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  1. Political Spectrum — A View from the Left: Does the financial industry need more government regulation?

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    May 23, 2012 by Richard Drake

    Does the financial industry need more government regulation? Government regulation. The horror of the ages. Urban legend tells us that regulations kill the
life blood of American creativity, that “job creators” across this great nation of ours would be hiring workers by the bushel if weren’t for those regulations, which govern everything from workplace safety to environmental protections. And nowhere, the legend goes, does the hand of regulation have a more strangling effect than on our financial industry. And one of the most vicious pieces of legislation, the one that has kept the best and brightest helping to left our economy from the recession we now find ourselves in. When we talk about legislation of late, we talk of two things: J.P. Morgan and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The fact that J.P. Morgan lost so much of its investors’ money might seem to play up the urgency for bills such as Dodd-Frank, yet for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the J.P. Morgan crisis matters – pardon the pun, but I can’t help myself – not a whit. In fact, as he pointed out on a news show this week, somebody made money off the debacle, and …

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  2. Political Spectrum: View From the Left

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    May 8, 2012 by Richard Drake

    Question: Washington County voters, on May 22, will decide whether or not to establish a quarter cent sales tax that would provide $7.5 million annually for Ozark Regional Transit.  Do you support passing this measure? Why or why not.   By Richard Drake As I write this, I am sitting in western Oklahoma, which, on a clear day, is sort of like seeing Northwest Arkansas in a funhouse mirror. This city does not encourage recycling, and sidewalks – oh, I still haven’t seen one of those yet, and I have been here a little over a week. There is no public access television, no volunteer citizen committees to advise local governments and no public transportation. It may be a city, but it doesn’t appear to be a community. It is Social Darwinism at its finest, and I can’t wait to come home. It is, however, the perfect place to ponder this question. I wouldn’t want to live in a city which lacks any of the above. To find oneself in such a place, which seemingly feels no need for any of them, boggles the mind. To paraphrase a quote from those great musical philosophers, The Animals, “I gotta get out of …

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  3. Political Spectrum: Open Mic, Commentators Choice — A View From the Left

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    April 23, 2012 by Richard Drake

    There is a wonderful scene in “The Manchurian Candidate” (the original and still the best version with Frank Sinatra) in which the character played by James Gregory can’t quite figure out how many Communists there are in the State Department. After all, he has to give a speech that day, “proving” that there are, after all. As his wife Angela Lansbury (in a magnificent role so far removed from her bland “Murder She Wrote” character) harries him, his eye falls upon the Heinz Ketchup, advertising its “57 Varieties” on the bottle. “There are 57 Communists in the State Department!” he cries aloud later that day, waving a piece of paper before TV cameras, thus becoming just one more player in Angela Lansbury’s communist plot. Yes, there were communists; he just didn’t know where to look. Today, of course, the number has jumped from 57 to 80, and they are not in the State Department but in Congress, and Ted Nugent defender Florida Congressman Allen West is the only man brave enough to speak truth-to-power. Clarifying his remarks, the good senator said he meant the folks in the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Progressives, Communists, it’s all the same, isn’t it? Really? After …

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  4. Political Spectrum: A View From the Left — Can Romney Beat Obama?

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    April 10, 2012 by Richard Drake

    It seems apparent that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee. Can he beat President Obama?



 Mitt Romney, the man the Republican party must finally embrace as its standard bearer this year, is actually the perfect man for our times. He all-too-perfectly represents the conflict between what Obama means for America, and the modern-day values of the GOP. Romney is the candidate for those among us who fantasize about a return to the “good old days” when life was simpler, while Barack Obama represents for them the worst excesses of the decade that followed, a time when life became confusing. The Siren Song of the 1950s is the anthem of the “modern-day” GOP, and Mitt Romney is the perfect “Father Knows Best” candidate for them. The 50s, as historical revisionists would have us believe, was the last perfect decade (okay, except for the Reagan years, when it was a perpetual morning in America) before the 1960s came upon this great nation of ours and brought us down. Mitt Romney is the man to remind Americans of all of that. And he could win. Without the 1960s, men like Barack Obama would never have risen in the ranks of the Democratic …

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  5. Political Spectrum: A View From the Left – Talk radio’s ‘cooling effect’?

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    March 26, 2012 by Richard Drake

    Question: The brouhaha over conservative talk radio star Rush Limbaugh’s incendiary remarks on contraception has intensified and more advertisers have withdrawn their support. Will this have a “cooling effect” on talk radio in general? Should conservatives be concerned? For years we have been hearing of the great liberal conspiracy to silence talk radio, to still the men and women who would speak truth-to-power (do you hate that cliché as much as I do?) and force Americans to live once more under the cruel tyranny of the “Fairness Doctrine.” The Fairness Doctrine, much like death panels and voter registration fraud, is trotted out every so often to scare the professionally frightened among us, those who don’t stop and say, “Oh, wait. What?” I refreshed my knowledge of the Doctrine at the website of the Museum of Broadcast Communications. I emphasize the word “Museum,” because this is where the Doctrine permanently resides, as a relic of the past. This rule, which once meant that opposing views must be represented on TV and radio stations is a thing of the past, is as dead as the Dodo bird. I mention this because professional hysterics are bringing it up again, as if the Rush …

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  6. Political Specturum: A View From the Left — Birth Control

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    March 15, 2012 by Richard Drake

    Question: Why is the national political debate so preoccupied with the topic of birth control? We’ve all been hearing a lot recently about religious liberty, freedom, the First Amendment and how lots and lots of men feel about the birth control debate that is sweeping this country. Well, one says “debate,” but in reality, the debate was settled long ago: most Americans are in favor not only of birth control, but also of having insurance companies pay for it. What began as a skirmish with the Roman Catholic Church has spread far and wide. Then again, not really. The national media, ever slow to pick up on a story, has failed to noticed that attacks on a woman’s right to choose birth control or have access to an abortion have been under assault for some years now. Literally millions of words have been written and spoken on the subject, but this is what it all boils down to: Women don’t have sense enough to come in out of the rain. I was going to go with the old cliche, “Women don’t know their place,” but we’ll come to that one soon enough. But really, when it it is all said …

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  7. A View from the Left: Who’s Winning the Republican Nomination Race?

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    February 24, 2012 by Richard Drake

    Candidates in the Republican Primary are described at various times with such terms as surging, withdrawing, forging ahead or making a comeback, in a chaotic race to the convention. What’s going on? I used to joke that politics should be covered by sports writers, as that might bring some excitement to the manner of storytelling. But honestly? Many sports writers are as prone to use cliches — and drive them into the ground — as other journalists. Over the past few years, we have seen the gradual militarization of the English language, especially where it pertains to political reporting. There is a small part of me, the man who is nourished on clichés and rarely comes out to play with others, who wrings his hands when he hears news anchors speaking this way and worries about the militarization of the English language. And in truth, I am getting combat fatigue from all the increased martial terms in our political discourse. There may be those who suspect that all of the above was just an excuse to use that line. Well, partly true. Our use of military metaphors began long ago with our War on Poverty, followed by our War on …

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