Monthly Archives: February 2009

OP ED: Burris burrows in … as well he should.

Many in the pundits in the press conjecture that Illinois Senator Roland Burris (pictured with Senate President Harry Reid) will have to resign as a result of the onslaught of negative publicity fomented by the press, itself. This media feeding frenzy has been given more heft than it deserves by a gaggle or self-serving politicians who either have an interest in replacing Burris with themselves of an ally, or merely see piling on as a hook to get their name and face in the press for another day. The psychology that is driving this hyper hype is the same that leads mobs of otherwise descent people to “take matters into their own hands” as an outcome of irrational hysteria.

So many of those calling for Burris’ resignation claim to respect him and consider him a friend. They cite his distinguished career. He is often described simply, but meaningfully, as “a good man.” Are we to conclude from this that the U.S. Senate is no place for “a good man?”

More specifically, all the jawboning and editorializing in the world cannot force the resignation. Only the U.S. Senate can expel a member, and it is more than likely that the collegial Upper Chamber lacks the authority or resolve to take such action in this case.

There are two major reasons that Burris should not resign. First, he has done nothing that warrants his stepping down. Yes, there have been inconsistencies in his testimonies and affidavits – nothing, according to prosecutors, that rises to the level of perjury. Despite media smears that have label Burris an egregious liar, his inconsistencies are not too far outside the range of anyone being asked questions in different ways on different occasions — and certainly nothing near the level of prevarication by those who now smugly demand his ouster. Unfortunately, such hypocrisy is pandemic in politics.

The second reason is that Burris needs to complete his current term to have any chance to reclaim his hitherto pristine reputation as public official. For some 30 years, Burris was praised by the political, civic and business communities as an outstanding public servant and honorable man – never even a hint of scandal (quite and accomplishment in Illinois). But even that history has been twisted, distorted and re-written by press and politicians to further demonize him. Once known for his friendly manner, accessibility and humility, Burrs is now labeled an arrogant hack.

If he were to resign today, he would slip into the shadow of public attention as the press created caricature. He would leave the public stage with the unfounded accusations of his detractors as his legacy.

Some say that the controversy leaves him powerless to perform his duties. How so? He still has all the powers of his office, his intellect and his skills. He can and will wheel and deal with the best of them. His colleagues are not likely to shun him for the benefit of the home town lynch mob – especially since they need his vote to stay close to that veto proof number and he still has the distinction and advantage of being the Senate’s token African American.

Once it is obvious that he will not resign, I suspect the media will cool down and shift lens and pens to some new political reality show – new indictments, new scandals, new investigations, the trial of Rod Blagojevich (or maybe just the antics of Rod Blagojevich). This will give Burris an opportunity to settle in as a hard working Senator for another 18 months – and longer if the public suddenly finds their incited anger turning to a sense of guilt.

People in the public eye are often advised to step down at the peak of the career to lock in their future reputation. Conversely, it is not advisable to step down at the nadir.

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REACT: Making your car a tax taxi.

It just goes to show that you cannot rely on Republicans to have any respect for American freedom. They can be as avaricious of tax money and as contemptuous of public privacy and freedom as any so-called progressive Democrat. Big Brother has more than a few siblings in the GOP camp. How bad can it be if President Barack Obama has to oppose a federal government tax increase and power grab proposed by one of his own Cabinet members — an infamous RINOs (Republican In Name Only), to be sure?

Once again the American public was about to be hoodwinked, or should I say LaHood-winked. Seems that newly minted Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, an Illinois insider Republican (need I say more?) has proposed that drivers be taxed on the miles driven by having a GPS unit mandated for all cars (increasing the sticker price, of course). Essentially, you car becomes a tax taxi.

LaHood proposed to nationalize a concept that is being explored in a few states, including Massachusetts (need I say more?). The mileage charge would vary according to the driving locations. City drivers, where there is more congestion, would pay a higher rate. Rural drivers, where cow flatulence is the most serious pollutant according to our environmental geniuses in Washington, would be taxed at lower rates. The GPS feature, will allow that rate to change automatically as you travel from zone to zone. Of course, government issued cars would not be taxed.

One of the outcomes of this creative taxing is a form of punishment for drivers using low-fuel consumption vehicles. The feds are afraid that lower usage will reduce tax revenues. Duh!

Now … they could just increase the gas tax to achieve the same result. So, why not? Because … this new form of taxation will provide government with two things it loves almost as much as our money. It will give them a reason to establish another cancerous bureaucracy (probably in LaHood’s DOT) and provide a windfall of personal tracking information on every citizen in America.

I suspect the next group in support of this will be law enforcement officials, who will claim that they can track suspects through this system. No one can argue that constant, around-the-clock surveillance of all citizens can reduce the crime rate. But … a police state is not what the founders had in mind.

Fortunately, President Obama has slapped down his Trans Secretary in rather firm tones. This will not be the policy of his administration. Whether he comes to this out of conviction or political savvy – realizing the public backlash that would ensure – is of no consequence. Give him credit where credit is due.

Footnote: Anyone who thought LaHood would bring conservative Republican values to his new post does not know him or the political environment from whence he comes. Putting him at DOT is akin of inviting the fox in the hen house – case in point.

NOTABLE QUOTABLE: The voice of Ronald Reagan

Sometimes a person writes something that cannot be improved by analysis or editing. I recently read this article by Michael Reagan, son of the late President. Rather then regurgitate his points with less eloquence, I thought you should just read what he wrote. So here it is.

Requiem For A Republic
By Michael Reagan
February 14, 2009

It is not true that grown men don’t cry. I’m grown and I’m on the verge of tears. A Republic I have loved all my life is being is being murdered and the crime is an inside job.

If you hear a whirring sound in the background it is my dad Ronald Reagan, who loved and served this nation, spinning in his grave as his latest successor plunges a carving knife into America’s vital organs.

In his wildest dreams Ronald Reagan never thought that a president of a United States, now in the throes of a serious economic crisis, would adopt a solution to the problems of our economy that would not only worsen the situation, but set in motion the beginning of a transition of the government of the United States from a Constitutional Republic into a coercive quasi-Marxist regime where Washington is the master of our people instead of their servant.

Let it be said loud and clear: Barack Obama’s so-called stimulus bill, feverishly embraced by his sticky-fingered Democratic minions in the House and Senate (and three craven Republican senators), will not do a single thing to revive our ailing economy. Nothing.

Instead it will put Washington’s grasping hands into every nook and cranny of America’s economic and social life, and bankrupt an already penurious nation for generations to come.

Think about it — nearly a trillion dollars to be squandered on a host of pork-laden projects, payoffs to pet leftist groups and causes grasping for their share of the booty, and a few bucks to create jobs, mostly in the public sector.

A trillion dollars we don’t have and will need to borrow from our grandchildren and their offspring. A trillion dollars created out of thin air that will drastically reduce the value of the dollars in our pockets in an orgy of runaway inflation.

It wasn’t all that long ago that spending a billion dollars on government projects and programs was viewed with alarm. As the late Sen. Everett Dirksen once said, “A billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”

A trillion dollars is $1000 billion, a sum that the imagination cannot comprehend.

If you could have spent a million dollars every day since Christ was born you would not even come close to having spent a trillion dollars, yet Mr. Obama and his wastrel Democratic stooges on Capitol Hill have no qualms about spending that amount — and more — on programs that will do nothing to alleviate the current economic crisis, and in many ways worsen it.

Have we forgotten what Thomas Jefferson warned us when in 1791? He said, “To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. If we run into such debts, we (will then) be taxed in our meat and our drink, in our necessities and in our comforts, in our labor and in our amusements. If we can prevent the government from wasting the labor of the people under the pretense of caring for them, they (will) be happy.”

Jefferson would have refused to believe that a free people would allow their government to saddle them and their children and grandchildren with a debt so enormous they could not even begin to comprehend.

Nor would he have even dreamt of the government wasting money on projects noted by former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr, such as a billion dollars to subsidize money-losing Amtrak, $20 billion to expand the already-bloated food stamp program, about $2 billion diverted from the wallets of hard-working Americans to subsidize childcare, and $2.8 billion to fund advocacy programs studying the global-warming hoax.

There’s another $600 million for newer cars for government bureaucrats $44 million to refurbish the Department of Agriculture, $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, and $150 million to spruce up the Smithsonian buildings and more than $400 million to promote anti-smoking programs and programs to fight sexually transmitted diseases.

That’s what future generations of Americans will be paying for. I’m sure they’ll thank us.

OP ED: Holiday angst

I get a little testy about the February holiday season.

First there is SAINT Valentine’s Day. I am by far not a holy roller, but I resent the so-called mainstream transforming this day to simply “Valentine’s Day” out of some politically correct secularization. I not only fault the liberal goo goos, but the media and the card, candy and carnation advertisers for censoring the traditional name of the holiday. St. Valentine was a real person, and this celebration of loving kindness has historic roots in the St. Valentine legend.

Then there is Presidents’ Day. We once celebrated the individual birthdays of our first President, George Washington, and our greatest President, Abraham Lincoln, with separate days in February. Now we have some nebulous day recognizing all our chief executives. Some how, lumping Washington and Lincoln in with Millard Fillmore, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton is an abomination. I think the Martin Luther King holiday is fine, but it seems ironic that he can have his own day and the likes of Washington and Lincoln are shuffled in a deck with a few too many jokers. In fact, King is the only person in American history now to have his own personal national holiday. No matter how much you admire King, that is just not right.

I TOLD YA SO: Blago hits the celebrity trail

After the booting out of office of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, a lot of the smarty pants reporters and pundits were lamenting their belief that the colorful and headline making public official would sink into some sort of oblivion. I predicted that he would continue to maintain high visibility as a celebrity in his own right. Well, one look at his post-ouster national media schedule and you can see that Blago is going to give Paris Hilton a run as the spotlight hog of the year. He even appeared on the David Letterman Show. That’s star status.

Frankly, I’m at a loss to see why so many reporters and columnists think the media tour is so stupid. What do they expect — that he will sulk at home until the feds carry him off to court for a quick trial before he is marched up to the gallows.
The media schtick makes perfect sense. He is getting a lot of criticism for what some think is an attempt to influence future jurors — you know, makes him sort of human, funny and maybe some of his protestations of innocence will be persuasive? And why not? What’s he got to lose.

Granted … he could not deflect the impeachment by the Illinois House and conviction by the Illinois Senate. And despite all the swagger in public, it is mostly likely that he is going to get convicted and sent to the pen. In the meantime, he will be one of the more interesting personalities this side of Drew Pearson.