Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Good Night Irene!

Good Night Irene

We need a whole new Congress. It's as simple as that! The Congress that is revered by only 11 % of the people for steadfastly protecting the rights and privileges of 1% of the people has got to go. They have flunked the test of functionality by any objective standard, and it's time to send them packing.

So. next fall ( would that it were sooner) the American people get their chance to" just say no" to the "just say no" Congress by saying, Thank you for your disservice to America. It's time for you to move on! And while you're at it, you can take your moneybagging, malfeasant , malevolent lobbyists with you. And don't let the door hit you in the backside on your way out.
Move over Grover Norquist, a new pledge is on the way. Your time has passed . Your hegemony is no more, because our time has come.

To take back our Democracy, we need to not only throw the rascals out of office. We need to get the money out of politics. So let's all take a new pledge.

Repeat after me. "I do solemnly swear that I will vote out of office, any incumbent member of Congress who takes one dime of special interest money, so help me God!"
That will fix it. That's the only thing that will fix it. We need a new bunch of bananas in Congress from top to bottom, whose only interest will be to serve the American people's interests, and not themselves and the special interests who bought and paid for them. Let's say goodbye to petty partisan political agendas. The only agenda that should matter is the agenda of the American electorate and we want a Congress to make rules to insure that if you work hard, and do the right thing, and not take risks that are too risky.... you will live long and prosper.

We are not looking to be bailed out. We don't want to be bowled over any more. We want the American dream back. We are tired of repeatedly watching your do nothing nightmare Republican Congress' Groundhog Day charade. It's over . No more acting out the same old scenarios, and acting up when you don't get your way. Time to put some adults in your place, and dismiss the cry baby curmudgeons who are posing as Congressmen .

The House Republican majority says they are now passionately for, what they once adamantly opposed. (a one year extension of the 2% middle class tax hike instead of the two month compromise that was worked out bipartisanly by the Senate), that simply strains credulity . It doesn't wash.

Not too long ago ( less than a week if memory serves) they were against the middle tax cut.... period. They were against it before they were for it. It was a Democratic gimmick to assuage the masses, said they. Balderdash! . We're not buying it.

If they really think that the American people are going to be hornswaggled by their latest attempt at camouflaging their skulduggery, they'd better move to Brooklyn. and start bidding on bridges.

Do you hear us? Enough is Enough! It is you who should be out pounding the pavement, looking for a job come January 1 of 2013! That will be a wondrous New Year celebration when we can say "Good riddance to bad rubbish!" And don't let the door hit you in the backside on your way out!

Goodbye dysfunctional Congress. Welcome back American democracy . It is way past time to cut 'em off and vote 'em out. The large lady has finally stepped up to the microphone, and is singing a song we can all hum along to. Goodnight Irene! And good night Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Obama and Newton's Third Law

December 8th, 2011...Is it a day that will live in infamy in Presidential politics? That just may be the case. Will it be remembered as the day when the President  finally suited up,  put on his game face, and threw down the gauntlet? Have the Republicans finally crossed his political Rubicon?

    With his "enough is enough " appearance in the Presidential briefing room on the day after Pearl Harbor Day, President Obama seems to be finding a way to channel his inner Teddy Roosevelt, even if he still sounds like Woodrow Wilson. If so, the Republican obstructionists may have to finally retreat from their San Juan Hill of Obstructionsim. 

    Was this indeed a watershed moment in his Presidency? Will it be remembered as a day of infamy by his unrelenting Republican antagonists? The next few weeks will tell the tale. The countdown clock is ticking in Congress as well as  in the Presidential briefing room.

 How does the President deal with Sen Mitch Mc Connell and  his style of "Just say no, or just say... hell no" congressional leadership?
What pressure can Obama bring to bear against these illegitimate  tactics being employed by his Republican adversaries?.

    It used to be that there was at least a pretext for the Senate’s refusing to advise and consent on Presidential nominations. Now, with the refusal of the Senate Republicans to confirm former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as head of the new Consumer Financial  Protection Bureau, that pretense is no more.

It is not about qualifications or credentials. He satisfies that criteria. It is about the Republicans refusing to execute the law which is now on the books, which they don't like. They are not trying to repeal it. They are just trying to obstruct it, and to keep the agency from doing the job the law requires it to do. This rationale for rejecting a nominee has no precedent. It is a raw and unbridled attempt to politically muscle the President, and he, rightfully, must fight back with whatever appropriate tools he has in his arsenal.

    The Republicans need to be reminded that Newton's Third law of physics still applies in Congress, as in every body politic. No action takes place in a vacuum. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Obama needs to finally dig in his heels, and use his clout. He seems to be finally doing just that.

     Is there anything Mc Connell and his cohorts value that can be denied them? Obama must show that two can play at this game. He must also continue to use the bully pulpit to rail against this political skulduggery as well, but speeches are not enough. He has to search the hand they have dealt him for whatever Trump cards he may hold, and at least threaten their use, if not actually employ them.

Politics can be hardball, and when one side is playing hardball, it makes no sense for the other side to play softball. Obama has to find Teddy Roosevelt's big stick, and start swinging it. Maybe walking softly while carrying that big stick was a Rooseveltian method that he should have been emulating all along...but it is not too late. The President has to transition from walking loudly, (speechifying too much), and carrying a whiffle ball bat. Goodbye Mr. Nice Guy, hello Rough Rider!.

     He said that no options were off the table in his pursuit of persuasive devices to bring the recalcitrant Republicans around. He must, as he has promised, force the Republicans to get off their political locked boxes, and do their jobs. They must pass the tax cut extension, and get Cordray confirmed. Can the President persuade them to do it? Time will tell.  

But one thing is certain, if he fails to fight fire with fire, it's the American people who will end up getting burned. That is why the President needs to get out his blowtorch, aim the flames where needed, and start hitting back at them with real heat. Eventually, and hopefully sooner rather than later, they will feel that heat, and get out of the kitchen of their pugilistic political posturing. If not, then it will be time for the American people to guide them to the nearest exit, kit and kaboodle, and shake the cupboards bare come election time.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Extending Your Own Runway!

Extending your runway!

 Let me start by explaining that I am a widower with four grown daughters. All of them are talented, loving,  bright, achievement oriented young women. For this, I am grateful. For the most part, they are focused on their careers, their partners, and the daily stresses of their own life. There is one exception. That is when Dad comes to visit, and I become the focus of their not always entirely welcomed scrutiny, and  efforts to do a Dad makeover in a day!

On a recent visit to my daughter's house in Saratoga Springs, in Upstate NY for the Thanksgiving holiday, I had a chance to visit with my two middle daughters. One is a life coach, and the other a teacher. Both have lots of advice for dear old Dad!  I probably should not have complained about my sciatica, plantar fasciitis, and other sundry annoyances of an increasingly post middle age existence.

Since my wife died, my daughters often act as parents in reverse. Without a wife to nag or cajole me, my daughters have taken up the cudgel! I have to keep reminding myself that it's only  because they love me!   
     I've gotten lessons on nutrition, temperance,  fitness, scheduling and 
partnering. Since old habits die hard, I have heard, but not heeded, much of this before.  For some reason, I was a little more receptive this time.     
Maybe it is because of my advancing years. Maybe it's because  I am mostly retired and have more time to listen. Or maybe it's because I have a Medicare milestone birthday coming up.  I am reminded of that daily by junk mail solicitation for Medicare Supplementary health plans M.ust be the government is so desperate for money these days, that they sell their upcoming eligible lists to telemarketers!
     The way I put it to them was, "Listen girls, my  plane is still flying, but the runway is getting shorter." "Well, Dad", responded one. "It's time to  lengthen your runway!" Boom! She hit pay dirt! What was it Mickey Mantle once said, "If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself!" Mickey was a smart guy!
Too bad he had four sons instead of four daughters. If he did, perhaps  his runway might have been extended too!
     So now that I am back home in Kansas, it's time to start making lists for runway repair and extension.
So here goes: I promise to love more, listen better, eat less, laugh a lot, write more, and organize a daily bucket list. Cause you never know when the runway you are landing on might be shorter than you think.  Oh... And I promise to always be there on the other end of the phone line when they need a Dad for everyday advice, cheering and bucking them up, and just listening without always trying to fix it. 
     Somehow though, I think the parental role reversals will increase until I get my aircraft refueled, re-tooled, and ready to fly further. That way, hopefully I can   avoid too much turbulence.  Not a bad everyday life goal , eh?
      Best of all. It's just good to know they care. So, today is the best first day of the rest of my life!  And a healthy and Happy Holiday to all of you!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Demons or Scapegoats?

Demons? Or just scapegoats?
There are watershed moments in history, as there are in life, when everything turns on a dime. They are events that change our lives. The Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the events of 9/11 are but a few examples. We knew at those moments that life would never again be the same.

Art mirrors life, so movies have watershed moments as well. They are the quintessential climax, the powerful point of revelation, that leave the viewer profoundly affected. One such movie moment comes to mind from the classic female-bonding film, "Steel Magnolias," which starred such first-rate actresses as Sally Fields as the mother of Julia Roberts, Shirley MacLaine as the curmudgeonly yet still lovable Louisa "Ouiser," Olympia Dukakis as Clairee and Dolly Parton as Truvy the hairdresser. It was around her beauty parlor's egg-shaped hair dryers that the women forged a common bond and sense of deep and devoted kinship.

The watershed moment occurs in the cemetery scene. At the grave where her daughter has just been buried, Sally Fields is overcome with grief and anger. She falls to the ground, crying, "Why, why, why!" and then says, "I am so angry! I am just so angry. I just want to hit someone!"

At that moment. Olympia Dukakis grabs Shirley MacLaine and says, "Here, hit Ouiser!" MacLaine grimaces in bewildered anticipation of the blows that never do come, because, realizing the ridiculousness of the proposition, Fields changes from sobbing to laughing hysterically.

Hit Ouiser indeed? What good would that do?

We are immediately struck by the humor and the futility of the scene.

I have often used that example to explain President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq. He couldn't immediately find the real culprit to punch, Osama Bin Laden, so he did the next best thing. He hit "Ouiser", in the person of Iraqi dictator Sadam Hussein. It turned out to be a mistake of gigantic proportion, and far reaching consequence.

Ten years later, after trillions of dollars squandered, thousands of lives spent and countless other casualties that will remain with us, we have to ask ourselves whether it was truly worth the effort.

Did we pay far too great a price for the partial objectives achieved? History will be the judge of that.

In the meantime, we need to employ the "Hit Ouiser" principle to our current political conundrum. How do we express our anger at the mistakes and mismanagement that almost collapsed our whole economy, and still threatens to cripple our economic hegemony today?

Do we "Hit Ouiser?" — that is, blame it all on President Barack Obama, and throw the bum out? Or do we focus on the real culprits, the greed, and the stupidity that brought us to the brink of disaster, and exorcise the real demons that bedevil us?
That is our challenge in this upcoming presidential election year.

If we chose to just "Hit Ouiser," we will have no one but ourselves to blame for the damage we self-inflict. But if we rise up and right the wrongs which have beset us, we will ultimately benefit not only ourselves, but our children, and their children as well.

The choice is ours to make, America. Let's hope we make that choice not from a place of anger or spite, but out of wisdom, reason, judgment and forethought.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Call out the Boogeymen!

Call Out the Boogeymen!

A wise person once told me, “Never should on yourself or anyone else!” Now, say that ten times fast. Or say” You should pass this bill right away!”, five times, like President Obama did on Thursday night. The result of this admonition is the same, it gets the person’s back up who you are “should-ing”, and strengthens their resistance to oppose, rather than support, what it is you say they should do. It is simple human nature.

Now, President Obama knew, going in, that he was entering the Lions’ Den. His mistake in the presentation , however, was in holding out hope for the hopelessly opposed, and trying to shame them into doing something that may benefit the American people, but will not benefit their political agenda, both long and short term. After all, the Republicans in Congress already have jobs...their own, and they want to keep their jobs, and will go to whatever extremes are necessary to do so. They simply want to insure that President Obama loses his job in November of 2012, so it is not in their interest to do anything to save him from the loss of that job. So, they will find multiple excuses for not supporting the Jobs bill...and they will twist the truth to say that they have already proposed many jobs bills which the President and the Democrats in congress have rejected (translate that more tax cuts..) This is political bloodsport...pure and simple, and the sooner the President recognizes this inevitable fact, the sooner he may be able to save his own job by fixing the blame squarely on the shoulders of those responsible for the current political imbroglio..the recalcitrant Republicans in the do nothing Republican Congress.

That’s how Harry Truman saved his job in 1948, and the same principle applies in 2012. Call out the Boogeyman for who he, or they, are, and point the finger at them, repeatedly. This is what they have been doing to him ad nauseum on talk radio. Time to reverse polarity and fight fire with fire. If President Obama does not have the fire in his belly to do so, he will suffer indigestion for the next 14 months, all for naught, while in the end, he will fade away as a first and one termer.

The American people, and yes, those critically undecided Independent voters in the middle, already clearly understand one thing. He is not the one who has failed to extend the olive branch. All you have to do is look at the expression on John Boehner’s face during Obama’s speech to see where they are, and have been, at. They wouldn’t even give him the courtesy of setting up the speech for an earlier time, let alone the courtesy of a response. Boehner mumbled something about the American people being more interested in football, than in listening to a Republican response. Clearly, they think this is nothing more than an “Save Obama’s job” bill, and the more he entreats them, the more convinced they become. Time to move on, go past them, and take the case to the American people directly.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch Mc Connell quoted something from Albert Einstein about the definition of insanity being doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. He is right on that point, only the insanity is not in proposing jobs bills that the Republicans think are flawed from the start, the insanity is in believing that you can get a different result from an entrenched oppositional party that has made naysaying their signature response to anything this President may do, and de-legitimizing his status as President at every turn they can the sine qua non of their own success barometer.

Take a chapter out of the book of Harry. It is time to give the Republicans hell, Barry! Not Purgatory, not Limbo, but hell...and and don’t mince words or equivocate. Tell it like it is. To quote the immortal Harry S. Truman,” I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it's hell. ... I just tell the truth and they think it's hell.” Tell them the truth Mr. President, and keep telling it until at last the truth sets you free. The only way to deal with this crowd is to send them packing in 2012. Sad, but that is just the way it is. Use the megaphone of the bully pulpit at every turn, and enlist your friends and Democratic comrades to do the same. That is the only formula for ultimate success.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Give 'em Hell, Barry!

Note to Obama Speechwriters for Thursday night!

In order to regain his base and restore his popularity with the American people, in his primetime speech to a Joint Session of Congress Thursday night ,   the President needs to change the dynamic of the debate,  step to the podium,  and tell Congress, which is even less popular than he is, that the jig is up.  He needs to clearly state that he will no longer cotton to their fancies, or those of their lobbyists, and instead,  that he will dance with the crowd that brung him. Having been unable to woo the Republicans to embrace the spirit of bipartisanship and to put country ahead of party for the last nearly three years, he is going to stop trying and start fighting for what he believes in!

    To  further woo the unwooable is a fools errand. He has tried compromise, which has only weakened him. He has argued to convince the better angels of their nature, and they not only remain unconvinced, they have scorned him.

He has even unwittingly accepted part of the blame they have wittingly assigned him for the debt ceiling debate debacle, with the likes of Sean Hannity even referring to him as President Downgrade! He may have become President downgrade by his own hand by downgrading the bona fides of his own leadership in failing to fight for those values which he and his followers believe in! He has lessened  his own relevance in the marketplace of ideas because he has validated theirs and their agenda, simply by marching to the beat of their drummer, rather than creating a drumbeat of his own cadence.”

    The pundits would have you believe that “It's the economy, stupid!’ That no incumbent President can be assured of re-election, when the jobless rate is still soaring above 9 %   and the stock market in a downward roller coaster ride. I say... Not true, in this very limited fact pattern. He could make the case that what he inherited was nothing short of a debacle, and that he has at least staved off an even greater debacle so far, and it would be believable...because it's true!

  But to do so...he has to speak truth to the pretenders to the throne, and make the case for what government can do to help the private sector regain it's footing, so we can bounce back for real. To do so though...he has to be genuine, not disingenuous. He needs to face his tormentors and call their bluff. Americans will rally to support a tough talking truth teller much faster than they will come to the aid of a tough talking , but weak kneed negotiator who has  never met a Republican plan he hasn't wanted to cave to.

    He can stare down the beast on Thursday night, and tell Congress and the American people straight out that there is indeed a deficit problem we need to tackle, and that  is the deficit in the amount of taxes we collect from those most able to pay! Our deficit comes from our failure to collect taxes from those to whom much has been given. To wit: those Americans who earn over $250,000, only 43% of whom paid any income tax at all last year!

They can afford accountants and lawyers who can guide them through the tax code to loophole heaven. They can afford  the lobbyists who created those loopholes by having their bought and paid for Congressional minions vote the loopholes into the tax code to begin with.

    Tax cuts and deficits do not mix. Ask any economist . Our current red ink problem stems not from the projected insolvency of the Social Security or Medicare system, but from the very tax cuts former President Bush spearheaded the enactment of at a time of balanced budgets and even budgetary surplus. Couple that with two unfunded wars and an unfunded prescription drug program.  We have met the enemy, and it is not Grandma, or future Grandmas. It is those advocating for a continuation of those  very tax cuts which have become the government funding/deficit problem. We have met the enemy, and it is our own timidity.

   Speak truth to power MR . President! Be true to your  school! Rah rah , sis boom bah!
Cheer for what  you  and your followers believe in, and let the chips fall where they may!  The alternative is to exit stage left, long before it is time for you to do so. Raise the curtain anew on your Presidency. Don't let them bring the curtain down around you,

    Mr. President...Fight , fight, fight ... With all of your might! In so doing you will regain your "mojo", and return your followers to the fold, and with your renewed and re-energized base, together we can keep the audacity of hope alive.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Fiddler- in- Chief

In government, there are always two choices . You can respond to a crisis , or shrink from it. You can choose "Don't just stand something!" , or Don't just do something, Stand there!" It has always been thus.
In the Great depression, Herbert Hoover chose to just stand there, and Franlkin Delano Roosevelt chose to do something! To paraphrase Robert Frost, "two roads diverged in the woods, and Roosevelt took the path less travelled by , and It has made all the difference! " The leading Republican contenders would have it Hoover's way. No new taxes, No new programs, no new spending, no more pencils, no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks, don't just play dumb, be dumb. Better yet, be dumb, deaf , and blind!
Now as we approach the Seventh Inning stretch, stepping up to home plate is Barack Obama, and he can choose to play the part of Babe Ruth, or he can choose to bunt. Which will it be?
So far, the choice has been to bunt, or even to refuse to swing the bat of the bully pulpit . The Tea Partiers are shouting from the Granstand for him to fiddle and let Rome burn. They are even lighting fires in the parking lot.
The White House political team seems to be urging Mr. Obama to fiddle a little faster, but accept the fact that Rome is going to burn because the arsonists have been put in charge of half the government .
The Republicans are a noisy crowd. Their "just say no" mantra of Obama's first two years has become "just say No way in hell "!, and the President seems haplessly ukered into his own corner, unable to match his formerly inspiring rhetoric with any kind if bold new deeds. His lack of Harry Truman persona has caused his poll numbers to go into a mudslide.
So, what to do? Is there a way out? Is it time for the proverbial Hail Mary pass?
To borrow a phrase from non Presidential contender Sarah Palin,,,,"You betcha!"
The times call for bold action to accompany bold rhetoric. If the Republicans refuse to play ball, and choose to sit out the rest of the game, so be it, They do so at their own electoral peril. But for them to be electorally imperiled, the bully pulpit must be resurrected, and the megaphone dusted off . This is no time to use the professorial lectern.
The large lady has yet to step up to the microphone to belt out a tune. There is still time to seize the initiative. There is still time to lead, The time for fiddling has passed.
What say you, Mr. President? Are you up to the task? Or should we just wait to call out the firetrucks to douse the remaining ashes of the audacity of hope? The choice is yours, Mr. President.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Vain Mutiny

The Tea party pirates have completed the process that George Bush started. Their mutiny has finally helped to drive this country out of the ditch, and off a cliff!
The average investor has lost $16k since July in their 401k account. That is a direct result of the game of chicken being played by the far right wing of the Republican party with the phony debt crisis they created, then careened the ship of state toward the cliff, all the while,flirting with disaster, and thumbing their noses at the "naysayers" who warned them of potentially disastrous consequences. The irony is that many of those small investors unwittingly cheered for the Congressional mutineers!
. It's like they commandeered the Titanic and deliberately drove it toward a field of icebergs, then tried to pull back after it was too late. The warning signs were everywhere, but they paid them no heed in their zealous righteousness. We may have hit the iceberg ourselves, eventually, but the mutinous congressmen who commandeered the ship of state, and bound and nearly gagged the captain , have no one to blame but themselves.
They will try to blame Obama anyway, as Fox news host Sean Hannity did yesterday on the radio, calling him "President Downgrade", and mocking his decision to take a July vacation on Cape Cod as if he were abandoning the wheel of government in a crisis! How dare he try to blame Caspar Milquetoast by comparing him to Captain Queeg! What would he have him do anyway? Stand and fight the mutineers?
Wait a minute ! Actually that's not a bad idea! Stand and fight for principle, and try to escape the chains that the tea party congressmen have placed around his ankles, and the noose they have fastened around his neck. Maybe there is still time for Mighty Mouse to save the day!
But we need Preident Bold for that job. Not President Bland! Will he seize the opportunity of this new crisis to get back at the wheel before it really is too late? Stay tuned for the next exciting chapter of Obama v. The Obstructionists, the continuing saga of life, love and the fight for liberty in a small village alongside the Potomac called Washington!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hugh L. Carey...continued

Hugh Carey...a Governor for his time, and ours...

His first three years as Governor were tumultuous. He whipped a recalcitrant State Legislature into submission, and saved NY City from financial collapse. His popularity upstate, though, waned, with all the attention given to NY City's issues. By 1978, his re-election chances were dim, as he faced popular Lomg Island Lobsterman Perry Duryea, the Assembly Minority Leader. In the 1974 campaign, his choice for Lt. Governor , Mario Cuomo, lost the primary to upstate NYS Senator Mary Ann Krupsak. Carey appointed Cuomo Secretary of State, which gave him a platform to travel about the state and hone his stump speech skills, Mary Ann Krupsak, with whom Carey had a tense relationship, did the same. He gave her little else to do.
Their forced marriage came to an abrupt conclusion in 1978, when his Lt. Governor decided to bolt the ticket and challenge her boss for the nomination. At the time, I was the youngest County Democratic chair in the state ( Oswego County), and I will never forget the call I got on the Sunday before the Albany convention in early June. I was in the yard trimming my rosebushes when my wife summoned me to the phone..."The Lt. Governor is on the line!" indeed it was Mary Ann Krupsak, with whom I had developed a close and cordial relationship. She was calling to tell me that she had had enough of Carey, and was bolting the ticket! I tried to talk her out of it, to no avail. I asked her if she had told the Governor yet, and she said no, just a few County chairs she felt close to. Ok. So there I was, all of 27 years, and the LG of NY was telling me she was leaving the ticket, but the Governor did not yet know. Her reasons for not yet telling him were colorfully expressed!
I got off the phone, numb for a few minutes, wondering what to do, I called Judge Conway for advice, and he agreed to meet me at my law office in 10 minutes. He would help me get through to his old friend Hugh Carey on the phone.
We reached the Governor's security detail, and he was in a helicopter on the way back from Shelter Island to Albany. the Governor called back, and Judge Conway handed me the phone ,
"Governor, I have some disturbing news for you, I said. I just got off the phone with Lt. Governor Krupsak, and she is bolting the ticket!" "She's what! Governor Carey roared back" Why that ungrateful @&$!&& ! "And she's only a heartbeat away from being Governor of this state! " he fumed.
"Who else has she told this to ?," he asked. "A few other County Chairs", I responded. "If she's telling County Chairs she might as well be telling the press" he thundered." What would you do if you were me?", he asked. Pause...the Governor of NYS is asking me, a 27 year old virtual nobody Small County Chair what to do. This is heavy stuff!
"I'd get into my car, and drive over to Menands, and have a cup of tea with her, and try to sweet talk her back onto the ticket", I finally said, sheepishly. " I'm not going to give that woman the satisfaction ", he fumed back at me. The conversation ended by his telling me to keep his counsel, and that John Burns, ( the State Chair) would get back to me.
Burns called a couple of hours later to confirm the bad news. There was no turning back, Krupsak was off the ticket.

To be continued...

Hugh L. Carey

Hugh Carey…A Governor for his time, and ours

I first met Hugh Carey when the then Brooklyn congressman was running for Governor, and he brought his entire clan (12) children with him in a Winnebago to Oswego. We met in 1974 , at West park, where he gave one of his classic stump speeches at the time…”Nelson Rockefeller spent our money like it was his money..”. An Irish politician, a recent widower, with a big family, and a penchant for oratory? I was hooked!
Up to that point, I had been backing Howard Samuels (Howie the Horse) from Canandaigua. That all changed when I met Hugh Carey and his clan. A relatively short man, when he stepped up onto a soapbox, he grew taller, exhibiting a compelling persona, and a mesmerizing Irish gift of gab that would serve him well in the coming years as steward of NY’s post Rocky, rocky recovery. period. Never the mind that off the stump, he could be curt, even crude, and cool, not always brimming with camaraderie. My mentor John O’Connor Conway (later to be named Supreme Court Justice Conway by Hugh Carey, himself), explained it to me this way.. He’s “black Irish” translated, meaning he has some of the genes left over from the Spanish Armada invasion of Ireland, which tend to cause periods of deep brooding and melancholy, and he had only recently lost his wife Helen. That was good enough for me, a third year law student at the time at Syracuse University, and a budding politician in the waiting, having already gotten elected to my first term as an Oswego County Legislator.
My interaction with Hugh L. Carey would continue for another 37 years. We went to Niagara Falls, to cheer him on at the convention (where I first met Mario Cuomo from Queens), and then through the primary, which he handily won over Howie Samuels, and then onto the Governor’s mansion, where he moved all of his kids in on ‘ Day one‘, with hardly a room to spare! He would come back to Oswego several times, and each time I was accorded an opportunity to chat with him, as well as cheer for him. One trip to the Hotel Pontiac for a fundraiser in 1975 is seared in my memory. He came to the Hotel Pontiac, a grand old small town hotel, whose better days had already come and gone…we reserved the “Presidential suite “ for him…he later commented, privately, “It’s great to be back in Oswego, but As far as your hotel is concerned, on the whole, I’d rather be in Philadelphia! (intoned in a deprecating imitation of the late WC Fields) We all laughed heartily! (
I served that next Spring as an Assembly research assistant, after a failed bid to become Oswego’s second democratic Assemblyman (I came close..but no cigar…). I attended many functions at the mansion, sat through many of his speeches, and marveled in his political acumen, and Irish wit and uncanny political skills.

To be continued……..

Monday, August 1, 2011


Double double toil and trouble has become diddle fiddle stay in the middle for our beleaguered leader!
His unending willingness to upend principle on the altar of Republican sacrificial
 demands is now legendary. He in part created his own debt crisis problem by failing to exact any concessions on the debt ceiling limit when he caved in January to the republican demands for continuation of the Bush tax cuts, and thus set his own hostage taking stage 6 months before the unthinkable became thinkable! 

He apparently has not yet learned that You just can't bargain with mindless economic sloganeering terrorists, unless you want to keep giving in till there is nothing left to lose...unless of course your name is Barack Obama. He is behaving a little like the young characters in the TNT summer series "Falling skies!" who have lobster like harnesses attached to their spine by Aliens, who then control their every movement and mood. Someone please call Harry Potter and Hermione out of retirement so 
they can uncast the spell he seems to be under!
     If he is destined to be a one term President by the vagaries of fate and the undealable deck he was dealt by his predecessor, then he would be best to fight with dignity for the remaining two years of his term by doing and demanding the Republicans to do what's right! He can still demonstrate real leadership , instead of Mamby pamby
Equivocation, if he will boldly lead us where we need to go, even as he sets the stage for his successor!
     He has proven he is more cut in the mold of Adlai Stevenson then Harry Truman. Regrettable as that may be, he still can leave an important legacy. He could clearly and unequivocally communicate with the American people that we arr headeddown the wrong road , whi h will lead us to an aristocracy with a peasant population, unless we reverse the trend of the haves not just having more, but leaving nothing left for the middle class. He could hold the bankers h
and cheaters and wall street money mongers responsible for helping to slide the nation into the ditch we now find ourselves in. Perhaps if even 10% of the bailed out big bankers were to be heldcriminally accountable for their criminal and fraudulent conduct, we could restore a 
modicum  of trust in the American banking and Mortgage industry! 
    He could stand up for marriage equality and end to discrimination against those whose sexual orientation, through no fault of their own, has cast them in the role of second class citizen .
     And if he achieves but a third of the goals he could adopt in these next two years, who knows, he may become the world's first  double Nobel Laureate, if not earn a spot on Mt. Rushmore yet!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Debt crisis..A perspective

Row, Row, Row your boat..gently down the stream.... or better yet...row the boat in the wrong direction, head downstream while the other guys are paddling upstream, and maybe, after the boat gets done spinning around in the rapids, you will come to your senses in time to avoid going over the falls! As the old saying goes, this is no way to run a railroad, or captain even the sturdiest of boats .I It is certainly no way to run a National Legislature.

One of the axiomatic principles in our American two party system used to be, First..”Do the right thing”, and secondly, if you can’t do the right thing, at least..”Do no harm!” This principle appears to have been abandoned by the zealots and ideologues who have taken control of the rudder of the Republican party, and who are bound and determined to run the craft of government aground, if they don’t send it careening over the nearest falls. They are determined to do what is best for their short and long term political goals, regardless of the consequences to the Commonweal. It wasn’t always thus. In the good old days of GOP stalwarts like Everett Dirksen and Gerry Ford..a point was made, but cross aisle communication was maintained, and after the debate was over, they would raise their glasses in fellowship, and toast the next encounter. No more, sadly. Politics has become a bloodsport, and principle has been auctioned off to the highest bidder. Politics in America has become what Ambrose Bierce cynically characterized it as many years ago...”The strife of interests...masquerading as a contest of principle...!”

Our two party system has become anachronistic and dysfunctional, and seems to be haplessly unable to heal itself long enough to care for the long terms fortunes of our country. Partisan advantage has become the goal, in and of itself, and without a parliamentary system to allow the ideologically marginalized to marginalize themselves...without a mechanism to prevent them from throwing monkey wrenches into the government’s grist mill, we can do little but watch the blood spill forth while the game of political brinksmanship and gotcha is being played out on the national stage, like a Harry Potter style field game, to everyone’s disadvantage. How did this happen? Where did we go wrong? How do we reverse course? Can we?

First...the two party system depends on a kind of national consensus, which we no longer have. Historically, the two large tent parties had different approaches at the margins...but the goal of both parties has been the, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Now, the goal of one party has become to save the haves from any more giving to the have nots, in the name of job creationism, and to shrink the monster they now view as government. This has become the approach, and the method is to remain unyielding, uncompromising, and to take no prisoners.
As a result, our government is being held hostage by the pretenders to the throne, who have won one parliamentary skirmish, and think they have won the war. The method of governing has been to use any tool, hold anything hostage, and do so by any and all means necessary. “Starve the beast” is the modus operandi, and strip the bark off the tree after eating all the fruit has become the way of life for those who have the political and economic hegemony in the GOP.

How do we fix it? Well, here are at least three ideas..whose moment may have finally arrived. First, perhaps it is time to allow third parties to flourish, and to change the terms of our national legislature to coincide with the election of the Chief Executive, so that, as with most parliamentary democracies, at least one faction would be in control, and able to form a government which is not working at cross purposes with itself. If everyone were rowing the boat in the same direction, we might even begin to solve some of the thornier problems like job creation, and debt reduction, while still maintaining a social safety net for those unable to care for themselves. We need a government that is boldly able carry out an agenda. We need government to fix what needs fixing, to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, and to invest in new forms of energy production, and the insuring of educational access and achievement. We need new incentives for job creation that will turn our failing fortunes around, and insure our prosperity for the generation to come. We need a government which will insure opportunity, promote community, and reward responsibility, not feed upon itself, and cannibalize the very institutions which have been created to insure a level playing field.

Second, Another way to insure that the public interest is preserved by the government is to fund election campaigns with public dollars, and to rid the system of the special interests which dictate to the fiddler what tune shall be played. This reform would go a long way toward healing what ails us. Without it, we are doomed to be disadvantaged. Every day is like Groundhog day, and we seem unable to shake making the same mistakes over and over again.

Finally, It is time to re-introduce and restore the “Fairness Doctrine” in Broadcasting, to insure civility and evenness in our public dialogue on the public airwaves. Since that doctrine was abandoned, we have been on the proverbial downhill slide politically, and we desperately need to get back to being able to have an adult political conversation, without labeling and dismissing one another. Our current crop of radio talk hosts need to be put out to pasture...and our airwaves, which are owned by the public, need to be recaptured by the public, with free airtime to electoral candidates who will appear on camera themselves to state their goals, positions, and platforms, without benefit of clever Madison avenue 30 second Zingers designed to enrage, not enlighten, and to befuddle not bear witness to truth.

These are ambitious goals, but they are achievable. Perhaps a litmus test could be concocted wherein any candidate for public office could be called upon to adopt the pledge of civility, courtesy, camaraderie, and advancing of the common good. At least this would move the Commonweal forward, and we could begin rowing our oars in the same direction, toward common goals, once again. It’s worth a try!