of medical care still rising (though not as fast as it used to), the government is shelling out many more dollars per geezer (DPG) than it is per youngster (DPY). The solution, we’re told, is to bring down DPG so we can boost DPY.

We do indeed need to boost DPY. And we need to rein in medical costs by shifting away from the fee-for-service model of billing and paying. But as for changing the way we calculate cost-of-living adjustments for seniors to keep us from overpaying them — an idea beloved of Bowles, Simpson, Republicans and, apparently, the White House — this may not be such a hot idea, for one simple reason: An increasing number of seniors can’t afford to retire.

Nearly one in five Americans age 65 and over — 18.5 percent — were working in 2012, and that percentage has been rising steadily for nearly 30 years. In 1985, only 10.8 percent of Americans 65 and older were still on the job, and in 1995, that figure was 12.1 percent.

Both good news and bad news have contributed to this increase. The good news is that more seniors both can and want to work than in years past, as health care and medical science have extended their capabilities, and as the share of Americans in desk jobs has increased while the number on the factory floor has shrunk. A 2011 survey by the Society of Actuaries reported that 55 percent of working seniors said they had stayed employed because they wanted to stay active and involved. But the same survey showed that 51 percent were working because they needed the money.

What advocates for reducing Social Security adjustments fail to consider is that corporate America’s shift away from defined-benefit pensions to defined-contribution 401(k) plans — or to no retirement plans at all — has diminished seniors’ non-Social Security income and made the very idea of retirement a far more risky prospect. Today, more than half of U.S. workers have no workplace retirement plan. Of those who do, just 35 percent still have defined-benefit pensions. In 1975, 88 percent of workers with workplace retirement plans had defined-benefit pensions.

The shift from traditional pensions to 401(k)s is one of the main reasons most seniors aren’t able to set aside enough income to guarantee a secure retirement. A 2010 survey by the Federal Reserve found that the median amount saved through 401(k)s by households approaching retirement was $100,000 — not nearly enough to support those households through retirement years, as seniors’ life expectancy increases. And as most Americans’ wages continue to stagnate or decline, their ability to direct more of their income to 401(k)s diminishes even more.

With the eclipse of the defined-benefit pension, Social Security assumes an even greater role in the well-being of American seniors. But advocates of entitlement cuts don’t even discuss the waning of other forms of retirement security: Listening to Alan Simpson, you’d never know that America’s elderly aren’t getting the monthly pension checks their parents got.

And it’s not as if those employers are suffering. Just as U.S. businesses have been able to raise the share of corporate profits to a half-century high by reducing the share of their workers’ wages to a half-century low, so, too, their ability to reduce pension payments has contributed not just to their profits but also to the $1.7 trillion in cash on which they are currently sitting.

So here’s a modest plan to enable seniors to retire when they wish, rather than having to work into their 70s and even beyond: Require employers to put a small percentage of their revenue, and a small percentage of their workers’ wages, into a private, portable, defined-benefit pension plan. To offset the increased costs, transfer the costs of paying for workers’ health care from employers and employees to the government, and pay for the increased costs to the government with the kind of value-added tax that most European nations levy. (The tax burden is higher in Europe, but because the level of benefits is higher as well, the tax has wide public support.)

The odds of such a plan being enacted today, of course, are nil. (Then again, the odds of any bill getting through Congress these days are close to nil.) But until we compensate for, or reverse, the abdication of corporate America from any major role in providing its workers with retirement security, we should lay off monkeying with Social Security to reduce the program’s future payments. As for all those cash-drenched chief executives who proclaim that we must cut entitlements, how about they make up the difference by restoring the pensions their companies slashed?

Progressive Politics

Rocky Anderson ran for President in 2012. Didn’t hear of him. Think he’s a loony or nut job? No, he’s one of the most progressive political figures out there in the US today.

Drones: creating more enemies for the US than they are killing.

Wall Street: How come no bankers have been brought to trial.

Raising the minimum wage: How about putting $30 billion more dollars in the hands of the country’s vast majority of working people. Do that and you’re consumer economy will grow and create some new jobs.

Here he is on one of my favorite tv shows, The Young Turks


Election 2012: Clash Style

Rock and Roll Perspective: Speaking Out for The People

White Man in Hammersmith Palais by The Clash

Be realistic about revolt: Cause it won’t get you anywhere fooling with your guns. The army is waiting out there and it weighs 1500 tons.

This country can’t decide to tax peoples’ earnings at a level that would provide for more equitable contributions to the federal government or to pare down the debt.

White Youth/Black Youth better find another solution: Why not phone up Robin Hood and ask him for some wealth distribution.

The inevitable commercialization of peoples’ rebellion whether in punk music or rap music:

The new groups are not concerned with what there is to be learned. They got Burton suits, huh you think its funny, turning rebellion into money.

The sameness of the major political parties, and thee issue of a plutocracy:

All over people are changing their votes, along with their overcoats. If Adolph Hitler flew in today, they’d send a limousine anyway.