John McCain Just Became the Next President of the United States

September 24, 2008

While Biden and Obama were lost, John McCain just did something that locked up his presidency. He suspended his campaign, asked for cooperation across the aisles, and called upon the President in order to bring full force to bear on the economic mess. (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122228304121472135.html?mod=googlenews_wsj)

He has also asked that the presidential debate over foreign policy (his strongest suit) be suspended.

This is what Americans have been looking for – selflessness and leadership.

Expect follow ups from here as events unfurl.

Alan Speakman


Don’t Give Up. Now Is the Time to Show Our Best.

September 24, 2008

For the past week, we’ve been inundated with various economic doomsday predictions due to the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debacles. We’ve yet to see the potential depth of the abyss. Oh, we can see the hole in the earth, we just don’t yet have a light beam strong enough to see absolute bottom.

And so come the questions:

  • What will it take to fix this mess?
  • Do we have the ability to fix it?
  • How bad is this, really? No, really.

As Americans, this is where we look for that instant solution, that panacea. “Yeah, yeah, alright, let’s get on with it already! I’ve got stuff to do and places to go!”

Only this one is going to be felt. This isn’t a situation for a band-aid. We’re talking a body cast and full traction, folks. We will feel this impact, potentially, for years to come. And that’s only if we do this the right way… the HARD way. But this is not necessarily a bad thing completely. In point of fact, it’s actually an opportunity for us to “right” this ship we’re on. Let me explain.

Here are a couple of points not open to debate:

  • We are not going to make it through this economic event unscathed. The only question is how badly will we each be affected?
  • Character: You either have it, or you don’t. There’s no way through this kind of event without it. Those without character will stick out like Barack Obama at aToastmaster’s meeting without his teleprompter.
  • The Good News: This is the kind of event that defines our character, that lets us show who we really are. And those who do NOT havecharacter will have the chance to develop it.

Sadly, we know there will be people in our society who won’t be able to deal with the changes we’re likely to see. Some may use the current situation as an excuse to resort to violence, rioting (depending on how bad things get), and perhaps worse.

Stay with me for a moment. Some five years ago, I lost just about everything I owned. I was out of work for nearly a year except for what I was able to scrape together with my photography and my writing. There were times when I felt I wouldn’t make it. But, like Peter Gabriel’s inspirational song, “Don’t Give Up,” I quickly discovered I had friends to encourage me when times got rough. And ROUGH it got…

in this proud land we grew up strong
we were wanted all along
I was taught to fight, taught to win
I never thought I could fail
…”

Just when things seemed to be hopeless, I had that moment of clearness some speak of. It no longer became a question of how long my situation would last. The answer was, “Only as long as you let it.”

It wasn’t easy, but I sucked it up and some two years later when I made it back on my feet financially, I looked back and realized how much of my misfortune turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I was forced to make changes to my lifestyle that ultimately made sense and helped me to “right my own ship.” It made me realize how insignificant so many things I used to worry about were. In fact, I felt like I had climbed Mt. Everest. So will you. And when you reach the mountain top, just know it was character that brought you to the summit.

Sometimes it’s good to be forced back to discovering the basics about yourself and what you are made of. That’s what happened to those Americans who went through the depression. It built the kind of character needed by those who brought us through World War II victoriously.

It was the dream of those who got us through that war to create a world where we would never have to face the kinds of trials they did. And they were successful in doing that for some 60 plus years. Now it’s OUR TURN to do the same for the next generations. My question to you is blunt and simple: DO YOU HAVE THE CHARACTER TO MOVE FORWARD? Think carefully, because the answer to that question will determine what kind of country we leave for our children and their children… or whether we leave behind a country at all.

Gerry Ashley


Just In: Democrats To Allow Off-Shore Ban To Expire

September 23, 2008

 

This just in off the wires: The Democratic Party will allow the off-shore ban on drilling for oil to expire. As you may recall, President Bush struck down the Executive Ban on off-shore drilling several months back, but the Do-Nothing Democratic Congress refused to go along. This resulted in countless e-mails and phone calls from citizens demanding a Congressional decision to go forward with the drilling.

With 42 days until the election, it really comes as no surprise to me. This could easily be in response to pressure on incumbant Democrats up for re-election. The details are still to follow, and as more information is available, we’ll analyze it and have more comments on the development, but this is a watershed decision by the Democratic party.

Gerry


Falling Victim to a Classic Blunder

September 23, 2008

 

Sen. Obama chose Sen. Biden as his running mate. It’s a done deal, there’s no going back. Obama very pointedly did not select Sen. Clinton; in fact, he didn’t even bother to have her vetted. Courtesy might have suggested that his staff do a cursory vetting; dignity might have recommended it; prudence might have dictated it. Regardless, Obama and his staff very publicly left Hillary off the short list, and in doing so:

“You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is ‘Never get involved in a land war in Asia,’ but only slightly less well known is this: ‘Never go in against a Clinton when an election is on the line.”

And so having gone in against a Clinton and so casually dismissed her after his Primary victory, Obama fell victim to a classic blunder: he underestimated the Clintons. He probably expected them to campaign for him. After all, Democrats must stick together and win the White House back from the horrible regime of Chimpy McHitlerburton and his Evil League of Evil. Party solidarity trumps all else…

Or does it? In the case of the Clintons, the answer is clearly, “No, it does not.” Oh, they’ll pretend to support him. They’ll pay lip service to the party line and the nominee. They may even say some nice things about him and Sen Biden. But full-throated support? Not even close. We have seen this frequently since Sen. Clinton stepped down suspended her campaign. Her speech to the convention in Denver: about Obama? No, about Hillary Clinton. Her support in speeches around the country has been at best tepid, and at worst has elicited responses from concerned party members. At a recent rally in Florida: “It was a platonic type of endorsement,” Mr. Montes said. “It wasn’t real love. She’s just doing what she’s supposed to be doing.” And “’She should have been a little more forceful and more convincing.’ Ms. Payne said.”

Obama’s lack of understanding of the Clinton mindset could prove to be his Achilles heel, the thing that in the end, dooms his candidacy. It reinforces a sort of naivete or obliviousness to the politicking going on, not just behind his back, but in speeches and on national television. It once again calls into question his judgment; and with no executive experience, only a few days in the Senate, and extremely questionable friends and associates, his judgment is about all he has to campaign on. How’s that working out for you, Senator?

The latest example of his confusion and mis-underestimation concerning the Clintons came yesterday, courtesy of The View. Here’s Bill, discussing whom to vote for, noticeably lacking that clarion call of support to Obama:

Never count the Clintons out. Never.

Stoutcat


These Are the Good Old Days

September 22, 2008

 

Life is happening all the time; it never stops. All sorts of things are going on right now. Financial crises; truck bombs exploding in Pakistan; candidates playing the race card; astroturfing smear campaigns; stories abound of technicalities, illegalities, sins both venal and mortal, thuggish behavior, and just plain meanness. All that is happening. Yes, it is, and it all occurs pretty much all the time. But today only comes around once a year.

It’s Autumn. First day of fall. Stores are already yanking out the Christmas decorations from the boxes in the back room. There’s a tang of woodsmoke in the air. Kids are back in school, leaves are beginning to turn colors and drift crisply down into suburban yards. There’s an evocative, almost melancholy feeling to the warm days and cool nights. Whether you live in the city, the suburbs, or the country; in the mountains, in the heartland, or on the coast, you can almost taste the feeling and inhale the message: slow down, look around, and appreciate what’s right in front of you.

This time we have is fleeting. All the crises will still be with us tomorrw, and probably a few more will be added to the mix. Savor now what you have: family and friends; home and hearth, Take time to appreciate what beauty there is all around you. Your life is not a dress rehearsal. Don’t put it off–take a weekend, take a day, take an hour, take a moment. With all the cares and fears and worries, take right now and simply appreciate yourself, your surroundings, and all those you love.

Carly Simon put it best in her song, Anticipation: “Stay right here, ’cause these are the good old days.”

Stoutcat


Skeeter Economics

September 22, 2008

 

Remember those terrible “Skeeter Movies” from back in the early ’90s? They were campy little low-budget flicks meant to suspend reason and, in general, be goofy in an upbeat sort of way (though predicting long-term disaster). Usually they entailed an eeevil government/military/corporation plot gone awry and an optimistic neophyte with the perfect idea to save the world!

In a very real sense, what we’re facing today is a form of that genre.  Call it Skeeter Economics. The markets probably won’t auger in, and all the talking heads will say that two and a half pages from the White House will have saved the day. Gotta love them last-moment skeeter scientists/economists.

Wait, wait, wait… Let’s backtrack for a moment.  Just to give you (and me) some hope of understanding the lingo (DDT if you will) that will be gushing from the news channels, here’s a quick BBC link that offers thumbnail descriptions of some of the terms likely to be used. Using that link in conjunction with one of our earlier rants we might just have a prayer of understanding most of the details that are about to unravel. Good luck.

Back in the bigger (pecuniary) swamp (you may want to fasten your seat belts and return your seat backs and tray tables into their full, upright positions): We’re $9 trillion in the hole and that does not include Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Add those in, and we’re talking something along the lines of $50 trillion. Our GDP is only $12 trillion. China and Russia are larvae just being born. Listen: Can you hear the buzzing?

Look. Our economy is just plain “skeeter crazy.” It would be harmlessly goofy if it weren’t all so world-crushing. Put another way: Our economy is spinning out of control faster than  that underground science experiment in France and Switzerland. And it just became more likely to create a black hole.

Alan Speakman


Joe Biden and the 43 Million Non-Patriots

September 20, 2008

As you have probably read by now, VP nominee Joe Biden (D-Unaware) has declared that paying higher taxes is patriotic.

So it seems that the affluent folks here in the U.S. must be considered the most patriotic–after all, the top 50% of wage-earners (those with an adjusted gross income of approximately $32,000 or more) pay over 97% of all the taxes. (And who knew that $32,000 a year could be considered affluent?) The top 5% pays over 60% of all taxes, while the top 1% accounts for nearly 40% of all taxes paid. In fact, the more you earn, the more patriotic you must be!

Conversely, the less you earn, the less you pay. According to the National Tax Payers Union, 32% of all those filing income tax returns paid nothing at all. So out of all ~135 million of us who file, about 1/3 of us can’t be considered patriotic at all, according to Sen. Biden.

Thanks a lot, Joe. You’ve just filed 43 million citizens (many of whom might have otherwise been persuaded to vote for you and your running-mate) in the “Not a Patriot” column. I’m sure they’re proud of their new status. You might want to keep reminding them of it.

Stoutcat


Obama’s Fiscal Plan: Pay Female Staff Members Less Than Males!

September 19, 2008

Barack Obama is doing his best to demonstrate his fiscal responsibility in keeping down wasteful spending: Pay female staff members less than their male counterparts!

If you listen to Barack Obama’s speeches, he waxes poetical about equality for women in all areas. He pauses for dramatic effect as he tells you how he wants his two daughters to have the same opportunities as our sons. One Obama campaign ad takes a swipe at John McCain, saying, “Today women work to help support their families but are paid just 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. It’s just one more thing John McCain doesn’t get about our economy.”

The truth? It’s Obama who doesn’t get it. Or he does get it, and just doesn’t care:  While Obama complains that women in America are paid only 77 cents for every dollar men make in the same positions, he only pays his female staff members 78% of what he pays male staff members in comparable positions.

So which are you, Obama, the pot or the kettle? Some people talk the talk… and nothing more.

Meanwhile, female staffers on John McCain’s staff earn an average of 24% more than women in comparable posts on Obama’s staff.  Some people walk the walk… and THAT’S what’s needed if women want to be valued as equals.

I guess you could say Barack Obama pays his female staff members in “pocket change they can believe in.”

Gerry


Mad as Hell, The Original

September 19, 2008

That was 1976. We’re facing it again today, but with one huge difference: Network was a work of fiction. Today, we are facing the dilemma for real. And it has gotten to the point where even the mainstream media is finally getting it. It may be too late, however. And it’s getting very, VERY ugly.

Alan Speakman


Mad as Hell…

September 19, 2008

You tuned in for a rant? You got one. (Right off, I apologize if this rant is awkward and obvious, but it has to be. The subject matter is awkward and obvious.)

Yeah, 1976’s “Network“… “I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!” That’s the general sentiment of the American public. Doubt it? Consider two of the most influential TV news commentary shows on earth…

And let’s not forget Glenn Beck…

As the two commentators above so bluntly pointed out, the United States of America is deep in the Land of Doodee. But what’s the source of the problem? It’s all very simple. The Great Depression hardened the then-young Greatest Generation, who won WWII and consequently vowed that their offspring would have it easier. And so we have. Emblematically speaking, we had the insanity of the ’60 hippies (“if it feels good, do it”), then later in the ’70s there was disco, which was followed by the ’80’s punk scene, and who can forget the thuggery of hip hop, grunge, and rap, all of which culminated in the U.S. mess of the 21st century of which the gentlemen above rant so zealously.

Please don’t get me wrong. The last 40 years have brought tremendous good to this country – civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights. Superb accomplishments really, but along the way we took on a sort of weird “spoiled brat” mentality.

  • When Michelle Obama (M.A. Princeton and J.D. Harvard) said that “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country…”, that’s a spoiled brat speaking. Putting aside all the other sacrifices made by all the other Americans in her lifetime, if she can’t feel pride in the African American first responders that raced into the twin towers on 9/11, that woman is a self-centered spoiled brat.
  • Our athletes and entertainers have left planet earth. Never did steroids Mr. Clemens? The U.S. government brought down WTC #7 Ms. O’Donnell? These are just ignorant spoiled brats talking.
  • And as for our elected officials… Oh just never mind.

Look, you either get it or you don’t. Lately, given everything I’ve read, seen, or heard, two expressions spring to mind. The first is from e. e. cummings, “We doctors know a hopeless case when–listen; there’s a hell of a good universe next door; let’s go.”

And the second is part of the title of this post and the sentiments of the two gentlemen above, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’

Alan Speakman