Friday, December 30, 2011

Does a Trade War with China Loom?

China was already showing strong signs of economic growth
when we visited there in 1999. Its people are brilliant and
energetic.

Many of the current Republican candidates oppose American membership in the World Trade Organization. Just think about that!
by Charlie Leck

Is it possible that a trade war with China is on the horizon? Probably not, but it appears that China keeps pushing the envelope.

Everyone was quite hopeful when China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) ten years ago and pledged to abide by the standards and rules that governed its members.

Now, very recently, China has imposed a tariff on American automobiles with large sized engines that enter China. Diplomatic negotiations between the two nations about this issue have intensified. China has challenged the U.S. to take the matter to the WTO for a ruling. The Chinese argument is that the American automobile industry produces government subsidized products. (Hard to argue against such reasoning when one considers the American bailout of the auto industry!) The tariff comes as a response to the U.S. doing the same thing to China in regard to its subsidization of the solar panel industry.

China is flooding America with products of significant quality (forget about the imbecilic little toys and doo-dadds that also get into the country) that are produced by Chinese industries that receive government subsidization. This enables them to produce, for instance, industrial and architectural steel at a fraction of the price that it can be produced in America. America seems to be fighting this trade war with one hand tied behind its back. We are trying to build a wind-turbine industry at the same time that China pursues one. What chance would we have to compete against meager Chinese labor costs and heavy governmental subsidization of the industry?

Republican presidential candidates keep decrying the great advantages the Chinese have over American labor. These candidates blame it on the current American president. How valid is that? Or, perhaps the question should be: How stupid is that?

The problem is one that is going to be solved only at the global level – though an organization like the WTO. Most of the Republican candidates ridicule organizations like the WTO and call for us to withdraw our membership from it. The alternative, then, in a disagreement like this, becomes an all-out trade war in which America may not be the favorite to win.

Just think about that as you consider whether a massive trade war with China would be beneficial to the U.S.. And, as you think about it, remember how much of our current debt is held by China – both private Chinese investors and the Chinese national government.

Keep these questions and thoughts in your mind as you think about what you’ll do in the coming election.


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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Let me explain Ron Paul

Ron Paul doesn't fit the political mold!
by Charlie Leck

Ron Paul’s rather sudden surge in the Iowa caucus campaign is rather surprising to me; however, I think Paul can do better in a caucus state than he will in a straight primary election situation.
There are things I admire about Ron Paul. There are, however, more things that make me worry about him and reject him as a potential President of the United States. I hope the voters never let it happen and I believe ardently that it will never happen.

Should Iran really be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon?
That’s just one of the questions you need to ask when you think about Ron Paul as President. Ron Paul, a very strict libertarian, thinks that this is a matter for Iran to decide and that the United States has no authority over that nation and its policies. Whew! That’s just what we need – another half dozen crazy nations in possession of nuclear weapons.

It’s because of positions like this that I’ll tell you right now that Ron Paul doesn’t have a tinker’s chance of winning the Republican endorsement to run for the Presidency. So, why should I write a blog about him, explaining him to you?

That’s a dang good question and I can’t give you a good answer; therefore, I’ll be brief.
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He is widely separated from the general Republican view on the military and foreign wars.
Ron Paul has strange attitudes and opinions about Iran and Iraq that don’t square with those of the American public and especially with general Republican positions.

Ron Paul is strong opponent of the Patriot Act.
Wow! Progressives take note. I like that! However, you can bet the general, run-of-the-mill Republican voters do not agree with that.

And, understand that Ron Paul opposes the Patriot Act because of his position on individual civil liberties; that is, he claims to support individual freedom. Uhm, what? (Regard the following…)

He also opposes abortion rights and he wants Roe v. Wade repealed.
In fact, Ron Paul favors limiting federal power and not an actual protection of individual rights. Just understand his position on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He strongly disagrees with this historic, landmark legislation and claims that the legislation “did not improve race relations or enhance freedom.” He went on to say that it has “increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty.”

Ron Paul is an isolationist
and he opposes multilateral international organizations (NATO and the UN). He would have us leave all international organizations and withdraw from all our global alliances – the World Health organization as well as the organizations mentioned immediately above. Paul toughly questions foreign wars and America’s international policy.

Dr. Paul opposes immigration.
He also wants to eliminate our constitutional policy of birthright citizenship.

He supports legalizing marijuana.
Believe me, that’s why he has some strange supporters who think he’s wonderful. As Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post has said: “I think Ron Paul has the Ron Paul supporters – many of whom are not Republicans.”

Ron Paul champions smaller government
calling for the elimination of the IRS, the Federal Reserve and the Department of Education – and many others, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). He introduced a bill to eliminate OSHA in 1976 and it didn’t even make it to the House floor.

Ron Paul as a legislator
is nothing to brag about. “David Fahrenthold [Washington Post] reported that just four of the 620 Paul-sponsored measures have made it to the House floor for a vote, and only one has become law.” He opposes federal flood insurance and farm subsidies. He voted against funding for the victims of Hurricane Katrina: Ron Paul asked on the floor of the House: “Is bailing out people that chose to live on the coastline a proper function of the federal government? Why do people in Arizona have to be robbed in order to support the people of the coast?”

Ron Paul is remarkably consistent.
He very rarely contradicts himself. He seems driven by this statement: “But I think the important thing is, the philosophy I’m talking about is, the Constitution and freedom.”

Ron Paul advocates a return to the gold standard.
I’m not an economic genius, so I withhold judgment on that. There are plenty of people on both sides of that issue.

That’s my little sketch of Ron Paul. He frightens me as most pure libertarians do. I think Americans are too smart to be fooled by him and his craziness. I hope so.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gingrich Threw a Bomb


An article by Bob Woodward gives us a clear picture of the volatility of presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.
by Charlie Leck

Bob Woodward is probably the most famous newsman in America. He’s also the author of a string of wonderful books. When he speaks, people listen. Woodward says things that are sometimes pretty damning; however he always has good source material that backs up what he says. Who hasn’t read the book or watched the film All the President’s Men?

Woodward’s dependability has earned him great distinction. His long article in this past Sunday’s Washington Post was extraordinary. In the newspaper it was headlined: “In his debut in Washington’s power struggles, Gingrich threw a bomb!” [You might want to read it.]

Woodward has at his disposal a lot of interview material from 1992. I’m guessing he was putting together a book about the demise of the presidency of George Herbert Walker Bush. In his Washington Post story from last Sunday, Woodward concentrated on the material he had about the roll New Gingrich played in bringing down his own party’s president.
Richard G. Darman was the budget director during the first George Bush’s administration. He went to war with Gingrich back then and he had lots to say about that battle in his ’92 interview with Woodward.

“Darman was not impressed,” Woodward writes. He continues: “He called Gingrich a ‘neo-media-pop-opportunist’ who is ‘interested in personal power, media attention, aggrandizement.’”
Woodward quotes Vin Weber, a former Congressman from Minnesota, in the 1992 interview as saying about Newt Gingrich: “…a high-maintenance friend and ally, needy… Newt, as you know, views himself as the leader of a vast, national interplanetary movement.”

And, I did a double take when I read the following words that Weber used in that ‘92 interview: “Gingrich is viewed as this hard, tough ideologue, and he’s not an ideologue, but beyond that he’s the easiest guy in the world, if you understand him, for people to buy off.”
Is the emphasis above placed on the word “buy” or on the word “off?” Read it both ways and you’ll see what I mean.

Newt Gingrich is impetuous and that makes him dangerous. Newt Gingrich is self-centered and, perhaps, narcissistic and that makes him dangerous. Newt Gingrich is too self-confident and that makes him dangerous.

I grant that Newt Gingrich wants what is best for America, but, in his mind, that too closely parallels what’s best for Newt Gingrich as far as I’m concerned.

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas to All!



I’m taking a vacation from my blog for a few days and I know you’ll understand.
by Charlie Leck

It’s Christmas morning and the house is still quiet. Everyone except for me is sleeping. I am wide awake and pleased with the way the living room looks. Santa Claus has been here and he has left overflowing stockings for everyone. I’ve peeked into my stocking and notice that Santa brought me lots of photography accessories for my camera – and a book of American short stories as well.

The Vikings won a game yesterday against the Washington Redskins! (Can you believe it?)

Our littlest one got in quite late last night on a flight from New York City. She’s brought a boy friend home with her. Mother went to the airport to get them. I was sound asleep. Santa’s helpers work awfully hard and I just ran out of gas.

The tree is beautiful. Outside, there is no snow. The weatherman is claiming we’ll have temperatures in the 40s – here in Minnesota! Imagine!

The dawn is just breaking. (I know there's an ungodly post-time listed for this blog, but that's California time, where this blog is posted by Google, but here the sky is beginning to lighten.) In the backyard, 18 wild turkeys are strutting along the edge of the woods at the bottom of the hill. I can see them from here and they are beautiful. They are heading to the big corn crib in the north pastures. I think they’ll have a nice Christmas. I hope you do, too.

I won’t be back for a few days. I want to spend time with my visiting family. I’ll resume blogging on Thursday or Friday. By then, there will be plenty to write about.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

On Christmas Eve

On this day before Christmas I send greetings – tidings of great comfort and great joy!
by Charlie Leck

“Through the tender mercy of our God, when the day shall dawn upon us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” [Luke 1:78-79]

The Christian message has always be one of hope and peace – hope and peace! The message of Christmas has to do with the dawning of a new day, when a new counselor comes to guide us more clearly and steadfastly toward that peace. “Oh, oh, tidings of comfort and of joy – comfort and joy – oh, tidings of comfort and of joy!”

Seek peace, all ye who believe! And urge the nations to seek peace throughout the world!
A joyous Christmas to you all!

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Pick a Winner in Iowa Race

Can we really pick a winner in the Iowa campaign? Remember, this is not a primary vote but a caucus procedure. There’s a big difference!
by Charlie Leck

Voting in a primary is quite simple; still many people don’t do it and primary turnouts are less than 50 percent smaller than regular, national elections (often much less than 50 percent).

Turnouts to political caucuses are incredibly small
and no one, who really understands the process, would argue that they are really representative. We don’t have primaries here in Minnesota for these national elections – we caucus by party. We had a huge turnout in my precinct for the 2008 attempt to indicate a Democratic Party presidential choice. In my precinct caucus we had about 30 people.
I think there will likely be even less this year – maybe even as few as a dozen – because it appears no one is going to oppose Obama. Even so, very important decisions are made at these caucuses and sometimes it’s only 5 or 6 people who make these decisions. It’s the beginning of the process to endorse candidates to other offices as well – including the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and the state legislature.

I’ll be at my Democratic Party caucus again this year because I understand the importance of those gatherings.

We’ve been misled because Iowa’s choices aren’t really that important!
As I write this, the dependable polling in Iowa shows that the winner is likely to be either Mitt Romney or Ron Paul. Readers and friends from regions far east and west of here are not agreeing with me. They’re betting on Gingrich. It looks to be as if Gingrich is now fading, however.

Listen, Iowa is just a hop, skip and a jump from where I sit writing this and I kind of know Iowa and how Iowans think. They don’t like the million-plus dollar payout that Gingrich took from Fanny Mae for a “consulting” job. They’re tittering about it! They also don’t like it that he’s had three wives and that he was involved in a very hot extra-marital affair while he was hammering Bill Clinton for doing so while Clinton was President. They also don’t like it that Gingrich has run up tabs of over a quarter of a million dollars at the famous Tiffany store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

Two weeks ago I put my money on Mint Romney. I feel jittery about that now. Romney just isn’t catching fire down there. It’s starting to look more and more like Congressman Ron Paul may overtake the former Massachusetts Governor. Ron Paul is an Iowa kind of guy.

January 3 is the date and a lot depends on the weather!
The weather will be a factor in Iowa. If it turns mean on January 3, with very low, cold temperatures and some significant snow, the turnout could be very low. Only the deeply committed will venture out into the freezing night. Whenever you listen to Iowa folks talking about Mr. Romney, they sound very soft on supporting him. It’s difficult to go out on a cold, snowy night to support someone you’re just not sure about.

So, what if Ron Paul wins?
A victory in Iowa, contrary to conventional wisdom, is not all that important just because it does represent such a small majority of the state’s voting citizens. We won’t get a real sense of who the President is going to run against until well into April. And, don’t count out Rick Santorum to be there at the end.

How does the caucus work?
In January of 2008 I wrote a blog about the caucus procedure:
The Place of the Caucus. Check it out!

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


The movie has opened and it is raking in big bucks. On some quiet afternoon next week, I’ll go see it and feel sad that Stieg Larsson did not live to see his great success.
by Charlie Leck

For a blog I wrote a week or so ago (Women and Sex Abuse in Minnesota), I went hunting through Stieg Larsson’s book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, to find a couple of quotations. While hunting there, I found another…

“What she had realized was that love was that moment when your heart was about to burst.”
I’ve thought about that a lot. Don’t ask me why! It’s cute and it may accurately describe the moment when you realize you’ve fallen in love; however, being in love is something so much more. Love is not a moment; it’s a realization that you are committed for the long haul – that this person for whom you have these feelings is the best and most precious thing that has ever happened to you and you want that relationship to continue forever.

As Christmas approaches, I think about these things. I choose my gifts in such a way that they might be symbols that will express the deep and abiding feelings I have (the emphasis should be on the word abiding).
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Stieg Larsson and his trilogy of books!
When I mentioned last week that I had read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I had a couple of readers email me and ask what I thought of it and whether I was going to see the movie.
The book captivated me! The story was incredible but, somehow, authentic. I went with it and got involved in it and couldn’t put it down. It was tough, however, and I wouldn’t want my wife to read it – or my children for that matter (though most of them have).

Yes, I’ll probably see the movie. My wife won’t want to see it. She can’t stand that kind of fiction and she’s revolted by it. A good Seabiscuit movie is up her alley – or the New Muppet Movie. After Christmas I’ll wander into a theatre and catch the two o’clock showing of the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Another asked if I’d read any more of Larsson’s books? Yes, I read the trilogy. I don’t know why. I’d use the same word that I used earlier– captivated. I was captivated by them. Salander – the girl with the dragon tattoo – was an extraordinary character and I wanted to follow her into more adventures.

It’s a good writer who can entwine his readers that way. We are not talking Dostoyevsky here, mind you – but a compact and neat little writer indeed. The books are mystery thrillers and, as such, they are exceptionally good. You could call them the ultimate “page turners.”

Larsson was best known as a Swedish journalist. In 1991 he and Anna-Lena Lodenius published a book entitled Extremhögern (the Extreme Right). The movement frightened Larsson. Reading about that, I must say, sort of endeared me to Larsson. He was a leader in warning Sweden against extremism, organized racism and anti-Semitism. So active and out-spoken was he that he had to fear attacks. He urged those within the activist network to keep their addresses as unknown as possible and to avoid being photographed. In 1995 he founded the magazine Expo that aimed at defining true democracy and exposing the dangers of the extreme right. Shortly after the magazine went public, newsstands and shops that sold it were attacked and damaged. It was a warning that things could get worse. It opened the eyes of many Swedes to the dangers of the radical right wing. The reaction across the nation was swift and positive. The clear dangers posed by such radicals became obvious.

Larsson was born in 1954 in the small Swedish town of Skelleftehamn. It’s on the sea, about 500 miles north of Stockholm and only about 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Larsson was only a teenager, living in Stockholm, when he joined the 1968 protest marches against the Vietnam War. It was during that period that he met the woman, Eva Gabrielsson, who would become is life-long partner. By his late teens, Larsson was reading in English. Writing was always his first love and he began banging out never published stories when he was twelve.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was rejected by the first publisher who examined it. Undaunted, Larsson wrote two more volumes in the series and one of his friends, Robert Aschberg, was convinced they were good. He got them before Norstedts, a large publishing house in Sweden and, in April 2004, the company offered a contract. On November 9 of that same year, Larsson died of a heart attack – only 50 years old. The books would have made him very rich. Because he had never officially married his life-long partner and lover, she received none of Larsson's exceptional income over the years since his death. It has gone to his father and brother, from whom he was very distanced. It is the really sad chapter in the story.

I’m glad I’ve read the works. I wish Larsson had lived on.
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hooray for Duluth!


The City Council of the City of Duluth (Minnesota) passed a resolution opposing the constitutional amendment limiting marriage to that between a man and a woman.
by Charlie Leck

In November, Minnesotans will vote on an amendment to its state constitution that will define marriage as that between a man and a woman.

Let’s make it clear: Whether I’m heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian or schmeterosexual, I think the proposed amendment to our constitution is absolutely stupid. I have so many homosexual and lesbian friends who deserve the right to marriage as much as I do – or as you do!

If fact, however, as silly as I think the proposed amendment is, it will probably pass in the vote that will take place in November 2012  unless a lot of us are willing to work awfully hard to defeat it.

Congratulations to the City Council of Duluth for being so brave. It was not a unanimous vote (6-2) but it was an encouraging and a courageous one nevertheless.
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Payroll Tax Cut

There is a strange argument going on in Washington about the renewal of the payroll tax cut for the middle class!
by Charlie Leck


There’s a strange debate (or argument) going on among Republicans and Democrats in Washington right now – very, very strange indeed! It’s the veriest!


Here’s how it shakes out. The Republicans will want to extend tax cuts for the wealthy when the time comes around in a couple of months BECAUSE it will be good for the economy – just as they extended those cuts a few months ago. The wealthy will invest in the American economy, they say, and that creates job and economic activity. However, the Republicans do NOT want to extend payroll tax cuts for the middle class BECAUSE that will not be good for the economy since it will just drive up deficits.

Shake your finger at them, Mr. President. Shame, shame, shame! Shame on you!

Make sure the American public knows just which side the Republican Party is on! Don’t let them off the political hook on this one.

John Boehner
The House Speaker, Mr. Boehner, is showing his stripes in this debate and he’s proving to the public that he is not a real leader in the House. A few days ago he was all in favor of extending these middle class cuts. Now, as he sees and feels the temperament and desires of House Republicans, he is reversing field and trying to defend himself. The new, freshman Tea Party representatives have put the squeeze on Boehner and he is acquiescing to their desires
.
If the Republicans really fail to extend these cuts they will be damaging their chances in the 2012 elections to a degree that is really unimaginable. The power of the vote is the one great advantage that the poor and the middle class have in this nation. If they feel that power, and flex that muscle, the Republican Party will be devastated next November.

This country is being done great damage by a handful of Tea Party representatives and Boehner should not be letting them get away with it; however, the Speaker is a hollow shell and cannot do what needs to be done – that is, lead!

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Women and Sex Abuse in Minnesota











I just freaked out when I read the little blurb in MinnPost!
by Charlie Leck

Is it possible? Tell me, for heaven’s sake, that it is not. The Centers for Disease Control says that “nearly half of Minnesota women experience some kind of sexual abuse…” and “…about 22 percent of Minnesota women have been raped in their lifetime [sic], and more that 48 percent of Minnesota women have experienced sexual violence other than rape…”

Here’s the story as reported by MinnPost. It can lead you to more complete stories and to the original sources for the report. I just can’t handle reading any further.

Honest to God, I just don’t know what to say. As a father of four daughters, this angers and terrifies me.

I just couldn’t imagine! Say it ain’t so!

This whole thing reminded me, very surprisingly, of some little dot or tittle that I had read in one of Stieg Larsson’s books. I browsed through them quickly. It would be impossible to find it. Suddenly, on the page introducing the Part One of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I saw it: “Eighteen percent of the women in Sweden have at one time been threatened by a man.”

Then, in the same book, on the page that started Part Two, I found more: “Forty-six percent of the women in Sweden have been subjected to violence by a man.”

And, beginning Part Three: “Thirteen percent of the women in Sweden have been subjected to aggravated sexual assault outside of a sexual relationship.”

Then, at the start of Part Four: “Ninety-two percent of women in Sweden who have been subjected to sexual assault have not reported the most recent violent incident to the police.”

What the hell? Some things are too big for me – so big that I cannot get my mind around them!
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Occupy Harvard


Again, what is the Occupy Movement all about? I know I’ve asked the question and attempted to answer it before, but now I’ve found some intellectual support for some of the things I’ve been saying.
by Charlie Leck

Here’s what it’s about…
The income distribution of the top one percent of people in America has gone up 250 or 300 percent since 1979 while everyone else, especially the bottom strata, has remained flat. The distribution of wealth — the amount people have in the bank or in investments – is even more alarming and shows the top one percent controls 33 percent of the accumulated wealth in the entire country.

I think it is incumbent upon educated people to understand this issue. We are being irresponsible if we do not pursue an understanding of the Occupy Movement and what they are protesting.

Now, here’s a place where you can go to hear and watch a number of college level lectures about these events and these economic problems. Professors from Harvard University, Boston College and New York University try to explain what the protestors are trying to demonstrate and what difference actually exists between the 99 percent and the 1 percent. There are eight lectures in the series and, I must admit, I have listened (watched) each one of them. They run from a half hour to fifty minutes.

I was particularly taken by the lecture of Harvard Law School professor Christine Desan: “Booms and Busts: The Legal Dynamics of Modern Money.”

It is absolutely amazing what you can find on the internet and here is an example of the phenomenon.

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Frightening Christmas Greetings

With Newt, whatcha see is whatcha get!
by Charlie Leck

Not much to be said. This is a quick, down and dirty blog.



See you tomorrow with something more substantive.
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Politics once led A Wonderful Life


I can remember when politics was positive – when parties competed to present the best ideas to grow the nation and secure the futures of all the people! They were the good old days!
by Charlie Leck

I’ve become a follower of the bog of Minnesota’s former Governor, Arne Carlson (Governor Arne Carlson). His blog this morning is Bedford Falls or Pottersville. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It says everything that I’ve been trying to say about the weird direction of state and national politics.

“…Republicans produced an endless array of truly talented legislators from all over Minnesota who came to our capital city to govern and always with an eye to the future. Simply put, Republicans, like their counterparts, the Democrats, felt that good politics stemmed from the competition of good ideas that produced quality governance.

“And in this mix, leaders from every walk of life and every profession from medicine to agriculture participated. There seemed to be a sense of obligation to give something of oneself in order to build a better community for our children.”

Please go to this blog and read it – and it doesn’t matter if you are from Minnesota or not! It doesn’t matter if you are a Republican or a Democrat. This is a statement that we’ve got to force our politicians to heed.

Unfortunately, Carlson is a hollow and little heard voice in the Republican Party these days. Not too much attention will be paid to this message by the current handlers of his former party. That’s too bad! I long for the days when Republicans and Democrats could talk to each other and not despise each other.

Carlson is leaving behind an enormous and positive legacy. He is hailed by many in our state as its finest governor ever!

I have a feeling – I just have a sneaky feeling – that a new day is not so far ahead; it’ll be a day when the people clean house and bring leaders to prominence in both parties who will again practice the gentle art of political compromise and cooperation.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bound for Glory


Bound for Glory is an amazing new exhibit from the Library of Congress!
by Charlie Leck

The Library of Congress web site is among my favorites. I keep a link to it very handy on my Internet browser.

Well, the Library of Congress recently announced an amazing new exhibit (Bound for Glory) that includes a wonderful compilation of color photographs from the era at the tail end of the Great Depression and into the beginning of World War II (1939-1943). If you go to this web site to take a look, click over to “Exhibition Items” to actually see the photographs.

What a dream exhibit for U.S. history researchers and for photographers! You won’t be wasting your time if you go take a look at the 70 photographs in this exhibit. It’s my understanding that there are many, many more photos – all taken by the Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information – and we’ll get to see the additional ones sometime in the future. Nevertheless, this first bunch of photographs will keep you busy and pleased.

For your pleasure, I've posted several of them below.

It's a lovely exhibit and I'm sure you'll enjoy it!

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

6 November 2012

former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the media-anointed Republican nominee of this electoral cycle, has in fact been running for president since at least 2006. It's been his only real “job” since leaving the governorship in 2008. In his life, he is now the embodiment of the perpetual candidate, and yet even those who make him the butt of endless TV jokes don’t find that fact strange or particularly worthy of comment.

Yes, though I know it’s difficult for you to believe, the presidential election is less than a year away!
by Charlie Leck

Are you ready for some...(hold note for several seconds)……………………..
political campaigning?

Oh, my goodness! It’s almost time to clang loudly on the bell and bring the fighters to the center of the ring. The referee will inspect the fighters’ gloves and examine their boxing trunks. Then he’ll give the instructions: “No hitting below the belt! No clinching and no hitting the back of your opponent’s head. No hitting a man who is down or helpless on the ropes. Let’s have a nice clean fight! Touch your gloves now and come out fighting when the bell rings!”

The Washington Post estimates that the President is spending and will spend 12 percent of his time in fund raising and campaigning in the 24 months before the election.

George Romney is unemployed. So, he’ll be able to spend a much greater part of his working time than that on his presidential campaign if he gets the endorsement. I’m still predicting he will. As Tom Englehart says on one of his recent blogs...

"...former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the media-anointed Republican nominee of this electoral cycle, has in fact been running for president since at least 2006. It's been his only real 'job' since leaving the governorship in 2008. In his life, he is now the embodiment of the perpetual candidate, and yet even those who make him the butt of endless TV jokes don’t find that fact strange or particularly worthy of comment."

More money will be spent on the coming campaign than any in history – even if you level the value of the dollar over the nation’s history. Perhaps, a billion dollars will be spent on the 2012 presidential campaign.

I promise you, you’re going to get the best president money can buy!

Ain’t it a great country?

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Monday, December 12, 2011

What’s going on in Russia?


The little people in Russia are fed up – way up to here!
by Charlie Leck

Over the weekend, I read the stories coming out of Russia – accounts about tens of thousands of people gathering to protest the recent putrid and fixed election. Good! Hooray! Let ‘em have it you folks. Start your shouting: “We’re angry as hell and we’re not going to take this anymore!”

It’s a new world we live in – a Facebook, Twitter, texting and emailing world that allows us instant contact with hundreds and even thousands of people. Russia is no exception.

And… “How ya’ gonna keep ‘em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paris?”

Think the Russian protests have anything to do with Occupy Wall Street? You bet they do! And, this is only the beginning of a very changed and new world. We’ve looked carefully and the king is naked!

Maxim Trudolubov, an editor of a daily biz paper in Moscow, gives us an interesting and honest report.

“The reaction to last weekend’s fraud-tainted parliamentary elections has been like nothing I have seen since the early 1990s.”

The dominance of Putin over the Russian political system has begun to fade. His announcement that he plans to run again for President – and perhaps for a term of 12 years – has the people of the street and factories very frustrated.

It will be interesting to keep our eyes on Mother Russia.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Jazz for Cows


It’s Sunday morning! Take it easy, sit back and enjoy some neat jazz for cows!
by Charlie Leck

Here’s a Sunday morning treat that will get you all jazzed up and ready to go. It is absolutely delightful – just all fun and lightness and perfect for a Sunday morning. It, like so many of my Sunday recommendations for you, comes from Open Culture.

This one is Jazz for Cows – you’ll get to enjoy a wonderful rendition of When the Saints Come Marching In and you’ll get to see it played for some cows on the French countryside (near Autrans – southeast of Lyon, near Grenoble).

The jazz group is the New Hot Five and you can find out more about them, listen to clips, view additional videos and order CDs by visiting their web site. For instance, look to the right hand column on their home page and listen to Maryland, My Maryland. It’s a great jazz version of the famous old state song of Maryland.

If you like the video above, here’s another 3 minute clip from You Tube of the same group playing for the same cows…

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gingrich and the Slime Factor


Newt Gingrich is one of the toughest, dirtiest SOBs in American Politics! If you get in a fight with him it’ll be a helluva brawl.
by Charlie Leck

Almost 20 years ago Newt Gingrich was a significant leader of the Republican Party and he, along with Frank Luntz, a wordsmith, put together an attack plan for party members to use against opponents (Democrats). The plan outlined a number of hot-button words that should be used against opponents.

Traitors

Radical

Selfish

Shallow

Bizarre

Corrupt

Back then Gingrich explained that these words “can create a clear and easily understood contrast… Apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals and their party.”

Wow! Talk about a lack of substance!

Dana Milbank, an opinion writer for the Washington Post, reminds his readers, in a very well written piece, of the Gingrich methodology. Milbank dug up the old memo that Newt had circulated among Republicans running for office.

Now that Gingrich has become the sudden leader in the race for the Republican endorsement in the presidential primaries, Newt’s techniques are coming back to bite him. I urge you to read the Milbank column: Newt’s Nastiness Comes Back to Haunt Him.

This is the kind of politics that Americans are sick and tired of and the continued use of these techniques in the coming campaign could cause a very serious backlash against those who apply such strategies (whether Republican or Democrat).

Newt Gingrich’s dirty little history in American politics is not going to serve him well in this race. There’s no doubt that Gingrich is bright, intellectual and clever. His cleverness often borders on nastiness and dirtiness. More and more people are going to be dragging up reminders of Newt’s past as Milbank does in this column.

Gingrich as President of the United States? I just can’t imagine it! Intellectually, he’s the direct opposite of Bachmann and Palin and Perry and Cain; yet there’s a certain slime factor that surrounds Gingrich that doesn’t seem to fit with being President. (Before I used it, I looked for some synonyms for the word slime and I came up with: glop, goo, gook, gunk, mire, mucus, scum, sludge, smut, crud, dregs, excrement, garbage, putridity, rottenness, sleaze, feculence, filth and foulness. Use any one of them, as you wish, for a substitute noun.)

Am I being too tough? Hey! What I’m doing here is showing you just how the Gingrich technique works.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Follow the Money


Follow the money if you can, if you can! Follow all that money if you can! (Sing it to the tune of “She’ll be comin’ round the mountain!”)
by Charlie Leck

A former chief executive at MF Global says he hasn’t an idea whatsoever about what happened to all that money.

We are not talking here of a buck or two, you understand. In this case, Jon S. Corzine is talking about “many hundreds of millions of dollars.” In the end, the tally might add up to well over a billion dollars. Geez, Louise!

MF Global is currently being liquidated. The firm was supposed to keep funds invested by clients separate from its own corporate funds and reserves. Somehow they got all mixed up.

“How’d that happen, Mr. Corzine?”

The gentlemen from New Jersey didn’t have the slightest idea what had become of those funds or how they got all mixed up. Strange how guys from NJ tend to make oversights like this! Isn’t it?

Mr. Corzine is a former governor of New Jersey. He was also, for a time, a U.S. Senator from New Jersey.

The feds are, of course, investigating. That inquiry is being led by the FBI. Of course, Mr. Corzine has not been able to be helpful.

Corzine has, however, issued a touching apology to the company’s customers, who “are bearing the brunt of the impact of the firm’s backruptcy.”

No kidding, Mr. Corzine! No kidding!

An independent auditing company indicated that customers’ fund were adequately segregated prior to October 31 of last year. Sometime after midnight on the morning of October 31 those funds went missing.

Trick or treat!

On November 4, Corzine issued a statement indicating his “great sadness for what has transpired at MF Global…”

Oh, geez! Thanks Mr. Corzine!

Isn’t life wonderful? Still wondering why all those folks parading around on Wall Street, protesting, are so angry and bewildered?

Mr. Corzine is personally a very, very wealthy man. This huge mystery will have very little impact on him – unless, of course, he has to spend a bit of time in a federal prison for being so careless as to lose that billion dollars of other people’s money.

What a revoltin’ development this is?

It’s an amazing world, is it not? A billion here! A billion there!

Find a way to be helpful to those Wall Street Occupiers, will you?

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