Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Republican Land of Oz


I am sure that Kansas is a wonderful place, but if Leavenworth Penitentiary is your best known landmark and a fictitious 12 year old girl from the "Land of Oz" is your most famous resident...then you might want to question why you are living in a state, where all everybody does...is dream about leaving!!!

Dorothy had to be hit on the head, threatened by a wicked witch and followed by
three possible pedophiles with no first names...before wanting to come home.
If she had known that the Republicans now controlled both legislative chambers
and the Governorship, she might have decided to still just be clicking her heels.
While Munchkin Land was a fantasy, Governor Sam Brownback has described the
new reality of a unanimous conservative Republican state government as a
"Grand Experiment" and model for other states to follow.

Unlike the experiment that forced a frightened monkey 75 miles into space last
week on an Iranian rocket ship, Kansans voted to go along for this tumultuous ride.
The monkey landed back safely, but Kansans may not have as soft a landing after they see how the blueprint to implement Republican principles of small government and lower taxes, might leave John Gotti's 12x6 cell at Leavenworth, as the only affordable government housing plan.

So far this month as reported by the NYT..."the largest tax cut in Kansas history took
effect, Medicaid was handed over to private insurers and the states welfare rolls and
work force has been significantly slashed".

Next month they will be working on lowering pensions, reducing education financing and changing the way that judges are selected to insure that conservative social principles will not be undone by liberal activist judges. Or in other words...close the only medical clinic left in the state that still performs abortions, allow prayer in public schools and authorize Glen Beck's picture to be printed on a commemorative $3.00 bill.

As the Governor brandishes his record for legislating the "conservative dream", it is estimated that the tax cuts, "that never pay for themselves",...will cost the government $850 million in revenue in the coming fiscal year... to be paid for by raising the sales tax, repealing tax credits for food, rental housing, child care, mortgage interest deductions and by selling the Soundtrack of "Les Miserables" as the new state song.

According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, if this program of lowering
income taxes by raising sales taxes, gets implemented, it will cost the poorest 20% of
Kansans on average, about a $148 per year and save the top 1% approximately $21,087 per year.
This is why the Republicans now seem to be willing to compromise with the President at the National level, because as the ultimate believer in "State Rights"...they finally understand it is better to control a Grand Experiment at the state level than negotiate a Grand Bargain.

And with complete Republican control in 23 more states...winning the "Debt Ceiling"
debate is a lot less important to people when they no longer have a roof over their head.
Before Sen. John Edwards could tell Gov. Mark Sanford...that "nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning"...is only true if the National Enquirer is not on your front lawn...he talked about two Americas.

But even he, didn't envision that his battle for "One America" would be won and lost between each and every state. That it is not democracy that is the Grand Experiment, but a map drawn of Red and Blue States, that may need a white flag waved to restore American values back into our government.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Republican Nightmare is the Democrat's Dream Act!


Ever since Donald Trump accused the President of being "Soft on Immigration"
because he was secretly an immigrant himself...his fellow Republicans have
wanted to get rid of the President's "Dream Act" faster than one of his recent
recess appointments.
With that plan falling short, in part due to Mitt Romney failure to attract more
than 24% of the Hispanic vote, Mitt was deported "out of the bubble" and sent
back to Bain Capital, to export more American jobs to overseas companies.
Republican leadership though quickly changed course and decided that antagonizing
the fastest growing voting segment of the population, is about as smart as asking
Sofia Vegara to speak with more of an English accent.
Mitch McConnell is now busy hitting the Pinata and planning Cinco de Mayo Parties
and John Boehner understands to win an election in the future, you must listen to
Rosetta Stone and not visit it in a Museum.
But as Conservative House Republicans always do...they treat every policy debate as
if it was a religious experience...and of course Immigration has been the Holy Grail.
Republicans like to say, that no illegal aliens can get on the path to citizenship without  
paying the consequences for their severe indiscretion and lack of respect for the rule  
of law...
I don't know if I am listening to a debate on immigration or watching Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ"...either way, they make getting on the right path. a very painful process!
And as long as they want the path to citizenship to be like the road to Heaven...then
we will need more than right wing Republicans checking passports at the Pearly Gates!
They forget that many of these "illegal aliens" were invited to this country with a wink
and a nod of low paying jobs and a life in the shadows. Our criticism of them is the
equivalent moral dilemma of criticizing Chinese Labor Laws and then celebrating the
lowest prices at Wal-Mart.
But our politicians have announced that no immigrants will wake up to the "Dream Act,"unless the Border comes to resemble our version of the modern day Iron Curtain.
The collapse of the Soviet Union, the tunnels by Hamas and the failure to keep drugs
flowing across our border...tells us, that walls built on fear are much more effective
at keeping people in, than a desperate family out...but you can still find some Republicans who rather shop eBay for souvenir bricks from the Berlin Wall than build a policy based on common interests and "economic cents".
During the last 4 years of a struggling economy America actually experienced more
illegal aliens leaving our country then fighting to get in because immigration is much
more an economic battle to survive than a class warfare between the haves and those
that want to have more!
Our nation is not only a country of laws, but has always been connected by a kindred
spirit of people who know how to risk everything they have...when they have virtually
nothing left to risk.
The modern day Ellis Island looks quite different today. It no longer simply passes by the Lady who holds the Torch of Freedom soaring over New York Harbor but through our Colleges and Universities that invite the world's brightest to learn...even though we never invited them to stay once they graduated.
This change in Policy will do more to insure the tradition that America's melting pot will boil over from the flame of innovative ideas and that our policies won't contribute to immigrating people in, while emigrating the best ideas out!
If the Republicans finally understand that immigration is not someone moving from a Blue State to a Red State or a New Yorker going to Florida for the winter...then maybe they are one step closer to realizing the "Dream Act" is not a Broadway Show but a policy that helps all of us be one step closer to the American Dream!

Shouldn't our government be "Too Big To Fail?"


The first time I heard the phrase "Too Big To Fail", I thought they were talking
about Mark Whalberg's character Dick Digglar in the Hollywood Classic "Boogie
Nights", or they were announcing the new "Tagline" that would appear in the
latest Cialis commercial...I had no idea they were actually referring to how
Americans were getting screwed over by our largest financial institutions.
Almost overnight it seemed top bankers became the biggest "bank robbers".
JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley were making Bonnie and Clyde look more like
Sonny and Cher.

The new showdown at the OK Corral was at the ATM machine and whether or not
you could draw down on your card or simply walk away with an IOU.
The banks walked away with 1 trillion dollars in cash and another 4-6 trillion in
money printed from the Federal Reserve...and the only shot that was fired was
loaded with our fear and their incompetency.

In spite of the fact they had already left the economy for dead...they still sent the
vultures back to make sure the carcass still had enough money left for their exorbitant
bonuses and stock options to be paid out at the end of the year!

Today, banks are bigger than they have ever been before in the name of being able to compete in a Global Economy, while new legislation and oversight groups are as effective as a "Blind Meter Maid" giving out parking tickets on the streets of Manhattan.

But as one institution has learned to eat cake, while its customers still struggle to
buy a cup of coffee, the most important institution that is "Too Big To Fail"... the
United States Government, can't seem to get any help at all!
When banks are sitting on trillions of borrowed dollars to shore up their ledgers
and service fictitious assets that make "credit default swaps" sound like a new kinky
financial section on the latest married dating site...the American government is
fighting to pay its bills and support its people.

Since 1965, the costs of entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare
have grown twice as fast as personal income, while the top 1% of the population has
also seen their share of personal income double during the same period of time.
This triangular policy of the rich getting richer - the middle class getting poorer - and the Government receiving the lowest percentage of tax revenue since 1950, is building a nation that is not "Too Big To Fail" but destined to fall to a failing ideology.

Less government is not by definition more effective government, and if you are a
member of the Republican Party you probably believe only "the smallest size fits all".
We cannot continue to take in only 74% of the revenue that we spend...but the size of our our government needs to match the limitless of our potential.

We need to size our government so our teenagers are not ranked 22nd in reading literacy, 21st in science and 29th place in math.
We need to re-size our government so we are not spending 1 trillion dollars more a year in military programs than the Chinese, so they are free to spend the equivalent on roads, trains and research and development.

We need to size a government that provides one of the highest infant mortality rates and a retirement that leaves people proud of their sacrifice instead of shamed without dignity.
As the battle over the size of spending cuts and tax revenue becomes percentages of GDP, flat taxes and cost of living increases tied to inflation...remember that we are not fighting over numbers but we are fighting for our neighbors, our family and our friends.

Unlike the American Revolution which began  with a fight not to pay an unjust tax, we are now fighting for people to pay their fair share...so we can all share the good life.

The latest tactic by the Republicans is to exaggerate the shortfall and be the financial Paul Revere of today by shouting the message of one if by tax increase with 10 if of spending cuts.
We won the War with the British and they became our strongest allies...maybe there is hope for the Republicans yet!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Gov. Jindal to GOP:"Time to stop being the Stupid Party" - Really?


  • Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana said today, "it is time for the Republican
    Party to "stop being the stupid Party"...but how do you do that, when most of
    your Party thinks stupid is the "New Normal".
    Just this week we have Rick Santorum being the Keynote Speaker at the anti-
    abortion rally, "March For Life". In order to show that a fetus is just as smart
    as he is, Rick answered questions with one kick for yes and two kicks for no!
    In New Mexico, 10 Republicans co-sponsored a Bill that would force a woman,
    impregnated by rape, to give birth to the baby in order to secure a conviction
    against the rapist...this is because Republicans still believe that babies are from
    cabbage patches delivered by a Stork!
    And in Texas, the day after New York signed the toughest gun control law in
    the Nation, Attorney General Greg Abbot placed Internet Advertisements in NYC
    that said," Attention New Yorkers - We Want You and Your Guns!...probably
    because Rick Perry is still looking for help in seceding from the Union!
    Governor Jindal went on to say that "we as a Party have to start talking like
    adults and stop damaging the brand"...and then abruptly announced the cancellation
    of a 12 City Debate Tour between Big Bird and Mitt Romney.
    The problem for the Governor, is that he believes he has a Sales and Marketing
    issue, when the Party actually has a message and a messenger problem.
    Paul Ryan, (the messenger),...today, defined the Party as a "Value- Add" (the message), in helping to negotiate a final outcome over the debt ceiling and spending cuts. The floor mats in a Chevrolet are a value-add...not exactly a "Lincolnesque" branding moment for a Party in crisis.
    As Chris Mathews pointed out on "Hardball", the Democratic positions on most major
    issues, such as abortion, gun control and immigration, are now favored by more than
    50% of the people, while the Republican popularity on key positions has been dropping
    faster than the weight of the leading contestant on "The Biggest Loser".
    But where the Republicans have failed to win the battle for the "Hearts and Minds",
    they have won in the art of filibustering in Congress and Gerrymandering in State  
    Congressional Districts. This will allow them to receive less votes then the Democrats,
    but win more elections.
    This winning formula has now emboldened them to try to change the electoral college
    in states, where it could give them a competitive advantage in a presidential election.
    So unfortunately for Governor Jindal, he will still see Republican Candidates such as
    a Ted Cruz from Texas, who will not hesitate to shut down the government over
    spending cuts, claim gun control is unconstitutional and consider a legislative standoff,
    another chance at winning at the Alamo!
    Next week the biggest corporations in America will be spending up to 4 million dollars
    on Super Bowl Ads to sell their best message in 60 seconds or less.
    The best message that Governor Jindal can sell...is that the Republican Party needs
    to sell a new product to the American People!

Can children ever feel safe again, when everyone is letting them down?


Madison Avenue taught politicians a long time ago, that voters will ultimately
make their decisions based on emotion rather than information.

That is why Republicans will frame any failure to lower the Debt, as an immoral
act of irresponsibility being passed down to the children of future generations.

While Democrats won't hesitate to portray the Republicans, as willing to "Throw
Mama from the Train", if she and her two kids show more interest in receiving
food stamps than waiting in line to buy postage stamps.

Child Safety, used to be an issue limited to school crossing guards, caps on
medicine bottles and warning labels on Clorox Bleach. Now, children don't even
feel safe from the voices of Elmo and Charlie Brown.

If the children of tomorrow are being used to justify the policies of today...then
how can we trust the planners of tomorrow...when they seem to be doing such a  
poor job for the children of today?

Have our policies increased the likelihood that we all know an obese 10 year old boy
boy with Attention Deficit Disorder, that goes to an overcrowded and underfunded,
school, that drinks shots of 5 Hour Energy instead of a glass of non-fat milk?

Is it all to common today, to know a 12 year old girl, confused by an early adolescence,
possibly brought on by environmental concerns or emotional stress.

Do we know any children that go to school and are afraid of coming home safely
because they know someone who didn't?

Do comments by a Prince Harry, confuse them even more, when he draws no
distinction and connects a real life killings and violent video games.

We no longer have time to explain the Birds and the Bees but are forced to make
explanations for the acts of misguided Priests and the Jerry Sanduskys.

But maybe the most confusing message of all, must be the disconnect they feel when
they pledge allegiance to the Flag and learn the very people their parents voted for
to represent that Flag... have an 8% approval rating and an even lower opinion of
each other.

We wonder why the greatest generation has raised a series of self-centered generations,
when we can't solve any of their problems without first going through a period self-twisted machinations.

Athletes, rock stars and superstar entrepreneurs used to be role models for whom our children wanted to be...since that doesn't seem to be working out too well, can't our elected officials at least try to be a role model... for who are children should try to be.

After all...we are supposed to be a representative government...so why not begin with
representing something better than the 8%... that no one wants to be!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Must See Hillary TV




Hillary Clinton was "must see" viewing on television yesterday because she was neither "Dancing" to avoid tough questions...nor "Dancing With Political Stars."

Republican members of the Intelligence and Armed Service Committee who had
most recently accused her of pretending to be Terry Schaivo in order to avoid
testifying about Benghazi, did more to kick-off her Presidential campaign then
send her off in political turmoil.

Fiery when challenged, emotional when taking responsibility and unapologetic when
confronted by the politicization of the deaths of 4 former friends and colleagues,
Mrs. Clinton showed why women were long overdue in being granted the right to
fight in combat.

Unlike Ambassador Rice, who has had better success navigating the dangers of North Korea and China than the halls of Congress or questions on Meet The Press, this Clinton never waivered or gave a definition of what "is" is.

She left no doubt that mistakes had been made, especially when Congress had failed to fund a 300 million dollar request by her to secure our Embassies abroad prior to the attack on Benghazi, and that key recommendations and protocols had already been implemented to best insure this can never happen again.

Joe Biden who is rumored to be running for President in 2016, liked it much better when her 1 million frequent flyer miles were keeping her as invisible as a drone at 20,000 feet.

John McCain, who never got over running for President, thinks being the elder statesman of the party, now requires him to act like Walter Matthau's sidekick in Grumpy Old Men...wanted to say to Hillary, "I know Sarah Palin and you're no Sarah Palin"...but then he would come out of the fog and remember that if Sarah Palin had been more like her...he might have won the election!

Which brings us back to what these hearings were really all about... the 2016 Presidential Election. If John McCain hadn't thought the fundamentals of the economy were just fine when Hank Paulson was imploring Congress that America's banks had less desirable assets in their vaults, than the mystery contents in a storage locker on Reality TV...it easily could have been candidates Sarah versus  Hillary in 2016.

Two very different candidates for one potential very special election!

One candidate that has proven her remarkable capabilities, while the other still surprises us with what she might be capable of.

One candidate overcame a cheating husband, the other can't get the cheat notes off the palm of her hand.

One candidate became the pundit that Fox News loves and the other was already the one they love to hate.

Both candidates wrote best selling books, only one candidate can probably read either one of them.
In watching the Rand Pauls , Tim Johnsons and the John McCains at today's hearing, if you are a Democrat, it was very comforting to see that after the election they are still very much the Party of Sarah Palin.

Or as she said so eloquently upon being nominated for Vice-President said:"You know what they say the difference is between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick!"

Today it looked like The Republican Party was standing at the cosmetic counter instead of sitting behind the podium... at an important Congressional Hearing.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Inauguration's Hottest Issue - Literally

The hottest issue to arrive out of the President's Inaugural Address, appropriately enough ...was Climate Change! This issue was 5 degrees warmer than same-sex marriage and the Republican response has been full of more hot Co2 than Lance Armstrong's apology on Oprah Winfrey.

Many Republicans are still doubting whether or not we have a "global warming" issue, in spite of the fact that bars at Happy Hours in NYC, were giving away shots of free suntan lotion instead of chicken wings this past summer, and the Island of Manhattan was nearly lost to a storm like a ship sailing by in the Bermuda Triangle.
As reported in a recent column by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times, the simple facts that the 10 warmest years on record have all fallen within the past 15 years, while today our atmosphere is polluted with almost twice the amount of carbon dioxide that has been the norm for the previous several thousand years.
But the real danger according to Hal Harvey, the chief executive of Energy
Innovation, is if the Ice Caps continue to melt, the frozen methane that lies
beneath the frozen tundra will release into the atmosphere "the equivalent
of all the carbon dioxide that all humanity has emitted from the start of history
to now".
It is not that the Republicans don't believe in Science...they just don't  believe in
scientists that don't serve their constituencies.
Most members of Congress are attorneys by trade, so they are used to representing
clients with indefensible positions. And as long as elected officials see their clients
as those that are paying to get them re-elected as opposed to those that are voting
for them...we will continue to get their version of Bill Nye the Science Guy instead
of common sense solutions from Nobel Laureate scientists.

How can we hope to change the climate, when we are not willing to change an environment in Washington, whereby Republicans always seem to lie about the facts while the Democrats are busy lying to themselves?

The Republican Greatest Hits: Water boarding isn't torture, Missing Weapons of Mass Destruction, tax cuts pay for themselves, new voter ID laws are not meant to suppress the vote, vouchers will save Social Security and Medicare as we know it, ObamaCare has Death Panels, Donald Trump has 5 million dollars to prove that the President was born in Kenya...all Republican lies based on their own set of facts... they know aren't true.


The Democrats have tortured their base by believing that bi-partisanship is a winning formula, despite the fact they have an opposition who believes compromise is agreeing to do what we want, while agreeing not to do what you want. And the Democrats always believe that passing legislation is the end to solving a problem instead of just the beginning of a Republican initiative to undo the result.

Since 2011, 135 laws have been passed in more than 24 states to restrict access to abortion. Nearly every state with a Republican Governor or Attorney General has filed a legal action against ObamaCare and woman executives that sit on the Board of Directors of Fortune 500 companies are as rare as a female member of Augusta National Golf Course, in spite of passing the historic Lilly Ledbetter legislation.

The Republicans always argue that it is immoral and unethical to pass our financial burdens on to the next generation...what if there is no next generation, because we passed on our greed and immorality instead of our planets immortality!
This Inauguration, the chill in the air was not from the cold winds whipping around the
Washington Monument, but from the steely eyed determination of passionate everyday
people, who came to see a President elected and a promise fulfilled.
A promise that cannot afford to be broken...even if the promise of government has been!

TAGSEdit D

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Did We Elect a Black President?

In 2008, the most idealistic generation, those born in the 50's. who came tosee life through the lens of the 60's, thought they had finally grown up when they knew they were going to be voting for either the first Woman or Black  President of the United States.

White and aging John McCain's election hopes had about as much chance as surviving, as that poor Turkey that was placed head first in the meat grinder during one of Sarah Palin's live press conferences.

The majority of Americans didn't vote for the President because he was Black...but more importantly they didn't choose "not to vote" for him because he wasn't white.
White America turned on to Barack Obama the way they had tuned in to watch
Bill Cosby every Thursday night.
Progressives loved the fact that he was Black...less a reflection on who he was
and more of a proud moment on what they wanted our nation to become.
The Baby-Boomers thought they were choosing a "Black President", that embodied
the oratory of MLK, the vision of JFK and the charisma of RFK, but four years
later as the President is about to take his second inauguration, instead of
getting a firebrand like Samuel L. Jackson... they got four years of Vanilla Ice.
Since he had a beer in the backyard at a picnic table at the White House to explain
why his mother was afraid to get into an elevator with a Black Man, we are hardly
ever reminded that he is a "Black President". Except when the racist Tea Party
or wacko Birthers accuse him of being the President of Food Stamps or born in
Kenya with a Black half-brother that is dumber than Billy Carter.
Unlike Aurora or Sandy Hook, where he was the Father of a Nation grieving for all
parents who have lost a child before their time...there was a brief moment during

the Treyvon Martin tragedy where we saw what is was like to be the Black father of
a son with a hoodie...and in large part, because of the President, we were "all" able  
to understand that pain!
Yes, he is the President of "All the People", and no one wants him to put on a glove,
make a fist and raise his left hand in the air while standing behind the podium, but
if the point of electing a Black President...is to "forget that he is Black", then how
do we learn to celebrate our differences instead of living in fear of them.
If our next President is Jewish, would I be wrong to expect that he might speak to
the fact that the Holocaust lesson of "Never Again", has already happened time and
again. That a Catholic President might struggle between what is the law of the land and what is in his religious heart, or that a Woman President might be much more non-negotiable on equal pay and women's rights then the ten middle aged white men released in a recent White House photo of the President's inner circle.


No one should be judged or be prejudiced based on their race, creed or color, but
is it fair to judge someone on their passion for issues that may have derived from
the very essence of who they are?!
This President promised to start a conversation about race...even though it had
already been started for him by those that have tried to define him!
But how can this Presidency be the start of a conversation about race, if he runs away from talking about the consequences of racism? 
If he allows his own missed opportunity to shine the light on the disproportionate
number of Black People who fight our wars, populate our prisons, depend on
government services and who live in single parent homes, then he deprives all of
us of having a conversation about ourselves.
He cannot take the easy road by only highlighting a minority's great accomplishments
in order to bridge the gap of a racial divide, but he must put in perspective and help
us distinguish between what is overcoming a genuine obstacle on one person's road
to personal triumph and contentious forms of hatred that impose undue burdens that
stand in our way.
He cannot afford to be afraid to address the obstacles of being Black in America
because he is afraid to be a Black President. His greatest contribution cannot be
that he was elected... but what he accomplished for Black people...as well as the
nation.
If the President had served only one term...Bill Clinton would still be considered the best Black President!
By acknowledging and recognizing the problems unique to his own origins, than he gives permission for all of us to try to solve all problems that are based on race, creed or color.
As he puts his hand on the Bible to begin his second term in office, if Barack does not
become the "New Black" ...than his legacy will be overshadowed by what he could have done...instead of what he will do!

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Political Pizza: When the NRA starts shooting with words

When the NRA starts shooting with words



When a commentator suggested that if you give the NRA enough rope,
they will hang themselves...the NRA took great offense because they
said "if you are going to talk about us like that, than say we keep shooting
ourselves in the foot instead."

If that be the case, then since the Sandy Hook shooting, they have fired
enough rounds of diatribe at the media to now be mistaken for an army
of peg-leg warriors.

Regardless of the impassioned speeches from victims' families, intellectual
arguments by gun control activists and common sense proposals offered
by the Vice-President's Task Force, that has resulted in Joe Biden becoming
the Dem's best version of Joe the Plumber,...nothing has moved public opinion
on this issue more, than the NRA shooting their thoughts from the hip faster
than when Oswald fired off three shots at JFK from the 6th floor of the School
Book Depository.

As many as 92% of people now support universal background checks, a ban
on high capacity magazine clips and government sponsored research on the
relationship between guns and violence.

On Monday, Joseph Hall a 10 year old boy was found guilty of second degree
murder for deliberately shooting his neo-Nazi Dad in the head with his father's
357 magnum as he lay sleeping on the couch at 4:00 AM in the morning.

Also this week, Bryan Oliver a 16 year old California boy will be charged as an
adult and face two counts of premeditated murder for shooting two of his high
school classmates for bullying him about his red hair, social awkwardness and
bookish appearance.

These are Poster Children for the argument that our gun culture and far too often
our disingenuous positions on gun control, harm our children in ways that even go
beyond the tragedy at Sandy Hook.

Current gun laws that have been either lobbied for or written by the NRA with
loopholes
larger than the widest circle around a picture of a full body target at the shooting range, can no longer be defended as an appropriate status quo...
an argument that had fallen on deaf ears, until the NRA started to talk and not
shoot!

In fact, lately the Republicans voicing their opinions on a variety of issues beyond
gun control has been responsible for the Democrats best political success.

No one helped the fight for social programs more than Mitt Romney speaking so
eloquently about those 47% of people in our country who are "takers instead of
makers".

And at a time where 75% of teenagers have never even heard of Roe V. Wade,
nothing has been more effective in helping the Pro-Choice Movement than one
prominent Republican donor telling women they should put an aspirin between
their knees to avoid getting pregnant or Todd Aiken sharing his view about legitimate
rape.

If the Republicans just keep talking about shutting the government down and not
paying the bills on money the government has already spent, then President Obama
will be forced to increase government spending on Medicare just to stop all the bleeding
in the Republican Party.

On all key issues the Democrats need to invite Republican speakers to talk about the
issues...and then say nothing! Let's hear from Governor Jan Brewer on Immigration,
Rick Santorum on same sex marriage, Sen. James Inhofe on climate change and anyone
of the Republican Governors from one of the lowest ranked states on education.

So if gun control can give the Democrats a little self-control, than maybe the best arguments they can make to change a nation will be the ones ...they never have to make at all!



Thursday, January 17, 2013

Oscar buzz: How Hollywood has politics right and Washington has it all wrong


When it comes to politics, Washington can learn a lot from Hollywood.
The 85th Annual Academy Awards announced their nominees for Oscar Gold
recently and it appears that the early winners are people who care
about politics and political issues.

And even though some top political films didn't get nominated such as "The
Bridge to Nowhere" - the true story of where Sarah Palin's career has gone
 since the 2008 Presidential Election...and "999: How Herman Cain's uncanny
ability to remember the number 9 three consecutive times" almost turned an idea
for a pizza promotion into a national movement.

"Lincoln", "Argo" and "Zero Dark Thirty", did make it to the final round of voting.
All three political films placed the heart of Washington decision making right on
 center stage, while political issue oriented films such as "Django Unchained",
"The Beasts of the Southern Wild", and "Les Miserables", brought to the forefront
the man-made disaster of slavery, the harm that comes when a natural disaster
threatens a local community, and the painful road of prison life and prostitution.

If only Washington knew how to communicate like a 2 hour movie and people turned out as enthusiastically to participate in the Political Process, as they do when they gather around their TVs on "Oscar Night." 
Maybe the Washington power brokers need to learn a few pointers from the  Hollywood elite on how to run a popular election instead of treating them as
if they are a natural rival and in competition for our attention.

It is true that both have famous, wealthy and powerful people. The studios lobby
for their respective nominees to win in the same manner that Exxon Mobile and
 the NRA run campaigns for their potential winners.

The People's Choice Awards, New York Film Critics and the Golden Globes are
 equivalent to the hard fought Primary Season that all politicians must go through.
And both get a huge TV audience on their special night and have fabulous parties
 after  that are covered by the likes of a Ryan Seacrest, Anderson Cooper and
 Joan Rivers.

So, why does one seem to give us disappointment every year...and the other gives
us Hugh Jackman?!

Maybe because Hugh Jackman...looks like Hugh Jackman and our political leaders
 usually look like more like Henry Kissinger!

And when we get a good-looking Mitt Romney or a Rick Perry, they act as stiff and
 charismatic as a first time actor on the "Young and the Restless".

But maybe the real divide to overcome between the two coastal heavyweights is that
Washington doesn't know how to tell a good old fashioned story as only Hollywood can!
Washington doesn't understand how important it is for us to become emotionally attached to the lead characters -- we are always confused on who to root for and they always give us a compromise instead of a happy ending.

That could all change this year with the final arc of the Debt Ceiling story potentially
 stealing the spotlight from Hollywood during the exact same week the Academy Awards are airing.
If Hollywood doesn't come to the rescue and turn this into an award winning moment,
then maybe there is a conspiracy (you know how both Hollywood and Washington both
 like conspiracy theories) to keep the best Washington dramas far away from the Oscar
ceremonies...just so Hollywood can remain the Entertainment Capital of the World.

This year, "Lincoln" and Steven Spielberg seem to be the crowd favorite...but please watch with suspicion and skepticism and ask yourself why wasn't the politically charged "Occupy Wall Street" nominated- a financial thriller, whereby Alec Baldwin and Gerard Depardieu become the new "Odd Couple", as both move to Russia after Alec realizes that the interest rate on his Capital One Credit Card exceeded that of the new French income tax rate.

See you at the movies!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Did Politicians just say bye to partisanship?


When the Mayans predicted the world would come to an end as we know
it this past December,...I am beginning to think that maybe it happened
and we just didn't notice.

Because in the first month of this "New Post Mayan Age", we are seeing
things we never thought possible and at the very least were highly improbable!

Who would have thought Lance Armstrong would admit to doping faster than
his hair falling out from taking too much testosterone! 

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas speaking out loud from the bench during oral arguments for the first time in 7 years.  It was only one sentence but it was still one more sentence uttered than from any of the heads on the faces of Mount Rushmore!

Didn't think we would see the day Dell Computer and Best Buy would be talking
about going private with the same enthusiasm they had when going public...
if this becomes a trend, what would happen to insider trading, stock manipulation,
CEO stock options and golden parachutes...this will never work!

How about KFC being accused of endangering children in China with dangerous
antibiotics in their chicken wings instead of factories in China poisoning our
kids with lead in their toy rings.

Or Cuba telling it's citizens to visit us on a Carnival Cruise ship instead of a
raft made out of used parts from a 1952 Chevrolet Impala.

But what could not even be predicted by Nostradamus or Sheila from the Psychic
Network, is that partisanship would say "good-bye" for a moment and melt like a
glacier under a polar bear, who didn't want to believe in "climate change" either.

In a very big Bye to partisanship...an evenly divided New York State Assembly
among Republicans and Democrats, passed the toughest gun-control law in the
country...with 11 more states proposing legislation to do more of the same!

John Boehner has allowed to bills to be voted on and passed in the House of
Representatives with a majority of Democrats and a minority of Republicans
...those being the Fiscal Cliff solution and the funding for Hurricane Sandy!

Jan Brewer...yes, Jan Brewer the finger pointing governor from Arizona who
wouldn't let President Obama valet her car at a Klux Klux Klan rally, is now endorsing
ObamaCare as the best solution for her state...that might be more a result of
witchcraft than a strong prediction.

Governor Rick Perry of Texas and Governor Jerry Brown of California, whose
governing priorities have as little in common as Mitt Romney and 47% of the
population, both announced they have gone from record deficits to projected
budget surpluses for the next 4 years.

There is quite a bit of confusion with Governor Christie hugging President Obama
as tightly as two pounds of bologna in a one pound bag, Republican leadership
in the Senate denouncing any plans to shut the government down by not raising
the debt ceiling, Republicans leading the charge on immigration while President
Obama being accused of not having any strong female representation in the White
House.

Either this is a permanent full moon or this is what the Mayans meant by Armageddon!

The President is about to be inaugurated for his second term of office and he will be
facing a host of problems that will challenge us as a Nation...wouldn't it be nice if
a lack of bi-partisanship... was no longer one of them!

The True Reason Why Lance is Talking Now!


Golf legend Tiger Woods cheated on his wife, Cyclist Lance Armstrong cheated
his sport and Tennis great Roger Federer has cheated "father time". It is no
longer a question of who is the greatest athlete of a generation, but who will
be the most forgiven.

Football players say they cheat to rid themselves of pain, while in Baseball they
cheat for immortality in the Hall of Fame. Sport cheating scandals is not a new phenomenon, - but cheating to win is!

In 1919, when the Chicago White Sox became the "Black Sox" by deliberately
losing the World Series, - it was cheating to lose!

When Sonny Liston went from invincible to invisible with a phantom punch
that floated like a butterfly instead of stinging like a bee, by the soon to be
named Muhammad Ali, - its was cheating to lose!

And when 5 college kids from the City University of New York decided to shave
points and not their 5 o'clock shadow, at what should have been college basketball's
finest hour, - it was cheating to lose!

As gambling changed the scandalous playing field for players from winning in the
arena to intentionally losing at the gambling hall, performance enhancing drugs,
changed an athlete to be less focused on the outcome of the game and far more driven to care about his own individual performance that could garner an 8 figure endorsement deal from the streets of Madison Avenue.

Winning may not be a sure thing...but a good Nike sneaker deal sure is!
Today's athletes, are now under the microscope of detection by more stringent
drug testing, passionate sports writers and the most loyal and ardent fans.

And they are certainly being judged by a jury of there peers...not by other
superstar athletes but by a society who has made cheating such an every day
part of our lives, that it is hard to distinguish the playing field from the difficult
road in life.

Statistics say that more than 50% of the people we know have either cheated on
their spouse or lied on their taxes. Banks that are to big to fail seem to be to big
to follow the law and insider trading has become a sport unto itself.
college kids at West Point and Harvard have been embroiled in cheating scandals
and even the High School kids that are trying to get into those universities are
being accused of cheating on their SATs.

Our athletes may be a reflection of who we are some of the time...but Lance Armstrong seems to be someone...who we don't want to be most of the time! His moment of epiphany and mea culpa with Oprah Winfrey this week didn't come because he failed to succeed in threatening and intimidating those that knew of his guilt and have already testified against him.

It didn't come when his charitable cancer organization, "LiveStrong" was under siege and he was forced to resign as Chairman of the Board.

It came, when his former teammate and friend, Floyd Landis, a former Tour De France winner himself, who was also stripped of his title due to performance enhancing drugs, refused to drop his 30 million dollar whistle blower law suit against Armstrong and he would be forced to either testify or take the stand and plead the 5th Amendment for more days than it takes to ride 126 miles.

Since there would be no drugs that could help this performance...he was not willing to win or lose a game where justice maybe blind...but they are not stupid!

So if you can't beat them...join another game! Armstrong decided to control the message, if he couldn't control the outcome! His appearance on Oprah Winfrey caused her to say that "Armstrong didn't come clean in the manner I expected."

Over the next several years, Armstrong will navigate the court of public opinion the way he drove through the French Alps...cautiously when called for, aggressive when needed and always relentless.
This is not a race to contrition, but a carefully conducted campaign that wasn't designed to restore an image but save it from ridicule and oblivion.

When Sport is at it's best, it is a metaphor for a Society that can cherish the best that we have within us, when we thought there was no more to be found. There is more to be found than what Lance Armstrong had to offer.

And whether I am playing tennis on Saturday or cheering for my favorite team on Sunday,
...I will always be playing to find it!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Congress is like us: one big dysfunctional family


When the Founding Fathers' had the intuitive instinct to include the
"Pursuit of Happiness" as a fundamental right in the Declaration of
Independence, they did so without the foresight of watching an episode of "Dr. Phil" or the benefit of hindsight from being at the "Salem Witch Trials", ...which was a little before their time!

As we have learned in the past 236 years, pursuing happiness is a far
cry from achieving it, and as we have looked towards and pushed away from government at various times to help us...our happiness with government and the divisions between us, seem to have grown like an an epidemic of reality shows that no longer simply mock us...but more often reflect who we are!

With an all-time low approval rating of less than 8% and a dysfunctional approach to solving problems that can only be exceeded by the National Debt itself, maybe it's time to recognize that Congress is not the problem,
but merely a true representation of the dysfunctional people they represent.

It's not that we are Red or Blue, Conservative or Liberal...but that we are
almost tribal in nature...now more a product of where we live, than what we
have learned along the way!

Which would explain, why even though we complain about Congress collectively,
90% of the time, we re-elect and send our own tribal leaders from our own city
or state...right back to Congress to do it all again.

We never see anything wrong with our own Congressman or with those who elect
him or her...it's just everybody else who is the problem!

As long as the difference in our "values" determines the road that must be blocked
as opposed to the one that must be traveled, than Congress will continue to be as
lost as an Apple Map on an IPhone.

Maybe we can't get passed our opinions on such volatile issues as Gun Control and
Immigration because we can't get past the subtler differences of how we see each
...never mind the problems that keeps a Jersey Shore and a Sweet Home Alabama
viewing on two different channels.

In New York they judge you by where you live and in Los Angeles by what you drive.
In Dallas the first thing they ask you is, how big is your house and in Chicago they
want to know whether you are or have ever been married to one of those "Mob
Wives' ". In San Francisco they want to know who you work for and in Boston what
school you attended. In Atlanta, how many "Baby Momma's you have and in Montgomery
did you marry your cousin?...can you see how agreeing on world peace and economic
collapse can be a problem?

We can't expect Congress to fix our problems until we begin to solve some of our
own. It's hard to understand each other when we hardly understand ourselves. And as
long as we define each other with stereotypes and mistrust, than that is how our
Political Leaders will define the problems we send them to solve.

Let that truth be "self-evident".

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Peace With Honor - Again!


Whenever I would be invited to sleep-over at a friend's house, my
mother would always' say, "make sure you leave the place better
than you found it "...that rule only works if you actually ever leave!
After a decade in Afghanistan, our sleep-over more resembles a Home
Invasion than a night with Laverne and Shirley. And in Iraq, we are the
goofy Uncle that never knows when it's time to go home!
For a country that promised to never repeat the mistakes we made
in Vietnam...except for not dishonoring the brave men and women
who volunteered to put themselves in harm's way...we have worked
very hard at making those same mistakes, while creating a host of
new ones that can certainly stand on their own!
Indelible mirror images such as the My-Lai Massacre in Vietnam and
Abu Ghraib in Iraq will stay with us forever, as will President Johnson's
false pretense for war from the Gulf of Tonkin, and President Bush's
equivalent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Listening to Vietnam Soldiers  
telling tales of "Tunnel Rats" that bombed them from below compares  
with pictures of victims that stepped on IED's in Iraq on the road. And  
who can forget when The Paris Peace Talks proclaimed "Peace with Honor"
and George Bush stood on a Battleship declaring "Mission Accomplished".
In Iraq or Afghanistan, whether it be getting involved under false  
pretenses, mission creep, nation building, corrupt local governments,
ill equipped to fight in the terrain, unprepared for terrorist tactics, not
winning the hearts and minds of the civilian population, training a local
army that cannot defend themselves, incidents of abuse and torture,
lying to the American People and Congress, cover-ups, Generals fired or
dismissed, falsely declaring victory, engaging in a civil war, leaving them
to continue to fight a war that has a high probability of failure, are all or
in part...mirror images of our experience in Vietnam.
Except, what we failed to accomplish in Vietnam, we were overwhelming
victorious achieving here at home - inspiring a generation of young people
in this country that no longer tuned out...but tuned in! A future generation
that today are corporate leaders, elected officials and even a President who
won the Nobel Peace Prize...because he spoke so eloquently for global peace
and prosperity!
But today our society does not reflect the mirror of that inspiration, as it has
been fogged over with the dying breath of thousands of soldiers and a generation of X and Y millennials that were protected by no draft and no bill to pay for our endeavors abroad.
One would have thought that this President...would not have overseen a war with more soldiers dying under his command, than the previous 8 years under the Bush Administration combined, with very little more to show for that effort.
That this President...would not leave this generation with an ongoing Guantanamo Bay, an unrevised Patriot Act, enhanced torture techniques and a military budget that will continue to take dollars away from safety net programs like Social Security and Medicare...our true first line of defense!
That this President...would not leave this generation, with a missed opportunity for the most tangible demonstration of Hope and Change for all of us to believe in! Changing the way...we fight this war and truly begin the fight for peace!
President Karzai of Afghanistan was here yesterday...but let's hope that when he leaves...he will take with him our support and best wishes...but no longer the plans for our young men and women in arms.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Our New Security Team - Not the Same Old Game


Washington has a new security team in town and so far they are playing
more like the Harlem Globetrotters' hand picked perennial losing opponent,
the Washington Generals, than a Washington National Security Dream Team.
Chuck Hagel's critics are saying that when he was being vetted by the
President's team for his potential Senate Confirmation hearing...they asked
- are there any problematic emails or offensive 4 letter word texts out there
we should be concerned about...and he immediately said..."other than Gays
or Jews?"
CIA Director nominee John Brennan was highlighted by the President for
his integrity and commitment to the values that define us as Americans
while the ACLU was questioning his role in the Bush/Cheney policies of
torture, abuse, secret prisons and water boarding.

And we were only lucky to have John Kerry nominated for Secretary of State
because Susan Rice knew less about Benghazi on "Meet The Press" than Colin
Powell knew about weapons of mass destruction at the United Nations.
But regardless of who is circling the musical chairs of the Military Industrial
Complex, when the music stops, will they all sit down with the same traditional
mindset.

Instead of reacting to the fact that World War III is an economic battle for
superiority and invincibility that has already begun...will they simply overreact,
when China buys the equivalent of another used aircraft carrier on eBay and tout
that as a desire for global military domination.
Will they continue to support a Military Budget that has grown 100% since 9/11
and cost us more money in one year than what the next 17 largest countries spend
combined.

Will they fail to see that the Germanys, Japans and Indias of the world are free
to spend their money on infrastructure and technologies...while we  borrow and
spend our money to defend them!

Will they agree that yes, we are the only global Super Power -  yet our greatest
threat to National Security is not a bomb or an unpredictable hot spot, but a blind
eye to the danger of our own domestic economic battle and the inability of our
two political parties to act in our own best interest to address it.
In this current World War, we have already lost the battle with China for the largest
manufacturing base in the world.

We have been losing the struggle with Japan over who will manufacture the most cars,
and we are in a fierce firefight with India for the heart of the Computer Programming
and Service Industries.

Our Allies in Western Europe, Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom
have raised the white flag, as their people are demonstrating in the streets from harsh
austerity programs and high unemployment!

...and wasn't it just a few short months ago that the "99% were not just overseas but
"Occupying Wall Street" our parks and sleeping under the trees.
The freedom that we are protecting has historically been threatened by dictators
and despots that rise to power in harsh economic times...Hitler initially gained
popularity not only because people were afraid of him...but because people
were afraid there wasn't going to be "a chicken in every pot".

Our National Security Team needs to arm our country not simply with the confidence
that we will have the best weapons systems and clandestine operations, but that they
know where the economic battlefields are...where the war has already begun...and
most importantly... know where it needs to be won.

China is more concerned with a middle class that now exceeds 300 million people, than building and paying for the next 300 nuclear bombs. Germany is now at war with England over who should be a part of the EU instead of who will conquer and divide it.

And we need to win the war on returning to being the nation that exports the greatest
products, services and expertise to the world...and not just the leading exporters of
our treasure of young men and women in uniform.

John Kerry, as a very young Vietnam War Veteran, once said to Congress..." how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? "

Well how do you ask the next soldier to go to war...when our Political Leaders are not united to win the economic wars that are fought on their battlefield and choose to fight against each other instead.

Always trying to win a political fight for power...rather than fighting for a win for our Country.
Our National Security Team must begin with them...and if we can win the battle at home...than we should feel very comfortable that we will always win... the larger battle abroad.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Free Press is Harming America


"The Truth May Set You Free" - but when the News is free to read
- do you eventually kill the truth?
It has been the Press that has taken us from being storytellers to
historians and put random events in context with thought provoking  
deeper meanings.
A free and vibrant press and an army of journalists have proven
to be a far more powerful force for freedom than any shot fired or
battlefield won!
But in an age where we get informed by a free link on Twitter or an
inquiry on Google Search - are we still willing to pay for the "Times" and
the "Newsweeks" of the world to educate us? Or, are we willing to risk
paying a much higher price?
The transition of the iconic image of the Newspaper delivery boy being
replaced by a news icon on an Ipad, has threatened the art of journalism
in a way that Richard Nixon couldn't have imagined when "All The President's
Men" were undone by the Press during Watergate or what China does today
with their failed and incessant censorship.
Who would have thought the best way to silence the Press is by having everyone  
else's voices be heard.
Today, it is no longer what to report or not to report... the only boundary
is who reports it first. Whether it be a TMZ or your Aunt Shirley... everyone's
a reporter, but it doesn't mean that everyone is a journalist. You can read
an article about smog or an op-ed by the Wall Street Journal's John Fogg - and all the average reader knows - is that he is not going to pay to read it on your blog!
Unlike newspapers...television continues to make a successful move from an
analog advertising based model to a digital paid subscription format. It has
not been a question of whether money can still be made...but more of who
is going to make the money!
Television advertisers still pay 3 million dollars for a 30 second spot during
the Super Bowl - customers pay the subscription rates they demand or a fee
to watch on the Web.
On the other hand, advertisers have slowly abandoned newspapers with
classified revenue moving to Craigslist and daily coupon sales inundating
Groupon - and customers have resisted paying enough in subscription fees
when there is so much content for free!
According to a recent article in the WSJ - Radio went through a similar period in 1948 of finding the right balance and business model between free now and
pay later, when unionized musicians were no longer being hired to play live on
the radio and went on strike to protest all the free recorded music being played
almost 24 hours a day. No new music was recorded for more than a year until
the radio stations and record companies agreed to pay the musicians royalties
for their recorded music.
Imagine if there were no journalists for a year...it wouldn't mean there was no
news for a year - but it could very well mean that there would be a vast diminishment  
of a search for the truth in the news for that year...no matter how good Aunt
Shirley might be!
There have been discussions in Europe that anytime authored content appears on the
internet that a Google or a website must pay a royalty to the author of that content in
a similar fashion to musicians collecting royalties.
If a Google can only exist because people create content - then sharing the advertising
revenue that content creates a demand for...will probably need to be a part of the
new business model that will allow Newspapers and journalists to survive.
As the industry searches for answers there have been casualties along the way. The New Orleans daily newspaper, The Times-Picayune, is now printing only 3 days a week and the larger Cleveland Plains Dealer may not be far behind. The venerable New York Times has sold off assets in order to pay creditors. The Chicago Tribune is coming out of bankruptcy, and Rupert Murdoch closed down his expensive online experiment called "The Daily".
Newspapers and journalists have become an integral a part of our democracy by being
the very defender of the democracy that it reports on! Maybe it's time we work hard
at defending them!
It would be a shame that we rally around "Big Bird" but we stay silent on the guys who
keep an eye on "Big Government".
Otherwise we might be insuring that newspapers will be performing for itself the vital
function that it still does on a daily basis for everyone else...the writing of its own obituary!!!