Archive

Archive for June, 2010

Jon Stewart: Blame Clinton!

June 30th, 2010 19 comments

I thought I was imagining all the blame Clinton rhetoric.  Now I see I was not imagining it. 

 

I strongly suspect that Fox and Friends is going to be like the tiger who kept running around the tree until they turn in to butter.  I will never get past Gretchen explaining why her job was as important as the President’s.  Never….Never…Never….Any respect, any credibility….gone.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Blame
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Granados Column: A great leader smothered by ambition

June 29th, 2010 43 comments

Alex Granados now gives his personal opinion. Posted in its entirety from News & Messenger:

Alex Granados
Published: June 27, 2010

I like Corey Stewart. I really do. When I became editorial page editor a few years back, I went out to lunch with him. I found him to be interesting, friendly and kind. Meeting and talking with him at various times since then has done nothing to change that perception. He is intelligent, articulate and a strong leader.

Having said all of that, I find myself often opposed to some of his public actions. Now, I don’t mean the everyday aspects of governance involving the humdrum of local administration, I mean the big things. And often, it’s not even that I disagree with him. No, it’s his style that rankles me.

Lest you think I’m being superficial, let me explain.

The main issue for which Mr. Stewart is known is probably illegal immigration. He was a staunch supporter of the county’s illegal immigration resolution, and he is spearheading the fight to bring Arizona-style illegal immigration reform to Virginia.

What bothers me is how much he seems to relish the limelight, how much he seems to enjoy injecting himself in controversial topics, how much he appears to be trying to use Prince William County as a jumping off point to something bigger.

This was touched upon in an editorial Friday, but that is the newspaper’s opinion. I wanted to explain mine.

The initial Prince William County illegal immigration resolution was supervisor John Stirrup’s baby, but somewhere along the line, Stewart adopted it. He went on television, he spoke to newspapers local and national, and he raised his political profile quite a few feet in the process. The pinnacle of this came when he stepped out of a public hearing on the issue to give an interview to CNN. What better example of his putting his fame above county residents could there be?

Now, with his latest push for statewide illegal immigration reform, Stewart is once again setting himself up for national attention. Arizona’s recent legislation has brought media from around country to that one state out of 50. No doubt, if Virginia tries the same thing, all eyes will be on our commonwealth. More specifically, those eyes will focus on the ringleader of it all: Corey Stewart.

However, Mr. Stewart will ultimately have nothing to do with the passage of the legislation. It will be voted on by our representatives. But if he keeps in the public eye on this issue, the credit will go to him, not our leaders in Richmond.

I guess when you get right down to it, my problem is that I question his motives.

I talked to Stewart about his most recent push for illegal immigration reform. He prefaced his remarks by giving me a litany of accomplishments that he says the News & Messenger has overlooked. But in fairness, none of them has had his name so intricately tied to it as has illegal immigration. We have even praised some county accomplishments, but not, according to Mr. Stewart, with credit being served where due. He says that the only time we single him out is when we want to criticize something. But if that is true, it is only because he attaches his name to some issues with such prominence that they cannot be discussed without also discussing him.

Like I said, I like Mr. Stewart. He is a nice person. I even think he is a good county leader. However, I wonder if he has a little guy named “Blind Ambition” on his shoulder, periodically leading him astray. If he could learn to listen to B.A. less, I think Stewart could be one of the best leaders the county has ever had.

I mean that honestly and with respect, Mr. Chairman

I expect many of our contributors and readers disagree with Mr. Granados. Consensus here at ‘Howlings is that Stewart has given up far too much to developers after promising to do otherwise.

Additionally, Corey should play the local paper a little smarter.  How ’bout it Corey?

And finally, most people find Corey likable, funny, friendly, and just a hell of a lot of fun. Too bad he has to spoil all that stepping on the backs of the constituents of Prince William County. Corey, play to your strengths!

Categories: Corey Stewart Tags:

Paul McCartney Bashes Bush

June 29th, 2010 17 comments

On Wednesday, June 2, 2010, President Obama presented Sir Paul McCartney with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song awarded by the Library of Congress.

Unfortunately, as he thanked the crowd for his award, Sir McCartney had to make an unnecessary nasty remark about former President Bush. I am not a conservative. I am not a Bush fan. Now I am not a McCartney fan.

McCartney was being a low life. You don’t come to someone else’s country and make ugly comments about the former president. We can do it. He can’t. Wrong venue. If he’s out having some bangers and mash with his buddies, fine. If he’s in a formal setting with the current President of the United States, not so fine. It was supposed to be a happy, formal occassion, not a time to take pot shots.

McCartney should write a formal apology to Mr. and Mrs. Bush. Some things transcend politics.

Activist Judges

June 29th, 2010 34 comments

Doesn’t that mean a judge who does something you don’t approve of? Really now, be honest. The buzz words ‘interpret the Constitution’ is another one of those tricky little expressions. If all a justice had to do was to sit down and read the Constitution, then there would be no need for the Supreme Court. All interpretations and opinions not only come from reading the Constitution but also from studying other cases and what has been said about them.

Now the attack is on Justice Thurgood Marshall. People didn’t like his decisions. Therefore, he became an ‘activist judge.’ When I was a kid, all over the south there were signs that said ‘Impeach Earl Warren.’ He was probably an activist judge.

Right now, I am trying to sort out why Thurgood Marshall was an activist judge and Anthony Scalia isn’t. I think it has something to do with who likes his decisions. Just a hunch.

Elena Kagan worked for Thurgood Marshall. Perhaps she knew him better than the average bear. If his family is any indication, I can certainly understand why. Lovely people. I had the pleasure of knowing them through my employment about 15 years ago. They live locally, or at least they used to. Too bad Ms. Kagan had to hear her old boss trashed by that bunch of loser senators.

Categories: SCOTUS Tags:

Open Thread Monday, June 28, 2010

June 28th, 2010 33 comments
Categories: General Tags:

Robert Byrd, Longest Serving Senator, Dies at 92

June 28th, 2010 26 comments

 

Robert Byrd, West Virginia, was the longest serving legislator in the history of the U. S. Congress. He was loved by his constituents but he is not without controvery. In his earlier, pre-Senate days, he briefly belonged to the Klan. He publically admitted his mistake in later years but some Americans have been unforgiving and continually bring up this brief time in his career. It should not be allowed to over-shadow his remarkable career as a statesman.

From the Washington Post:

Starting in 1958, Mr. Byrd was elected to the Senate an unprecedented nine times. He wrote a four-volume history of the body, was majority leader twice and chaired the powerful Appropriations Committee, controlling the nation’s purse strings, and yet the positions of influence he held did not convey the astonishing arc of his life.

A child of the West Virginia coal fields, Mr. Byrd rose from the grinding poverty that has plagued his state since before the Great Depression, overcame an early and ugly association with the Ku Klux Klan, worked his way through night school and by force of will, determination and iron discipline made himself a person of authority and influence in Washington.

Although he mined extraordinary amounts of federal largesse for his perennially impoverished state, his reach extended beyond the bounds of the Mountain State.

As chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee on the District from 1961 to 1969, he reveled in his role as scourge, grilling city officials at marathon hearings and railing against unemployed black men and unwed mothers on welfare.

He was known for his stentorian orations seasoned with biblical and classical allusions and took pride in being the Senate’s resident constitutional scholar, keeping a copy of the Constitution in his breast pocket. He saw himself both as institutional memory and as guardian of the Senate’s prerogatives.

Most West Virginians had more immediate concerns, and Mr. Byrd strove to address them. On the Appropriations Committee, he pumped billions of dollars worth of jobs, programs and projects into a state that ranked near the bottom of nearly every economic indicator when he began his political career as a state legislator in the late 1940s. Countless congressional earmarks later, West Virginia is home to prisons, technology centers, laboratories and Navy and Coast Guard offices (despite being a landlocked state).

Critics mocked him as the “prince of pork,” but West Virginians expressed their gratitude by naming countless roads and buildings after him. He also was the only West Virginian to be elected to both houses of the state legislature and both houses of Congress.

As a young man, Mr. Byrd was an “exalted cyclops” of the Ku Klux Klan. Although he apologized numerous times for what he considered a youthful indiscretion, his early votes in Congress — notably a filibuster against the 1964 Civil Rights Act — reflected racially separatist views. As those views moderated, Mr. Byrd rose in the party hierarchy.

A lifelong autodidact and a firm believer in continuing education — vocational schools, community colleges, adult education — Mr. Byrd practiced what he preached. While in the U.S. House from 1953 to 1959, he took night classes at law schools. He received a law degree from American University in 1963 and is the only member of Congress to put himself through law school while in office.

“Senator Byrd came from humble beginnings in the southern coalfields, was raised by hard-working West Virginians, and triumphantly rose to the heights of power in America,” Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) said in a statement. “But he never forgot where he came from nor who he represented, and he never abused that power for his own gain.”
 

I have never talked to a West Virginian who didn’t have a special place in his or her heart for Senator Byrd. Senator Byrd never forgot his roots and always took care of his state. I expect West Virginia will be in mourning for a long time.

Categories: General, Senate Tags:

Not So Fast with Repealing the 14th

June 28th, 2010 25 comments

The Supreme Court has ruled to uphold gun rights in all 50 states. Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion and the 2nd was upheld in the 14th Amendment. Isn’t that one that so many people want tweaked? Not so fast….

I am sure our readers will know more about this ruling than I. Here is your thread….

Gretchen as Important as the Prez

June 28th, 2010 9 comments

I’ve missed Jon Stewart. Maybe I have been off, but I don’t think he has been particularly funny. Last Wednesday was a different story. I was just out of commission and didn’t get it posted.

The more I hear about McChrystal, the more I think it might have been for the best. There were some incompatibilities there. The most shocking part of the segment is Gretchen Carlson’s delusions of grandeur. Now that is scary. Does she really that taken with her own self-importance?

UFB. Totally amazing.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
McChrystal’s Balls – Honorable Discharge
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Shep Smith Gets Grossed Out!

June 27th, 2010 7 comments

Shep Smith loses it momentarily with Judge Napolitano for supposedly defending BP.
Go Shep! We love it when Shep loses it.

Can you believe that Napolitano tried to blame the locals for the Katrina mess?

 

Categories: Disaster Tags:

Finally, N & M Takes a Position

June 26th, 2010 45 comments

Included, in its entirety. 

From the News and Messenger:

EDITORIAL: Stewart’s duty is to Prince William County

Our View
Published: June 26, 2010
Corey Stewart, not content to let the spotlight shine only on leaders in another state, is now pushing a law in Virginia similar to illegal immigration legislation in Arizona.

Virginia’s version would, among other things, “Make it a violation of Virginia law to fail to complete alien registration documents,” according to Stewart’s website: http://www.coreystewart.com/ruleoflaw. Police officers would be required to check “in any lawful contact, the legal presence of an individual, when practicable.” Go to Stewart’s website to see all aspects of the proposed law.

The issue here isn’t whether the legislation is a good idea, it’s whether Stewart has any business pursuing it. His job is to be the chairman of the Board of County Supervisors, so what is he doing trying to change state law? That is the job of our delegates and state senators, some of whom have stated that they are pursuing state remedies for illegal immigration already. Perhaps if this were a proposal supported mainly for the good of the county, we would understand. However, arguably, Prince William County, which already has a controversial illegal immigration law, is the jurisdiction that would benefit least—despite Stewart’s assertion that some illegal immigrants who have fled may be returning.

In an interview with Editorial Page Editor Alex Granados, Stewart said that state leaders in Richmond have shown themselves incapable of doing what’s necessary.

“The legislature down there has had three years to do something, and they have done nothing,” he said.

Furthermore, he says that the attention he has received in the past as a crusader against illegal immigration will be a boon to his current effort.

“For better or worse, I have the notoriety on the issue that I can use,” he said.

And by spreading news about the proposed bill to everyday citizens, he hopes they will pressure state legislators to take action.

Stewart is right that state legislators have not found a fix for illegal immigration. But that probably has more to do with the fact that the issue is complicated than with anything else. The newspaper has never found our area’s leaders particularly fearful of controversy. Quite the opposite, in fact. And regardless, it is not Stewart’s place, as BOCS chairman, to do their job for them. He has a responsibility to Prince William County, one that cannot be effectively fulfilled when he is focused on reforming state law.

As for Stewart’s notoriety and its usefulness, he is correct. His reputation will bring attention to illegal immigration reform. However, it will also bring attention to Prince William County—attention that it does not need.

When the county went through its debate over illegal immigration years ago, a great deal of negative publicity was focused here. Perceptions of the area across the country varied widely, but no matter the opinion, the county became intertwined with controversy.

Gradually, the uproar has faded. However, with Stewart’s involvement in this new illegal immigration fight, the county, once again, will become a focal point.

In a time when local jurisdictions are battling a tough economy, Stewart should not hamstring us with a possibly negative reputation. What businesses will want to invest in a seemingly divided community? What professionals will want to move here when all they hear about us in the news relates to strife? Stewart’s notoriety might be good for illegal immigration reform, but it’s not good for the county.

Whether or not the attempt to model Virginia after Arizona succeeds, one of the main people to benefit from this will be Stewart. We have already seen with his short-lived attempt to become lieutenant governor that he has higher ambitions. We don’t fault him for that—that is the nature of political leaders. However, we have a problem with Stewart harping on issues outside the county for the sake of his own reputation, which we believe is the case here.

 

Virginia probably does need better illegal immigration laws. It also needs strong leaders to make it happen. But we don’t need Corey Stewart to do that now. He was elected to focus on the residents of Prince William County, not the state. Until he is actually elected to higher office, we would like to see him keep his focus here.

Are You A Bucket Filler?

June 26th, 2010 11 comments

 

So I was driving home with the kids today, and one of my all time favorite songs came on, it was Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”.   As we come to a stop in the garage, I turned around, askinf my 8 year old son “do you know what he is saying in this song” , he replies, “yes mom, he is  looking in the mirror”, I say, “well who do you see in the mirror?” , my son replies “yourself mom, you see yourself”…….

My kids have this favorite book I read to them, the title is “Have you filled a bucket today“.  Can you guess the premise?  Yes, its about how doing simple acts of kindness change the world around you.  But the beauty of being a bucket filler is that not only do you fill your own bucket when you “fill” someone else’s, you fill your own at the same time!  Such a simple concept, but you know, it really stuck with them and I wonder, if such a simple idea might not be good for adults to remember too. 

Sooooooo, I guess what I am wondering, is have you “filled a bucket” for someone or had someone show you an act of kindness?  Maybe, just once, we could have one thread that did not have one snide, nasty, or cutting comment.

Categories: General Tags:

High Stakes Meeting, US and Russia….Over Burgers and Shared Fries!

June 24th, 2010 33 comments

 

Sometimes real relationships are built over the most inconsequential circumstances.  A good ole American lunch seems to me the best way to forge something real.  I am not suggesting that our relationship with the Russian President is somehow now perfected, but having such a relaxed atmosphere, that actually precludes anything BUT regular chit chat ,seems ideal.  

President Obama paid for lunch, apparently, Hells Kitchen, was the same burger joint he and VP Biden at lunch at last year.  The Russian President is here trying to improve relations with the United States.

Categories: General Tags:

BP’s “Worst Case Scenario” The New Norm?

June 24th, 2010 26 comments

toxic watersI keep asking myself, can the Deepwater Horizon disaster get any worse? Well, yes, it can. Today is an example of how much worse. The cap apparently had to be removed for repair work.

The Deepwater Horizon well became an uncapped geyser once again Wednesday, the hydrocarbons surging freely into the deep sea after engineers were forced to remove the dome that had been capturing significant quantities of oil.

The struggle with the cap provided another reminder, if any was needed, that engineers are trying to control the blown-out well with novel tactics and jury-rigged hardware. Nothing has come easily, and the incremental progress has been vulnerable to swift reversal.

Just when you think, just maybe, just maybe, this crisis could move towards some resolution, WHAM, mother nature tells us “its not nice to fool with mother nature” !

The base-line measures of the crisis have steadily worsened. The estimated flow rate keeps rising. The well is like something deranged, stronger than anyone anticipated. BP executives last month said they had a 60 to 70 percent chance of killing it with mud, but the well spit the mud out and kept blowing.

The net effect is that nothing about this well seems crazy anymore. Week by week, the truth of this disaster has drifted toward the stamping ground of the alarmists.

After the Deepwater Horizon rig sank, BP recalculated that estimate based on what was known about the well. BP executives in early May briefed members of Congress on their conclusion: that the absolute worst-case flow rate was 60,000 barrels, with a “more reasonable worst-case scenario” of 40,000 barrels a day, the document states.

Today the official government estimate of the flow, based on multiple techniques that include subsea video and satellite surveys of the oil sick on the surface, is 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day.

In effect, what BP considered the worst-case scenario in early May is in late June the bitter reality — call it the new normal — of the gulf blowout.

My sense is that this disaster is so overwheming, we simply cannot comprehend its long term consequences, to the gulf states, to this country, to the world.

Categories: General Tags:

Pensions Revisited

June 22nd, 2010 31 comments

There has been an on-going discussion here on Moonhowlings.net about pensions and other retirement plans.  Some people here are very much oppose to any plans that are from money in  the public coffers.  I asked the serious question if those who oppose plans like VRS, Federal Retirement Programs, etc also oppose military retirement.  To date, no one has answered me. 

Last Sunday, the New York Times  featured a section on pensions entitled, In Budget Crisis, States Take Aim at Pension Costs.

Many states are acknowledging this year that they have promised pensions they cannot afford and are cutting once-sacrosanct benefits, to appease taxpayers and attack budget deficits.

Illinois raised its retirement age to 67, the highest of any state, and capped the salary on which public pensions are figured at $106,800 a year, indexed for inflation. Arizona, New York, Missouri and Mississippi will make people work more years to earn pensions. Virginia is requiring employees to pay into the state pension fund for the first time. New Jersey will not give anyone pension credit unless they work at least 32 hours a week.

“We can’t afford to deny reality or delay action any longer,” said Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois, adding that his state’s pension cuts, enacted in March, will save some $300 million in the first year alone.

But there is a catch: Nearly all of the cuts so far apply only to workers not yet hired. Though heralded as breakthrough reforms by state officials, the cuts phase in so slowly they are unlikely to save the weakest funds and keep them from running out of money. Some new rules may even hasten the demise of the funds they were meant to protect.

Lawmakers wanted to avoid legal battles or fights with unions, whose members can be influential voters. So they are allowing most public workers across the country to keep building up their pensions at the same rate as ever. The tens of thousands of workers now on Illinois’s payrolls, for instance, will still get to retire at 60 — and some will as young as 55.

One striking exception is Colorado, which has imposed cuts on its current workers, not just future hires, and even on people who have already retired. The retirees have sued to block the reduction

Some of the states mentioned have really cushy pensions. Virginia’s pension, the VRS, is rather modest but livable. The rub with the VRS is that back in the early 80′s most individuals had their pension paid by the state or the locality. That happened in leiu of giving pay raises. (see the history of VRS)

The VRS is actually mandated by the Constitution of Virginia.  The history also explains the following:

House Joint Resolution 392 of the 1993 General Assembly Session requested the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) to complete a comprehensive study of VRS. The study concluded:

  • VRS should be established as an agency independent of the executive branch of Virginia government.
  • The appointment of trustees should be a shared responsibility of the Governor and the General Assembly.
  • The VRS trust funds should be established as independent trusts in the Constitution of Virginia.
  • The structure of VRS advisory committees should be established in law.
  • The General Assembly should designate a permanent legislative commission or committee to carry out continuing oversight of the retirement system.

This series of changes to the Virginia Constitution and the VRS enabling statutes occurred in 1995 and 1996. The Constitution of Virginia (Article X, Section 11) now requires the General Assembly to maintain “…a retirement system for State employees and employees of participating political subdivisions. The funds of the retirement system shall be deemed separate and independent trust funds, shall be segregated from all other funds of the Commonwealth, and shall be invested and administered solely in the interests of the members and beneficiaries thereof.” Today, this includes 237 state agencies, 249 counties, cities and towns, 183 special authorities and 145 school boards. As of June 30, 2009, VRS had nearly 347,000 active members and more than 141,000 retirees and beneficiaries.

Back to the military question:  Do those who want to get rid of pensions and retirement for public servants also want to get rid of military retirement?   Freedom is not only preserved by fighting our enemy.  It is also peserved by knowing how to read and write, and by being able to walk your streets without being killed by domestic enemies we often call thugs.  Freedom is knowing that we have first responders to keep us safe. 

All are important members of society who deserve to have their pensions kept intact without meddling and without the proverbial hands in the cookie jar.  After reading the above, I am not even sure what Virginia did was legal.

McChrystal Pulls a McArthur

June 22nd, 2010 44 comments

 

General McChrystal has stepped  on the old McArthur Land Mine. His ego apparently got bigger than his brain.  He ran his mouth when and where he shouldn’t have. 

 General McChrystal has been called home for an apparent trip to the woodshed with his Commander-in-Chief, President Obama.  Why is McChrystal getting an ass whupping?  He has been increasingly outspoken against the current administration.  There is  an interview in Rolling Stone Magazine that the administration simply cannot ignore.  The article is not yet available.  Many say his remarks border on violating military law.  

According to the Washington Post:

KABUL — The top U.S. general in Afghanistan was summoned to Washington for a White House meeting after apologizing Tuesday for flippant and dismissive remarks about top Obama administration officials involved in Afghanistan policy.

The remarks in an article in this week’s in Rolling Stone magazine are certain to increase tension between the White House and Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal.

The profile of McChrystal, , titled the “Runaway General,” also raises fresh questions about the judgment and leadership style of the commander Obama appointed last year in an effort to turn around a worsening conflict.

McChrystal and some of his senior advisors are quoted criticizing top administration officials, at times in starkly derisive terms. An anonymous McChrystal aide is quoted calling national security adviser James Jones a “clown,” who remains “stuck in 1985.”

Referring to Richard Holbrooke, Obama’s senior envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, one McChrystal aide is quoted saying: “The Boss says he’s like a wounded animal. Holbrooke keeps hearing rumors that he’s going to get fired, so that makes him dangerous.”

On one occasion, McChrystal appears to react with exasperation when he receives an e-mail from Holbrooke, saying, “Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke. I don’t even want to read it.”

U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, a retired three-star general, isn’t spared. Referring to a leaked cable from Eikenberry that expressed concerns about the trustworthiness of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, McChrystal is quoted as having said: “Here’s one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say, ‘I told you so.’”

Not good, McChrystal, not good.  Remember General McArthur?  Harry Truman?  Don’t (%$^&*) with the Big Dog.

McChrystal also took a few swipes at the VP (WaPo):

The story also features an exchange in which McChrystal and some of his aides appear to mock Vice President Biden, who opposed McChrystal’s troop surge recommendation last year and instead urged instead for a more focused emphasis on counter-terrorism operations.

“Are you asking me about Vice President Biden?” McChrystal asks the profile’s reporter a at one point, laughing. “Who’s that?”

“Biden?” an unnamed aide is quoted as saying. “Did you say Bite me?”

Not wanting to leave any stones unturned, McChrystal also criticized the French and one of his aids made a gay remark or two.   There is no such thing as free speech in the military.  It is also against the code of military justice to criticize one’s superiors publically, especially the high profiled ones like the Commander-in-Chief. 

Will McChrystal be fired?  Will he have a new desk job in Tampa?  He is a very popular general with great troop support.  This puts the administration in a very tenuous position.  who will blink first.  Is anyone taking bets?