Kire Schneider Online

Liberal Democrat

Liberal Democrat
Father of American Liberalism

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

PBS: Video: NewsHour: Judy Woodruff: How Retired Justice John Stevens Would Change the Constitution



This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

Justice Stevens has apparently been playing a lot of baseball lately, playing the position of left fielder in a ballpark with a very large left field.  He's talking about essentially doing away with the second amendment.  His has been opposed to the death penalty and held this position on campaign finance for a very long time.

I agree with Justice Stevens on gerrymandering.  I would set up a Federal Congressional Districting Commission, for a lack of a better term,  to review states' redistricting decisions.  States could still draw their own U.S. House districts but could no longer draw them for partisan advantage.

There will be a future post on this blog about campaign finance with more detail, perhaps this week.  Voters need, at the very least, to know where the money  that is going to candidates is coming front so that they can make informed decisions about their representation in Congress. Congress should pass full-disclosure of all political contributions.

As a Liberal Democrat that the Second Amendment embodies the right to self-defense and the right to life.  For that to mean anything, you have to have the right to protect your own life.  So,        I oppose any constitutional amendment that would empower the state, at any level, to prohibit gun ownership for adults.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Crooks and Liars: Opinion: Joshua Holland: Outrage Over ObamaCare is Nothing Compared With FDR's New Deal: The History of Right-Wing Opposition to Social Insurance


In the 1920s and 30s, the U.S. economy was a pretty freewheeling affair. Taxes were low and regulation of the economy was minimal.  Libertarians were as close to utopia as they had ever been.  When the first Franklin Roosevelt administration took office, they were confronted with the Great Depression.  The New Deal that they fashioned in response, though it seemed radical at the time, was actually a very practical, mainstream, economic response.

The Conservatives were saying that this was a natural fluctuation of the market and that it would recover on its own.  On the Far-Left, the Socialists were saying that this is capitalism at its worst and a great example of how it doesn't work.  We need to replace it and come up with a completely different  economic system.

FDR was a pragmatic Progressive and didn't enter the White House with a bold agenda for dealing with the Great Depression.  He had ideas but nothing big and bold.  In airplane pilot's lingo "He created the New Deal by the seat of his pants."  Saying that the Roosevelt Administration made it up as they went along is probably too loose but they put in ideas as they got them.  They had not developed a New Deal agenda as far back as the 1932 presidential campaign.

The Socialists were calling for steep new taxes on the wealthy.  I'm sure they wouldn't have left what was left of the middle class off the hook.  They called for nationalization of industries and creation of a Nordic-like welfare state.   The Libertarians were saying that government should stay out of the way and let the economy fix itself, if anything lower taxes and regulations on private capital.

FDR's New Deal was in the middle.  It affirmed American capitalism as a good system that empowers millions of Americans to be successful.  What it lacked, and what the New Deal provided, was an insurance system, paid for by the economy itself, for people who need help when the system failed.  This is how Social Security, Unemployment Insurance and Welfare Insurance were created.  The New Deal, included, as well, new infrastructure investment to do needed work that the private sector was neglecting and to provide employment to millions of Americans. 


Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Dish: Opinion: Andrew Sullivan: If America Had Scandinavia's Tax Rate: Why What Works in Scandinavia Doesn't Automatically Work in America

Tax Day Not a Holiday For This Guy 

The Dish: Opinion: Andrew Sullivan: If America Had Scandinavia's Tax Rate

Jonathan Chait had a column in the, formerly liberal (ha ha) New Republic magazine arguing that, as we celebrate tax day, the U.S. should be thinking about increasing taxes on everyone across the board except for the working poor.  He based his argument on the example of Scandinavia.  They have much higher tax rates than we do and have traditionally had a very strong economy.  They have good public services with a very generous welfare state and, as a result, have had strong economic outcomes.

Ross Douhat, a columnist for the, lets say, progressive New York Times opinion page wrote a response to Chait's column.  In it, he laid out why higher taxes work in Scandinavia and why they wouldn't work here.  For example, Sweden is physically about the size of Turkey but has only about nine-million people.  Sweden is also not only energy independent but also a net-exporter of oil and gas. They produce a hell of a lot of energy with a lot of land and a small population to take care of. To put it in simple terms, they can afford to be generous with their welfare state.

The U.S., on the other hand, is physically the size of a freaking continent going from one ocean to another, with a three-thousand mile border on the North with Canada and a two-thousand mile border with Mexico on the South and a population of over three-hundred and ten million people.  It is a net-importer of oil.  We are still paying other countries for our energy supplies and paying them to defend them.

We have a seventeen-trillion dollar national debt and have been basically stuck in, or trying to recover from, one recession or another since 2001. We simply do not have the resources to pay for what we currently owe to our population.  We also have a high poverty rate compared to the rest of the developed world.  Our working class is struggling just to pay their current tax obligations.  Most Americans simply can't afford Mr. Chait's, and others, socialist, big government tax rates now.

When our economy was booming in the 1980s and 1990s, our taxes were low and our government budget to GDP ratio was low. In plain English, the percentage of the national economy that the Federal Government spent was low in the 1980s and 90s.  In both decades, we had low unemployment, high economic growth and record low poverty levels.  This is what we are trying to get back to and we need to protect middle class tax payers by not increasing their rates.  At the same time, we need to invest more in infrastructure, education and job training so that more Americans can live in freedom and not depend on income assistance. 


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mox News: Video: C-SPAN: Lewis Black: The Beltway Alone Was Built by Idiots: Why Congress Doesn't Work

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

In the fall of 2011, Congress, with a Republican House and Democratic Senate, reached  a debt ceiling agreement with President Obama.  As part of that agreement,  Congress took on the monumental task of finding an additional two-trillion dollars, I believe, in savings when they wrote the Federal budget for fiscal year 2012.  The U.S. Congress has only three tasks every year, passing the budget, the appropriations bills that follow, and performing oversight over the executive branch.

Saying that Congress has the monumental task of writing the budget is like saying that Joe the cab driver has the monumental task of driving somebody to the airpot.  That's his job.  Joe probably drives somebody to the airport at least once a day. Or that Sally has the monumental task of waking up in the morning and getting ready to go to work. Unless Sally is unemployed, this is something that she does every weekday.  For Congress, their routine duties area virtually beyond their capabilities.  The petty, short-sighted, and utterly irrational partisanship consumes Congress everyday.

I'm a Democrat and I don't believe that both sides are equally at fault here.  The Democratic leaders are willing to working with the Republican Leaders to do what needs to be done, whereas the Republican Leadership is scared (pardon the word) shitless of working with Democrats on anything because of the Tea Party. But Republicans have of course the Tea Party to contend with and not having to deal with a primary challenge if they do not compromise with Democrats and get a real deal. But Democrats have lets call them the Occupy Wall Street faction of their party that they do not want to have to deal with when they are running for reelection as well. And you prevent that from happening by not negotiating with Republicans especially on entitlements.

So, we are left with gridlock.  The art of the possible, in the words of the great Progressive Democratic Senator Hubert Humphrey, becomes the skill of the impossible. Where both sides become experts on nothing, that is doing nothing as well as perhaps actual experts on nothing. Because if either side compromises they risk getting primaries,(to use a Congressional term) in the next election. "Hey I might not get everything I want or what I get perhaps even looks like nothing or the twin of nothing, but at least the other side aint getting anything either". Which is why the perfect name for any Washington pro sports franchise would be the Washington Gridlocks where nothing gets done.

Washington Gridlock

Monday, April 21, 2014

PBS: Video: Pioneers of Television: Bob Newhart Listens Funny



This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

Bob Newhart's unique sense of humor was the thematic core of the Bob Newhart Show.  If you are  wondering who the Bob Newhart Show was named after, you are probably also wondering what state Florida is in.  I make that crack because it is a pretty good example of Bob Newhart's sense of humor.  It was very dry, like the Mojave Desert, with no real physical or emotional expression.  He would say very funny lines with a completely straight face.

Newhart played psychologist Bob Hartley, who lived and ran a private practice in Chicago.  He played himself in the role as a very straight-laced, almost totally unemotional person who delivered a lot of great lines as if he were on stage. This is sort of hard to explain in writing  but he would deliver great sarcastic lines with a straight face that someone who isn't very quick or lacks a great sense of humor could easily take seriously.  Anyone with a quick wit could easily tell that he was joking.

To give you an example, Bill Daily who played the Hartley's neighbor in their apartment building was always coming over without knocking on the door first and would just walk in. After he would come into the Hartley apartment, Dr. Bob would say, "Come in Howard," after Howard was already in the apartment.  That might sound simplistic and trivial but Newhart had such a quick and accurate way of uttering such lines that they were hilarious.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

PBS: Video: NewsHour: Shields and Brooks on Kathleen Sebelius, Civil Rights and Jeb Bush


This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

It seems to me, an outsider, even though I live in the Washington area, that Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stepped down, at least partially, because she was tired of dealing with the idiots in the Congressional Tea Party.  These stupid and rabidly partisan members, especially in the House, showed her not an atom of respect.  In hearings, they would use all of their time attacking the Affordable Care Act vociferously and mindlessly without regard to fact or reason.  They were so ignorant and rude that, many times, they would not let her respond to their own questions.  Secretary Sebelius would just have to sit there and listen to their rude, stupid, and ignorant verbal garbage.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act was one of the best pieces of legislation that the U.S.Congress ever passed and that a President ever signed into law.  It is the  overwhelming positive piece of the  legacy of President Lyndon Johnson.  It ended legal racial discrimination, the denial of access to public accommodations to people because of their race.  It is still the law of the land because the property rights argument has never held water, when it comes to racial discrimination.

Former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, President George W. Bush's younger brother, has never shown that keen an interest in being President of the United States, that drive that says you not only want the job but that you believe you are the most qualified person in the country to do the job.  He would have several strikes against him in the eyes of the ignorant far-right in the GOP (see above), immigration, education, civil rights, common sense, etc.  He's simply not dumb enough to be a member of that part of the party.  I don't see how he could win the GOP nomination and he seems to know this.  He appears to be very reluctant to walk into the weed-whacker of the Tea Party's ignorance, stupidity and bigotry.  This is good for the Democrats and bad for the GOP (Thank you Richard Nixon for your southern strategy) because he would be far and away their best and most qualified candidate for president.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

PBS: Video: NewsHour: Shields and Brooks on Keystone Politics



This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

This just in, politicians make policy decisions for political reasons. Now we return you to your normally scheduled programming.

The environmental left (to be nice) tend to look at just about any type of economic development as bad for the environment and some type of giveaway to the wealthy.  This is not a mainstream political view in America but like with the Republican Party and the christian right, the Democratic Party needs the environmental, really socialist, left  to be successful politically, especially in mid-term elections.  That was a big factor in the delay of the Keystone Pipeline by the White House.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

PBS: Video: NewsHour: Gwen Ifill: How the Civil Rights Act Opened a Door to the American Dream



This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

The civil rights acts literally opened the public business domain to all citizens.  It said that if you are open for business to the public you are open for business to every member of the public who wants and can afford for your service.  It prohibited the denial of service and employment to people by business owners on the grounds of race.  I believe that the people who claim property rights on this issue do not understand the American constitution when they say that American business owners have the right to discriminate against anyone they choose for whatever reason.

If you don't want to serve the entire public, then don't be open to the public.  Run a private club at which only members can get services and perhaps, employment.  If you are open to the public, that is the entire American public, not the Caucasian public, the African public, the Asian public or any other  racial or ethnic group.   That the public is the entire public and subgroups of  Americans cannot be discriminated against.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mox News: Video: C-SPAN: House Judiciary Committee: Attorney General Eric Holder to Representative Louie Gohmert: You Don't Want to go There Buddy



This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

This video displays what I love about Attorney General Eric Holder and why he's so unpopular with Congressional Republicans.  Representative Louie Gohmert has less brains than a rock sitting on the bottom of a river, as the video amply illustrates. .

He's not mentally qualified to throw pitches to Attorney General Holder or catch his fly balls in batting practice.  Senator Chuck Grassley the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee use to be pretty responsible, but now he's scared as hell of the Tea Party..  The two of them illustrate a major problem of the modern Republican Party. They're overly partisan. 

Eric Holder doesn't take junk (to keep it clean) from anyone and he's not going to sit on his ass and let a third-rate. small town, small time, back-benching Representative who probably couldn't get elected statewide in Texas, push him around.  Generally, witnesses at Congressional hearings in both chambers tend to let the committee member go off even if they know the member is dead wrong or lying. That is not Eric Holder, or anyone who works for him.  It sure as hell is not Secretary of State John Kerry, who's not afraid to fire back at members of Congress.

Eric Holder has been Attorney General of the United States for five-years and has served as Deputy Attorney General of the United States.  He was a long time U.S. Attorney who's presided over the lowest crime rates in the United States in decades. As well as not seeing one foreign terrorist attack in the United States since taking office in 2009, he has served his country well since 1976 and has thirty years of public service experience.

Representative Louie Gohmert is a third or fourth rate, small time. back-benching, Republican (the dumbest of the dumb) Representative who's a member of the House Birther Caucus.  He thinks  that President Barack Obama was born in a foreign country and is an illegal immigrant as well.  He is apparently unaware that Hawaii is part of the United States.  He probably couldn't find Hawaii on a map.  He has no business questioning the Attorney General of the United States.
Back-Benching Asshole

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bloomberg News: Video: Pimm Fox: Bob Saget Admits 'Inappropriate Acts' in New Book



This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

What can I say about Bob Saget?  Well he's the best Danny Tanner ever, wait, he's the only Danny Tanner ever but, hey, that still counts. Perhaps I should explain what I mean by that for the two people who see this who've never heard of Full House.  It was on back when ABC was making hit TV shows, you know twenty-five years ago. And then I'll move onto bigger and better things (hopefully) like inappropriate acts, which I gotta admit are a hell of a lot more interesting than the career of Bob Saget. Sorry Bob, you've done a good job but your career is not that interesting.

Full House, for the two people who read this post who've never heard of it, and, by the way, if you haven't heard of this show, which was  a hit sitcom on ABC for eight years, you probably haven't heard of Three's Company, Cheers, or some of these other great sitcoms from the 1980s and 90s.  Full House is about a single, widower father with three daughters that he is rearing himself because their mother is dead.

The first part is believable enough, right, even in the 80s and 90s there were single fathers divorced or widowed.  Divorced, with full-custody of their kids,  mom being a prostitute or, in Danny Tanner's case, deceased.  It gets better, this is where Hollywood,  San Francisco, and Los Angeles come in.  Tanner (Back to you Bob Saget) brings in his brother in-law (John Stamos), the maternal uncle of his kids  and his best friend Joey (Dave Coullier) to help him raise his kids.

So Full House goes from two parents a father and mother, with three daughters to three dads and three kids. This is where it gets more Hollywood.  All three of these guys are happy, straight men who just happen to live in San Francisco.  The show had a great cast and great writers and they made it work well for eight seasons, which is a great run for a sitcom.

On the subject of inappropriate acts, I'll give you a list of three things never to do in public.

Never fart in an elevator, even if you are the only one in the elevator, because the elevator can always stop and someone else can get on before you get off.

Never cuss in front of kids unless you like being cussed out yourself, especially when they are old enough to understand swearing and can use swear words in a sentence.  This is a lesson that Bob Saget apparently learned personally.

Never tell your boss that she's hot unless she's also your girlfriend or wife. I believe the reasons for this are obvious. If you don't think that you can follow this rule, pick someone else to work for.  Get a new job. Once you get it on your resume that you told your boss she's hot, you'll have a hard time getting anything else on your resume.

That is enough of Bob Saget and my list of three things not to do in public.  I hope that I haven't taken up too much of your time or mind with this piece.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

HBO: Real Time With Bill Maher- Perverts With Principles


Source: Real Time With Bill Maher-
Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

Warning this piece contains language that may offend over-sensitive tight asses.

Politicians are people just like us.  I know that might sound like,  "No shit, Sherlock," or "You can't be serious."  It's also true that many politicians are wealthy and begin life with many advantages over average Americans.  But they have the same propensity for stupid acts as we do.  Because they live much of their lives in public, when they make mistakes and get caught lying, everybody knows about it.  They do the same stupid things that average Americans do but, since they got their jobs by election, their transgressions get more publicity and they suffer immediately.

George Carlin was a great political satirist.  Bil Maher is not qualified to be his dishwasher, chauffeur, or caddy.  Carlin said, politicians live in our communities, go to our schools, shop at the same stores we do, or have their secretary's do those things for them. But they come from the same places that we do. The only difference being that their jobs are public.

When Joe and Mary Smith cheat on their college exams, bang their secretary's or babysitters, or forge documents, only the people they work with or for, the babysitters parents, or each other, if they are cheating,  gives a damn.  But when Senator, Representative, or Governor Smith cheats on his wife, hires an illegal immigrant, bangs his secretary, babysitter or intern, the whole world knows about it.

Politicians also have a hell of a lot more money than we do.  They use our money to give their lobbyist friends bridges and roads that only ten people use.  We give them their jobs with our votes.  We should monitor their performance closely (Chris Christie) and vote accordingly in the future.  If we don't,  we have only ourselves to blame.
HBO: Real Time Wth Bill Maher- Perverts With Principles

Monday, April 7, 2014

Movie Clips: Video: Jack Nicholson: You Can't Handle the Truth: Stuff That Some People Can't Handle Hearing



This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

Warning: this blog contains adult language and other language that may offend some really over-sensitive tight asses.

There's a great line, one of a few great lines, in a pretty good but not great movie called, A Few Good Men, from 1992 with Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Kevin Pollack, Kevin Bacon, JT Walsh and many others.  A Marine Corps General (Nicholson) is on the witness stand at a Marine trial of officers who were charged with going too far with one of their fellow Marines, abusing him in some way, I guess.  Their defense lawyer (Cruise) has the General on the witness stand and is trying to get the him to say something that he doesn't want to say.

The General responds by saying something to the effect of, "Son you can't handle the truth! We deal with all sorts of horrible situations that average Americans have no idea about and we do these things to serve the country we love and why don't you just shut up and thank us for what we do!"  You can't handle the truth is sort of the point of this post. To some people, lets call them tight asses, who live in a politically correct universe, some language is simply unacceptable even if it is the truth because it may offend people whom they care about.

I'm not saying that people should be mean or be assholes but that people shouldn't hold back simply because what they have to say may offend others especially, if they believe that it's the truth.  When I  say truth, I'm not talking about bigotry or hateful speech.  Language like that tends to be bullshit. I'm talking about language that is truthful, that conveys facts and information.

I'm not saying that people should make fun of and be pricks to fat people who don't balance their diet and wouldn't know what exercise was to save their life.  But you shouldn't be afraid to get on someone for being obese or stupid or a  man who refuses to do physical work because of his sexuality.  I've had personal experience with guys like that.

We all get to make these decisions for ourselves but we shouldn't hold back because things we may have to say may offend over-sensitive tight asses who see a polite world that simply doesn't exist.  At the end of the day we all live on the same planet and without having the best available facts and information we sort of live in a cloud or a room without any light.  At times we need to know what it is not positive about us so we can do better and correct our negative behaviors.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Warner Brothers: Caddyshack 2 1988- An Example of a Sequel Being Better Than the Original

Source: Warner Brothers-
Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

I've never seen the original  Caddyshack movie in its entirety.  Not because I haven't wanted to or had the time.  The bits and pieces I have seen have never compelled me to see the whole movie.  Despite an impressive cast, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Chevy Chase, and the Murray brothers Bill and Brian, it's one of the most overrated comedies of all time.

The first Caddyshack, from 1980, is essentially about a bunch of morons, including some successful snobs.  The sequel, from 1988, is about Jack Kartunian (Jackie Mason), a wealthy man who owns an excellent construction company.  He treats his employees well and is loved by everyone with whom he does business.  He can't get into a fancy, snobby, waspy, Anglo-Saxon country club, because of his ethnic background. He is Jewish and Armenian and has a working class attitude about life.  He is not someone who's going to be pushed around or denied things by rich snobs.

He decides that if he can't get into this snobby country club the old fashioned way by applying and being accepted, he'll do the next best thing and buy it.  His friend Ty (Chevy Chase), just happens to own Bushwood Country Club.  Naturally, that pisses off the snobby leadership and membership of the club and they go to war with Kartunian to get their club back.

This movie has a lot of funny scenes.  Kartunian buys the snobby Bushwood members in an auction and puts them to work at his construction company building a house.  These people are completely unprepared to work there and make complete assholes of themselves, dressed for playing golf.

I can't end this post without mentioning that Dyan Cannon is also in the movie. She's fifty years old, at this point, and still a hot, adorable, and sexy babe.  She plays Jack Kartunian's new love interest at a time when Jack is not getting along with his daughter who wants to be a member of the old Bushwood Club. This is one of the funniest movies of all time and one of the few examples of ordinary Americans beating the snobs and enjoying enjoy the better life, so to speak.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Movie Clips: Video: Family Plot 1976 Trailer: How to Find Someone Nobody Knows


This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

Lets say you have a movie with William Devane, Bruce Dern, Ed Lauter (the best character actor that no one knows, except for me, just kidding) Karen Black and Barbara Harris.  It's also important to know that the movie is directed by Alfred Hitchcock.  How could this movie go wrong?  Who could  possibly screw it up, a with a cast like that?  These are just the main famous names in the movie. It's like the 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers.  How do you not win the Super Bowl with what they had to work with on both sides of the ball and Chuck Knoll as the head coach?

If there ever was a great director that everyone wanted to work with, great actors and actresses alike, it was Alfred Hitchcock.  This gave him the power to put together any type of movie he wanted and to assemble the cast he really wanted for any film that he wanted to make. That's what power is in Hollywood and Hitch had it.  He was such a great director because he always had a great cast to work with.

Family Plot is about Eddie Shoebridge (William Devane) who wants to escape from his life and takes off without telling anyone where he is going.  He comes from a wealthy, somewhat famous, family and is a bit of a  jewel thief.  He also just happens to run or own a jewelry store, which is perfect for his other job.  His  grandmother wants to find him before she dies and hires two, at best, amateur detectives for the job.  They are wannabe actor George (Bruce Dern), whose day job is cab driver, and his girlfriend (Barbara Harris), who's a wannabe psychic.

Shoebridge and his wife (Karen Black, R.I.P.) do not want to be discovered and quickly find out from one of their associates (Ed Lauter) that this couple is looking for them.  Shoebridge hires Ed Lauter's character to kill the couple.  He fails and the couple spend the rest of the movie tracking down the Shoebridges and George's girlfriend does exactly that before the Shoebridges kidnap her.

For a pair of amateur detectives, George and his girlfriend, who in their other lives aren't very successful at anything, do a hell of a job catching the Shoebridges, who've gone out of their way not to be discovered by anyone from Eddie's past.  This movie, typical for Hitch, has a lot of great humor, twist and turns of plot, including the kidnapping and the cab driver's rescue of his girlfriend and the nailing of the Shoebridges.  They finished the job they were hired to do.