Monday, February 25, 2008

Week of 02/25/2008

McCain: Conservative’s Broccoli
– by David Matthews 2

Remember when you were a kid and you didn’t like to eat certain foods that were put before you?

One of the most common disliked foods was broccoli, and although this commentator didn’t mind it, I can understand the dislike kids have for it. I had the same experience with summer squash and eggplant.

Parents, of course, would have none of that.

At first they will try reasoning with you. They’ll say “You won’t like it until you try it.” Never mind that we already tried it and we hate it.

Then they try the guilt trip. “There are starving children in Africa that would KILL to eat what you’re having.” GREAT! Where’s the box? Let’s UPS it over to them!

Finally, of course, parents will turn to that little inner-dictator of theirs.

“You will eat what is put before you and YOU WILL LIKE IT!”

By the way, parents, that little unrealistic demand of yours will come back to haunt you when your child grows up. My parents used to use hot sauce as a punishment, and now I pay them back every time I cook up hot wings.

But that little exclamation from the parents, and their unrealistic demand that “you will LIKE IT” only reassured the belief in the little tykes that if they so wished it, all broccoli would disappear from the face of the planet. So while they would consume the broccoli, under duress, they would learn to hate broccoli. They would detest it. And there would be nothing that the parents could do to change that view, because they pretty much pissed away that possibility with that final inner-dictator demand of theirs that their kids “LIKE IT”.

Well the same effect is apparently occurring to another bunch of “children” in a much larger “family” of sorts. Of course these “children” are all adults, and the “family” is a fraternal one instead of blood relations. In this case, the “family” is the “big tent” organization called the Grand Old Party. You may remember them as “Republicans”.

You know these “children” too. They go by last names like Limbaugh, Hannity, and Coulter. And for the longest time they and their friends have ruled the political roost, and they have made their fortunes screaming and shouting against liberals and anyone else who doesn’t think like them. They have taken pride in their dominance, boasting about the power of their voices and the influence it has over the party, and consequentially the whole country.

They have propped themselves up as the measuring stick of all things conservative, condemning those who do not meet their standards and crucifying those who attempt to dilute the conservative dominance. To these “children”, there IS no such thing as a “big tent” for the Republicans… unless, of course, that “big tent” is a REVIVAL tent, with Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, and others serving as the ministers seeking to bring the masses in “to see the light”.

And like any real child, these “Children” that go by names like Limbaugh, Hannity, and Coulter all have a passionate dislike of broccoli… which, in this case, is a career politician named Senator John McCain from Ohio. They just don’t like him. They’ll work with him as long as he has that “R” next to his name. They’ll back him AS a Republican against the Democrats, but they don’t like him. And they certainly don’t want him running the country!

Unfortunately they probably won’t have a choice in the matter.

Up until the big Super Tuesday primary, there were plenty of choices for the GOP “children” to turn to, and they were quick to squabble over which candidate was better. They haggled over whether voters would back a Mormon like Governor Mitt Romney, or a former minister like Mike Huckabee, or the McCarthy-esque antics of so-called “America’s Mayor” Rudy Giuliani. They were disappointed by Fred Thompson’s non-performance, and wouldn’t mind if former House Speaker Newt Gingrich took a shot at the White House.

As for McCain, though, they were all united in their feelings for him. Screw him! McCain was deemed too “dangerous” to be considered. They dismissed his run for the White House as rehash from the original 2000 run, where he soundly lost to George W. Bush, their beloved glorious leader. They chuckled at the news that his “Straight-Talk Express” was losing steam and his finances were drying up. They all were waiting for the announcement that they believed was inevitable; that McCain would be suspending his campaign and ending his dreams of running for the White House.

But then a funny thing happened…

John McCain actually started WINNING primaries and caucuses!

The first few times were considered flukes. But then there were others. Voters were tapping McCain over their “chosen” favorites. He started collecting serious party delegates. He even got the endorsement of the New York Times!

Then the favorites started to go. Giuliani, the favored son of the Fox News commentators, sabotaged his own campaign early and never could recover. Thompson folded like a house of cards. But that didn’t matter to these “children” of the conservative cause. They still had their BIG NAMES in the running, and plenty of delegate-rich states to call upon.

And then Romney dropped out.

You could actually hear the cries of desperation from the conservatives as Romney made his big statement. It was that same crestfallen expression when they found out that Ronald Reagan had Alzheimer’s while he was President, or when George H.W. Bush went back on his “No new taxes” promise, or when they got their much-deserved 2006 mid-term ass-kicking.

And not only did Romney drop out, but he then turned everything over to the candidate that he felt was better suited for the job… John McCain!

Suddenly the “children” of the conservative causes… the people like Limbaugh, Hannity, and Coulter… may have to accept the bitter reality that their worst nightmare is coming true… and that John McCain would become the Republican Party nominee for the 2008 Presidential Election.

That’s when the “child” in these political children suddenly came out.

“NOOOOOOOO!” they cried out. “Not McCain! Anyone but McCain! We won’t support him! We HATE McCain! McCain is evil!”

Rush Limbaugh has launched an endless diatribe about McCain. Ann Coulter herself was pretty vocal about her willingness to even support Hillary Rodham Clinton get into the White House just to keep it away from McCain. Sean Hannity jumped in as well. Glen Beck even said that he would rather vote for Hillary over McCain.

It makes you wonder what it is about John McCain that makes these “children” of the endless conservative crusade throw literal temper tantrums in the media. And… whatever it is, can it be mass-produced so that it will make their heads pop in sheer desperation?

This isn’t the first time that a “non-conservative” made it through to the finals in our little skewed “Presidential Idol” show. Senator Bob Dole was also one of those folks who really didn’t fit the conservative standards that the water-carriers wanted back in 1996. But when the numbers were crunched and the also-rans quit, Dole became the nominee and the conservatives backed him wholeheartedly.

So what is it about McCain that makes the conservative standard-bearers throw screaming fits? What is it that makes John McCain so damned “dangerous”?

Well there are several reasons behind that pronouncement.

The first is McCain’s stance as a reformer. This is a man that was a part of the dreaded Keating Five scandal of the 1980’s who then used it to reinvent himself as a crusader for campaign finance reform. Conservatives love campaign finance reform, but only so far as it would limit the campaigns of their opponents, NOT to limit themselves. And yet, there was McCain, pushing for and getting draconian limitations that would hurt their cause. And even when he got those limits, he was pushing for even more limits, and in ways that would HURT his fellow Republicans, not to mention the very “children” of the conservative cause.

The second is McCain’s flip-flopping on his stances. In the 2000 campaign he was critical of the role of organized religion in politics. Then he sucked up to the hell-bound blowhard Jerry Falwell prior to his death and made a speech at his university. He was a former POW, but he flip-flopped on torture. He was a critic of George W. Bush, but now he promises to pick up the overused 9/11 banner and run with it. He even one-upped Junior on the cheap antics with his little “Bomb-Bomb-Bomb-Bomb-Bomb-Iran” song.

And perhaps the most unforgivable for the Limbaughs and Hannties and Coulters of the world is the simple fact that John McCain is a career insider who has no problem whatsoever working with anyone to get his agendas passed. That includes working closely with… dare I say it… LIBERAL DEMOCRATS!

SACRELEGE! HOW DARE John McCain do that!

Suddenly the reasons for the temper tantrums become painfully clear. John McCain is despised by the “children” of the conservative cause because he doesn’t adhere to their zero-sum extremist line. He can’t be controlled by the conservatives like Dole could in 1996. McCain will say what needs to be said to get his way and he will use anything and anyone to get his way. That’s why he’s “dangerous”. He’s dangerous to the conservatives! He wants to use them instead of letting it be the other way around.

Now let’s get brutally honest here… the temper tantrums being thrown by the “children” of the conservative cause are really doing themselves and their party a disservice. I can understand why they are pissed off but that doesn’t mean that they should be throwing fits over the choices made by the voters.

If anything, their continued temper tantrums are giving Republican voters even MORE reasons to vote for McCain! They’re seeing someone who won’t kowtow to the conservative extremists. They’re seeing someone who would be willing to work WITH the Democrats in Congress to get business done rather than play puissant partisan games. And when the alternative is either a born-again former minister-slash-governor from a state in the “Deep South”, or a libertarian-leaning congressman that most people don’t really know too much about (thanks to the media and the GOP hacks), voters are going to go with a name that they know.

And let’s face it, not everyone who votes in Republican primaries has been “Hannitized” or “Coulter-Shocked” or converted over to the First Church of the Half-Deaf Pill-Popping Dittohead. There are quite a few folks who look at these conservative “children” and see them for the spoiled brats that they carry themselves as, and while they may agree with most of the arguments made by these media “personalities”, they certainly get turned off by their partisan antics. They may end up voting for McCain just to spite them.

Here’s the funny part: even though they are screaming and shouting and railing on against it, the folks like Limbaugh, Hannity, and Coulter will probably end up swallowing their pride and backing the GOP nominee anyway, even if it is McCain. And they’ll give some half-assed reason for it, such as saying that “the good of the party” is more important.

In truth, though, it will all boil down to power and access. Back McCain as the GOP nominee, and if he gets elected president, then the conservative “children” will have access to the White House like they currently do with the Bush Imperium. Back the Democrat nominee and there is no such guarantee. And they DO love those little perks from the White House.

Much like the actual green vegetable, John McCain is the political broccoli that may be “good” for the Republicans, and even if they won’t “like it”, the children of the conservative cause will eventually “eat it”.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Week of 02/18/2008

When the Exception Becomes the Norm
– by David Matthews 2

The running joke about the demise of the Holy Roman Empire was that it was dissolved by Napoleon Bonaparte upon the pronouncement that it was neither “Holy”, nor “Roman”, nor an “Empire”. That sounds right, although the true demise of this area that covered the middle of Europe was caused by multiple problems, with Napoleon’s conquest of that area being really the nail in that government’s coffin.

The “Holy Roman Empire” was supposed to be the continuation of the “best” qualities of the old Roman republic mixed in with the “might” of the Catholic Church, with the first “emperor” being the great leader Charlemagne, although there would a gap of some 160 years before the first successive line of “emperors” would rule.

There were, however, some problems with this idea. The largest is that Rome was NEVER part of this Empire! Sure some parts of what would later become Italy were included, but ROME ITSELF was never a part of the mix! It’s a little hard to tell folks that you’re in the Holy ROMAN Empire and not include that city!

It’s like making orange juice without oranges. You can call it what you like, but if it doesn’t have oranges in it, then it’s not really orange juice!

Oh, but wait… Charlemagne DID get the blessings of the pope, who DID live in Rome, and since he was considered “the FIRST Emperor” of the Holy Roman Empire, then I suppose they can fudge the rules a bit, right? Never mind that whole 160-year gap.

The point, of course, is that government always seems to find a way to excuse their actions, even if that excuse defies logic, reason, or even the laws of time and space.

Case in point: how government solidifies their grip on society through the use of exceptions.

Let’s suppose that you have a small town that is going through a strong growth spurt. People are moving in because the taxes are low and the services are small and affordable. As is inevitable in these areas, growth also means an increase in basic services and resources. Water, electricity, sewage, education, police and fire services all need to be expanded to keep up. Roads need to be widened. Traffic lights need to be installed.

All of this can’t come about for free, so the town officials announce that they have to raise taxes.

“NO!” exclaim the elderly taxpayers. “We live on fixed incomes! We can’t afford a hike in taxes! You’ll be chasing us out of our homes!”

“Not a problem,” says the government, “we’ll just give you guys a tax break to compensate for the difference.”

So the retirees get a tax break. But that also deprives the government of that money, so now they have to raise the taxes even higher to make up the difference.

“NO!” exclaim the poor residents. “We’re struggling as is to make the ends meet! We’re on welfare and Medicaid and Social Security and we’re in the same situation as the retirees! You’ll be chasing US out of our homes as well!”

So the government says “Not a problem” to the poor and gives them their own tax break. Of course, that also means that there’s yet another shortfall, which means yet another tax increase.

You can probably guess what happens next, right?

“NO!” shout out the spouses of soldiers who are sent overseas. “We can’t afford these high taxes! Our spouses are overseas, we can’t keep making ends meet with the military pay we’re given, and you’ll be throwing us out to the street with this!”

Okay, so let’s give them some tax breaks. Oh, and that will also mean a higher tax increase to make up the difference.

“NO!” shout the middle class families. “We can’t afford to raise a family if you continue to raise taxes! We have children! You don’t want to put our children out in the streets, do you?”

You guessed it… more tax breaks to middle-class families. And of course a higher tax increase to make up the difference.

So now who’s left to pay these extra taxes? The elderly don’t have to pay them. The poor don’t have to pay them. The spouses of military men and women don’t have to pay them. Middle-class families don’t have to pay them. That just leaves the single taxpayers or childless couples. THEY get the “honor” of paying the bulk of the tax burden in this hypothetical small town. Unless, of course, they were to move away. Why do you think there are so many “family” communities out there?

Oh, but it doesn’t stop there! You see, because of the pile of exceptions on top of exceptions to the original tax increase, this hypothetical growing community will NEVER have enough tax money to pay for the things that they need, so they will ALWAYS need to raise taxes, and then give still MORE exceptions to help out those same groups over and over again. The local politicians then use that as a leverage to stay in office, reminding those same groups that THEY were the ones that championed those tax breaks, and that those groups will LOSE those tax breaks should someone else take over. It’s a nice little perpetual circle of dependency where the collection of needed revenue comes second to the continued “relationship” between politicians and their constituents.

Those in government LOVE to write rules and then give out exceptions. It keeps them in power and it provides the illusion that they “care” about the community.

Here’s another good example of this…

You know all of those asinine moralist laws out there? The ones that say it’s illegal to commit adultery or to cohabitate with someone you’re not married to? The ones that outlaw blasphemy and obscenity? Well you’ll find that one of the key reasons why those laws are still on the books is because they are used as tools to persecute those that the moralists don’t like.

Police officers will use those laws to arrest someone and then the prosecutors will turn around and make a deal with them. They’ll tell their victims that they can have the charges dropped of they plead guilty to some lesser charge and go through some phony rehab game, and then the whole record would be expunged. The alternative, of course, is public humiliation in a court hearing that they would guarantee would be a media circus.

What they don’t tell you is that if it DOES go to trial, then there is a good chance that those laws would be declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL! If not in the kangaroo court, then it certainly would get shot down on appeal. But it would be a costly battle anyway, so most folks simply surrender and take the deal.

And mind you, the government doesn’t apply these kinds of laws EQUALLY! If Joe Average gets caught fooling around on his wife, then he will CERTAINLY get charged with adultery and bullied by the government into compliance. But if Reverend Righteous or Senator Blowhard get caught fooling around, NO prosecutor would EVER DARE touch that! It’s the same law, the same offense, but there is a double-standard in application simply because of who committed the act.

Here’s another example of that double-standard in action…

The legislators in the State of Georgia came up with this idea that they NEEDED to compel people to tell the truth when they speak under the overhyped “Gold Dome”. Apparently they were concerned that when people come before the state to address the collection of elected grifters and shysters that they may not be telling THE TRUTH about certain things. They wanted people to be HONEST. So they came up with a bill that would make it a CRIMINAL OFFENSE to lie to the state legislature. And they wanted people to know that this would apply to EVERYONE! You, me, police officers, judges, even the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of the state would be OBLIGATED to tell the truth when under the Gold Dome!

Everyone… except the legislators themselves.

Yes, you read correctly. The state legislators EXPECT “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing BUT the truth, so help them Jesus Christ and God Almighty Amen” from everyone they encounter, but THEY don’t think that THEY should be held to the same standard. After all, we all know that the truth is to politicians like garlic and crucifixes are to vampires.

It is hypocritical to the core? Absolutely!

But guess what? It’s par for the course when it comes to politicians!

Speaking of Georgia, the northern part of that state has been suffering from a prolonged drought which aggravated long-standing disputes over controls of the area’s water supply. With Georgia’s water supply disappearing, the state and local governments imposed serious restrictions on its use. No more outdoor watering. No more car washes. Even outdoor fountains had to be shut off to show just how dire the situation is. The governor DEMANDED that people reduce their water use by ten percent.

Unfortunately you can’t make those kinds of restrictions and not have an effect on local businesses. Landscaping companies immediately were affected by this since they REQUIRE outdoor watering. Some even went into bankruptcy over this. Car Wash businesses were worried that they might be shut down because of this ban. Even water-themed parks such as Six Flags and local pools were worried that they would have to shut down because of these restrictions. It’s a little hard to justify running a waterslide when you can’t even run so much as a lawn sprinkler.

So what did the state do to address this issue? Did they put pressure on the Governor to solve this problem quickly? Nope. Did they put pressure on federal government to intervene? Nope. Did they petition Congress to step in? Not a chance. They simply issued EXEMPTIONS! Landscapers threatened by these restrictions? Oh, no problem. They get an exemption. Local pools and water-themed parks worried about being shut down? Oh, no problem. They get exemptions. Car wash companies threatened? Exempt them too!

Now mind you it doesn’t RESOLVE anything with the water problem in this state. Local businesses are still FORCED by the governor to cut their use by ten percent by any means necessary. Apartment owners and condo managers are still forcing their tenants to cut water use by ten percent by any means necessary. But… the landscapers can still waste water like there’s no tomorrow, and the water-themed parks can still dump water down the drain like there’s no tomorrow, and the local pools can still open as if the problem was somehow resolved… even though it is still FAR from being resolved.

Oh and let’s not forget that even though the resources are drying up fast, developers are still going head-strong building NEW homes and NEW shopping areas to even further deplete the resources. They, of course, have long since enjoyed their own little exemptions from these water restrictions.

Let’s get brutally honest here… dishing out exceptions and exemptions does absolutely NOTHING to fix any kind of problem in government. In fact, all that it does is that it make the matter even WORSE because it takes away any incentive to actually DEAL with the problem itself.

Let’s go back to the whole issue of taxes. The way our state and federal governments generate revenue through taxes is deplorable and has resulted in long-term changes in our mentalities about how we look at money. We have been taught to actually DESPISE success in this country simply because of this asinine notion that the more successful you are, the exponentially more that you SHOULD BE FORCED to pay in taxes.

“The rich should pay more,” is their battle-cry.

But that battle-cry is becoming America’s death-knell as we slowly reach a point where government’s largesse will no long be sustainable by the taxes being brought in. Part of that reason is because government spends too damn much, but at the same time you also have all of these special interest groups that have demanded and gotten exemptions and deductions and tax breaks. We’re talking big businesses, major corporations, senior citizens, welfare groups, religious organizations, and they all make the same claim that was made earlier… namely that they can’t afford to pay these taxes.

And it’s not like there are no alternatives out there that can truly FIX the problem. There are SEVERAL alternatives that government can turn to that WILL fix the problem. Implementing the FairTax Plan is probably THE best solution to the federal government’s revenue problem, but there are others out there.

The problem is… nobody wants to implement any of them!

Nobody in government wants to change the system! They don’t want to find a new system of generating revenue. They just want to keep the current failing system in place and just dish out new exceptions, new deductions, and new tax breaks, and then try to find some way to eliminate some of the old ones.

Why? Because the current failing system gives them POWER!

Politicians can use the power of taxation both as a carrot and a stick to get what they want. They can encourage new businesses to come into the area by giving them tax breaks, and they can force businesses they don’t like to leave through higher taxes. They can appease special interest groups who demand more and more tax breaks, and then hurt the special interest groups that support the opponents by taking those tax breaks away.

The generation of revenue comes SECONDARY to the POWER those in government have. And because of that, the federal government’s current tax system is DOOMED to fail in a decade’s time according to the General Accounting Office, the government’s own accounting group.

And in creating all of these exceptions and exemptions, government actually DESTORYS the integrity of the very systems that they champion! WHY SHOULD people be honest about how much money they’re making if it just means that more of it will be taken away from them? WHY SHOULD they have any kind of respect for government if those in government systematically REFUSE to enforce the law equally?

As long as politicians continue to choose power over integrity when it comes to the law, then corruption and injustice will thrive. As long as they continue to choose power over integrity when it comes to taxation, then there will never be enough revenue to do what they want to have done, and thus they will continue to encourage tax cheating, withholding information, and an underground economy. As long as politicians continue to choose power over integrity, they will in fact necessitate the kind of citizens that they claim to abhor. Specifically, criminals.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Week of 02/11/2008

Change What?
– by David Matthews 2



It’s all about CHANGE in politics today!

“Change” is THE political buzzword for 2008. Everyone is eager to take over from George W. Bush, and they all want to bring CHANGE to the job!

Ah, but what KIND of change are we talking about?

For starters, EVERY candidate that is running for president right now will bring CHANGE into the White House, simply because at that point it will no longer be the Bush Imperium! George W. Bush will have left establishment, and there IS no political heir apparent, so the Imperium will THANKFULLY die when he leaves in January of 2009. We just have to survive until then.

So, yes, the candidates ALL offer CHANGE simply by running.

But, sadly, that is not enough. We have to ask WHAT KIND of change we will be getting with each candidate, because some of that change may not be the kind that we either WANT or NEED.

There was a guy who blamed himself for losing his home in a natural disaster. Every year the area is hit hard by torrential rains which would flood the area. Every year his basement would flood, the sewers would overflow, and he would lose his drinking water for a few weeks. Every year he would have to deal with this, and every year he would pray that something would happen to change it all. Sure enough, on the last year, instead of torrential rains, there was a drought that dried up all of the brush. A stray lighting bolt caused a raging wildfire that destroyed his neighborhood, including his home. So when the media catches up to him, he’s quick to say that it’s all HIS fault because he’s been busy praying for CHANGE but he never really specified what KIND of change he wanted.

Guess what guys? Much like that self-tormented soul, we need to be careful about what kind of CHANGE we want with a president, lest we end up with one that we will regret.

I know some people will tell you that it simply can’t get any worse than the situation that we’re in today, but in truth IT CAN. IT CAN get worse, and it can get worse before the November elections. We may be spiraling down towards that Alan Moore “V for Vendetta” dystopia, but we’re still not there yet, and that is CERTAINLY the kind of change that we do not want!

Let’s start with some basics here… any candidate that sings arias about the Bush Imperium and yet still talks about change is lying about either or both of these things. Certainly the public has gotten tired of how things have been progressing with the Imperium, so while Republicans don’t want to say anything bad about Bush Junior, they know that publicly embracing his policies can be seen as political suicide. If they wish to continue the neo-conservative neo-Roman imperial gravy train, then the only CHANGE that they can provide would be merely cosmetic. The faces would change, but the status quo would continue to serve as the rule.

Of course any kind of dystopian program can be substituted by another one. If the neo-conservative tyranny that is one part Norsefire and one part George Orwell doesn’t suit your fancy, there’s always the nanny state dystopia, one where pills and socialism are the rule. If you ever read Aldous Huxley’s book “Brave New World” you could easily see the prodding hands of certain liberal politicians nudging us towards that dystopia. That, too, is CHANGE… just not the kind of change that we would want.

The voters demanded CHANGE in 2006, so they voted out the Republicans in power, hoping that the Democrats would provide the CHANGE that they wanted. Unfortunately, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid had a different kind of CHANGE in mind. It was the kind of CHANGE where the Congress would do a little as possible to stop the Imperium and still implement just enough of their programs to claim that they actually did SOMETHING. Not exactly what the voters were thinking of when they went to the polls in 2006, but it was still change nonetheless.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and let you know what I think the voters pretty much WANT in terms of change. Mind you, this isn’t based on any kind of special interest polling, but simply on several years of experience listening to people and what their basic complaints are with government and what they think needs to be fixed.

People want to be secure. They don’t want to worry about thugs or criminals or terrorists wanting to hurt them, threaten them, rob them, or kill them. They want to know that their children are safe and secure, that they will have a chance to grow up and be the kinds of people that they could be proud of. At the same time, though, they don’t want to be told that they have to live in constant FEAR of these things either. They don’t want to be constantly afraid of the boogeyman and have it wielded over their heads to justify being governed under a “guilty until proven innocent” mentality.

People want the government to be STRONG. They want it to have the strength to do what needs to be done. At the same time, though, they don’t want to be seen as some 800-pound global gorilla that can crap anywhere it feels like. They want to be respected. They don’t want to be scoffed at or made to feel embarrassed if they travel outside of the country. They don’t want to have to either stand up for or try to explain the actions of their leaders. They don’t expect foreigners to fawn over them when they say that they’re Americans, but at the same time they don’t want to be scorned or shunned or looked down on either.

People want LEADERS, but they don’t want RULERS. When times of adversity arise, they want leaders with a sound course of action to lead the way for the rest of us. At the same time, though, they don’t want to be dragged into any kind of action simply on the whims of that leader.

People want their government officials to be moral and ethical. They expect those people to make good decisions based on their moral and ethical beliefs. At the same time, though, they don’t want those officials to IMPOSE their ethical and moral beliefs on them, especially if they don’t share everything about those beliefs. They certainly don’t want to be made to feel like THEIR beliefs should be scorned or shunned or ignored. They want leaders to be right, but not be righteous.

People want to know that the government works FOR THEM, not just for the whims of special interest groups. They want government to be frugal when it comes to spending, but at the same time they want to know that in times of need, the government will be generous. They want systems in place to make sure that jobs and help and support are there when they are needed, but they don’t want to hear about wasted money and endless “money pit” programs.

They want the government to WORK, and for those in government to do their jobs. But they also want those that abuse government for their own ends and fail to live up to their expectations to face some kind of justice for their actions. They don’t want to see the system bend over backwards to protect those that violate the trust of the public. At the same time, though, they don’t want the system to be so fixated on that pursuit of justice that they can’t get anything done.

Does all of that seem contradictory? Absolutely!

But let’s get brutally honest here… THAT is the kind of change that the American people want! They WANT that delicate balance, that mixture of contradictory ideas, and they feel BETRAYED when that balance is not made. Look at the Democrats. They PROMISED to restore that balance in 2006, and then systematically FAILED to do that in 2007 and now they are hated even worse than the people they replaced.

The American people want that balance wrapped up in a big red ribbon and handed to them in time for the November elections, and they expect that balance to be there on day one of the following tenure in office. They don’t want to be made to feel like they have been used YET AGAIN by a bunch of overpaid and over-hyped career con-artists.

And they want something else too… they want HOPE. They want to know that there will be a tomorrow for themselves and for their children.

Richard Nixon couldn’t offer that in 1960, which is why he lost to John Kennedy. But after three public assassinations and a nation back in a war they didn’t want, Nixon was able to offer some glimmer of hope, which is why he won in 1968.

Jimmy Carter couldn’t offer hope in 1980, which is why Ronald Reagan won. Reagan offered that “Morning in America” dream that baby boomers needed to hear. And unfortunately for Reagan’s successor, Bush Senior couldn’t offer hope in 1992, which is why he lost to Bill Clinton, even with all of Clinton’s faults. Clinton offered hope at a time when it was needed.

Bush Junior’s BEST days were in 2001 when he offered some GLIMMER of hope in recovering from a recession that got started in Clinton’s watch, and in the days after 9/11, when he was expected to take action against our attackers, and he did. Unfortunately for him, and for us, it all started to go downhill from there.

Likewise, each and every one of the political candidates today needs to do more than just TALK about “CHANGE”. They need to actually show WHAT KIND of change that they are offering! What is it that they truly champion? Are they trying to champion the old guard or forge a new one? Are they offering more of the same under a different banner, or do they REALLY want to shake things up and make things work for US again? The people need to feel like the candidate CAN create the contradictory balance that the public expects of him or her, as well as give them guarantees that there WILL be a tomorrow for themselves and their children, and that it won’t get harder or worse for them to make the ends meet.

THIS is the standard that the American people expect. It is high time for the candidates to prove whether or not they can actually meet it.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Week of 02/04/2008

Giuliani: Winning By Shooting One’s Own Foot
– by David Matthews 2

Rudolph “Rudy” Giuliani.

Former Mayor of New York City!

“America’s Mayor”!

“The SAINT of 9/11”!

The “Savior” of New York!


That last part was obviously not flattering to Giuliani, but of all of the above listed statements, “Loser” is not only the most TRUTHFUL of descriptions, but is the only one that REALLY describes his most recent attempt at running for any government job higher than his last one.

There are two things that Giuliani likes to do. The first a good fight. Like any other Italian thug, Giuliani loves a good fight, especially if it’s one that he doesn’t really have to duke it out to win.

As the NYC Mayor, Giuliani fought with the power of GOVERNMENT on his side, so he really won every fight. The New York Times recently brought up the 1997 case of James Schillaci, a Bronx chauffeur who criticized the mayor’s red-light sting operations. Giuliani, in a move reminiscent of the Soviet Union, had the chauffeur arrested on a 13-year old traffic warrant, and then when the judge dismissed the case, his mouthpieces publicly listed Schillaci’s police record, some of which may have even been disclosed in violation of state law, and then falsely accused the man of being convicted of sodomy. Giuliani then went before the public and wiped his hands clean and pompously said that if Schillaci lied about his good word, then maybe he lied about the red-light sting.

When former mayors criticized Giuliani, he ordered their portraits taken down from City Hall. Anyone who questioned his politics was investigated. Anyone who brought out flaws in his fictionally “flawless” administration was fired.

He actually made both the Bush Imperium and the Clinton Regime look downright clownish in comparison, and that is no small feat!

The other thing that Giuliani likes to do - and he does it so well - is self-promotion. He loves to boast about how GREAT he is and all of the WONDERFUL things that he did.

Remember the moniker “America’s Mayor”? Who do you really think came up with that one? Giuliani is no more “America’s Mayor” than Michael Jackson is really “The King of Pop”.

Of course, self-promotion is something of a necessity when you like to get in a good fight. This was something that famed mob boss Al Capone learned rather quickly. If you’re going to bloody people up – or GET people bloodied up – then you had better present the illusion that you’re above all of it. Either that or get a REALLY good attorney who would have to tirelessly work to keep you from going to prison.

So Giuliani marketed himself. He promoted himself to be something more than what he really was. He was touting himself as the one who brought “life” to Times Square, when, in fact, the whole idea to give Times Square away to big corporations was cobbled together by his predecessors. All he had to do was to make sure that they finished the job. Even as allegations of abuse of police powers were going up, Giuliani marketed himself as being “tough on crime”.

And he tried to use that marketed “family values and tough on crime” image to run for the U.S. Senate in 2000. The Senate seat was open, and the “chosen candidate” for the Democrats was a certain carpet-bagging First Lady named Hillary Rodham-Clinton.

The campaign was hyped as an epic battle between the two political egos! Both egos had ulterior motives for the job… they both knew that the Senate seat would essentially be nothing more than a stepping stone for a future White House run.

But then it came out that Giuliani had some issues. Mister “Family Values” was fooling around with a mistress and seeking a divorce from his most recent wife. (Yes, like most typical Republicans, he has been married before.)

Ooops! That’s not good! You can’t have a “Family Values” and “Tough on Crime” mayor having an affair! That’s IMMORAL! It’s HYPOCRITICAL! Not to mention that in the state of New York, IT IS ILLEGAL! Look it up if you don’t believe me.

As fate would have it, Giuliani had to pull out of the race just weeks before the election because of prostate cancer. His own health pretty much spared him the indignity of having to LOSE that election to a carpet-bagging First Lady.

And then… 9/11! And Giuliani was handed the PERFECT opportunity to redeem himself and promote himself even further as… AMERICA’S MAYOR! Giuliani instantly became the “man of the hour”. Why? Because he did something that nobody apparently ever thought he could do on that day… the Mayor of New York City actually DID HIS JOB!

Astonishing! Give the man a medal!

Actually the spin was that Giuliani shouldn’t even HAVE to step down as mayor. The spin was that he should have remained in office for an unprecedented (and illegal) third term. Oh, wait a minute… that whole “rule of law” thing sorta-kinda gets in the way of that idea, doesn’t it?

Seriously, though… THAT is the great secret behind his legendary status. He did his job as Mayor of New York City during a catastrophic time. That’s all.

But since promotion is all about HYPE and style instead of substance, if he was there and in the cameras, then it could be promoted that he was some legendary figure… the North American version of Moses, leading the wounded from the bondage of debris. He could promote himself as the EXPERT of 9/11 and an EXPERT on terrorism. Why? Because he did his job as mayor during that time, THAT’S WHY!

And that is what he did after his tenure as mayor ended. He promoted himself some more. He went on speaking tours and sold his book. He even got an honorary knighthood from England’s Queen Elizabeth!

And when that same carpet-bagging First Lady-turned-Senator turned her eyes back towards the White House, it became the PERFECT opportunity for Giuliani to have that rematch! He had the hype. He had the support of his friends in Fox News, which gave him more coverage than any other candidate. And he was seen as a moderate compared to the conservative leanings of many of the other candidates, which made him a favorable candidate for the general election in November.

It was a no-brainer! Who else could take on “The Hill” and win? This was it! This was the EPIC BATTLE that pundits and newspaper editors were looking for! It would be a New York battle for control of the White House! That’s it! There’s no need for primaries or caucuses! Just make it “Hilly Vs. Rudy” and let’s just see which one wins! Ring the bell! Let’s get it on already!

So why is it that Rudy Giuliani had to pull out of this race as well?

Let’s see… the cancer thing got licked a while back… he’s still married to his latest wife, and he hasn’t found any new mistresses…or at least none that have shown up in the media of late. Two of his kids aren’t happy with him, but, then again, they’re kids, so who cares what they like anyway?

He’s got the 9/11 thing working for him… except that people are sick and tired of the fearmongering. Bah! Who cares what people are sick and tired of, right? And there WAS that little thing about him dropping out of the 9/11 advisory committee so he could go on tour to promote himself as “America’s Mayor”. But that was some dumb advisory committee anyway, right?

He’s STILL Mister “Law and Order”, right? Oh, wait, that’s Fred Thompson’s title. Or is that his TV title? Anyway, he’s STILL the “tough on crime” guy! Well… except for the thing involving his good friend and former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik. You remember him, right? Kerik was supposed to be the first Homeland Security Secretary… until he had to admit to having a “nanny problem”. Plus it came out that Kerik had a little “thing” on the side with author and publisher Judith Regan, and that they used an apartment building at Ground Zero reserved for rescue workers as their little “love nest”. Kerik has since been indicted and charged with numerous federal counts of tax fraud. Did I mention that Kerik was also knighted by the Queen? Oh, well, who cares about that little thing anyway?

Then there is that WINNING campaign strategy of his! Oh, you’ll love this! This come right out of the “island hopping” tactics of World War II. Instead of focusing all of his time, energy, and effort to win the EARLY races – Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, etc. – he would simply put all of his weight behind the key strategic states with the most delegates. He would put all of his political eggs in the baskets of states like Florida, New York, Texas, and California. States that would give him the BULK of the delegates that he would need to secure the nomination. Brilliant!

The downside to this strategy is that he would have to WIN in each and every one of those states and walk away with ALL of those delegates. But, hey, we’re talking about AMERICA’S MAYOR here! Mister NINE-freaking-ELEVEN! The SAVIOR of New York City! Piece of cake!

That is… until he finished in a distant THIRD in the Florida primary.

But… at least he still has New York behind him, right?

Well it didn’t help that the New York Times (not exactly a neutral publication anyway) endorsed John McCain and began running all of these articles showing the REAL Rudy Giuliani instead of the self-promoted version. It also didn’t help that people were cranking out polls saying that they would rather vote for the current mayor, Michael Bloomberg, over Giuliani, even if Bloomberg ran as an independent candidate. Polls may be nothing more than media fodder compared to actual elections, but political consultants swear by them, so that was another puncture in the campaign balloon.

Let’s get brutally honest here… the word “Loser” is an appropriate description of Giuliani’s collapsing presidential bid. Once again, he metaphorically shot himself in the foot, but this time around he did so repeatedly.

Giuliani thought that he could turn his self-promotion into a winning White House strategy. He failed to take into account that he would have to put some substance behind all of that hype, not to mention deal with the fact that he didn’t really address his past failings and capitalized instead on the fear of terrorism.

Rudy Giuliani had only one single verifiable thing on his side: he was there at 9/11 doing his job. And in the end, that is all that he really had to offer, and that was all people saw him as. Rudy Giuliani is Mister 9/11.

Unfortunately for Giuliani, the job that he was running for demanded a lot more than just invoking “9/11”. That may work for our current delusional neo-Roman resident of the White House whose tenure is being measured by a countdown, but it doesn’t really work for those who are looking to replace him.

On the plus side, though, Giuliani is free to try again in 2012 or 2016. And his support and endorsement of McCain could very well secure him either a place as a running mate or a future cabinet position should the Ohio Senator win both the party nomination and the November elections. And if not? Well it’s back to that law firm of his, and his speaking tours, and his appearances on Fox News. And maybe between now and the next presidential election season he can come up with something substantive than just where he was on a certain day in September of 2001.