Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 108

On Politics
I don’t care about tomorrow’s GOP Ames Straw Poll. Simply put, the presidential campaign season is too long.

Sarah Palin said her arrival in New Hampshire on the same day Gov. Romney announced his candidacy was coincidental. Tomorrow, signs point to The Nincompoop’s coincidental arrival in Ames. Oops – it appears to be the same day Gov. Perry upstages all of them.

Is Jon Huntsman getting the cold shoulder because he refuses to play crazy?

News came out this week that President Obama’s re-election campaign plans to paint Gov. Romney as weird. Wow – I would have though his Massachusetts health care model, his worker-layoff record, and his waffling and flip-flopping would have been a better suggestion. Now that’s weird.

Not to my surprise, I’m unhappy with the Super Committee selections. Besides, Sen. Jon Kyl’s (R-AZ) selection goes against my pledge of no jackwagons.

Regarding the Super Committee, would it have been more interesting if the party leaders selected members from the other party? By the way, sequester them for a long weekend away from the press and any communication with the outside world.

Meanwhile, on the House side of Capitol Hill, I remind Speaker Boehner that it is Week 31 of the Boehner-led House without a jobs bill. To quote Speaker Boehner, “Where are the jobs?”

Interesting Reads

Interesting Headlines I Saw this Week on The Onion

  • Obama Turns 50 Despite Republican Opposition
  • Dept of Labor Reports it could be nothing, but They may have Spotted a Job in an Iowa Strip Mall
  • New GOP Strategy Involves Re-electing Obama. Making his Life More Miserable
  • Silicon Valley Town Pinning Tourism Hopes on World’s Largest Website
  • Scientists Trace Heat Wave to Massive Star at Center of Solar System

On Potpourri
What has Oklahoma done to be the top-ranked college football team this season?

My shoulder passed the first golf test of hitting about 30-40 wedges at a driving range.

This week was the anniversary of President Nixon’s resignation, which came 6 years to the day of his 1968 nomination.

This weekend we our hosting our dinner group with a theme based around Food Network’s Chopped. Each couple received a basket of key ingredients to use for their course, and with the aid of their pantry, they will feed the rest of us. Here are the baskets. Should a future post report the results?

  • Appetizer: Shrimp, pretzels, dried cranberries, and kiwi
  • Soup/Salad: Dairy case crescent rolls, green grapes, tomatillos, and pork rinds
  • Entrée: Orange juice concentrate, beer, red wine, and ham hocks
  • Dessert: Egg whites, walnuts, hominy, and frozen waffles

In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good works, and stay in touch.

On the Debt Ceiling Debate

As the debt-ceiling deadline approaches, it is time for me to chime in with my perspective as an independent moderate.

Democrats are right by considering additional revenues. Republicans are right regarding the importance of cuts.

Democrats are right by categorizing House Republicans as noncompromising ideologues. Republicans are right by wondering why President Obama did not embrace the Deficit Commission’s report earlier.

Democrats are correct that Republicans are protecting loopholes and taxes for the upper income. Republicans are correct that the Democrats are protecting entitlements. Interestingly, entitlements are not the issue because fixing programs as Social Security and Medicare would not be that difficult.

We have a climate that if President Obama gave the Republicans what they wanted, the Republicans would turn it down because they must disagree with him. Let us not forget that Senator McConnell (R-KY) restated his 2009 pledge of doing what he can to make President Obama a one-term president.

At this late hour, plans from separate camps are still dominating the scene. We have partisan plans that cannot pass the other chamber. A large Republican block opposes their Speaker’s plan. Minority Leader McConnell describes the majority leader’s plan as “pulling the wool over the eyes of the American people.”

In order to make the debt a campaign issue, Speaker Boehner (R-OH) aims for a six-month solution; thus the Senator Reid (D-NV) plan aims for 2013, thus off the campaign-season table.

As conservative columnist George Will proclaims that Congress is right to take a stand, let us not forget that it is also Congress’s responsibility to act responsibly for the nation. Maybe this satirical headline says it best: Congress Continues to Debate Whether or Not Nation Should be Economically Ruined. (The Onion).

As for President Obama, although he did not make the details of his ideas public (and I’m ok with that), he has tried to work a compromise. He is correct that the time has come to stop kicking the can down the road; therefore, I still encourage him to walk away from the ongoing conversations – thus placing the responsibility on Capitol Hill’s back.

As the economy continues to struggle, Washington continues to focus on the fall rather the leading the country forward. As House Minority Leader Pelosi (D-CA) says we must all sacrifice, I wonder if the middle and lower class has not sacrificed enough by the loss of employment, falling house prices, and losses to retirement accounts.

In a time when the nonfederal government sector (states, cities, counties, townships, and villages) face additional layoffs, cut in services, and an infrastructure in need of repair, what will be the source for needed revenue? In order to stimulate a new economic base, how do we invest in training, research and development, and innovation?

How are we going to differentiate, let alone fund, wars of choice vs. wars of necessity? How are we going to compete in today’s global economy with a twentieth century mindset? What will guide our global policy? How are we going to restore our place in the world, not isolate from it?

I have long proclaimed that the Democrats misread the 2008 election results, and the same is true for the Republicans in 2010. Although President Obama is vulnerable in 2012, the Republicans are doing what they can to push independent moderates away.

Meanwhile, as Rome burns, our decision makers continue to fiddle to the tune of self-interests and passing on a prime opportunity to make a difference.

Americans are rightly angry, frustrated and more than a little scared by this debt fight. It has only confirmed that our politics have taken a terrible turn. And how striking it is to have an emergency that has not been caused by our foes — but is entirely a self-inflicted wound. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we didn’t have to listen to more arguments from politicians — as well as pundits — and could actually wake up to a bold, courageous, bipartisan solution? David Gergen

On a Philosophical Washington

With the recent budget discussion in our rear-view mirror and with seemingly more difficult budget discussions in the days ahead, political pundits on both sides are making their case about who won the last round, who has the upper hand for future discussion, and so on.

Hmmm. President Obama appoints a budget commission that releases a report that he neither endorsed or condemned. Then, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) releases a budget that is probably from a conservative think-tank that promotes the GOP. Of course, we also have the Gang of Six believing they can develop a compromising budget in a partisan atmosphere.

President Obama wants Congress to raise the debt ceiling, something that he voted against as a senator. As the GOP continues to portray itself as budget hawks, they continue to fail to accept the responsibility for the 2000-2006 deficit growth. Yet the Democrats attempt to be rational cutters while failing to own up to their spending habits.

I say – blah, blah, blah. As Washington attempts to give the public the impression they are working toward finding a solution, let us remember that their primary concern is their re-election bids and their party’s bankroll.  The majority of Americans want our national government to seek meaningful solution, yet Washington continues to be all about the party  – thus delivering the message that playing politics is paramount to delivering solution.

What if they made an effort to think, discuss, listen, and work toward meaningful solutions? What if Washington took a philosopher’s approach to problem solving? Then again, just as in this gathering of famous philosophers, the outcome still produced winners, losers, and disputes.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 84

On the Jobs Council
President Obama recently appointed General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt (also a Republican) to lead the new jobs council. I wonder how many jobs GE outsources out the country. Then again, maybe Mr. Immelt offers a perspective on how to increase US jobs.

On the Upcoming Budget Talks
February will be an interesting month as negotiations with the Federal budget begin. Yes – the talk between the partisan ideologues, the wackos, and the pragmatic will deliver interesting light to we who anxiously listen.

Will this strange marriage occur? That is, the political left that doesn’t want the US military fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq uniting with the political right that is against fighting a war we can’t afford. Since time will tell, we’ll wait.

On Revisiting the Gulf War
The Gulf War to free Kuwait was 20 years ago. NBC’s Brian Williams had this interesting 40-minute interview with our main leaders at the time.

On the Bearcat Basketball
For much of the 1990s and into the new millennium, the University of Cincinnati Bearcats (love them or hate them) were a force to be reckoned with in college basketball. In 2005, then (now gone) UC President Nancy Zimpher decided the program needed a fresh start, thus dismantled the program. I recently added a home game – one with a small, subdued crowd. I gazed into the upper deck and renamed the empty seats in Zimpher’s honor. Meanwhile, this weekend UC fans will welcome back former coach Bob Huggins with open arms.

On FYIs

  • Actor James Franco, one of the hosts for the upcoming Oscars show, is a PhD student at Yale.
  • A University of Utah study shows that people have already given up on 40% of New Years’ resolutions.
  • Farting in public can be dangerous – even deadly.
  • Most vegans don’t eat marshmallows.
  • Insomniacs should get out of bed of better sleep (huh?)
  • Being ballroom dancers, we’ll see Burn the Floor this weekend.
  • Which is riskier: smoking or taking Chantix?

On a Worldly Example of a Hero
CNN honored Narayanan Krishnan a few months ago as one of its Top 10 Heroes. Cheers to him for demonstrating amazing goodness to fellow humans, and thanks to Mckenzie for identifying this powerful video.

Have a safe weekend.

On the Recent Tea Parties

The recent “tea parties” were an interesting event attended by a conglomeration of people. Whether it was a political-party event or not, I ask this to those who sincerely attended about concerns about government spending: Would you have attended if the rally was held during 2001-2006 span?

  • If so, abandon your party and then join and vote Libertarian.
  • If not, you attended for partisan reasons.

John Avlon’s closing paragraph about the topic is a great point.

In his closing remarks to the New York rally, all-but-announced 2012 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich hopefully pointed out that the tea parties of 1773 were just a beginning. But for these Tax Day protests to have any lasting positive effect, they will need to widen their targets to a repudiation of the Republican Party’s Bush-era contempt for balanced budgets, their pork-barrel spending, and first-round TARP bailouts. They will need to be willing to work with President Obama and centrist Democrats if the promised move toward entitlement reform emerges. Any credible transpartisan movement to restore a sense of generational responsibility to our politics first needs to prove that is not the puppet of partisan ambitions. That’s a modern declaration of independence our Founding Fathers might smile upon.

Economic basics tells us that government monies should stimulate the economy during difficult times, which it’s trying to do. On the other hand, economic basics also says that government needs to get out of the way during growth periods, which is something that it seldom does.

Today’s times are unique because never before have we faced the need for government spending while possessing a large deficit; and it is obvious that the many people would rather blame the current administration than the general practice of the past 40 years. Hence a trivia question, name the presidents (since Nixon) that left office with a smaller deficit than they inherited.

So President Obama is freezing the cabinet budgets. Ho hum because it is a pebble in the Grand Canyon. I appreciate columnist David Brook’s words in a recent column.

Obama imposes hard choices on others, but has postponed his own. He presented an agenda that bleeds red ink a trillion dollars at a time. Now he seems passive as Congress kills his few revenue ideas (cap and trade) and spending cuts (agricultural subsidies). Huge fiscal gaps are opening this decade that can’t be closed by distant entitlement reform. They can’t be closed by cynical Potemkin cuts, a few million at a time.