30 July 2008

Premature Inauguration Syndrome?

As promised in an earlier post, I'm finally getting around to Obama's recent European jaunt. The title of this post is a phrase borrowed from a James Lewis posting over at The American Thinker, and it seems to fit the entire tone of Obama's campaign. It may be possible that a previous presidential candidate has done all of the little things that Obama's done to demonstrate his hubris -- the faux Presidential seal, complete with its own Latin motto; the seat on his campaign aircraft marked "President"; the attempts to dictate how all things Obama may be portrayed -- but if they did, they had the good sense to keep it to themselves and their inner circle of advisors.

Positive thinking is one thing, and it's certainly true that no one ever ran for the Presidency because of an ego deficiency. The Obamessiah (not original, but a strikingly accurate descriptor of how the man is portrayed and perceived by his diehard supporters) and his team have appropriated the power of positive thinking and taken it to a level from which it appears that Obama has already been elected. This jives well with the New Age entitlement mentality philosophy that says we begin to achieve our goals and acquire those things that we truly want when we act as though we have already achieved and acquired them. What it doesn't square with is the reality with which most of us live day-to-day: goals and things are real, and we must work hard and play by the rules to achieve and acquire them.

This hubris recently climaxed with The O's triumphant European tour, a jet-setting adventure that saw The O attempt at every opportunity to recast himself away from a freshman U.S. Senator with a painfully thin resume and a paucity of real, earned experience into The President of the World. He conscripted European monuments as backdrops for his inspiring oratory (which, coincidentally enough, borrowed imagery and text from his political polar opposite, Ronald Reagan, on at least one occasion). He arranged free concerts to ensure that the resulting photo ops portrayed adoring "fans" who hung on his every word. He even went so far as to stage a personal moment resulting in the "discovery" of a prayer (more like a task list for God jotted on hotel stationery) that he had placed in the Western Wall. You can find a copy of the note here, along with more detail on how it was discovered. (Interesting side note: Both sources that originally indicated they received the note in advance from The O's camp are now backtracking from that claim, although they're not giving another explanation other than the one offered by Camp O.)

Give the man credit: He's working like the dickens to make a mountain out of his molehill. It can't be easy jetting all around Europe trying to convince those folks, as well as the swing voters back across the pond, that there's more to The O than meets the eye, but he's willing to do it, as long as the MSM cameras follow and the taxpayers foot part of the bill. Thankfully, he's willing to put his foot down and protect himself by refusing to go where the cameras won't follow.

In the end, he may find that some folks tire of the barrage and decide they're willing to get on the bus with him. Hopefully, for them, it's not the one he threw his grandmother under.

Banned in East L.A. ...

Yeah, I know I mixed two parody songs in the title of this blog. So sue me. Better yet, send me to L.A. to open up a fast-food restaurant. Oops, wait...you can't. The city has voted to place a moratorium of up to one year on new fast-food restaurants. Apparently they've decided that folks aren't doing enough to manage their own diets and that it's time for a government intervention. During that year, the city will do its best to attract healthier restaurants. (What part of "free market" don't they understand? Hmm...)

What's next? Forced exercise and government-subsidized gym memberships? Re-education camps to help people overcome their love of fast-food and fried stuff? God save us all from government that decides it knows better than we do what's best for us and is willing to legislate us into compliance.

Hog wild...

What's wrong with the world today? This. Seriously, some folks just need to get a life.

29 July 2008

Poll position

Here's an interesting site for political junkies and those like me who are just a little bit afraid that either candidate will win the election. (I keep clicking on the map, but I'm not finding a viable alternative...)

Ted's less-than-excellent adventure...

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) has been indicted on seven criminal charges related to false reporting of hundreds of thousands in renovations to his Alaska resort home. This is America, so everyone is innocent until proven guilty. If he's innocent, more power to him. If he's proven guilty, though, I hope he takes a long walk off the Bridge to Nowhere.

"Sorry"...apparently NOT the hardest word to say

Well, the House of Representatives has gone and done it. On this historic day, the House took it upon itself to pass a non-binding resolution apologizing on behalf of We the People to blacks for slavery and Jim Crow laws. Never mind that no one living today was alive when slavery was the law of the land; that's entirely beside the point. The point is that this is an issue that scores points with a huge chunk of the voting populace -- though I imagine it doesn't play nearly as well in "flyover America" as it does in the epicenters of culture and thought -- and darn it, it looks good on election-year resumes. Thus we witness the creation of the elusive win-win situation.

While our new collective conscience stopped short of addressing the tricky issue of reparations for blacks for "the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow," they did find the time to commit the House to rectifying -- in as unspecific a way as possible -- "the lingering consequences of the misdeeds committed against African-Americans under slavery and Jim Crow."

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not for one second attempting to justify slavery or Jim Crow laws. Both represent behaviors and patterns of thought that I find reprehensible. I can't even begin to conceive the small-mindedness of the individuals responsible for enacting and enforcing Jim Crow laws. I also can't imagine the economic system that was balanced on the back of slave labor, or the individuals of all races who perpetuated and exploited that system. That being said, apologizing for our history still rubs me the wrong way, and folks are welcome to take issue with that as they may.

CYNIC ALERT! CYNIC ALERT! CONTINUE READING AT YOUR OWN RISK!

While I'm busy dashing off thank-you notes to the nimrods who took it upon themselves to issue an apology for me that I would not have made for myself, I can't help noticing two things:

1. The representative who introduced the bill, freshman Rep. Steve Cohen, is a white man who represents a majority black district in Tennessee and is engaged in a nasty re-election fight against a black man affiliated with the former holder of the House seat Cohen now occupies. Cohen introduced the bill at the beginning of his first term in Congress, back in January 2007; I'm sure it's just coincidence that the resolution comes up now, one week prior to his primary run-off.

2. The resolution was approved by a voice vote, rather than an actual recorded vote. While the voice vote is the customary procedure for non-controversial issues, it's difficult for me to imagine that the membership imagined this issue and this vote as anything but controversial. Seems the system worked to protect those members whose vote on this issue might demand some "coverage" by allowing them to vote one way and claim a vote in the other direction.

28 July 2008

Finally...

...someone has captured my sentiments about the Obama campaign. Guess I'll have to keep reading until I find something that approximates my feelings toward McCain.

The sounds of silence...

Sad story about John Edwards that I've been following with some interest since it broke on Friday. Political differences aside, his wife's brave fight against cancer was and is compelling to me. I hope, for her sake and the sake of their children, that the story isn't true in its portrayal of Edwards' relationship with Rielle Hunter and the child that ostensibly came from that relationship.

What initially bugged me most about the whole thing was the absolute silence with which the MSM greeted the story. With the exception of FOX News, which actually did some journalism-type work and interviewed the hotel security guard, the only play the story got was in the blogosphere itself. We can all speculate on the reasons why the MSM ignored the story, but last time I checked, it still took speculation and fifty cents to get me a copy of the local paper.

To my great surprise, however, I've come to (for me) a surprise conclusion: It doesn't matter. I have tried to whip myself into a righteous froth about it and have come to the conclusion that in the end, regardless of how public a figure someone is and how news-worthy even his or her respiration might be, this story is simply none of my business. If true, it is -- and should be -- a matter for Edwards to deal with within his family. I'm not implying that FOX was wrong to report on it, or ascribing altruistic motives to the MSM for ignoring it. I'm simply saying that it's not my concern and I'm not going to spend any more of my life dwelling on it.

Truth be told, it would be easy to sit here in the comfort of my relatively anonymous glass house and throw stones, because there are all sorts of icky trails to follow and none of them lead to a good place. My faith tells me I shouldn't do that. Indeed, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees when they were about to stone an adulterous woman by saying, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Well...that ain't me. I'm more of a "There but for the grace of God go I..." kind of guy.

24 July 2008

I think I love you...

...so what am I so afraid of?

If you're the mainstream media, and the object of your affection is presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama, the answer is, "I'm afraid you won't get elected President." To that end, the MSM arranged an unprecedented love-in with Obama during his first trip to the Middle East. (More on the trip itself in a soon-to-be-written post.) Even the ├╝ber-liberal Susan Estrich acknowledges as much in her weekly "Blue Streak" column, saying that political reporters are "fawning all over Barack Obama like entertainment reporters covering a movie star." She is correct in her assertion that the glowing media attention alone doesn't mean he will cruise to victory in November, and that he'd better get himself prepared to answer the really tough questions that will come from somewhere, even if not from the MSM. While I am less convinced than she that they will eventually turn on him, I know in my heart of hearts that We the People deserve a better effort than the media is currently giving us.

Of particular note is the man-crush that Chris Matthews of MSNBC seems to have developed on Obama. His quasi-campaign ad on Leno's show the other night was actually embarrassing. I'm stunned that a member of the Fourth Estate, theoretically impartial (at least in the performance of the duties for which he is paid by his employer), could say that we should "think like our kids" and vote for Obama basically because he is a person of color. I could go off on a rant about that, but I think that Betsy Newmark has done a better job of it than I ever could.

While I don't have any great affection for Sen. Juan McAmnesty John McCain, I sympathize for the position in which he finds himself. If he doesn't acknowledge the disproportionate media coverage his opponent is receiving, he risks losing the battle before it even begins. If he complains, he risks coming across as a grumpy old man (which he may very well be, but that's irrelevant to this specific issue). It's a lose-lose for McCain, which it would appear is exactly the way the MSM would have it.

19 July 2008

Once upon a time...

...it was considered bad form for Congressional leaders to make specific personal criticisms of a sitting President. If for no other reason than respect for the office (regardless of how one might feel about its occupant), it simply wasn't done. Please note that this is a distinct issue from criticizing a sitting President's policies or positions. Indeed, as Theodore Roosevelt noted, "To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

It is another thing entirely -- not treasonous, but absolutely inexcusable regardless of the reasons -- to make personal criticisms of the nature that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made regarding President Bush this past Thursday. In an interview with CNN, Pelosi said, "God bless him, bless his heart, president of the United States -- a total failure, losing all credibility with the American people on the economy, on the war, on energy, you name the subject." The context for this comment was the President's observation (accurate, as best I can tell) that Congress had failed to perform its most fundamental task, passing government spending bills.

Setting aside the condescending nature of such a comment, which I find almost as objectionable as the content, it's simply not the type of thing that a Member of Congress should say, regardless of rank, party affiliation, or personal opinions. It adds nothing of value to the public discourse and makes no contribution to the solving of our common problems. Instead, it is a petulant response that seeks to diminish President Bush rather than offer a rebuttal to his observation. Call me crazy, but my response to criticism is to offer evidence that the criticizer is mistaken, if such evidence is available; failing that, I have to face the possibility that he or she might be correct. But unless I'm ten years old, "Oh yeah, well you're worse!" just isn't an option.

I
'll save for other blog entries my questions and concerns with the elements of Pelosi's criticism -- the economy, the war, energy, etc. -- because I believe that these are issues that deserve fuller attention in their own right. There are tough questions that must be asked regarding how the President and Congress will work together on behalf of We the People to solve them.

I
n the end, Pelosi's criticism is disingenuous at best, because the reality is that the President has much less opportunity than Congress to impact these issues. (That's separation of powers at work, for those of you scoring at home.) At worst, her remarks are a remarkably amateurish hatchet job that represents the worst of the hyperpartisanship that runs rampant in today's world.

Why blog?

Good question! Lord knows there are enough people zipping around cyberspace with blogs about anything and everything. Any more, though, when I finish reading the newspaper or watching the evening news (yes, some people still do that!), I find myself absolutely disgusted with the lack of leadership coming from both my state capital and Washington, DC. It's as though no one has the courage of real convictions anymore.

There are exceptions, of course, and I'll try to highlight them here. The real purpose of this blog, though, is to shine a spotlight on those in positions of leadership and authority who refuse to actually lead, and instead are content to enjoy the trappings of power and position while rendering no real service to those who have elected them. I'll also be recognizing those who make meaningful contributions to the hyperpartisanship and negativity that seems to guide public discourse these days, as well as those who complain without offering solutions. I'm open to feedback and always willing to listen to those who disagree with my opinions and observations, as long as the dialogue remains respectful and we can disagree agreeably.

As we get closer to the fall elections, I'll definitely be offering my thoughts on the candidates, the issues, and the mainstream media, which is definitely not your father's MSM any longer. I'll also provide links to articles and other blogs that I feel are insightful and would encourage you to connect me with others that you think hit the nail on the head.

So what do you say? Let's get to know each other...