Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Great Roll Call Is Now on Twitter: Have you answered lately?

The Great Roll Call

The Great Roll Call@Mghtyfieldofvsn

 What does it mean that The Great Roll Call is now on Twitter?

Consider the attributes that have made The Great Role Call your choice for a journal on American political thought.  Now modify, manipulate, concentrate and condense those thoughts into 140 characters.   

What are the results?  A lot of incomplete ramblings and non sequitors?  Yes, perhaps.  But I am still learning.  It is no small feat for someone with a professional degree for writing interminably long tombs and calling it a "brief" to limit themselves to a mere 140 characters.  Hell, I yawn in more characters than that! 

So if you are the type of person who rubber necks and gawks at accident scenes, who roots for the fire when the orphanage burns and/or makes change when the offering plate passes you but somehow always wind up with more money leaving church then when you came, well don't bother following The Great Roll Call@Mghtyfieldofvsn on twitter because you are a Republican or small minded conservative and it will only piss you off.  But for everyone else, oh hell, even the Republicans, Conservatives, Birthers, Birchers and Tea Baggers are welcome.  If you keep an open mind, well, you might even learn something.

So welcome aboard, man up and dive in. 
-Plainsense, September 27, 2012


 The Great Roll Call's Creed

Life is short so ride whenever you can, only listen to good music, drink the best craft beers and smoke fine cigars.


Physical:  Across from Laughing Waters.   Virtual:


  The Great Roll Call   The Great Roll Call@Mghtyfieldofvsn
"To all the friends and strangers and even enemies who answered the Great Roll Call when...rabid scum ...tried to put me in prison." -HST

The Great Roll Call@Mghtyfieldofvsn
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro! Twitter will never be the same. Have you answered lately?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Count Me In as one of the 47%ers

Desperate, delusional and dumb Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney sealed his fate  in Boca Raton, Florida where he was caught revealing his true feelings toward the American people.  Speaking in front of a group of wealthy fund raisers, Romney lashed out at the American public "Forty-seven percent of the country", he said, are people “who are dependent upon government, who believe they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to take care of them, who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

Romney's message has been so out of tune and alienating to middle and working class America that neo-con William Kristol has all but conceded Romney's defeat and in a semi-tongue-in-cheek fashion suggested he step aside for a conservative dream ticket of Ryan-Rubio.  Even conservative-light Republican apologist and NY Times columnist David Brooks got in on the Romney bashing with his column entitled Thurston Howell Romney.

Perhaps the best description of Romney's candidacy that I have heard to date comes from the always perceptive, St. Louis Park native, Tom Friedman who described the 2012 race as the first Presidential campaign in history "...where both candidates are running on I'm not Mitt Romney...".  Friedman goes on to give his hypothesis that the reason Romney sticks his foot in his mouth so often is because he is not authentic, not organic.  Rather, Romney is just saying what he believes the far right, now the base of the Republican Party, wants to hear.

Listen to Charlie's always excellent interview of Mr. Friedman:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Breaking News: Judge Strikes Down Walker's Actions banning Collective Bargaining as Unconstitutional!

A Wisconsin judge just struck down the state law used by Gov. Scott Walker to effectively ban collective bargaining rights for most public workers.

Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas ruled Friday that the law violated both the state and U.S. Constitution and was therefore  null and void. The ruling comes after a lawsuit brought by the Madison teachers union and a union for Milwaukee city employees.

Walker spokesman Cullie Verner VonWerwie says he is confident the decision will be overturned on appeal or else the Reichstag may be in danger.  It was not clear if the Brown Shirts aka Walkerites would obey the court ruling or again engage in illegal or unconstituional acts. The law took away nearly all collective bargaining rights from most workers and had been in effect for more than a year.

Here is Judge Colas' opinion:

Madison Teachers et al., v. Scott Walker et al.

Best One Liner to Come Out of Either Convention: "Ask Bin Laden if he is better off today than he was four years ago"

What a difference eight years can make.  It was only eight years ago that then presidential candidate John Kerry was missing in action, wind surfing while Boston burned , so to speak, .as some rich, billionaire friends of the Bushies were spreading lies about Kerry's military service.  Say what you will about Mr. Kerry's politics, but the fact remains he was a true war hero and the Swift Boaters were literally full of shit.

That does not let Mr. Kerry off the hook in my book for his conduct upon returning from the war or for ignoring the Swift Boaters outrageous lies.  In politics these days, nothing is beneath the dignity of responding to.  Kerry so botched his parties chances back in 2004, a Republican analyst later said of Candidate Kerry:  "He was so stiff he made the trees in the Wizard of  Oz look animated and loose" (I paraphrase).

Now, just eight short years later, it is the Democrats and their candidate, President Obama, who have the advantage on national security issues over their opponents. Let's face it, compared to Mitt Romney, John Kerry is a man with gravitas and his one liner at last month's DNC:   "Ask Bin Laden if he is better off today than he was four years ago" was hands down the best one liner to come out of either parties convention.

Finally, the best parody video to come out of the conventions was again a no brainer, going to the Leonard Nimoy narrated spoof entitled "Mitt Romney, a Human Being Who Built That".  See it at:

Thursday, September 6, 2012 on Clinton Speech at DNC: "...we found his stats checked out".

"Our Clinton Nightmare

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Former President Bill Clinton’s stem-winding nomination speech was a fact-checker’s nightmare: lots of effort required to run down his many statistics and factual claims, producing little for us to write about.
Republicans will find plenty of Clinton’s scorching opinions objectionable. But with few exceptions, we found his stats checked out.
Overselling ‘Obamacare’
The worst we could fault him for was a suggestion that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act was responsible for bringing down the rate of increase in health care spending, when the fact is that the law’s main provisions have yet to take effect.
Clinton said that “for the last two years, health care costs have been under 4 percent in both years for the first time in 50 years.” That’s true, as reported by the journal Health Affairs in January of this year. But Clinton went too far when he added: “So let me ask you something. Are we better off because President Obama fought for health care reform? You bet we are.”
Actually, the major provisions of the 2010 law — the individual mandate, federal subsidies to help Americans buy insurance, and big reductions in the growth of Medicare spending — haven’t yet taken effect. Experts mainly blame the lousy economy for the slowdown in health care spending..."

President Clinton Makes President Obama's Case

In what will most likely go down as one of the the best political speeches of this race if not since the  presidency of John F.  Kennedy, former President Bill Clinton once again proved that he plays chess while everyone else is playing checkers.  Displaying his usual Clintonesqe command of the facts and clarity of purpose, the former president laid out the chronology of events that have made up the Obama Administration, then summarized and directly took on nearly every major criticism and talking point of President Obama's challenger and critics and laid vanquish to them.  All in a mere 48 minutes, which is brief and concise in "Clinton time".   If this were a boxing match, the Romney corner would have thrown a white towel into the center of the ring while Congressman Ryan muttered "No mas, no mas!"  As Carly Simon once sang:  "Nobody does it better...".

The following is the text of President Bill Clinton’s speech to the Democratic National Convention as prepared for delivery and released by the convention’s press office:

We’re here to nominate a President, and I’ve got one in mind.

I want to nominate a man whose own life has known its fair share of adversity and uncertainty. A man who ran for President to change the course of an already weak economy and then just six weeks before the election, saw it suffer the biggest collapse since the Great Depression. A man who stopped the slide into depression and put us on the long road to recovery, knowing all the while that no matter how many jobs were created and saved, there were still millions more waiting, trying to feed their children and keep their hopes alive.

I want to nominate a man cool on the outside but burning for America on the inside.  A man who believes we can build a new American Dream economy driven by innovation and creativity, education and cooperation. A man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama.

I want Barack Obama to be the next President of the United States and I proudly nominate him as the standard bearer of the Democratic Party.
In Tampa, we heard a lot of talk about how the President and the Democrats don’t believe in free enterprise and individual initiative, how we want everyone to be dependent on the government, how bad we are for the economy.

The Republican narrative is that all of us who amount to anything are completely self-made.  One of our greatest Democratic Chairmen, Bob Strauss, used to say that every politician wants you to believe he was born in a log cabin he built himself, but it ain’t so.

We Democrats think the country works better with a strong middle class, real opportunities for poor people to work their way into it and a relentless focus on the future, with business and government working together to promote growth and broadly shared prosperity.  We think “we’re all in this together” is a better philosophy than “you’re on your own.”
Who’s right?  Well since 1961, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24.  In those 52 years, our economy produced 66 million private sector jobs.  What’s the jobs score?  Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million!

It turns out that advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment is both morally right and good economics, because discrimination, poverty and ignorance restrict growth, while investments in education, infrastructure and scientific and technological research increase it, creating more good jobs and new wealth for all of us.

Though I often disagree with Republicans, I never learned to hate them the way the far right that now controls their party seems to hate President Obama and the Democrats.  After all, President Eisenhower sent federal troops to my home state to integrate Little Rock Central High and built the interstate highway system. And as governor, I worked with President Reagan on welfare reform and with President George H.W. Bush on national education goals. I am grateful to President George W. Bush for PEPFAR, which is saving the lives of millions of people in poor countries and to both Presidents Bush for the work we’ve done together after the South Asia tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake.

Through my foundation, in America and around the world, I work with Democrats, Republicans and Independents who are focused on solving problems and seizing opportunities, not fighting each other.
When times are tough, constant conflict may be good politics but in the real world, cooperation works better.  After all, nobody’s right all the time, and a broken clock is right twice a day.  All of us are destined to live our lives between those two extremes.  Unfortunately, the faction that now dominates the Republican Party doesn’t see it that way.  They think government is the enemy, and compromise is weakness.

One of the main reasons America should re-elect President Obama is that he is still committed to cooperation.  He appointed Republican Secretaries of Defense, the Army and Transportation.  He appointed a Vice President who ran against him in 2008, and trusted him to oversee the successful end of the war in Iraq and the implementation of the recovery act.  And Joe Biden did a great job with both.  He appointed Cabinet members who supported Hillary in the primaries.  Heck, he even appointed Hillary! I’m so proud of her and grateful to our entire national security team for all they’ve done to make us safer and stronger and to build a world with more partners and fewer enemies. I’m also grateful to the young men and women who serve our country in the military and to Michelle Obama and Jill Biden for supporting military families when their loved ones are overseas and for helping our veterans, when they come home bearing the wounds of war, or needing help with education, housing, and jobs.

President Obama’s record on national security is a tribute to his strength, and judgment, and to his preference for inclusion and partnership over partisanship.
He also tried to work with Congressional Republicans on Health Care, debt reduction, and jobs, but that didn’t work out so well.  Probably because, as the Senate Republican leader, in a remarkable moment of candor, said two years before the election, their number one priority was not to put America back to work, but to put President Obama out of work.  Senator, I hate to break it to you, but we’re going to keep President Obama on the job!

In Tampa, the Republican argument against the President’s re-election was pretty simple: we left him a total mess, he hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in.
In order to look like an acceptable alternative to President Obama, they couldn’t say much about the ideas they have offered over the last two years.  You see they want to go back to the same old policies that got us into trouble in the first place: to cut taxes for high income Americans even more than President Bush did; to get rid of those pesky financial regulations designed to prevent another crash and prohibit future bailouts; to increase defense spending two trillion dollars more than the Pentagon has requested without saying what they’ll spend the money on; to make enormous cuts in the rest of the budget, especially programs that help the middle class and poor kids.  As another President once said – there they go again.

I like the argument for President Obama’s re-election a lot better. He inherited a deeply damaged economy, put a floor under the crash, began the long hard road to recovery, and laid the foundation for a modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses, and lots of new wealth for the innovators.

Are we where we want to be? No. Is the President satisfied? No. Are we better off than we were when he took office, with an economy in free fall, losing 750,000 jobs a month.  The answer is YES.
I understand the challenge we face.  I know many Americans are still angry and frustrated with the economy.  Though employment is growing, banks are beginning to lend and even housing prices are picking up a bit, too many people don’t feel it.

I experienced the same thing in 1994 and early 1995.  Our policies were working and the economy was growing but most people didn’t feel it yet.  By 1996, the economy was roaring, halfway through the longest peacetime expansion in American history.

President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did.  No President – not me or any of my predecessors could have repaired all the damage in just four years.  But conditions are improving and if you’ll renew the President’s contract you will feel it.  I believe that with all my heart.

President Obama’s approach embodies the values, the ideas, and the direction America must take to build a 21st century version of the American Dream in a nation of shared opportunities, shared prosperity and shared responsibilities.
So back to the story.  In 2010, as the President’s recovery program kicked in, the job losses stopped and things began to turn around.

The Recovery Act saved and created millions of jobs and cut taxes for 95% of the American people. In the last 29 months the economy has produced about 4.5 million private sector jobs.  But last year, the Republicans blocked the President’s jobs plan costing the economy more than a million new jobs. So here’s another jobs score: President Obama plus 4.5 million, Congressional Republicans zero.
Over that same period, more than more than 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been created under President Obama – the first time manufacturing jobs have increased since the 1990s.

The auto industry restructuring worked.  It saved more than a million jobs, not just at GM, Chrysler and their dealerships, but in auto parts manufacturing all over the country.  That’s why even auto-makers that weren’t part of the deal supported it.  They needed to save the suppliers too. Like I said, we’re all in this together.
Now there are 250,000 more people working in the auto industry than the day the companies were restructured.  Governor Romney opposed the plan to save GM and Chrysler. So here’s another jobs score: Obama two hundred and fifty thousand, Romney, zero.

The agreement the administration made with management, labor and environmental groups to double car mileage over the next few years is another good deal: it will cut your gas bill in half, make us more energy independent, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and add another 500,000 good jobs.
President Obama’s “all of the above” energy plan is helping too – the boom in oil and gas production combined with greater energy efficiency has driven oil imports to a near 20 year low and natural gas production to an all time high.  Renewable energy production has also doubled.

We do need more new jobs, lots of them, but there are already more than three million jobs open and unfilled in America today, mostly because the applicants don’t have the required skills.  We have to prepare more Americans for the new jobs that are being created in a world fueled by new technology.  That’s why investments in our people are more important than ever. The President has supported community colleges and employers in working together to train people for open jobs in their communities. And, after a decade in which exploding college costs have increased the drop-out rate so much that we’ve fallen to 16th in the world in the percentage of our young adults with college degrees, his student loan reform lowers the cost of federal student loans and even more important, gives students the right to repay the loans as a fixed percentage of their incomes for up to 20 years.  That means no one will have to drop-out of college for fear they can’t repay their debt, and no one will have to turn down a job, as a teacher, a police officer or a small town doctor because it doesn’t pay enough to make the debt payments.  This will change the future for young Americans.

I know we’re better off because President Obama made these decisions.

That brings me to health care.

The Republicans call it Obamacare and say it’s a government takeover of health care that they’ll repeal.  Are they right? Let’s look at what’s happened so far. Individuals and businesses have secured more than a billion dollars in refunds from their insurance premiums because the new law requires 80% to 85% of your premiums to be spent on health care, not profits or promotion.  Other insurance companies have lowered their rates to meet the requirement.  More than 3 million young people between 19 and 25 are insured for the first time because their parents can now carry them on family policies.  Millions of seniors are receiving preventive care including breast cancer screenings and tests for heart problems.  Soon the insurance companies, not the government, will have millions of new customers many of them middle class people with pre-existing conditions.  And for the last two years, health care spending has grown under 4%, for the first time in 50 years.

So are we all better off because President Obama fought for it and passed it? You bet we are.
There were two other attacks on the President in Tampa that deserve an answer. Both Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan attacked the President for allegedly robbing Medicare of 716 billion dollars. Here’s what really happened. There were no cuts to benefits. None. What the President did was save money by cutting unwarranted subsidies to providers and insurance companies that weren’t making people any healthier. He used the saving to close the donut hole in the Medicare drug program, and to add eight years to the life of the Medicare Trust Fund.  It’s now solvent until 2024. So President Obama and the Democrats didn’t weaken Medicare, they strengthened it.

When Congressman Ryan looked into the TV camera and attacked President Obama’s “biggest coldest power play” in raiding Medicare, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  You see, that 716 billion dollars is exactly the same amount of Medicare savings Congressman Ryan had in his own budget.
At least on this one, Governor Romney’s been consistent.  He wants to repeal the savings and give the money back to the insurance companies, re-open the donut hole and force seniors to pay more for drugs, and reduce the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by eight years. So now if he’s elected and does what he promised Medicare will go broke by 2016.  If that happens, you won’t have to wait until their voucher program to begins in 2023 to see the end Medicare as we know it.
But it gets worse.  They also want to block grant Medicaid and cut it by a third over the coming decade.  Of course, that will hurt poor kids, but that’s not all.  Almost two-thirds of Medicaid is spent on nursing home care for seniors and on people with disabilities, including kids from middle class families, with special needs like, Downs syndrome or Autism.  I don’t know how those families are going to deal with it. We can’t let it happen

Now let’s look at the Republican charge that President Obama wants to weaken the work requirements in the welfare reform bill I signed that moved millions of people from welfare to work.
Here’s what happened.  When some Republican governors asked to try new ways to put people on welfare back to work, the Obama Administration said they would only do it if they had a credible plan to increase employment by 20%.  You hear that? More work.  So the claim that President Obama weakened welfare reform’s work requirement is just not true. But they keep running ads on it. As their campaign pollster said “we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.” Now that is true. I couldn’t have said it better myself – I just hope you remember that every time you see the ad.
Let’s talk about the debt. We have to deal with it or it will deal with us.  President Obama has offered a plan with 4 trillion dollars in debt reduction over a decade, with two and a half dollars of spending reductions for every one dollar of revenue increases, and tight controls on future spending. It’s the kind of balanced approach proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission.

I think the President’s plan is better than the Romney plan, because the Romney plan fails the first test of fiscal responsibility: The numbers don’t add up.
It’s supposed to be a debt reduction plan but it begins with five trillion dollars in tax cuts over a ten-year period. That makes the debt hole bigger before they even start to dig out.  They say they’ll make it up by eliminating loopholes in the tax code.  When you ask “which loopholes and how much?,” they say “See me after the election on that.”

People ask me all the time how we delivered four surplus budgets.  What new ideas did we bring? I always give a one-word answer: arithmetic.  If they stay with a 5 trillion dollar tax cut in a debt reduction plan – the – arithmetic tells us that one of three things will happen: 1) they’ll have to eliminate so many deductions like the ones for home mortgages and charitable giving that middle class families will see their tax bill go up two thousand dollars year while people making over 3 million dollars a year get will still get a 250,000 dollar tax cut; or 2) they’ll have to cut so much spending that they’ll obliterate the budget for our national parks, for ensuring clean air, clean water, safe food, safe air travel; or they’ll cut way back on Pell Grants, college loans, early childhood education and other programs that help middle class families and poor children, not to mention cutting investments in roads, bridges, science, technology and medical research; or 3) they’ll do what they’ve been doing for thirty plus years now – cut taxes more than they cut spending, explode the debt, and weaken the economy.  Remember, Republican economic policies quadrupled the debt before I took office and doubled it after I left.  We simply can’t afford to double-down on trickle-down.
President Obama’s plan cuts the debt, honors our values, and brightens the future for our children, our families and our nation.

My fellow Americans, you have to decide what kind of country you want to live in.  If you want a you’re on your own, winner take all society you should support the Republican ticket.  If you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibilities – a “we’re all in it together” society, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. If you want every American to vote and you think its wrong to change voting procedures just to reduce the turnout of younger, poorer, minority and disabled voters, you should support Barack Obama.

If you think the President was right to open the doors of American opportunity to young immigrants brought here as children who want to go to college or serve in the military, you should vote for Barack Obama.  If you want a future of shared prosperity, where the middle class is growing and poverty is declining, where the American Dream is alive and well, and where the United States remains the leading force for peace and prosperity in a highly competitive world, you should vote for Barack Obama.

I love our country – and I know we’re coming back. For more than 200 years, through every crisis, we’ve always come out stronger than we went in.  And we will again as long as we do it together. We champion the cause for which our founders pledged their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor – to form a more perfect union.

If that’s what you believe, if that’s what you want, we have to re-elect President Barack Obama.

God Bless You – God Bless America.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

More Than Innuendo: The Return of the Rumour

Sue McClean may have just scored one of her biggest coups as far as booking legendary music acts into the Twin Cities with her announcement today that one of the all time greatest rock and roll bands will be coming to the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul on December 19, 2012.  This band's members, in one incarnation or another, have originated or been at the top of every rock sub genre from alt country before alt country was cool (Brinsley Schwarz) to Pub Rock (Ducks Deluxe) to New Wave (The Rumour).  Yes, I am talking about Graham Parker and the Rumour!

Best known for their incendiary live performances in the mid 70's, boiled down to its essence, the Rumour were a horn driven, crack rhythm and blues band whose lineup comprised a list of musicians musicians:  Martin Belmont, Brinsley Schwarz, Bob Andrews and Stephen Goulding who, at their peak, were as good as it gets.  But in one of life's bitter ironies, shortly after hitting their peak of commercial success with their 1979 release "Squeezing Out Sparks" first the keyboard player, Andrews, left and after the disappointing follow up to "Sparks" the Jimmy Iovine produced "Up Escalator", the remaining members of the Rumour and Mr. Parker parted ways.

Although the Rumour continued as a group for a while, they had just released their third and final album, "Purity of Essence" the year before and  played and toured with Garland Jeffries on his great "Escape Artist" album (A tour which I caught at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and the Rumour were great!  See the video below of Garland and the Rumour tearing thru "35 mm Dreams" from the 1981 tour).  But alas, like all good things in life it came to and end...or did it?

A couple of years ago, documentary filmmaker, Michael Gramaglia, "End of the Century: the story of the Ramones", got involved in a documentary project about Parker and through the help of grass roots fund raising brought the project, "Don't Ask Me Questions" to fruition.  Most of the band got together for  a  couple of impromptu shows in New York in 2010 which eventually led to Graham and the Rumour reuniting officially for the first time in the last 31 years with a new album coming out November 20, 2012.

@ Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul, MN
Doors 6:30 | Music 7:30 | All Ages
Ticket Price: $37