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.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

SOTU Reaction and Review

My wish did not come true.

Perhaps I did not have the 'audacity' to hope.

President Barack Obama began his speech with his requisite historical references about former statesmen of our great Republic as well as some of the pointed accomplishments of the 20th century. As a student of history, I always appreciate such historiography's. However it did not take long before Mr. Obama started with his ubiquitous, and often misleading, finger pointing.

Barack Obama cited all of the excessive spending from George W. Bush's administration and finished with "and this was all before I walked in the door," referring to the large deficit he inherited. Obama must not look in the rearview mirror. As John F. Kennedy once said:

"Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democrat's answer, but the right
answer. Let us not seek to fix blame for the past. Let us accept our own
responsibility for the future."

Continuous blame of the previous administration wears thin after you hear it for twelve months or more. No, my wish was for the president to sprinkle in a lot more contrition regarding his own failures as a leader. Indeed, George W. Bush was never contrite about the wrongheadedness of the Iraq war - especially the embarrassment after Hans Blix and company could not find any evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

Why would Obama want to juxtapose his credibility alongside W's? When you are wrong, you are wrong - it's that simple. And the people get that.

And besides, the fact that Obama came out swinging right away about the need to create jobs only solidifies his mismanagement of the previous year. During his inauguration speech in January, 2009, Obama reminded us that his unwavering "priority" was that of the economy and job creation. To now say "it is my number one priority for 2010," rings hollow. This commitment is woefully late.

President Obama did manage to articulate a few nice surprises, however. For example, his allusion to building nuclear plants and raising the specter of off-shore oil drilling was definitely a surprise. Likewise, Obama's position on capital gains tax relief for small business and other tax cuts will surely stimulate the job engine that is small business.

However, the most egregious comment of the night was when he politicized the recent Supreme Court ruling [Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission] that was only a week or so old. With Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr and the balance of the Supreme Court facing Obama in the first row of the congressional chamber, he all but threatened to quickly reverse the de-facto nature of the ruling by professing he would create legislation to counter the effects of the court's ruling.

To be sure, there is absolutely nothing wrong with debating or commenting negatively about Supreme Court cases; however, the SOTU address was not the time and place.

The President here-to-fore needs to posit a mea culpa and apologize to the Supreme Court forthwith.

Mr. Obama's tone seemed to wander back and forth, appeasing the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and then blaming the very same Dems for not putting the country before their own interests.

The President of The United States had a difficult task tonight. He had to find a way to close the credibility gap that he's created over the last twelve months. His task was daunting. He's damned if he addresses Wall Street and bankers in a pejorative tone; and, he's damned if he doesn't realize the overall importance of big banks for the good of the nation's economy.

Sadly, he resorted to too much finger pointing, excuses and a continued insistence of polarization between the two parties. One-party rule begets legislation that is bad for the Republic.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The 'Plouffe' Stops Here

Less than a week after the Massachusetts 'Mass acre,' President Barack Obama has finally invoked 'Transparency' into his presidency.

No, he will not be pulling out his BlackBerry and ringing C-Span's Brian Lamb and inviting him into the hallowed, but generally, secretive halls of Congress. Instead, Mr. Obama has dispatched himself aboard Air Force One; and his flight-plan led to the very epicenter of the Rust Belt.

It couldn't of been too soon, either. And while his plane still idled at a nearby Ohio airport, President Obama visited a few blue-collar factories and met with some ordinary folk.

He talked with students at the Loraine County Community College and even made an impromptu stop at a local diner.

He got a little angry too. Obama invoked the word "fight" at least twenty times during his speech to the job-stricken townspeople of Elyria, Ohio. I "will never stop fighting," said Obama.

The 'Transparency' was - well, obvious.

Senator-Elect Scott Brown had only four days earlier, put the Democratic Party, and Obama specifically, on notice. Obama quickly understood, even before Martha Coakley conceded to Brown, that Massachusetts did not buy his message.

Instead of the 'Audacity of Hope,' Obama had the audacity to pejoratively diss Scott Brown's pick-up truck.

Obama should of learned a lesson from some of the 'other' Rust Belt types. The same way Wagoner, Nardelli and Mulally surely learned their valuable lesson after being questioned during Congressional hearings on their respective management styles. Imagine Obama driving an old Ford F-150 into town - with 'SEIU' and 'Yes We Can' stickers emblazoned on the rear cabin glass.

Fox News and the rest of the media would have eaten him alive for such a stunt. Of course, save for the 'rest of the media,' Fox News already eats Obama alive.

No, the Obama Administration's "It's the Economy, Stupid," and "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs," came out of their anemic political playbook. A playbook that looks about as good as the Washington Redskins' playbook looked this season. The fans knew that Jim Zorn's strategy was way off after the first few games of the season. Similarly, the voters knew, especially those without employment, that Obamacare would never lead them to the Super Bowl - or at least away from the local unemployment line.

Now, Mr Obama is enlisting his Brett Favre back onto the field. Axelrod, Emanuel and Jarrett have been temporarily benched - or at least put on injured reserve. David Plouffe, his former campaign manager, will be taking the snaps from center now.

And that is where the administration will be headed - to the center - much like former President Clinton had to do early in his first term. Obama will spare no expense for Mr. Plouffe. The Obama team may even get creative and align themselves with the 'netroots' crowd and other anti-Washington types.

After all, President Obama and his administration will have to worry about a lot more than filibusters and cloture votes. They will have to worry about a 1994 mid-term election repeat. And David Plouffe will be Obama's main don't-want-a-'94-repeat-strategist-in-chief while he works the politics behind the scenes of the Democratic National Committee.

It is yet to be seen if Plouffe and his team can indoctrinate the DNC with Rovian magic, or if Obama himself will force some of his closest advisers out of his inner circle.

One thing is for sure. He should listen to the people outside of Washington for advice. And he should finally acknowledge the 800-pound gorilla that's been camping out in the Oval Office over the last twelve months.

He need not retrench himself back into the very partisan dogma for which he has here-to-fore perfunctorily dismissed earlier in his presidency.

Contrition goes a long way, in fact.

In 2008, the electorate voted for the anti-Bush candidate, to pull troops out of Iraq and to bring a new leadership back into Washington. Health care reform was never a mandate - it was a long-held personal ideological goal that Obama had and thus pushed upon Congress, the media and the citizenry. Obama, Congress and the left-leaning media pushed so hard that Populists, Independents and the Tea Party gang shook their collective heads and forged a grass-roots coalition against what they felt was a kamikaze-like arrogance that Team Obama had perpetrated.

In his Jan. 24, 2010 Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post, Plouffe's main point failed the smell test. He claims that the health care reform bill will bring jobs. "We own the bill and the health-care votes," says Plouffe. He also calls it "a good plan that's become a demonized caricature."

More problematic for Plouffe and Obama is that a Nor'easter that developed along the Virginia coast and turned into Hurricane Mitch, sweeping unapologetically through New Jersey and making landfall in the Bay State. The political winds had shifted and the administration seems tone deaf to political reality.

David Plouffe needs the political will to confront White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel if he is to avoid a Pyrrhic victory. Plouffe must stop the ridiculousness of the administration's current trajectory and reorient his bosses' strategy if they are to end the harbinger that awaits in the 2010 mid-terms in November.

Plouffe's task is way more than "getting back on message," or refocusing the president's talking points. Obama must come clean with the American people, streamline his rhetoric about the denizens of Wall Street and avoid platitudes, arguments ad-metum and his ubiquitous populistic approach for which he is headed.

Someone needs to tell the president to put down his pitchfork and invite the Republicans to a seat at the table.

Because his current offense desperately needs some first downs before it can make its way to the playoffs.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Auto Bailout and 'Free' Advertising

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I propose a tax on all 'Cadillac' health insurance plans.

Toyota, Honda, Porsche and even Volkswagen are none too happy. Barack Obama, Congress and countless other pundits are quick to mention or quip about the so-called "Cadillac' health care plans that many citizens have, notwithstanding Congress and Unions alike.

Why not call them 'Lexus' plans...'Acura' plans...or 'Porsche' plans. Heck, even Hyundai has a segment-winning luxury car named 'Genesis.' Why not Hyundai?

So, for all of the UAW, SEIU and other labor-loving groups out there - you're getting some darn good free advertising.

I think the 'Cadillac' moniker was a political gift from the earlier pro 'Card-Check' gang for giving up on some of the possible benefits from the Employee Free Choice Act bill - H.R. 1409 and S. 560.

The Oracle of Yemen

There once was a quiet and reserved young man of Muslim faith. He was born, ironically, in the United States, less than 300 miles away from where some of the infamous Manhattan Project scientists helped develop the world's first atomic bomb.

His parents hail from Yemen.
He was born in Las Cruces, N.M. in 1971. His father, a highly educated scholar who studied in the United States, later went on to become the president of a Yemeni University.

His name is Anwar al-Awlaki. He has a B.S. in civil engineering from Colorado State University, an M.A. in Educational Leadership from San Diego State University and was pursuing post graduate studies in Education and Human Development from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. before he decided to pursue 'other' endeavors.

His looks are deceiving. He is 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs a mere 160 pounds. He wears Harry Potter glasses and, like hundreds-of-millions of other religious men, he sports the ubiquitous muslim beard. Awlaki has taught in holy Mosques in San Diego, Northern Virginia, Colorado and London. He's also very smart - he uses FaceBook, e-mail, videos and other social media tools to foment radical Islamic fundamentalism - exclusively directed to the western world - specifically - the US.

He's also been a close compatriot of "the blind sheik," Omar Abdel Rahman, who is in prison for the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. He has been a practicing Imam in at least four Muslim Mosques known for radical fundamentalism.

He has basically written the Islamic fundamentalist's book for 'lone-wolf-terrorists.' He reaches out seductively online through web sites and other media. He espouses 'higher-jihad.' And makes those lost or confused in their Islamic faith think about their true mission for Allah. He becomes their spiritual leader (aka - terrorist advisor).

Two 9/11 hijackers prayed and privately met with Awlaki in San Diego and Virginia prior to the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Additionally, Awlaki had meaningful e-mail communications with Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan. Finally, Awlaki has been implicated to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab - who is blamed for the 2009 Christmas Day terrorist attempt on Northwest Airlines flight 253 to Detroit, Mich.

Why hasn't these connections resulted in Awlaki being arrested, hunted down or killed?

In October of 2002, the FBI had an arrest warrant out for Awlaki for a low-level passport fraud. He'd already been linked to numerous web sites as a serious Al-Qaeda recruiter. He's highly educated in both engineering, theory and education; moreover, he's fluent in English and he uses his religious speeches as a recruiting tool for any wannabe Jihadist.

Yet, his 2002 arrest warrant was dropped by the FBI on a "technicality."

Awlaki has also been very influential in the United Kingdom within radicalized sects of young Muslims. He has been banned from the UK since around 2004 after having numerous ties to al-Qaeda and other radicals.

He is currently in Yemen and believed to have survived a recent attack from US-backed Yemeni forces. If he indeed survived, what better place than Yemen to continue his focus on recruitment and even operational terrorism.

Yemen has been dealing with political unrest and civil war for over a decade now. It is a very poor nation - a nation where approximately 60 percent of its population is under the age of twenty. Talk about a recruitment bonanza!

Yemen's government, like many portions along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, lacks control of portions of its nation. Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his Cabinet are trying to unite this religiously polarized nation - a nation that has been ripe for terrorist activities since before the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.

Yemen is afraid of too much US involvement, especially any military presence. The leadership fears the US military will enliven al-Qaeda and other radical fundamentalist groups. Yet the Yemeni government needs outside help.

Like many Middle Eastern countries that are poor and struggle to control its population, Yemen needs assistance. The country's geography is rough, much like Afghanistan's. They need helicopters to be able to traverse the mountainous terrain to track terrorist training camps that are in at least two southern provinces.

 Yemen is one of a handful of places around the globe that has become fertile ground for continued hatred and terror for the US and other western countries where, according to fundamentalist propaganda, 'infidels' rein.

More troubling is the fact that he's become the de-facto leader on the Arabian Peninsula where he has reinvigorated the terrorist group 'Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula' - or AQAP. This new terrorist training outpost has become a magnet for non-middle eastern youth.  These sometimes disaffected youth come to learn the Arabic language and study the Koran, but end up being pawns in an ever-growing chessboard of strategic jihad.

Awlaki must be stopped. He should be categorized as the No. 3 target of al-Qaeda for the CIA.