McClellan Goes Native
One of the toughest jobs in Washington is that of a Press Secretary in a Republican White House. I liken the job to that of a javelin catcher – and we've seen the danger inherent in that profession lately. The Press Secretary gets the honor of standing before the piranha pit commonly known as the White House Press Corps and brief them about all things even remotely presidential in nature.
In return for his (or her) efforts, he/she gets to absorb the slings, arrows, and spears hurled at him/her by the pit vipers disguised as reporters. This the Press Secretary does on a quasi-daily basis. Needless to say, most press secretaries have relatively short tenures. There rumor is they age rapidly because being in close proximity to Helen Thomas has a physically deleterious effect on normal human beings. This has yet to be proven scientifically.
Most Press Secretaries aren't very memorable. Don't believe me? Please name two Clinton (Sorry Excuse For) Administration Press Secretaries without using an online search engine. W is currently on his fourth Javelin Catcher, Dana Perino. Scott McClellan – now author of a Kiss & Tell memoir – came in at #2, between Ari Fleischer and Tony Snow.
McClellan was – on a good day – extremely difficult to watch. I don't know what he did in his life before coming to Washington on W's dime, but whatever it was it didn't involve public speaking or adversarial debate. His daily press briefings were laborious and he was easily flummoxed by the Press Corps. He was, to put it bluntly, an exceptionally inept spokesman for a President whose communication skills are at best lacking. The day Tony Snow took over the briefing room was – to say the least – refreshing.
When someone spends a lot of time in a foreign land or culture there is always the possibility that said person will "go native" to the point it will be difficult to distinguish the foreigner from the native. It happened to me once. After living in Brazil for about two years, I acted and sounded much like the Brazilians I had come to know and love. My English was awful. Coming back stateside was very much a culture shock.
Nearly eight years ago, Scott McClellan came to Washington from Texas. During this time he has interacted and dealt with the beltway media culture on a daily basis. Judging by the reaction of W White House insiders who worked closely with him during his tenure and the breathless reactions of some on the left it looks to me like he's gone totally native.
Memo to McClellan: Enjoy your 15 minutes. I'd remind you about the dangers of believing your own press, but methinks it's too late for that now. I think you'll be surprised just how quickly that egg timer goes off. End Memo.
Here endeth the lesson.
Thoughts On Memorial Day
The origins of Memorial Day can be traced back to the 1860s when it was designated as Decoration Day – a day to decorate the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers both Union and Confederate. About a century later it was changed from May 30th to the last Monday in May and renamed “Memorial Day”.
Since that time it has marked both a day of remembrance and the opening of the Summer season. On this day much merriment will be made, sales will be made, and barbeques will be lit. In addition – and no doubt more importantly – honor will be rendered to those who have given the last full measure of devotion to their country. It is, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, all together fitting and proper that we should do this.
I spent the first twenty years of my life in and around the United States Army. Father Cordeiro was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant shortly after I was born. Because of the nomadic existence inherent in the life of a soldier’s family, for all intents and purposes I have no hometown. When people ask me where I’m from, I simply reply, “I’m from the United States Army.” Thus, though I have not worn my country’s uniform, those who do and have are and always shall be – to me anyway – family.
On the National Mall in Washington DC there is a beautiful monument dedicated to those of the Greatest Generation who fought in the last truly Global War. The World War II Memorial is truly a stunning piece of architecture and symbolism. The centerpiece of the monument is a field of 4,000 stars upon which is inscribed this simple phrase:
Here We Mark The Price Of FreedomEach of the 4,000 stars represents 100 soldiers, sailors, airmen, or marines who died in World War II. To save you the math, it equates to roughly 400,000 lives. That was the price paid for freedom some six decades ago. About two years ago I took my family to that memorial. As I watched my then three-year old daughter Corderinha toddle across the ground in front of the star field it made me realize just how big a price freedom really is.
This Memorial Day finds the nation again at war. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines have been and will be deployed to fight that war. I’ve sometimes found myself unsure exactly how to thank these countrymen of mine for the service they so gallantly render. Yes, there are military charities like Soldier’s Angels and the Semper Fi Fund that do God’s work for the servicemen and women wounded in the line of duty and their families. I highly recommend both of them to you.
On a more personal level, some time ago as I passed through the cavernous labyrinth that is Chicago’s O’Hare Airport I stopped for an overpriced and under-flavored meal. As I finished my meal and prepared to jog down the terminal hall to board my flight, a soldier sat down in the booth across from me. It was obvious to me he was returning from a deployment, possibly on leave but I didn’t have time to ask. The most I could do at that particular point in time was to buy him another round of Miller Lite – which I did. It wasn’t much, but I hope on that day and in that situation it was enough.
I pray that our heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom. Yours very sincerely and respectfully, Abraham Lincoln.Here endeth the lesson.
Needs no commentary
A U.S. Navy Web site advised: "We do not know the short- or long-term health risks associated with living in Naples, Italy."
The Democrat Party's Abilene Paradox With Obama
Affixed to a piece of paper pinned to the wall of my cubicle is a Post-It note with the following inscription:
Abilene via Bangs – 1,589 miles
I put this note there to remind me of an organizational phenomenon known as the Abilene Paradox first studied by noted management expert and George Washington University Professor (Emeritus) Jerry Harvey. For those of you unwilling to follow the link, the Abilene Paradox happens when an entire organization makes a phenomenally bad decision simply because nobody has the guts to disagree with what everyone seems to think is a good idea.
Every single organization – political or otherwise – has at one time or another crammed themselves in the back of the proverbial un-airconditioned Studebaker and driven the long dusty Texas highway in the middle of a dust storm to eat really bad food at a sloppy diner. Then they've re-crammed themselves back into the Studebaker furnace and driven back through the dust storm, all the while telling each other what a great time they're having. Everybody knows it was a bad idea. Nobody really wanted to go, but nobody had the guts to disagree until it was too late.
At this moment, the Democratic Party is on its way to Abilene. Howie "I Have A Scream" Dean is driving the Studebaker and telling people what a great time they're going to have at the diner. Nobody is really sure who first suggested that Obama would be the Dem's best shot at the White House. They all pretty much ignored Hillary's banshee shrieks because they'd come to expect that from her. Within the ranks there are worried rumblings about Obama as the drip, drip, drip of his questionable background, thin political skin, and parchment thin resume continue to make headlines the Party could do without. Even with the rumblings, nobody – except Hillary – has the guts to disagree with the masses and stop the Studebaker.
The Democratic Party's collective gutlessness may well be founded in the fact there aren't really any good alternatives to Obama. Hillary is loathed by nearly half the electorate. Algore is too busy flying around the world lecturing people on their postage stamp sized carbon footprint while his own carbon usage dwarfs that of many developing nations. Then, of course, there was John Edwards – the man who singularly kept Aquanet Hairspray in business for so many years.
Perhaps Obama is the best the Democrats can do. If that be the case, then they have more problems than I can here delineate. So, off they go to Abilene.
And, in case you were wondering, from Denver, the trip to Abilene – via Bangs – is 868 miles.
Here endeth the lesson.
Black Robed Thugs In The Golden State
Some of you will no doubt find this post offensive. Some may even go so far as to find it hateful. Some of you will be unable to look past the subject matter and even be able to remotely understand what I'm trying to say regarding the judicial coup which took place yesterday in my home state of California.
If you find yourself in that position, you'd better stop reading now because you'll be offended by the rest of this post. If that's the case, perhaps you need to be offended.
On March 7, 2000 the State of California had a primary election in which several Propositions (or Ballot Measures) were put before the electorate. California is a fairly unique state in that it is possible for grass roots based ballot measures can be voted on by the electorate – effectively bypassing the Sacramento legislature. Each election has a slew of them and the airwaves are saturated with ads extolling voters to either vote for or against the measure. This particular election was no exception.
Among the various ballot measures before the Golden State electorate was the very controversial Proposition 22. Most ballot measures are so long and wordy that few people can make sense of them and hardly anyone ever bothers to read them. The text of Proposition 22 was surprisingly short. It read – in its entirety:
Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.
Needless to say, billions of words from both sides were exchanged regarding that proposed amendment to Article II, Section 8 of the California Constitution. I will not re-flog the issues surrounding Proposition 22 – that is not my point.
My point is, that on that day in March of 2000, 4,618, 673 Golden State voters checked the box indicating they wanted this sentence added to the aforementioned section of their state constitution. The measure carried by 61.4% of the votes cast. In the interest of full disclosure, my vote was one of those 4,618,673.
Yesterday, four Californians overruled those 4,618,673. In short, 61.4% of Californians were overruled by 0.000000531% of the electorate.
A wise man once stated that "Liberals attempt through judicial activism what they cannot win at the ballot box". Truer words have seldom been spoken. Four California Supreme Court Justices took out their distorted constitutional microscope and fabricated a right to same sex marriage out of whole cloth. They spent several hundred pages justifying their "discovery" – feel free to read the legalese – but all the judicial jujitsu in the world can't distort what they did.
There exists the Constitutional principle of Separation of Powers for a reason. The legislature (or in the case of Prop 22 the "people") pass the laws, the executive executes the laws, and the judiciary "interprets" the law to make sure said laws don't conflict with any constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, rights, or other legal issues.
No, the Judiciary does not make laws. Find me a place in the Constitution (Federal or State) which authorizes the guys and gals in black robes to make laws. You'll be looking for a very long time. Have fun.
A lot of people, even good friends of mine, are celebrating this judicial coup. Its ended a very discriminatory practice – in their eyes. Again, I'm not going to debate the issues of Prop 22. That has already been done.
The fact of the matter is, the people had already spoken on Prop 22. 61.4% agreed with its implementation. You can't get 61.4% of Californians to agree on the time of day – but they agreed to Prop 22. Evidently over four million votes mean nothing to four Black Robed Thugs in Sacramento.
Those who support same sex marriage constantly refer to the changing view of the American people on this issue. If this is true, then perhaps what they should do is put it before these same people for a vote. They won't, because it would lose and lose ugly. As long as they can count on four votes in Sacramento, the other four million don't matter.
And that, dear reader, is wrong – no matter what side of the issue you are on.
Here endeth the lesson.
Before I begin this rant, I should probably state clearly that my personal preference during the Republican primary race was former Bay State Governor Mitt Romney. I thought – and still think – he was and is the best qualified person to sit in the Big Chair. Having said that, in every race there are victors and vanquished and in the end Mitt didn't make the cut. For better, and quite possibly worse, the Republican party has chosen and is now stuck with John McCain.
The only drama left on the Republican side is who will fill the VP slot on the McCain ticket. Sorry all you Ronulans out there. Drop me a line if you ever get internet service at that colony of yours.
In his seemingly endless quest to remain in the limelight, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee keeps the rumor mill going about his quest for the #2 spot on the ticket. According to USA News' James Pethokoukis, Huck is the odds on favored to get the nod.
Where he gets the idea that Huck brings anything to a McCain ticket is beyond me. Huck's idea of economic stimulation is widening I-95 from Bangor, Maine to Miami, Florida. His tax plan revolves around the idea of closing down the IRS – like that will ever pass any Congress. As for foreign policy, Huck doesn't differ much from Obama.
The issue of religion is never far from Huck – and this is where my main problem with him lies. Huck made a point of declaring himself to be the "Christian" leader – thereby calling into question the religiosity of every other candidate. I understand the bulk of his non-political life was spent behind the pulpit, but there is a limit to how much I religion I can handle on the political stage.
It was a not-so-subtle reference by Huck to Mitt Romney's religion – one which I share with him – which sealed my negative opinion about the former Arkansas governor. In a December interview with the New York Times Magazine, Huck made a reference to Mormonism – asking the reporter
"Don't Mormons," he asked in an innocent voice, ''believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"
Now, dear reader, this little tidbit isn't something that comes easily to someone who claims to know little about Mormon theology. Mike Huckabee spent far too many years at the pulpit not to have known exactly what he was doing. He knew the furor that question would cause, and he knew the reporter would print it. Huck purposely injected religion into what should have been a secular campaign. So, on top of everything else I hold against Huck, you can now add a lack of class.
The political world is one of give and take back scratching. McCain owes the fact he has had a clear running field to Mitt Romney's graceful exit at CPAC. Mitt could have pulled a Hillary and fought McCain tooth and nail all the way to St. Paul. He didn't and the Republican Party is in much better shape because of it.
Huck, on the other hand, stayed in the race far past his Sell-By Date. He never had a realistic chance of winning the nomination which kind of makes one wonder why he stayed in so long. His electoral base is broad, but not deep enough to put any state in play which McCain wouldn't carry anyway.
McCain knows that because of his age, his VP choice will be critical. He also knows that most conservatives are already having trouble holding their collective noses to vote for him in November. Personally, I will most likely pull the lever – or touch the screen – for McCain. Should he be foolish enough to put Huck on his ticket, he'll lose my vote altogether.
WSJ Delivers Oil Smackdown On Obama And Hillary
Crude oil is not the only thing I think about. Really. Truth be told, I just had to fork over nearly a bill to fill my SUV and get gas for my lawnmower – so when I saw the WSJ’s Editorial Board take aim at Obama’s pseudo-oil plan, I took notice.
Trying to make sense of Obama’s plan to reduce gas prices is impossible. It’s like most of platform – long on hope and very short on specifics. Even the specifics defy the irrevocable laws of economics. Basically, Obama wants to implement a $40 Billion (yes billion) tax on the “excess profits” of Exxon Mobil. Here’s what the WSJ had to say about that idea:
You may also be wondering how a higher tax on energy will lower gas prices. Normally, when you tax something, you get less of it, but Mr. Obama seems to think he can repeal the laws of economics. We tried this windfall profits scheme in 1980. It backfired. The Congressional Research Service found in a 1990 analysis that the tax reduced domestic oil production by 3% to 6% and increased oil imports from OPEC by 8% to 16%. Mr. Obama nonetheless pledges to lessen our dependence on foreign oil, which he says "costs America $800 million a day." Someone should tell him that oil imports would soar if his tax plan becomes law. The biggest beneficiaries would be OPEC oil ministers.To paraphrase the fictional Chief Engineer of the USS Enterprise, Commander Montgomery Scott, “Ye canna change the laws of economics”. Never the less, left leaning politicians try all the time. One of the most recent examples of this was former California Governor Gray Doofus (colloquial pronunciation of “Davis”). He spearheaded the deregulation of California’s utility industry, capping rates but banning construction of new power plants. It took a few years, but rolling blackouts and soaring utility costs led to Doofus becoming one of only two or three state governors ever recalled and replaced. That’s how Aaaahhnoolllld became the Governator.
There's another policy contradiction here. Exxon is now under attack for buying back $2 billion of its own stock rather than adding to the more than $21 billion it is likely to invest in energy research and exploration this year. But hold on. If oil companies believe their earnings from exploring for new oil will be expropriated by government – and an excise tax on profits is pure expropriation – they will surely invest less, not more. A profits tax is a sure formula to keep the future price of gas higher. (Emphasis Added)
Presidents cannot be recalled. Spare me the lectures on impeachment. As far as I know, dangerous economic naïveté doesn’t rise to the pass constitutional muster as high crimes and misdemeanors. The only way to keep this kind of mindset out of the Oval Office is not to send it there in the first place.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go expand my carbon footprint and do battle with my lawn.
Here endeth the lesson.
Bill (no, not that one) And Hillary On The Factor
Ok, so I finally got around to watching Hillary's visit to O'Reilly's No Spin Zone. In the interest of full transparent disclosure, I don't usually tune into the O'Reilly Factor. If I have time to watch television in the evenings, I usually prefer mindless entertainment. Last night my mindless entertainment consisted of American Idol. I'm still reeling from the dismissal of Blonde Chick when Dreadlock Boy should've gotten the boot after his phoned in performance the previous night.
First off the bat was the price of gasoline – currently $3.55 at my neighborhood Exxon. Hillary bobbed and weaved quite effectively as O'Reilly shot several pseudo questions at her. She stuck to her tried and true talking points – blaming just about everybody including the American consumer for the price of oil. She agrees with McCain on a three month gas tax holiday – but she insists it be paid for by the evil oil companies as they are flush with "windfall" profits.
To liberals like Hillary the word profit is as obscene as the F-Bomb is to most people. Yes, oil companies make money. They make that money by selling their product at the best price they can get. In truth, their profit margins aren't obscene at all. At present they're able to sell every single drop of crude they can get at a price which has been determined by the market. There is a limited supply of and an inelastic demand for gasoline – therefore prices are high. If you don't know what those terms mean, look them up in any Econ 101 textbook. Then you'll know more about economics than Hillary does.
For some reason, Hillary believes that a "Windfall Profit Tax" could make up for the loss of tax revenue to the government for the gas tax holiday. What she doesn't understand is that if government increases the cost of doing business (with a tax increase) the oil companies will pass that cost increase down to the consumer. That's the way markets work. She wants to change the tax structure of an entire industry to pay for a three month consumer tax hiatus. In other words, she'd try and use a shotgun to kill a mosquito. Being that she hasn't shot a gun since her uncle took her out to the South 40 when she was a little girl, I'm kind of concerned about her aim.
Moving on to Hillary-care. Yep. Here we go again. Hillary would like to wave the MIB's Nueralizer and make the electorate forget the Clinton (Sorry Excuse For) Administration's first foray into the Universal Health Care Briar Patch that nearly destroyed her husband's presidency and resulted in the 1994 Republican congressional takeover. No matter how much perfume she pours on that 55 gallon drum of natural fertilizer, and no matter how much she extols its ability to promote growth, her Universal Health Care mandate will still look and smell like a leaky septic tank.
Taxes. O'Reilly and Hillary both congratulated each other over the fact that they're both filthy rich. Hillary wants to raise the top marginal rate back to where it was in the 1990s – someplace around 39%. In her memory, those were the good old days. Never mind the fact the Clinton (Sorry Excuse For) Administration left office with the country in a needless recession brought on by excessive tax rates. There's only one tax rate Hillary is comfortable with – that is more. Sure, she says her lust for taxes won't affect anyone making under 250 large a year. She also says she'll cut middle class tax rates. I'm old enough to remember that same promise being made by her husband. I'm also smart enough to know that promised tax cut was never delivered.
And finally, Hillary crowed about her forays into bi-partisanship. Here's where I get to laugh. Hillary's senate record is so thin it's pathetic. Not one major piece of legislation bears her name. She continually talks about her centuries of experience fighting for the people, yet she has very little she can personally claim credit for. I'm not really sure what bi-partisan ventures she's been on. Maybe she sponsored legislation naming a post office after a dead Republican.