Friday, January 30, 2009

Anger Management

I spent the majority of yesterday dealing with Idiots.

Why, I posted on my Facebook page, does it seem that the more stupid people appear to be, the more they are inclined to remain that way? This mentality seems to pervade all demographics, from small business owners who don't believe they need to advertise, to public officials who don't believe they're accountable to the people who put them in office.

Here are a couple of obvious examples:

Steve Kenneway, president of the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union. After learning that the state's cash-strapped Department of Corrections spent tens of thousands of dollars on high-definition flat-screen TVs for prisoners, Kenneway commented: "I think you can find a better use for $77,000 than to go out and buy TVs for guys who are used to stealing them."

Then there's disgraced-former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, booted from office yesterday by a unanimous vote of the Illinois legislature after the mop-top was accused of trying to sell former-senator/now-President Barack Obama’s vacated seat.

After being removed from office, Blago said. "There are tens of thousands of people across America just like me who are losing their jobs.”

No, Bleep-Rod.
Tens of thousands of people across America are NOT just like you, losing their jobs for alleged political corruption. There are thousands of people across America losing their jobs BECAUSE of people like you, who put their own personal interests ahead of those of the people they serve…

Even President Obama got on that bandwagon yesterday, excoriating Wall Street fat cat bankers for taking billions in bonuses last year, while at the same time asking for the Government to bail them out with billions of tax dollars.

Mr. Obama "is under pressure to adopt a tough line against Wall Street amid mounting public anger over how the first $350bn of bail-out funds was used," as one print outlet described it.

I'd say it's about time Bam Bam opened up a can of R. D. Mercer's Whup-ass. The Obamerator recently chided Merrill Lynch, which has received taxpayer support, for spending $1.8-million renovating the office of John Thain, its former chief executive, and the Obamolyptic administration also pressured Citigroup to cancel its order for a new, $50-million corporate jet.

“We shouldn’t have to do that, because they should know better,” the President said, referring to Citigroup.

That’s right, but as I have frequently said on this show, if you don’t police yourselves, the government will do it for you. The first step that needs to be taken is to start naming names. Who are “The Bankers” who are guilty of these egregious, unconscionable behaviors?

John Thain, the former CEO of Merrill Lynch, is one of them, having the audacity to ask for a $10-million bonus last year.
We need to know who else.
We need to know which banks tapped into TARP, and where the money went.

Incredibly, there are still some who just don’t get it. The Financial Times this morning reports some bankers “reacted to the president’s remarks with a mixture of anger and resignation.”

“Attacking Wall Street is like fishing out of a barrel at the moment,” said one financial executive. “Obama is in the middle of a tough political battle to get the stimulus plan approved. He has to say these things.”

Yes, he has to, and should.
And it’s not fishing in a barrel.
It’s more like seining in a sewage lagoon, because nearly anything you scoop up at this point is putrid and rotten.

Name names.
Insist upon accountability.
For $700-billion dollars, that’s the least these greed-mongers can do.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Passing Grade for Incentive Pay

It’s nice to see some workers doing well in this down economy. Teachers in the Houston ISD are being rewarded for doing a better job of teaching our kids, the proof of which is showing up in better test scores, and the bounty for which is showing up on teachers’ paychecks.

HISD teachers reaped over $31-million in bonus pay yesterday… amazingly, the Teachers’ Union criticized the incentives because they were too dependant upon test scores.

Say what?
How else will you measure a teacher’s effectiveness than by testing the knowledge of the students they’re educating?

There is a complex methodology for determining whether a teacher is eligible for bonus pay, based upon the potential students have, and how far above that level they actually achieve. In an environment where teachers are woefully underpaid, incentivizing job performance is one way to reward teachers who accel, and in so doing, help their students to accel as well.

One teacher who failed to receive a performance bonus the past few years changed her methodology from giving multiple-guess tests to assigning more novel reading to make learning more relevant.

Her bonus this year: $6,200.
The highest bonus went to an English teacher--$8,500.

Some teachers have refused to participate in the bonus pay program, boycotting the process to underscore the point that teacher pay is embarrassingly low. Tru dat, but paying a teacher better wages for producing better results seems like reasonable proposition.

Compare and contrast.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

John Updike: March 18, 1932 - January 27, 2009

Perfection Wasted

And another regrettable thing about death
is the ceasing of your own brand of magic,
which took a whole life to develop and market --
the quips, the witticisms, the slant
adjusted to a few, those loved ones nearest
the lip of the stage, their soft faces blanched
in the footlight glow, their laughter close to tears,
their tears confused with their diamond earrings,
their warm pooled breath in and out with your heartbeat,
their response and your performance twinned.
The jokes over the phone. The memories
packed in the rapid-access file. The whole act.
Who will do it again? That's it: no one;
imitators and descendants aren't the same.

John Updike

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Obamanomics: Math Runnning Amuck

The Obamalites vision of a “bipartisan” economic recovery package that would be focused on creating jobs and fast-acting tax relief has lost it’s clarity as Democratic leaders in Congress have instead loaded it up with more of the same old porkbarrel spending on hundreds of billions in spending on programs and projects.

The ugly truth is that most of their ideas would not impact the economy for many years, if ever, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. How myopic has Congress become in less than a week from The Obamafication of the White House?

The proposed legislation would include:
- $650 million for digital TV coupons
- $600 million for new cars for the federal government
- $6 billion for colleges and universities (many which already have billion dollar endowments)
- $50 million in funding for the National Endowment of the Arts
- $44 million for repairs to U.S. Department of Agriculture headquarters
- $200 million for the National Mall, including $21 million for sod (green side up!)

The Obamian’s are proposing to obligate us to spend an amount that is nearly equal to the annual discretionary spending budget for the entire Federal Government. More than a third of the plan would create 32 new government programs…to do what?...and additional spending in more than 150-other programs, including Amtrak and the Transportation Administration.
How does that grow the economy??

Only 3% of the bill would actually go to road and highway spending…and only 25% that could be spent in the first 18-months.

Here’s the ugliest part of this legislative bratwurst: Nearly a third of the intended “tax relief” in the House Democrats’ bill is actually spending in disguise: true tax relief makes up only 24% of the total package – not the 40% dictated by President Obama.

Other goodies include the “Making Work Pay” tax credit--which in reality amounts to $1.37 a day, or about the price of a cup of coffee (and not at Starbucks.)

Less than 3%--$22.3 billion—of the overall package, is dedicated to small business tax relief…and this piece of porkpie will actually increase by 7-million the number of Americans getting a check from the IRS that exceeds what they pay in Payroll and Income taxes, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Much of the funding will go to programs that already have large, unexpended balances—like $1 billion for Community Development Block Grants -- which already has $16 billion on hand. There are some states also are sitting on $9 billion in unused highway funds – funds that Congress is prepared to rescind later this year.

$825-billion would provide $22,000 for every American living in poverty, but that would be wealth redistribution, and we can’t have that.
Hide and watch: If true economic stimulus were the goal, $825-billion could be evenly split to redistribute $2,700 to every man, woman, and child in America. Which in true Government style, will create a pile of additional debt worth $6,700 for every US household.

It's pure Obamanomics: I’m going to give you money now so you can pay more money later...

And if that’s not troubling enough, all of the board members of the “Accountability and Transparency Board” that is created by this legislation will be Obamian appointees—none of them will be selected by Congress.

Of course, when “I won” is the trumping statement to any discourse in an Obamalyptic Washington, how can we then be surprised at a bloated piece of the same-old-same-old that includes taxpayer-funded contraception as economic stimulus?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Presidential Post-mortem

Are you Obama’d-out?
I don’t mean that with any disrespect to our new President.
In fact, the most-pooped guy in the country this morning is probably the newly-anointed leader of the Free World…or maybe the First Lady: Up at the crack of dawn yesterday, taking delivery on a new house, and then partying until late last night. I want to know what brand of energy drink this guy uses.

Half of the country was ecstatic yesterday; the other half, I suspect, became caught up in the emotion of the moment and the history of the day. (Okay, I know there was that 1% that will be eternally negative about the 44th President, and the Obamanites in the White House. Get over it.)

This morning, the party is over, it’s time to roll up our sleeves, and work together to solve some significant problems: Economic, geopolitical, and energy.

The Markets were already primed to cue the rest of us that yesterday was another work day on Wall Street, and things didn’t work out too well, with a 5% drop in value.
Happy stinking Inauguration, Mr. Obama.

A few quick reflections on yesterday’s national pageantry in Washington, D.C.
I thought Mr. Obama’s address was just right. “Muscular” was the best adjective used to describe the mixture of proverbial phrases and plain speaking; it was a speech for our times.

Speaking of muscular…did you catch Michelle Obama’s arms last night in that stunning, one-strap gown she wore? If Presidential First Ladies dictate fashion trends, we’re in for a period of buff-er women, fellas.

While the President’s muscular speech was perfect for the occasion, Rev. Joseph Lowery may have stolen the show with his classic, old-time preacher rhetoric and oratory that was absolutely moving…especially when he involved the crowd of 1.7-million observers in a round of collective “amen’s.”

It was a bittersweet day for former President George Bush…who left the White House in a Marine Chopper, flew in Executive One from Washington to Texas, and met a crowd in his home town of Midland:

"The presidency was a joyous experience," he said, "but as great as it was, nothing compares with Texas at sunset."
Ditto that, #43.

Bush told the assembled crowd, "Tonight I have the privilege of saying six words that I have been waiting to say for a while: It is good to be home."

Maybe the day was best-summed by a cotton farmer from Lubbock, who drove the distance to welcome Mr. Bush home."It's a special day but it's a sad day," the farmer observed. "He's done eight years of a job well done. He held our country together with the values we respect. He did the job we asked him to do. He kept our values safe."

Let the congregation say, "amen."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Poem for the President

Today is the day many Americans have looked forward to….some for eight years…some for eight generations. Barak Obama will become the 44th President of the United States of America, and the leader of the Free World, at the stroke of Noon, Washington time.

Lots of poets have been asked to pen special tributes to the next President of the United States. Billy Collins, Julia Alvarez, Gary Soto and Christopher Funkhouser are among the published poets generating their own political brands of iambic pentameter…and here at The CNN650 Morning Show, our own Bard of the Broadcast Booth has written a special poem on the occasion of the Inauguration of Barak Hussein Obama:

The Votes are counted, the Polls proclaim
the next President, Barak Obama, by name;
Across the Mall in Washington, and on the fruited plains,
you can buy all sorts of stuff that bear his likenesses and fame.
The whole world is watching as Obama recites his licks,
and the chzotzki-vendors are getting rich—

Would you like to buy some Barak Chop Sticks?

Barak Obama’s speech this morning is expected to address the economic challenges that face the nation, while pulling together a constituency that is pretty evenly-divided over his Presidency.

There have been many references to the historic moment that awaits this country as our first Black President takes office…and because of the Race issue, Abraham Lincoln, known as America’s “Great Emancipator,” has been brought back to life in the minds of the public. President Obama is expected to raise up a sector of the American public that has for generations felt it was held in place by The Man, stymied by The System, and still in need of a political emancipation.

That’s all well and good, and the warm-fuzzies that are emanating from the Lincoln Memorial may help to ward off the chill in the January air. But as Leonard Pitts wrote in yesterday’s edition of The Miami Herald, "President Lincoln freed no slaves. That's the myth."

“Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was a military measure to demoralize and destabilize the rebellious South; it covered states he did not govern but did not apply in slaveholding states that remained under his jurisdiction.”

No one is diminishing the importance of Lincoln’s presidency. Without his political prowess, the United States might look very different today. Lincoln had an unfaltering faith in the Union fractured by Civil War.

Pitt’s piece is not questioning Lincoln's greatness, but poking holes in our national tendency to “cherish untextured myths that affirm our preferred narratives.”

George Washington confessing that he chopped down the cherry tree is one, a parable of honesty that has survived for generations despite the minor inconvenience of not being true. Lincoln the Great Emancipator is yet another."

Pitts writes, “Abraham Lincoln did not believe in the equality of black people. He did, however — and this was no minor distinction in his era — believe in their humanity. He also abhorred slavery. But he was willing to countenance it if doing so would have vindicated his primary goal: to save the Union.”

For Mr. Lincoln, nothing mattered more. He maintained until the tragic end of his life that there was “something unique, something necessary to preserve, in the union of American states, this government of, by and for the people. He held to this even when common sense, casualty reports and political reality demanded otherwise."

“So, remarkable as it is that America has elected a black man its 44th president, Lincoln might find it more remarkable simply that the country has elected a 44th president at all. That was not always a certainty. He would be glad to know that, 144 years after his death, America continues to surprise itself.

“The Union endures.”

Monday, January 19, 2009

An MLK Day to Believe In

Have you ever wondered what an Abraham Lincoln…a John Kennedy…a Martin Luther King…would have thought about life in America in the year 2009?

What would Dr. King have thought about a National day of observance of his birthday…on the Monday following? What would Dr. King make of what MLK Day has become, with furniture stores prominently using his name as an incentive to buy rooms-full of furniture. (Did you know you could furnish an entire house for just $4,999.99 today?)

And could someone please explain to me, in a calm and rational manner, why we need two MLK Parades in Houston? What would Dr. King have to say to the MLK Parade Foundation and the Black Heritage Society, which have been duking it out for years with competing parades? Get your acts together, perhaps?

What are these two groups trying to prove--one is blacker than the other? One has a better dream than the other? Reading back through Dr. King's historic "I Have a Dream" speech, I think the theme was inclusiveness. You people have missed the boat.

Today’s Martin Luther King Day is evolving…it’s supposed to be a day of community service…for those of you who have the day off. Not a day off to shop for furniture. As Dr. King once said—“the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenges and controversy.”

Many of us are making an uncomfortable transition from the good times of the past two decades, to times of challenge. How we respond…how we react…how we survive will define our character. And our response as a nation to the changes that are about to take place will also define us as a society.

Elizabeth Rigby wrote a thought-provoking editorial in today’s Houston Chronicle, in which she admits that in years past she’s done nothing special on MLK Day because nothing seemed important enough, significant enough, to have made a difference…and how that kind of thinking is absurd.

Since when did anything any of us did not matter in some way? Just because your project doesn’t make the evening news doesn’t mean it isn’t significant to someone. If to no one else, your act of kindness, charity, community service—what ever you want to call it—is quite significant to the person on the receiving end of your activity.

Dr. King once noted that the most persistent, urgent question of life is “what are you doing for others?” We are all put on this planet to help one another. Judging by all the people here for the ride, there’s a lot of helping to be done.

If you’re having a hard time finding someone or some thing that is worthy of your time, check out for a few ideas.

One caveat—read through the entries carefully. The Palestinian Pitty Party—“an event to condemn Jews for protecting themselves from Arab aggression,” reads the online description—hardly qualifies as a Martin Luther King-inspired form of community service.

There also seem to be a lot of bars advertising "viewing parties" for the inauguration; ostensibly to provide television access for the event...but you can bet there'll be plenty of adult beverage sales taking place, too. Again, my filter would discard these into the same category as MLK Day furniture sales…and begs the question: Who is editing the entries for alleged “service events” on the usa-service website?

But you will find projects for helping the homeless—like making sandwiches—literacy projects for helping teach kids and adults to read, or an ACORN initiative for helping neighbors who might be in danger of losing their homes.

It’s a big country.
Small things matter.
The future of our country begins today with each one of us.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bank of Brent

I have decided to turn this Radio show into a bank, and apply for TARP Funds.

I believe that if I portray the Bank of Brent as a failing institution, and demonstrate the need to acquire or merge with similarly stressed businesses, the odds are pretty good I could walk away with a couple billion dollars from the Treasury Dept., probably with no strings attached.

That seems to be the winning combination.
Bank of America has a green light for another $20-billion of your tax dollars so that they can acquire Merrill Lynch, and forestall, allegedly, the negative impact that NOT letting BOA have the money would impose on the national economy.

So this morning’s show is brought to you by the Bank of Brent, smiling and dialing for 33-years.

Bank of Brent is an equal opportunity lender—your chances for the money are about as good as anyone else’s.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More Unbelievable Change You Can Believe In

The man the President-elect has chosen to head the Treasury Dept., Timothy Geithner, didn't pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for several years while he worked for the International Monetary Fund, and he employed an immigrant housekeeper who was briefly, technically, illegal. There’s your bombshell for the day from the Barakolypse.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Geithner apparently employed an immigrant housekeeper with expired work papers. Geithner is the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for now.

Obamanian aides said they didn't think these issues would present a problem, given what they characterized as the minor nature of the infractions, and the gravity of the role Mr. Geithner has been nominated to take.

Here's the bottom line:He didn’t pay his taxes.
He’s being nominated to head the agency which oversees the IRS.
And the Obamanites didn’t think this would present a problem??

So is this the Change we’re going to be looking forward to in the new Barakivallian Age: the greater the appointment, the more diminished such infractions are perceived to be?

Mr. Geithner's "service should not be tarnished by honest mistakes, which, upon learning of them, he quickly addressed," quoth Obamian press secretary Robert Gibbs.

Well, if that’s the case, why not just keep the current Secretary of the Treasury in place? Why upset the apple cart, kill the momentum, change horses in mid-stream, as we slowly writhe in economic anguish, brought on by a bunch of wise guys who never thought selling houses to people who couldn’t pay for them would “present a problem.”

The Journal reports that the tax issue relates to Mr. Geithner's work for the International Monetary Fund between 2001 and 2004. As an American citizen working for the IMF, Mr. Geithner was technically considered self-employed and was required to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for himself as both an employer and an employee.

The IMF and World Bank reimburse employees, including U.S. citizens, for their U.S. income taxes, and make payments on a quarterly basis to cover those liabilities. They don't, however, make contributions toward Social Security and Medicare taxes, which individuals are expected to pay on their own.

In 2006, the IRS audited Mr. Geithner's 2003 and 2004 taxes and concluded he owed taxes and interest totaling $17,230, according to documents released by the Senate Finance Committee. The IRS waived the related penalties.

Geithner also failed to pay the same taxes for 2001 and 2002. Was he sequentially ignorant, or just lazy? "Upon learning of this error on Nov. 21, 2008, Mr. Geithner immediately submitted payment for tax that would have been due in those years, plus interest," a transition aide said. The sum totaled $25,970, according to the Journal story.

The Obama team said that Mr. Geithner's taxes have been paid in full, and that he didn't intend to avoid payment, but made a mistake common for employees of international institutions. That characterization was contested by Senate Finance panel Republicans, who produced IMF documents showing that employees are repeatedly told they are responsible for paying their payroll taxes.

So why didn’t Mr. Geithner pay all his back taxes after the 2006 audit? He was told by his accountant that he had no further liability.

Statute of Limitations.
You’re legally off the hook.
Change you can believe in.

Was this a “character moment” for the man being chosen to head up the IRS’s Mother Agency?

Mr. Geithner also used his child's time at overnight camps in 2001, 2004 and 2005 to calculate certain dependent-care tax deductions.

Guess what, Tim?
Sleepaway camps don't qualify.

Amended tax returns that Geithner filed showed $4,334 in additional taxes, and $1,232 in interest for infractions, such as an early-withdrawal penalty from a retirement plan, an improper small-business deduction, a charitable-contribution deduction for ineligible items, and the expensing of utility costs that went for personal use. Yada yada yada.

Ah, yes, that Home-office Deduction.
IRS will getcha everytime on that, Tim.

You think, maybe, if you make it onto the Obamalite Cabinet, you could do something about all those rules and regs…you know, like the one’s that tripped you up?

Here’s the tacit point to be made by all of this: If the guy the President-elect wants to head up the Treasury Dept., and by extension, the IRS, can’t get his taxes right, for several years in a row, what does that say about our messy Tax Code, and how direly it needs to be scrapped and replaced wholesale?

Monday, January 12, 2009

I've Got Your Number

Use your cell phone carefully when calling us this morning—and no cell phones in some school zones, either. The National Safety Council wants to ban cell phone use while driving on the job. An interesting caveat.

How does driving on the job and chatting on the cell phone differ from holding court on a cell phone while moving at 80-mph during your personal time?

Are you less distracted discussing soccer, weekend plans, or grocery lists behind the wheel than you are when steering with one hand and dictating a memo down the phone?

You can bet the Cell Phone industry will be up in arms over this one; in fact, I’m sure there are several cell phone company CEO’s talking about this on their way into the office as we speak.

The National Safety Council
is a rather morbid group…they count, among other things, the ways in which you and I might meet our maker. Kind of like the Darwin Awards, only more inclusive.

In 2005, the last year for which a complete book of statistics has been amassed, the National Safety Council’s own website shows that there were 45,343 motor vehicle deaths; they also calculated that your lifetime odds of dying in a car crash are 1:84. The NSC website does not provide a line-item of odds for being killed while driving under the influence of someone else on the other end of the line.

23,618 passed into the next life through accidental poisoning or exposure to noxious substances. 19,656 people fell to their deaths, regardless of the height, and 18, 124 died from personal assaults.

But the NSC does count some interesting ways in which we can meet our demise:
Did you know the odds of you dying as the result of a foreign body entering your body through the skin or natural orifice is 1:103,004?
37 people passed in such a manner in 2005.

The odds of dying as the result of fireworks discharge are 952,000:1.
The odds of being killed as a passenger of a three-wheeled vehicle are 762,000:1.

And if you use nightwear, the odds of cooling to room temperature as the result of ignition or melting of nightwear are 635,000:1.

Perhaps the lesson is to not wear pajamas on your ATV, shooting fireworks…and talking on your cell phone.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Meter Misers

There are some things I just don’t understand. Despite the very nice explanation by Gloria from FEMA, why you have to continue to pay your Flood Insurance premium on a house that’s been condemned defies common sense. I mean, what's left to insure?

Here’s another one: The City of Houston has, in its infinite wisdom, decided that if you park at a parking meter, you cannot feed the meter.

If you park for two hours, and you need another 15-minutes, you can no longer legally pop out the door and plug another quarter into the meter.
You’ll get a ticket.
$25 smackeroos.

This defies common sense on a couple of levels:

First, when city leaders are trying to attract people downtown to conduct business, imposing rules that make it difficult to do business downtown would seem to be counter-effective.

I know, I know.
The argument is that we've got to keep those metered spaces turning over so everyone has a chance to park curbside in H-town.
So install more meters.
Just think of the additional revenue $$!

Secondly, when we’re all being told to conserve, conserve, conserve, where’s the sense in having to come out, fire up the jalopy, and circle the block a couple of times, just because the stinking meter ran out ten minutes before someone's finished doing what they came into town to do?

I mean, it's not like they're going to be there forever, or anything.

I'm sure there are a few other examples I could come up with...but I've got to go feed my meter, while I can!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Shakespeare in the Senate

The Rollie Burris Circus rolled into Washington, D. C. yesterday.

The man appointed by disgraced Illinois Gov. Ron Blagojevich to fill the un-sold Senate seat of Barack Obama was turned back by the Secretary of the Senate…because he didn’t have his hall pass.

Apparently, the Secretary of the State of Illinois did not affix the official State Seal to Burris’ certificate of authenticity…and the Secretary of the Senate would not admit him to the Senate Chambers.

Sen. Diane Feinstein of California is breaking ranks with her colleagues, and calling to allow Burris to take office—never mind there are rules in place.

What kind of an idiot goes to Washington to represent the people of his state without all of his paperwork in order? Does Rollie Burris not know that bureaucratic red tape is the life blood of the Federal Government?

Was this in fact a test of Rollie Burris’ abilities to navigate around the shoals of the Senate…and has his ship of state run aground on a sandbar of procedural protocol before he can even make port?
Was this Burris’ pass-fail admissions test?

Rollie: Mr. Secretary, I am here to represent the great State of Illinois in the United States Senate.
Sec’y: Paperss? You haff paperss?
Rollie: Sure, here’s my blank certificate with no state seal, and a note from my Governor.
Sec’y: (reading) "Dear Mr. Senate—please give Mr. Burris a place to sit. We’ve had a run on chairs up here. Signed, Blago."

Rollie Burris will most likely, eventually, be admitted to the Senate as the Junior Senator from Illinois, God help them. But this guy looked totally unprepared for the media scrum and hoopla that enveloped him. What kind of public servant goes to work without the basic tools to get in the door…and now, what should be Illinois' expectations for his performance?

Rollie: Madame Speaker, may I be excused?
Nancy Pelosi: What is it, now, Senator Burris?
Rollie: I need to go to the bathroom.
Nancy Pelosi: Do you have your hall pass and special key to the Senatorial washroom?
Rollie: Yes, ma’am, but my pass needs your signature...
Nancy Pelosi: (scribble-scratch-dot) Fine, but keep your hands to yourself in there.
What a scrummy way to start the day…or a Senate term.

If the Senate had William Shakespeare to chronical the machinations of that august body, one wonders how some of The Bard's bits might have been re-written.

, for example, might have delivered this soliloquy from the Senate floor (or maybe at a press conference on the steps outside):

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous appointments,
Or to take arms against a scrum of media,
And by opposing foil them?

To serve: to sneak past the Senate Sergeant at Arms;
No more; and by serving to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That serving as a Junior Senator is heir to, 'tis a consummation devoutly to be wish'd.

To dodge, to serve;
To serve: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that servitude what dreams may come
When we have shuffled away from mortals coiled outside the Beltway;
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of no term limits;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of the pundits,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised governors, the Speaker's delay,
The insolence of senate secretaries and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bumpkin?

Who would patronage bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after Congress,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No politician returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?

Thus come-uppance does make cowards of most of us;
And thus the naive hue of senate resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of actual thought,
And enterprises of great politics and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.

Soft you now!
The fair Pelosi! Nymph, in thy orisons
Have you seen my hall pass?

Monday, January 05, 2009

Nattering Naybobs of Negativity

I have decided I am already fed up with what President-elect Barack Obama is doing to our country, and he's not even in office yet. It's really not his fault, and it's really not anything different from past regime changes on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Maybe I'm a little thinner-skinned, or just not as tolerant of the hand-wringing, whining and gnashing of teeth. Or maybe it's because I'm really fed up with the partisans, and just want the people we send to Washington, from the President on down, to fix a few things, and I don't care who gets the credit.
Just do it.

Someone sent me an e-mail this afternoon with a link on it (which I am not going to share with you) which shows how long we have until Mr. Obama is no longer our president. While my first reaction was a bit of a twitchy kind of smirk, after I thought about it for nano-second, it made me mad.

How would you like to interview for a new job, win the position, and before you can move into your cubicle, office, or throne room, there's an office pool on how long you're going to last?
Or how long folks have got to out-last you.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I did not vote for Mr. Obama. I haven't voted for a Democrat for President EVER. I have voted for individuals who were wonderful representatives, statesmen and stateswomen, who happened to swing on the Democratic side of the street, but that fact was incidental to my voting decision. I have good friends to this day that are card-carrying Democrats, doing a fine job of performing their duties in office.

Further, I am not on any mind-altering prescription drugs (or recreational pharmaceuticals). You might say I am sober as a judge, but anymore that description rings a bit hollow. I'm not going soft on Liberals, and I'm not veering Left with my moral compass.

I just think we need to give this guy an even chance.
Look, how much worse could he make things than they already are?
(Don't answer that.)

Barack Obama got to where he is--President-elect of the Free World--because he's got game. He convinced more voters than any of the others that he was the best pick for the gig. Paint the election any color you want (no pun intended), that's the bottom line.

He's not an idiot, and he seems to have enough sense to ask for help from people smarter/more-experienced than he is in areas where he's lacking. I would hope the same description would apply to you or me.
In any situation.

So the idea of counting the days (1475-), hours (18-), minutes (16-), and seconds (!) until Barack Obama's first term ends, before it has even begun, to me is a little self-defeating. It's like telling your kid he'll never amount to anything, and then shoving it down his throat when he fulfills such a bleak prophecy.

Barack Obama was not my candidate, but he is my President. Frankly, I rather see him--and the United States--succeed beyond our wildest dreams under his leadership, than watch him fail, and bring us all down with him.

If you're not with him, you're against him.
He's going to be in charge--and that doesn't mean the President will have carte blanc (remember Hillary's First Lady-dom?) So the question comes down to whether or not you're going to be for America, as led by Barack Obama, or against it.

Doesn't mean we cannot be critical--we need to be.
Constructive criticism is healthy and needful.
Doesn't mean we cannot closely scrutinize every move in the Obamian White House (will that be an oxymoron after January 20th?)

We should watch the lot of them in Washington, because they're frittering with our dollars, and give them all plenty of feedback.
That's the American Way.
Last time I checked, it wasn't too smart to bet against the house.

Economically Stimulating Ideas

The Obamalites are working on an economic stimulus package that would include $300-billion in tax cuts, and $100-billion in business incentives—the package expected to swell to $775 billion before the dust settles.

All of these numbers being bandied about represent tax credits: meaning, first you’ll pay taxes up front, and then the government will give you credit on your tax returns the following year. It’s too little too late.

Personally, I think it’s all just so much smoke and mirrors, and in reality, you’re not going to see much benefit by the time the “credits” are applied—in a couple of years??

Here's what needs to happen for instant impact: How about an income tax moratoium for a month or a quarter? You want to inject money into the economy? Take less of it away from us at the point of excision—on our pay stubs.

That would create an instant windfall for workers--an instant cash injection to the real, Main Street economy--without writing IOU’s to the public that would actually be more expensive to fulfill in a couple of years than with immediate dollars today.

Politics, Sunny-side Up

There is a new Shewwiff in Town…Adrian Garcia was sworn-in yesterday…and wants to increase the numbers of "boots on the street" with more deputies, and the creation of a Cold Case squad to solve older crimes.

I’d say let’s sell naming rights to CBS for “Cold Case: Houston” episodes.

The state legislative scene was up-ended over the weekend with the fall of House Speaker Tom Craddick from that lofty perch; realizing he didn’t have enough votes to clinch the position, Craddick stepped away from the vehicle. Most-likely to succeed Craddick as State Speaker of the House is Joe Strauss, a Republican from San Antonio.

Tom Craddick wasn’t the only politician to fall on his sword over the weekend: New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson removed his name from consideration as Secretary of Commerce as some loose ends from a grand jury probe threatened to delay his confirmation. Some observers in New Mexico say the Governor had to be convinced to step away from the vehicle…

And then there’s Blagoje-gate…with the man appointed to fill the vacant senate seat of President-elect Barak Obama, Roland Burris, making the rounds in church yesterday…big to do in South Side Chicago, with musicians and choirs and pews full of ministers and supporters for Burris.

Whatever happened to separation of church and state?

Al Franken's oft-questioned election to the US Senate is still creating a political ripple-effect, with some in Washington working behind the scenes to thwart his assencion to the position.
It's no laughing matter.