Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Biden - A Living Legend?

The good folks of Brandywine Hundred voted last month not to name their new elementary school after Delaware's long-serving senior-senator and now vice-president, Joseph R. Biden Jr; instead, the voters opted for the more parochial-sounding --  Hanby Elementary School.

Likewise, it's unusual to name anything after a politician or local hero until, well, they've passed.

For example, former Senator William V. Roth's name was bestowed upon the new Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Bridge (Route 1), a few years after his passing. Mr. Roth was instrumental in securing federal and state funds for this much-needed bridge and project.

So too, did the good people of Delaware celebrate a great trailblazer and civil rights litigator with the naming of the City/County Building on French Street in Wilmington after the late Louis L. Redding (btw, he also has a middle school named after him in Middletown - Redding Middle School).

Thus, we now have Mr. Amtrak himself conferred upon with the naming of the Wilmington Train Station in his honor.

Call me old-fashioned, but I find it a bit puzzling when politicians have buildings, schools and other things named after them while they are still living.

Monday, March 14, 2011

'Recall' Reality

Recalls in American politics are a rarity. In fact, just getting an elected officials' name on a recall ballot is as about as unlikely as the Phillies' chances of only winning twenty games for this upcoming 2011 season.

Thus, it must follow then, that if history and logic are juxtaposed, the angry partisan crowds in Wisconsin, hell-bent on recalling their most despised state senators, need to realize that minus divine intervention and odds as bleak as those offered on the back of a PowerBall ticket, must heretofore zero-in on recent political history.

These contemptuous, yet righteous souls, should read the following statistics on successful recalls that occurred throughout U.S. history.

Click here for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal online article.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The 'New Age' of Civility

Call me a skeptic, but somehow I saw this coming.

A litany of death threats and other calls for violence and harm have started to make its way into the environs of Wisconsin amidst the aftershocks of the budget repair bill that passed Wednesday night in the Wisconsin state legislature.

The State Department of Justice is investigating this specific threat (read entire e-mail in the above link). Here's an excerpt from the e-mailed threat:

Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your familes (sic)

will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks. Please explain

to them that this is because if we get rid of you and your families then it

will save the rights of 300,000 people and also be able to close the deficit

that you have created. I hope you have a good time in hell. Read below for

more information on possible scenarios in which you will die.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that unions nationwide are calling for all union members and supporters to cast this 'anti-union' trend and episode as a national civil rights matter.

I strongly believe that the citizens of Wisconsin, and U.S. citizens alike, are too intelligent and pragmatic and will see through the forthcoming union-civil rights battle cry.

American citizens want jobs, a growing economy and for our national budget and debt crisis to be reckoned with in a serious manner. People do not want to see wholesale demagoguery by union leaders and bosses; people do not want to see people like AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka pandering to the crowd; people do not want to have to endure such sycophants and have to hear their sanctimonious rancor; and finally, people do not want to see our country hijacked by out-of-touch leaders that claim to fight for the middle class, but inexorably end up hurting that very same middle class.

I'm not anti-union, I'm pro-taxpayer.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wisconsin Republicans Out-Maneuver Exiled Dems

Gov. Scott Walker must have consumed a lot of Charlie Sheen's favorite beverage of late - 'Tiger Blood.'

After nearly three tumultuous weeks of protests, 24/7 media coverage and national attention in and around Madison, Wisconsin, state senate Republicans decided Wednesday night to use a procedural maneuver to push through an otherwise unpassable budget repair bill amongst a throng of stunned Democratic leaders, media and onlookers.

The bill's measure effectively eliminates collective bargaining for public-sector employees in Wisconsin, except for wage bargaining.

Gov. Walker and Wisconsin Republicans attempted to negotiate with the missing 14 state senators who had disappeared across state lines to Illinois. The state senators' AWOL antics denied the Republican officials in Madison the necessary quorum it needed to go forward with the budget repair bill.
In the end, the Senate’s 19 Republicans approved the measure, 18 to 1, without any debate on the floor or a single Democrat in the room.
"In 30 minutes, 18 state senators undid 50 years of civil rights in Wisconsin,” said Mark Miller, the leader of the Senate Democrats who fled to Illinois on Feb. 17 to block just such a vote from occurring. “Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten.”
The outrage enveloping the many pro-union and anti-Walker protesters and supporters was palpable.

"I think it's akin to political hara-kiri," said Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar). "I think it's political suicide."

Gov. Walker offered a brief statement,

"The Senate Democrats have had three weeks to debate this bill and were offered repeated opportunities to come home, which they refused," Walker said. "In order to move the state forward, I applaud the Legislature's action today to stand up to the status quo and take a step in the right direction to balance the budget and reform government."
Similarly, Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau)summarized his party's committment to the Wisconsin voters with,

"The people of Wisconsin elected us to do a job," his statement said. "They elected us to stand up to the broken status quo, stop the constant expansion of government, balance the budget, create jobs and improve the economy. The longer the Democrats keep up this childish stunt, the longer the majority can't act on our agenda."
To be sure, the main stream media will be abuzz about the turnaround of events in Wisconsin, especially the liberal-leaning media. Boycotts will ensue, walk-outs and other planned protests will also follow.

For example, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore announced on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow show last night that all high school students in the nation should boycott the bill's passage by staying home from school Friday.

In the end, however, Gov. Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans were duly elected by the citizens of the Badger state to fulfill a promise to fix the budget and set the state on a course of fiscal sanity.

The Governors of other states will be watching closely how Walker did not back down amidst immense political pressure, especially in a state where collective bargaining for public-sector workers was basically invented.

Ultimately, the newly elected, 44-year-old governor of a historically blue state, Scott Walker, has taught some of the other Republican governors like Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels and John Kasich a thing or two about grit.
And even though his poll and popularity ratings will suffer in the short-term, in the long run, Gov. Walker will be seen as a trailblazer of sorts, fighting for what's right for taxpayer's, not just what's popular.

And he may have even one-upped Mr. "Tiger Blood' himself.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The 'Hidden' Cost of Democracy

While the mostly peaceful throngs of citizens, activists and protesters alike have enveloped Madison Wisconsin's historic Capitol Building over the past two weeks, there's one cost that few Badger State officials would've predicted -- a $7.5 million dollar 'repair' bill.

It's kinda ironic, huh?

As it turns out, the thousands of pro-union and anti-Walker crowds have capriciously and without respect for public property, damaged an enormous amount of expensive marble, among other things, throughout Madison's Statehouse.

Although this price tag, on its face, seems ridiculously high, the fact is, the building was not designed as a crash pad and rallying spot for an angry mob.

There's a rule in the Capitol Building that 'no tape or other adhesive' may be used to affix items to any part of the building. In fact, when signs or communications are necessary, easel boards are displayed. The specific oils and chemicals in different types of tapes and adhesives tend to seep into the porous stone surface of marble and granite, if left too long. It creates a 'stain' that, left alone, causes discoloration.

Take a look at this local Fox News affiliate video that explains the damage.

It's also surprising that the State Fire Marshall did not intervene at some point. Surely a crowd of this size, holed-up in a building not designed to mimic Lambeau Field in Green Bay, would certainly violate the 'persons-allowed' occupancy laws that exist?

The only question left to ask is: which labor union will get the contract to repair the Capitol Building?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hucked Up!

I have always liked former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. He's easy on the ears and has the calming effect of a erudite psychologist; his Southern Baptist charm and sensibilities reveal Huckabee's small-town cache. Music stars, Hollywood moguls, John Q. Public and of course - politicos of every persuasion - open up to him.

However, the 2008 Republican presidential primary candidate, and presumably 2012 presidential GOP candidate has a new public relations problem. It's actually turning into a nightmare.

Huckabee, while being  interviewed via radio by WOR's Steve Malzberg on March 1, 2011, had this to say regarding president Barack Obama:

After news of Huckabee’s Freudian slip about Barack Obama spread, Huckabee went silent himself. He dispatched a spokesman, J. Hogan Gidley, to assert that Huckabee “merely misspoke” and that Huckabee “meant to say the president grew up in Indonesia.”

Huckabee claimed,

“One thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya, his view of the Brits, for example, very different than the average American … But then if you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau Revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British are a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather.”

After listening to the WOR radio interview myself, it would be very wise for Mike Huckabee to get out in front of this story. He should have a press conference, and without equivocation, he should denounce what he said in a passionate apology.
Huckabee is a seasoned politician and has wide appeal through his Mike Huckabee show on Fox News. His biggest hurdle will be his "Mau Mau" revolution reference. That suggests that he wasn't talking about Indonesia as his press release states, but of Kenya.

Again, he must get out in front of this story forthwith, or suffer the consequences. I think he will speak publicly on this matter, and like any good Christian, his true character will surface by apologizing and asking for forgiveness.

After all, contrition is sometimes more powerful than rhetoric.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New Primer on Government Inefficiency - 'Fed Style'

Remember when $10 million dollars meant something? Nowadays, such denominations are merely rounding errors for many of our Federal Government agencies and their myriad profligate spending programs.

In today's Wall Street Journal, reporter Damian Paletta reminds us in his 'Billions in Bloat Uncovered in Beltway' article of how millions quickly add up to billions.

Thanks to the stalwart fiscal oversight of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla), a report was commissioned on the Fed's cornucopia of redundancy, inconsistency and mismanagement -- also known as -- waste, fraud and abuse.

According to the non-partisan Government Accountability Office,

The U.S. government has 15 different agencies overseeing food-safety laws, more than 20 separate programs to help the homeless and 80 programs for economic development.

This GAO report unfurls some interesting tidbits and is merely a microcosm of a wider problem -- the explosive growth of government. Just think, the savings alone in some of the proposed agency and program consolidations equates to the gross national product of many small countries.

And of course, it's not like president Obama hasn't made infrastructure one of his main tenets for his 'Winning the Future' campaign.

The report adroitly reveals,

The report said five divisions within the Department of Transportation account for 100 different programs that fund things like highways, rail projects and safety programs.

One program that funnels transportation funds to the states "functions as a cash-transfer general-purpose grant program, rather than as a tool for pursuing a cohesive national transportation policy," the report said. Similarly, it chided the government over encouraging federal agencies to purchase plug-in hybrid vehicles while having policies that agencies reduce electricity consumption. It said government agencies have purchased numerous vehicles that run on alternative fuels only to find many gas stations don't sell alternative fuels. This has led government agencies to turn around and request waivers so they didn't have to use alternative fuels.

A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation said the president's budget for fiscal year 2012 "proposes to cut waste, inefficiency and bureaucracy by consolidating over 55 separate highway programs into five core programs, and by merging six transit programs into two programs."

The aforementioned subterfuge reminds me a lot of our very own DelDOT agency. But I digress.

While Congress is mostly to blame, it is incumbent upon any president as executive leader to not-so-subtly remind the legislative branch that the fox can't always be expected to watch the hen-house.

However, I do give president Obama kudos for his Jan 2011 Wall Street Journal op-ed where he calls for a federal regulations review so the business community isn't hampered so much.

Obama points out,

Over the past two years, the goal of my administration has been to strike the right balance. And today, I am signing an executive order that makes clear that this is the operating principle of our government.

This order requires that federal agencies ensure that regulations protect our safety, health and environment while promoting economic growth. And it orders a government-wide review of the rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive. It's a review that will help bring order to regulations that have become a patchwork of overlapping rules, the result of tinkering by administrations and legislators of both parties and the influence of special interests in Washington over decades.

Let's hope that real and serious reports like the GAO one becomes the rule rather than the exception. And likewise, the president makes good on his promise to streamline anti-business regulations that punish, rather than reward, entrepreneurs.

As hardworking taxpayers, we could use a dose of equilibrium on our nation's fiscal ledger. Currently, our spending promises far outweigh our ability to reconcile with something called reality.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Is American Exceptionalism Dead?

Recall then-vice-presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del) pontificating the likeliness of an “international crisis’ that would “test the mettle of this guy” – referring to then-candidate Barack Obama during the campaign of 2008?

Since the time Biden uttered those remarks at a Seattle campaign fundraiser event, he’s mostly been right. Who’d a thunk it?

Yet, the irony of all of this premonitory soothsaying is that president Obama, along with his administration, still does not have a clear and cogent foreign policy strategy that gives meaning to what the U.S. stands for. Our guiding principle, as portrayed by the White House, is to wet one’s finger and see which way the wind blows.

We all sat back in disbelief as a Green Revolution enveloped the streets and plazas of Tehran during the summer of 2009, only to be trounced by a megalomaniac nicknamed A-Jad and supported by the theocratic mullahs. Where was the U.S.?

Now we are faced with a new crisis. After it took a few days or weeks for the White House and State Department to figure out just who the bad guy was in Cairo, another decades-long authoritarian ruler has one-upped Mr. Mubarak.

Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi has gone mad. He’s ordered his own citizens killed, brought in paid mercenaries from other nearby North African nations and believes he will be a martyr in the Bedouin tradition for his actions.

Where’s the official statement from our administration? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made one prosaic statement saying effectively that “this sort of behavior is unacceptable.” Of course it’s 'unacceptable.' He’s killing innocent Libyans, threatening to burn down important oil fields near Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, and has all but caused Israel to soil its collective pants, especially since Egypt’s once-friendly, decades-long policy towards Israel is now in flux.

Meanwhile, news sources report that a radical branch of Al-Qaeda is forming in the eastern portion of Libya and has already made veiled threats against any non-Muslims. Even Iran is breaking with past restrictions and has sent two navy warships through the Suez Canal (something that has not been allowed by Egypt since the 1979 Iranian Revolution). Iranian Defense Ministry officials explain, “It’s only a military training exercise.” It looks more like planned provocation and saber-rattling to me.

Washington Post Op-Ed writer Charles Krauthammer offered this advice a few weeks ago,

We need a foreign policy that not only supports freedom in the abstract but is guided by long-range practical principles to achieve it - a Freedom Doctrine composed of the following elements:

(1) The United States supports democracy throughout the Middle East. It will use its influence to help democrats everywhere throw off dictatorial rule.

(2) Democracy is more than just elections. It requires a free press, the rule of law, the freedom to organize, the establishment of independent political parties and the peaceful transfer of power. Therefore, the transition to democracy and initial elections must allow time for these institutions, most notably political parties, to establish themselves.

(3) The only U.S. interest in the internal governance of these new democracies is to help protect them against totalitarians, foreign and domestic. The recent Hezbollah coup in Lebanon and the Hamas dictatorship in Gaza dramatically demonstrate how anti-democratic elements that achieve power democratically can destroy the very democracy that empowered them.

(4) Therefore, just as during the Cold War the United States helped keep European communist parties out of power (to see them ultimately wither away), it will be U.S. policy to oppose the inclusion of totalitarian parties - the Muslim Brotherhood or, for that matter, communists - in any government, whether provisional or elected, in newly liberated Arab states.

It's been at least 72 hours since Qadaffi ordered his henchmen to kill those in opposition to his rule without nary a remark from our president. Apparently Obama has other more important things to worry about such as ordering U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the DOJ to not defend the Defense of Marriage Act.

Aside from Obama’s apologetic rhetoric abroad and his insidious attempt to eschew American Exceptionalism in the name of gentlemanliness, Obama is not leading us. He’s often naïve in world affairs and he’s not proactive in foreign policy. Simply being the anti-Bush president is not a policy.

But he's a heckuva community organizer. And that's what dictators like Ahmadinejad, Mubarak, Kim Jong il and Qadaffi hope for.

To be sure, the federal budget crisis, job creation and social issues like the DOMA law are all important things; however, I'd like to hear at least a peep from Obama on the Libya debacle.

And please hold the platitudes.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Transparency 101

I was forwarded this link from a friend. It reveals a potentially troubling attempt by the Obama administration to utilize social networking for propaganda purposes.

It’s one thing to have supporters of any political party or ideology to champion specific messaging via Twitter, FaceBook and YouTube. However, it is quite another thing to create, from whole cloth, a narrative bereft of real persons. And from an administration that purports to be ‘transparent’ where duplicity is the exception rather than the rule, I find this alarming.

It’s no secret that the battle in Wisconsin has created a watershed moment, a battle-royale of sorts, for politicians, public sector unions and the wider public across the nation.

Large unions like the Service Employees International Union and others have called for numerous protests across the U.S. this week and this month. And that is the SEIU’s right; it is afforded by the unambiguous language in our U.S. Constitution.

What is not a right is the use of clandestine political communiqués such as the aforementioned ‘fake’ social media users as a stratagem to influence an unwitting public. I am all for a public debate on this monolithic subject and others; however, for any White House administration (Nixon’s notwithstanding) to attempt to ‘trick’ us under the guise of free speech, is scandalous.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lead and They Will Follow: Gov. Walker Shows Courage and Leadership in Battleground State

Bravo to Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) for standing up for all of the citizens of the Badger State, as a minority of public sector union workers, teachers, correctional officers and other civil servants foment demagoguery and fail to do their jobs.

With a $3.6 billion budget gap as a backdrop, the Wisconsin governor must confront reality and re-tool the state’s fiscal problem before it weighs down future growth and crowds out investment. And, unlike the federal government, states are obligated by law to balance their budget. Thus, Gov. Walker is acting like the grown-up in the room.

Wisconsin’s newly-elected Governor, in a press conference speech given late Friday in the rotunda of the State capitol, explained to the press and the audience that “We are broke.” He went on to say that the majority of workers and citizens alike in the state support his bill. He wants state workers to pay one-half of their pension costs and 12.6 percent of their health benefits. Currently, most state employees pay nothing for their pensions and virtually nothing for their health insurance.

Governor Walker reminded everyone that a lot of untruths are being spun about his plan, and even responded to a reporter’s question about how the president interjected himself into the fray. “I know the president has enough to worry about regarding the federal budget, he should let our state take care of our own issues,” said Walker. Obama told a Milwaukee television reporter,

“Some of what I've heard coming out of Wisconsin, where they're just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like more of an assault on unions."

This interjection reminds me a lot of the Louis ‘Skip’ Gates’ debacle in the summer of 2009 where Obama gave his opinion on an incident where a Massachusetts police lieutenant attempted to arrest a friend and Harvard colleague of the president’s.

Mr. Walker also gave a brief history lesson about unions and the state. He said that Wisconsin civil service laws date back over one-hundred years and are considered to be the best of any state. Thus, any collective bargaining rights that the public sector unions think they’ll lose is moot. Simultaneously as he made the aforementioned remark, and what seemed like a well-orchestrated play, the distinct murmurs and noise from thousands of labor supporters chanting outside the building, could be heard.

Walker even acknowledged the crowd protesting outside while explaining how it’s their right to peacefully assemble. But it is not o.k. for politically-elected state senators to flee their responsibility and hide in places like Rockville, Illinois. Instead, these recalcitrant public officials should do their job.

Another unique twist to this story that has the nation watching is how the Obama administration seems to be colluding with politicians and union leaders in Madison. Former Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine, now the chairman of the DNC, is gathering behind-the-scenes help from the White House’s political operation, Organizing for Obama, who got involved quietly Monday authorizing chapters to try to strategize other pro-union rallies in states like nearby Ohio.

Even former progressive president Franklin Delano Roosevelt knew the implications of public sector union overreach when he wrote at the height of the New Deal:

All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management.

To be sure, public sector workers, whether they are unionized or not, are a very important part of our society. They support all citizens. In municipalities, towns and cities alike, they can be counted on to teach our children, to protect our streets and homes, to ensure families receive the necessary care and help that they need; they even collect our trash.

However, the bare truth is, the inordinate amount of unfunded liabilities associated with public sector unions like in Wisconsin and elswhere, cannot be sustained without necessary reforms.

Larry Kudlow explains:

Nationwide, state and local government unions have a 45 percent total-compensation advantage over their private-sector counterpart. With high-pay compensation and virtually no benefits co-pay, the politically arrogant unions are bankrupting America -- which by some estimates is suffering from $3 trillion in unfunded liabilities.

Unions are not unlike a cartel. They eschew competition and subjugate the taxpayer's to unnecessary demands. A vicious circle follows. Public officials who generously compensate workers often receive votes, contributions and campaign assistance from those same employees and their union leaders. The taxpayer does not get such preferential treatment.

See Gov. Walker's FULL 14 Min. Feb. 18, 2011 Press Conference Here

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Patrick Kennedy meets Tommy Boy!

Funny mash-up! The audience is in need of some goggles and the speakers are in need of some Xanax.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Weapons of 'Massa' Distraction

Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y), like many pols before him, is in the midst of a whirlwind media storm. Massa abruptly resigned from his congressional seat amid myriad tales of political-[in]correctness to downright sexual harassment. And like all juicy stories, they begin to take a life of their own and sometimes morph into something much bigger.

Massa is on the attack. He has gone from being the accused, to playing the victim; and is now taking the more offensive stance of being the plaintiff. Not long after Massa spent forty-five minutes on a local radio talk show on Sunday, baring his soul about all-things-scandalous, did the main stream media pick up on the story.

The story, as told by Massa, goes something like this:

1. The congressman allegedly "harassed" a male staffer of his during a wedding reception New Year's Eve.
2. Another one of Massa's staff employees, apparently uncomfortable with what occurred, approached House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer regarding a "complaint."
3. Hoyer allegedly tells this staffer to officially bring said complaint to the House Ethics Committee, or "I'll be forced to do it" if you don't.
4. Complaint is made and investigation begins.
5. Massa, aware of the potential fallout, distances himself from the matter by stating his cancer has returned, and thus will be retiring in the near future.
6. The MSM picks up on the story (even though the Gov. Patterson and Charlie Rangel story gets most of the media's attention).
7. As more details are learned regarding the Massa issue, Massa goes on the offensive and appears on a talk radio program to 'clear the air.'
8. Rep. Massa explains his side of the story during the 'wedding' incident, goes on the record saying he is being 'forced out' of Congress by congressional leadership (Pelosi, Hoyer and others), and also implicates Rahm Emanuel as a co-conspirator for not supporting the president's health care bill.
9. The scandal has now became a full-blown 'he said, she said.'

For the record, Massa described the 'wedding' incident as follows:

"And I grabbed the staff member sitting next to me, and I said, 'What I really ought to be doing is fracking you,' and then [I] tussled the guy's hair and left, went to my room, because I knew the party was getting to the point where I shouldn't be there."

But Massa added more during his radio interview, describing White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and how he tried to pressure Massa to vote on Obama's budget:

“Rahm Emanuel is son of the devil’s spawn, Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) said. “He is an individual who would sell his mother to get a vote. He would strap his children to the front end of a steam locomotive…I am showering, naked as a jaybird, and here comes Rahm Emanuel, not even with a towel wrapped around his tush, poking his finger in my chest, yelling at me.”

Rep. Massa goes on to explain the reasons he's resigning his seat:

"You have my apology and you have my resignation, because I'm a human being, but I will not go quietly into the evening. I will not be ashamed of my actions, other than the fact that I used inappropriate, verbal - V-E-R-B-A-L - language," he said. "And I was set up for this from the very, very beginning. If you think that somehow they didn't come after me to get rid of me because my vote is the deciding vote on the health-care bill, then, ladies and gentlemen, you live today in a world that is so innocent as to not understand what is going on in Washington, D.C."

Massa also denied on the radio show that he is gay. "Ask my wife - I think she can answer that question," he said.

And the saga is only going to get a lot spicier as the Progressive Massa is scheduled to appear on Fox News' Glenn Beck show Tuesday night for an entire hour. Rush Limbaugh has also chimed in saying this will become the cause celebre for Republicans to exploit the Democrats' oft-suspected behind-closed-doors attitude about the health care debate.

Yet, the million dollar question still remains: Why did Massa resign if he is innocent? Nobody is forcing him out. Thus, Massa's veracity will be challenged by everyone. Wouldn't it be just retribution to stay on as congressman while the Ethics Committee conducts its investigation? After all, 99% of all politicians hang on until Satan himself is at the door before throwing in the towel (read: Nixon, Clinton and Mark Foley).

We'll just have to wait and see how this story unfolds. Innuendo, hyperbole and a lot of blog posts will surely follow. But the reality is that the former congressman is one ornery 'Massa-chist.'

Friday, March 5, 2010

Reconcile This!

The dynamic duo of Joe Biden and Barack Obama are a great tag team. Talk about Gaffe and Awe! Vice President Biden was caught off camera during the February 25, health care summit, mumbling "It's easy being the vice president. You don't have to do anything." Later, during a break in the summit, Biden is heard by one of the network microphones responding to another member of Congress who said to the veep: "It's like being the grandpa and not the parent," referring to how easy being the number two guy is. Biden's quick response: "Yeah, that's it!"

That was such a prescient moment for Mr. Biden. After all, as the health care debate in Congress reaches its penultimate hour, with the Democrats seeking to invoke parliamentarian folly as in reconciliation, 'Granpa Joe' is in line to, well - do something important. The current Senate Parliamentarian - Alan Frumin - has the ignominious task of determining procedurally, if the health care bill proposal passes the 'Byrd Rule.'

Named after Senator Robert Byrd, the rule was added as an amendment to the original Budget Reconciliation Act of 1974. This act was primarily put in place to level the playing field between the executive and legislative branches of government. It was also put in place so one party in Congress wouldn't overuse or circumvent the system. The reconciliation act also allowed for the creation of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Thus, Congress could now have a little say in budgetary matters juxtaposing the CBO up against the Office of Budget and Management (OBM) - which functions as the budgetary arm of the White House.

Meanwhile, as the Republicans, the Democrats, the media and the public alike argue over the 'proper' use of reconciliation as an option, Joe Biden is now in a very unique situation. Even though Frumin is the congressional arbiter, it is the President of the Senate, that'd be Mr. Biden, who would ultimately rule which parts of the health care bill are budgetary (can be marked up) or are process-oriented. Any non-budgetary portion of the bill cannot be used - hence the 'Byrd Rule.'

Thus, Vice President Joe Biden might just have to earn his keep in the near future and act more like the 'Parent' and less like 'Grandpa.'

Shakespeare and Wordsworth Awaken in Their Graves!

Forrest Gump's mom once told him that life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get.

Surely, Shakespeare and Wordsworth upon reading or hearing today's non-superfluous, economically-challenged tripe, would heretofore Go Postal!

To be honest with you, scribes and creative types should avoid today's colloquial phrases lest they be branded with what both Rush Limbaugh and Rahm Emanuel inexorably refer to as the gallactically retarded. I'm just saying.

I mean, at this point in time, it is imperative to, uhhh, think outside of the box. It's not like, umm, politicians are telling us about shovel-ready projects two or three times a day. And I'm not aksing for a Thucidydes-like orator to bowl me over with rhetoric once practiced on the steps of the Parthenon.

Look! now let me be completely honest with you, we really need to push the envelope here. These ideas have been market-tested; thus, the ball's in your court. You know? Ok, you're not understanding this, so let me simplify it for you - it's my fault for perfunctorily dismissing you - my bad.

Enough with the histrionics, already! And wipe that incredulous smirk off of your face and vote up or down on this matter.

But, at the end of the day, LOL, it is what it is. So, Dude! I thank you for raising the bar and like, uhhh, keeping it real, all in the name of clarity and conciseness.

Rachel Maddow and Liz Cheney's Al-Qaeda Cabal

Hillarious rebuke of Liz Cheney's 'Keep America Safe' campaign! Maddow takes logical reasoning to a whole new level. And the music score is brilliant! Can you say: 'McCarthyism' revisited.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Time to 'Kill-It'

I woke up from a unique dream last night on the eve of Barack Obama's Health Care Summit:

Remember the John Grisham novel that spurred the 1996 movie 'A Time to Kill?' And how Samuel L. Jackson portrayed the character Carl Lee Hailey - the man who shot and killed two White Supremacists in the courtroom after they allegedly brutally raped his 10-year-old daughter and left her for dead?

And how Matthew McConaughey played Carl's good friend and lawyer - Jake Tyler Brigance?

Well picture Obama at the HC Summit with the select few invitees sitting around the now-renowned square-shaped table in Blair House. With C-Span cameras rolling, and millions of Americans watching, Obama walks into the center of the arranged tables and asks everyone to please close their eyes. And in his best Obama dead-pan, instructs the cavalry of media: " guys too," pointing to the reporters, "you're all part of this...close your eyes." After some curious looks and some rustling amongst the crowd, Obama presciently and meticulously launches into his best Jake Brigance impersonation and tells the narrative of America, with its broken down health care system.

The president puts a human face on the story. He is able to smash preconceived notions and peel away the many ridiculous partisan innuendo that clouds the narrative. Everyone is listening intently, to his every word. He has a captive audience - a national captive audience at that.

And on cue, the main stream media breaks in from their regular broadcasting schedule for this palpable moment. Obama continues with his story, sounding like Morgan Freeman narrating a Pyrrhic Victory, and explains all that is fundamentally wrong with the system and does it in a way that crashes through the partisan bickering.

Soon thereafter, Congress, sullen from this awakening, promises to have a "come-to-Jesus meeting" and resolves to pass a bipartisan bill that will put the people first.

Fiction and Hollywood, I know, but one can only dream.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Obama on Jobs: 'Health Care, Health Care' and Prince Harry

Back in early February - Tuesday the 2nd, to be exact, President Obama and Air Force One touched down in Nashua, New Hampshire. His White House schedule had him visiting a medium-sized company that engineered and manufactured LED light technology. The headline event for Obama, after earlier visits to Elyria, Ohio and Tampa, Florida, was a Town Hall meeting in one of Nashua's quaint High Schools.

Mr. Obama delivered his, now very honed, post SOTU stump speech to the white and blue-collared New England crowd. He rolled up his sleeves after his ten-minute speech and took questions.

However, the questions were all about health care.

Likewise, today, in Henderson, Nevada, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D- NV) alongside, the President basically re-tweeted his New Hampshire and Elyria, Ohio speeches.

Obama was highly criticized after his SOTU speech - especially after the administration showed remarkable tone deafness regarding the Scott Brown 'Mass acre.' Thus, with introspection and trepidation, Mr. Obama subtly swung to the middle. But more importantly, he claimed - chief economic adviser Christine Romer claimed - Press Secretary Robert Gibbs claimed - and David Axelrod claimed that jobs were our number one priority.

Ya think?

Yet, inexplicably and under the guise of subterfuge, Obama boomeranged back to the merits of passing health care. When asked by a lifelong Nevada resident about the loss of jobs in the air line industry, and how she and her co-workers were all laid off from United Airlines, Obama, incredulously, tried to link health care to her plight.

Indeed the upcoming and much-awaited February, 25 (bipartisanship) Health Care Summit is around the corner. Thus, Obama is priming the pump and is strategically herding the Republicans into a corner.

With unemployment in Nevada around 13.5%, and with 1 in 4 homeowners in some fashion of foreclosure, the president continues with his intractable focus on health care reform. According to a Rasmussen poll, 61% of respondents say Congress should scrap the health care bill all together. Likewise, 19% of voters say it is only somewhat likely that the Democrats and Republicans will agree on a bipartisan health care plan this year. More telling is that 80% think it is unlikely to pass at all.

And although month-over-month job losses are shrinking vis-a-vis mid-2009, this is one of the worst jobless recoveries in history. With less people in the workforce, employees are working harder. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal productivity in the U.S. is up 6.2% for the fourth quarter of 2009. However, there are still 14.8 million Americans unemployed as of January, 2010.

More troubling is the rate of unemployment for teens and blacks - 26.4% and 16.5%, respectively. Vice-President Biden and the Obama administration have continually touted job creation at 2 million; all of these 'created' or 'saved' jobs were because of the Stimulus Plan (The Recovery and Reinvestment Act). However, even the White Houses' own Web site shows only 655,00 jobs created.

The job situation is only going to get worse before it gets better - all economic indicators as well as anecdotal evidence point to that conclusion.

Don Peck, of The Atlantic, writes in his March, 2010 article about the effects of joblessness:

"There is unemployment, a brief and relatively routine transitional state that
results from the rise and fall of companies in any economy, and there is unemployment - chronic, all-consuming. The former is a necessary
lubricant in any engine of economic growth. The latter is a pestilence that
slowly eats away
at people, families, and, if it
spreads widely enough, the fabric of society.
Indeed, history suggests
it is perhaps
society's most noxious ill."

Obama and company spent thirteen months pursuing health care reform in Congress - all to the detriment of millions of Americans who are out of work or are underemployed. If you promised that jobs and the economy were your top priority in 2009 and you did not deliver, why are you repeating your mistake and ignoring the people again in 2010?

Besides, does anyone really believe Obama's visit can catapult Harry Reid to victory in November? The president's magic sure didn't help in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

TOP TEN Reasons Why Tiger Woods is Holding a Press Conference Friday:

10. He's been really Pumpin' Iron a lot lately and wants new potential 'babes' to see his Guns.
9. The Golf Channels' ratings are tanking during Olympics.
8. He wants to announce to the world that he is the new de facto leader of the Tea Party.
7. He wants to come clean about his one-night-stand with Rielle Hunter (aka mistress #17).
6. He wants to brag about the $2 million he donated to the Haiti relief fund.
5. Jesper Parnevik dared him to.
4. Wanted to reinforce idea that HE still controls the media.
3. He wants to announce his newest sponsor: Viagra!
2. Elin told him to get the F*#$ out of the house!
1. To announce that he was chosen to be next season's Bachelor!

TOP TEN Jobs Created by Obama's Stimulus Plan:

10. White House hires a Social Media maven to teach Press Secretary Gibbs how to use Twitter.
9. 'Snowmaggeden' brings the most shovel-ready jobs to the east coast since FDR's New Deal.
8. Umar Farouk Mutalleb was 'Mirandized' creating 1 defense attorney and 500 White House PR folk.
7. Allusions to Scott Brown's Chevy pick-up truck spurs hiring of additional shift of employees at GM truck plant.
6. 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' agenda will SAVE US Military 13,478 jobs.
5. Web site cost approximately $18 million to create.
4. Ellen DeGeneres gets hired on 'American Idol,' but keeps her day job.
3. Biden's one idea: Move 'Jersey Shore' from NYC to Miami Beach and give Snookie a makeover.
2. Tea Partiers hold conventions, town hall meetings and marches throughout US - Denny's and Motel 6 Ecstatic!
1. The White House buys GM and Chrysler!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

'Writers' on the Storm

Since its inception, the publisher and writer(s) of the political Web site have remained a mystery.

And like all good mysteries, I am going to make a stab at debunking all of the rumors and go: Bernstein and Woodward on finding out the identities of these pol scribes (I dare not use the ridiculous James O'Keefe investigative journalism tactics, however).

I know that they registered their DE2010 site on January 8, 2010 at GoDaddy! I also have a very strong hunch that these Op-Ed guys (or gals) are most likely from downstate - probably Sussex County.

Here are some of my first educated guesses:

Patrick Jackson?
Dave Burris?
Friends of thy Honorable John Carney

More to follow. I still need to cull bits and pieces of clues from their 'comment' posts (e.g., the one recent post from amerada hess asking the administrator on a presumptuous date at Toscana's). Hint: "BTW...Where's Toscana?...I'm not familiar with that place?" tells me you're not from New Castle County.

At any rate, the site is a fun place to go for Delaware politicos. If any readers have any more clues to divulge about the publisher/writers of said Web site, please post them in the comment section below.

Bayh's Damnatory Departure

Perhaps Michael Moore should revisit the old movie classic: "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," and do a sequel: "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington..It Sucked...and Thus Went Back to Indiana."

Senator Evan Bayh (D-Ind) knew he would be vilified after his press conference where he announced to a stunned nation that he's had enough of Congress - especially the partisanship and gridlock. This two-time Governor of Indiana knew he would have detractors from all sides, given the gravity - and especially - the timing of his announced departure.

After all, the Democratic Party, as well as the Obama Administration, are barely firing on three cylinders as it is.

And before Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine, along with Obama and his inner circle of strategists can stop the world from spinning for a moment, they will have to develop a real game plan, lest this administration ends up resembling a certain peanut farmer.

Mr. Bayh is following his heart. After all, is there really a good time to quit anything? Political Science professors, colleagues, pundits and bloggers alike are quickly writing their very own narrative. That is the game in Washington. Win. Lose. Or quit. It doesn't matter, someone will tell you why your decision ruined their life or made it grand.

Ultimately, Bayh's real message is the one in which he's been trying to make for a while now: We should be solving problems and we should be civil servants, not fodder for journalists, bloggers and broadcasters. Arrogance and polarization aren't welcome during such trying times.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I'm a Little Teapot...

...Short and stout
Here is my agenda
Here I spew my spout
When I get all pissed off
Hear me shout:

Give me lots of money
So we can vote them out!

While the Washington, D.C. area is being pummeled with what Barack Obama calls Snowmagedden, another storm of sorts has materialized over Tennessee.

But unlike the high winds and piles of snow back east, Nashville, Tennessee is hosting its very own climatic event - the first-ever Tea Party Nation Convention. Grassroots types need not apply, however. And that is one of the characteristics of the storm enveloping the Volunteer state.

You see, the "official" TPN organization is a for-profit operation. Judson Phillips, a little-known Tennessee trial lawyer, along with his wife Sherry Phillips, have clashed over what constitutes the core Tea Party movement, and more importantly, who should guide it and how.

Four of the early organizers of Phillips' TPN event have resigned in protest. Moreover, these grassroots organizers have created their own convention to counter the perceived shift away from the very essence of its being - that of a grassroots movement. Joe Q. Public doesn't care about fancy Surf-n-Turf dinners at a glitzy Opryland hotel, they want a voice.

According to reporting done by Kenneth P. Vogel of the web site Politico:

The coalition recently held its own, less lavish convention at which it
formalized a mission statement drafted by 58 delegates from around the state. It
states "our objective is to restore the United States Constitution to that
direct authority which our Founders, and the Consent of the Governed, originally
intended," and calls it "the duty of the governed to take back the reins of
control, and to remove the shackles forged by our own apathy, that have chained
our Liberty."

The language in that last sentence sounds vaguely familiar. Sounds a lot like a certain pundit on Fox News - the one who "didn't go to college," and the one who claims "I've been really reading a lot of history lately" about our country and its founding.

And the part about "restore the United States Constitution to that direct authority which our Founders, and the Consent of the Governed, originally intended," sounds like the typical straw man argument which people sometimes fall prey to.

It's also instructive to know that, since the so-called Main Stream Media (MSM), has treated this TPN convention with what could only be described as contempt, there are around 40 MSM folk at the convention. In fact, C-Span and Fox News are televising keynote speaker Sarah Palin's speech in its entirety.

And speaking about what most right-leaning bloggers would label the MSM, Andrew Breitbart's, notwithstanding, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann has all but bought the pitch forks and torches when talking about the Tea Party movement. His favorite pejorative retort is "Teabaggers," or simply "Baggers," when he is especially incensed.

Politicos' Vogel reported yesterday that Olbermann, opining about the TPN's lead-off convention speaker, Tom Tancredo, a former congressman from Colorado and Republican presidential candidate, declared, American values are under siege from the "cult of multiculturalism," as well as "Islamification," and asserted President Barack Obama was elected because "we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country."

It's no wonder why the Tea Party grassroots gang is upset now. 1) They aren't the type of folks who pay $539 to attend a grassroots convention; 2) the whole reason for having a grassroots Tea Party is to keep the Washington establishment out; 3) and analogous to another Juggernaut first-ever convention - the Daily Kos convention for bloggers in Las Vegas in 2006, there is a real anger that is sometimes palpable as to the relevancy of today's MSM.

The New Yorker Magazine recently wrote about the Tea Party and who is attempting to co-opt it. It's becoming apparent that maybe the new, Gang of Four, who rejected the movement on the grounds that the MSM is too involved, and views the national Republicans, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann alike, as Carpetbaggers to the movement. A closer look at the Nashville Convention reveals a Fringe Element as well.

Thus, in the second stanza of this famous children's jingle:

I'm a clever Teabagger
Yes it's true
Here let me show you
What I can spew

I can shape my audience
Hear me shout:
I am Glenn Beck
And that's what I'm about!

Toyota's Tumult Requires 'Leadership Moment'

Toyota Motor Corp. was built on two principles: that the customer always comes first; and, a Zen-like passion for excellence, using a systematic approach to manufacturing and production - The Toyota Production System (TPS).

The TPS is now a world-renowned system. It is followed, in varying iterations, across a myriad of sectors of society; it is utilized in hospitals, multi-national sales organizations and even governments cull bits and pieces of this ingenious system that strives for excellence one small fix at a time. 'Continuous Improvement' is the goal - not every week or even every day, but every minute.

From Bombay to Buenos Aires, the TPS has increased productivity, decreased cost and, more importantly, increased quality. Over one-hundred books have been published on the subject.

Japanese engineer Taiichi Ohno is the pioneer who developed the system. And Eiiji Toyoda, the Japanese industrialist who would champion and lead the "Toyota Way,' would encourage such philosophies.

Flash forward to now. Toyota is facing what was once thought of as inconceivable - failure. Failure of quality, failure of safety and failure of one of the most important tenets of the Toyota philosophy - failure to protect the customer because of the lack of problem solving. In fact, Toyota's system of waste elimination, just-in-time delivery, visual management and built-in-quality has always been so good that they rarely have had to deal with such a public relations and management crisis.

4.5 million vehicles have been recalled across the globe. Worse, the original problem of gas pedals sticking because of improperly designed floor mats, has morphed into an actual mechanical problem with the pedal mechanism itself. At times, it seemed as though the grand masters of engineering and problem solving weren't exactly sure what the problem was. And before Toyota's team could get out in front of the story, the problem became what advertisers refer to as going 'virile.'

Now the venerable icon of smart engineering and green technology - the Prius - is having brake problems. Toyota sold 270,000 Prius' last year, but has yet to announce an official recall.

Talk about stop-and-go marketing.

Toyota has been clawing to become the world's No. 1 automaker for over a decade. They tirelessly did everything possible to ascend to the crown which General Motors held for more than half a century. Toyota now sees the torment in what was their unwavering redlining to draft the Chevy's and Pontiac's for so long. Toyota has slingshoted themselves into the lead. But at what cost?

The 'Quiet' Giant Speaks

Toyota President Akio Toyoda finally addressed the media regarding the recalled vehicle crisis. Even the Japanese media and government have voiced their displeasure with Toyota's handling of the problem.

The top Nikkei business daily said in a editorial that "words are not enough." The reporter also said that "The company's crisis management ability is being subjected to severe scrutiny." Another criticism came from the nationwide Asahi newspaper which calls Toyota's delayed reaction to the crisis "Utterly too late." It says, "The entire world is watching how Toyota can humbly learn from its series of recent failures and make safe cars."

Mr. Toyoda promised to beef up its quality control and said he would head a special committee to review quality checks, go over consumer complaints and listen to outside experts to develop a fix. That last comment is unprecedented. Imagine the President of Toyota Motor Corp. asking for 'outside help?' In the annals of engineering and problem solving, for Toyota to have to ask for help is heresy. The Japanese just don't make blunders such as these.

To be sure, this will be a leadership moment for Toyota. They have a unique opportunity to show the world what real leadership is. Remember how Johnson & Johnson dealt with the Tylenol crisis? It was genius - tell the truth, do what's in the best interest of the customer and develop a robust containment plan - a Toyota Commission of sorts - to answer any and all critics. After all, the best defense is a good offense.

Since its founding in the early part of the 20th century, Toyota has been anything but a stalwart company - it has redefined entrepreneurship and innovation. A whole South Korean automobile industry has grown out of Toyota's trailblazing efforts. In fact, Toyota's simple, but disciplined approach to manufacturing and production has changed the world in many ways

Thus, only by keeping the customer first and by learning from a large-scale failure, Toyota will hold true to its overriding principles: 'People' and 'Quality.' Hopefully Mr. Toyoda can live up to this 'Leadership Moment.'

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

New Hampshire Revisited

President Obama touched down in the bucolic and quaint town that is Nashua, New Hampshire late Tuesday afternoon. He is in campaign mode again, visiting this small, but very influential state in which many see as a microcosm of America.

After visiting a medium-sized company on the outskirts of town, Obama's security detail whisked him to the Nashua High School gymnasium where hundreds of citizens awaited. He was there to espouse his plan for job creation, much like he outlined in Tampa, Florida and Elyria, Ohio earlier.

The thing is, he keeps repeating himself.

Mr. Obama must've had a real affinity for his SOTU speech, because he keeps summarizing the Populist tones from the aforementioned speech over and over again - oftentimes using exact quotes. Of course today was groundhog day, so...

After what looked like another professorial speech that sometimes bordered on lecture, Obama in his new inimical way, was incredulous. He then proceeded to, figuratively and literally, roll up his sleeves before invoking a town hall Q&A session with the 'folks.'

We waited to hear some piercing questions for the president from the crowd. The first question came from a woman from Fairfield, Connecticut no less and it revolved around jobs. The woman had explained how she was a three-time cancer survivor who managed to "be one of the lucky ones" and was able to retire before her illness greatly affected her livelihood.

But she wanted Obama to give her an answer about how to grow jobs. Yet, Obama, after a sentence or two of congratulatory praises, inexorably thrusted himself into a fifteen minute answer as to why health care reform was necessary. It almost seemed as though this woman was a "plant" who was pre-scripted to throw Obama a leading question that would've propelled the president into the direction of HCR.

The president never once answered the substance of the original question.

Obama did not grow up surrounded by wealth and opportunity. And even after graduating from Harvard Law School, Obama was compelled to give back to the 'people.' He was a community organizer and often did pro-bono work for the Legal Aid Society, as well as lending his hand to other socially-minded organizations.

Yet, somehow, Mr. Obama comes off as an Elitist. In fact, he is worse than an Elitist - he's an ineffectual Elitist. Thus, unless he inculcates himself with strong actions and not just bloviate with tired rhetoric, he will continue to lose the adulation of the very electorate that propelled him into the White House. The 'folks' are getting antsy.
President Barack Obama does deserve some latitude given the Katrina-meets-Haiti type of environment he finds himself in.

To be sure, no president, Republican, Democrat or Independent, could've risen from the ashes like a Phoenix and simply "waved his magic wand" for all to marvel at. No, that would've been a ridiculous proclamation to assert otherwise.

Greek tragedies aside, Obama is devoid of the scarcest of all characteristics - leadership.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Dylan's Deductive Dichotomy

Dylan Ratigan, former CNBC pundit, has his own show on MSNBC from 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm. I hyperlinked this must-see clip (instead of posting the actual point-and-click video) because MSNBC makes you watch a 30-second advertisement before watching the clip.

This hyperlink bypasses the forced commercial ad. The clip is great because it's a summary of the Financial Meltdown; Ratigan is superb at explaining complicated issues in layman's terms.