Monthly Archives: May 2015

Parental Choice in Education Plan in NYS – Not Ready for Prime Time (and Bill de Blasio)

Wow! Andrew Cuomo! What’s up with our governor? He has a bee in his bonnet about privatizing schools, although there is no proof that getting rid of public schools will help anyone or anything except the state and local governments and their budgets. If the various levels of government did not have to pay for public schools just think of what could be done, how many pockets could be lined?

Are we quite ready to give up public education which has been a cornerstone of America for several hundred years? Are we that angry at the unions? If schools are privatized we certainly won’t have teachers’ unions any more. Jobs in education will at held at the whim of the private management company that runs the “for profit” school. I would not expect any job security or benefits to arise from such a situation.

How will private schools compete with schools in other nations? There will no longer be an umbrella of standards to guide American schools, I assume. Each “company” will put forth its own plan. We won’t be sure how a company’s model will function until after the fact which could be a disservice to students who attend a badly managed school. There will be competition for students which could be a good thing, but could involve lots of false claims and promises. Why do we always assume that public = bad and private = good?

Second, I see no way this plan would benefit the poor. Tax breaks as incentives are a middle class enticement. The poor are not able to pay up front and then wait to reap the reward at tax time. This plan is obviously a plan that will maintain and expand the separation between social classes in America.

Governor Cuomo is trying to move too fast. He is skipping the planning that is necessary to form a good public/private partnership that will be a benefit to students. He has not paid his dues in research, groundwork and preparations that would allow his plans to succeed. Perhaps he was upset that he didn’t win his last battle with teachers and is acting out a few anger management issues of his own.

This law needs a lot of work before it is ready for a vote.

  • It needs oversight procedures.
  • It needs standards.
  • It needs a formula so public schools can plan how much state money they will have.
  • It needs a structure besides tax breaks to overcome the class privilege built into the law in its current form.

Until the groundwork and planning are done and are done in a manner educators find acceptable we need to vote “no” on this Parental Choice in Education Plan or Education Tax Credit Plan or any other name that appears on a ballot. This plan will destabilize the entire education system of New York State and it will not level the educational playing field one bit. Andrew Cuomo seems a bit power mad lately.

Our governor is even playing “Father Knows Best” with Mayor de Blasio in New York City. How can we see if Progressive approaches to city management will work if we allow our governor to put the kibosh on all Bill de Blasio’s plans for better schools and plans for keeping housing affordable enough to allow a few poorer New Yorkers to continue to live in their hometown. He would also like to relax the very stringent policing which has resulted in sending too many minorities to jails. Concentrate on all the schemers and corrupt politics, Governor Cuomo, and give Mayor de Blasio some room to do some the things he was elected to do.

I like a strong governor but not being governed by a one-man band that makes decisions without consultation or advance planning. What good will accrue if we get a strong leader at the cost of our democratic process?

By Nancy Brisson

Early Warning by Jane Smiley – Book (The Last Hundred Years Trilogy)

Early Warning follows Some Luck as Book two in Jane Smiley’s planned trilogy, a trio of books that follows a farm family, the Langdons, and their offspring through an entire century. In fact this bucolic verbal tryptic is called The Last Hundred Years Trilogy. As more and more offspring choose to leave the farm, the lives of the Langdon offspring obviously become less and less rural.

Walter and Rosanna are the founders of this Midwestern dynasty and the offspring become so numerous that it becomes difficult to trace them back up the family tree and to locate them back into their appropriate nest. It may be hard to keep track of who their parents are but they remain interesting characters/people.

Joe, one of the sons of Walter and Rosanna, farms on the land next to his father. He must predict each year which crops will sell best in next year’s market and he is good at choosing correctly. His farm prospers while others fail. Once in a while we can feel his exhaustion and, after he loses his wife, Lois, we feel his loneliness. The children have been to college and have jobs away from the farm, even some quite influential jobs. Joe and the matriarch Rosanna are at the center of this story.

Walter and Rosanna sire six children, Frank, Joe, Mary Elizabeth, Lillian, Henry and Claire. Five children survive and sire 13 offspring. Jane Smiley offers us some unique trait and fate to differentiate all these offspring and their mates, and in this second novel, Early Warning we get to experience this American farm family from the point at which, somewhere in the 40’s or early 50’s, the first volume, Some Luck, ends, through the Reagan years and into the Nixon years. Of all the events these years encompass this family seems most affected by the existence of the atomic bomb and the threat of nuclear war, thus the novel’s title.

It’s interesting to contrast Ken Follett’s view of the 20th century with Jane Smiley’s perspective. Ken Follett starts in Europe with the class divide between aristocrats and working class people. Since his characters live in Europe their lives are turned about and twisted by two World Wars.

Jane Smiley is describing an agrarian American experience and the farm becomes the lens through which we view the world. Smiley does not examine class in America but her farmers are quite conscious of legacy and inheritance, of success in a hard life, or failure. The places their children go in this second volume exemplify the great migrations in American culture away from a rural, farm-based lifestyle to the urban/suburban lifestyle.

Now we may be ready to cut ourselves loose from the suburbs in order to move onto the next thing. Will we move back to the farm – not corporate farming – the family farm; or will we move on to the hive cities that we worry technology might lead to where we live in a cubicle and only experience others through our computer interfaces?

It is brave to make the third novel in this trilogy have as its focus the post-Nixon years. It should be very interesting to see how Jane Smiley handles that.

By Nancy Brisson

Poor Obama

Poor Obama! It doesn’t look like he will have much fun in his last year and a half as our President. He didn’t get to accomplish many of the things on his agenda in his first six and a half years either, but at least the Democrats were occasionally on his side. Now he is offering up policies that even many Democrats have no taste for.

Quite a few Democrats do not support the Trans Pacific Partnership. I am talking about Congressional Democrats, but also about citizen Democrats (or civilian Democrats). Unions are often considered bastions of Democratic Party support for Democratic Presidents. However, the unions do not support the TPP.

All too many of us can picture the specter of more and more American factories and American jobs fleeing America as each trade agreement passed and took effect. Although we are told that this agreement will improve the balance of trade for the US we are all having great difficulty accepting this. This puts Obama, who helped negotiate this agreement, in the tough position of being at odds with his party. Republicans want to favor the trade agreement but Obama’s hands are all over it. For Republicans this is the kiss of death.

Next we have to decide whether to change the Patriot Act or to keep it as it is. The inclination in Congress (and for many Americans) is to stop mass collection of domestic phone data. It smacks of the kind of totalitarian state that George Orwell wrote about in 1984, and could eventually put an end to our freedom as it has already put an end to our privacy. We foresee that all that potential for abuse of power could one day result in actual state control over our speech and our actions. Obama has made it clear that he wants to leave the phone collection mechanism as it is. Once again he is at odds with his own party and, of course, predictably and ironically, with many Republicans.

Obama’s advisers have recommended a number of changes for our armed forces which would affect their pay or their pay raises and their benefits in adverse ways. No one likes to cut back on income or benefits when it involves our soldiers. But Obama favors the suggestions which involve privatizing pensions (in its favor, more soldiers would get pensions this way) He has not spoken about the fourteen other recommendations made by his administration. Still these suggestions are highly unpopular and once again do not suggest that Obama will get to go out in a blaze of glory.

So, poor Obama, for real! Can’t he at least, by the grace of God or whoever has power over the universe, find some really “sexy” issue or program, something we can all see as desirable, so that he can have a little fun to end a difficult Presidency. Can’t we send him back into private life with an air of celebration, rather than the same dreary air of someone being pulled backwards by his long coattails, trudging forward burdened by opposition until he is released, finally feeling only relief at being back to operating solely under his own power.

It seems like we could come up with some small, but significant victory that would cheer up all of America. Sadly, I cannot think of one thing that would do that trick. Perhaps something will save Obama from these issues that are too esoteric for most of us to truly understand by injecting a policy win we can all get behind, like an infrastructure fund.

By Nancy Brisson

The Media Blasts the Progressives

Sunday morning did not have much media presence on our TV’s because of soccer, which the networks hope will be the next great sports craze. However in just the tiny bit of time intellectuals were allowed this morning the media managed to warn Progressives that they were too focused on the middle class and they were about to ignore hordes of voters among the poor. Applying a bit of logic to this piece of skewed nonsense will show that Progressive/Liberal agenda items are not only important to the middle class; they could also be very important for those who are considered poor. But what the media may be suggesting is that the poor are deficient in logical thinking skills and will never realize these social programs would also help them. (Surely, the media wouldn’t do that!)

Americans who accept low paying jobs because they lack training and/or education often cannot afford to work because child care costs would wipe out their income. Single moms are in an especially precarious situation when they have no nearby family support system. If you can drop your children at home and if you know your Mom’s a nurturing person with a healthy lifestyle, then you are lucky indeed. Free day care along with universal pre-K, are certainly programs that would help lift some people out of poverty and programs which would also help the middle class.

Free training and college, another Progressive goal, especially if accompanied by reliable child care and pre-K and after-school programs is a triple whammy that might make astonishing inroads into the number of poor in the country. These same things would also provide security to the American middle class. Children would be cared for systematically and parents could work with less guilt and fewer interruptions. For the middle class these are peace-of-mind-items but would also help folks climb their career ladders. For the poor they could be the difference between failure and success. These programs might attack those pockets of stubborn poverty in America that we discuss so often and create pathways out.

Progressives also believe, and the experiences of other nations which have these supports in place show, that these programs also improve day-to-day life for the middle class and help them concentrate on their jobs when they are working and concentrate on their families when they are not, instead of being torn between two loyalties. Family leave helps families deal with illness, death, and crisis within the family without losing their livelihood.

I love the Progressive/Liberal agenda for its sheer audacity. To peddle growth in the midst of a push for drastic austerity takes a lot of chutzpah.

And this stuff, while jaw-dropping, does not strike us as being as nutty in a way as the right wing diatribes have been. If you ask me who makes arguments closer to the promises we believe are made by our Democracy, I would have to go with the Progressives. There is also the argument that we like these things Progressive want to fight for; we want these things; these things would be a godsend for both the middle class and the poor.

But we have been beaten down; we have been shown our greed and the affects that our greed has had on the Federal budget and we are ready to take our punishment. We are almost convinced it is just. We are almost persuaded that we cannot ask the rich to part with one more red cent of their hard-earned bucks. I say this with sarcasm but the part of the middle class which feels comfortable, that feels on the verge of attaining enough wealth to put their money worries to rest, are truly loathe to touch up the very rich for these programs (even if our tax structures and our laws are funneling all America’s money into a very few pockets).

Both propaganda and direct observation, I might add, have done their work. Americans with a strong work ethic feel like they have wage suckers attached to every window, door and crevice in their homes (thank you Progressive Insurance for that image). Perhaps they are right, but I believe the number of wage suckers would also be trimmed by adopting a more progressive approach to social programs (along with a really effective new way to wean people off opioids and other debilitating addictive substances.)

The middle class is ready to cut the wage suckers loose. Everyone should have to work and plan and save and climb. That’s the American way. And, yes, it is, but it has left a lot of wage suckers and those unable to work circling the drain. Abandoning them will not improve America. It will make it sadder and scarier. People will not just go live in suburbs, they will have to live in walled and guarded communities and be very choosy about who they let in. Or we can try one more time to help those who need it find a way to live independent and productive lives.

So the media may be correct about the factoid they offered which said that Progressive/Liberal talk is focused on the middle class and that they will lose a lot of votes with this kind of focus. Clearly, though, the same social programs that are offered to assist the middle class, would be even more helpful to the poor. It’s a bold approach. When all are moaning about debts and cuts, go big. Spend money to make money. If were headed for a 25 year long great depression on our current path, risk-taking might be just the trick to turn the whole thing around. We would be betting on the same Americans we have been talking about kicking to the curb. Now, that’s Progressive!

By Nancy Brisson

Proposals for Changing Military Pay and Benefits

On Friday my Facebook page held a “share” from a friend and since it was Memorial Day weekend that “share” was bad news about the military. Obama has gone and done it again. He wants to cut military pay and privatize military pensions. Bad Obama! I looked it up and although the suggestions come from his administration Obama really is planning to do something like this. As he explains it this has something to do with having an all-volunteer army. Perhaps the government does not owe volunteers in the same way that it owes draftees. After all, these soldiers, sailors, fliers, etc. had a choice to join or not join. I not sure most Americans feel this way but perhaps if we hear all the pros and cons it will make some sense. I did not find the other side of this debate in my internet search.

I did find some sources in addition to the one that appeared on Facebook (from the Military Times) that made these proposals seem a little less inhumane. We like to treat our soldier well. We are grateful to them for all of the risks they take on our behalf, life and death risks in many cases. We want their families to live comfortably while their partners are gone and we want our soldier to live well when they come back.

We do not guarantee employment to soldiers in civilian positions however. They must make the transition on their own, often while suffering PTSD and bodily injuries they need to adjust to. We already know that the VA is overtaxed and that soldiers do not always get the medical or psychological treatment they need. Now we learn that Obama (his reasons as stated in these articles are not at all clear or complete) is apparently about to screw over our valiant soldiers. He wants to take out part of their pay and invest it for them in a 401K. There are also proposals to give only very small raises and a proposal that makes changes in the prescription programs that increase costs.

The second article in the short list below suggests that as it stands right now pensions only go to soldiers who stay in the service for 20 years and that this includes only 17% of soldiers, so 83% of service men/women do not get any pension at all right now, but would under the new proposals.

All over America, governments big and small are trying to divest themselves of pension responsibilities that are crushing budgets. This is a devastating state of affairs. We mourned when factory workers lost their pensions. Now we will apparently mourn as public employees lose theirs. Can we do that to our soldiers? What if you have to choose, your pension or theirs? These articles are 2 years old. Have these proposals already been adopted? I did not find information to suggest that these rules have been accepted and are in use yet. In fact the first link below is from March 2015 and these proposals had not been adopted at that time.

I suspect we will be hearing more about these matters, although things do get slipped by us in very tricky ways because we don’t pay careful attention to boring Congressional business, only the bits that involve some political circus.

What I really don’t understand is why we often cut back money dedicated to people rather than cutting back funding dedicated to things. We always hear that the military is ordering very expensive jets that don’t work. Why don’t we ever cut those kinds of bad expenditures? How do jets prone to accidents help us win wars? The mind boggles…

Links:

http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/benefits/pay/2015/03/30/obama-whitehouse-shows-support-military-pay-benefits-changes/70680340/

The changes to military retirement would for the first time offer a retirement benefit to troops who serve less than 20 years. The Defense Department would offer to match troops’ own retirement savings up to 5 percent of basic pay. Troops would own that investment account regardless of when they leave the military.

The proposal would also give troops who reach 12 years of service a lump-sum retention bonus in exchange for a new four-year service commitment. The amount would likely vary by service and career field.

http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/military-retirement-pay-reducing/2015/03/30/id/635374/

Many troops do not put in 20 years of service and do not receive much, if anything, in the way of a retirement benefit. “About 83 percent leave with absolutely nothing,” Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments told USA Today. “That’s especially true when you think about the people who have actually been fighting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.” Carter is also considering easing some of the enlistment standards in certain areas of the military, such as cyber and high-tech positions.

http://www.military.com/benefits/2013/04/11/mil-update-obama-seeks-to-cap-pay-and-up-tricare-fees.html#.VV_03TFHpgE

This article from April, 2013 gives the most detailed look at the proposed budget plan and I must admit I doubt it will please you if you read the whole thing.

Perhaps it is time to write our Congressmen and women.
By Nancy Brisson

Sea Sick

We sort of view our oceans, seas, rivers, and lakes as a giant purification system. We can empty any dirty old thing in there and it will come out clean. But we have been fooling ourselves with this science of wishful thinking. When our population was smaller and the waste we emptied into our water was mainly organic, this faux water science sort of worked. But with 7 billion plus people on the planet even organic wastes are taxing our water systems, fresh and salty.

When we were at the peak of the Industrial Age we put heavy toxic chemicals and more complex organics like oil into our water systems routinely. This was done so slyly that we can conclude that businesses were aware of both the true science of their acts and of the moral quicksand they were standing on, but this was the standard procedure in industry at that time and many sins were hidden under our waters.

I’m sure local government leaders and other government people on up the chain were at least peripherally aware of what businesses were doing but industry was so important to an area’s economic health that secrets were kept. When our factories left us in The Great Industrial Migration, which began in the 80’s and 90’s and is still going on, these same governments suddenly found themselves stuck with the toxic waste left behind in local water systems (and in the earth too, in many cases). In some cases local governments were able to hold a business’ feet to the fire until they mounted some kind of clean up.

I have seen this whole dynamic play out in my own town which has had the honor of being host to Onondaga Lake, the dirtiest lake in America. Between Allied Chemical and Honeywell dumping heavy metals and other toxins into this small and scenic urban lake and the sewage that overflowed the city water treatment plant whenever it rained, our beloved lake practically glowed in the dark. We could no longer fish or swim in it and if you were boating you shared tales of what would happen to you if you fell in.

There are reasons our planet’s surface is three-quarters water. Without a water cycle that repeats predictably life could not exist on our planet. We are 90% water. We only survive a short time without water to drink. Water is life. Water supports marine life which we enjoy eating but which could prove essential to life if we ever do descend into survivalist mode. Primitive man treasured fish because it added variety to their diet and healthy Omega-3’s, which they did not have a name for, but which they instinctively knew to be good for them. Even if you don’t eat seafood, I’m sure derivatives are in many products you do use.

Now we watch in horror as the petroleum industry expects us to believe that the earth’s water system, including the wildlife in it, can absorb oil spill after oil spill and that the negative effects will be purely temporary. But that queasy feeling we get each time a new oil spill sullies another pristine spot is our inner primitive survivalist telling us that we don’t believe a single disclaimer from these planet-trashers.

Honeywell may be able to help clean up my community’s small lake, but the oil companies cannot clean our oceans. There will be a tipping point eventually when the seas, river, lakes, oceans cannot take the toxic onslaught anymore. I hope we don’t wait that long. I applaud efforts to find new energy sources, but we need safeguards for oil drilling and oil delivery that really work and we need them now. (Hint, hint; oil people, stop operating on the cheap.)

Without clean water we will die, rich or poor, we will die.

Here’s a few links to lists of oil spills:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oil_spills

http://www.itopf.com/knowledge-resources/data-statistics/statistics/

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0001451.html#ixzz3amWW16pK/

By Nancy Brisson

Progressives/Liberals: Can They Deliver?

We love the goals Progressives are promising to work towards:

  • Family leave
  • Lengthier maternity leave
  • Equal pay
  • Universal pre-K and after-school programs
  • Higher minimum wage
  • Free or low-cost college or training
  • Higher social security payments to seniors
  • Single payer health care

However, we the people are skeptical. If the Federal budget is in the dire straits the Republicans insist that it is, how will America pay for these things?

Republicans tell us that we are headed for a long depression in our economy if we don’t make drastic cuts to the federal budget and to social programs. Let each state decide for itself what it will support, and what it won’t, they say, or better yet make these programs local responsibilities. Pay fewer taxes, get fewer services. Or do what they would really like, privatize everything, which is the exact opposite of what the Progressives are suggesting and which really pinpoints the partisan divide.

The GOP represents the wealthy and they no longer want to subsidize the poor. As our thoughtful overlords they are concerned about the harm helping poor people does. Who knew? But we have heard this logic again and again over the past 6 years. We know what to expect if we elect a Republican President. We can expect a kind of government austerity that we have never before experienced.

Many people are certain that this kind of austerity is necessary to avoid economic collapse. We look at the debt and it makes us nervous. And as long as raising taxes on the wealthy remains off the table the rich will continue to stockpile money. It goes up the ladder to them but it never comes back down to us, now that most of them employ very few of us.

So, how will those Progressives (who will never get elected, I think) or even a mere Liberal like Hillary (who has a chance) ever do any of the things in that very desirable list, that list that looks towards the future in this climate where folks insist that the government (the government of the people) can no longer afford any items that help the America people.

And finally my dear Progressives and Liberals, you had better not be making promises to Americans that you can’t keep. If you know that the budget will never be able to pay for these exciting items then don’t taunt us with them. If you believe these things can be done then you must show us how, or people (voters) will just go right on believing that you are, perhaps, on drugs – or running for election.

This is the view from the cheap seats.

By Nancy Brisson

The Next Great Depression May Be an Election Ploy

Ron Paul popped up on my Facebook™ page. He had the same message to deliver as Rickards, the Asymmetrical Warfare guy and the safe havens guy Martin Hutchinson, Global Investing Specialist from Money Morning. American currency is about to be seriously devalued, the stock market is about to lose 50% of its value and seniors will be in the worst straits because their pensions will be lost. Inflation will suddenly go sky high. This will happen because of all the currency being printed by the Fed to prop up the economy. The Fed (which should be disbanded) has been ignoring sound economic practice, our debt is too high, and America will soon pay the price for bad economics. The lone voice against all this money mayhem is Paul Krugman who these folks disrespect whenever they get a chance.

All the doomsayers are economists, at least two have held positions in Washington for decades, and they are suggesting that they are connected with economic research centers. They want us to conclude that they are experts in the field of economics, that economics is an exact science, and that the science of economics predicts that the behavior of the Federal Reserve and the last 6 years under Obama will be the end of the middle class in America. Although the middle class was in trouble long before Obama took office.

I have finally figured out that this is not about economics. It takes me a while. This is about the 2016 election. What these men are saying is that only electing Republicans will put our economy back on track. They want the Fed stopped now and forever. They want a deeper level of austerity than we have now and they want taxes, especially taxes on the wealthy, to remain low. Since we stand to lose government programs anyway because of the impending crash, they want us to believe that we should be proactive and cut social programs now.

These fear mongers feed directly into the Republican wheelhouse and these folks attempt to panic us into electing Republicans (or in Ron Paul’s case, his son Rand). They should not have made the time line so short because what if the economy does not tank before the 2016 election? Perhaps our wily Republicans have a plan to make the economy stutter in order to guarantee that Republicans reap that panic vote.

After reading The New York Times article in Sunday’s magazine section which wished to inform us of the forces lined up against the Democrats, including a split in their own party, and that the outlook for the Democrats is very gloomy, according to many political analysts. The Republicans are so strong in the House that the Democrats cannot take back the House for several election cycles, they say. I have heard this argument from a number of sources, not just the NYT. The Republicans have won so many states, fairly or not, that Democratic voters, who already show poor voter turnout, are likely to feel that any vote for Democrats in 2016 won’t count for much. They will either stay home or vote for the opposition.

So, summing up, the economy is ready to die and die for a long, long time. The responsibility for that as you can already guess falls to the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve (also due to policies during the Obama administration). The person in the Presidency when the economy fails is always the person responsible for that failure.

Causes of economic downturns are often difficult to pinpoint exactly, given that economics is not an exact science, so there could be a plot to cause the economy to go belly up (might a part of that plot involve 6 years of Congressional neglect) while a Democrat is in office so that voters will rush to the brilliant Republican camp and the GOP will ride into the Presidency on waves of their economic “hard-assery” (Thank you Jon Stewart) and then they will own it all, the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial. Done and done, the bloodless coup will be over and we will have a one-party government. Anyone who says this is what our forefathers wanted is just lying through their teeth (or their missing teeth in some cases).

We won’t need infrastructure because we’re going back to dirt roads and the only thing that might benefit from this “rusticating” is the environment, although climate change from man-made causes is not happening. Get out those corsets and hoop skirts ladies. You are going to church.

http://thecrux.com/dyncontent/rp-one-step-to-prepare/?cid=MKT033949&eid=MKT047897

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/17/magazine/the-great-democratic-crack-up-of-2016.html

Here is a link to my blogger post on the subject, which is also in the archives here:

http://thebrissioniblog.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-twenty-five-year-depression-yikes.html

This is the view from the cheap seats.

By Nancy Brisson

Hillary Clinton and the Media – and Bill…

The media seems to salivate every time the Clinton finances are attacked. The most recent tidbit reveals how much money the Clinton’s earned from speaking engagements between January and May (25 million dollars). They act like Bill and Hillary are con artists forcing people to turn out their pockets just to listen to charismatic charlatans for forty-five minutes to an hour.

I would think that perhaps people are willing to pay such large amounts as $250,000 per speech because they want to contribute to the good work being done by The Clinton Foundation and The Clinton Global Initiative. And there is the political celebrity status conferred on these two by holding top posts in our government like President and First Lady and Secretary of State.

Lots of politicians (mostly Republicans) and media people are offering up a silent and not so silent delight that we will soon be able to prove that the Clintons are guilty of that powerful leveler of political careers, “corruption”. The rest of us “everyday” folks out here think that it is almost impossible to participate in politics today without being corrupt. We will only be impressed with corruption on a very grand scale. We expect that our politicians will find ways to make public service pay. We don’t love the idea, but we feel helpless to change this dynamic.

People understand that there could be a conflict of interest here: it is possible that large donations given by foreign governments and by media figures like George Stephanopoulos could lead the donors to believe that favors might be forthcoming if we elect Hillary as our President in 2016. However giving to a charity that tries to mitigate misery around the globe does not seem like the usual road to a quid pro quo.

Hillary and the media have a sort of come here – go away kind of relationship. The press likes to expose the soft underbelly of candidates for public office, Hillary included. However, once you show emotion (fear, resentment) some in the press “smell blood” and like to go in for the kill. Hillary feels that she must exercise caution when reporters are present. We also accept that since she is running for President she cannot avoid the media. News people complain that she seems overly formal and gives off an edgy, annoyed air when confronted with questions which seems accusatory.

While it is true that the press is intrusive and operates without filters, we are all hoping that Hillary gets a bit more comfortable around the media and that she is able to hide the defensiveness she currently reveals. I do not mind if she avoids situations which inspire a feeding frenzy in the media. As for the press they could stop being so thrilled by the shots candidates lob at each other, especially when they are aware that what they are repeating are rumors that have not been and never may be proven to be facts.

We have never before had a Presidential candidate with a partner who is an ex-President and who heads a charitable foundation. Unless this charity is simply a way to bilk donors of their money so it can fatten the personal bank accounts of the Clintons, it would seem that we need to cut them a little slack here.

I believe there is evidence that this foundation takes on real projects both at home and abroad to lift up people in need. I also tend to doubt that there is any criminal activity here worthy of Republican glee. All these allegations will do is force Bill Clinton to stop doing good things out in the world if he wants his wife to win the Presidency. And that will be a true loss for all who currently benefit from The Clinton Foundation and its programs.

Note: Isn’t the phrase “everyday people” from a song by Sly and the Family Stone?

This is the view from the cheap seats.

By Nancy Brisson

The Clintons are Not the Romneys

Why would we want a cut-rate people’s President in these days when politics is awash with money? Let’s face it, we are not going to have some middle income American make it in a Presidential election – not now and probably not in the future unless we reform campaign finance. We may still be able to elect someone who started out p00r-ish and, through perseverance and education gained some wealth. But even a grassroots/bootstrap type of candidate will still have to pay some dues and have some charisma to attract rich donors.

How could Hillary Clinton help us if she could not feel secure about her own personal finances? She would be more likely to spend precious time stowing away a fortune for those post-Presidential years as so many politicians do.

Neither Hillary nor Bill sound like they grew up in a  wealthy family and they have come under much scrutiny for managing to amass a small fortune, probably because people with fortunes know what it takes to amass one these days. They know the details of the climb may not always tick all the boxes of strict moral behavior.

We don’t like candidates who are too obviously rich. Mitt Romney never had my vote but he may have lost some middle class voters when we learned about the car elevator and the fact that he was not sure how many homes the Romney family owns. With all the talk flying around branding the middle class and the poor as lazy losers, the gap between Mitt Romney and the rest of us began to seem just too wide. How would he ever understand our needs?

Now Republicans are trying to make us believe that the Clintons are just the liberal version of the Romneys. They want us to believe that they are also too wealthy to understand the needs of the middle class.

However, the Clintons are not the Romneys. They have always hobnobbed with “everyday” people. They don’t have coffee klatches with us but they don’t seem afraid to mingle with the “peasantry”. They also seem to have real empathy for the downtrodden around the world and they sincerely seem to want to do practical things to help make the world a better place. Their wealth does not bother us the way Romney’s did.

GOP, you need to find a new way to bad mouth the Clintons.

By Nancy Brisson