Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A rather simple choice

I must admit I find this sturm and drang of this political season endlessly fascinating. In spite of this, there is a feeling that this was all really foretold. By this I mean that when Obama promised change, I believe a large chunk of people didn't really believe he could do it. The words about "spreading the wealth," remaking our economy" and "reaching out to our enemies"
were deemed momentary political posturing. However, with a Democrat Congress, Obama pushed ahead with his neo-Marxist agenda. Some voted for a guy who spouted the touchy feely talk of the left, but felt he would likely govern from the center, like Bill Clinton. Oh, how wrong they were.

You see to tack to the center, one has to believe that the system of parties, law and government in this country is essentially good. You simply move the furniture around in the house of government, not blast out walls to change things. Barack Obama was and is not that kind of man. His point of reference never was the government or laws and not really even the Democrat party. It is only himself. In his eyes, the American system has only worked once; when he was elected president.

I'll spare you the litany of sins America has committed over the years, though it is interesting that all of any degree get elevated to practically genocide level, as if no group in world history except America had ever wronged another. Still, it is amazing to me that a man purporting to be a constitutional law teacher has forgotten the most important and obvious lesson of America. John Adams put it in a way that has rarely been surpassed describing America as a "government of laws, not of men." The democratic system, not the people who run it, is the good in American government.

It's funny that ancient Rome used to have a slave whisper in the ear of a conquering general "you are only mortal." This poke at pride had a practical purpose. The republic and later the empire didn't want those powerful servants looking to themselves as the power of Rome. Of course, we know now that was the chief fault of Rome: generals who, though their armies did become the power/law of Rome. Obama seems headed in the same direction. He seeks to make all power personal.

Let's start with the Justice Department. The New Black Panther Party sends hoods to intimidate voters on his behalf on election day 2008. When Obama assumes power, the case is dismissed. The Gulf oil spill seems to highlight the confused uncoordinated response of the White House to a crisis. The solution: Eric Holder threatens criminal charges against BP. Any episode that casts a bad light on this administration whether accidental or not is deemed a personal attack on the power of Obama, demanding a counter-attack.

With Obamacare, the Health Insurance companies quite predictably raised rates after being forced to take people with chronic diseases, dependents until their 26 etc . . . This rather predictable display of the market undercut the fuzzy hope and change feeling promised with health care reform. More people covered means higher rates. Duh! So what happens when Team Obama sees their power undercut? Kathleen Sebelius threatens insurance companies for doing what any fool could see was going to happen. On a personal note, my premium went up 32%. Like a bed pan, that's change I'd like to relieve in.

Shall we move onto foreign policy? Israel is one country that doesn't seem to enjoy depending on The One. After the Jerusalem housing dust up, when VP Gaffe Master arrived in the Middle East, the White House sought to punish Israel through a variety of snubs, none too effective. It seems there is a resentment and fear in this White House that Israel will actually stand up to Iran militarily. Obama detests the fact that Israel seems to have realized from day one of his administration that they were on their own. Scolding by Obama had no effect on the Jewish state. Now Obama is attempting to restart talks with Iran in a desperate attempt to have some negotiations going on in the hopes that Israel won't attack Iran while yapping persists. This could be Obama's vanity playing him for a fool. Israel won't be held hostage to some public relations dodge.

Israel knows it's finished once Iran gets a bomb. With Obama stuffed shirt Richard Holbrooke, sucking up to Iranians at this very moment and ally Hamid Karzai admitting he's on Tehran's payroll, it's easy to see why the Mullahs, flush with these wins, decide to take a shot at Israel. What's hard to see is any benefit to being pals with this administration, especially when you're facing genocide. In sum, it's better to oppose America than be friends. Israel will go this route soon. After the election, it could be bombs away over Iran. Obama will be ticked, but after the drubbing he takes on November 2nd, Israel will ignore a weakened President more concerned with his own reelection.

Last has to be my cynical favorite: the failed $800 billion stimulus. It saved or created 3 million jobs according to the Democrat talking points. Too bad five out six of those jobs were government jobs. Scant help for the private sector accompanied this obscene money toss. What's more interesting now is that one in seven American workers who works for a paycheck is a state or local government worker. If we update Calvin Coolidge's phrase "The business of America is business," obviously the word government must be inserted into that phrase. As long as Ben Bernake keeps those printing presses humming, we can just "spend our way out of recession" can't we? Try that with your credit card bill. Obama still insists the stimulus was a success, but what Democrat is running election ads touting the stimulus? Answer: zero, but for Obama to admit failure saps his power or perceived power.

This is what the Tea Party is rebelling against: an Obama directed assault on this market economy for the enhancement of his personal power. Long after the 2012 election, we'll be left with the repercussions of his power grab in Marxist garb. At stake, isn't a government takeover of the economy, it's the government becoming the entire economy. As the dollar skids, this is a direct reflection of the fact that the economy is not companies like Walmart or Apple, but instead is the U.S. federal, state and local government. You don't have to buy an I-phone, but you must pay your taxes, which will increase next year. Walmart can undercut the competition, but the government can directly regulate them out of existence, like the student loan business.

For these reasons and more, this election is a rather simple choice. Republicans, certainly, are no prize bull here. However, as someone said to me "This is really a choice between Socialists(Republicans) and Marxists (Democrats)" It is a rotten choice, but to stop the Marxist agenda is a start. Come November 2nd, the choice will be made.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Just look in the mirror

Ernest Hemingway said once that to live and thrive in the world, one needs a "finely honed crap detector." When this was said years ago, if may have seemed overly blunt, but certainly on target. Today this device is an absolute necessity, especially when listening to Barrack H. Obama. His recent attack speech on Wall Street may have been useful in a short term political sense, but it further illustrates why this president has a large and growing credibility gap.

By implying all Wall Street until now has been "bilking" America is a lie to say the least. Obviously, people lose money in markets. Obviously, people lie and commit fraud in this and other markets. When the SEC isn't ogling porn, they catch them and send them to jail. If Obama doesn't like the fact we have fraud in some markets, perhaps we should just abolish markets and have [drum roll please] communism. Perhaps I should take this back since he's already to taken this suggestion far too seriously.

Obviously, a man like Obama with such a limited understanding of capital markets really only embraces Will Rogers investing: "Only buy stocks that go up." To ideologue Obama, losing money is fraud, somebody betting against you dishonest, and people making more money you is not "fair." Funny, didn't JFK, the last decent Democratic president have something to say on this point? His quote was: "life is not fair." People lie and commit fraud all the time with little or no consequence. Ball players like Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Miguel Tejada etc. . . lied and committed fraud and never went to jail or forfeited one dime. And they continue to ply their trade. (though with Ortiz , who knows how much longer.) Back to politics, Barrack Obama said he wouldn't take private money for his campaign, but then he did. And lo and behold, the fraud was elected president. Barrack Obama raised cigarette taxes which raised taxes on those making less than $150,000 a year. Yes, politicians break promises all the time, but Obama has lied about breaking this promise ever since. One standard seems to apply to Democrats and another to everyone else.

Take this financial reform for instance. It doesn't even mention Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which provided most of the sub-prime loans that those "evil" Wall Street firms then repackaged, sold or shorted. In other words, the gasoline that caused our financial house to burn down is still lying around waiting to catch fire again. And this is touted as "real reform?" As we'll see later Obama and the Democrats have good reason for exempting Fannie and Freddie. But now, what about the banks themselves?

Are these banks still too big to fail? According to the bill, the government will simply step in and bail them out again. Doesn't this sound reminiscent of the mess we just got out of? The obvious threat of large institutions flopping and the taxpayer picking up the tab is still very much alive. This bill doesn't address that point at all. In fact, by creating a $50 billion dollar bailout fund, some might be further encouraged to make risky investments and again have the government clean up the mess. Also, chew on this: the first bailout of AIG was over $80 billion. That was just the initial bailout. So this bailout fund will be like fighting a house fire with a garden hose -next to useless. Right now, the government is already on the hook for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to the tune of over $400 Billion. Sad to say, but in bailout terms $50 billion is chump change.

Speaking of Freddie and Fannie, it is interesting that Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief of staff was on the board of Freddie Mac. Should he give back his his $320,000 in salary and his $100,000 from sale of stock for helping run Freddie into the ground? Of course not! That would identify him as one of those dreaded Wall Street fat cats that the President is always decrying. No one wants Rahm to get in any trouble. After all, he wants to be the mayor of Chicago and we all know how spotless the reputation of that office is. Rahm also snatched $51,000 from Fannie and Freddie serving in Congress, after his stint with Freddie. My favorite taker of the cash from Fannie and Freddie has to be Democratic representative Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania. Kanjorski, a regular on CNBC, is chairman of the subcommittee overseeing Fannie and Freddie. He grabbed $65,000 in campaign cash from Fannie and Freddie. That sure is some oversight! Please ignore that politician with "his pants down and money sticking in his hole" as Lou Reed used to sing. Sure Obama could get off his lazy duff, walk down the hall at the White House and collar his very own fat cat, but he really doesn't have to go even that far. Who was the third largest collector of campaign cash from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac all time? That's right: Barrack H. Obama.

Let's dig on this more. The other campaign cash hogs were Chris Dodd and John Kerry. Dodd was elected to the Senate in 1980. Kerry was elected in 1984. Both of these tainted money boys have been in Washington for 28 and 24 years respectively. So they had been on the Fannie and Freddie money train for awhile. Dodd collects $133,900 and Kerry grabs $111,000. Dodd, by the way, is the principal author of this financial "reform" bill. Certainly, no reason for him to leave Fannie and Freddie unmentioned.

So here comes Barrack Obama elected in 2004. He serves less than 4 years and heists $105,000! He certainly bilked Freddie and Fannie fast. Forget returning the Goldman campaign contributions for Goldman is still solvent. Will Obama give back the campaign cash from Freddie and Fannie? That money could go right back into the U.S. Treasury now that Fannie and Freddie are broke, Call it sharing the wealth, paying back the tax payer dime or just doing the right thing. If Obama really wants find one of the fat cats responsible for this financial mess, all he has to do is look in the mirror.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Afghanistan Lost

Do I sound like Harry Reid? The Nevada Senator referred to the Iraq war as lost during the debate on President Bush's surge in Iraq. Unlike Harry Reid and his exercise in wishful thinking, I have no desire to see the U.S. fail in Afghanistan. I believe failure there would mean someday we would have to return and pacify that country all over again. Also, unlike Harry Reid I do not wish the Obama Administration take the wrong course in this war. I have made my thoughts plain as to what I felt was the right way: an increased force size backed by a larger U.S. Army with no timetable so our enemies could not plan around our thrust. Also, unlike Harry Reid, I believe we have chosen to lose this war, not been defeated on the battlefield.

It's been a little over two weeks since current President Obama visited Afghanistan in drive-thru fashion. Following, the usual Obama lecture and a few pictures, he was gone. Sadly the few photos and the brief discussion of this vital issue quickly disappeared in the next issue du jour and then the next.. First, came a phony off shore drilling proposal, followed by an appeasement arms control deal with Russia and finally, a Potemkin village dressed up as nuclear security summit. These were calculated gimmicks all. Transitory fluff aimed at obscuring a train wreck in progress.

Bill Clinton and Dick Morris pioneered the issue of the day mode of operation back in the nineties. The big difference is that the Clinton issues were minor and at worst, guilty of the usual left wing condescension and time wasting. School uniforms springs to mind. With Obama, the ante has been upped. Minor distractions no longer suffice. If the issues that distract America from a war she will lose, be large and complex, then so much the better. It does not matter in Obama's mind that America has stripped itself of missile defense or that foreign energy dependence is disguised or that banter about Chile replaces confronting Iran. All that matters is that a war that will be lost in two years time is given a quick push to the side. Then we're off to the next propaganda item.

Make no mistake this war is not being lost by the troops. Even now, U.S. troops and allies have made large strides in controlling former hot spots, but this is for naught. President Obama has declared that the United States will give up, turn tail and run and leave our Afghan allies twisting in the wind in two years. It's no wonder that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is talking about joining the Taliban. In two years, Kabul will be back under Taliban control. Obama will try to time the withdrawal near the 2012 election. This may work politically, but after the election, Mullah Omar and his pal Usama Bin Laden will be back in their old haunts. This will obviously be a large complex problem for Obama's second term (provided he lies well enough to get one) but he won't really care. He'll never face the voters again.

Am I too cynical?(perish the thought!) Take the example of sainted FDR and the Invasion of North Africa in 1942 during World War II. Lagging in the polls, FDR urged the generals to invade before the November Congressional elections. The generals informed the Democratic president that they weren't ready to invade. Lacking a positive event to spin, FDR and the Democrats watched as the Republicans made hefty gains in the Congressional elections. Trading lives for spin isn't new, but usually those who do have done so tend to have been Nazis or Communists, i.e. the political extremists.

Nowadays, Obama is often called a Communist/Marxist for his economic policies. By touting "social justice" and telling people what's "fair" he seeks to level society swiping from one class and giving to another, creating a group dependent on his stolen handouts. This fairly straightforward communist money grab has been widely commented on. Obama has reacted like a brazen hussy caught in a cat house by in effect saying "Who me a commie?" I'll let others fry the chief executives fish regarding the "share the wealth" con. My concern here is for the men and women who fight a war in Afghanistan that Obama has already thrown in the towel. Coincidentally or not, here too Obama is following a communist game plan. Remember who the last invader of Afghanistan was?

In his book, The Great Gamble, Gregory Feifer details the savage, insipid attempt by the communist Soviet Union to subdue Afghanistan. At first, there wasn't much resistance when the Soviets first invaded in 1979, but soon there was a fierce guerrilla war raging in the hills and mountains of Afghanistan. Gradually, the Soviets began to make headway. By the mid eighties, the Soviet trained Afghan Army was actually effective when used in tandem with Soviet forces. Fighting had become even more intense, yet the Soviets were "gaining the upper hand in the war." Then Soviet leader Gorbachev ordered the military to wrap up the war in one to two years. In December 1986, Gorbachev met with Najibullah, the Afghan communist leader to tell him that the Soviets would completely withdraw in two years time. In February 1989, a little more than two years later, the last Soviet troops left Afghanistan. The mujahedin quickly began to fight amongst themselves which led to almost complete anarchy. Out of this chaos, rose the Taliban, who subsequently rolled out the welcome mat for Bin Laden. For the record, in 1996, Najibullah was caught by the Taliban in Kabul castrated then beheaded.

It has been said history repeats itself, just not in the same way. In this instance, it seems once the U.S. and other coalition forces pullout, history will take the same path. For now, we are in the pullout stage. Obama may try to stiffen the spine of Hamid Karzai with talk, but Karzai better have his plane tickets for Geneva ready. It's beyond sad the sacrifice that U.S. servicemen and women have made and are being asked to make for a war already categorized as lost. As horrible as the waste our troops and treasure, it's even worse for the Afghans. They get played with this hoax of hope and soon the night of the Taliban will return. Hell is returning to Afghanistan. What is right next door to this future hell hole? That's right, tottering unstable nuclear armed Pakistan. The sheer stupidity, senseless waste and nauseous political grandstanding by the Obama Administration boggles the mind.

Afghanistan never was and probably never will be an easy place to fight a war, but sometimes preventing things like another 9/11 are not easy. Sometimes, it requires decades of time, thousands of lives and billions of dollars. Some people don't want hard answers, but the answers life gives are in accord only to themselves.

Can Karzai survive on his own? Let's let Najibullah answer that one. Perhaps the dead can provide a view that will be illuminating. After a departing Russian Communist general gave him a pep talk, the Afghan Communist had a curt response. "There used to be 100,000 Soviet troops here," Najibullah replied defiantly. "And together with our army they couldn't neutralize the enemy. Now your forces have gone. What can we hope for?"

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Those who still wait

As the Obama health care takeover grinds to a conclusion, (or not) there has been much focus on expanding health care as if it were a right denied. In truth, your health is your own. This bill seeks to take this away. Dictating behavior, fining, taxing all seem like very much akin to a police state mode-if not Mussolini then perhaps Franco. Maybe, I'm too naive to be scared or perhaps since I've lived (very shortly- thank goodness) in a police state, I know where this is headed. Still, this talk of rights strikes a chord

Are there rights being denied today? Are constitutional rights granted to all American citizens being abridged? Strangely enough steps away from where the anointed one lays his head there are Americans who had no voice in the recent vote in the House of Representatives. If you live in the District of Columbia, you have nothing but a non-voting delegate to represent you. To translate that in airy Obamaspeak, the voice of these people was not heard. Some might think this a paltry issue. If, over half a million Americans with no democratic participation in the debate about the travesty of Obamacare is paltry then America is truly off course. Seems that democratic representation is the sole reason this country exists. If that is violated or ignored, this country is betraying the main reason why it was set up in the first place.

Now, in own wonderful technologically advanced society, the Internet has give us many opportunities to express opinion. However, as the old saw goes, everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it. Well, why don't we do something about it. Instead of Obamacare creating complicated, budget-busting, new "rights" to say nothing of the threats of prosecutions if you don't abide by your new "rights, why don't we work on the rights created by Washington, Adams, Hamilton and Jefferson. Let's put out a plan to help bring those into the tent set up by Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton and Adams. They've been waiting over 200 years. So, let's hit the practical then the political.

Certainly, D.C. is small relative to other states. So you could attach it to other states like Maryland or Virginia to provide representation. Actually, the southern part of the District was taken back by Virginia in 1847, so Maryland could take northern portion that exists today. However, since the Constitution mandates a Federal seat of government, regardless of what you do you'll need to carve out an area (probably around the White House, Capitol and Supreme Court) that is run by the federal government itself, perhaps by the Dept. of the Interior.

A more daring idea would be to create a new state. The federal area in the center of D.C. would be retained, but the rest of the district plus perhaps the original portion (now Virginia) would constitute a new state. While small its' population would be about the same size as Rhode Island. Statehood would allow the residents full representation in the House as well as much more importantly two senators. Now let's head over to the political.

Even a water walker like Obama, would have trouble doing this one. To create a new state might be too much, but perhaps a swap might be easier. Republicans would fight against a new state that was perceived as likely left leaning. The solution: swap Rhode Island for the new state. (let's call it Columbia) This allows many things, like the number of seats in Congress to remain the same. Presumably, Republicans wouldn't care about switching one set of Democrats for another. And would anybody miss Rhode Island as a state?

Face it Rhode Island's state government is a cesspool of corruption and has been for years. Even bubble-gum-for-brains Patrick Kennedy is quitting representing the state. Word has it that perennial name coaster, dolt Lincoln Chaffee is running again for statewide office. Didn't that guy give himself a lobotomy at some point? Economically, Rhode Island is dog food as well. The unemployment rate was 12.9% in January, third highest in the nation. Those folks really do need some change. Why not slap little rhodey onto Massachusetts and give those who are unrepresented in D.C. the Rhode Island seats in Congress? Obviously, you've got to amend the Constitution. That's tough, but it's been done before. What is so wrong about enfranchising half a million Americans?

This is about a simple choice. Do we fix the concrete problems of America or do we try to use Marxist tactics to live in some Rube Goldberg dystopia? Is the American way about asset theft, thousands more IRS agents, government health files on everybody and a bankrupt budget? Or is the American way giving democratic song to those Americans who hear the music everyday, but cannot sing?

Monday, February 15, 2010

If it's not working, keep talking

The Tiger Woods recent televised confessional contained a revelation for me. There was nothing intriguing about the props, aside from the fact that his wife wasn't there. The content wasn't especially novel. The way of delivery wasn't anything new either. Mere days later, President Obama used the same method in his weekly internet address to flog his increasingly stale health care revamp. Now Obama didn't have an audience of potted plants like Woods, but perhaps he could have used Michelle to give him a big smoochie teary kiss, like Woods got from Mom. One might think, gosh, somebody loves this guy, so his health care plan can't be so bad. That, at least, would have spiced up yet another plodding dull Marxist/Leninist Health Care 101 lecture.

The thing that struck me is how the set piece speech is now almost worthless as communication device on great issues. The heavy scripting has so reduced the information value, that it's no wonder most Americans have little interest or time to waste on these artifacts of the past. In a world on twitter, we only want the most important fact and it must be conveyed in the shortest possible form. Lies, dodges and evasions seem ever more blatant. Even a day later Obama could put no price tag on his increasingly costly boondoggle. A trillion? two trillion? The CBO cannot even venture a guess at the final cost of Obamacare.

So with these speeches, airy generalities and verbose phrases begin to seem not dull, but offensive, as if someone is committing a crime. Interruption becomes a necessity. Joe Wilson may be pioneer in this sense. Some would say this exposes an obvious loss in civility and this probably is true, but should one willing be silent for such drivel? I guess the tactful path would be not even to bother showing up. If someone is going to, at best use you as a prop or at worst lie with your seeming approval, then absence is probably warranted.

The Republicans now face such a choice with the Obama Tax Increase Commission and the Health care negotiations. If they want join Obama in land of vague babble and lies, they can and may gain something from it, though what I cannot fathom. Whatever they decide, the obvious manipulated nature of these things means like the set piece speech, the script has already been written. A beginning, middle and end has been drafted and the Republicans simply have to show up. Does anyone think the Republicans get the role of the good guys in this production?

The opposition party has a duty only to oppose, nothing more. Plans are laid out, so that America has an idea of an alternative path, but the job of passing the agenda lies in the majority. The fetish of bipartisanship as a goal in itself embraces only imbecility. If one side simply caves to the other, that's not America. That's Hitlers' Germany, Chavezs' Venezuela or Castros' Cuba. As Lloyd Cutler used to say " America was founded by dissidents and smugglers" Why should we lose our independence and our probing minds for something of undefined effect and with untold cost?

At the bottom line, America has thrived on substance. Yes, we've had lots of pretty words along the way, but all words that meant something had a direct substantive effect. In other words, they were almost mathematical in their precision and scope. The Gettyburg Address, FDRs' Pearl Harbor speech, JFKs' go to the Moon speech and Reagans' Tear down this Wall speech. All described the state of affairs, a plain goal and a way to reach it. The goals may have been extremely hard to reach, but the stakes were acknowledged and the speeches lent solemnity to decisions that almost all felt must be made. The humanity of these individuals shines through those speeches because the purpose rang true. How was this so? Those were all set piece speeches and yet any one of them has the sense, the feel of an intimate almost extemporaneous conversation. Tiger Woods and President Obama give speeches drenched in artifice, pretense and simulation. The speeches of Lincoln, Kennedy, Reagan and FDR had no need or time for pretense. The enormous issues of their day were duly understood and confronted with speeches that were not only well made, but direly needed.

Perhaps I mourn for the loss of such speeches. Almost three decades ago Walter Ong noted the rise of secondary orality, speech based only on written words. Long before "talking points" became household words, Ong noted this shift and something else. There was still a desire or perhaps need for primary orality or speech alone with no props or printed words or reminders. Obama himself decries talking points in speeches and yet that negative attitude about the medium is now a talking point. This is why the speeches of our ancestors have vanished. We have speeches exclusively about speeches. This serves only as cover or concealment for an agenda most people don't want.

When we see reversion to the primary oral form, the truth can be revealed quickly in resonant fashion. Think of two examples from the 2008 campaign. Obama's "share the wealth" comment revealed a decided Marxist/Leninist bent, now proudly displayed. The possessors (i.e whoever is the target that day) should tithe, donate, invest, etc . . . to the disposed. The dictatorship of the Politically Correct decide how resources of the society are to be allotted, not the individual or the merits of ability. Yes, Comrade, central control is best for all.

While John McCain had many more revealing unscripted moments, his snap decision to suspend his campaign revealed his primary orality actually seemed to dictate his decisions. The stream of conscious oral formulation gave McCain an appeal, but showed a mind heavily influenced by intuition. In the chaotic environment of the fall of 2008, this characteristic reflected poorly on him and he subsequently began a drop in the polls from which he never recovered.

For Obama, talk is the goal in itself, until someone else caves or something else happens. This almost mimics a pick up artist at party. He works the room until a willing accomplice is found or prospects dry up and he goes to another party. Above all for Obama, if it's not working, keep talking. The Narrative (I predict this word will eventually be as loathsome as "mission statement") must be continually pushed to dominate the national discourse and to stiffen the spine of an increasingly wobbly Democratic Party, that perhaps is not sold on the idea of Obama running for re-election in 2012. Unfortunately, dullness has set in. President Obama has become one long boring ineffectual scold. In the age of Twitter, this President is digging his own political grave, unless Republicans decide to help dig him out. They would be better served to let him keep talking.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Massachusetts Miracle?

Next week in Massachusetts, a special election to fill the Senate seat of the departed Ted Kennedy will take place. The Republican candidate Scott Brown has overcome a huge 30 point deficit in the polls to pull within two points of Democrat Martha Coakley, according to a recent Rasmussen poll. With less than a week to go before the election, the candidates took the stage for a last debate.

The physical contrast was striking. A fit and chiseled Brown (he once posed in the buff for Cosmopolitan) looked ready for action. Though appearing pale and almost lethargic, Coakley interrupted Brown on issues she felt played to her advantage, mainly abortion. This could be a mistake. As Creigh Deeds found out in Virginia, the social issues seem to have taken a back seat to the economy. On his short side, Brown didn't have much to offer on the economic side except tax cuts and stopping Obamacare as the 41st Republican Senator. For Republicans, that may be enough, but will it convince the 50 percent of Massachusetts voters who call themselves Independents?

Also, on stage was third party candidate, Joe Kennedy (no relation to Ted) who was a pretty much a one trick pony devoted to stopping spending. When Moderator David Gergen drew him out as to how to cut spending, Kennedy took the bait and said he'd go after entitlements like medicare and social security. After this political self-immolation, Gergen (looking rather old himself-I guess he needs to get back to those soft lights on CNN) tossed a softball to Coakley about how her campaign was going. Her tepid response said volumes about a candidate that seems to want to appear substantive without actually saying anything specific. She couldn't even nail the fattest of political pitches. Her flat response about working hard landed with a thud.

Her other responses were the usual Democratic rote about that dastardly pair Bush/Cheney or about how something must be done on health care. The moronic "anything is better than the status quo" argument doesn't hold water because we don't really know what the "anything" is. More importantly, we don't' know how will we pay for "the anything". Coakley simply said it's deficit neutral, leaving out the half-billion in cuts for the Medicare program that may or may not occur.

Before the debate, state Democrats may have hurt Coakley by saying even if Brown is elected they will hold up his swearing in until the health care vote is taken in D.C. This delay could be as long as a month, unlike a recent Democrat special election winner Nikki Tsongas, who was sworn in two days after her special election win. This brazen con job doesn't help the Democratic brand, the health care debate or Coakley. It simply highlights the rapacious one party system in the Bay state.

With regard to foreign policy, what Coakley stands for is largely a mystery. However, she wants to give Al-Qaeda civilian trials and she asserts that Al-Qaeda has withdrawn from Afghanistan and the U.S. should pull out. This last claim makes the false assumption that if we left Afghanistan that Bin Laden and company would not return. Brown hammered Coakley on her anti-war stance, her support of Al-Qaeda civilian trials, particularly the Christmas Day Bomber. He also showed up her dubious claim of an Al Qaeda free Afghanistan by pointing out that Bin Laden and the boys would love Afghanistan as a base to topple Pakistan and, thereby, get nuclear missiles.

What was the final tally? This observer would say Brown bested Coakley, but more on energy and image than actual arguments or rebuttals. Before somebody says Brown is all fluff, you have to say that JFK wasn't exactly known for his substantive policies before becoming president. His young handsome countenance was a marked difference from the aged warrior Ike or the rather oily Richard Nixon. Image was important then as now. In their famous TV debate, Kennedy won among TV viewers, while Nixon actually was preferred by radio listeners. In the current Senate debate, Scott Brown looked engaged and energized, while Coakley seemed distant and sported a rather thin smug smile from time to time.

In a sense, Scott Brown has already won. Everyone now knows how amazingly weak the Democratic party is in a race that should have been a cakewalk. Now this could be an early protest vote against a radically unpopular Democratic governor, Obama pal Deval Patrick. His lone achievement, if you can call it that, has been to raise the sales tax. With his approval numbers in the low thirties, Patrick stands little chance of re-election this year. Even a visit by President Obama failed to stir enthusiasm at a Patrick fundraiser in December that was sparsely attended.

Given the anti-Washington, anti-Beacon Hill mood, a flaccid machine candidate like Coakley could lose. However, should Brown lose by a point or two, the damage will have been done. In the original blue state, the message will be unmistakable. Democrats ran the last two cycles against incumbency as change agents. Now they are the incumbents. Having offered wild spending, more taxes and 10% unemployment, the Democrats are about to feel the pain of the electorate in a most visceral way. In head spinning fashion, the former agents of "change" are now in danger of being changed. If the facts could be a rally cry, it might be "change the change!"

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Biggest Cynic

It's been over twenty posts since I started here. While I'm a firm believer in Satchel Paige logic that marking milestones can be dangerous, I thought it might be appropriate to tell you little bit more about myself. In the immortal words of Elwood Blues "My brother would like to become increasingly intimate . . . with you"

Now I'm part of a group that has been pilloried at length by many during the last two years. Candidate and now President Obama rails on us and our outlook at almost every turn. We were bashed in the West Point speech. He even flayed us in his second Christmas Bomber speech from dreamy Hawaii. While we never get the top billing on the villain list that "extremists" (actually jihadists) or Republicans receive, we are always brought up for the usual sucker punch. I have no idea what's in the State of the Union speech except for the usual unpaid for handouts and mandates, but I'm rather certain that our group will be brought up for the usual drubbing.

You see I am a cynic and life under Obama is tough. Now before you simply equate cynicism with simple greed, let me say we are concerned with "the self" When you think about it, our Greek school of philosophy predates that whole West Coast Zen Buddhist thing which runs along similar rails. Left coaster Mr. Star Wars George Lucas calls himself a cynical optimist. We try to help the world through ourselves.

Now can a greedy slug be cynical? Sure and it's easy to get the two confused. Take Bill Clinton- a man of immense appetites. The women, the food (until heart surgery) White House furniture all flowed toward the maw that was Bill. Even now remnants remain, like the unending flow of cash from Saudi Arabia into the Clinton Foundation. Old greedy ways never die.

In the interest of bipartisan ship, I would posit that Richard Nixon was a total cynic. It is hard to admit, because he hurt so many, but the truth stands. Nixon could take any adversity and spin it for his own advantage. Whether it was a personal adversity like the Chequers Speech when Nixon was caught with hand in the political money cookie jar or the country wide chaos of 1968. Nixon deftly spun any crisis his way. Of course, that eventually led to the idea that virtually any deed legal or not could be taken and consequences could be avoided. Say hello to Watergate, Mr. President.

Now we have a President, rising to power in the midst of a great crisis, who seems positively repulsed by cynics. Thou doth protest too much? We got an inkling of the budding cynic within when Obama opted out of campaign finance rules for his own benefit. He played by the rules until it was best not to. The dance followed the same steps with C-span and health care. He was going to televise health care negotiations until it didn't serve his political interests. Too many people seem to oppose Obamacare and further exposure could get them riled up. Probably the most odious/Nixonian cynical move was putting troops in Afghanistan in 2010, but beginning to pull them out in 2011. The goal seems to have all troops out by the 2012 election. This way Obama creates a positive military issue to land him back in the White House. This truly Nixonian move makes you wish that when it comes to the troops a different standard would apply, that personal power wouldn't always be the goal, especially with troops in the field. Is this a cynical use of the troops? Even a cynic can go too far.

Lately, the turn to the cynical side seems even more pronounced. On the eve, the Massachusetts Senate election, Obama declared war on the banks with hefty taxes even though the government had made a nice profit on TARP money loaned to said banks. The President said "Bankers don't need another vote in the United States Senate. They've got plenty" Perhaps most of the Senate has been bought by the banking industry. But that seems a rather cynical statement given the fact that the President himself is engaged in buying senate votes for Obamacare. Do I hear a Cornhusker Kickback or a Louisiana Purchase anyone?

Now, if Obama came out as a cynic, we could overlook some of the little stuff, like the truck.
Obama seemed fixated on the truck that Scott Brown campaigned in as some patently false prop. Perhaps it was, but Brown did put over two hundred thousand miles on it and pointedly corrected the President not everyone could buy a truck. I guess in the Washington world of bailouts and kickbacks a new truck is such a small item. It's like a nice parting gift on a game show. Johnny O, what fabulous parting gift do we have for Barry?

After getting clocked by the Massachusetts Miracle win of Scott Brown, what did the President do? Why he went chumming with regular folks in of all places Ohio. Ohio, that most pivotal of states that had John Kerry got a mere hundred thousand votes more, we might be in the second term of the Kerry Administration. Now it might appear cynical to flee to Ohio once your presidential career seems threatened. The president however had a different take. He simply wanted to "escape" from Washington. I would suggest that given the fact that Mike Huckabee is now leading Barrack Obama in the latest PPP poll, the Presidents' escape from Washington may not be all that long in coming. Or perhaps it's too cynical of me to suggest that end, especially without offering a parting gift, like a truck.