Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Maverick Unpacked

A maverick is an unbranded, feral range animal, especially a motherless calf; it can also mean a person who shows independence of thought or action; a lone dissenter; a non-conformist or rebel.

A feral organism is one that has escaped from domestication and returned, partly or wholly, to its wild state. The introduction of feral animals or plants, like any introduced species, can disrupt ecosystems and may, in some cases, contribute to extinction of indigenous species. From the Wikipedia

OK, I (like you) have always thought that the image of a maverick was inspiring---a horse that ruins free, unfettered by human notions and desires, escaping captivity and able to do the unpredictable. I used to think of it as positive when it came to politicians. I no longer think it’s a flattering image in that a President has to be steady, dependable, thoughtful, taking into accounts many sides of complex issues---able to work within the structures and cultures in which a President is always called to work. To be unpredictable, idiosyncratic, without loyalties or webs of relationships seems like a bad place to start. How do I know this? Lets see….

We have had a Texas cowboy as President, who might also qualify as an independent thinker, often ignoring the counsel of his closest advisors, acting unilaterally and free of party or relational bias, ignoring the warnings and cautions of Congress. It is what got us into Iraq which we need to remember was based on a tissue of lies told by a true cowboy rearing on his horse and brandishing a Colt 45.

It dawned on me, thanks to a news commentator that the last few times Congress was told that they MUST act in a short time frame was the Iraq War and the “Patriot Act”. They still remember that—thank God—which may explain their anger, frustration and resistance to be rushed by this new Bush crisis. For all the complaining I believe the House and Senate are trying to be thoughtful, responsible and accountable to the American tax payer.

Brett Maverick is a fictitious character based on a TV series by Warner Brothers in the 50s. His name originally means being independent and nonconformist with wandering from place to place. He and his brother Bart are gamblers who migrate from town to town always looking for a good game in order to make lots of money. They prefer playing poker or any other gambles and often get into trouble with law. Instead of fighting they prefer leaving town.


While the above description of James Garner’s original role (which my family watched religiously when I was a child) is a great TV role, I am not sure it describes the desirable characteristics of a President of the United States. I've had enough Westerns for a decade.

The Big Bail

Perhaps you, like me, were somewhat anxious when the news of the collapse of Lehman Brothers and AIG were announced with all the anxiety and language of impending Depression and world-wide economic melt down. The Treasurer of the United States, Hank Paulson, was on TV saying that the only way to prevent this was to hand a blank check of $700 billion to the genius's on Wall Street who began this process by selling money to folks who were bad risks or who were over-extended as it was. Mortgage backed securities, derivatives as they are referred to, have begun a domino collapse in our economy. The solution is to saddle each man,woman and child in America with $2,300 of debt.

Immediately the Presidential campaign's reacted to this news/crisis. John McCain's solution was to "fire" the head of the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and Barak Obama's response was more cautious, reflective and thoughtful with no immediate action recommended. What one was better?

I believe we have come through eight years of knee-jerk reaction with a President who reacts with his "gut" when advisers recommend otherwise. The time for Mavericks and Cowboys is over for a while I hope. A quick decisive action which may be completely wrong headed, may convey leadership to some people. Not me.

I believe that Obama's reaction was the correct one---this is a complex, detailed and highly volatile situation. No one seems to have a handle on the whole picture. While a reaction may save Wall Street, it may also encourage bad behavior on the part of Wall Street. If we don't act in some way, the regular guy on the street will surely suffer untold financial disaster.

What needs to happen is to help Wall Street enough to make sure the local homeowner and credit card consumer is protected. The multi-million dollar salaries of Wall Street corporate execs should be their problem. Not ours. Telling Boards of Directors how they should pay their staff is micromanaging an issue the government is not equipped to micromanage.

And that's the point. A knee jerk solution usually ends up micromanaging a "piece" of a crisis without the time needed to truly do a systemic analysis of a rotten system and to make it healthier and better not only for the economy but also the average person who is not (and never will be) a millionaire.

Now is a time for clear and level headed people to prevail. Quick fixes will yield quick and short term results. Its time we take stock of how free the "free market" should be allowed to run. What is the appropriate role of regulation without throwing the baby out with the bath water. I hope that Congress will act in this manner and help us all learn that greed, short-term quick yields and unfettered capitalism is not the answer to a healthy and productive economy to work for everybody.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tina Fey Rocks

If anyone can outdo Tina Fey doing Governor Sarah Palin I say "Bring it On!"

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Half Truths and Total Lies They Tell

1) Sarah Palin stopped the “Bridge to No Where”

2) Barak Obama sponsored a bill to promote sex education for kindergartners in Illinois.

3) Barak Obama will raise taxes

4) Barak Obama called Sarah Palin a “pig”

5) Sarah Palin sold the Governor’s jet on E-bay for profit.

Now the facts:

1) Sarah Palin was for the “Bridge to No Where” until CONGRESS pulled the plug on it and it became so unpopular in Alaska that it was prudent to put the final nail in its coffin.

(This from “their” own “Heritage Foundation”—a conservative think tank-- notice the absence of Sarah Palin’s name.

http://www.heritage.org/Research/Budget/wm889.cfm )

And from St. Petersburg Times:


2) Barak Obama introduced legislation in the Illinois Legislature to protect Kindergartner’s from sexual predators. The legislation allowed local school boards to teach "age-appropriate" sex education, not comprehensive lessons to kindergartners, and it gave schools the ability to warn young children about inappropriate touching and sexual predators.


3) Both candidates seem to ignore the spiraling national debt but both will cut taxes for those making under $200,000, but Obama’s plan provides more tax relief for the lower, more middle class brackets, while raising taxes to Clinton levels for the far upper reaches of the income bracket. The Washington Post provides a good “snapshot” of tax proposals here:


4) See my last post….

5) The truth is that Palin couldn't find a buyer last year when she tried to peddle to plane on eBay - and lost the state money when she did sell it.


So now, when are we going to call these half-truths and lies what they are and start talking about the gloomy economy, the war on terrorism (which never was the war in Iraq), energy policy, health care and public education?

And what are "they" hiding with all of this distraction?

And a final video if you aren't convinced yet:


Thursday, September 11, 2008

And We Talked about Lipstick....

In the last week we have heard that unemployment hit 6% which is an 8 year high. We also heard that the Wall Street firm of Lehman Brothers lost 3.9 billion dollars last quarter. OPEC is lowering production which will undoubtedly drive the price of oil up due to the onset of heating season in the Northern Hemisphere. Health care is at a crisis with 50 million Americans flying without a net health care wise. Our educational systems are performing at rates lower than most other industrialized countries with whom we are engaged in global competition. Today we also remember the tragedy of the attack on the World Trade Center seven years ago ushering in a two front war in which we are still engaged and in which our young people in the military and civilians in the theater of operations are still dying daily.

Enter all of this the Presidential Election process. Yesterday the media swarmed onto a comment made by Barak Obama about the McCain/Palin ticket that besides their Energy Policy, Foreign Policy, Educational Policy, Economic Policy and Carl Rove politics they were “change” agents. “Its like putting lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig.” The McCain campaign immediately accused the Obama campaign with sexism and calling the Republican Vice Presidential candidate a pig. The stretch was predicated upon a comment made by Sarah Palin in her acceptance speech about hockey Moms as “Pit Bulls with lipstick”.

Really? Enough! The press went into a feeding frenzy yesterday morning like “cats after catnip”. Asking every surrogate (on both sides) what they thought about this accusation and almost implying legitimacy to this tool of distraction from issues which will affect us and our children for years to come. Like drunken sailors they imbibed the Carl Rove-esque liquor with abandon on the morning political shows like “Morning Joe”. By yesterday evening they had gotten a grip and reported that this was certainly a trumped-up accusations and “fake outrage” designed to make their Vice Presidential candidate elicit sympathy from naive voters.

Its was crass, it was calculated and it is typical of a ticket that has opted for the cult of War Hero/Hockey Mom personality than offering any solutions to the massive problems created and sustained by the last eight years of Republican Administration. Especially when you consider that Torie Clarke,one of the Bush/McCain/Rumsfeld press advisers, wrote a book by the same title as a way to “cut through spin”.

We have tough problems ahead of us with complicated and difficult solutions. Madeline Albright said on a talk show last year that she felt sorry for whoever won the election as they had a major challenge on every front. This being true why are we talking about lipstick?