Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I Hucked Up!

Mr. Huckabee is a likable fella.

He has transitioned smoothly from the heavy hitting arena of state and national politics to snagging that all-too desirable gig as a television talking head on Fox's cable news channel.

He's easy to talk to 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 stripe and persuasion open up to him. However, Mike Huckabee has a problem that makes Tiger's (on-again-off-again semi-scandal) look provincial.

And, of course, the mainstream media haven't really focused on Mr. Huckabee's Willie Horton problem.

Make no mistake - Huckabee will be vilified if he chooses to run again for president in 2012. He did have the courage to man-up and appear on Bill O'Reilly Monday night and tell his side of the story regarding a certain convicted - then jailed, commuted, paroled and convicted again subject.

That subject - Maurice Clemmons - turned out to be a ruthless, evil cop killer.

Mike Huckabee was once even sued while Governor of Arkansas by then Circuit Judge Robert Herzfeld for allowing too many criminals out of prison. Yet, as he stated on O'Reilly's program Nov. 30, 2009:

MIKE HUCKABEE, FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: Well, Bill, first of all, I think the tragedy of this — if I could have known nine years ago this guy was capable of something of this magnitude, obviously, I would never have granted a commutation. It's sickening. The two people in this country that I value the most are soldiers and police officers, because they're the only thing standing between our freedom and total anarchy. And in the case of this particular individual, he was sentenced to 108 years for two crimes when he was 16. The post-prison transfer board, the process, and I'll be very brief about this, but to understand they recommended to me as governor for his commutation, which didn't release him, it simply cut his sentence to 47 years. That would give him parole eligibility. That was the commutation. I'm responsible for that, and it's not something I'm happy about at this particular moment, in light of that."if I would of known what the future held for this man, I would of never allowed his commutation to go forward."

O'Reilly, feeling some sorrow and compassion for a colleague, interrupted Huckabee during his contrite apology on national television by downplaying Mr. Huckabee's unfortunate decision to commute Clemmons in 2000.

The fact is, most Governor's parole, commute and otherwise free dozens of convicted felons at the end of their terms in office. In fact, I was surprised to hear that Huckabee actually read the dossier on Clemmons before he was processed. Most Governor's simply take the word of many judges, prosecutors and parole administrators, when deciding on clemency matters.

However, when the dust clears, and the pictures, videos and soundbites surrounding the tragic deaths of the four Lakewood, Wash. police officers are queued and the grieving family, friends and colleagues are seen mourning for their loss - Huckabee will die a slow and tortuous death.

I can picture a fellow primary candidate now, during a GOP debate, bring up the matter when the debate moderator asks the question: 'how will you handle the growing problem of prison overcrowding if you are elected president?' A few seconds later, we hear a smug Newt Gingrich rip into Huckabee before a national audience, much like Cheney ripped into his campaign-contributing hunting buddy with his 12-guage shotgun at a friend's south Texas ranch during the Bush-Cheney years.

And then...

Campaign slogans pop up at political rallies professing 'We like Mike' and 'Huck's our Guy' juxtaposed next to banners exclaiming - 'Pardon Me! I Hucked Up!'

Yeah, he's a nice guy...apparently too nice.

TOP TEN Reasons Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Scoffs at the US

10. Bush couldn't even find WMDs in Iraq.
9. Obama is the NEW Jimmy Carter!
8. We lobby the UN better than the AMA and the AARP lobbies Congress.
7. Obama isn't a REAL Muslim.
6. Cheney and his gang are out of office!
5. Hugo Chavez bet me $5 that I wouldn't piss off Bill's wife!
4. I cheated the Election process and nobody called me on it!
3. I'm trying to get my own reality TV show before Blago gets his.
2. I really didn't want my son to go to Columbia University anyway.
1. Allah Akbar! did you see that Uber bow Obama bestowed upon the Japanese Emperor?

TOP TEN Excuses Given by WH Dinner Crashers to the Secret Service

10. It's raining out and P.F. Chang's is packed!
9. My husband has an Indian-Sounding name.
8. We've been lobbying Oliver Stone to do a new JFK movie where the Secret Service are the heroes.
7. Is this where the free Thanksgiving Dinners are?
6. Katie Couric and I are both ex-Redskin cheerleaders.
5. We're originally from Scranton, PA and Wilmington, DE and Joe said it'd be alright.
4. We are the God Parents of 'Balloon Boy'
3. Dick Cheney dared us!
2. Rahm Emanuel decided to drop Blagojevich and invited us instead.
1. We donated a Crap Load of money to that SEIU president guy!

Deep in the Rough, Tiger Metes out his own Punishment

TIGER: Steve, what do we got?
STEVE (Tiger's Caddie): Well...it looks like you have a flyer lie and the ball's sitting down a bit.
TIGER: Nine?
STEVE: [throwing up a few blades of grass] Left-to-right cross wind...the pin is back right and you have 160 to clear the left-side bunker.
TIGER: I'm a bit pumped after that eagle [on the last hole].
STEVE: I'm thinking your 47 degree wedge will be the one...if you catch the flyer, you can use that crowned tier in the back middle of the green to spin your ball back towards the hole.
TIGER: Let's go with that, then.

Tiger woods is precise. And his caddie, Steve Williams, is his on-course PR guy, confidant, friend and bouncer (the Tiger Woods of crowd control guys).

Wherever Tiger goes on or off the course during a tournament, so goes 'Stevie.' This six-foot, four inch Kiwi is one of the best things that ever happened to Tiger.

But with Tiger stuck in eight-inch US Open rough - at Winged Foot no less - Stevie is not around to help Tiger extract himself from the dicey situation in which he finds himself.

Tiger Woods, the undisputed best golfer on the planet, has just snap-hooked his driver, er, [Escalade], hard to the left. What's most fascinating is that, like the impossible golf shots that he's made over the years, under the immense pressure of a major, Tiger is not in control of his next shot.

Always has a Game Plan

You see, even before Tiger became a Golf Pro in 1996 (Hello World!), he's always consulted with the best of the best. Jack Nicklaus and Arnorld Palmer have answered countless questions from Tiger regarding life outside of a 72-hole tournament. You see, Tiger wanted to know the secret to keeping focused with the media, dealing with travel, which tournaments to go to, which agents to deal with and which so-called business people to avoid.

When Michael Jordan retired from the Bulls, and fulfilled his need to coach an NBA team, Tiger consulted Michael on dealing with sponsors (Nike became Tiger's first big sponsor) and other esoteric life matters.

You see, Tiger was mapping out his game plan early on. Of course his father Earl was the most influential person in his life (teaching his young cub mental toughness, laser-like focus and how to handle adversity). After all, Tiger was nick-named in honor of a good buddy of Earl's from Vietnam - an Army Lieutenant. Tiger's given name was Eldrick. He officially and wisely changed his name to Tiger after turning pro.

However, regardless of the buzz created from the National Enquirer article, the fact that his wife Elin (pronounced E-lynn) went 'Judge Smails' on Tiger and allegedly smashed out the rear glass of his SUV, and the fact that it was about 2:30 am when he lost control of his vehicle just seconds from his driveway, makes little difference.

Tiger has always been a control freak. He is a control freak in a good sense; and that it allows him to navigate through his 24-7 life of public scrutiny. You see, Tiger may have gotten some bad advice from his agent, his newly retained lawyer or someone else when it came time to inform the authorities (and the very curious public) of the details regarding such a minor traffic accident.

But that was the club that Tiger chose.

Inconsistencies are Transparent

Let's look at some of the facts that have slowly trickled out:

1. Tiger's other four doors on his SUV looked to be perfectly suitable to open without the drama of smashing the rear glass with a golf club.
2. Apparently, there wasn't any blood found on the steering wheel or in the dashboard area.
3. My 12-year-old son would have difficulty exiting from the driver's seat over three rows of seats and out the back of the vehicle, let alone Elin pulling her 6' 1" 190 pound husband out.
4. Tiger said that he was unable to play in one of his favorite golf tournaments this week (Chevron World Challenge) because of his injuries from the accident. Really? Didn't Tiger play 90 holes during the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines with a damaged meniscus and a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his Knee? Now he cannot play because of a fat lip and some soreness 6 days after a "minor" accident?

The reality is that one of the things that Tiger Woods will look back on during his eventual storied career will be the Tiger Woods Foundation that he created.

You see, he loves doing anything related to this life-long dream. Being the host of this tournament means big donations and lots of personal thank-you's. However, it means a lot more than that.

No, it will be a very long time before Tiger gets over the fact that he let himself down. His TWF won't suffer per se, but just the mere thought in this great athlete's mind that - well - It was his fault, will be enough punishment for anyone who has a controlling bone in his body.

Tiger will be forever incredulous about the situation that he finds himself in. He cannot merely take out his stock 3-wood and fire off one of his patented stingers down the middle.

You see, he has to find his way out of the US Open rough somehow, without Stevie, and by using his best club - his putter. But this shot does not call for the putter.

TIGER: Steve?
TIGER: Steve-o?
TIGER: Stevie? Steeeeevie?

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's the (Lack of Jobs), Stupid!

The Job Summit in which the Obama administration proposed a few weeks ago is about as timely as FEMA's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Job Summit...really?

Of course the White House communications team had to formulate their own counter punch to the two Republican gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey. Remember, those were the victories that both Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) both chalked up to "big wins" for the Democratic party. There's spin and then there's spin.

Pelosi and Cummings made Bill O'Reilly's oft-coined 'The Spin Stops Here' mantra look, well - bold and fresh.

Ironically, the administration's hyper-focus on health care reform has placed millions of jobless Americans in harm's way. Despite obvious employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and stark evidence, both anecdotal and scientific, from economists of all stripes, the Obama team (Vice-President Joe Biden, notwithstanding), has jeopardized millions of people.

The Answer isn't Complicated

For decades, small business has been the incubator for jobs in America. It is that simple. Yet, despite nearly every expert, from billionaire Warren Buffett to Moody's Chief Economist Mark Zandi, small business has been left out in the cold.

To make matters worse, CIT, one of the largest lending groups in the US, filed for chapter 11 in October. CIT is to small business as the American Dream is to the 'Little Engine that Could.' Certainly, CIT is worthy of some Treasury department assistance - Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and AIG received help. Now, the companies that need it the most and would certainly have immediate positive impact on the jobs situation, are left at the door, much like Lehman Brothers was curiously left out.

To be sure, the job market is bleak and the unemployment level is at a mark not seen since 1982 - 1983. Reagan and his team back then jump-started the economy by realizing where jobs came from (hint: it's not from government). Not until entrepreneurs are given opportunity and "too big to fail" financial institutions actually "lend" money (money that the government doled out to them to lend), will the economy start to rebound from its anemic state.

For Rich and Poor

As of October, 2009, the unemployment numbers for African-American (15.7%), Hispanics (13.1%) and Teenagers (27.6%) are unsettling. Yet, it is also unsettling to visit a local unemployment office and see the number of people with Bachelor's and Master's degrees looking for a job.

According to the Labor Department, there are six people looking for work for each available job. This ratio is untenable.

A Job Summit sounds nice, however, it won't be helpful if it doesn't go beyond the ubiquitous invites of say: Bill Gates, the SEIU, CEOs of juggernaut companies such as Google and Apple and the Rolodex of economists that the White House will probably hand out RSVPs to.

The number one problem in the US is jobs. Hopefully, the administration, using a broad, bi-partisan approach, will think about tax credits for business, loans to small and medium-sizes businesses and an understanding that the TARP and stimulus money should be used to re-focus our energy on job growth.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Digital Diss - PDA Etiquette in Public

Remember the Seinfeld episode where George is at a funeral, but he's starving of hunger? So he finds the best moment to escape the funeral home proceedings to indulge in the culinary delights of the ubiquitous post-funeral buffet.

These are moments that, well, only George would find himself in. George is quickly admonished for his gastronomically-induced bad etiquette.

It is no surprise, then, that the behavior of today's users of Personal Digital Assistants - PDAs - is not too dissimilar to George's indiscretion. How many of us either use or work around BlackBerry addicts who have no sense of etiquette?

During one recent management meeting, my boss pecked away at his qwerty keyboard - while his own boss was delivering a highly important and confidential presentation to his staff. More disturbing was the fact that I knew what his e-mails were about. He was playing text tag with his mother who was supplying his ADDHD son up-to-the-minute correspondence about a flash flood back home.

Now, most reasonable people would agree that there are rare instances where BlackBerry contact is urgent; however, it is a general rule to notify the meeting's presenter beforehand because you "may have to use your BlackBerry" due to an ongoing crisis. Off course if that situation presented itself, one would exit the room and then conduct their alleged crisis communications in private.

So, let's take a look at situations where it is probably not a good idea to use your PDA.

  • Never text or use a PDA on a first date.
  • Never use a PDA during a job interview.
  • Never use a PDA at a funeral.
  • Never use a PDA when a waiter or waitress is taking your order.
  • Never use a PDA while you are steering a ferry, trolley, train or other public transportation vehicle.
  • Never us a PDA during intercourse with your significant other.
  • Never, ever use a PDA while in the presence of a Judge during your DUI hearing.
  • Never use a PDA while taking the LSAT exam - or any similarly important test.
  • Never use a PDA while you are in a confessional at your place of worship (the priest will invariably see the glow of your LED screen through the dividing screen).
  • Finally, never, ever, ever use a PDA while you are engaged in a fire-fight with the enemy during a military ambush.
In all seriousness, when one hunches over their BlackBerry or other device during a moment where undivided attention is a must (http://video.foxnews.com/6048848/practice-blackberry-etiquette?), you are telling those in your immediate circle that you could care less about them.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


The office of the President has always held a certain cache' - a level of reverence, integrity and professionalism - especially when presidents opine on subjects posed by journalists. From the ridiculous to the sublime, the "leader of the free world" must wisely parse his words.

Yet with inexplicable rhetoric, President Barack Obama has not only unwisely chosen his words, he delivers responses that far too often, smack of condescension and downright unprofessionalism.

This ongoing plight concerns me.

Surely, with all his handlers surrounding him and a cadre of speechwriters and other White House advisers in tow, President Obama can make it through one month without making statements that belong more in Chicago's political machine than belong to someone speaking from Pennsylvania Avenue.

Which statements am I referring to?

President Obama's skin seems to be thinner than he let on during his presidential campaign. When asked about the arrest of Henry L. Gates, Jr., Obama pre-judged an unfortunate incident that had only transpired less than twenty-four hours earlier by saying that since HLG is my friend, I believe he could not have done anything wrong. In fact, he even ridiculed the local Cambrigde, MA police force without any objective evidence whatsoever.

More problematic was the length of time it took Obama to apologize for his "rush to judgment." And when the apology finally came, Obama still did not give the arresting police officer the full benefit of the doubt - in fact Obama waited a few days and then proposed his infamous "Beer Summit" on the East Lawn of the White House. The Officer was put on the spot. Thus, Obama spun the incident to deflect further criticism.

Take two: When asked about the apparent fallout from the surreptitious Acorn videos and the subsequent firestorm, Obama opined in an interview during one of the Sunday political talk shows that "[I] haven't really followed the story closely...and I don't know that much about Acorn."


Didn't Obama work for Acorn as a community activist, providing legal advice as a young lawyer fresh out of Yale law school?

Of course there are other political faux-paus by president Obama (remember how Joe the Plumber was patted on the head when asking about the possibility of taxes being raised on small business and the middle class?) Obama treated the now-renowned plumber like the Grinch did to little Cindy Who from Whoville. Ironically, Joe the Plumber was vetted far more thouroughly than Van Jones or some of the other Obama Aministration's Czar picks were.

The point. Please act presidential at all costs - humor is good, self deprication is good, but please Mr. President, don't get cute; at least don't get cute until you've been in the office for more than one year.