Monthly Archives: January 2011

No more post-speech autographs, puleeeeeez!

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I am not sure when it started, but I am sure it should be ended.

I am referring the President of the United States signing autographs on the floor of the Congress as he exits the chamber. It defines the word “tacky.”

Certainly, it makes the President and the event look bad. There has been significant notice of the fact that the State of the Union speech has become more of a political pep rally than a presidential report. In signing autographs on his way out, the President makes the entire event look like a campaign appearance. It is just not, as they say, presidential.

Even worse, though, is the gaggle of legislators begging for his signature on their souvenir programs. These are supposed to be serious minded legislators, contemplating the great issues of the day. Instead, they behave like teenie-boppers at a rock concert.

Some legislators even handed the President a stack of programs. And one fellow appeared to have an unrelated photograph for the President to sign. Has he no sense of propriety and dignity? At least the President was not suckered into that gambit. He refused to sign the photo.

Personally, I think the President should have made – and let us hope all future presidents will – a hasty, albeit dignified, retreat from the chamber with minimal glad-handing and autographing.

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Obama Gives a D-minus Speech

The wisdom of the American people, as impressively demonstrated on Election Day, was played out in the State of the Union speech.It was most certainly a far different report to the Congress than would have been made had President Obama and his liberal wing of the Democrat party not taken such a shellacking at the polls.

Because this was a speech borne on practical politics, as opposed to his heartfelt ideology, it was not a well-delivered speech.It seemed more like a speech class assignment than the report of the chief executive of the most powerful nation on earth.

Substantively, it was a disaster.

In trying to find the elusive common ground between the newly enlightened and emboldened free-market/limited government Republicans and the strong-central-government, tax-and-spend Democrats, the President proved there wasn’t any.

In attempting to please everyone, he ended up offending both sides.

His vision of “investments” (meaning massive government spending) in infrastructure, educationand new technology were nothing more than the same old public works programs of the past.

On the other hand, the president’s hawkish talk on Afghanistan, North Korea and Iran would certainly offendhis progressive base.You could almost hear the gasps of the left-wingers when he called for putting the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) back on all the college campuses.And then there were those references to cutting community grant programs and Medicare.

Perhaps his only universally interesting suggestion was to restructure the government.The problem will be the cantankerous debate that will ensue as to how to do that.Most certainly it is going to have to be done with an eye on drastically reducing the cost of the federal government.

Overall, the speech lacked any grand, but achievable, vision.He did not ask the American public to soar to the sky, as did John Kennedy.Rather, he merely invited the American public to climb to the edge of the hole.

And what about that obligatory memorable phrase?“We have nothing to fear, but fear itself,” Roosevelt assured the nation.“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” implored Kennedy.“Our long national nightmare is over,” declared Ford.“The age of big government is over,” announced Clinton.

Somehow, “this is our sputnik moment” does not measure up.It might have been better offered up in a Saturday Night Live spoof than on the floor of the Congress.

Ron Reagan Jr.’s Parental Smear Campaign

In the recent biography of his father, Ron Reagan, Jr. alleges that his father was suffering from Alzheimer’s’ Disease while still in the White House rather than in 1994 when his diagnosis was made public.

Based on the contention that some signs of Alzheimer’s are detectable many years in advance of the more obvious and severe symptoms, young Reagan offers up a baseless opinion. He has no medical evidence to support his scurrilous contention.

As expected, the liberal community rose in a great “I told you so.” After all, the “authority” in this matter was none other than the 40th President’s only flesh and blood son. (Michael Reagan was adopted.)

What needs to be considered is that Reagan Jr. was estranged from his father for most of his adult life. Ron carried out a life-long vendetta against whatever he perceived was the failure of his dad to meet his emotional needs.

Not only did young Ron separate himself from the family, he took on the role of the anti-Reagan. He became a radical liberal, repudiating everything is father stood for. After a few unsuccessful attempts at show business – dancing to be specific – the younger Reagan became a radio talker for the left. He used the airwaves to carry out his loathing for his father.

He was a star of the short-lived Air America network, where he worked alongside and in concert with the most notable Reagan bashers in the country, such as Bill Press and Tom Harmon. He reveled in their company, and never disagreed with a single statement demonizing his father.

I would listen to his show from time to time, and I always felt a certain level of pity for the younger Reagan. Somehow, he allowed his life and his talent to be consumed by hatred of his father. It shaped him – perhaps more accurately, it twisted him.

Ironically, the fact that Ron Jr. has had a platform to lambaste his father is because of the very man he vilifies. Without the heritage and namesake of his president-father, Ron Reagan, Jr. would be an unknown something or other – obscure to the point of irrelevance. Oddly enough, he might have been a better and happier person.

Burton’s Wall

Indiana Congressman Dan Burton is continuing his 25-year battle to have a glass safety wall constructed in the House Chamber to separate the visitor gallery from the floor of the House.

My knee-jerk reaction was unfavorable. Just seemed to be another way to create a hermetically sealed elitist government. After reading Burton’s thinking, and the counter arguments, which are pretty weak, I have come to the conclusion that Burton is right.

First and foremost, we live in dangerous times. When the Capitol was built, the potential danger to legislators was single shot weapons of dubious accuracy. Hand explosives were possible, but not likely. A congressman of that era was more likely to be injured or killed by a colleague than a constituent.

Since the visitor gallery is only for guests to see and hear their legislators in action, the glass barrier makes no change in the relationship between the representative and the represented. There is no permissible communication from a gallery guest to the assembled legislators. When such communication does take place, the party is swiftly removed from the gallery, and occasionally arrested.

In 1954, the Ladies Gallery was used as a sniper perch, and five congressman were wounded in the ensuing gunfire. Capitol tour guides still point to a portion of splintered railing that was hit by one of the 30 rounds fired at the well of the House floor.

Burton worries that plastic explosives, other new technologies or a lapse in security might allow a bomber to sneak in. It would not take a professional baseball outfielder to make the toss to the speaker podium.

Burton notes that at least once a year, the entire United States government is assembled within shrapnel distance from each other. During the State of the Union address, and within 25 feet of the President, sit the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, the President Pro Tem of the Senate, the entire Supreme Court and most of the Cabinet.

I say “most” of the Cabinet because one member is taken to a secure hiding place just in case Burton’s worst fear were to happen – that by the action of one deranged individual or one motivated terrorist, the entire national leadership of the United States is wiped out in a nanosecond.

Now I figure, if prudence dictates that we hide away one of the Cabinet members as a safety measure, it makes even more sense to do everything possible to prevent such an attack in the first place.

The glass wall takes nothing way from the ability to view and hear the proceedings, but goes a long way in preventing what would be the worse attack on our seat of government since the British destroyed the city in 1812.

As public figures, members of Congress will always be individually at risk, as was so tragically demonstrated with the shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords. We cannot fully protect against this risk without doing serious damage to our representative form of government. We must not isolate our public officials from the public. It is quite a different matter, however, to protect the assembled government in the performance of its duties. Burton’s wall is not to protect individual members of Congress, but to protect our very system of government.

To play on the words of President Reagan in Berlin, “Mr. Speaker, put up that wall!”

Politicization of a Tragedy

One could expect the strident left to politicize the tragic shooting in Arizona in shameless effort to demonize the conservative majority in America. I am, however, greatly bothered by the general media’s propensity to serve as spokesperson for the radical left.

While conservatives lean to individual responsibility, liberals always look for the larger social phenomenon. It is always the non-liberal society that is at fault due to ignorance, mean-spiritedness or downright evil.

The media pundits and talking heads immediately blamed the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and the death of six innocent bystanders on right-wing rhetoric generally, the Tea Party Movement collectively, and Sara Palin individually.

No matter how nonsensical the left’s accusations were, the media gave them credibility by trumpeting the “party line.”

Never mind that the shooter, Jared Loughner, was described as “liberal” and “left-wing” by those who knew him. No matter that Giffords was a conservative, blue-dog Democrat – “targeted” by the left in the primary. No matter that the assassinated Judge John Roll was a staunch conservative. The media still made Loughner the tool of the right.

Evidence seems to suggest that Loughner was provoked to violence by Gifford’s perceived inadequate answer to his question at a previous public event. By liberal logic, does she bear some responsibility for her own fate?

In citing the acrid political atmosphere, virtually all media commentators cited “examples” of conservative comments and imagery. Most notable was Palin’s website graphic with crosshairs on congressional districts, including Giffords’.

In one of the greatest examples of gall and hypocrisy, Markos Moulitsas, of DailyKos, blasted the Palin graphic while ignoring his own “target” icon on Giffords’ district because of her conservative leanings.

In targeting the right (no pun intended), the media ignored innumerable examples of gun and violence metaphors pouring from the left, and even some outright threats. They failed to note President Obama’s “threat” that “if they bring knives, we will bring guns.” These words were not uttered by a largely unknown Tea Party rallier, but by the President of the United States. Is he culpable in the rampage in Tucson?

On the other side of the coin, what is the effect of all the shrill, accusatory rhetoric coming from the left and the media? Will Tea Party leaders be assaulted by vengeful mobs? Is Sara Palin now at higher risk of being the victim of another deranged leftie? Is the left essentially “targeting” these people?

Furthermore, do these baseless accusations of the left provoke the rage of those so wrongfully blamed, whether individually or collectively? I know that watching MSNBC Keith Olbermann spewing his arrogant vitriol against me, via my philosophy, got my ire raised.

Being old enough to have experienced the Days of Rage in the 1960s, I find it interesting that the widespread and clearly politically motivated violence of the left in those days was largely excused by the press. While there was lip-service condemnation of the wave of deaths and destruction, the cause was justified and celebrated. What is the example when society takes two murderous terrorists – speaking of Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernadette Dorn – and makes them “distinguished” college professors to help influence and mold the minds of thousands of impressionable students?

Is the modern-day repetition of young adults becoming crazed mass murderers due to political rhetoric and the availability of guns? Or, should the call for national discussion include the breakdown of the American family? Violence on television and in the movies? Participatory fantasy violence in computer games? Or even … the oppressive policies of our increasingly authoritarian governments?

In seeking political advantage by blaming conservatives, the left wing media did a great disservice to the truth, to journalistic integrity and to identifying the real reasons why a guy like Loughner goes sufficiently nuts to kill innocent people en masse.

Finally … gun metaphors are ingrained in our language and our culture. They do not breed violence. Sane people do not take them literally, and deranged people don’t need them to act out their personal insanity.

Daley to Push Obama to the Right

The appointment of former Commerce Secretary and Chicago political major-domo Bill Daley, as White House chief of staff is bad news for Republicans and terrible news for Progressives and their public-sector union supporters.

This appointment means that the Chicago Machine is still in charge in the Oval Office. However, Daley is more right-of-center, more bipartisan and less acerbic than departing advisors Rahm Emmanuel and David Axelrod. They were responsible for the sand-in-your-face Obama. Since the President tends to reflect his advisors more than most presidents, you will see the Daley difference in Obama in short order.

The old guard was about legislative accomplishment along philosophic lines regardless of the political fallout. They fought the political battles in left field. Daley will reverse that. Political success will take precedence over philosophic purity.

I say this is bad news for Republican partisans because the new Daley-made Obama will be more popular. The combative language will disappear. He will give more than lip service to bipartisanship. The change will be substantive, not just style. Daley is definitely a boost for the President’s 2012 reelection effort.

I also note that it is terrible news for Progressives and the hard left unions because Daley will move Obama to a more pragmatic position, which is clearly to the right of center. Obama cannot improve the economy without yielding to free-market concepts, and Daley is Mr. Business, not Mr. Labor or Mr. Liberal Agenda. Job creation will be achieved with policies pushed more by the Chamber of Commerce than the AFL-CIO.

Daley is smart, affable and effective – a combination hitherto not seen in the Obama White House. His knowledge, contacts and persuasiveness will give him great sway over the less experienced and malleable Obama. Daley is capable of actually negotiating a bi partisan compromise rolling back the most egregious portions of the Obama healthcare bill. If you doubt that, just think NAFTA.

Daley is a military hawk. Don’t expect to see Gitmo closed or the troops out of Afghanistan short of some discernable victory. I doubt that many terrorists will be tried in domestic courts.

The title on the door may say “Chief-of-Staff,” but Daley will function more like an associate President. Bet on it.