Wednesday, May 28, 2008
First, I was, and sometimes still am, a press secretary.
Second, not that his is a name to be proudly dropping today, but McClellan was the first person I met from the national Bush-Cheney operation when I was working as the press staffer for the 2000 Michigan effort. As traveling press secretary for that campaign, he was often the person telling me what to do when Governor Bush made stops in Michigan.
And third, the whole story strikes me as very ironic -- even hypocritical. Here's why.
There are certainly many criticisms levied against the Bush Administration each day. Some are completely justified, others aren't, and I'm not about to pick a battle between them all. Still, I think that when the book closes on this presidency, a fair assessment will be that more often than not, Bush believed in the right things, but got this part wrong: he and his administration were unable to manage the government with effectiveness, and in many cases displayed simple incompetence.
One reason for this is that President Bush, as often reported, is very loyal to the people who have been with him a long time. In many cases it appears that a person's loyalty scored them more points than their competence. Harriot Meyers' aborted appointment to the Supreme Court comes to mind. Mike Brown and his tenure at FEMA. Rumsfeld.
And, there is probably no more photogenic poster child for a loyalty hire than Scott McClellan. McClellan was with Bush in Texas. He was with him on the plane as they flew from campaign stop to campaign stop across the country in 2000. He was with him when the Texas crew came to Washington. So, when his predecessor left the press secretary post, McClellan's time had come -- even though it was painfully clear to anyone who ever watched him brief the press that he was not the best person for that very important job.
Let me say, the job of White House press secretary is terrifyingly difficult. I can hardly imagine the stress and constant pressure. Still, as someone on the Corner wrote today, when standing at the press room podium, McClellan projected all the calm and self-confidence of a substitute teacher facing a room full of 13-year olds. He stood there for 3 years, and it never got much better.
So today, the man who once owed his job and his ability to write a tell-all book to loyalty, is being utterly disloyal. The only consistency in the scenario is his competence.
UPDATE: The Washington Post account from Thursday, hits on similar ideas.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
I realize now that some clarification is needed.
To all IRS employees and eager Barack Obama staffers reading this, I'm not ACTUALLY wealthy. I just FEEL wealthy. And really, the feeling didn't last too long, so 'felt wealthy' would probably be a more accurate way to describe my state-of-mind after receiving my economic stimulus check.
After listening to the commentary this morning, I couldn't help but picture Obama sitting around and saying, "Now, I know if we raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, then we can afford to pay for 'Hope,' but I really don't think we'll be able to afford the 'Change' part."
Then, a staffer will ask, "What if we tax the wealthiest-feeling Americans, too? Then, can we afford 'Change?"
All together, they would yell, "Yes, we can."
Really, doesn't it make sense? If wealthy people are bad, then wealthy-feeling people must be worse. At least wealthy people are honest about their circumstances. Wealthy-feeling people are very intellectually dishonest. They think they're wealthy when they really aren't, and lying is no good.
So, let it be known here and now. Next year, save a John McCain victory, I'll be filing both a 1040NW (not wealthy) and a 1040NFWE (not feeling wealthy either). Hopefully, that'll cover my bases.
Friday, May 23, 2008
|05/23/2008 4:17:42 PM|| ||External Deposit US TREASURY 220 - TAX REFUND||X|
$1500 from the U.S. Treasury appeared in my bank account. It's my family's "economic stimulus" check. Six hundred bucks for both me and my wife, and then a few hundred delivered by the little man - Mr. O.
Here's the best part. Back on April 15th, Tax Day, I sent a check to those same folks in D.C. for $1700, give or take a few dollars. Then, I wrote another check for about $340 to the small accounting firm that does our taxes, so I don't mess anything up. Then, the beautiful City of Lansing asked me to send them two additional dollars in taxes, while the State of Michigan graciously sent me back $518 in a refund.
So, $1700 + $340 + $2 - $518 - $1500 = $24. Yes!
Still, even though I barely broke even, a magical $1500 appearing in one's bank account late on a Friday afternoon sure makes you feel wealthy. Which was exactly the point of the checks in the first place.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Yes, that's right. So far, 99 people have either agreed to be my "friend" or have gone out of their way to ask me to be their "friend." Amazing, isn't it? Who knew?
My rapid ascent in "Friendome" has led Mr. O's mom to question whether I'm in this for the quality of "friend", or simply the "quantity." The answer, of course, is quantity. I've already made more "friends" than I had in high school and college combined. In fact, I'm now "friends" with people from high school and college who I really never was good friends with when I was actually in high school and college.
So, today, the countdown is on. Who will be 100? It's out there for the taking. Who wants it?
UPDATE: David Gregory it is. Friend #100.
As Mark Twain once said: "Good friends, good books and Facebook: this is the ideal life."
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I'm sure Mr. O will be talking it up at daycare all day.
MIRS Capitol Capsule, Monday, May 19, 2008
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"For Obama, a photo op with the Mayor comes somewhere after bowling on TV on the list of things that offer nothing to gain and everything to lose."
- Matt Resch of Sterling Corp., suggesting Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick might not be the best person for presidential hopeful Barack Obama to hang around with for the next few months.
Monday, May 19, 2008
MORRIS, Ill. -- "Got milk?
Police say a trailer loaded with 14 tons of double-stuffed Oreos has overturned, spilling the cookies still in their plastic sleeves into the median and roadway.
Illinois State Police Sgt. Brian Mahoney says the truck's driver was traveling from Chicago to Morris on Interstate 80 around 4 a.m. Monday when he fell asleep at the wheel and slammed into the median.
"The boxes came out of the trailer and boxes were ripped open," he said.
The crash about 50 miles southwest of Chicago remains under investigation.
Mahoney says no charges have been filed but both lanes of traffic remain closed while authorities remove the cookies."
When reached for comment, Mr. O said:
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Ms. Thatcher visited Hillsdale while I was a student and spoke to the student body. Honestly, I don't remember much of what she said, but I remember her very humorous and good natured reaction when the college president presented her with a gift following her remarks.
It was a statue of an eagle... and if you have ever been on Hillsdale's campus, you know they have more than a few to spare. Quite literally, there are statues of eagles everywhere.
At the event, the covering of this particular eagle statue was removed to show Ms. Thatcher and the audience. She threw her head back in surprise, as it was a pretty fierce looking eagle, and then gently patted it on the top of the head. It was as if she had been in on the students' inside joke about all the eagle statues from the very beginning, and the audience loved it.
Her statue, in honor of her substantial historic achievements, will be a welcome addition on an already beautiful campus.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
On Thursday, in a speech before the Israeli Knesset, President Bush said:
"Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."
Following the speech, Barack Obama responded immediately, calling the passage a "false political attack" and labeling it "fear mongering." Even though Obama's name was never mentioned in the speech.
Obama has received plaudits from the press for his speedy and aggressive response. They draw a contrast between his reaction and John Kerry's lack of response to the TV ads placed by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth four years ago.
But, couldn't it be argued that all Obama has done is signal to the world that what Bush said was true, and that the comments could, in fact, have been about him? The quickly released statement on Thursday and Obama's podium-pounding speech on Friday show that whatever Bush's intentions, his remarks obviously struck a raw nerve for the Senator.
Also interesting, Obama's response has been much more about how and where Bush made his remarks as opposed to what he actually said. It's all much less about Bush being wrong, and much more about Bush just being mean and inappropriate. Which, ironically, is pretty much a philosophical plank in the platform of the "false comfort of appeasement" that started this whole dust-up in the first place.
One other thing. Hillary Clinton jumped up and down and said all the same things that Obama did. And no one cared. In her case, you've got to think she actually wanted the President to be talking about her, so that at least one person still would be.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
I came across this post in a blog by James Fallows, a writer for the Atlantic, and learned something I didn't know, but probably should have. There is some dispute over whether the country now facing the death of thousands of its citizens as the result of a recent cyclone and the humanitarian catastrophe which has followed is actually called Myanmar or Burma.
More specifically, among the democratic opposition party in the country, the United States of America and Great Britain, it's Burma. If you ask the dictatorial military regime that is keeping needed medical supplies and food from its dying citizenry, it's Myanmar. Oh, and National Public Radio, the New York Times and CNN call it Myanmar too.
Here's some key history from the U.S. State Department's profile on Burma:
In March 1988, student-led disturbances broke out in Rangoon in response to the worsening economic situation and evolved into a call for regime change. Despite repeated violent crackdowns by the military and police, the demonstrations increased in size as many in the general public joined the students. During mass demonstrations on August 8, 1988, military forces killed more than 1,000 demonstrators. At a rally following this massacre Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of General Aung San, made her first political speech and assumed the role of opposition leader.
In September 1988, the military deposed Ne Win's Burmese Socialist Program Party (BSPP), suspended the constitution, and established a new ruling junta called the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). In an effort to "restore order," the SLORC sent the army into the streets to suppress the ongoing public demonstrations. An estimated additional 3,000 were killed, and more than 10,000 students fled into the hills and border areas.
The SLORC ruled by martial law until national parliamentary elections were held in May 1990. The results were an overwhelming victory for Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party, which won 392 of the 485 seats, even though she was under house arrest. However, the SLORC refused to honor the results and call the Parliament into session, and instead imprisoned many political activists.Although the State Peace and Development Council changed the name of the country to "Myanmar," the democratically elected but never convened Parliament of 1990 does not recognize the name change, and the democratic opposition continues to use the name "Burma." Due to consistent support for the democratically elected leaders, the U.S. Government likewise uses "Burma."
Maybe it's trite to be thinking about what to call a country when tens of thousands of its citizens are dead or dying. Although something makes me think that's exactly what the junta was thinking about when they killed their first thousand in taking power and changed the name of the country in the first place.
The national media relishes its role as self-appointed keeper of our national ethic. Of course, that role is a joke, and their coverage of this tragedy is just one more example of why.
Reading a teleprompter in their bright studios and writing at their desks, they can do little to to help the dying people of Burma except help educate their viewers and readers about the country's plight. Instead, they educate using the junta's textbook.
Is it simply too much to ask of NPR, the NY Times and CNN to follow their colleagues at the Washington Post and the BBC, all three presidential candidates and the United States government in calling the country by its rightful name?
NPR, the NY Times and CNN should honor those suffering and ignore the dictatorial wishes of an oppressive regime and call the country Burma, the name the people who have died would call their country... if they still could.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
"Just take a little off the sides, please," he said. "These wingy locks tickle my ears and get soggy Oatios (the organic version of Cheerios, naturally) caught in them."
A new Slidesh-O to the left gives the snip-by-snip coverage.
Mr. O, B.C.
Mr. O, A.C.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
24 minutes, 47 seconds, 3.1 miles and easily a Top 50 finish in a race of easily 55 runners.
Mr. O and his mom attended to offer their support, cheer on some colleagues from work and to visit the ducks in the park. And, while clearly very proud of his Pop, in O's book, the ducks won the night waddling away.
As it was a race for a cause, prizes were limited for Top 50 finishers. I received a nice T-shirt, a cool number I can hang on all my shirts from now on, a bottle of water, a banana I passed up and 3 superdelegates.
UPDATE: The official results are in. I finished 22nd out of 61 men. 37th out of 143 overall. I can live with that.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Sunday, May 4, 2008
It took him a couple of tumbles to figure out that lifting his feet off the ground was required to move forward. Once he mastered that, there a was no stopping him.
He also spent some quality time outside in the grass, with the dog.
The fact that my lawn mower has been getting its Spring tune-up for, oh, three weeks, provides for the wonderful photographic impression that Mr. O and Wrigley are taking a rest from a back-breaking afternoon of clearing the fields for the Spring planting.
It is a small, but not insignificant, comfort for a father to know that the biggest danger his son faces if he falls down is not a cut, bruise or broken bone, but simply that he might be lost in the grass for a while.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
This, however, is incredibly sad and is what I'll remember about watching the race this afternoon. Eight Belles was the first filly in almost 10 years to run the Derby, and she finished a strong second place.
It's quite amazing how an animal can be so strong, fast and determined, only to break two legs moments after the race and be put to sleep within minutes. Again, sad.
Friday, May 2, 2008
For those wanting more Mr. O, welcome to 25 seconds in the life. Keywords here: attention span.
Now, while this and all previously posted vide-O may make it seem as if we are all trapped in a jazzy piano version of "It's a Small World After All," life in our home is not accompanied by a 24-hour Scott Joplin soundtrack.
Still, despite the happy-go-lucky music, the namesake of Life with Mr. O has asked that you not put too much pressure on him to perform for the camera. He's young, torn in many different directions each day. And sometimes, he's just tired. In fact, he wrote down what he wanted to say so he didn't forget anything.
So, Life with Mr. O is happy to do what we can with requests for more O. However, the star himself takes those requests and simply:
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Gov. Jennifer Granholm faces a week in the hospital and probably another two weeks of recovery at home after undergoing emergency surgery Tuesday to remove an obstruction in her small intestine her surgeon said Wednesday.
First of all and in all seriousness, best wishes to her for a full and speedy recovery. Secondly and with a little less seriousness, here's wishing for an operating table conversion on raising my taxes, but that's a subject for another day.
The point of this post is to implore the First Gentleman to think twice before commenting on his wife's pre-surgery symptoms when talking to the media.
There are more than a few things husbands and wives know about each other that really shouldn't be shared with the general public - even when that husband and wife are the First Couple of a state.
I just have to think that when the governor read this on Wednesday morning... Mulhern said his wife was in pain from muscle spasms and couldn't eat, drink or have bowel movements, but declined his advice to stay home Monday.... She turned to her surgeon and said, "Cut him open, stat. He has a brain obstruction."
Even Mr. O's daily day care updates simply say, "BM, 3 p.m." And he's one and can't read.
As readers of this site know, I'm not immune from embarrassing injuries. That said, upon reading this story I called my wife and asked, "If I ever have a bowel obstruction, can you just tell people I have a boxer's fracture?"
The project that was is now a project that is. It is complete, and it is very well done.
The world is full of films made with good intentions and the artistic talent of a Yanni cover band.
This is not such a film. While it doesn't pack the action of a 4th Jason Bourne movie, it does do exactly what it set out to do... and more. A Fort Wayne TV station takes a look at the project here.
It's nice to be able to say we have a filmmaker in the family. Wait, a good filmmaker.