Thursday, April 30, 2009

Herbert Hoover---America's Greatest President

With many economists saying that the financial crisis America faces now is the worst since the Great Depression, a lot of comparisons are being made between Barack Obama and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Especially now that each of their first 100 days in office have taken place, the initial push of New Deal legislation is being compared to the economic stimulus package that is now being put to work.

However, there is an alternative view of Obama’s nascent presidency now being bandied about by conservative commentators. While they readily compare Obama to FDR, they claim that the Great Depression was lengthened if not exacerbated by the increase of federal spending starting in 1933. This minority of columnists and broadcasters somehow contend that if we had just stayed the course with Herbert Hoover’s policies of allowing the financial market to recorrect itself without government intervention, then perhaps to his prediction, prosperity really would have been found just around the corner.

Although this is a clear rewrite of accepted history, in the spirit of bipartisanship, I’ve decided to try to embrace this theory and see how it may apply to other periods of American politics. When I continue to reflect on this radical yet surprisingly obvious understanding of history, I realize that many of the presidents we have come to admire have actually done this country great harm.

First take George Washington. A war hero? I think not. After fumbling through a battle victory at Yorktown, he allowed Lord Cornwallis to escape. By ending the war prematurely, he enabled the British military to leave America and regroup, giving the United Kingdom a continued colonial stranglehold of vast amounts of lands in the world for more than a century later. Because he didn’t “finish the job,” America would be forced to again to fight the British a generation later in the War of 1812, or what I like to call, Revolutionary War II.

A real American commander would have pursued the fleeing Red Coats across the Atlantic and established a military occupation of Great Britain, liberating the English from the tyranny of their monarch. After allowing American-trained British jurists to put King George III on trial for war crimes, control of the United Kingdom would have been handed over to the descendants of Oliver Cromwell until warring ethnic factions on the British Isles could be brought to peace and an educated populace could conduct elections for a freely chosen chief executive.

Yet because of Washington’s inaction, to this day Canada is forced to bear the likeness of Queen Elizabeth II on their currency and the island of Bermuda must still fly the Union Jack. The oppression is unjustifiable, and if freedom were allowed to reign, Canadian currency would feature Wayne Gretzky, and Bermudans would have a variety of summer clothes to wear. Who likes short shorts? Bermudans like short shorts.

Now let us look at Thomas Jefferson who is clearly to blame for America’s current housing market crisis. In 1803, he doubled the size of country by negotiating with Napoleon the Louisiana Purchase of 828,800 square miles for only $15 million. Jefferson may have thought this was a good deal, but wasn’t this all just risky real estate speculation? Perhaps Jefferson was only going to hold onto what is now some or all of 14 states for a few years and then try to sell it for a higher price to the British or Spaniards? Yet what he did was even more dangerous. He opened up the new lands for Americans to build homes, establish farms and ranches, and then try to flip for a profit. This model gave Americans the false belief that real estate would always rise in value, and now the housing bubble that began at the beginning of the 19th century finally burst.

Lastly, let’s look at Theodore Roosevelt who affixed his name to the Meat Inspection Act of 1906, actually putting the federal government in the position of being able to regulate what we eat. This overreaching bill put federal bureaucrats in charge of the quality of the steaks and hot dogs that we eat. Why should some desk jockey in Washington decide the quality of pork roll on the Jersey Shore? This kind of government regulation is strangling the Mom and Pop stores out of business. At the same time, he establishes the first national park. Can you imagine how much cheaper gas would be in America now if we could have explored Yellowstone for oil?

We can’t change history, but we can change how we feel about it. Maybe we should rethink the memorials in Washington. Let’s take Lincoln off his marble chair and replace him with a real American leader, Millard Fillmore. Why should a statue of Thomas Jefferson grace the national mall when a statue of Warren G. Harding would be much more fitting.

Let’s salute the real leaders of America, the leaders who were smart enough to do nothing

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chris Christie and Warrantless Seraches.

Our Mensch of The Week this week goes to Deborah Jacobs and the fine folks at the ACLU for reporting that Chris Christie, while US Attorney---apparently taking his lead from the Bush Admnistration----approved the use of cell phone tracking without warrants for probable cause.

What did Chris Christie have to say?

"There was no policy in place that said to us you have to get a search warrant. Chris Christie wasn’t sitting around wondering where everyone was."

Well, yeah---there is a 'policy in place'!

It's called the US Constitution. Brought to you by the fine folks at the 1787 convention. Here's the link to it online. And you can check it out in Washington, too----now that Bush-Cheney-Rove et all are out of there, and it's back in style.

And I think it's funny that Christie referred to himself in the third person, like the 'Jimmy' character on Seinfeld....

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Yin and Yang of yahoos from Texas ----from the folks who gave us George W. Bush

Both Democrats and Republican say stupid things. And both make the news. This one was from a Republican state representative in Texas.

Betty Brown, a North Texas state legislator during House testimony on voter identification legislation said Asian-descent voters should adopt names that are “easier for Americans to deal with.”

And she defended her comments by saying "...was not making a racially motivated comment but was trying to resolve an identification problem."

Thank God that we have the fine folks from the state of Texas to help us solve all our racial problems in America.

From the folks whom gave us George W. Bush.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Too Important not to steal from the press....

Same-sex marriage opponents target N.J. in $1.5M ad campaign

by John Reitmeyer/Statehouse Bureau
Wednesday April 08, 2009, 2:08 PM

A national organization that opposes same-sex marriage is targeting New Jersey in a $1.5 million advertising campaign, launched today on broadcast and cable television.

The effort by the National Organization for Marriage was in the works before recent decisions in Iowa and Vermont allowed same-sex marriage, but those events make it more timely, said Brian Brown, the organization's executive director.

Damon Owens of West Orange appears in the ads airing this week by the National Organization for Marriage, a group that opposes same-sex marriage. Owens is the organization's outreach director for New Jersey.

The goal of the campaign is "activating those millions of Americans who already agree with us," Brown said this morning during a news conference in the Statehouse in Trenton.

New Jersey currently allows same-sex civil unions, but it does not permit gay couples to marry.

A commission set up to study civil unions reported last year that inequities exist between married couples and those joined by civil unions and the panel recommended New Jersey take the next step and allow same-sex marriages. Same-sex marriage legislation has already been introduced and Governor Corzine has said he would sign a same-sex marriage bill if one reaches his desk.

Steven Goldstein, who chairs Garden State Equality, an organization lobbying for same-sex marriage in New Jersey, said Vermont's decision to abandon civil unions earlier this week shows New Jersey that "the time to act is now."

"New Jersey's separate and unequal civil union law is an abject embarrassment to the nearly 9 million people who live in our progressive state," Goldstein said.

Steven Goldstein, Chair and CEO of Garden Stage Equality

Brown said his organization is targeting New Jersey in the advertising buy -- along with Iowa, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont -- because it is one of the hottest battlegrounds on the issue right now.

"Obviously there's a coming fight in New Jersey over same-sex marriage," Brown said.

The organization's television commercial, called "Gathering Storm," asserts same-sex marriage advocates "want to change the way I live" by forcing everyone to accept that same-sex marriage is acceptable. That means wedding photographers and marriage counselors could be labeled bigots and sued if they oppose working with same-sex couples, the group said.

"It's obviously going to happen if gay marriage is the law of the land," said organization president Maggie Gallagher.

The new advertising campaign was immediately opposed by The Human Rights Campaign, an organization that advocates for gays, lesbians and transgender individuals.

"Again and again, opponents of equality have claimed one shallow victory after another by telling lies about who we are as individuals, as loving couples and as families," said organization spokesman Brad Luna. "These lies must be called out for what they are every time the right-wing seeks to derail our progress by spreading distortions and inciting fear mongering."

West Orange resident Damon Owens is one of several people who appear in the television commercial, saying "people of every creed and color are coming together to protect marriage."

Owens said he is simply seeking to "uplift marriage."

"It's a great fit and it's a privilege to work with (National Organization for Marriage)," said Owens, who is also the organization's outreach director for New Jersey.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Go West, Young Man.

I get asked for directions a lot. I don't know why I give off a GPS vibe. Whenever I am working in front of our house or cleaning up the front yard---I always get asked for driving directions. And I do not have the greatest sense of direction at all.

I still get lost driving in Flemington. I was not sure which side of my family this came from. I always thought it was from my dad's side.

This evening, I was attending an improv workshop with the Magnet Theater in New York City, and I arrived a bit early. I stopped off to have a hot dog at one of those Papaya Juice places [two hot dogs and a drink for 4 bucks], and from the time I started my first hot dog, until the time I finished, I had three people ask me for directions.

The first was a woman with luggage asking the way to Penn Station ["Three blocks south of here"], I pointed.

Next, was a man dressed very well with an accent ["French? Italian?"], asking me which way was the west side. Finally, as I popped the last bit of hot dog in myn mouth, a couple asked me how to get to Madison Sqaure Garden. I wanted to say, "Practice, practice, practice," but I did not.

I still get lost in New Jersey, though.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Take Me Out to The Ballgame

I am a long-time Yankee fan, but I cannot afford to get tickets for the new Yankee Stadium.

"While "The House That Ruth Built" had reasonable and somewhat affordable prices, a day at the new Yankee Stadium is fit for a King---the king of Saudi Arabia, maybe.

With prices hovering in the thousands for the seats we used to sneak down to when we were kids--"The House That George Built", may be be a house, but it is not a warm welcoming home for fans.

Folks in New Jersey, if they want to see great baseball and have a day out with the family, should go to--instead of Yankee Stadium---to any one of New Jersey's minor league ball parks. Great baseball. Ticket prices within reach of New Jersey's hard working families.

While it's not the Yankees, it is teams with names like the Trenton Thunder, Somerset Patriots, the Camden River Sharks, and the Atlantic City Surf. Where ever you are in New Jersey, you're a short ride away from a day at the ball park.

Newark Bears Sussex Skyhawks New Jersey Jackals Camden River Sharks Atlantic City Surf