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.



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Showdown at the ACA Corral

Again, we are on the verge of yet another showdown between the Democrats and the Republicans on who will be held responsible for shutting down the government if it should come to that at the end of this month. Why can’t we blame both parties. Let’s call it a tie for ineptitude. Neither party seems particularly worried about the hardships  the citizenry will have to endure but more so about political one-upsmanship and which party will be blamed and thus suffer more at the polls in the next go round.

Both parties are hearing the shrill advances of the American people. Probably because they have so much extra time on their hands with being unemployed; or, if they have a job, having their hours cut by their employers  below the threshold of  30 hours, skirting a provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Large corporations are now transforming full time workers to part time workers. Almost everything we have heard about the ACA as we get closer to implementation certainly doesn’t sound  like the panacea we were told it would be.

I still  remember  when a house visit by your personal physician would cost you $5. How did we get from there to here?

At the very least, the 2700 page document is foreboding and only policy wonks know what surprises await us.  And, as then Speaker of  the House, Nancy Pelosi said of the bill in her inimitable style. “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy.” A fog that, as of yet, hasn’t lifted almost four years later.

The Democratic  party stuffed the ACA down our throats when they had control of both houses of Congress and the executive branch. This law passed without one single vote of support from Republicans. Where was the cry for bi-partisanship and cooperation in 2009?

Beyond mere skepticism there is real  fear  that this overhaul of the health care system will be worse than what we already have. And is  anyone na├»ve enough  to believe it will cheaper for the average family. If our federal government was in charge of the Sahara desert there would be a sand shortage shortly thereafter.

If the ACA is the godsend the Democrats say it is why has the Congress  opted out? Why have some unions been able to get exemptions? Doesn’t the president  want his strongest supporters to enjoy the benefits he has worked so hard to attain for the American people? When a politician tells you to believe what they’re saying rather than what your eyes are seeing, beware.

The president is out on the stump, as per usual, pushing his policies. His pro-Obama mummified  backdrop of supporters clapping at the requisite applause lines makes you wonder, is he the president of all the people or just the oblivious? When he said last week that his opponents, “would blow the whole thing up because you don’t get your way.” I had to wonder would he blow off the whole budget and close the government down if he doesn’t get his?


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Games People Play


I recently asked a group of friends who they felt was the worst mass murderer in history? Some said Hitler or Stalin; Mao or Pol Pot. And there were others. Some even said  Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s tyrant. There was no right or wrong answer but the person I was thinking of was Jack “The Ripper.” My friends were dismayed. How could you say “The Ripper” when he only killed five people when Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were responsible  for kills numbering in the millions. He was the worst, to my way of thinking, because he was the first in modern history; became a tabloid sensation and since then the thirst for  violence and notoriety by his fellow mutants has become an all too frequent  occurrence in our daily lives, especially  in the United States.

We are saddened once again to mourn  the innocent victims of another mass shooting. This one  in the Washington Navy Yard. Add another to the growing list of multiple shootings that occur where unsuspecting people congregate for work, school or amusement. Add Aaron Alexis to the swelling list of infamy that includes: Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook Elementary School murderer; James Holmes the Aurora, CO. theatre sniper; Jared Loughner, the murderer who severely wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford; Nidal Malik Hasan, the cowardly, Fort Hood radical Islamist major who killed and injured 43; the Virginia Tech murderer Seung-Hui Cho who killed or maimed 56; and perhaps the catalysts, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold,  the Columbine shooters who may have  awakened an abhorrent, latent  urge in  others to spill innocent blood.

The politicians who favor gun control legislation have dusted off their  sound bites seeking more  restrictions on the sale of firearms. The National Rifle Association (NRA) has done likewise supporting their Second Amendment right to bear arms. The NRA’s  feeling is there are never enough guns present in these situations to thwart  such attacks. The dizzying merry-go-round will whir again but to what end.

Isn’t it time to start thinking about extensive background checks.  It gives officials time to find out salient information about the firearm purchaser and it also guards against impulsive acts.

 There seems to be a correlation between these psycho killers and mental disorders. Substantially longer waiting periods  will provide  some measure of certitude that people like Alexis would not have been  able to buy a gun last week and open fire at innocent people this week, leaving behind the carnage of grieving families and loved ones.

And, in the aftermath of this tragedy, what about looking into violent video games. Not to say there is a causal effect but it seems  there is some relationship between games and forms of violence. It has been reported that Alexis would spend as much as 16 hours straight playing these sophomoric  amusements.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

More Tea for the Party, Please

It’s not easy to brainwash large groups of people but who says you can’t try. Ever since the Tea Party has come into existence every liberal Democrat, meaning most; and many Republicans have equated this grassroots organization with the same virulence  we reserve for terrorist organizations. They have been portrayed as white supremacists, racists, hate mongers, anarchists – and why? Because they espouse their own notions on how they would like to see their country run, preferably staying within the prescribed margins of our Constitution and adhering to our system of laws. In today’s skewed view of our national destiny one can understand their disapproval of the Tea Party.

Apparently if you don’t like to pay ever higher taxes to support the entitlement class; or you want to see your nation put in place a rational immigration policy you are an enemy of the state, according to  reverends Jackson and Sharpton, Sen. Harry “Three Tongue” Reid (D-NV), Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA). And others who have likened the Tea Party with the Klu Klux Klan. I can’t overlook the irony.

The Tea Party  has been maligned more  than the  southern segregationist members of the Democrat party who closed their eyes and looked away while high pressure hoses and police dogs were turned on women and children. They fought against civil rights and delayed, as long as they could, the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Tea Party participants have been ridiculed as have their high profile proponents like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. Certainly one can understand the moral and intellectual superiority of the Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and the aforementioned Harry “Three Tongue” Reid who denigrate as unpatriotic those who believe in a smaller federal government, lowering the national debt, opposing tax increases and amnesty for illegal immigrants and reducing government spending.

We are now entering the era of democracy, Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville warned us about in the 19th century: “The American Republic will endure until the day the Congress discovers it can bribe the public with the public's money." That day has arrived.

But it helps to paint the  the opposition as a heartless monolith diametrically opposed to the liberal paradigm of government give-a-way policies and the envisioned dream of a democratic socialist nirvana. Today  the monolith  is the Tea Party; tomorrow it will be something else.



Thursday, September 12, 2013

Joke's on U.S.


This is all starting to look like a really bad, off, off Broadway play, replete with wannabe stars.

Last week Secretary of State John Kerry laid out the case for the United States use of military force against the Assad regime in Syria  citing a chemical attack that allegedly occurred on helpless civilians on August 21. He spoke in no uncertain terms of the resolve of the United States to use military force, if necessary, to deter and punish the Assad regime.

He laid out a  vague scenario whereby the US would “degrade” Assad’s military capabilities for future chemical attacks. Acting unilaterally if necessary – without UN sanctions, a coalition of nations or the US Congress.  Shortly after, the president no doubt feeling Kerry didn’t sell the plan sufficiently enough re-iterated the possible use of unilateral military intervention, still  under the illusion that the Obama magical rhetoric  would win over a skeptical and war weary public. He, too, failed to seal the deal.

The military option became less palatable because of the lack of support on all fronts. So did the chest thumping. Our threatened military intervention  evolved  to a  slight, minimal operation we were told. Obviously the plan is still inchoate like most Obama initiatives. Here’s a suggestion, how about  throwing a cherry bomb in the vicinity of the Syrian Embassy in Washington, if the brain trust is still looking for  minimal action options.

A flippant remark by Secretary Kerry got the second act of this flop going when he said that the Assad regime could prevent a military strike if Assad were to hand over his chemical weapons for international scrutiny. Russian president Putin seized the moment and without spending a ruble or firing one round from a Kalashnikov he managed to increase his sphere of influence ten-fold in the region, make Obama and Kerry look ridiculous and pull off a diplomatic coup in one fell swoop.

John Kerry was cast as the enabler. He and his staff still maintain the remark was not a gaffe. Then the president  arrogated credit for Putin’s initiative, saying it was the result of his discussions with the Russian  president at the G20 conference last week. This myopic president fails to understand, the international community does not hold him in the high regard the American press and the sycophantic Democrats do.

For the time being there will be no vote in Congress on the use of force. Now we will wait to see what transpires with the international inspection and the inevitable delays that will entail and the concomitant ridicule the US will endure.

One wonders how an international team of weapons inspectors can freely travel a country engaged in a  horrific civil war and find and transport  these dangerous weapons to safe storage facilities and not let them fall into the hands of any one of a host a barbaric factions.  It’s a logistical nightmare.

Let’s hope  Act 3 brings a happy ending. Because this is getting tough to watch.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Syriana Revisited

An older gentleman  once told me , “In America, we’ve always been lucky. We’ve always had the right man as president at the right time.”  My old friend has passed but I think he would have finally thought our luck has run out. Because right now we are rudderless in a sea of danger and President Obama is truly looking like the amateur so many of us thought he was. But now we are joined  by world leaders in Russia, China and the EU  whom he can’t convince to join him in a half baked  plan that changes quicker  than a chameleon on a rainbow. His nebulous remark “fire one over the bow," seems  an awfully expensive way for him to save face. And isn’t that what this misadventure is all about?

At least he has one ally: an adoring media fan base that refuses to report on anything that might put the president in a bad light. Thankfully, for us, that job is getting tougher and tougher for them. And more and more comical as the talking heads contort their bodies in ways once thought  anatomically impossible to provide cover for his every misstep.

Do we hear anything about Eric Holder’s  “Fast and Furious” fiasco? How about the IRS scandal, over-scrutinizing opposition fund raisers in  the last presidential election? How about getting some real accounting about Benghazi? Why not accolades for the  Affordable Health Care Act that looms as another iceberg the ship of state is speeding toward.

He has out and out lied about the infamous red line remark. Now he is now backtracking away from it. Not  his threat, so goes the newest  pronouncement – it was the world’s.

Our omnipotent president, early on,  was willing to go it alone without the Congress but as the disapproving outcry grew louder and louder,  he resorted  to a familiar script, vacillating then obfuscating,  then  looking  for cover if things should go awry. And in the Middle East things usually do.

Using chemical weapons are certainly abhorrent. And we know the despot Assad is not above using them. But so far the only evidence offered is less than conclusive. Would any of us discount the possibility that a rebel  group with Al Qaeda  leanings within Syria might have staged the chemical massacre to make it appear Assad was culpable?

 Remember Saddam and weapons of mass destruction? Look at Iraq and Afghanistan today. What difference did our intervention make? They’re still  quagmires albeit quagmires with schools and a few other amenities. And the rule of thumb here is that whomever we help  will be our enemy in six months after we depart.

The opposition is building against Obama.  Bravo for the Brits for voting against his Syrian machination. They are just as skeptical as most Americans. “Maybe,” as the actor James Woods  so aptly put it, “the UK didn’t want to follow a community organizer into the quicksand.”




Thursday, September 5, 2013

Storied Franchise


Baseball fans have been treated to a rare occurrence this year: the resurgence of the Pittsburgh Pirates. They’ve been challenging for the lead in the NL Central Division all season in a tightly contested three team race with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds. Now they are in sole possession of first place.

The Pirates are indeed a storied franchise. First known as the Pittsburgh Alleghenies, their nickname was changed to the Pirates for their propensity for stealing players from other teams. Their logo -- a gruff, buccaneer -- reflects their personnel plundering ways. It’s evolved over the years but is still one of the very best in all of sports. It drew me in as a kid, though I was a staunch Yankee fan at the time.

The Pirates played in the first World Series, seven in all, and won five world championships. Not bad for a small market team in one of the great small towns in the country. Now they have a chance to get back to the big dance again after a 21-year hiatus from the playoffs. 

Two of their championship years truly stand out for me: 1960 and 1979. In the ‘60s Series they defeated a superior New York Yankee team in a seven game thriller. Bill Mazeroski’s ninth inning homer off pitcher Ralph Terry provided the winning 10-9 margin. In the ‘79 Series, led by Willie Stargell and down 3 games to 1 to the Baltimore Orioles, the Pirates battled back to take the series in stunning fashion. And who can forget their official battle cry that championship year: Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family.”   

The Pirates can also boast of having 37 Hall of Fame members who have donned the black and gold at one time or another, including charter member Honus Wagner, who’s best remembered for his rarified baseball card which  trades in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. And one of the greatest humanitarians of all time, Roberto Clemente, who lost his life on New Year’s Eve, 1972, trying to get relief supplies to Nicaragua after that Central American country was ravaged by an earthquake.

Everyone loves an underdog. This year it’s the Pirates -- hope they make it. Go Buccos!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Booker Tough As Nails

The homophobic epithets hurled at NJ senatorial candidate Steve Lonegan are still coming in over his reaction to Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s comment that he likes to get an occasional manicure and pedicure at three in the morning. “A guilty pleasure,” as the mayor put it. All Lonegan did was point out a revelation that was published in Du Jour magazine. Why the uproar? Someone must have sounded the alarm for the Innuendo Police because they’re at it again.

My curiosity leads me to wonder who is open at three in the morning to offer such services. According to Lonegan, his staff has looked into all night nail salons in Newark; and I presume its environs, and, according to Lonegan, none were found. So where is this Taj Mahal of Toenails, anyway? 

Mayor Booker doesn’t owe Steve Lonegan anything in the way of explanation but I’m sure there are others who, when that irresistible urge for some cuticle consideration manifests itself in the middle of the night, would like to be turned on to the location of the place.

Presumably, Mayor Booker keeps late night/early morning appointments to avoid gawkers. I would never have considered him someone who shies away from attention. In fact, many Newarkers think he’s letting his celebrity get to his head, turning his back on the city he leads.

The persistent rumors that he is gay and his cagey dodging of answering the question when it comes up is at the crux of this episode. Certainly no one should be forced to answer such a question; or be precluded from running for office because of their sexual preference but Booker is a victim of his own petard. He has played both sides, even going as far as saying he likes the ambiguity it generates.

Now that  summer has wound down, the campaign will get into full swing; and we’ll soon see how much he really likes it in the next few weeks leading up to the special senatorial election.