Thursday, January 29, 2009

Defining Moment for Obama

President Obama entered office calling for an era of post-partisan problem solving.  He then threw his weight behind a bailout/stimulus bill that passed the House of Representatives without any Republican support.  Unless the President stands up to his own party, it appears that “we the people” have inadvertently elected Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reems (er, I mean Reed) to run the country, not Obama.  The $1 billion whiskey-dick stimulus package contains about 12.5 percent infrastructure spending, with the rest of the money going to typical FDR style Democratic entitlements.  When asked about the seeming impotence of the stimulus package, supporters of the bill explained that 1. we must spend money to bail out the states before they lay off more people & 2. you can't spend more than 12.5 cents of every dollar immediately because bridges take years to build. Both statements may be true. But the larger truth is that the priorities within bill clearly send a message that Wall Street and the business community caused the crisis that wrecked Main Street so they must be punished.  Questions about the spending priorities within the bill and doubts about the plan's effectiveness are both rising as it now makes its way to the Senate.

Q: When do you know that there are significant voter doubts about your stimulus package?
A: When harmless fuzzball Rush Limbaugh publishes an alternative tong-in-cheek "bi-partisan" stimulus package and gets a serious hearing from Erin Burnett of CNBC, that’s how.

Rush's solution, by the way, is only to be taken seriously to the extent that it demonstrates the partisanship of the plan signed by the House.  His plan, which he says is also “bi-partisan”, apportions 46% of the stimulus package to Republican initiatives because John McCain received 46% of the Presidential election vote.  Although the apportionment concept may be absurd, incentivizing the business community to create jobs is logical. I believe the real point of Limbaugh’s Plan was to highlight the partisanship in the Democrat’s package by offering different but equally partisan solutions.  We can only hope that the Senate puts country ahead of all partisanship and significantly improves the incentives for business to create new jobs within the bill.

Just an aside, why do Republicans have so few domestic ideas besides lowering taxes?  Oh yes, I remember, its because they think government is bad and must be held down in the toilet and drowned.  This lack of imagination on the part of the Republican Party is one of the reasons why they are back to their traditional status as the minority party.

Where was I,,,, oh yes! One part of the Republican Party I have always admired is the Traditional Eastern Republicans (think Nelson Rockefeller) who were pro-business, pro-state department and anti-government in the bedroom.   Independent voters and libertarians who feel a kinship with those Republicans as well as with the Reaganites who supplanted the Easterners felt comfortable with Obama's first few decisions to 1. strengthen lobbying ethics rules, 2. re-energize the Freedom of Information Act & 3. define torture as bad (unless his newly formed blue-ribbon panel advises him that blood is really a vegetable). But in this Bailout Bill, those of us who are not liberals but still want Obama to succeed (even if success promoted liberalism in the process, Rush) have experienced our first Obama fears.  Obama, who’s career has taken him from Professor to Organizer to President, has never run a business that had to make a profit to meet payroll (ACORN don’t need no stinking profits).  Even though the President yesterday said that it’s people, not government, who will save this economy, I'm scared that the big "O" doesn't understand that only Wall Street sells the tools (raising risk capital for businesses large and small) that will enable "people" to save the economy.  

Yes, I realize that Wall Street has shown very little leadership during this crisis in areas like personal and collective culpability, compensation restructurings “a.k.a. tamping down bonuses”, communication misstatements made to shareholders at times of crisis, etc.  But in the end, Wall Street is our only hope in saving Main Street.  If Obama is ignoring Wall Street's advice because assisting the wealthy violates a campaign promise or worse, because he sees them as villains in this crisis, he’s jeopardizing the plan’s chance for success.  Worse, if the Democrats push the current bill through the Senate without significant Republican support and then the economy doesn’t respond positively by 2011, we'll be electing another populist chic idiot in Sarah "I read all of it" Palin.

We are in a Presidential honeymoon period. I believe that the public, both liberal and conservative, respects Barack Obama and wants him to succeed for the sake of the nation.  He speaks English well “even pronounces nuclear properly”, he carries himself with dignity and has created a cabinet made up of smart-successful people (not including  Mary "Let's shakedown the small firms and totally miss Madoff" Shapiro at S.E.C., Timothy "I forgot" Geithner at Treasury, and Leon Panetta at C.I.A.).  The best compliment I can pay the President is that with bold action, he could get us out of this crisis and go down in history as a Clinton with morals, a Reagan with a tan.  But if the Democrats spend nearly 1 trillion dollars (that's approximately $3,300 for every man, woman and child in America) without re-igniting the economy, President Cool will have saddled the country with an albatrossian debt, wounded the Democratic Party for perhaps a decade and made it more difficult for future African-American leaders to be judged solely by the content of their character. Fair? No its not fair. But the stakes are high and that’s why its a defining moment for the President.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Musings from the inauguration hoopla

Sunday January 18th
I'm watching the inaugural weekend festivities on TV and getting the same patriotic feeling that I had in the 1980's under Reagan. The million or so people on the Washington Mall are, to me, an expression that we’ve been desperate for hope, for leadership and for a feeling of common purpose. The Sunday festivities (exclusive to HBO - doesn't that seem weird for what was billed as "the people's event") were spectacular. We all know Hollywood is partisan, liberal and supported Obama in the election. You may hate the politics of Hollywood, but having said all that, they do know how to put on a show.

As for the entertainment, wasn't James Taylor great, (he's like our generation's Bing Crosby... domestic abuse included). I love JT's backup singer Arnold McCuller! He blew away John Legend (I dislike Legend anyway because of his conceited stage name). Jennifer Nettles, Mary J. Blige, John Mellencamp, Josh Groban & Heather Headley, all terrific! (although I had never heard of Headley before). Also enjoyable were speeches from Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington and Queen Latifa.

But doesn't Joe Biden make you cringe? Unless you've watched the V.P.2B for years, you can't know how dead-on Justin Sudeikis' impersonation is. He rambled on about the merits and dignity of work. Good to see Dems/Liberals finally understanding that hard work trumps a government handout. Maybe the era of welfare for the undeserving is dead. Welfare is serious business, best handed out to worthy entities such as banks, car companies or clients of Bernie Madoff.

Back to the Sunday inaugural show. In 2008, we elect the first Black American and we get an entertainment line-up laden with 1970-1980's classic rock!  I had my finger on the remote fearing that Fleetwood Mac would come our and start singing "Don't Stop".  Thank the Lord for Usher & Stevie Wonder saving the event from becoming too "Farm-Aid"ish. No matter who else was on the bill, can you ever go wrong if you have Shakira and Beyonce sounding great and looking tres hot? But where was Akon? Where was Kanye West-(I wonder if he thinks the President-elect hates Black people). Man, I wish Eartha Kitt were still alive. That lady had street cred! Urban/Rap/Hip-hop entertainment is not spelled Even Garth Brooks doing karaoke has more street cred than or John Legend. Smart move by Garth working for Obama on Sunday. He won’t lose any popularity with his core audience then. The NASCAR dads & hockey moms were all watching football. Anyway, there's no risk to Garth.  You can’t even get HBO with rabbit ears.

Question: who were the racially monochromatic men’s choir behind Groban-Headley. I'm suspicious about how they found that many middle aged white guys willing to miss an NFL playoff game for a choral event?

Memo to organizers: Next time, don't simultaneously send out Kal Penn and George Lopez to pitch the aspirations of immigrants? They are both great, but the aspirations of immigrants is a story best told by 1st generation immigrants. Penn & Lopez were both born here, so when you send them out predominately because they look like new immigrants, you risk looking as racist as the members of Animal House fraternity Omega Theta Pi, who funneled Larry Kroger and Kent Dorfman into a room designated for recruits they visually perceived to be not traditional looking.

Speaking of shallowness, its good to see so many good-looking black people out front during the inaugural celebration... Before you start hammerin’ me with the ‘isms, all I’m saying is that prior to Barack and Michelle Obama, we’ve had 20 years of black leaders like Rev. Al Sharpton & Condoleezza Rice who have faces made for Radio (to further understand Radio Face, Google the image of Rep. Henry Waxman or any Kennedy woman). It is great to see the black youth, glamour and achievement that has gravitated to the attractive First Family. From what I read, its similar to the “Best and Brightest” that were attracted to the Kennedys in 1960. I just hope Madison Avenue is taking notice. Memo to 7th on Sixth: You're going to look foolish if your runways have only the usual 3rd world token models like Naomi or Tyra. Diversity is not just progressive; it’s now a money-maker for business. Ralph Lauren gets it. Look and see what model he used in his full page ad in this Sunday’s NY Times Style Section.

Transitioning from my shallowness to the hypocrisy of others, Tiger Woods addressed the crowd and told a touching story concerning his father in the military. He must have gotten prior approval from Nike before speaking at this "political" event. For an high profile African-American who has avoided taking a stand on issues such as the Iraq War, Female Membership at Augusta and even this Presidential election, speaking about duty to your fellow man is hypocritical.  This great athlete has never taken a stand that might negatively affect his endorsements.

Just a thought… I can’t believe I am saying this, but it seems like outgoing President (Biff) Bush has not screwed up the transition? In policy as well, he's also doing some things right recently. As it relates to Iraq, his team has thankfully cleaned up a substantial amount of his own mess, so Obama will not be forced to spend every day/all day dealing with it. W. has also done a lot of heavy lifting related to the banking crisis. His willingness to cast aside his free market principles and allow Bernanke/Paulson to print money as fast as a North Korean counterfeiter may give Obama a chance to steward a economic recovery in time for the 2012 re-election season. I also doubt Bush’s staff will, in the waning days, engage in immature acts like the $15,000 worth of vandalism perpetrated by Clinton’s staff on their way out. I do believe that 43 is ending his reign on a high note!

BTW, on Saturday, virtually every news channel was showing video of Obama traveling the Lincolnesque train-trip from Phildelphia to D.C. Curious, I checked out the web video feed from Fox News to get there take on the event. Wouldn't you know it, they were filming U.S. Air Flight 1549 being exhumed from the Hudson River. I was shocked, I tell you…SHOCKED that, at that historic moment, Fox wasn’t video streaming the Democrat President-Elect’s journey.

Lastly, Bruuuuce, love ya, babe…but “This Land is Your Land” is not the greatest song written about our home. It is good.  So is "America the Beautiful" and "God Bless America".  But the honor of best song goes to Charlie Daniels, “In America”. Most of us know the lyrics to “This Land is Your Land”. Here are the lyrics to “In America”. I’ll let you the reader be the judge:

Well the eagle's been flying slow, and the 
flag's been flying low, and a lot of people's
saying that America's fixing to fall. But speaking just for me and some people from 
Tennessee, we got a thing or two to tell
 you all. This lady may have stumbled but she 
ain't never fell. And if the Russians don't 
believe that they can all go straight to hell.
 We're gonna put her feet back on the path
 of the righteousness and then God bless America again.

And you never did think that it ever would
 happen again. In America, did you? You never 
did think that we'd ever get together again.
 Well we damn sure fooled you. We're walking 
real proud and we're talking real loud again in
 America. You never did think that it ever would
 happen again.

From the sound up in Long Island out to San 
Francisco Bay, and ev'ry thing that's in between 
them is our home. And we may have done a little
 bit of fighting amongst ourselves, but you outside 
people best leave us alone. Cause we'll all stick 
together and you can take that to the bank.
 That's the cowboys and the hippies and the rebels 
and the yanks. You just go and lay your head on a
 Pittsburgh Steeler fan and I think you're gonna
 finally understand.

And you never did think that it ever would 
happen again. In America, did you? You never
 did think that we'd ever get together again.
 Well we damn sure fooled you. We're walking 
real proud and we're talking real loud again in 
America. You never did think that it ever would
 happen again.

I thought so. Case closed.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

McCarthyNYC Manifesto


I believe that America is at a tipping point. While we are still the greatest nation on Earth, the current economic and cultural crisis has placed us in jeopardy of becoming either; 1. a superpower without confidence, unsure of its role in the world, 2. a second tier power, eclipsed by China, echoing the dénouement of past empires Greece/Ancient Roman/Britain, or worse yet, 3. a modern Sodom and Gomorrah, lost in the eyes of the world and lost in the eyes of God. (greatest nation on earth comment must always be inserted before any criticism to avoid being lumped in with the America-Last crowd)

The blog “McCarthynyc” is an American manifesto offering a set of principles to navigate the problems surrounding health care, housing, immigration, education, entitlement programs, and others that imperil this great nation. Personally, I am a Reagan Democrat with a libertarian streak. I detest one-issue zealotry (Israel, Abortion, Cuba) as well as poverty pimping (Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al et Al). With these political underpinnings disclosed, I will each week write about one of the vexing issues facing the nation and suggest a solution that is neither steeped in conservative nor liberal dogma, neither red nor blue slanted, neither traditional nor social progressive based. I’d like to think that I am a part of the post-political party era where voter's allegiances are highly mobile and solutions trump ideology.

Yes, America is special, but NOT because God arbitrarily chose to shed its grace on us. It’s because our founding fathers, educated in England/France, crafted a terrific legal and economic system based on the rule of law seasoned with a healthy suspicion of authority. We then invited every risk taker, square peg, religious outcast, and different thinker from around the world to donate their energy to our cast-free capitalist-driven democracy and make a life in the land safely ensconced between two oceans.

On January 20th, most Americans, Democrats and Republicans, will watch the inauguration of the first African-American President with the pride of seeing how far America has come in race relations. But once the soirees end and the parade route is swept, the new administration will face enormous challenges on January 21st. Solving these issues are critical to maintaining America premiere position worldwide. Although I disagree with the pessimists who believe that the American century ended on December 31, 1999, if we are to extend the American century into the 21st Century, we must solve problems, and in the process, expose the cowards, thieves and political prostitutes who are weakening the nation with their disingenuous self-dealing.

In my first issue to be posted shortly, I will lay out the current immigration debate and propose a solution that revitalizes immigration while maintaining homeland security.

In summary, America can remain the greatest nation on earth if we take on the difficult issues; if we fight politicians who put re-election ahead of country; if we expose those who exploit the fears of the vulnerable; if we have the discipline to shun those whose behavior is shameful. For America to remain great, we must again do the kind of hard work that originally made us great. If we do that, we will continue to receive God's grace. Expecting divine providence to solve our problems is not a plan.