Day by Day

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Voting 'Present' on Afghanistan

President Obama’s speech Tuesday night has been widely dismissed and panned in a rare display of bipartisanship.  Democrats (or Liberals, if you prefer) are not happy because he promised to send more troops and deepen the war effort.  Republicans (or as they’re sometimes known, Conservatives) are not happy because he didn’t send enough troops, set a deadline for withdrawal, and didn’t seem truly committed to The Cause.


Our President, who we remember from a year ago being swept into office amidst universal acclimation, love, hope, and nearly God-like adoration, managed to tick off just about everyone in the country in one speech.  Truth be told, by initial reports, a lot of folks around the world may not be too pleased either.


So, how did Mr. Obama, after nearly three full months of careful, ponderous debate… considering every possible option… have managed to blow it?   What’s particularly surprising is that he did it in a way that should have surprised… no one.  Mr. Obama has previously shown a predilection for avoiding conflict, decisiveness, and wading bravely in front of a movement.  As much as the previous White House occupant was mocked for his self-declaration, there was truly little doubt that he was a ‘decider’.  Mr. Obama, on the other hand, in his Illinois legislature days showed a favored choice of not voting more liberal or conservative, but just… Present.  The Safe alternative.


I have little doubt that the previous three months consisted of the President desperately wishing for this particular choice to pass him by.  He’d have given Michele’s right arm if he thought it might have helped matters.  Anything but make THIS decision.  Essentially, it came down to:  Should he aggressively advance the war, giving General McChrystal everything he asked for and needed to win, OR should he follow what he’d suggested for Iraq and begin the return home of our troops?


It was a decision fraught with consequences.  With his popularity, and political cache declining, his marketability and power in Washington is steeply dissipating.  This is currently evidenced by a Health Care bill which, once promised to be done by August, may be lucky to be completed before Christmas, and even then, it won’t be pretty.  He would risk annoying a major constituency in some way no matter what he chose.  Here he was, the most powerful man in America, able to fire CEOs, win Nobel Peace Prizes based on 12 days of work experience, and he’d been reduced to damned-if-he-did-and-damned-if-he-didn’t.


It’s ironical isn’t it that the President, who as a candidate had mocked his opponent as not being ready for the crisis 3 am phone call, was now wilting in the face of just such a decision?  Even more so when that former opponent, now his Secretary of State, was speaking far more decisively and clearly about the decision ahead.


So, what did Mr. Obama do (besides hope for a sudden change in the situation)?  He did what he often does, try to please everyone.  He didn’t vote Yay for war or Nay – bring them home.  He voted Present.  Do both, yet neither.


And pleased no one.  Not one person.  There’s something to be said for being decisive, after all.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Historical Intersections

Today is a day for those with a sense of History. For one, it is Constitution Day. 222 years ago, the United States Constitution was created. It has served as a guide for not just our country, but has inspired other nations as well.

It has served over two centuries, delicately balancing power amongst three branches of government. It has shown that it can be amended (27 times), but not frivolously as hundreds of amendments tend to be proposed each session of Congress.

Our Constitution is notable in that it not only gives power to the national government, it also limits it.

It reserves powers and rights to the States and to the People (Tenth Amendment).

And often forgotten is that the Constitution is not the first form of government for the United States of America. Our nation had previously been guided by the Articles of Confederation. The failures and imperfections of the Articles helped guide the framers as they crafted the Constitution. The Constitution wasn't even the original plan as the framers had hoped to merely modify the Articles, but when they realized that more was needed, they set about redesigning the whole kit and kaboodle.

Our Constitution today seems to be a shadow of its former self, as our government has grown far beyond the enumerated boundaries our framers initially set. Has it grown such that it can never shrink back to the limits once set? Do our Citizens, on this "Citizenship & Constitution Day" know what is laid out in the Constitution?


Elsewhere in History, today marks the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union (Russia) invasion of Poland. Two weeks after Germany had swept into Poland, and as Poland was struggling to mount an effective defense, the Russians extinguished all hope when hundreds of thousands of their troops moved in. The result was a partitioning of Poland between the two, and Poland not being a truly independent nation again until over fifty years later.

The anniversary was marked notably by the US Government announcing that it was reneging on its defensive promises and canceling its intentions to place Ballistic Missile Interceptors in Poland. While it was announced that this is due to the lack of a perceived threat, it is much more reasonable to presume that it is an appeasement to Russian objections to the plan.

In contrast to a perceived lack of threat, the Associated Press is reporting that Iran has the ability to make a nuclear bomb and is working on a missile to deliver it. This is the same Iran that openly supports Hezbollah and whose weapons have been used against our troops in Iraq.

The Poles are used to being abandoned by the West. It is a shame that history is repeating itself.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Governor Sanford: 'But Everyone ELSE is Doing it!'

Governor Sanford is now complaining that his political enemies and the media are operating under "selective outrage". His issue is that while he may certainly have broken state law by travelling at higher than authorized levels of service or used public planes for private purposes, he shouldn't be expected to resign because other governors did it, too.

Sanford's petulant behavior should sound familiar to parents everywhere. "But, Mommmmm (or Dadddddddd - don't forget the appropriate level of whining), Susie gets to do ____________, why can't I?"

Ok, Governor Sanford, let's review. 1) You are supposed to set the example. 2) Since you campaigned on a higher level of ethics, then your example must be even further above reproach.

But, let's take this one step further. Governor, I'd like to illustrate to you the utter fragility of the position you've taken. Next conversation you have with Jenny, tell her that she's operating under 'selective outrage' and that multitudes of husbands throughout history have had affairs, and she shouldn't be so worked up. Let us know how that works out for you?

It is not what others have or have not done in the past. Any lawyer will tell you that a person is judged on their actions, and theirs alone. And your actions... well, Governor, it's long past time for you to go.

One last thought - those whose actions are above rapproach do not tend to complain about how they're being judged.

Friday, July 31, 2009

A Peek Behind the Curtain

Congress continues its deliberations and maneuvers as the Democrats try to come up with one single Health Care Plan that will satisfy all the needs and requirements of Americans - not just their healthcare needs, but the political obstacles to passing it.

So, many Americans are curious about what the final version will look like. There are differing ideas in the several committees working on the bill and no one really knows whether to be for or against such a nebulous creation. (Well, the folks in the middle anyway - the Right is against the Democrat plan and the Left naturally supports the Democrat plan... those in the middle just aren't sure yet.)

So while they craft and scheme and study, where can we turn to see what may be in store for us in terms of government run health care? Does a prototype exist?

Yes. And arguably, it could be a great example. The military health care system. From the very top down, members of the Armed Forces are lauded as the best the country has to offer and deserving of all the support the country can lend. This certainly must be true for their health care, no?

Yet, in today's USA Today article, Gregg Zoroya declares "Routine GI Health Needs Not Met".

What's this?

The military has its own complete healthcare system. It's single-payer, universal, and government run... all the very best descriptors of what is trying to be brought to all Americans.

Before even reading the article, the chart next to it shows that for the last year, of the Army's 36 major hospitals, 26 don't meet standards for providing access to health care within seven days. That's 72%, or roughly a 1 in 4 chance of being seen in a timely manner. The best year shown, 2007, gives only a 45% chance of being seen in a timely manner.

This is the Army medical system taking care of its own - Army Soldiers and Army families. It should be safe to say that they're highly motivated to take care of them as quickly as possible.

This is government health care when they're taking care of the most important people in the system - Soldiers and their own families. I wonder what it'll be like when they're taking care of just regular Joes?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Misplaced Values

Tomorrow is the 40th anniverary of the first moon landing.

A search for "moonwalker" reveals Michael Jackson.

And perhaps the fact that a dance move that makes you look like you're walking forwards while in fact you're moving backwards is the best analogy for where we stand today.

We may feel we're moving forward, and a cursory glance may not prove otherwise, yet... are we?

There are currently only nine people, or roughly .00000001% of the world's population, alive who've walked on another world. Their average age is 77. How long before we start adding to their numbers instead of blithely letting their number dwindle?

Perhaps that's the saddest countdown of all right now, as it drops to zero? And then, when it does reach zero, we will have successfully restored our world to it's pre-1969 state - one, where no one knows what it's like to have walked on another world.

And that is not progress.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Censure Isn't Enough

The South Carolina GOP voted recently to censure Governor Sanford for his shenanigans down in Argentina. For those not familiar with the term, basically it's a political version of "You've been a very bad boy, so promise you won't do it again, and you can keep your job."

The job he wasn't doing.

The job he will have a very difficult time doing in the future.

Again, I say he should resign. Or be impeached. And the voters of SC have every right to call for his head (or perhaps more appropriately, some anatomy lower down) on a platter.


Because he cheated on his wife? Well, it's morally reprehensible, and it's certainly against the values that he and the party stand for. A very good reason for the voters and the Party to do some soul-searching, but... not impeachable.

Because he took off for a few days and wasn't reachable? Hmmm... if it'd been the busy season, maybe, but let's be honest. The Legislature wasn't in session, and not much was going on. Four days. Could have been worse. He could have stayed away the full ten days he'd originally booked his trip to Argentina for.

Because he rerouted travel and went against official US foreign policy to have an excuse to visit his lover? We're getting warmer.

How about that he used state funds? He's repaid that, so unlike anyone else who steals (sorry convenience store thieves), he's off-the-hook. Since SLED has decided he didn't violate any laws, there's no grounds for impeachment.

How about this latest revelation? Pay attention voters. During a period of economic downturn, there was one company wanting to expand its operations in South Carolina (more jobs, larger tax revenue, etc.) and another company wanting to celebrate a plant expansion... he turned down both invitations so he could be in Argentina. In essence, and crudely, he screwed over the state so he could get screwed.

Governor Sanford, how can you govern?


Leave now.

It's called Integrity. Show you have some.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Governor Sanford - He's Still Here?

The other day, as the story broke, I wrote expressing my belief that Governor Sanford needed to resign, immediately.

A few days have passed, and we've learned more about our Governor and his escapades.

We've learned that not only is he redefining audacity (I'm a nationwide recognized political figure - no one will miss me for a few days!), he's also writing new definitions for hubris.

It's reported that he'd considered resigining, but close aides advised him that the best way to recover from this crisis is to recover the trust of the people of South Carolina - by staying on.

Did it possibly occur to the (cough)Honorable Governor Sanford that those aides might have their wagons tightly hitched to his success?

We've learned that the Governor, upon being told by his wife to leave the house and stop communicating with the family for awhile, was humbled and wanting to deeply work on his marriage, er... booked a ten day trip to Argentina! So, we shouldn't be shocked by his four day absence, as his original plans were for ten days.

He's previously re-routed trade missions to include Argentina, on the taxpayers' dime, naturally. Why is this important? Well, two reasons. One is that he had become famous as a budget hawk, decrying any wasteful spending of taxpayer monies. A Governor who insisted on staff using both sides of post-its and index cards, who slept in his Congressional office, and decried state Legislature waste used a taxpayer junket to satisfy his adulterous urges.

Contrary to, and undercutting, official US Government policy at the time, that is. See, Argentina had fallen out of favor with the international community as it had amassed massive debt and essentially announced to its creditors (including US) that it had zero intention of repaying that debt. The Bush administration had thus frozen it out of trade negotiations and contracts. So, for Governor Sanford to decide that a trade side-trip to Argentina might be beneficial, in any way more than a cover for his adulterous subterfuge, was again... being a bit of a bad boy, no?

Perhaps most intriguing and enlightening is the revelation from his wife that after the discover of his affair by her, he asked her permission to keep seeing her! Husbands and wives out there -- anyone want to try to imagine that conversation? It's almost as credulous as trying to imagine the language when Bill told Hillary that what Monica was doing wasn't 'really sex'...


A recent Rasmussen poll shows 50% of South Carolinians want the Governor to resign. I suspect it's actually more than that, and have heard whispers of it being as high as 70%. What seems to be tamping the number down is the fear of Lt. Governor Andre Bauer becoming the Governor.

In SC, unlike for example the Presidency, the Governor and Lt. Governor are elected separately and are not always friends, allies, political companions, or even occasional drinking-buddies. So, it's not akin to accepting Dan Quayle with George H.W. Bush, or Cheney with George W. Bush, or even Biden with Obama.

The people of SC elected Mr. Bauer, twice, to the Lt. Governorship. Is he an excellent politician? A paragon of perfection? Nope. But, we elected him. He has essentially two duties - supervision of the SC Senate and... being around in case the #1 guy isn't.

So, here we are... we need to ditch the #1 guy and we're afraid to do so because of whom we put as #2. Tough tiddlywinks. Let this be a lesson to our future electorates, then... Choose wisely. Elections have consequences. Even for minor, insignificant, can't-believe-someone-is-actually-RUNNING-for-this offices...


Governor Sanford, you have become a punchline. How can you govern? In the next budget discussion, how can you ask for a single budget cut? What principle will you be able to stand on? How can anyone bargain and negotiate with you, now that we know that you are a liar and a fraud?

Rebuild your family. Given time, perhaps, you may be able to revive your political career and run for a City Council slot somewhere. In the meantime, let us recover... take this opportunity to lead one last time, by demonstrating that a TRUE man of principle knows when it's time to leave.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Governor Sanford

Well, the news is out. I'd wanted to comment a few days before, but... it seemed premature as there was the lil' "niggling" feeling that something was a tad... off.

Now, we know.

I can't express how disappointed, and how A N G R Y, I am with Governor Sanford. To see someone whom you've supported, since his first foray into politics as the Congressman from the First Congressional District of South Carolina, flush their career (and likely marriage) down the toilet can quite literally strike you dumb.

Governor Sanford had captured the loyalty and following of conservatives looking for leadership in the wilderness of the political landscape that has become the Republican Party in the new Obama era. His name was being widely whispered, some places shouted, as a strong candidate for the Republican ticket in 2012.

No more.

Republicans like to brand their party as one of 'values', emphatically, 'family values'. Certainly, a party that once impeached a President for actions resulting from adulterous affairs cannot try to have it both ways. And a party of 'family values' cannot stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a man who disregarded, and disrespected, his family in such a public, selfish, and humilitating way.

On Father's Day, his family has learned that he wasn't with his sons because he preferred to be in South America cheating on his wife. There is nothing to defend here.

Yet, this isn't the nail in his coffin, as shocking as that is. (It should be noted that to imagine the pitchman's crowing voice, "But wait! There's more..." after discussing a Governor's infidelity and disregard for his family cannot be a good thing.)

As Democrats chanted for a mantra during Clinton's impeachment, the adultery is a family matter - even as it shows a deep and willing disregard to abandon one's principles of Honor and Integrity. Governor Sanford also abandoned his office and the People of South Carolina.

Which is The Reason why he must resign, immediately, or failing that, be impeached. He left the state without so much as a way to be reached in an emergency. Emergencies, by their definition, are not foreseen. South Carolina, like most heirarchies, lays the decisive powers in its executive branch leader - the Governor.

And had an emergency occurred, the Governor was AWOL. Missing. What started as a whisper, grew to an amusing gossip rumor ("Has anyone seen the Governor?") grew to nationwide interests to finally a media obsession as blood was detected in the water. Leaders need to be reached, and even considering where and why his travels took him to Argentina, he should have stayed in contact. Placing his relationship and sexual urgency ahead of his duties as Governor belies a fatal flaw.

Which brings us to the third leg of the triangle - Governor Sanford went to see a foreign citizen in a foreign country without any security. Powerful people are at risk - to blackmail, kidnapping, worse - which is why the personal security industry is so successful and why governments devote such energy to protecting their principle people. His bodyguards were in no position to protect him, his staff likewise, while he was out... "Whistling Dixie".

South Carolina is a conservative state where people have long and deep relationships and memories. In a state where the War Between the States is still discussed on a near daily basis, being abandoned by a political figure will not soon be forgotten. As the saw goes, "A leader without followers is just a guy out for a walk."

Governor Sanford, as a rising star, is/was a huge political target. The Democratic Party will NOT hesitate to make hay of this. Republicans would be wise to show Mr. Sanford the door, and help him pack, tonight, his belongings out of the Governor's Mansion. If the Republican Party in SC is to have credibility as a party of its principles, then Governor Sanford needs to be ostracized quickly, deeply, and permanently. Anything else will further exacerbate the irresponsible damage that Governor Sanford has done to the State, his party, the People, and lest we forget, his family.

Goodbye, Governor Sanford, and as a longtime fan and supporter... don't let the door hit you where the good Lord split you!