Bernie Sanders Speaks With Katie Couric – Full Interview

Yahoo News podcast this - Bernie Sanders Speaks With Katie Couric - Full Interview. The previous link will take you to YouTube where you will find a list of the topics covered, and links directly into the segment where the issue is discussed. This is a great interview in large part because Bernie Sanders knows how to handle questions. Katie Couric deserves a lot of credit, but she did have her moments when she kept pursuing an issue in a way that was meant to get Bernie Sanders to do negative campaigning. He steadfastly refused to take the bait, but he explained why he wouldn't, and he did it in a way that was not offensive to Katie Couric.

This is an interview that you will want to keep track of because you may want to refer others to it. You can use a browser bookmark or some other means to avoid losing the link to this interview.

The Venus Project   Recently updated !

On Facebook, Jared Paquette is trying to introduce me to the Venus Project.
The Venus Project is an organization that proposes a feasible plan of action for social change, one that works towards a peaceful and sustainable global civilization. It outlines an alternative to strive toward where human rights are no longer paper proclamations but a way of life.
I have been resistant to looking into it, for reasons I won't prejudice you with. Finally, Jared introduced a video Jacque Fresco's Self Search on Human Behavior -... that convinced me not to be so hasty in my judgment. He introduced this video to help me overcome the idea that Jacque Fresco of The Venus Project was too naive about human nature.

Jared has finally cast enough doubt in my mind about my preconceived notions about this project, that I now think it is worth learning more about.  That's why I have posted these links on my blog.  When I have the time to do further reading, I'll have the links handy right here.

One of my contentions to Jared had been that Jacque is focusing on the monetary system as a key problem,, unnecessarily.  Here is an excerpt from The Venus Project about page that might confirm my concern.

Throughout history, change has been slow. Successive groups of incompetent leaders have replaced those that preceded them, but the underlying social and economic problems remain because the basic value systems have gone unaltered. The problems we are faced with today cannot be solved politically or financially because they are highly technical in nature. There may not even be enough money available to pay for the required changes, but there are more than enough resources. This is why The Venus Project advocates the transition from a monetary-based society to the eventual realization of a resource-based global economy. We realize to make the transition from our present culture, which is politically incompetent, scarcity-oriented and obsolete, to this new, more humane society will require a quantum leap in both thought and action.
The issue is whether our monetary system has enough money to finance this effort even though there may be enough resources. If you understand how, at least for the USA, our "money" is created by the Federal Reserve System, then this may not be such an issue after all. The FED creates more money by saying an entity's account with the Federal Reserve has more money in it, and they use a few computer key strokes to credit that account with more money. That's all it takes. So there is no shortage of money that could be created. In fact, the only limit on money creation should be what actual resources are available, and not being productively used because of a momentary shortage of "money". If enough people understood this, then the monetary system we have (not the Euro used by a bunch of countries not sovereign in their own currency) may not be the problem. We may have to adopt our system for the entire world, though. Of course that may be, sort of what the invention of the Euro was intended to do, but how it was done was very ill conceived. They didn't seem to understand how important the sovereignty issue was. While the sovereignty issue may be devilishly complex to figure out how to fix, it is no harder than what The Venus Project proposes. At this point, I don't really know enough about The Venus Project to know all that they have said and all that they understand. It could be hogwash, or it could be the real deal. It will take much more investigation to know, but it is intriguing enough to warrant some time on my part on that investigation. Yes, I have already thought of the idea killing things that can be said about the above video, but I will resist the temptation to spout them until I become more educated on all that the Venus Project has done and said already.

Greece – What You are not Being Told by the Media

The Nation of Change has the story Greece – What You are not Being Told by the Media.
According to mainstream media, the current economic crisis in Greece is due to the government spending too much money on its people that it went broke. This claim however, is a lie. It was the banks that wrecked the country so oligarchs and international corporations could benefit.
Earlier today, The New York Times had the story Greeks Reject Bailout Terms in Rebuff to European Leaders. Who is going to be hurt more by this turn of events, the debtor nation that supposedly owes the money or the creditor nations who insist on getting the last ounce of blood from the victim?

President Obama Kills Scott Walker’s White House Dream By Exposing His Record Of Failure   Recently updated !

Politicus USA has the article President Obama Kills Scott Walker’s White House Dream By Exposing His Record Of Failure. Here is an Obama quote they featured from the video below.
But understand, I’m saying this — Wisconsin is this extraordinary state filled with extraordinary people. But if you end up having policies that cut education, help folks at the top, aren’t expanding opportunity, then it’s not going to work. We need better policies — because the bottom line is top-down economics doesn’t work. Middle-class economics works. It works. It works.

President Obama went to La Crosse WIsconsin, touted the economic successes of his administration even as he detailed the failed policies of Scott Walker and trickle down economics. He used adjacent state Minnesota as comparison.
There are a few flies in the beautiful ointment that Obama describes. They just serve to prove his point, though. These flies were put their by Republican behavior.
The stock market has doubled
While it may seem good for people's 401Ks and other retirement plans, this market level is probably indicative of a bubble. The bubble which could burst is a result of the FED trying massive liquidity injection into the economy to keep it afloat, when the federal government should have been spending more to stimulate the economy. There was no second stimulus because the Republicans wouldn't allow it. Fiscal stimulus is a powerful tool to get the economy running, whereas monetary stimulus is a weak to totally ineffective tool under the current circumstances.
Unemployment is down
The President even alluded to this fly in the ointment. The jobs that people are getting aren't at the high wage level where they should be. Some of the factors keeping wages down are the war against unions, very badly designed trade agreements, and the rigging of the system to keep all the benefits of automation in the hands of the very few.
More people are going to college than ever before
The exceedingly high debt level that people are forced to take on to get this education will hamper their economic achievement for a lifetime. This wet blanket on the economy keeps its growth well below where it would cause wages to increase back toward equality.
16 million more people now have health insurance
There are still in the neighborhood of 30 million or more people who still don't have health care coverage. For something that was supposed to bring on universal coverage, this seems to be a fairly big fly. With the Republican intransigence when the law was being written and continuing intransigence during the implementation phase, I suppose such a gap in achievement was unavoidable.
We cut the deficit by two-thirds
This cut in the deficit is one of the main reasons why the economy didn't grow even faster. It is the main reason why the FED thought that it had to inflate the money supply, even though all that did was to create a stock market bubble. This inflated stock market makes it look like the economy is growing faster than it is as far as anything that the middle-class can benefit from. If the economy comes roaring back despite Republican efforts to prevent it, there will be hell to pay for all that excess liquidity that the FED pumped in to the economy.
And finally, there is the fly that President Obama insists in putting into the ointment. If middle-class economics works so much better than trickle-down economics, why is the President so adamant about pushing the ultimate trickle-down economic ideas embodied in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) "trade" agreement? Why is he so sure he is right about this secret deal, and the Democrats who oppose it are all wrong? Doesn't he get just a little suspicious that his strongest supporters for this deal are almost all Republicans? How he can go to Wisconsin and make these remarks, and then go back to Washinton to foist this TPP on us is still a mystery to me. I can only guess at what his motives could be.

America’s Losing Russia Strategy 1   Recently updated !

The Daily Beast has the article America’s Losing Russia Strategy: Confronting Putin isn’t enough to restore peace on Russia’s borders. What’s needed is Détente Plus. This article is by Leslie H. Gelb.
What should this new diplomacy look like? To begin with, diplomacy does not mean rolling back economic sanctions against Russia or halting the promised NATO buildup in the Baltics and Eastern Europe. These are essential elements of tough diplomacy. By themselves, however, they merely invite Russian toughness and intransigence. That’s the story of the last two years. The aim of a new diplomatic strategy—I like to call it Détente Plus—is to explore seriously whether Russia is prepared to work with the U.S. in Europe and elsewhere to solve or mitigate genuine common problems based on genuine shared or overlapping interests.
I would much rather that this influential "progressive" would have left out the first paragraph above, and have just talked about the second. If he thinks that his stand is less hawkish than some others are taking, then that is only because the others' stands are so hawkish, that by absolute standards, Gelb's stand doesn't even approach a middle ground. Why on earth would diplomacy not include rolling back things that we did that never made any sense in the first place? We seem to have started this whole mess, but want to put the blame on Putin. Those who started it, and know they started it, are awfully cynical if they now claim that Putin shouldn't fight us as aggressively as we are fighting him. Apparently there are too many ill-informed people to protect our country from falling for such nonsense. When Gelb says about what we have done so far, "By themselves, however, they merely invite Russian toughness and intransigence", he is tacitly admitting my point. If these policies have been so bad by themselves over the last two years, why can't we just stop digging ever deeper the hole we are in? Maybe we should put some of the dirt we have been digging back into that hole.

The Bad Behavior of Visionary Leaders   Recently updated !

The New York Times has the article The Bad Behavior of Visionary Leaders by Tony Schwartz. His article talks about three leaders, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Jeff Bezos.
What disheartens me is how little care and appreciation any of them give (or in Mr. Jobs’s case, gave) to hard-working and loyal employees, and how unnecessarily cruel and demeaning they could be to the people who helped make their dreams come true.
I have been thinking about why it is that I reserve a special animosity for Steve Jobs compared to the other two. I think there are two related reasons. First, I was much more aware of Steve Jobs personality from early on than I have been with Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. Second, Steve Jobs' attitude and behavior affected me and what I wanted to do with the type of product each person's company sold. With Elon Musk, there is no product of his company that I have ever bought or contemplated buying. With Steve Jobs, I was affected by his disdain for standards and his constant reinvention of the wheel. Many of Apple's products were and are incompatible with Microsoft Windows, Digital Equipment's VMS, and Unix, and Linux. He purposely kept interfaces to his products and the design of his products proprietary. That made Apple the sole source of many things related to his computers. I could understand this as a good business decision for him that allowed him to charge exorbitant prices, but it wasn't a decision that benefited me. As I used multiple different computer operating systems at various times on the same day, the incompatibility could be quite frustrating and annoying. I had similar annoyances with Microsoft's software, but there were alternative pieces of software that would run on a windows machine that were much more standards oriented - HTML being one of the most important standards. Microsoft's violations of the standards for Javascript were gaping holes in security, so I just used Mosaic, then Netscape, and later Firefox. I stopped using Outlook for email, and switched to Mozilla's Thunderbird. The wonders of graphical user interfaces made using computers easier in many cases. However, there were many things I needed and wanted to do with computers every day, even every hour, that were not well served by graphical user interfaces. With VMS, Unix, and Linux, there was no problem using the best method for the task at hand. With the introduction of Cygwin's virtual Unix on Windows machines, I had what I needed to make Windows useful to me. MSDos was so inferior to the DEC-10 and VMS machines, that I refused to buy a PC until Windows-3 came out. My dislike for Steve Jobs was well entrenched and many years old before I learned about his conspiring with other Silicon Valley companies to keep engineering wages low. Even if the companies I worked for were not part of the conspiracy directly, (and I have no way of being sure of that), they certainly benefited from the lack of competition on salaries.

The Washington Consensus and Long-Term Austerity in Latin America 1   Recently updated !

Naked Capitalism has published the excellent article The Washington Consensus and Long-Term Austerity in Latin America.
The burdens of slow economic growth have not been borne equally by all Latin Americans. Historically, Latin America has been one of the most unequal regions in the world. The gap between rich and poor widened with neoliberal policies. Government policies to promote export-led growth concentrated the burden on workers and peasants. Trade liberalization and deregulation policies led to higher unemployment rates, which drove down wages and pushed workers into the low-wage informal sector. Governments exacerbated the trends by repressing labor unions and lowering minimum wages. Latin America saw a dramatic increase in inequality after 1980, with the average national Gini coefficient (the most widely used measure of income inequality) rising from 0.50 to over 0.53 by 2003. Since then, with the renewal of progressive economic policies in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and elsewhere, the Gini has declined most of the way back where it was in the early 1980s.
Remember this paragraph when you hear President Obama and his Republican allies tell you that the way for our economy to grow is for us to export more. If the successful economies get that way by exporting to us, then won't those economies decline as we increase our exports to them? Then who will we export to? Unless we expand the middle-class around the world, there won't be a market for our exports. As I keep saying, "What part of no freakin' customers do you not understand?" As with many posts on Naked Capitalism, the comments are excellent and informed. That's true of even the dissenting comments. Here is a non-dissenting comment by "Oakchair".
I can see why people would think that policies that focus on export led growth would be better then policies that focus on domestically producing goods for local demand. It seems intuitive that the way for a poor country to get rich would be to focus on producing things to sell to rich countries. The problem is that export led growth makes your economy subject to the whims of the rich countries you are exporting to. While domestic production creates growth not only in producing the good but in the demand created in the local purchase of that good. And when you focus on local demand you can always export that stuff and are more subjected to the whims of your own economies demand.
With a country the size of the USA, I would think that “import substitution” would be a better cure for our economic ills than more lousy trade deals (TPP). Has Obama got his head on backwards with regard to free trade, just as much as he has with other economic issues? Can we afford to elect another President who is so ill-informed and ill-advised on economic issues? I am naturally talking about choosing Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. That would be the definition of insanity.

Bernie Sanders Annihilates Scott Walker At Record Setting Madison Rally 1

Politicus USA has the article Bernie Sanders Annihilates Scott Walker At Record Setting Madison Rally.
Sanders responded to Wisconsin Republicans who called him an extremist, “Let me just say a few words to my friends in the Republican Party about extremism. When you deny the right of workers to come together in collective bargaining that’s extremism. When you tell a woman that she can not control her own body, that’s extremism. When you think a woman is a child and can’t purchase a contraceptive, that is extremism. When you give tax breaks to billionaires and refuse to raise the minimum wage, that’s extremism.” Bernie Sanders might have been talking about Republicans in general, but he was specifically detailing the record of Scott Walker.
Seeing pictures of the crowd is one thing, but hearing them adds a whole other dimension.

Even Politicus USA can't give up the "unlikely" meme, although in a slightly different nuance than NBC news.

If Bernie Sanders is Batman, Scott Walker is the Joker, and the unlikely 73-year-old superhero had all of Gotham behind him tonight in Wisconsin.
The one thing to note is that Bernie Sanders does not shy away from attacks against him. He uses those attacks, and turns them against the attackers. Isn't it great to see a progressive politician stand up and defend the principles that we progressive voters hold dear? I feel betrayed by other so-called progressives who fail to make a vigorous defense of what I (and presumably they) believe.

Labor Leader Joins Bernie Sanders’ Campaign, Citing Clinton’s ‘Silence’ On Fast Track   Recently updated !

The Huffington Post has the article Labor Leader Joins Bernie Sanders' Campaign, Citing Clinton's 'Silence' On Fast Track.
Larry Cohen, outgoing president of the Communications Workers of America, told The Huffington Post he will serve as an unpaid volunteer stumping for Sanders as the Vermont senator seeks the Democratic nomination. One of the main factors in his decision, Cohen said, was Clinton’s equivocation on granting President Barack Obama so-called fast-track authority on his mammoth trade deal.

“I did everything I knew how to do to get Clinton to speak out on fast track, and she wouldn’t,” said Cohen, whose 10 years leading CWA came to an end in June. "We begged her to speak out.

“There was a million ways she could have done it. ... Why was she silent on this?"

. . . Cohen said Clinton's hesitation on fast track "won't be forgotten" anytime soon. "We're not a rubber stamp for the Democratic Party," Cohen said of organized labor, "and certainly not for corporate Democrats."
I think this news is a big deal. I can imagine the Clinton camp attacking this retiring labor leader for his stance. However, such an attack would violate the first law of holes. "When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging." I had no idea that some in the labor movement had tried so hard to get Clinton to break her silence on the TPP. That's one of the things that makes this such a big deal. I could see the Sanders campaign using some political jujitsu on Clinton, if they don't think this tactic would be negative campaigning. They could say that "Some people call Clinton a corporate Democrat." One of the signs of this is that she takes large donations from large corporations. She could disprove the corporate label by refusing such contributions, but that would take away one of her major advantages over Sanders. Either choice she makes, continuing to take corporate money or refusing to take corporate money, would be a bad one for her campaign.