Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Obamessiah's Overseas Campaign

The world is probably witnessing a "first in history," at least as far as the U.S. is concerned, to wit, a presidential candidate campaigning in the Middle East and Europe for the highest office in this country. Having announced a foreign relations platform guaranteed to save the world, before he left on this tour, he is now in the process of getting it rubber-stamped by the jihad crowd, whose stock in trade is comprised mainly of stoning bad girls and beheading anyone who takes the name of Mohammad in vain, and the citizens of Olde Europe, who just naturally hate this country and don't give a fig who runs it as long as it can be claimed to be badly done and sends troops to save their bacon when one of their countries does mean things to another(s).

Barack Hussein Obamessiah plans to speak at the Brandenburg Gate and has been told once an hour by his handlers that it's not located in Sioux City, the better for him to know where he is. The word is that he's been practicing John F. Kennedy's famous pronouncement when he spoke in Berlin in 1963: "Ich bin ein Berliner." Getting the hang of speaking German with a New England accent is a bit much, so he'll have to settle for a smooth Hawaiian chant. He might have tried for Ronald Reagan's "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" proclamation in 1987 when the Gipper spoke in Berlin but that would have been too republican as well as too obvious in terms of what it takes to stand tall and walk the talk…McCain style.

Since the on-scene reporters lack the proper gravitas to understand and describe/interpret such an earth-shaking event, the millionaire news anchors of ABC, CBS, and NBC have all tagged along the better to advance the networks' extensive Obama propaganda machine. They were shut out of the action in Afghanistan (weekend time off), but will get their chance to ooh and aah as the great one deigns to breathe his intellect upon them Jimmy Carter style, complete with grumbling on foreign soil about the monster cowboy from Texas. He will need to practice the Carter smile but be careful not to break his jaw in the process or possibly establish an insulting smirk, something he might have learned from wife Michelle, who smirks about her "mean country" (probably the reason she didn't make the scene).

Obama will feel at home in the Middle East, since he should understand that folks there are just like the paranoid folks he described in Pennsylvania – typical white people (like his grandma) who are suspicious of folks not like them, clutch their Bibles to their hearts and keep their shotguns at the ready. In the Middle East, they keep their beheading swords at the ready, their Korans out of the toilet, and their women covered so nobody can tell what their ethnicity (or measurements) might be, ergo, they will understand B. Hussein, whose middle name probably makes them quiver with the same ecstasy described by MSNBC's Chris Mathews when he mentioned last February that an Obama speech made a "thrill go up his (Matthews' ) leg." TV anchors can be weird in spouting democrat boilerplate but still make millions while their legs do funny things. One wonders if Matthews should see a psychiatrist or a neurologist.

The messiah has two fellow-senator tagalongs in Hagel and Reed, the former a much decorated Vietnam vet and the latter a graduate of West Point and former army officer. This arrangement is probably meant to give Obama some commander-in-chief bona fides, but one wonders if he just needs someone to help him with the when and where and method concerning a possible need to salute. He's already said plainly what he plans to do militarily, so there's actually no need for him to meet with the military on this trip, but the photo-ops are of the utmost importance. Expect to see the senator, who experienced 143 Senate work-days from January 2005 in his first term until announcing for the presidency early last year, eating with the GIs and feigning satisfaction with the food (while probably wondering if his underarm deodorant is working in the 120 degree weather). Thousands have spent years in Iraq/Afghanistan while Obama worked the equivalent of just under five months in the Senate and has been AWOL since February 2007.

The poop about this trip is that Obama must meet with world leaders to learn something about foreign affairs so that he can take his best shot in behalf of the U.S. in making policy decisions. Never mind that foreign-affairs specialists who have been in the business for decades still have problems, he's supposed to incur enough gravitas in a week or so to make him an expert. Actually, Barack probably means to let everyone know that he's a team player and that all he said about that terrible world-trade and anti-globalization stuff was just politics, meant to get elected, not govern. Democrats are one-world-government people but republicans still believe in looking out for this country as a first and foremost consideration. Olde Europe will love Obama, the best reason imaginable for seeing that he's never elected. One wonders if he would be in favor of adopting the euro, and even if he might so indicate (privately, of course) that fact to the French and Germans. Egad!

Elections are always silly seasons, but this one takes the cake, with a candidate campaigning overseas primarily because he has no idea what has been happening overseas. The messiah will be in big trouble if he mentions Sioux City at the Brandenburg Gate.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Monday, July 21, 2008

Town-Hall Meetings & Casinos?

Here is the first sentence of an Associated Press account of 10 July: "Gov. Steve Beshear is planning a series of town hall meetings across Kentucky in an effort to regroup from a rocky start as the state's top-elected official." Here is the second sentence: "Beshear Chief of Staff Adam Edelen said the town hall meetings are intended to help the administration retool its agenda in the wake of uncertain economic times and a rough first go-around with the General Assembly this spring."

Well…which is it, the first explanation or the second? Is the Kentucky governor trying to burnish a badly damaged image or is he actually interested in finding out things he already knows? And, by "rough go-around," did Edelen mean to drag the legislature into the governor's troubles?

Town-Hall meetings have been in the forefront of politics in this country for well over a year, as they are in especially the last year of every four-year presidential-election cycle. They are designed for one thing only – as campaign efforts in the drive to win an election. The governor is starting almost four years ahead of time with regard to his situation, but only a few months ahead of time concerning the November elections in the state, the results being absolutely vital to his "retooling" of his agenda, which has only one item at present – casino gambling, euphemistically referred to by the pooh-bahs as "gaming."

Perhaps the main subject in his now infamous trip – because of wasting thousands of dollars to fly everybody but the Frankfort street-sweepers – to Pikeville/Virgie last week was casino gambling, a subject near to the governor's heart since he sees it as the pathway to financial glory…for the state coffers, of course, though one always has to wonder just which official is getting what in the run-up to effecting the proper legislation, bill-signing, etc. In the early 90s, state officials were on the make (or make that "take") over other matters, and quite a few of them went to the Big House for their trouble. If Bill Clinton hadn't fired all the federal prosecutors right after taking office, without giving any reason, there might have been some more vacations taken where the barbed wire crowns the fences around pastures not frequented by cattle.

Make no mistake. The governor will conduct 12 more "town-halls" before the dust clears (Somerset and Winchester on 21 and 24 July, respectively) and the major motive for same will be drumming up support for casino gambling come next January, when the legislature enjoys its "short" biennial session. That it can do anything in 30 days will be problematic, given the usual performances by the solons, but that may be why the guv is getting such an early start on getting his ducks in a row, the major element of such effort probably being to make the gambling the preserve of the horse-racing crowd, rich folks perennially whining about the travails of the "sport."

Naw…the guv's not worrying about his 39% approval rating last April…is he? He's just "retooling the agenda," meaning, "get the word out that the state will go bankrupt if more suckers do not join the lottery crowd and lose their money in the slots or by way of cards, roulette wheels, etc., in these uncertain economic times, as Edelen would have it.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Governor Beshear's Costly Excursion

Office-seekers on every level make much each election cycle of erasing all government-waste and -fraud virtually overnight upon assuming office. This is the mantra in Kentucky, where waste and fraud are as justifiably expected as the next sunrise, horse races, bourbon/moonshine, and various grades of tobacco, not to mention marijuana in secluded areas, usually in the knob/mountainous regions. The waste and fraud are never erased but the citizens are so inured to this circumstance that they give it a ho-hum and continue channel-surfing.

Case in point: Lexington Herald-Leader reporter/columnist Ryan Alessi went to some pain in the 19 July edition (front-page-above-the-fold-first section) to give Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear some notice concerning his gobbling up of the state's money in treating his capitol-gang to a three-airplane round-trip excursion to Pikeville, Ky., on the seventeenth, though the meeting they attended was in Virgie, Ky., (population: 2768), requiring more transportation on the ground. Alessi also laid it on the governor over this trip on the Kentucky Education Television program COMMENT on the eighteenth. The cost, not counting that which applied on the Virgie end: more than $7,000.

The guv's spokesperson made it plain that time was saved in the process – time so valuable that a 350-mile round-trip requiring some six hours by highway had to be avoided. The plane trip(s) and additional ground transportation at Frankfort to and from the airport and Pikeville airport to and from Virgie (a distance of 15-20 miles) probably took no less than four hours, so a strategic TWO hours were saved for these important people.

A check on the Internet with Bus Bank turned up the information that a deluxe motor-coach seating 45-55 people and equipped with air-conditioning and a bathroom, of course, would cost between $600 and $1500 per day, depending on further amenities such as a hostess, obviously not needed for this excursion, which would have taken 9-10 hours, including the "town-hall" meeting at which only the governor spoke. Typically, excursions such as this one are figured at about $20 per person per day.

The kicker, though, is in the fact that the trip was made by the governor and 15 state officials, all of whom could have been accommodated on the two state planes that were used, which seat a total of 19 people. This makes one wonder why a private plane, at a cost of $4474, was chartered, when the two state planes, at a combined cost of $2614, could have handled the whole entourage, with three seats to spare. The question: who were the passengers who had no business on a strictly business trip? The extra plane could hold 11 people, making their transport cost $407 per person to fly Frankfort-Virgie and return.

A further question would have to do with any possible considerations accruing to the fact that the government's Beechcraft King Air cost $1320 to operate for the trip while the private plane, also a Beechcraft King Air seating the same number of people cost $4474, far more than three times as much. What connections could this suggest between the governor and the operator of the private service? One wonders what the state auditor might say about this, although she may have been one of the officials on the trip.

This stinks, of course, especially since the governor plans 12 more such "town-hall" trips around the state, with the expectation being that a similar rip-off is in the offing each time. For probably no more than $1000 the transportation right to the front-door in Virgie, bypassing Pikeville airport altogether, could have been effected on a luxury motor coach, such coaches seen all the time throughout the state. No official would have had to drive and could have snoozed on the return trip and been back in Frankfort by midnight. Disgusting! If the governor thinks this stuff will help the 39% approval rating he enjoyed in April at the end of the legislative session, his elevator is not reaching the top floor.

Actually, the governor posited his entire campaign last year upon his promise to bring casino-gambling to Kentucky (thereby forestalling bankruptcy), such gambling actually to be handled by the horse-racing crowd if it, whether if agreed to by the governor or not, could get away with it by getting the legislature to ante-up. The fractious legislators, recognizing the unfairness to other operators and no doubt understanding prices to be paid at vote-time this November, killed the putsch. Having ignored an actual problem January-March, that of restructuring the state pension-system, the governor convened a special session of the legislature in June at a cost of $60,000 per day that did in five days what it couldn't do in three months, thus more waste and fraud.

And so it goes in Kentucky. Sound familiar?

And so it goes.

Jim Clark