Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Great North Carolinian - Jim Hunt

Above is a nice photo of former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt and current NC Secretary of State and Democratic candidate for the United States Senate Elaine Marshall. Marshall is in a close race with the incumbent U. S. Senator from North Carolina, Richard Burr.

Jim Hunt was a two-term NC Governor, two different times, serving 16 years as Governor. The ironic thing is that when he first become Governor, no NC Governor had served more than one term, or four years, (by law NC Governors could not succeed themselves). Hunt got the law changed and served 16 years. ('76 to '84 and '92 to '00).

I recall the first time I met Hunt. I had a glass of wine in each hand and was unable to shake hands with him. We were at a Democratic reception and Jay Rockefeller (John D. Rockefeller, IV), U. S. Senator from West Virgina, had ask me to go get he and I a glass of wine. When I returned, Rockefeller was with Hunt and he introduced Hunt to an embarrassed guy whose hands were both occupied with spirits (Hunt was a teetotaler). I was fortunate to met him on several other occasions and we recalled the incident with fondness.

Hunt was a very accomplished Governor, greatly improving education standards in NC and successfully recruiting much high tech industry to the state. He created the NC School for Math and Science (the first of it's kind in the nation) and the NC Biotechnology Center. He ran a very close race and a bitterly fought campaign against Jesse Helms in 1984 for the U. S. Senate. Helms slipped in on the coattails of an incumbent President, Ronald Reagan.

Hunt was on the short list for Vice President in 2000, and was highly considered for Secretary of Education by President Obama. Among many other national involvements, Hunt chaired the Carnegie Commission on Education, which created the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.

In retirement, and at age 73, Hunt chairs the board of directors at two institutes named for him, and he practices law at one of the state's largest and most prestigious firms, Womble Carlyle. In my humble opinion, Jim Hunt ranks as one of the 3 greatest and most accomplished North Carolinians on the past 50 years, along with Terry Sanford and Billy Graham. Kudos to Jim Hunt, for a life of service well lived.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Political Family - The Carvilles

One of my favorite political consultant/pundits is James Carville. He is one of the most colorful, and one of the most successful, political strategists of our lifetime. He is, of course, married to Republican political consultant Mary Matalin. They met during the 1992 Presidential campaign, as they were running opposing presidential campaigns.

James holds a law degree from LSU and is an ex-Marine. He now lives with his family in New Orleans and he teaches political science at Tulane University. Some of his more humorous quotes include, " Wars is like an affairs, they're easy to get into and hard to get out of." And, "I was against gay marriage until I realized I didn't have to have one."

James, at age 65, has worked as a political consultant around the world, including for heads of state in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. Now an actor, commentator, attorney, media personality, and liberal pundit, as well as professor, James has gained a reputation for his toughness, directness, honesty, and intellect. He is a pleasure to follow....a character of our time.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Facts Versus Beliefs

Our assumption always is that if people are furnished with the facts, they will be clear thinkers and better citizens. If they are ignorant, facts will enlighten them. If they are mistaken, facts will set them straight. Well, maybe not, according to a study done at the University of Michigan.

Facts don't necessarily have the power to change our minds. Researchers found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Facts could actually make misinformation even stronger among the misinformed as they "dig their heels in" to justify their factually wrong positions.

Research found that many people already have beliefs......a set of facts lodged in their minds. When notions they hold are proven false, instead of changing their minds to reflect the correct information, they entrench themselves even deeper. "The general idea is that for some people, it can be absolutely threatening to admit you're wrong. The phenomenon - know as backfire - is a natural defense mechanism to avoid cognitive dissonance", the lead researcher on the Michigan study said.

We often base our opinions on our beliefs, which can have an uneasy relationship with facts. Rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we chose to accept. Worst of all, our preconceived notions can lead us to uncritically accept bad information just because it reinforces our beliefs. This reinforcement makes us more confident we're right, and even less likely to listen too any new information. The effect has been heighten by the information glut.....endless rumors, misinformation, etc. on the Internet and cable TV. In other words, it has never been easier for people to be wrong, and at the same time feel more certain than ever that they're right.

How can we have things so wrong, and be so sure that we're right? Because people tend to interpret information with an eye toward reinforcing their pre-existing views. The research suggests that once those facts, or what are thought of as "facts", are internalized, they are very difficult to budge. It was observed that politically sophisticated thinkers were even less open to new information than less sophisticated types. These people may be factually right 90% of the time, but their confidence makes it nearly impossible to correct the 10% on which they're totally wrong.

It is unclear what drives the behavior. It can range from simple defensiveness to how we are wired. But research found one interesting, rather clear driver. It involves self-esteem. In other words, if you feel good about yourself, you'll listen, you'll be open to the ideas of others, to new information. If you feel insecure or threatened, you are less likely to be open to new information and dissenting opinions. This is why voters who are fearful, insecure, and feel threaten, are so easily controlled and manipulated by politicans.

An interesting book related to this topic is, "On Being Certain - Believing You Are Right Even When You Are Not", by Robert A. Burton, M. D. Dr. Burton, a neurologist, shows and argues that feeling certain - feeling that we know something - is actually a mental sensation, rather than evidence of fact. His work suggests that feelings of certainty stem from primitive areas of the brain and are independent of reasoning. In other words, the feeling of knowing happens to us, we cannot make it happen.........a discussion for another day, but recommended reading.

The University of Michigan study is an interesting study in a time of information overload. The lesson may be to feel good about yourself, be willing to listen to new information, be willing to challenge your preconceived notions, and as Dr. Steven Covey would say, "seek first to understand, then to be understood."

(Source for this piece, "How Facts Backfire", by Joe Keohane - Boston Globe)

Picture of the Day

Nice shot taken at the great little minor league ballpark in Greensboro. Summer is winding down. Final home stand starts Monday. Always sort of a sad time of the year.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Great Will Rogers

Will Rogers was a great early 20th century humorist, cowboy, social commentator, vaudeville performer, and actor. He died in a 1935 place crash with his best friend, famed aviator, Wylie Post. He was called the leading political wit of the Progressive Era. My parents referenced Rogers often.

Some of his simple wisdom:

- Never slap a man who is chewing tobacco.
- There are two theories on arguing with a women....neither of them work.
- There are three kinds of men: the ones who learn by reading, the few who learn by observation, and the one's who have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves.

Some of his observations about aging:

- The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.
- When you are dissatisfied and want to go back to your youth, think algebra.
- One must wait until evening, to see how splendid the day has been.
- I want people to know 'why' I look the way I do. I've traveled a long way, and some of the roads weren't paved.

Will was an important early 20th century character.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Picture of the Day

The great Branch Rickey, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the man who broke baseball's color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson in 1947, gets an autograph from Don Larson after Larson's perfect game 5 in the 1956 World Series against Mr. Rickey's Dodgers.

Rickwood Field: Oldest Baseball Park in America

These are photos of the oldest baseball park still in use in America, Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala.

The middle image is a post card of Opening Day, 100 years ago today, August 18, 1910. The Barons defeated the rival Montgomery Climbers 3-2 before 10,000 fans. The AA Barons of the Southern League played at Rickwood until 1987 when they moved to Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.

The famous Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro League also called Rickwood Field home. Willie Mays, who grew up minutes away, was a 16-year old centerfielder on the 1948 championship Black Barons team. My good Greensboro friend, Ken Free, the first African American player I ever saw play in person, told me he played at Rickwood in the Negro League several times between 1953 to 1959.

Since 1996, the AA Barons have returned to their roots for one afternoon game a year. They say that many of the older black fans who attend sit out in the right field bleachers, where they had to sit in the old days. Friends of Rickwood have spent $2. million refurbishing the park in recent years. Scenes from the movies Cobb and Soul of the Game were filmed there.

I can envision now, a Black Barons game in the '40s, a hot Birmingham Sunday afternoon packed house, African American brothers and sisters, "dressed to a tea", escaping the toil of 20th century Birmingham, cheering on those Black Barons. Next time I am close to Birmingham, you will find me seated in this place.

Here is an excellent Rickwood Field website. (Click on "History" and pull the ball down for outstanding photos).

(Post card image compliments of friend Neal Robertson)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Picture of the Day

Above is a great picture taken at the 1965 Pro Bowl of Johnny Unitas, Coach Don Shula , and Fran Tarkenton. I played high school football in 1965 at Greensboro Page.

The image comes from the photo collection of my facebook friend Fran Tarkenton. Fran is a very interesting guy. After a very successful Hall of Fame career at the Minnesota Vikings and a great college career at Georgia, Tarkenton became one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the history of the NFL. Fran has written a number of motivational books and has been a prominent speaker on the motivational speaker circuit. He founded and sold a software company, has hosted numerous TV infomercials, has written a novel, and he founded and still operates an annuity marketing firm, among many other projects. We are certainly not talking about a slow, former football player here. :)

Tarkenton and his wife make their home in the Buckhead community of Atlanta.

A great photo of three great football legends from a by-gone era.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Ground Zero Mosque Debate

As my friend Richard Johnson said, "anyone who doesn't think American Muslims should be allowed to build a $100. million interfaith community center and Mosque near ground zero should watch the above video." American Muslims fight and die for America, just like other Americans. They fight for our way of life, for religious freedom, for the Bill of Rights, just like other Americans.

President Obama, said, "As a citizen and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan in accordance with laws and local ordinances."

Yes, the proposed site is two blocks from ground zero. But American Muslims had no more to do with 9/11 than American Christians had to do with the 1993 Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing. Over the years, intolerant religious groups have opposed other houses of worship being built in America, from Jewish synagogues to Catholic churches. A Christian church cannot be built in Saudia Arabia. Do we want to lower ourselves to that standard? Or are we better than that?

Republicans, very vocal in their opposition to the Mosque, seem to have abandoned the constitution on both the re-writing of the 14th amendment and on the mosque issue. They want to use both issues for political purposes as both issues are polling in opposition to the view of the party in power.

Public opinion really does not matter on these issues. We do not, we cannot, put the Bill of Rights, especially freedom of religion, to a vote. Freedom of religion is basic to who we are, to what we are about.

Today, 40 prominent religious leaders in America released a statement condemning the opposition to the Islamic center and Mosque. (See the statement and the names of the 40 below). The statement concludes, "Mr. Gingrich and Ms. Palin and other prominent voices who are fortunate to have the ear of the media would make a more lasting contribution to our nation if they stopped issuing inflammatory statements and instead helped inspire a civil dialogue between Christian, Jews, and Muslims committed to a future guided by principles of justice, compassion, and peace. Fear-mongering and hate rhetoric only undermine treasured values at the heart of diverse faith traditions and our nation's highest ideals."

In 1967, the great Senator Sam Ervin took to the Senate floor, with his best Senate speech, arguing for religious freedom and for separation of church and state. I am reminded of, and in total agreement with, his simple closing line, a basic American tenet for those who love religion and love the 1st Amendment. Sam said, "I revere religion. I revere religion because it gives us these promises and this hope. I would preserve and protect that right of religious freedom for all men."

Friday, August 13, 2010

Provincetown, Mass.

One of the most beautiful and pleasant villages by the sea I have visited is Provincetown, Mass. P-Town is located at the tip-top of the Cape Cod peninsula. It is best known for it's pristine beaches, and it's variety of summer festivals to honor the arts including a film festival and a jazz festival. Lobster is plentiful and well-priced in Provincetown. I spent two summers in the late '60s living in Chatham on Cape Cod (playing baseball in the Cape Cod League) and my girlfriend and I enjoyed visiting Provincetown often. P-Town is probably best known as a prominent east coast gay village.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Picture of the Day

Great image of The Boar and Castle. It was out on West Market in Greensboro, at the Guilford Dairy plant. It was an old, classic, curb service, high school hangout, especially big in the '40s, '50s. and '60s.

(Image compliments of Allan Nance).

America Is An Immigrant Nation - Oppose Repeal of 14th Amendment

Of course we need to secure the our borders and enforce our immigration laws. Of course we need to increase border patrol numbers. The President today signed a $600. million bill to bolster security at the U.S. - Mexico border. It supplies 1,500 new border patrol, more communications equipment, and unmanned aircraft.

But we should not consider tampering with the 14th Amendment which grants birthright citizenship. The history of the 14th Amendment goes back to the post-Civil War era. It was enacted to make certain that former slaves were granted full citizenship. Then it became a means by which babies of immigrant citizens would be granted full citizenship. Now it is being used as a wedge issue by the Republican Party to shore up their base with the use of terms like "drop and leave", (as if describing animals), in referring to Latinos allegedly coming to America to have their babies.

America is truly unique as a nation of immigrants. You come to America and you can become American. You cannot immigrate to France and become French, nor Italy and become Italian, nor Spain and become Spanish, nor Poland and become Polish. But you come to America and you uniquely can become American. What a great legacy, heritage, uniqueness of America.

Certainly there are challenges related to it today. There have always been challenges and resistance to the concept by some. We need only think back to the time of the signs which read "Irish Need Not Apply " during the early 20th century.

But the advantages have always outweighed the challenges. It is who we are! The creativity, initiative, intellect of our immigrant population is our strength. Yes, there has always been a criminal immigrant element, those who assimilate less well than others, those who require public assistance. And a segment of established immigrants have always taken issue with and had resistance toward new immigrants. That is human nature.

But this movement to repeal the 14th amendment, and the current movement to crack down on illegal immigration, has seeds of total opposition to immigration in America. As fiercely as it is denied, of course, there are also elements of race involved. There are elements of fear, race, resistance to change, and the attitude of "give me my country back" that are pervasive in the movement.

We must remember who we are as Americans. Unless we are Native Americans, we are all grandchildren of immigrants. As Americans, we need to be about the business of creating jobs and commerce with the same vigor, creativity, innovation, and initiative of our immigrant forefathers (whether they be bootleggers or bankers).

We need to insist that our borders be secured and that our laws be inforced. We need to recall clearly that, when ask, the Lord made clear that the most important commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves. Any actions or initiatives beyond these are flatout un-American.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Picture of the Day

Just a stunning looking bird. Uncertain of the type. May be a variety of The Painted Bunting.

Photo compliments of B. Thomas Joy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Picture of the Day

These are two great centers for Coach John Wooden's UCLA teams during the tumultuous years of 1967 to 1974.....Kareem Abdul Jabbar (left) and Bill Walton (right).

Jabbar (Lew Alcinder in high school before his conversion to Islam in college) was so dominant that the dunk was banned in college basketball from 1968 to 1976 as a result of his prowess. Walton, quite a character, kept close company with Patty Hearst in those days. He has attended 650 Grateful Dead concerts, including accompanying The Dead to Egypt for their performance in front of the Great Pyramids.

These guys had 5 NCAA National Championship between them and stellar, Hall of Fame NBA careers.......two interesting characters of our time.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Quite Another Time, Another Day

While a cool snapshot, this photo represents a very by-gone era. I dare say a large percentage of my facebook friends might not be able to name all four. This group (Hope, Wayne, Reagan, and Martin) dates back to the era when America was run by white, generally conservative, grayhaired men of northern European descent.

They might not recognize America themselves. Today, America has a black President, a female Secretary of State, 3 females/one Hispanic/one black on the 9 member Supreme Court, a black U.S. Attorney General, an abundance of female Fortune 100 CEOs, a black GOP National Party Chairman, a female Governor in my state, an Ivy League School Asian population of approximately 27% (42% at UC-Berkley in their state), gays can legally marry in the state where all four of these gentlemen lived, and 58% of people in Los Angeles (their hometown) lists a language other than English as their primary spoken language. The immediate past CEOs of Ebay and Hewlett Packard, both females, are vying for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in their home state, and the winner will run against Jerry Brown. ("Moonbeam"......some things never change.....he is a perennial candidate for office). :)

Who knows, these guys might surprise me with their acceptance and tolerance of an America that looks quite different from their by-gone era. I will choose to think so and hope so.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Obama Administration's Response to Gulf Oil Spill VERY SUCCESSFUL

Kudos to the Obama administration for a highly successful response to the Gulf oil spill to this point. Very much unlike the Bush administration's near absent response to Hurricane Katrina, there has been a swift and coordinated effort in this case.

President Obama's Energy Advisor Carol Browner (eerily close to "Brownie", Bush's failed and fired FEMA director), appearing on "Meet the Press" today, said "I think phase one is over because the well is not leaking. We see this as phase one and not the end by any means. This is the largest response ever to an environmental disaster. We had over 6,000 vessels, 40,000 people. There was skimming, there was containing, there was was very successful. The good new is that we are not seeing huge amounts of oil on the beaches and in the marshes. But there is still much work work to do."

Not only has the response effort been successful, but I believe my son, who is a political communications professional, would say the communications rollout, such as the above effective statement, has been superb. Effective communications with the public and getting the accurate message directly to the public, (around bias media outlets), quickly and often, is hugely important in such an endeavor.

Browner went on to say, "BP will be held absolutely accountable. There will be a large financial penalty. They will be responsible for paying to clean up the natural resource damages." Regarding the Gulf coast senator's proposal that 80% of the BP fines go to the Gulf Coast recovery, Browner said, "I think that makes alot of sense. The President is in favor of returning it to the region."

It is interesting how the three "small government" Republican Governors of the affected Gulf coast states (and the senators) were very welcoming of assistance and coordination from the federal government during the crisis. This is very understandable. But it certainly flies in the face of their constant call to limit the federal government's role in our lives. This is a perfect example of conservatives opposing government involvement until and unless the program or effort directly benefits them.

Browner went on to say that the deep-water drilling moratorium would be lifted if and when appropriate (good news for the "drill baby drill" group). She says an energy bill could be done during the lame duck session coming up. A comprehensive energy bill to address drilling safety, to promote alternative fuel development, to raise the cap for damages oil companies have to pay as result of spills, and to provide financial incentives to weatherize homes, would be a real plus for the American people and for the Obama Administration.

Hopefully Republicans will be on board for the energy bill now that cap and trade has been removed from consideration. And hopefully we can all give the administration a bi-partisan commendation and thank you for an effort well done in the Gulf oil spill crisis to this point. We still do that don't we?

45th Anniversary of Voting Rights Act - August 8, 1965

The signing ceremony in the Oval Office.

The confrontation at the infamous Edmund Pettis Bridge at the conclusion of march from Selma to Montgomery, 1965.

March participants.

Picture of the Day

One of the great American humorists of the 20th Century, Will Rogers, hidden by the mic, cracking a joke as President Roosevelt (far left) and his son James get a good laugh.
(Photo compliments of Neal Robertson)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Pictures of the Day

Osage, West Virginia, a coal town - 1938, as coal train cars come through the middle of town.
Hot summer day in New York City - 1912.

(Compliments of Neal Robertson).

Friday, August 6, 2010

America is Still Just An Experiment

I am not overly concerned about the continued economic strength and position of America. Thomas Freidman, one of our great thinkers, is still bullish on America, so who am I to be otherwise. But he is constantly warning us, as it relates to our economic position and strength in the world, to stay alert and be aware of developments in the world around us. Freidman would agree with me that America has some real, critical, and structural economic problems to attend to.

First, Americans have attitudinal problems related to consumption versus production. I am not referring to the fact that there are too many people in the cart and not enough pulling it. I am referring to the fact that for too long, a large percentage of Americans have purchased goods they did not need, with money they did not have. I sense that changing. But since so much of our economy is based on consumption (and credit), this, while somewhat positive, has big implications for our economy.

In addition, our annual trade imbalance exceeds $40 billion (we are buying $40 billion more in goods from the world we are selling to the world). What are we going to produce and manufacture in the future that Asians are going to continue buying (and buy more of)? In China, students study engineering, science, and technology. 27 million Chinese students are in technical school and technical college, the most in the world. American students study sports management, journalism, and the humanities.

Americans have not produced equal to their consumption for quite a few decades. We should be thankful that we have lived in the era of the microchip, the Internet, the personal computer, and other technological advances which have exponentially increased productivity. But where is the next wave of productivity coming from? What sector? What product or invention? What ideas? What world event?

Peggy Noonan, in an excellent Wall Street Journal opinion piece this week, talked about how Americans, for the first time, no longer assume that their children will have it better than they did. This is a huge departure from the past, she points out. This country was born on the idea that the next generation would always have better lives than their predecessors. "That was what kept people pulling their boots on in the morning after that first weary pause: 'my kids will have it better." Parents now fear something has happened. They are not sure what. Neither are top investment people and top economists.

The income gap between the upper and lower socioeconomic groups is widening at an unprecedented pace. Political leaders seem to have very little sense for the fear, the uncertainty, the pessimism that people are feeling deep down. There seems to be a detachment, a growing gulf, between America's thought leaders, and those living normal lives on the ground in America. This is very disconcerting to everyday, struggling Americans.

This sense of pessimism and powerlessness among mainstreet Americans, combined with major structural economic problems, is not a good place for America to be. I have confidence in the intelligence and ingenuity of America. But it is interesting to remember........the concepts and precepts on which America is founded are still experimental.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Senator Kennedy - Reflecting, Toward the End

I like this photo of Ted sitting on the porch of the Kennedy Compound in Hyannisport, looking out over the Nantucket Sound, waters he loved. He may be..... hopefully he is..... reflecting upon his long and productive life of public service.

The "Liberal Lion" they called him, among academics he ranks right up there with Henry Clay of Kentucky, John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, Robert Taft of Ohio, and Lyndon Johnson of Texas, as one of the greatest United States Senators in the esteemed history of the body.

The photo was taken on September 8, 2008. He died about a year later, August 25, 2009.

(Photo compliments of Robert G. Swan)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Picture of the Day

This is a White House photo of some North Carolina political heavyweights of the 20th century. They were at the White House for battleship USS North Carolina restoration commissioning ceremonies. They are left to right: Greensboro's Skipper Bowles (Erskine's Dad and the first unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Governor; he ran in 1972), U. S. Sen. B. Everett Jordan, Governor Luther Hodges (then Secretary of Commerce), U. S. Senator Sam Ervin, Governor Terry Sanford (to the right of President Kennedy.

Governor Sanford was very influential with President Kennedy. In 1960, he was the first southern Governor to endorse President Kennedy, and he gave the seconding speech for Kennedy at the 1960 Democratic convention.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Pictures of the Day - Chicago

Although I am happy to have lived my life in a relatively small city in the South, I love the excitement and energy of a big city. Chicago is such a beautiful city, with the Chicago River running through the middle of downtown by the towering skyscrapers. I am pleased to reflect on a few trips to this beautiful city on business and with my son over the years.

Spending time at Wrigley Field, Harry Caray's Restaurant (Harry was at the table next to me once; I've got a great picture of it), The Art Institute of Chicago, Comiskey Park, Niketown, jogging by the lake, a stroll through Grant Park and down the Magnificent Mile, provide for wonderful reflections of one of America's grand cities.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Bush Tax Cuts and The Federal Deficit

Below is commentary to support Fareed Zakaria's position regarding the chart above. The chart, based on congressional budget office estimates, illustrates the component parts of the federal deficit over the next 10 years. Zakaria is author of the great bestseller "The Rise of the Rest" and is, among other things, a CNN contributing coorespondent. He is a frequent lunch guest of the President. He is one of America's great contemporary thinkers and contributors to the national dialogue.

Fareed Zakaria, August 1, 2010 -

"George W. Bush's massive tax cuts are the largest single chunk of the structural budget deficit. This chart shows deficit growth over the next ten years and the dark orange strip shows just how much the Bush tax cuts add to the deficit.

Were the tax cuts to expire, the deficit would automatically shink by 30%......$300. billion+.

Republicans are adamantly opposed to any expiration of the Bush tax cuts. They say it would weaken the economy. They also argue that what is weakening the economy is the prospect of an unending budget deficit.

Federal tax receipts as a percentage of the economy are at the lowest level since 1950. Half of all Americans pay no income taxes.

We have to be willing to pay for the government we want, which by the way is among the smallest of western industrialized nations. Or we have to drastically cut government, which means cut programs popular among middle class Americans, since that is where most of the money is.

Let the entire slew of Bush tax cuts expire. That would take us back to the Clinton era rates where the American economy had its strongest growth in 3 decades and the first balanced budget in 4 decades.

Everyone wants the congress to act. This would require the congress to done nothing. LET THE BUSH TAX CUTS EXPIRE."

(The debate over the expiration of the Bush tax cuts will be spirited and critical as we continue to move out of this economic turndown. The off-year elections in November will further complicate the discussions. I will hope for, and look for, some courage and statesmanship from those in congress, as well a some strong leadership from the President. It should be interesting).

Although the cost for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are accounted for in the chart above, I add the link below for emphasis.

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