Monthly Archives: February 2007

>REACT: Senator Kerry gives up yet another piece of his mind

>Not long ago, presidential wishful-thinker John Kerry made a widely reported bad joke – suggesting that only the dregs of our society wind up in the military.

More recently, Kerry make it clear that he IS a bad joke.

Finally discovering what everyone in America already new, Kerry came to his own belated conclusion that any continued effort to secure the White House was delusional. Rather than saying he is honestly disappointed by his failure to attain his highest ambition (if that indeed was his highest ambition), Kerry referred to his withdrawal from the race as “liberating.” That is akin to not being invited to your school pals birthday party and saying “I didn’t want to go anyway.”

As if that was not enough, Kerry went on to enthusiastically tell the world that he can now speak his mind and say what he really thinks. WHAT? Is he blurting out an inconvenient truth? Were the constraints of ambition keeping him from honest expression?

Well … as if THAT was not bad enough, Kerry, suddenly realizing his faux pax, made an inept attempt to recover by spinning that he would, of course, say the same things, but they would be heard differently? Now what in Hell does that mean?

Like a fish on dry land, Kerry was flopping in vain hope of somehow landing back in the water, but to no avail.

The next time Kerry offers up what is on his mind, we should recognize that he apparently has already given more than he has retained.

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>REACT: Bidding Biden bye bye

>Some say a slip of the tongue has ended the presidential bid of Senator Joseph Biden. I have to admit that I totally enjoyed seeing Biden getting bit by the bias of the boys in the media, and then called out by the racial Gestapo. I am referring to the totally silly, unreasonable and unfair response to his calling Obama a “clean” candidate.

For the likes of Jesse Jackson, it was a racist remark. The senator foolishly apologized. That’s what liberals do best, because their philosophy is based on atonement.

Referring to a candidate as “clean” is standard jargon in politics. A candidate without scandal, legal problems, criminal record, school expulsions, and unacceptable sexual practices is considered a “clean” candidate. We might call him “Mr. Clean” or some such thing.

(I am only speaking in male gender terms because in politics we always think woman candidates are “clean.” Maybe Hillary will break that tradition, too.)

Even as I delight in the irony of a liberal democrat getting the back of the hand from the media and those black “all-whites-are-racists” racists, I am compelled by my own code of honor to rise in defense of Biden.

Memo to Biden: Senator! You have been screwed. This is exactly the kind of unfair political correct nonsense that is routinely heaped upon conservatives and common sense Americans – those of us who live in what you guys call “fly-over” country. Sorry your presidential campaign has been cut short. Okay, I am not really sorry, and still giggling over the way you went down. It is, however, a pity. And next time, instead of flying over, drop in for a visit.

>OBSERVATION: Will Obama’s campaign go up in smoke?

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HELP ME BEFORE I DO IT AGAIN!!!

I find that I have joined the ranks of journalists who are obsessed with writing about Barak Obama. It is just that the more those “other” guys and gals write – the ones who get paid – the more I feel compelled to respond. Oh my God! Here I go again …

In the parlance of the culture, Obama is “smokin’.” In most cases, we mean that figuratively. In his case, it is literally. Among the things that distinguish his campaign from the rest is the fact that he is a smoker … literally … and by some measure a pretty dedicated one. Read that as meaning he has repeatedly failed to quite and he smokes a fair amount – not one of these “I only smoke when I drink” types.

(ASIDE: I tried the I-only-smoke-when-I-drink plan. I was still smoking two packs a day. ß That was a joke for those who would add “drinking problem” to explain my quirky opinions.)

How much Obama smokes is now elevated to national security secret.

Not since the press “protected” Franklin Roosevelt by not revealing that he was wheel chair bound, and that John Kennedy was a Casanova, has the press failed to bring out the story. Nowadays, however, such secrets cannot be kept from the salacious gossipy appetite of the public – and the bloggers preclude the past prerogatives of a fawning press. So it is, we know of Bob Doles erectile dysfunction and Bill Clinton’s lack thereof.

Now cometh the revelation of Obama. The “clean” image described by his presidential competitor, Senator Joseph Biden, has been a bit tarnished. One has to wonder how great an impact it may have been on Obama’s rise if he was frequently seen with a cig hanging from his lips, or wedged between his fingers. How sanctimonious would be that boyish face if it was surrounded by a perpetual blue haze. I think it would have hurt a lot.

In fact, I have decided to engage in “creative truth” to see what that would look like. You be the judge, but keep in mind George Bush overcame a serious drinking problem.

>REACT: Yep! The liberals are at it again

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The success of the Democrats to take control of the Congress was due to the election of a lot of moderate candidates. How-some-ever, this empowered a left-of-center leadership. Consequently, we are seeing the passage of a bunch of liberal lunacy.

Sometimes the eloquence of a point is made by modest observations. In this case, the point is on the end of a toothpick.

In order to save themselves from their own propensity to be corrupt, the new Democrat majority has passed a reform measure that would prevent those god-awful lobbyists from buying a meal for a member of the Congress.

This significantly lowers the bar on the amount of anything a lobbyist can give to or spend on a legislator – not even two eggs over-easy for breakfast. Having been a Washington lobbyist way back when, I never saw a situation where a meal would “buy” a vote. In fact, I spent a LOT of money on meals for legislators who I was trying to educate, and very often, I failed to get their vote.

I can only assume that the Democrats must go cheap. They apparently have determined that their members will crumble for a few crumbs. I can assure them that buying a GOP vote is going to cost a lot more than a sirloin steak. For some reason the punch line of an old joke just popped into my mind. It goes something like this: “We already have determined what you are, we are no only haggling over the price.” I guess Dems get corrupted for a pittance. I mean, a lunch? To corrupt a Republican you need at least a ten-day “fact finding mission” on the Aegean Sea.

To get to the point – the point of the toothpick that is. What, you may wonder, does a toothpick have to do with lavishing béarnaise sauce on legislators? Let me explain.

According to the proposed reforms, a nasty lobbyist may not invite a sleazy member of Congress out for lunch, BUT it is okay to invite him or her to an exorbitantly expensive reception where food and “beverage” is served in old Roman proportions. You see the problem?

When does a morsel of food constitute a meal? Well, in classic liberal fashion, they came up with the “toothpick rule.” If you can pick it up with a toothpick, it is an hor’devour ___ — and exempt from federal regulation. (I hate to tell them that I have a bruiser of a brother who, in pursuit of food, could pick up a side of beef with a toothpick – but that is another matter).

Let us consider one of my favorite foods, the lowly hotdog. I have been to many receptions where there is a bin full of cute little miniature wieners immersed in a sea of barbeque sauce. Along side is a shot glass full of toothpicks.

I have seen guests, including myself, skewer a regiment of those little devils. Throw in a few dozen Swedish meatballs and chicken livers wrapped in bacon and you can consume several dinners worth of food in no time.

This also raises the question of “pieces” of dinner foods. Let’s say that going out for a couple of hotdogs is verboten under the new regs. What if you cut up some full-size Vienna franks and serve them in little pieces – with toothpicks of course. Oh … what about chicken? No clucking over fried chicken dinner, sayeth the Dems, but what if it is chicken parts, like Buffalo wings? In that case, you can eat a barnyard full of our feather friends – on toothpicks, to be sure.

According to the proposed legislation, it would be a no-no to dine at a fine restaurant over a fruit salad, which you properly eat with a fork since eating with toothpicks at an upscale eatery would be a bit uncouth. Of course, you can gorge yourself on the very same diced up melons and berries at a reception, IF you convey them to your mouth by toothpick. You cannot provide whole fruit to a lawmaker since picking a cantaloupe with a toothpick is not easy. (Hmmm. I think determining how to pick up fruits at a congressional reception is begging for a joke, but I will constrain myself).

Okay, what about those reception foods you cannot eat with a toothpick. Little Jell-O squares. If you attempt to get them to your mouth on the tip of a toothpick, you tend to look like a gyrating contestant in some silly game show — and regardless of your skill level, the damn things will more likely land on tongue of your shoe than the one in your mouth. And what about cookies. They shatter to crumbs when pierced by a toothpick.

Hey! What about liquids? At a reception, how many free drinks can a legislator have? Leave out Ted Kennedy since he skews the numbers.

I was going to suggest that foods eaten by hand should be exempt from the culinary gift provision. This would leave an egregious loophole that would allow those lobbyists to undermine the integrity of Congress by taking members to Burger King for lunch. Maybe only food eaten while standing? (They actually debated that provision. Honest, this is not from the Colbert Report. This is your new Congress in action).

Why don’t they just make it all simple? Limit the number of CALORIES that you can feed a legislator without creating a national ethical crisis. Like … you may not give a lawmaker more than 200 calories in free food a day. (We have to stay well under any “meal level” number of calories).

This is a perfect liberal solution. We would have to hire an army of overpaid civil servants to attend receptions to monitor the caloric intake of individual legislators. Of course, each lobbyist and legislator would have to file separate federal reports to the Department of Agriculture to report the number of calories given/received, and the Ag Dept would be responsible for setting the standard of calories in each tidbit of food. Violation of the Federal Legislator Caloric Intake Act would result in a fine and 10 to 30 days on a 1000-a-day diet. Hmmmm. For speaker Hastert that could be considered “cruel and unusual punishment.” And in the case of Ted Kennedy, it could trigger withdrawal symptoms.

Well, you can see why we need to send the best and the brightest to Washington. While we spend our days thinking about such piddlely stuff as job layoffs, lack of health insurance, terrorist attacks, and crappy education for our kids, our men and women in Washington have to contend with the pressing concerns of our times.

To them I say, “Bon Appetite”

P.S. I wonder if Pelosi & Co. is running the risk of a tree hugger backlash? I am thinking of all those billions of newly needed toothpicks. There goes another forest.

>WARNING: You are about to be nationalized … again

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Periodically, our federal bureaucrats think of reasons that Americans should have a national identification card. Of course, they proffer many good reasons. It is for our own good.

That is the mantra of unrelenting autocrats, who are motivated more by consolidation of power than concern for people.

Each time Washington invents a new rationale for the “big brother” ID card, the eternally vigilant forces rise to smite the idea. (Love that word, “smite”). However, never underestimate the ability of the bureaucrats (nee autocrats) to think of innovative means to the same end.

The most current manifestation of the old national ID is the so-called national drivers’ license. The feds say it will make driving standards uniform throughout the nation. It will also help track the bad guys of one sort or another. That is the scary word … “track.” The problem is, once the government can “track” bad guys, the definition of “bad guys” will be ever expanding. (“Bad guys” includes women, too. Once in a while I see the need for political correctness). You and I may not be in the crosshairs of federal surveillance yet, but the guns are pointed in your and my general direction.

We have to understand that there is no reason to make the standards uniform. We have to leave lots of room for local decisions in a free society. Not only is local decision-making better policy, it is enormously less expensive. If those “they”s had THEIR way, D.C. would make every regulation uniform by simply stomping all over your local standards and culture. What makes America great, and a democracy, is the right of citizens to control their own lives … and diversity is part of it. We should encourage local control (where we actually have more control).

Fortunately, local legislatures are as power crazed as the folks behind the beltway, so they are resisting the idea. They are not about to let Washington take their power away. That is the beauty of our federal system so carefully crafted by a bunch of unusually enlightened men. Let’s hope they succeed. Nay, let’s help them succeed.

Give your U.S. congressman and senator a shot (figuratively), and demonstrate your opposition to this latest scam from Washington.

>REACT: Obama is in.

>Illinois Senator Barak Obama has made it official. He is a candidate for President of the United States. If he runs the course, he will be the first half African-American nominee of a major party, and the first almost black Commander-in-Chief.

You have to excuse me if I am not buying into the silly notion that he is a black, or African- American, public official. He is half white and totally raised in a privileged white environment. Bill Clinton was called the “first black president” because his life experience was similar to the black experience in American. If a guy as white as Clinton can be hailed as black by upbringing, then Obama is as white as John Kerry — the Irish Catholic senator who, in the throws of a presidential campaign, discovered he was also Jewish.

(ASIDE: In Chicago, a lot of Eastern Europeans, whose names have no syllables, are changing to ballot-friendly Irish names to get elected to judicial offices. I think there is a trend here. This “pick a nationality” could be very useful in breaking down ethnic prejudices. But, back to Barak).

Taking things slowly is always good advice. So a half black candidate is probably a better idea — obviously more acceptable to the democrat voters who did not put much wind in the sails of the presidential campaigns of blacker candidates, such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Shirley Chisholm.

So, why is Obama so popular?

First I would contend that despite the pander of politicians and the prodding of the press, America is not nearly as racially prejudice as we are led to believe. Had he responded favorably, it is very possible former Secretary of State Colin Powell would have secured the Republican nomination in 1988 — and, based on apparent public popularity, would have had a real shot at the presidency. The GOP blew that opportunity.

Unlike Powell, Obama comes to his popularity without the substantial resume. In fact, any white guy with his record would be out of the running. In my judgment, Obama is such a hot candidate because (1) he is not really black — and certainly not scary to whites, (2) he has a terrrrrrrific smile (I think this is a serious positive. Think Dwight Eisenhower, for those whose thinking goes back that far), and (3) he is arguably the best communicator in America today (Bingo! There it is.).

On this latter point, I am speaking style, not substance. He is at the opposite end of the oratorical continuum from George Bush — who was not spared the family mutated gene for oral ineffectiveness. In my life time, only two presidents have had that evangelical quality of inspiring, motivating and moving an audence by oratory skill. They are John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. In neither case was content critical. Their greatest quotes were those that inspired, not informed.

This is the reason why Obama is so powerful. He inspires. He is easy on the ears. Devoid of substance, there is little with which to disagree in his well offered platitudes. Instead of troop levels, welfare costs or failing education, Obama can talk of hope and healing. He challenges us to rise to our sense of national greatness (a la Kennedy and Reagan) instead of dragging us through explanations and excuses for our social malaise (a la Carter, Clinton and Bush).

As a person who has careered in the world of word-smithery — as speech writer, coach, and, occasionally, the person at the podium — I marvel at the Obama’s deliver. His talent goes beyond speechifying. In response to questions, he is a master of response. It is difficult to find any potential improvement in his choice of words, their assemblage and their nuances. He is as flawless as humanly possible.

He is not Chauncy Gardner, the movie character who, without any substantive knowledge became an adviser to world leaders on the basis of misunderstood homilies and botanical platitudes. Obama will face questions of substance, but is disarming manner will smooth the abrasive edge of even the most divisive issue.

I do not suggest that the style-over-substance school of public speaking is to be decried. No! No! No! I think it is great asset to leadership — especially at the presidential level. Those who prefer policy wonks as presidents forget that the office does not lend itself to micro managers, like Nixon and Carter. Presidents, such as Reagan, who successfully sell great visions, and leave implementation to component and philosophically loyal appointees, are the great presidents.

It is my feeling that despite his too-far-left leaning (which will be pushed right by the demands of a campaign and the constraints of the office, should he get there), Obama has the potential of being a great president. He may get derailed by the competitors in his own party, or defeated in the general election, but should he make it to the Oval Office, I am predicting one very popular president.

>REACT: The plane truth about Speaker Pelosi

>Seems like our glass ceiling shattering populist House Speaker Nancy Pelosi follows the tradition of so many limousine liberals. Fresh from increasing the minimum wage for unskilled workers, Madam Speaker was off ordering and new and bigger plane for her personal use, courtesy of the taxpayers. Seems the current plane is not large enough to suit her needs. (It is mind-boggling to think that the petit Pelosi needs a plane bigger than Nast-ish Denny Hastert).

According to the requisition, Her Eminence needs more room for colleagues (junkets?), friends (cronyism?) and family (nepotism?). She also needs a plane that can make the trip to her safe haven of California without having to touch down for refueling in what her ilk disparagingly refer to as “fly over” America – you know, that part of America between the east and west coast where the true American culture resides. For Pelosi, the term, “fly over America,” is literal.

I hope she remembers to request one men’s toilet and two ladies’ toilets. Would not want to have her standing in line.

>LMAO: Here is why we need science experts.

>You may have read the story of the fossilized “lovers.” No, I am not referring to your grandparents. These were a man and woman (presumably) that are locked in eternal embrace. While not a lot is know about their age and cause of death (or even their gender), an unnamed anthropologist offered his expert opinion that the couple were “probably buried at the same time.” Well… there’s some real insight. Was he concerned that any of us might have thought some necrophiliac crawled into a 300-year-old grave to cuddle up to his boney amorata – and died there, too? For his insightful observation, I present our unnamed anthropologist with the first ever Larry’s Wire’s Super “DUH!” Award.

>OP ED: Passports and borders

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Apart from a war raging in the Middle East, and millions of Americans dying without healthcare, the question of who can get in and out of the United States is a key issue.

In the constant tug-of-war between safety and freedom, safety dominates short-term thinking, and freedom is for long term pondering. That is why we become less free each day. Seems like the natural aging process of a democracy is government’s subtle and unrelenting acquisition of authority over the populace.

This week we saw another erosion as the first phase of the new rules for international travel have become effective. No longer will you be able to assume that just because you are an American traveling abroad that you have a simple right to come home. Now, you have to be passport-ed back into the country.

Now that may not seem like a big deal, but as surely as Paris Hilton will appear in Star Magazine, there will be a great number of terrible outcomes. Students stranded in Sri Lanka, missing a semester or two, because of some inevitable bureaucratic foul-up.

There was a movie called The Terminal in which Tom Hanks became a permanent resident of an airport because he did not have the right papers to go forward or backward. We may well see life imitate fiction over and over, with one exception. Those trapped in State Department limbo are more likely to be housed in detaining centers not as commodious as a nice airport.

Then we have the question of the Canadian and Mexican border. Oh, how fondly I recall my trips to Canada by boat, crossing the Algonac River upstream from Detroit. No bridge, tunnel or sentry booth. Nope. Just a leisurely sail across the waterway from the United States to Canada. A little shopping, nice dining and maybe some fishing in “Canadian waters.” No hassle. Now, no one will be allowed to cross without a passport. I do have one question. How in Hell is our government going to stop this? This is the longest unprotected border in the world. It is not a porous barrier; it is not a barrier at all. Only in cities and major “crossings” are there guard posts, with agents who act more like Wal-Mart greeters than security personnel. Frankly, I see no way that any law can enforce strict border crossing rules.

Mexico poses a completely different problem. It is a one way flow of illegal aliens eager enjoy the American experience. Mostly, they come here for the promise of jobs, to be united with family, or to simply enjoy a better standard of living. Of course, some come for the welfare and educational benefits. Others come because it is smarter to be where they can rob rich people instead of poor people. The lure of drugs and the glamour of gangs are another incentive.

Since almost all of the Illegals find ways to bypass the passport office already, the new law will not have much effect. For Mexico, the United States plan to enter the “famous wall” category. The long gone Berlin wall, the wall of Jericho and the Great Wall of China were massive public works projects that ultimately failed.

Securing our borders sounds good on the campaign trail, but let’s stop fooling the public. If we are to intercept terrorists effectively, intelligence (in both meanings) is our best hope. Border security is our false hope.

>OP ED: Arab factionalism

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There are times it appears that the United States and all of western civilization are at odds with the Arab/Muslim world. Christians against religious terrorists. Muslims against infidels.

Well, the great Muslim world is a hodgepodge of conflicting interests. There are the good Muslims, the bury-the-head-in-the-sand Muslims, the two-faced Muslims and the out-and-out maniacal, mass-murdering Muslims. In the extreme, there does not appear to be any other group on earth with the ability to hold a grudge longer, and settle more grotesquely. For thousands of years, they have been a culture in a state of perma-violence.

Their war on us infidels is only one facet of their score-settling approach. As much as the Islamic terrorists hate westerners, Americans especially, they are equally rabid in their hatred for each other.

Recent peace talks between the Palestinian factions of Hamas and Fatah have broken off due to internecine warfare between the factions, including street killings, kidnappings and bombings. Pakistan is America’s ally against Afghanistan. The Kurds and the Muslims are killing each other still. Iran has had a long enmity with Iraq, even before the American presence. The relationship between Iran and virtually the rest of the Arab world is belligerent. Syria is engaged in a constantly simmering war with Lebanon.

Contrary to popular misconception, Muslim violence is not a religious-based concept. It is the first option in dispute settlement, and has been for centuries. There have been genocidal conflicts throughout history and in other parts of the world today. No example of tribal warfare can rival the level, consistency and duration of Muslim-on-Muslim violence.

One is not likely to find another example were religious tenets are so frequently and so effectively used to justify blood baths. While some have abused and distorted religious doctrine to perform hideous deeds (Hitler, the Crusades and the Ku Klux Klan come to mind), rarely is any such violence truly encouraged or justified by dogma.

The turbulence in the Middle East is not the product of religious differences. It is not about oil. It is not about ancient land rights. It is about a culture of violence and terrorism for its own sake. The events of the world only provide the pretext.