Friday, December 27, 2013

Here's Hoping


As the final hours of 2013 wind down we should reflect on all our New Year’s resolutions from last year. Of course, it’s the rare bird that at year’s end is fluffing their feathers having made good on all their personal promises: to quit smoking, lose weight, learn a new language or instrument, or try to be more tolerant and show patience with the many little annoyances of daily life. 

We should take solace on the achieving of some and try with greater fortitude in the upcoming year to achieve the rest. Likewise as a  nation  in the family of nations, we should strive for the betterment of those here in the U.S. and those around the world. Here’s hoping that:

·         Politicians the world over stop spinning rhetoric and act in harmony with their citizenry for the benefit of all. Instead  of greedily grabbing with both hands everything that is not nailed down.

·         People of faith, atheists and others who  worship whatever they think important co-exist without the need of ridiculing or exterminating each other.

·         Every fringe group stop feigning offense at every little thing especially those things, that for millennia, have been accepted tradition. For a twist, how about they be a bit more tolerant.

·         We hear a whole lot less about young people in America being gunned down every day.

·         Bombs and  religion become mutually exclusive.

·         Our leaders in America realize the toll of our men and women  in foreign conflicts is a price we no longer want to pay.

·         World governments cooperate fully with each other to stop human trafficking and put an end to poverty and hunger.

·         World scientists make dramatic inroads in the fight against disease and in predicting natural disasters to stave  off vast destruction in lives and infrastructure.

·         Real world peace can be achieved. Sounds like a pipe dream but let’s hope. Solving the Israeli-Palestinian quandary  would be a great first step.

·         The  Chinese compel their leaders to avert military spending in favor of domestic projects; and the  government give up their expansionist dreams.

·         President Obama use the remainder of his time in office to fulfill his very first promise to bring our nation together and take the necessary steps to create jobs for all who want one.

·         Personal health and happiness.

·         We don’t have to list all these hopes again next year.



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Commissioner

With the last days of his tenure as New York Police Commissioner winding down, we have much to thank Ray Kelly for. And not only those of us who live the New York/New Jersey metro area. He and his team have thwarted countless terrorism plots that would have had widespread consequences for the entire nation.

  After the horrific attack on 9/11, Ray Kelly began his second stint as New York City Police Commissioner and  created the first anti-terrorism bureau of any municipal police force in the country, even going as far as stationing his officers in foreign countries to mine leads and gather data on possible nascent plots.

 Some of us may have taken  our security for granted since we have not been attacked in  New York going on 13 years. But New York remains  the number one target of all jihadists. Because of the commissioner’s vigilance  our enemies have focused their efforts elsewhere as evidenced by the Boston Marathon bombing earlier this year. It’s hard not to point fingers at the Boston PD but I suspect things could have gone differently had Commissioner Kelly been in charge there.

Ray Kelly has always been a public servant. He was a  Vietnam combat veteran;   he has served 43 years in the NYPD; and in 1994, Ray Kelly headed up the Multi National Force (MNF)  to help restore order and democracy in  Haiti.

Under Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly, crime in New York has consistently decreased while having to deal with a dwindling  police force. But these successes have come at a cost, in at least, public perception. The so-called “stop and frisk” policy which targets minority men has been roundly criticized. And its overall effectiveness has been questioned. In the recent NYC mayoral election several of the candidates expressed their unhappiness with the policy and their intent, if elected, to replace Commissioner Kelly. And Mr. Kelly’s comments during that campaign that not one of the candidates had asked for a  terrorist  briefing didn’t win him any friends. Mayor-Elect de Blasio has already appointed Bill Bratton to succeed Kelly.

There was some talk that Mr. Kelly might be a candidate for the vacant position of Homeland Security Secretary. Despite the senior Senator from New York  Chuck Schumer’s glowing endorsement of  Kelly, President Obama selected Jeh Johnson for the position. But it’s hard to believe anyone could be more effective than Kelly in that role.

Ray Kelly leaves a great city in great shape and I’m sure Commissioner Designate Bratton will continue to uphold his high standards.

Ray Kelly will now ride off into the sunset making lucrative speeches for 5th Avenue Greater Talent Network. Our heartfelt thanks, Commissioner.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Self Righteous and the Selfie

The one talent any American should feel proud about our president is his ability to give speeches. At times he can conjure up memories of “The Great Communicator,” Ronald Reagan; or John Kennedy. There are times when I hear the florid phrases that roll off the president’s tongue and I think of Ted Sorensen, JFK’s brilliant speechwriter and aide-de-camp.

The one difference among the three orators, besides, style, is the message. Presidents Reagan and Kennedy espoused American Exceptionalism.  Obama adheres to the theory that we’re just as ordinary as everyone else and, moreover, we  are guilty of taking advantage of those less fortunate. After all we didn’t build the country or the great industrial  machine that created the middle class  as he so foolishly said in the run up to the 2012 election until, one assumes, focus groups dissuaded him from doing so.

At the memorial service for Nelson Mandela he was his predictable self, praising Mandela for reconciling with and forgiving his oppressors. But interspersed were lines from his usual script, usurping the spotlight for himself with his diatribe of rampant inequality, injustice and the  intransigence of his Republican opposition at home.

This played well with the South African audience much like it does when President Obama does his domestic tours. And I wonder, is it the same audience that follows him around university campii and other democrat strongholds who wildly applause as if an applause light goes off at the venue. They stand there as an attentive backdrop like a pack of trained seals waiting for a mackerel to be thrown their way.

The president spends too much time in his comfort zone. Whether it’s with the well heeled Hollywood crowd who can’t thank him enough for being our president or the likes of “Hardball” journalist, Chris Matthews who toughest question for our chief executive is along the lines of what he had for dinner the previous night. Even when the president is seen doing something inappropriate like taking a “selfie” at the Mandela memorial, some journalists  equated that to his being “just like us.”

How sophomoric was that picture of President Obama with Prime Minister David Cameron of Great Britain and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt? The Danish Prime Minister looked like a high school cheerleader captivated by her team’s quarterback. While PM Cameron looked like the equipment manager straining his neck for inclusion in the picture. The only adult in the photo was Michelle Obama who didn't look like she was going to be invited to the malt shop afterwards.

And I wouldn’t be surprised by the  expression on the first lady’s face if there was another Obama speech in South Africa – this one by Ms. Obama.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mending Fences with Hillary


With some interest I saw an advertisement for Hillary 2016 in the Sunday NY Times of December 1. Of course it was disguised as a real news story about how Madam Hilary is trying to assuage the bad feelings with the African-American community  from her last  presidential run.

It seems unfathomable in hindsight  that the Clintons actually thought the African-American community would support Hillary when then Sen. Obama was running with her neck and neck in the primaries. As soon as the smallest excuse arose, in this case, a nebulous characterization by former President Clinton about Mr. Obama’s anti-war stance being  “a fairy tale”  and an allusion that Jesse Jackson had won the South Carolina primary twice, a frisson developed. So her first order of business is to mend fences with the African-American community.

It’s inevitable that no group can be mad had the Clintons for too long. Looking to repair the bad feelings caused by some of her husband’s statements during the 2008 campaign, Hillary is out in front of the pack trying to position herself for 2016. It’s too early to declare but you can bet she’ll run. If you had as stellar a record as Secretary of State like Madam Clinton wouldn’t you think you deserve to be president and return the country to the halcyon days of her husband.

She has supported  President Obama  since he was elected. But as his poll numbers continue to sink, will she stand by him or will she distance herself. If she decides on the latter, will it hurt her with the black community and open up opportunities for possible candidates within the administration  like Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Kerry; or, perhaps as some people have intimated, Sen. Warren of Massachusetts. All three figure to stick with the president to the very end.

A lot, obviously, will have to do with fundraising .The Hollywood money machine already seem ready to back Madam Clinton. But the success of Hillary and the Democrats with all constituencies will depend on the success or fallout from the Affordable Care Act and  the outcome  of immigration reform – very dicey issues moving forward.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Good News is Bad News

When someone tells me they have some good news and some bad news for me, I usually opt for the  good news first. Not knowing my degree of  good fortune I might not have to worry about the bad news. It looks as though the president adheres to the same principle.

The Obamacare website fix has improved a great deal over the last month. The White House announced on Sunday that it had met its goal for improving so the website “will work smoothly for the vast majority of users.” Purportedly the website is working   90% of the time. In government speak that’s a grand slam. To think the government can run anything  at full efficiency is a contradiction in terms. But alas, now the bad news: The Obamacare website is working 90% of the time.

Some very important issues remain. Many insurers are not getting the requisite data from consumers needed to accurately assess coverage, premiums and subsidies where appropriate. “Until the enrollment process is working from end to end, many consumers will not be able to enroll in coverage,” said Karen M. Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group. In addition security issues have not been resolved.

So in the very near future, expect the Insurance companies to be demonized by the administration as the bad guys in this noirish tale. And the Democrats, like an army of Charlie McCarthy  dummies, will bobble their heads  affirming the misconception.  President Obama is adroit at rationing out blame for his failures and quite frugal sharing victories.

But I don’t think the website fix and all the glowing reports from administration officials as well as the spin from the president’s adoring, sycophantic,  Pravda-like press will move his poll numbers in a positive direction. Because no matter how much sweet smelling perfume  you  splash on  a pile of steaming dog  excrement it doesn’t change the effluvia.

 In the next phase of this Edsel of a piece of legislation, people will begin  to get a much clearer  picture of the horrors that await them and their families. Higher premiums and deductibles; and networks that will preclude  the possibility of being able to continue with the doctors to whom  they have entrusted their family’s health. And the kicker is that it will be much more expensive than the rates they paid in the pre-Obamacare era.

In this case the good news is also the bad news.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Some of My Best Friends are Great Satans


I guess all anyone really needs to know about the international accord reached with Iran is that they will continue to enrich uranium and they will not dismantle any centrifuges. The international community is strapped with having  to accept these terms in the hopes a broader agreement can reached at a  later date.

Taking the Iranian nation on their word is a giant leap of faith whatever your preferred denomination. Both the Saudis and the Israelis have made their opposition known. As of yet no word from the Mormons and  Amish.

With the Obama administration’s poll numbers in free fall and continuing  to slide one can’t help wondering if any accord is a good one if only to defray attention away from even bigger debacles.

Notable Obama  Democratic cheerleaders like Sens. Menendez of New Jersey and Schumer of New York have voiced their disapproval. Sen. Schumer pointed out in a letter to Secretary of State Kerry that the agreement “would not require Iran to even meet the terms of prior United Nation Security Council resolutions.” Those terms explicitly stated a complete suspension of nuclear production.

Trusting the Iranians may be tough to swallow for Americans who haven’t forgotten the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the kidnapping of American personnel from our embassy. They were held in captivity for 444 days. That coupled with the fact that Iran is a ready ally for any terrorist organization in the world that wishes harm to the Great Satan can be discomforting. 

This mode of diplomacy is eerily reminiscent of Neville Chamberlain’s  with  Herr Hitler. The Munich Accords were also a first step with the promise of more concessions coming from Hitler at a later date. Well, we know those concessions never came to fruition. I would venture to guess that when we re-visit this plan with the Iranians in  six months – duration of Part 1, the Iranians will  invoke a much harder line especially when we are about to appease them with lifting  some of the very sanctions that brought them to the negotiating table in the first place. Ostensibly, losing that leverage now reduces any significant long term gains. In the short term it further de-stabilizes  the most volatile region on earth.

Perhaps the president and his secretary of state should have consulted the sage Yogi Berra before forging ahead with this agreement because “it feels like déjà vu all over again.”

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Polar Bear Club


I know there are  righteous African-Americans  who find the infamous Knockout game as repugnant as I do  but it seems they aren't  repulsed enough to come out in public to condemn it. Unlike the white civil rights workers who risked life and limb to fight against racial injustice in the South of the Sixties. Where’s the Attorney General offering guidelines for enforcement and prosecution on this matter. He’s probably still busy trying to figure out what happened with "Fast and Furious" and ways to railroad that exonerated sick, punk George Zimmerman.

And where’s the president. Now surely one of those  hooded perpetrators we have seen in the videos punching out elderly men, women and children could have been your son if you had a son. Just as you said, Mr. President, that Trayvon  could have been.

There is something underfoot and all Americans of non-color should take note. There is no government institution  that seems willing to support and safeguard you from crimes perpetrated against you and your family by the marauding gangs of predators who have, for the most part, been brought up as wards of the state.

For months these vicious attacks have been going on and it took until last Saturday for Rev. Sharpton to condemn them as “deplorable.” What is even more deplorable is the fact that the subject was not brought up earlier. Especially when it has been reported that some of the attacks have resulted in fatalities. And all have resulted in injury.

I suppose the righteous reverends reserve their  rage for people like Paula Deen who used the N-word  something like 35 years ago.

When one of the targets  of these assaults pulls out a weapon and kills the attacker the African-American community will predictably lock arms and demand justice for the innocent attacker. They’ll dust off his third grade picture, hide all recent photos  and hate laden tweets. And the media will tune up their violins.

Indeed the media isn’t sure these attacks are racially motivated. I  almost swallowed my tongue when I came across the paragraph below from a story by the Associated Press’ Colleen Long:

“While some of those attacked have been white, and some suspected attackers black, experts  said the incidents are more about preying on the seemingly helpless than race or religion.”

I think it’s time that  people  who can’t depend on pigmentation protection should find the means to protect themselves. Be alert and on the lookout for  these cowardly reprobates. Economically,  boycott those companies who always cave to the vitriol of the good reverends.  If they give in to them,  go  elsewhere to buy. Let the reverends and their constituencies provide the economic shortfall.

And prepare yourself to ignore the multitude of voices who will want to wheel out the platitudes of helping these young people with more aid, more free meals,  more before and after school programs. More this; more that. More. More. More. To that I say, enough; enough; enough.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Fifty Years Later


Everyone remembers where they were on the afternoon of November 22, 1963. But I remember where I was on another date also etched deeply in my memory: January 20, 1961.

The night before and early morning hours of that Friday brought down upon the Mid-Atlantic states  a significant snow storm. The morning radio had already proclaimed the glad tidings of a snow day off from school. But the severe cold weather and snow precluded outdoor activities. We were stuck inside. A captive audience for one of the most brilliantly delivered presidential inaugural addresses of all time. I had never heard such eloquence, such patriotism, such hope; and indeed a stroke of belligerence, warning friend and foe alike “that  the torch had been passed to a new generation of Americans.” And that we would remain a beacon for freedom throughout the world whatever its cost.

I can still see the steaming  clouds of breath emanating from our young president’s mouth, a testament to the bitter weariness of January, as he braved the harsh elements coatless upon the steps of the capitol. He showed a strength and resilience which made me proud to be an American. More importantly his address made me aware what the concomitant responsibilities of an American were: honor and service to country.

To many people today those words sound trite even foolish. But they still resonate with me. People will say it was a different time; a different era.  And it was to be sure. Until our collective naiveté was shattered  in Dallas.

Another president assumed the Oval office with almost the same amount o f promise. He, too, was educated at Harvard and was brilliant. He, too, was going to be transformational. He too was a visionary who would bring us all together. The American family united once again. As I watched this president be sworn in, I had an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. I was angry at myself for not having voted for  him. I would be reduced somehow, I thought, in the years to come  having to admit the omission. Because on that day he reminded me of John Kennedy.

It soon became apparent, Barak Obama, like Dan Quayle, was no John Kennedy. The wit was wasn’t there. The anecdotes and ad libs were missing as well. His banter with the Washington press corps. seemed stilted and staged. He stumbled badly when his teleprompter mal-functioned. He was thin skinned; not erudite. He was unwilling to work with the opposition or admit mistakes. He assembled an incompetent cabinet, some with tax evasion problems – hardly the best and the brightest. Instead of encouraging self reliance he worships at the altar of big government. The inverse of that wonderful phrase from 50 odd years ago: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

JFK has evolved from a man to an ideal in the years since his death. But like any man he was subject to the pratfalls of humanity and they have been amply delineated. Yet  they haven’t lessened his enduring message of hope and freedom. Rest in peace, Mr. President.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Occasional Caucasian

Oprah Winfrey recently weighed in on the President Obama’s fall from grace and his loss of credibility with the American people due, of course, with his lack of honesty detailing the tenets of the Affordable Care Act. According to Ms. Winfrey, a lot of the president’s troubles are the result of racism, not his ineptitude. Question – was she talking about black racists who consider him white; or white racists who consider him black? After all he is bi-racial. No answer needed. I’ve never met a bi-racial person who ever considered themselves white rather than black.

It appears when things start going south for the president some ally of his can promptly whip out the race card to explain away the terrible job he has done with the economy, the Affordable Health Care Act, formerly known as Obamacare, and his foreign policy. Unless you capitulate to his every whim; even if you feel it will result in certain failure, you are racist.

I suppose Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and President Hollande of France are equally suspect of being racists because of their opposition to the administration’s willingness to forge ahead with easing sanctions against Iran despite their feelings that the proposed agreement, supported by the administration, did little to assuage the fears of our allies about the prospect of an Iran with a nuclear weapon capability.

But closer to home, there are still real pockets of racism. There is no disputing that. And we can only hope that in the near future it can be lobotomized from the American psyche. Or we can wait until they (the Southern and old time racists) all die off, as Ms. Winfrey would have it.

But let’s not be naïve. Racism is a double-edged sword. We only hear a one-sided version because whites against blacks racism fit a familiar and accepted narrative that allows the race hucksters to thrive and divide the will of the righteous. In the past six months there have been three reported episodes of black racism against whites. Delbert “Shorty” Belton, an 88-year-old WWII veteran from Spokane, Washington, was beaten to death by two black juveniles in August. That same month, Christopher Lane, a 22-year-old Australian baseball player, was shot to death by three bored juveniles in Oklahoma, two of which were black; then in September in Union Square, New York, a reprobate by the name of Lashawn Marten, 31, spewing the venomous phrase “I’m going to punch the first white man I see,” punched Jeffrey Babbitt, 62. Mr. Babbitt eventually succumbed to his injuries. Marten assures us he is not racist. That’s comforting.

After the headlines faded so did the stories. Who will stand with the families of those victims. If the Revs. Jackson and Sharpton were more men of the cloth than men of green silk fiber paper they would truly stand for injustice wherever they find it.

As for Ms. Winfrey, as of late, she has all the sincerity of a game show host. I’m not so sure President Obama is the only one who has lost credibility with the American people.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Break in the Ranks


I’ve often thought  the Obama administration is a mirror image of the Nixon administration. Enemy lists, IRS audits for those who disagree with edicts from on high, the stifling of criticism. When the Watergate scandal became front page news and Nixon’s poll numbers dropped precipitously, the people cried out for his ouster. But it was his own party -- the Republicans -- who started the mechanism for his removal from office.

Throughout the last five years, there was nary a word  from the Democrats  spoken out of turn about President’s Obama’s less than stellar performance and none at all from the adoring media. But like rats jumping off a sinking ship self preservation trumps adoration.

Former President Clinton came out recently and in so many words called President Obama a liar. And advised him that he should honor his commitment to the American people about keeping their health insurance if they liked the plan in which they were enrolled.

Now that Mr. Clinton has broken ranks other Democrats have followed suit, most notably Sen. Feinstein and Sen. Landrieu . Now I know President Clinton and Sen. Landrieu are not disagreeing with the president for altruistic reasons. Landrieu is up for re-election in 2014 and stands little hope of holding her office if the Affordable Care Act is implemented  with its own inherent, pre-existing conditions.

Likewise, Mr. Clinton is positioning himself for his wife’s presidential run in 2016 and knows that sticking by the president is like dousing her with gasoline and advising her to walk over some hot coals. Mrs. Clinton has remained silent letting Bill do the dirty work (although both are practiced at the art of deception) while she ostensibly stays above the fray. After all she has enough of her own baggage to carry, i.e.: Benghazi and the entire debacle of the Arab spring.

 Now maybe the intransigent administration may have little choice but to heed the will of the people who were wary from the beginning of replacing the best healthcare system in the world with what is proving to be the worst.

Believe it or not there are  still a few stalwarts in the Democrat party who are totally oblivious to the current political winds. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz  actually  said that many Democrats will want to run on Obamacare in 2014. And, of course, Harry “Three Tongue” Reid is confident  the problems with the Affordable Health Care Act will be resolved.

I guess some rats wait until the last moment before the ship capsizes.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Tale of Three Leaders

Was anyone really surprised when the talks recently broke down regarding an Iran nuclear pact.

It comes as no surprise to Israel’s Prime Minister Bebe Netanyahu. The Iranians have been playing the international community for years. And though they appear to be willing to sit and talk doesn’t necessarily mean they’re willing to negotiate and allow international inspectors to determine for themselves independently how far along they are in their pursuit of nuclear power.

Many were encouraged with the election this year of a new president, Hassan Rouhani. Considered  much more moderate than his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad --Attila the Hun would have been considered more moderate—there was reason for optimism.

President Obama ever the progressive sought a face-to-face with the new leader in September when he was in New York to address the United Nations but was denied by the Iranians, citing complications such a meeting would invoke in Iran. That might have been an omen as to the success any talks might produce. Instead they chatted on the phone.

It was a nice gesture for both. But  we are still at the crossroads of a potentially dangerous situation. The recently completed talks have accomplished nothing except, of course, the stalling of time which is  an advantage for the Iranians who have refused to put a halt to its nuclear program for up to six months in exchange for modulating the sanctions now in place.

But also important, they have refused to put a stop to the construction of a heavy-water reactor near the city of Arak which would be capable of producing plutonium, which like enriched uranium, can be used for bomb making materials. Once this facility is operational a military mission to destroy it would have grave environmental consequences.

Again time is of the essence and the bickering back and forth gives Iran more time to develop weapons and Israel less time to secure its long-term safety. Netanyahu can see the endgame. Once Iran has a nuclear weapon  Israel’s security would be non-existent. The Middle East would be even more de-stabilized than it is now – hard to imagine.

Netanyahu has said repeatedly that Rouhani, unlike Ahmadinejad, who was a wolf in wolf’s clothing, is a lamb in wolf’s clothing. Hopefully, President Obama will abandon any efforts to ease the harsh sanctions until Iran negotiates in good faith. And that’s unlikely.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ranting Rand Paul

Those who are employed in the ever-shrinking private sector look with disdain at the typical government worker. They enjoy inflated salaries, extended benefits, time off for every holiday. There are even discussions in some states about getting Ground Hog’s Day off (hyperbolic license invoked here). No stress and most importantly no real service or products produced. Cost of living increases are automatic, unlike the private sector where increases are measured in performance tied to profitability. No such burdens in the public sector.

 And when public employees are called upon to actually do something it usually results in an item in a monologue on a late night TV show. We’ve seen how the Affordable Care Act portal is functioning. Hey, the jokes write themselves.

One such staff is under scrutiny now. And the fact that it works for a Tea Party favorite has supplied additional fuel to the controversy.

Rand Paul was recently taken to task for lifting parts of a  speech from Wikipedia. Although taking personal responsibility, his staff, like many others, serve as a buffer in the government sector. They insulate their bosses from awkward situations, impaling themselves on the sword instead of the person whose name is on the door of the big office.

 A typical senate staff is comprised of 34 members. You would think that ample to research and write a short speech, report or position paper. Apparently not. And Sen. Paul, a White House hopeful in 2016, was made to look foolish having to explain the happenstance. Justifiably, he was taken to task by the liberal media led by Rachel Maddow.

According to a senior advisor, the senator’s opinions and ideas are his own, but there are staff members he has relied on in the past to provide supporting facts and anecdotes — some of which were not clearly sourced or vetted properly.

When I heard that I thought of pizza cartons and half finished bottles of beer and a group of staffers sitting around a table to decide which “anecdotes” to use for the senator’s upcoming appearances.

Staffer 1:“What about  the one about that old catfish Mike that old codger told us about in Lexington last year?”

Staffer 2: “Does Rand even like fishing?”

Staffer3: What does it matter? It’s the story of steadfast striving to achieve. It fits all his policy initiatives and I think it would really resonate with the folks at that manufacturing plant. A lot of factory workers fish.”

Staffer 2: “Wait, wait. I got it. What about the a story of the senator working part-time in high school to save enough money to buy that ’60 Chevy. Then he could say  he washed and waxed that sucker  every weekend.”

Staffer 1: “Sucker, yes. Perfect .That fits nicely with his position on personal responsibility. But did he really have a part-time job in high school? Or a Chevy?”

Staffer 3: “Didn’t everyone?”

Staffer 2: “I guess. But shouldn’t we run it by Rand?”

Staffer 1: “I think he’s in there with Doug and Gail working on his weekly op-ed piece for the Washington Times and ways to embarrass Gov. Christie.”

Staffer 2: “ He’s too busy. Let’s not bother him. We’ll ask him tomorrow. Anybody want another piece of pizza.”

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Obama and Buyers' Remorse


It’s been one year since our presidential election. And overall things are going downhill faster than President Obama can promise his core constituencies another handout, bailout or exemption. And with the benefit of hindsight we can now see how duplicitous the Democrats were in making promises they had no business keeping. Who doesn’t have “buyers’ remorse?”

Who now wouldn’t have preferred Gov. Romney? Whether you admit it or not he would have been running the country with  class and efficiency. Instead of the  ineptitude  that seems the hallmark of President Obama’s team e.g.: Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the  IRS scandal, surveillance on friend and foe.  As each day goes by we have another reason to be disappointed. So do our allies.  At this point it’s getting embarrassing. Don’t get me wrong I don’t plan on relocating to Estonia anytime soon. But I would like to see something other than Jay Carney, the president’s press secretary, parse, obfuscate, and even at times, evade answering direct questions. And when he does answer a question it’s usually to tell us how well the economy is improving. Or why something is the fault of the Tea Party.

We should cut Mr. Carney some slack, I mean the man has as tough a job as  Baghdad Bob had  toting the party line for Saddam Hussein. There never seems to be a problem in the Obama White House. It’s sort of like Candy Land. But if someone in the press corps.  should have the gall to ask about the myriad of mishaps they are always assured that the latest miscue is being remedied at that very moment and that the president knew nothing about it. But, now having learned about it, he is in command and taking charge.  The president seems to learn a lot about what’s going on in his administration from TV. Maybe he should pare down his staff and subscribe to CNN. The Republicans would be happy for the spending cut.

Yes, he likes taking charge. Like when he took control of the Syrian chemical attack accusations made by Syrian rebels. Textbook leadership. Delegate it to someone else. In this case, President Putin.

Now his legacy piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare is proving problematic. The rollout was a fiasco. Even Obama zealots would agree. Now they’re going to fix it. It appears there’s nothing they can’t fix. Unfortunately they have many opportunities to use their restorative powers.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bravo, Red Sox Nation

The baseball season concluded with a 6-1 Boston victory to award the 2013 Red Sox their third World Series title in 10 years. No one expected they would have any chance of getting into the playoffs after losing 93 games last year under manager Bobby Valentine. Indeed the team seemed to implode under his leadership but there seems to be some indomitable spirit that lives in Fenway Park – it’s that old stadium, their fans and a feeling that any setback can be righted. With a resiliency rarely found in any other place.

The Boston Tea party launched our revolution against tyranny. Last April, two terrorist brothers, on welfare, planted explosives that killed and maimed. While this World Series victory won’t repair the broken lives of those Bostonians, it goes a long way in assuaging the pain and anguish suffered on that day. Moreover, it defines who we are as a nation. We never give up and we always find a way to victory.

So did the Bosox of 2013.

There’s been much written about the similarities of this team and the 1967 Red Sox. That "Impossible Dream"  team, too, conquered all odds and captured the American League pennant after losing 90 games the previous season. Just like this year, they were written off before the first pitch of spring training. In ’67, they lost  to  the St. Louis Cardinals in seven; this  time they won  in convincing fashion in six.

Over the last few years there seems to be a groundswell of support for the Red Sox. Even in metro New York/ New Jersey, they have made great inroads supplanting the Yankees as the AL team of choice. Many are just front runners jumping off a sinking ship (typical Yankee fans) due to the uncharacteristic ineptitude of the current Yankee roster. They have become a victim of their own haphazard spending sprees to the detriment of their once well-stocked farm system. Now it’s depleted and they are left with aging and brittle stars and at least one pompous ass who likes the spotlight as much as the Kardashians.

As a Boston Red Sox fan I enjoy watching the Yankees foundering almost like a glorified, expansion team. And, of course, for all the times they humiliated the Red Sox over the years. Finally good has triumphed over the evil empire. And the Red Sox with their ever changing cast of characters sit atop the world of baseball.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Habemus Papam


When the first swirls of white smoke unfurled from the Sistine Chapel and plumed the skies over St. Peter’s Square on March 13, 2013, signaling the election of a new pope the throngs of pilgrims waiting below cheered as they customarily  do for a new vicar of Christ on earth. It’s the most exciting ritual in the Catholic Church. Drama, intrigue, speculation all culminating in a medieval Baroque coronation.

With the installation of Pope Francis, there seemed a marked  difference from his  two predecessors. The obvious, of course, was that he was from South America and the first pontiff elected in the modern era from somewhere other than Europe. But he seemed humble, reticent.

John Paul II was an outspoken critic of  Communism. His contributions and  support for Solidarnosc, the Polish Union who resisted the Soviet puppet government of Prime Minister Jaruzelski nearly cost him his life. No one would question his leadership or bravery  during his tenure. Benedict XVI also made many contributions to the church.  His were mainly canonical in nature. Both, however, were intransigent ideologues, resisting any changes to the traditionalist tenets of Catholicism. Nor did they offer any prescient insights concerning the emerging issues facing the Catholic Church during their reigns, foremost: pedophilia, homosexuality, abortion and contraception.

Not only has Francis  shed light on these issues he has spoken up and  faulted the church for being “obsessed”  with gays, abortion and contraception. He has tasked himself with making the church a “home for all.”

"The church has sometimes locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules,” the pontiff has been quoted as saying. "The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials."

Nor do they want to see the wealth of the Church wasted on the shepherds instead of the flock. A story emerged recently when Francis saw a high-ranking church official  waiting for a car to pick him up. He asked the clergyman where he was going. When he was told of the destination, only a short distance from where they were standing, he asked him –can’t you walk?

The most egregious ostentation has now been noted in the Holy Father’s suspension of German bishop, Franz Tebartz-van Elst, the so-called “Bishop of Bling.” The Most  Reverend Franz Tebartz-van Elst, and the most profligate, is said to have spent $42 million renovating his residence in Limburg. Forty-two million dollars! How many hungry people could have been fed; how many children could have been spared from depravity and adequately clothed or cared for with such a sum? Is the clergy a calling or a career choice? Makes you wonder.

  Francis reflects the  lifestyle of a true pastor. He is a man who carries his own bags; lives a simple existence in a humble apartment eschewing the pretentious trappings of his office. I wouldn’t be surprised if someday we hear the chants of “Santo subito; Santo subito,” echo once again.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Wild About Harry, Why?


When I see the beedy-eyed, three-tongued Nevada Senator Harry Reid approach any podium to do his part to help steer the ship of state, my first impression is to look for the lifeboats. He lacks any semblance of leadership beyond flicking the switch  for  the robotic Oblivicrats who march in step to whatever forwards the “progressive” agenda. The path to bi-partisanship  is strewn with as much debris as the road to Damascus. And the Repudicans, headed by Mitch “I’ll make any deal you want as long as I can get an earmark out of it” McConnell,  are equally inept.

But since the Democrats control the Senate, Reid gets much more media face time to use to denigrate his favorite enemy the Tea Party for their collective gall for voicing their opinions. He would prefer instead  to hear the  concerns of the  Occupy Wall Street gang and other “progressive” groups.

Reid has as much integrity as a carnival barker on the midway at a state fair. He’s made so many smoke-filled back room deals he stands a chance of getting cancer from second hand smoke.

He had a  cinematic doppelganger in one of my favorite movies, Godfather II. He reminds me  of that nefarious Nevada (merely coincidence) senator who in the beginning of the film is throwing ethnic epithets at Michael Corleone only to become  a useful conduit for the mob. We knew what drove  that character: money and “those red-haired Yolandas.”  I apologize. I know much too much dialogue from that  film. What drives  Sen. Reid? Is it merely his  aspiration to control  power?

Since it’s getting close to Halloween and mischief night and I haven’t done anything mischievous for sometime might I suggest a little prank on Sen. Reid. How about getting some Tea Party front group to make a donation to his political war chest , then after his political machine accepts it, expose him for being a hypocrite. All politicians are hypocrites, some more than others; none more than Sen. Reid. Sorry I forgot about his sidekick, Congresswoman Pelosi. And Mitch McConnell and John McCain and…

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Changing the Nicknames of Sports Franchises

Every so often, usually when the NFL season is under way, we begin to hear how various Indian groups feel maligned about the nicknames of some of our sports teams. Most notably  the Washington Redskins. Perhaps that terminology does seem insensitive but that glorious warrior logo on the Redskins’ helmets on one of the teams I despise (being a Giant fan, though I hate to admit it this season) is an image that reinforces my respect for Native Americans. Likewise, I feel the same way about the Braves, Chiefs and Blackhawks. I do find the logo for the Cleveland Indians offensive. It wouldn’t be a bad idea, as has been suggested to start phasing out Chief Wahoo. His demise in Cleveland is already underway and that’s a good thing. But for the other logos and  nicknames, I don’t see any explicit racism.

This issue is again in the spotlight most recently since President Obama, the panderer-in-chief, weighed in on the subject of the Redskins, suggesting if he were the owner of the team he wouldn’t want to offend anyone. Bob Costas, once an ascendant sportscaster now relegated to finding controversial issues to weigh in on to thicken his exposure, also voiced his disapproval. But to his credit, Daniel Snyder, owner of the Redskins, has remained adamant in his intransigence not to change his team’s name.

Tucker Carlson, Fox News gadfly, a self-proclaimed Swede, transmogrified the situation when he said  he was upset about the  Minnesota Vikings. He didn’t want his ancestry reduced to images of murdering and plundering  their way to Valhalla as the nickname “Vikings” might imply. Haven’t yet heard any response yet from the Vikings on his suggestion.   

The tyranny of minorities seems to be on the upswing. Everyone is upset with something. How long do you think it will be before Somali pirates take umbrage with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Pittsburgh Pirates denigrating their proud tradition of kidnapping and murdering?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Kicking the Can


“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down half this wall; then we can discuss tearing down the rest of it.” Of course, President Reagan never uttered those words. He wasn’t fond of the so called “kicking the can down the road” approach to solving problems. He faced them head on and didn’t compromise on principle. These days two months of harmony rather than a definitive answer to our pressing problems  is far more palatable  to our elected officials in Washington. Moreover, it is considered a great accomplishment.

Last night as the president took the podium to announce the breakthrough lifting the debt ceiling and ending the government shutdown, he appeared as presidential  as he has in quite some time, rather than the  recalcitrant child  who refused to negotiate   in the weeks prior. No doubt under his breath, while he spoke of bi-partisan efforts and cooperation, he was crowing about his latest triumph over a rudderless Republican  party who can’t seem to get out of the way of themselves. Harry “Three Tongue” Reid was also magnanimous in his praise for his Republican counterparts who finally caved after some apocryphal polls surfaced  last weekend, placing the blame on the shutdown squarely on the GOP. When the polls were made public there was a run on white surrender flags and manufacturers were  having difficulty keeping up with Republican demand.

Last night the president also said that the government will have to work hard to gain the trust of the American people. This might be a bit tougher for you, sir. The convoluted Affordable Health Care Act has yet to impact the nation and no one seems to know for sure what those ramifications will be. The only consensus  is that the overall costs will be much higher than promised.

Still,  Mr. Obama is ready to press on. It was interesting last night  how he snuck in a reference to  another hot button item he is ready to address: immigration reform. It’s sure to be just as polarizing as health care reform. So expect a repeat of the gridlock that is a hallmark of the Obama presidency.

So a word of advice to banner manufacturers and weavers of white cloth better now to increase your inventories, the Republicans will be needing you soon.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Amnesty for World War II Veterans

If anyone still believes President Obama is trying to bring us all together, you’ve probably been in a coma for the last five years. Hopefully you’re ok now and, if you are, welcome back!

One of the most disconcerting things to happen since this ludicrous government shutdown was the exclusion of World War II veterans from the Capitol mall and the use of the mall for an  Immigration Amnesty demonstration. No matter what your politics, you had to be disheartened watching this story unfold. Any red-blooded American who fails to see the  gross disparity in this  needs a refresher course in world history and not the revisionist view now being fed to students in American classrooms.

I grew up in an atmosphere of pride in my father and uncles, and the fathers and uncles of my friends, most of whom served in the last great war. Some  marched  triumphantly through the streets of Paris  after the German war machine was destroyed. Others celebrated on VJ Day.

They were real heroes. They never  liked to talk about their war service. They didn’t want to re-live  all the atrocities they witnessed, bravely engaging the enemy to keep our country safe and free. In those days  that was considered merely doing your duty. Now that country, which will never see another generation like them, turns their back and excludes them from accessing a memorial in their honor.

Not only did the immigration demonstrators  fail to see how truly selfish they looked juxtaposed against the backdrop of these elderly former servicemen, they missed a rare opportunity to bolster their whole effort and possibly win over some of their opponents on amnesty. Just think for a moment if even a handful of demonstrators found their way to the veterans and joined with them in a show of solidarity; or pay them some type of homage in recognition for their service to this country. It would have been a public relations windfall for them  and a  great picture to behold. In America, though, we don’t see  great pictures anymore. We see hatred and division at every turn. You’re doing a hell of a job, Mr. President.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Booker-Lonegan II


As we look forward to the NJ Senate election next week we see two candidates in stark contrast. Lonegan, stressing the need for self reliance and individual responsibility and the other, Booker, playing the liberal violin about helping the downtrodden because they don’t have the tools to pull themselves out of the morass they find themselves in.

Booker’s message is getting tiresome and doesn’t resonate  any longer. After years, decades and now generations of failed social  engineering, the city of Newark remains an empty shell of what was once a great city. The Public Relations wordsmiths can change  the city's nickname anytime they like: “Brick City,” “Renaissance City,” but really the best moniker would be failed city. Can anyone really look at Newark and say the city has made great strides under the leadership of Cory Booker the last seven years? Booker can. He cites statistics showing how well the city is doing. But like any good football coach will tell you, stats are for losers; moreover they can be easily manipulated. Do we believe Mr. Booker and his team or our own eyes when we see Newark residents up in arms and worrying  about the safety of their families?

His sleight of hand has  distracted  from his lack of leadership and even his responsibility to help the citizens of Newark. Who would have  thought we would pine for the days of Sharpe James? Aside from all his faults, and there were many, he personified Newark. Booker, too, personifies Newark  a little differently,  with hat in hand as he slithers his way from talk show to talk show and cocktail party to gala reception. He has gotten some substantial help from his celebrity friends but I don’t think these friends will be so generous if he leaves City Hall. Then the taxpayers of New Jersey will again  be forced to pick up the shortfall to keep the city  on life support, as Lonegan   intimated in their final debate.

Booker is a new, “new age” politician. He’s attractive, well packaged by his handlers, focused group to the nth degree, subscribes to the theory that the more you can blame the tea party the more you help your chances of looking intellectually superior. The only item not required for the new age pol is accomplishment. Does he remind you of anyone?
Lonegan has been vastly outspent in this senate campaign  and yet he has kept the race close. Can he win? At least he has a puncher’s chance to pull it out and I don’t think anyone thought he’d still be on his feet in the 12th round.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Booker-Lonegan Debate

Well it wasn’t reminiscent of  the Lincoln/Douglas Debates but the first confrontation between Cory Booker and Steve Lonegan was substantive and even more importantly,  gentlemanly and civil. More than I can say for the myriad of debates that went on across the river during New York’s Democratic mayoralty primary debates.

Both Lonegan and Booker characterized the  other as extremist in their views. Both are diametrically opposed politically, of course. Lonegan is a real conservative and makes no excuses for his positions on abortion, gun control, reducing big government, Obamacare, entitlements and education. Likewise Booker, as you would expect, adheres to the Democratic mantra of helping the ever- growing list of constituencies that need some type of taxpayer  assistance.

But the best part of the debate was watching Booker point to his record of achievement in Newark. If it wasn’t for the fact that people in Newark  are in such dire straits his performance  would be great material for  a Saturday Night Live  skit.

Mayor Booker cited growth, expansion. Where? Okay a few companies have moved their headquarters to Newark, like Manischewitz and  Panasonic but did that put a dent in Newark’s  unemployment  rate? Or quality of life issues?

The mayor pointed to a balanced budget. Balanced after massive police layoffs and Prince John –like tax increases. In similar fashion President Obama could reduce our deficit  if we sold Alaska.

When addressing Lonegan’s barbs that he is an absentee mayor, Booker cited the need for his travels to attract new business to enrich his city. But, as Lonegan rightly suggested, the only one being enriched is Cory Booker.

Mr. Booker is just another store bought politician. Slick, smooth and all smoke and mirrors.

 One of the most telling parts of the debate was when Lonegan described how he worked his way through college doing odd jobs to help pay his tuition, coming from a one parent home – his father having died  years earlier. He looked at Booker and asked poignantly, “did you even have a job when you were in college?” Booker  stood there blankly with no answer. And he’ll have no answers for New Jersey just as he hasn’t had any for the city of Newark for seven years.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fight Nice

Remembering my childhood I often recall how my mother and aunts would assuage  one of the kids who came running to them crying because of some infraction perpetrated on them by one of the other kids. They would always dispense the same facetious piece of advice. “Fight nice.” This age-old sage advice would best be practiced by our less than sage plutocrats in Washington: Obama, Boehner, Reid and Pelosi, et al, as they continue to point fingers  of blame at each other for the government shutdown.

Both sides have genuine sympathy for folks being adversely affected. Somehow, the Republicans, though, always seem to get the short end of the stick in the PR War when something goes awry in the country. I guess the Obama administration has the media to thank for that and especially for  all the positive spin it got in getting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed. But now the theory must become reality.

The Democrats remain adamant that they will not change a law that has been passed, though it passed without a single Republican vote. You would think they might have been just a tad more sympathetic to the other side of the aisle and sought their input. This was their flaw.

When the Clinton administration tried to pass healthcare legislation, one of the most intelligent gentlemen to  ever grace the senate floor, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, noted that significant legislation is passed in a bi-partisan manner or they fail.

After three plus years the law is still unintelligible to all but a few policy wonks, who when they explain it, make it seem even more convoluted. When the exchanges opened for people to shop for coverage on October 1, there were snafus of biblical proportions. Apparently the program is not ready for prime time. Will it ever be? Harry “Three Tongue” Reid had the nerve to say that these types of glitches also plagued Google at various points. The difference  is that Google can get rid of those responsible for inefficiency whereas the government will only add more bureaucratic blubber to try and fix it.

Why does the law grant waivers to the president’s staunchest supporters and Congress. If it’s good for the rest of us why not them?

I’m sure a compromise on the impasse can be reached. But the president will have to think about leveling the playing field if he wants the Republicans to go along with his budget recommendations. Until then, fight nice.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013



Since 9/11 there has been a burgeoning new category of entertainment programming dealing with the war on terrorism and the civilized world’s way of containing and preventing  another  catastrophe of that magnitude.  

There has been a plethora of titles both in film and television dealing with these issues: “Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Hurt Locker,” “The Kingdom,” “24,” “MI-5,”etc. But the best of these offerings is Showtime’s “Homeland,” which had its season premiere  on Sunday. The taut writing, dramatic story lines and characterization has made this show the  apotheosis  of the genre.

For the uninitiated, “Homeland” revolves around the lives of two star-crossed lovers. One a bi-polar, CIA Analyst, Carrie Mathison; the other, Nicholas Brody, a Marine turned  Islamic extremist while in captivity in Syria where  he sees first hand the atrocities perpetrated by his own country. This is the Stockholm Syndrome to the max.  Upon his  return home he is feted as a hero. The political establishment seizing on an opportunity to create a new star helps get him  elected to  a seat in the U.S. Congress where, unbeknownst to them, he continues to plot against his homeland. Or, has he seen the light, after being exposed and the requisite amount of threats, as his lover contends?

In last year’s season ending cliffhanger a bomb is detonated in front of a CIA facility killing more than 200 people. The bomb is planted in a car. The Congressman’s car. Was he complicit in the attack? Did he turn back to the dark side?  Don’t think we’ll know until the season plays out. But this psycho drama is most compelling.

I’m not sure what makes it so but I think (and I’m not a psychiatrist; never even have played one on television) it has something to do with our collective need to know that at any given time our people are out there keeping us safe 24/7 to best of their ability. Do we find solace in their efforts; or is it the revenge factor; does it help to provide some measure of closure for all our lost loved ones?

In episode one of this season, to atone for the attack on the CIA facility, six complicit bad guys are taken down on three different continents in a razor sharp operation.

Is it life imitating art or art imitating life? The line is blurred. And I think that’s what makes shows like “Homeland” so thought provoking and entertaining.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cory Booker and his Hollywood Knights

I thought the 17th Amendment provides for voters the right  to directly elect  U.S. senators, eliminating the influence peddlers of state legislatures deciding on candidates and ultimately winning candidates. But in the NJ Senate race between Cory Booker and Steve Lonegan one would think that the voters of New Jersey have abrogated   their constitutional right and ceded it to the Hollywood glitterati. Where once the deals were made in smoke filled rooms in convention halls, they’re now made in the most well appointed parcels of California.

We know that vast amounts of money have been amassed for Booker’s run. The only thing left  for the obliging Oblivicrats is to march robotically to the polls and cast their ballots. Hopefully just one ballot. But, this is New Jersey, so you never really know.

While Steve Lonegan continues stumping the state talking about issues in his uphill fight,  Mr. Booker continues to relish  his role as a Hollywood A-lister, flashing his ubiquitous chicklet-like, toothy grin, partying with the likes of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. You would hope that with the doggerel coming out of Hollywood these days that these two reputable and highly paid actor/directors would  be devoting more time providing quality entertainment instead of massaging the ego of the liberal left ‘s newest superstar. And while they’re massaging how about throwing in a manicure and pedicure to make the mayor feel right at home.

Perhaps Mayor Booker is pitching ideas. It being tinsel town. How  about a story of an upstart mayor of a decaying northeast city where unemployment is off the charts and  crime is running rampant: shootings, rapes, car jackings,  muggings. And for a bit of conflict how about having the mayor appear apathetic and unavailable. This might be a stretch  for Matt and Ben, but the mayor, on the basis of his non-existent record of improvement, decides on a run for higher office. Add a little more texture to his character. Make him disrespectful by announcing his intentions to run for this office before the  ailing incumbent, a tireless worker  for his constituency,  has a chance to decide what his plans are. Put him at odds  with his own city council. Make him arrogant, elitist. But then he sees the light and with the help of some imaginary friends  becomes a super hero of sorts, rising to the level of mediocrity. Too far fetched?  Well, the good mayor is in the land of make believe where chicken excrement can be made to look like chicken salad or braised tofu.