‘Twas the Night before Furlough

Enjoy a little Christmas in July with me and my fellow Federal civil servants with this twist on an ageless classic.

Twas the Night before Furlough

Concept and execution if not the actual words

by Barack H. Obama

Santa Jack Lew with furloughs for you!

Santa Jack Lew with furloughs for you!

‘Twas the night before Furlough
And all through The White House,
Not a creature was stirring,
Barack had Droned the last Mouse!

Congress was nestled all snug with The Fed
While visions of Mid-Terms danced in their heads.
With Michelle in her kerchief and POTUS in his cap,
The First Couple was hankerin’ for a Hawaiian recess.

When on the South Lawn there arose such a clatter,
Barack leapt from his bed to see what was the matter!
Away to the window he stumbled and crashed,
Tore open the shutters, “Get me a ‘Publican to lash!”

Then towards him on the breast of Taxpayer Dough,
Came Chief-of-Staff Lew, the House Liaison in tow.
And what to befuddled POTUS appeared
Was the Promise of what all Liberals hold dear!

The conspiring driver, so witty and quick,
Had come with an idea to surely do the trick!
More rapid than pirates on good winds of trade,
Jack Lew had found the secret for more Treasury raids!

I'm not saying this looks like anyone, only acts like some.

Leadership?  Plenty of butts instead …

“Now Nancy! Now Harry! Wake Biden up too!”
“On Fienstein and Boxer!” clammored The Lew.
“Grab Van Hollen and Stoyer and Allyson Schwartz!
We know how to get those ‘Publicans by the shorts!”

Sequester”, Lew cried, “is how we’ll get what we want!
Higher debt, more money, no need for any cuts!
They would never let it happen, and we won’t cut a dime!
The ‘Publicans will fold handily. They do all the time!”

Then amid all the whooping, the hollering, the yells
Someone asked, “What happens if it freezes in Hell?”
“Don’t worry about that. Our Gambit is sound.
We’ll make the ‘Publicans bad guys. Make it painful as well.”

But The Voice was persistent, an answer was needed.
What of sequestration, if the goal goes unheeded?
Of workers, fixed incomes, and services rendered,
What if the ‘Publicans didn’t surrender?

The Democrats turned on that Voice with wild looks.
Who dare throw a wrench in their Debt Ceiling hook?
Joe Taxpayer had wakened in the midst of the hoopla,
Was asking who’d suffer should The Plan prove a faux pas?

‘Twas The President’s turn to show that he cared
For those who paid taxes and relied on their share
For their services rendered, and the wages they need
For mortgages, tuition, that new Healthcare decree!

The grip of a golf club was light in Barack’s hand
Like the fate of the Middle Class throughout The Land.
He had a kind face and whispered so sweetly,
“Let us worry of that, we’re The Power Elitely!”

(From www.golf365.com)

The grip of a golf club was tight in his hand …
(From http://www.golf365.com)

He was chummy and glib, quite full of himself
So Joe Voter shrugged off the misgivings he felt.
The Democrat leaders returned to their caucus,
Plotting and planning how to best drain the coffers.

In the end their Big Gamble, it soon fell apart.
Their opponents, the ‘Publicans refused to impart
Higher taxes without spending restraint and responsibility
Towards an Economy renown for its fragile instability.

Joe Taxpayer saw this, and wondered aloud
“The Gambit was futile, so let’s kick this around.
The budget’s important!  The worst case is here!
You can’t stand on principle, and at taxpayers sneer!”

But the Democrats were nothing if not committed
To getting what they wanted without being fitted
With ceilings and limits to what they could spend
Even if it was Taxpayers who suffered in the end.

“We need them to suffer, to really feel hurt
From silly cuts in Park services to the pay for their work!
So process those furloughs!  Don’t spare them any Pain!”
The POTUS was certain their pain was his Gain.

So as Barack headed off on another vacation,
He climbed up the steps of his tax-paid ‘portation.
And we heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight
“Happy  furloughs to all!  Thanks for paying The Price!”


Once upon a Furlough …

Chuck Hagel

DoD Secretary Nagel, it’s “fair” to furlough Navy employees, despite the assertion that cuts can be absorbed without furloughs.

Well, it finally happened, after 33 years of Federal employment … My first Adverse Action.  A furlough, long speculated upon and hanging out there like a piece of space rock that you know is screaming – maybe more like meandering – towards you; yet you’re not quite sure if or when it might hit, or how big the mess if it does.

So it appears to be hitting, regardless of my own personal opinion (denial?) that there was no way they would allow said space junk to impact.

The story gets much uglier the further you peel the onion.

My first attempt at writing this, the day after we received our Notice of Proposed Furlough, came off like an angry rant … which it surely was.  It went in part like this:

I’m mad at all the bozos in Washington, D.C.!  All of those who would rather drive their ideological stakes into the ground and tether to those constraints the Government’s ability to function, the Country’s long-term economic health, and the tenuous condition of the Middle Class rather than dealing with the realities of the National Budget!

That goes for the Democrats as much as the Republicans, the Conservatives as much as the Liberals.  Governance requires Adults.  Unfortunately few can be found among those currently taking up space in the building they call The Capitol.  A building which frankly should have a sign draped across the front, advertising it as “The World’s Largest Day Care”!


But the biggest chunk of anger I feel is towards The White House …

That last part won’t surprise anyone who has visited here before, as I reserve a  particular animosity for those who created such an unpredictable sequestration gamble with the livelihoods of working class Americans!

But yes, I feel a little better today, thank you.  Still more than a little pissed however.

The reason is summarized somewhat by today’s title, “Once upon a Furlough …”, a twist on a phrase used by story-tellers since at least the year 1380 according to the Oxford English Dictionary.  Afterall, sequestration with all its head-scratching “cost savers” – among them the furlough of federal employees – is great big Fairy Tale.  And the story has its origins in The Oval Office during the 2011 debt-ceiling negotiations.

Sequestration Fairy

Sequestration Savings Fairy

At that time The White House was working with the Democrat’s Congressional delegation, trying to figure a way to wheedle agreement from the Republican side of The House to raise the federal debt limit.  It was then Chief-of-Staff Jack Lew (now Treasury Secretary) and White House Congressional liaison Rob Nabors who “brain stormed” The Great Sequestration Gamble of 2013.

The idea being that the sequestration would be such a painful penalty for not agreeing to a future “grand bargain” on the budget and deficit, and more importantly on what – if any – cuts could be made to said budget, and who and how much more in taxes would be paid.  This “pain” of course was aimed squarely at the Republicans, a bet on the prospects that the politics of the situation would force the Republican’s hand at a crucial moment.

Like much of what this Adminstration does, it was a poorly developed gamble that was just as shoddily executed, minus any form of Presidential Leadership, and with no fall back position other than to blame the whole mess on the Republicans in Congress.

Problem is the ploy required building sufficient political pressure to force Republicans to seek a deal.  But the Republicans dug in; refused to yield on earlier commitments to taxpayers; and held the Democrats and The White House to their promise of suitable budget cuts without more in tax revenue than Congress accepted to avoid the other contrived 2013 budget trigger – the New Year’s fiscal cliff .



The Democrats’ problem – and a continuing theme – became the need for strong Leadership from The White House.

As Scoobie Doo was so fond of saying … “Ruh Roh!”

Of course no Leadership emerged … only insistence that more tax revenue was the solution and a lot of political rallies disguised as “taking the argument to the people”.

“Ruh roh …”

Sequestration Dragon

Sequestration Dragon

And when the time came for the put-up-or-shut-up necessary to cut the heart out of the Sequestration Dragon, The White House decided to double down and really force the issue.  Though it would not be through strong leadership, circumspect vision, and the art of compromise in seeking a deal on spending and taxing.

No, no, no … Instead came the none-too-subtle message to the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives, Refuse to surrender, and the Country will suffer!

“Ruh roh …”

That’s how we ended up with the silly cancellation of White House tours, hand-wringing over Easter egg hunts, contrived air travel delays, and accusations that every unfortunate event from a bridge collapse to the bombings in Boston were the result of the sequestration.

pennyHowever, as I outlined earlier this year, the actual affect of sequestration on the 2013 fiscal budget was just 1% of everything the federal government will spend in Fiscal Year 2013.

A penny on every dollar!

And yet, here we are.

For federal employees of the U.S. Navy, the sequester furloughs are particularly infuriating because they are completely unnecessary!  Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus and other senior Navy executive leaders have made it known that the U.S. Navy could comfortably absorb the sequestration-driven budget cuts without a single civilian furlough.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus

The response from White House Cabinet DoD Secretary Chuck Hagel?  Yet another absence of Leadership … Insisting that the Navy furlough it’s civilian workforce in order to “be fair” to those who work for the Army and Air Force.


Yep, that’s right  … Fairness now is the real reason for the furloughs of Navy employees as opposed to “the extraordinary and serious budget challenges facing the Department of Defense” as my deliberately misleading furlough notice states.

DoD has every indication that the Navy can absorb its share of the shared pain from this silly sequestration without affecting the incomes of its civilian employees; yet they insist the Navy reduce their employees annual earnings by 20% in order to “be fair” to those working for the Army and Air Force!

Welcome to Fairy Tale Land!

So what’s a Federal Employee to do?!?  Make them pay more of course!

imagesOne of the protections, federal employees enjoy is that of the Merit System Protection Board.  The MSPB is expecting a potential tsunami of appeals over the furloughs being forced on federal employees.  Since an appeal to the MSPB can cost the Government up to $10,000 (See “Cost of Appeals”), the Federal Government desperate for a way to stay within budget and sacrificing its employees, ends up potentially paying twice as much as it expects to save for each employee who decides to file an MSPB appeal.

For this reason every Federal Employee should consider filing an appeal regardless of how dim the prospects are for vindication!  For Navy employees in particular, Chuck Hagel has laid a very nice gift at your feet.

You can view instructions and a link to the appeal process here.  MSPB even has an e-file application to ease the confusion.  Furloughed employees have 30 days from the date-of-notice or from the first day-of-furlough, whichever is later, to file their MSPB appeals.

There … now I feel much better!

Sequester ’13: The Magic Penny Theory

pennyFive days have passed, and so far the Earth has not – as yet – careened off its axis to spin wildly off into the black void of deep space.  Commercial air travel did not turn into a nightmare overnight due to air traffic controller layoffs; the schools are still open; and I still had to go to work!

You would think that maybe – just maybe – all the Chicken Little with hair-afire warnings might have been just a little exaggerated.  Just a little …

Recently I finished reading Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot (Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard), and it brought back a lot of memories.  One concept brought to mind from the aftermath of that horrific day was the Warren Commission’s development of the Magic Bullet Theory.  The bullet was believed to be the first shot that struck President John F. Kennedy; and although it was not the fatal shot, it passed through Kennedy and did major life-threatening damage to Texas Governor John Connally, who was riding in the seat in front of The President.

A second or third shot, depending on who you read, ended President Kennedy’s life.

The Magic Bullet Theory was originally greeted with much disdain by those history and conspiracy buffs, who delighted in disparaging the physics involved and the presentation made by Warren Commission Assistant Counsel Arlen Specter.

It was even the subject of a segment on Seinfeld!

Bare with me here …

Last week’s move into Sequestration automatically put into effect $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts.  That certainly sounds like a lot of money … until you consider that the Federal Budget for Fiscal Year 2013 is $3.8 trillion!

The Congressional Budget Office, an apolitical organization that performs independent analyses of budgetary and economic issues to support the Congressional budget process, released a report stating that the effect of sequestration cuts for Fiscal Year 2013 will be $42 billion, not even half of the full measure of $85 billion estimated as sequester-related cuts!

Of course that assumes that the sequestration will last throughout the remainder of the fiscal year.  I wouldn’t bet the House … or the Senate … on that proposition.

In fact another trigger date – a Continuing Resolution – is scheduled to hit by the end of March.  Lack of an agreement then could shut down ALL of Government, minus the traditional exemption provided the Department of Defense.  Will this opportunity also pass without a Presidential Vulcan mind-meld (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) on a grander solution?

But it’s the math involved with this current sequestration that is irrefutable.  $42 billion equates to $0.01 ($42 billion/$3.8 trillion = $0.01) for every dollar in the FY13 federal budget.  One stinkin’ cent … an Abe, and not the more lovable $5 Lincoln … One penny on every dollar!

But that single cent is one Magic Penny!

The Magic Penny set off the wailing of the sirens warning of National misfortune and personal misery from The White House and Democrats.  There have been almost daily pronouncements of Sequester Doom & Gloom in local newspapers, on national broadcasts, and on-line media.  The Sequester, a mechanism that was actually resurrected by The White House and proposed by those very Democrats in debt ceiling negotiations, would have profound effects on the country and its citizens at the hands of those heartless Republicans in Congress.

Now all of us, particularly those outside the upper reaches of the top tax brackets, have been under constant financial pressure for the past 5-6 years.  Most recently, you lost the 2% reduction in payroll tax from 2010.  And while some will argue the expiration of tax relief is not a tax increase per se.  Fact is you are paying more in taxes; bringing home less money.  Call it what you will, your household is doing with less income.

Even if your wages have held fairly stable over this period, certainly your Costs of Living continue to rise.

Have those increases in taxes and rise in daily costs been more than a penny on your dollar?  Most probably … Were you able to adjust; do without some things; change plans; push out major expenditures waiting for better financial times?  Probably …  Has your loss of buying power been an adverse development for your household budget?  Most likely …

But you made the adjustments. You do what you can.  You bag the rest, and hope for better times.

Sequestration is perhaps the WORST strategy for fiscal negotiations ever to be uttered by any White House Administration.  And certainly, both sides should get back to work on a solution that will benefit the long-term economic health of the Nation.  But for President Obama and the Democrats to expect capitulation by the Republican Congress on their principles of fiscal responsibility over cuts equal to a penny on the dollar in the Federal budget is simply silly.

Yet Washington Democrats – in particular The White House and President Obama – will have you thinking the sky will be falling all over that Magic Penny!  Some of the pronouncements coming out of The White House have been downright hyperbolic.

National air travel would be disrupted; teachers were being furloughed, The President said (That is until the press corps challenged The White House to give one example – just one – of a school district that had issued pink slips.  They couldn’t!);  National Parks would be closing; dangerous food situations would increase, caused by the loss of food inspectors; coastal inhabitants would be at the mercy of Superstorms because weather forecasting will be unaffordable; an entire aircraft carrier group held back from active front-line service; grannies kicked to the curb; the Nation would totter on the brink of financial ruin; communities would no longer be able to protect its citizens …

All over one penny on the dollar of a ridiculously bloated Federal Budget!

That, my friends, is what Seinfeld would call One Magic Loogie!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes …

UnknownChange is a word loaded with potential, dread, promise, and uncertainty.  Change is powerful.  Change is scary.  Change is hopeful.

As a single word, “Change” became half the anthem (Hope and Change) of President Obama’s 2008 Presidential race.  The word was a double-edged sword, cutting both to the positive and to the negative depending on which end of the sword you were standing.  Five years later, whether you perceive that any real Change has occurred depends not only on your perception of Change, but also what you thought needed – or did not need – changing.

You hear references to Change in every facet of life eventually.  Usually when you least want to deal with it.  In the workaday world, Change is often sold as a panacea for everything from sluggish performance to being severely underfunded.  In those situations, the attempts to sell Change with its accompanying catch-phrases can be annoying or downright foreboding.

The older you are, the more set in your ways, the more threatening Change can appear.

My perspective on Change is that it is inevitable no matter what your situation or station in life.  Never count on anything remaining the same forever; and you can bet, when you find something in your life that is comfortable, enjoyable, or efficiently familiar, it will Change.

imagesMy personal demon in Change is the dreaded “Change for the sake of Change“, an underlying mantra in Government and its lecherous bureaucracy.  I have experienced change in my Department of Defense job that was simply the result of one person’s hellbent desire to claim Change as part of their legacy, sad as that reality is.

These individuals resort to changing the work paradigm as they head out the door for leisure pastures, leaving those left behind to deal with the consequences.  Like the engineering feat required to change the course of a mighty river, they view their ability to make the Bureaucrats bend to their will – even in a small way – as a personal feat of professional strength.

Rarely is such Change viewed favorably.  The common reaction being, if it was such a great idea, why didn’t you pursue before you started heading out the door?

And so with that as a background, let’s look at a few examples in the recent news of good Change – bad Change, we Change – you Change.  Being a male, my particular interests well-known here, most of these examples involve sports and politics.

Except this one of course …

State Patty’s Day

UnknownAuthorities in State College, PA, home of Penn State University are offering three dozen downtown bars, restaurants and package stores $5000 subsidies to cut off sales of alcohol during the annual State Patty’s Day celebration.  The party weekend, created spontaneously by Penn State students when St. Patrick’s Day fell over Spring break, has become a community nuisance.  Excessive drinking, arrests and property damage became such a huge problem that community groups have been joined by the students themselves in seeking solutions to Change the paradigm.

Good Change … Good for the community, for Penn State, for law enforcement, and for the students themselves,  But with a price tag of an estimated $180,000., you certainly hope the benefits outweigh the payoffs to be made in the name of peace-of-mind.

Beware the Walmart Mom

Unknown-1Sometimes Change is the result of how one sees their station in life being affected by those in leadership positions.  Let us consider the political leanings of the Walmart Moms.

Some might consider the Walmart Mom moniker to be demeaning or perhaps a judgement of economic impotence.  But the Walmart Mom has become a political force in recent years.  The Walmart Mom has been studied extensively by both political parties as defined as a woman, who shops at Walmart at least once a month and comprises a significant 14-17% of the electorate.

In 2008 Walmart Moms voted for Barack Obama in 2008.  In 2010 they switched to support Republicans in the mid-term elections.  Then switched back again to support the President’s 2012 re-election.

A small group of Walmart Moms was the subject of a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article.  (See above link.)  The impression one gets is that the Walmart Mom views politics and the opposing parties from the perspective of how those parties’ politics and policies affect their lives.

Unknown-2The women, who were brought together during the President’s recent State of the Union address, recognized both parties as obstructionist whenever their opposition controls The Oval Office.  They prioritized the issues facing them as women and mothers, feeling less supportive of issues like immigration reform and climate change.  They support efforts to reduce gun violence.

The recent trend suggests the Walmart Moms could be persuaded to back a coherent Republican message in the 2014 midterms; yet they were baffled as to the current Republican message.

imagesFor Republicans, this potential for Change relies on their ability to prove to the Walmart Mom that they have their best interests at heart.  At this point, the prospects for persuading the Walmart Moms to switch away from the Democrats has to be scary for the GOP.

Self interest is often the catalyst for Change.  If your target audience sees you as no better than the current regime, you never stand a chance.


Appropriate artsy intermission:


Back to our program …


Change can be the source of anxiety, both welcome and foreboding.  For examples we need not look any further than our beloved Philadelphia sports teams.

Charlie’s Last Year?

images-1As the Philadelphia Phillies gear up for the 2013 MLB season, many of its fans speculate on whether this season will be Charlie Manuel‘s swan song.  His current contract will expire at the end of the season; and at the age of 69, there is much to consider for both Manuel and the Phillies.

The Phillies have been grooming Ryne Sandberg, a Hall of Fame second basemen the Phillies stupidly traded before the 1982 season along with Larry Bowa for Ivan DeJesus (Don’t get me started!), for a shot at a managerial job.  The question is … Is Charlie ready to move on?

One would think Manuel might be ready to move up in the organization, but not likely to move on to another managing job.  And frankly, it would be an insult to push Manuel out the door, unless of course 2013 turns out to be a down year unrelated to the many injuries the team suffered last season.

images-2In the best of both worlds, Charlie goes out when he’s ready as is worthy of a World Series winning manager; and Ryne Sandberg is still waiting in the wings to take Manuel’s spot as the team’s on-field General.

Provided the upcoming season does not provoke a rash change in Uncle Charlie’s status, Phillies fans should feel good about Manuel moving on, whether it be into retirement or on to an executive opportunity here or elsewhere.

Of course Charlie could decide after the 2013 season that he’s not ready to move off the bench just yet.  In which case Change will just have to wait.

Can a Duck help the Eagles?

Unknown-4The team on the other side of Pattison Avenue is facing a situation of an entirely different hue.  After 14 seasons of Andy Reid‘s leadership, the Philadelphia Eagles are facing a challenge they have not experienced since the turn of the century.

New head coach Chip Kelly comes from the vaunted University of Oregon Ducks, a team that ran a very up-tempo offense that requires a lot of speed, read and react play by the Quarterback, and the ability to keep defenses off-balance by constantly pressing the offensive attack.

The Change has elicited a set of anxiety reactions in fans that covers just about every facet of play on the field and personnel management off it.

First and foremost is whether Kelly’s high-octane offense can work in the NFL.  Indications are that it already is in limited ways on a number of teams, including the New England Patriots and Superbowl contender, San Francisco 49’ers.  But the underlying cause for concern revolves around the question of player personnel and their suitability to run Kelly’s fast paced, attack offense.

Unknown-5The level of anxiety gets ratcheted up for some Eagles fans when they consider the prospects of promising, but unproven QB Nick Foles, and even more so when the Eagles decided to re-sign out-of-favor QB Michael Vick.

All you need to turn most Philadelphia Eagles fans into helpless bundles of anxiety riddled meatbags is to throw the above questions into a bowl; stir in huge gaps on the offensive line and the question of how Kelly and new Defensive Coordinator, Billy Davis will remake the team on the defensive side of the ball; and serve over a defensive secondary that at times couldn’t cover a casserole dish.

Finally, Change can be seen as threatening, while at the same time provide a wealth of opportunity.

That Lada … What a cherry ride!

bildeRecently, Christine Armario wrote an article, featured on the Associated Press, about the extreme manipulations Cubans must go through in order to keep the island’s very, very old fleet of long outdated Russian automobiles running.  The mainstays of the island’s remaining auto fleet are upwards of 30-year-old, ancient Russian Lada and Moskvich models, for which it’s almost impossible to buy parts.

While it’s hard to fathom a Cuban visitor to Miami having to walk into a certain auto parts store; walking out with a carburetor or a set of brake pads: and having to physically carry back to the home island.  It’s even harder to rationalize this country’s continued reluctance to exploit – if you will – a country and a people so ripe for the depth and breadth of opportunities America can provide.

The problem?  Well, it’s Cuba!

Fidel Castro extolling the virtues of a straight - but artificial - Christmas tree!

Long the bane of 1960 Domino Theory on the control of the spread of Communism … Site of President John F. Kennedy’s biggest foreign relations/national security blunder … Home of one of the most ruthless – and oldest – Red revolutionaries … And of course home to hundreds of thousands of Cuban expatriates currently living in the U.S. after leaving Cuba in the decades since the Fidel Castro-led revolution.

But it’s difficult to ignore a Cuba that is very backward in its economy, infrastructure, politics and human rights.

Imagine what a boon to American business to have a country just 90 miles off the coast of Florida as very needy destination for construction services, consumer goods, medical equipment, and technology.  Imagine the inroads – now that Fidel is near terminal age – Americans can make in exporting its way of life, political freedoms and social philosophies.

Imagine how grateful the Cuban people, and maybe even the post-Fidel or post-Raul Cuban government might be, especially now that the Russians are no longer as influential internationally as they were two decades ago.

There’s a wealth of opportunity there.  But it will require a sea change in public and political perceptions to make it happen.

Sequestration: The President’s ugly Child

obamaHow many people realize sequestration, which The White House continually warns will be a “disaster” for the country and its citizens from Arizona to Connecticut, was actually The White House’s brain-child???

Don’t listen to the hype … or the lies.  The sky, if it falls, will not be the sole responsibility of Congress.  Heck, it wasn’t even their idea.

The Public is a pawn in this chess game.  The political pressure being applied by The White House, in the form of Dire Economic Impacts on individual states and even the victims of Superstorm Sandy, is intended to force Congress (i.e. Republicans) – by portraying them as the troublemakers – to cave in so they can pass to the American people an even bigger financial federal budget burden without cutting a single one of the Democrats’ Sacred Cows.

Sequestration was the gamble suggested by then White House Chief-of-Staff Jack Lew (Secretary of the Treasury nominee) and White House Congressional liaison Rob Nabors.  It was endorsed by President Obama before being presented to the Senate Finance Committee, and proposed as a negotiating strategy to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) during the 2011 negotiations to raise the National Debt Ceiling.

Certainly House Republicans accepted the sequestration as part of those negotiations, but it wasn’t their idea; it wasn’t their gamble.

It was the President’s idea of “leadership” in difficult political times.  Push it off; deal with it later.  Maybe, just maybe it will go away on its own.

Keep that in mind as you continue to hear about how Sequestration will damage your benefits; your income; your local economy!

Remember it when The President shows up on C-Span or the nightly news speaking about the dangers of sequestration and surrounding himself with Emergency Responders, teachers, healthcare workers, and seniors warning about all the damage the sequestration cuts will entail.

Sequestration:  The President’s ugly child!

Who were those people in the background?

imagesNow I know the Obamas receive a lot of criticism was those who do not agree with them politically, socially, economically, etc.  Some of it is over-the-top, some of it valid as well.

But performances like tonight, where Michelle presented the Best Picture Nominees and Winner at The Oscars, is what gets people talking about their priorities and values.

As Michelle spoke live from Washington, D.C. to the Hollywood elite, many of whom contributed significantly to The President’s re-election, her backdrop consisted of several young military personnel in full parade dress.

(View the entire segment here.)

She spoke about overcoming obstacles, courage, the importance of art to young people, and “that vitally important work” being done in Hollywood …

Seriously … Their “vitally important work” …

But never once was the presence of those young people in uniform acknowledged, their service recognized.

It appeared that those courageous young people in their dress uniforms were there simply as drapery.

Did you notice?

What’s wrong with that picture?

The Art of Fiscal Cliff-Diving

Too far out front to be from D.C.

Way too bold to be from D.C.

There was a point in my life – a long, long time ago in a land far away – that I waited not-so-patiently for late Saturday afternoons when I could hijack the family TV (NEVER during a Notre Dame football game!) and flip on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.  WWS was a hodgepodge of traditional, niche market sports such as the Penn Relays, amateur boxing, international soccer (Remember now, this was the 1960s.) and some really arcane competitions like barrel-jumping.  (Who doesn’t enjoy a good barrel-jump crash?!?)  and the iconic cliff diving competitions from La Quebrada, near Acapulco, Mexico.

Cliff diving – it appears – is making a big comeback!

No, this version does not include majestic vistas of bright sunlight glistening off blue water as a backdrop to a group of whacked-out daredevils perched on a rock sitting perilously close to a huge cliff that looks a mile high even on black & white TV (the 1960s … Remember?).

No, this fiscal cliff diving version just includes the whacked-out daredevils.

No Speedos, please

No Speedos, please

Now admit it … Wouldn’t you just LOVE this fiscal nonsense as REAL cliff-diving?!?  Are you a bit twisted, just enough that you would enjoy this political pissing contest just a little bit, if it included the possibility that John Boehner, President Obama, Harry Reid and – please, please, please – Nancy Pelosi could possibly … just maybe … go SPLAT at the bottom of the shallow end???

Hmmm … But that would leave Joe Biden in charge.

Well, this is hypothetical; so let’s push that thought way, way back into that Dark Space we reserve for the Zombie Apocalypse, IRS audits, and Nicki Minaj.

Where was I?!?  Oh yeah … cliff diving …

Full-length burka only

Full-length burka only

Anyways, cliff diving competitions use of method of score-keeping that emphasizes style, creativity, and a difficulty factor in lieu of how many jumps you make before going SPLAT or the number of broken bones should you survive.

That’s the way I would score it.  But remember, I also like a good barrel-jumping crash!

Now, regardless of where you stand on the impending Thelma & Louise act (Obama as Susan Sarandon’s Louise, of course) currently being played out on the cliffs overlooking Washington, D.C., it’s best to be prepared when it’s your turn to Follow-the-Leaders over a perfectly good cliff.

Frankly, I really could not care less about the Fiscal Cliff.

My long, long-standing federal employment never required me to pay into or rely upon Social Security (Thank God!).  So not only did I NOT benefit from the Bush tax cuts, which were applied to Social Security taxes, I will not suffer from their expiration either.  And maybe … just maybe … we actually NEED this to happen.  Afterall, 51% of the Electorate did not give a rat fart about the Economy during the November election, so why worry about it now?!?

Yes, in that regard I am a bit selfish.

The reality is that BOTH parties would probably benefit from a hand-holding cliff dive, no doubt screaming “WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” all the way to the bottom.  President Obama could then brag that he faced down the terrible Republicans, who realize that raising taxes in a bad Economy is a really stupid idea.  (Apparently so does The President, since he couples his demand for increased marginal tax rates on the wealthy with a $50 billion stimulus package.)

The Republicans – on the other hand – can claim they never gave in to the anti-economy, income-redistributing Democrats.  (Is there really any other explanation for taking from the rich with one hand and pushing out a stimulus with the other when the “real issue” is supposed to be deficit reduction?)  All told, The President’s proposal amounts to a $1.6 TRILLION in new taxes and spending, and $400 billion – or 2.5% of the total $16 TRILLION of National Debt – in deficit reductions!

As one critique described it, “Four hundred billion in spending cuts is like forgoing the monogrammed towels in the 16th bathroom of a 52,000 square foot house.”

So, if you too are willing to embrace the possibility of becoming a mushy piece of fiscal fish food, now is the time to consider your approach to Taking the Dive.  Will you scream like a teenage girl on the Tower of Terror?  Will you stick out a stiff upper lip and leap with resignation and a modicum of dignity?  Or will you dive with flair and style, performing a triple flip with a full twist while singing Madonna‘s classic, “Material Girl (Guy)” all the way to the bottom?

And if you’re wondering how it all came to this, to ridiculous deficits, to abject failure in Leadership for addressing the excess in deficit spending, to the notion that raising taxes on 2% of the population – as if forgoing the monogrammed towels – is a “solution”, then simply check out the story this week coming out of Detroit’s City Council.

Hey, $200 million here, $200 million there … What’s the BIG DEAL, right?  At least we now know why Detroit voted Obama … To bring home “the bacon”!

Tocqueville, South of France (1992)

Tocqueville, South of France (1992)

As historic French cliff-diver, Alexis de Tocqueville is rumored to have said,

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government.  It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself free stuff * out of the public treasury.”

(* OK … He actually said, “… largesse …”. )

With that in mind, allow me to recommend the following in cliff-diving hints and suggestions:

1.  Never hit the water head-first, as dives above 85 feet can result in concussion.  (How high exactly is a $16 trillion dollar stack of Benjamins?!?)

B.  Select a spot along the cliff with an unobstructed view all the way down to almost certain Death.

4.  No Speedos for men.  Women?  Topless, of course.

iii)  Poise precariously on the smooth rock of Economic Sanity; time the incoming wave of debris from the Eurozone; and push away violently from this amazing fustercluck.

p.  Immediately assume the simple pike position; feet wisely pointed down; and extend the middle digits on both hands as you sing the following verse from Sarah Johns’ The One in the Middle:

And now I’m giving you the one in the middle,

The one that’s a little bit longer.

And I have another one on the other hand,

So I can say it even stronger. 

Has anyone seen Bob Casey?!?

The only place to find Senator Bob Casey

In Pennsylvania, we’re deeply concerned.  It seems that one of our U.S. Senators is MISSING!!

At first, no one was very concerned.  After all, Senator Bob Casey wasn’t exactly a Public Presence anywhere in Washington, D.C. – let alone in Pennsylvania – for almost the entire SIX YEARS that he’s been Pennsylvania’s lesser light in U.S. Senate.

Go ahead and take a minute … Think back as far as you can over the past six years and ask yourself, how many times you have heard of Bob Casey accomplishing anything for Pennsylvania or anything for the country?  How many times have you heard Senator Zero speak out to you – as Pennsylvanians or as Americans – on the important issues of the day?  What has he DONE during his SIX YEARS in the U.S. Senate?

For comparison look to the public profile of Pennsylvania’s other U.S. Senator, Pat Toomey.  If you pay attention, you will see him cable and TV news outlets, advocating for those programs and actions he believes would improve the country. Whether you agree or disagree with Toomey is immaterial; he is out there putting his reputation and political future on the line!

Senator Zero – The REAL Bob Casey

Bob Casey?  His biggest contribution as a U.S. Senator has been as a Silent Supporter of President Obama’s policies and programs, including Obamacare, the Economy with its 12.3 million people out of work, the National Debt which is up from $10 Trillion to $16 Trillion, and the decisions to “distance” the U.S. from Israel.

Then ask yourself, Where has Senator Casey been on the important social issues of the day?  Issues like women’s choice or gay marriage??  As a devout Catholic, Bob Casey believes Rowe v. Wade should be overturned and is opposed to gay marriage.  Yet a review of Bob Casey’s website shows NOTHING on EITHER subject.

You want to know why you won’t find them?  You won’t find them because Bob Casey knows many Democrats, those who will vote this Tuesday for President Obama, would not normally vote for an anti-Choice, anti-gay marriage candidate!

Bob Casey would rather stay SILENT than take a public stand that would potentially damage his Political Prospects!


Tom Smith … Facing the Issues. Bob Casey? Not so much …

Tom Smith is a self-made man, who mortgaged everything he had to create Jobs and Opportunity in Pennsylvania.  He managed several successful Businesses through tough economies in highly regulated industries.

As a fiscal conservative, he wants to simplify the tax code and to reign in out-of-control Federal spending.  As a successful creator of energy jobs in Pennsylvania, Mr. Smith is in favor of developing American energy opportunities to provide jobs for Americans.

Visit the Tom Smith for Senate website to learn more or to make a donation to the American Red Cross for those affected by Hurricane Sandy.  You can also check out Tom Smith’s DETAILED plans for the Country on his issues website.

You may not agree with Tom Smith on every issue; but at least he’s not shy about telling you where he stands!

Then, when you leave the Smith website, take a wander over to Bob Casey’s website for the three-sentence blurbs he provides on the important issues in this country.

Just don’t expect anything on Women’s Rights or LGBT issues.  They aren’t there, and for good reason.

Senator Zero – The REAL Bob Casey

Now ask yourself, is this the kind of Senator Pennsylvania needs?

My case for Mitt Romney

As the most anticipated Election Day in years approaches, it’s time to make my last pitch for Mitt Romney in what has been a loooooong, LOUD, and contentious process.  At least fellow Pennsylvanians – on both sides of The Great Divide – can give thanks for one small advantage; we don’t live in Ohio, where the Political Saturation Level is reaching the Please-Just-End-This-Madness stage.

I hold no illusions that this will change any minds, let alone sway the end result one way or the other.  But if it helps anyone to firm up their position in support of Change in The Oval Office, it will be well worth the effort.

My approach will mirror that which I suspect most voters will consider when it comes time to decide which man will lead the country over the next four years:

  • Are We better off today than We were four years ago?
  • Has the President performed as well as We expected, and prioritized as he should have since taking office in January 2009?
  • Does Mitt Romney offer Us the Vision and Leadership that would make a significant improvement in Our lives?

Déjà vu all over again … Are You better off today than you were in 2009?

Jimmy “Malaise in a Cardigan” Carter

Who has been confident in what the Economy has had to offer in the past four years?  Yes, President Obama was dealt a crappy economy when he came into office, as was Jimmy Carter, as was Ronald Reagan.  And yes, that comparison was deliberate!  It’s been four years – almost; and what have we seen?  Forty-three months of unemployment over 8%, with the real unemployment rate – which includes those who have lost all Confidence in finding employment – estimated to be as high as 11%!  (The recent down-tick in unemployment from 8.1% to 7.8% was most likely the result of seasonal holiday, part-time job offerings.)

Priorities has been President Obama’s problem when it comes to improving the Economic picture.   At a time when bailouts were needed to keep banks from failing and automakers from going belly up, when the Democrats held an eight-month stranglehold on Legislative decision-making, the focus of the Obama Administration was not on the Economy.  Instead their focus was on an age-old Liberal bugaboo, finding a way to steer the American system – including its economic engine – towards Socialized Medicine.  (That’s not to claim that this is what the Affordable Care Act accomplishes at this point.  The ACA is simply the first step in the process.  A simple Google search including the words “Obama socialized medicine” will give you plenty of information that proves the point.)

All their political capital was expended in that single decision to make Obamacare the over-riding priority of those heady days of Democrat dominance over Washington, D.C.!  The Economy?  Not so much …

So what it that instills Confidence in Mitt Romney?  SUCCESS!

Confidence is the most powerful word one can use when describing the psyche of a successful Economy.  Confidence breeds investment.  Confidence encourages Business – both Big and Small – to plan bigger, to expand, and to hire more workers in the expectation of Opportunity and Success.  Confidence encourages those, who have stopped looking for work, to get back out into the job market.  Confidence drives the Economy.

For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over Mitt Romney’s taxes, his wealth, his reign at Bain Capital, there is a very large, very common thread … He was Successful!  He was successful at Bain Capital where 80% of the companies Bain worked with increased revenues, and investors that included pension plans, college funds, and charitable organizations realized positive returns on their investments.  Check out the stories of Bain Capital and Staples or The Sports Authority or Bright Horizons (a leader in employer-provided child-care) or Physio Control (developer/manufacturer of critical care medical devices).  The list goes on and on and on …

Mitt Romney saved the 2002 Olympics

Romney was Successful when he left Bain in 1999 to save a debt-ridden, scandal scarred 2002 Olympics.  He was Successful when he was elected Governor of Massachusetts’ and worked across  the aisle to fix the State’s budget shortfall and continue Massachusetts inroads to improving Education.  Ask yourself the question, what has President Obama ever turned around that didn’t require a massive infusion of TAXPAYER money?

So you have to wonder why is Mitt Romney and his Success such a target of the Obama campaign?  Wealth is not what preys on the Middle Class.  If Confidence drives the Economy, investment – which comes from excess wealth – feeds the Economic engine.

Economic stagnation is what kills all classes of society.  It kills jobs; kills nest eggs; kills buying power; and it kills prospects of greater opportunity for EVERYONE!  Wealth is what feeds the country’s Economic Engine.  Wealth creates investment, expansion, spending and – most importantly right now – JOBS!  When the Economy is cooking properly, ALL CLASSES of society benefit!

That is the definition of a Confident Economy!

The Lion of Ozbama

Political Courage is a short commodity.  It requires Leadership in the face of difficult decisions.  It requires the Vision to tackle National priorities when Populist ideals are competing for attention.  It requires the Will to stand tall on the Beliefs you hold, and damn the political consequences.  Political Courage is something that has been lacking in the Obama White House.

Consider the following:

  • When the Economy needed Action and Leadership to jumpstart growth; to expand Opportunities; to get people back to work President Obama took to the backseat, as House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid drove a legislative bulldozer towards a single-payer healthcare that did NOTHING to reign in the costs of medical care.  Actions taken to sustain long-term Economic Growth: NONE
  • When it came to implementation of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama ensured that it’s most dramatic and costly provisions would not take effect until AFTER the 2012 election.  They will not go into effect until 2014!  Actions taken to promote sustained growth in Employment: NONE
  • In an era that almost BEGS for the deficit-slashing approach of former President Bill Clinton, the U.S. of A. must absorb the “gift” of deficits that increased from $10 trillion to $16 trillion; 13 million disadvantaged added to the food stamps rolls; and little in Hope that the credit card spending will Change!
  • During a National Debate on the question of Gay Marriage, everyone KNEW where President Obama would eventually come down on the subject.  But as weeks turned into months and acrimony built, nothing was heard from The White House.  Why?  Because President Obama knew his position – during an election year – would cause him problems with those of his own Political Base with devout religious beliefs.  If it hadn’t been for VP Joe “Shoot from the Hip” Biden, President Obama would still be in the proverbial closet!
  • When President Obama did “come out of the closet”, it was not until the night before a fund-raiser in Hollywood – a region full of campaign cash and most decisively in favor of expanding gay rights – on the tennis courts of actor George Clooney!  And that’s when the Lion finally found “courage”!!
  • LATE BREAKING NEWS:  Des Moines Register blasts President Obama for not allowing his presentation – in an attempt to win their Editorial Board’s endorsement – from being released publicly to the voters of Iowa. an extremely close swing state!  If President Obama only had Courage in his convictions!

As you can tell, I’m not a big fan of President Obama; and certainly I believe his priorities have not been where they should be, especially when it comes to the Economy!

And what does Mitt Romney offer us?

Throughout the debate cycle, Mitt Romney has effectively cast off every wild dispersion the Democrats have attempted to heap on him.  He proved he has the temperament and Vision to be a successful President.  He has provided his framework for digging the Economy out its hole; for re-energizing the Job Market; and for reducing the choking debt that will eventually kill the U.S. Economy if not turned around.

The Right Man for right now!

Romney’s plan for tax cuts across all but the highest tax brackets, combined with reductions in tax deductions is a sound solution that involves little pain.  By reducing taxes, the Economy will be reinvigorated with Confidence that will encourage Investment and expansion.  A more robust Economy will generate additional business, more jobs and a greater demand for manufactured goods and construction materials.  This higher level of business activity begets greater tax revenue across a much broader segment of the Market, even as tax rates are lowered!  The result will be an off-set of those tax reductions, lower debt aided by cuts to expenses, and fewer claims for welfare subsistence as the result of increased employment levels.

It’s a simple, logical approach that will put people back to work while increasing tax revenues that can be used to pay down the deficits.

This election will be about the Economy.  It must be because our continually escalating debt has become the BIGGEST threat to our National Security.  Between being over-leveraged in debt to the Chinese and the enormous stress the costs of servicing that debt (i.e. interest paid), the debt threatens to choke our country’s ability to provide essential social services; maintain a fully equipped, technologically advanced military; and protect the future of our children.

Regardless of what you believe about how we got into this Economic morass, you must recognize the fact that not only has the last four years yielded little – if any – progress, President Obama’s policies and misplaced priorities have only worsened the situation.

Now is the time to make a change and put a man in charge who KNOWS how to reverse a desperate situation before it’s too late!

Vote for a return to Prosperity!  Vote for Mitt Romney!

Romney clearly the winner in Round 1!

Wow … Was I impressed!

I do not normally watch presidential debates.  I find them full of platitudes and generalizations.  And this was true of tonight’s debate at times. But I watched anyway, knowing this election is an important one.  (There’s also that thing that if you’re going to blog about politics, you ought to pay attention.  So watch I did.)

Frankly, I thought by the end of the debate, the President looked tired and harried … almost disheveled.  He was strongest early in the debate; but I thought Mitt Romney constantly out-pointed The President on the Economic issues.  (Something I have been convinced he would do if given the chance.)

Mitt Romney looked more energetic, animated, and decisive.  He definitely proved that he has the presence and weight – personality wise – to be presidential.  

Romney was clear on his message; rejected the continued attempt at misdirection by the President; and demonstrated that he is extremely comfortable speaking on the Economy.  He was clear in his explanations of his framework for getting the country out of its Economic Malaise; reducing the deficit; and improving healthcare.

All-in-all Mitt Romney decisively took Round 1 of the Presidential Debates!!  He surprised me with the strength of his performance and his grasp of the solutions we need.  

Well done, Mitt!!