Monday, August 25, 2014

You Can Work From Home

Sometimes perception is reality, and sometimes the numbers don't lie, yet once in a while, these two ago old sayings are at odds with one another.

Bush hosting Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon while on Vacation
The President is taking far too many vacations. That is to say, that not only is he away from the White house often, but to clarify with stating that he allows the affairs of state to come secondary to the his personal needs of relaxation and personal retreat.

Bush Vacationing
w/ Saudie Arabia's
Crown Prince Abdullah
I am not the first to come to this conclusion, and unsurprisingly, there are many who are quick and ready to defend the President by pointing out the numbers provided by Mark Knoller as the unofficial but widely trusted chronicler of data on Presidential travels and other day-to-day White House goings-on. The claim is, in summary, that Bush took many, many more vacations to his home ranch in Crawford Texas during his Presidency then Obama has taken during his. The numbers seem to tell us Bush, in direct comparison to Obama, is more at home wearing flip flops and squirting some SPF 50 on his schnoz.

By this logic, Gilligan and the Skipper should have been very well rested up after taking their three year vacation to an island.

Bush on Vaca with NATO General Jaab
Just because you are away from the White House does not put you on vacation. Sometimes this is obvious, say, when Nixon went to China back in 1972, it wasn't because Panda Express hadn't opened yet in the States. When Roosevelt went to Yalta, it wasn't cause he heard Russian beaches had better parties then the ones at Normandy. You can attend to the affairs of state from any location were and when the key players are present, and when people see you performing the duties of the President, their perception is that he is working, not playing golf (hypothetically of course.) I present to you several of the many available photo's of foreign heads of states being hosted by George W. Bush while in Crawford, scattered about this blog post. There are a dozen other hosting events not depicted. That does not include hostong dignitaries that are not head of state, Like NATO commander General Jaap. Or dragging along his entire cabinet for a week or two at a time.

Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi
visiting Bush while he's on Vacation
Show me the photo of the President putting with President Putin, or chipping with Chancellor Merkel and maybe you can start to excuse the fact that Obama has not surrendered one of his golf outings while American Troops and even an American General are killed in the line of duty. Or in the wake of an American being beheaded circulating the news channels. When Bush was chastised for simularly playing golf as families of veterans came home in caskets, he (almost) stopped golfing, and was chastised heavily when he got caught getting one more game in.

United Kingdom PM Tony Blair
checking out Bush's Vacation digs
Were are the pictures of Obama hosting the Ukrainian President at his ranch, or his villa, or his house, or his apartment. Unlike Bush, Obama doesn't have a singular location in which he goes to so he can be more himself. He was raised in Hawaii, Indonesia, and Chicago, yet only seems to return to most of those places as little more then a tourist. The only property he owns as an established living quarters is his Chicago home that is a mess of barricades that would be about as easy to secure from a potential threat as a high school cheerleaders virtue at a frat party.

And speaking of parties, now that we've looked a little closer at what Bush did on Vacation, let's take a closer look at what Obama does 'on the clock'...

Obama, while not on Vacation
These appearances and fundraisers are what he considers to be part of his job. It's hard to justify their frequency with any other rationale. Take that the photo of him there with David Letterman occurred while Obama was in New York just before a UN general assembly where he met with exactly zero heads of states. But, of course, had time for another fundraiser with Jay-Z and Beyonce. Also, not considered a vacation.

Go ahead and say all that Bush did was go on vacation. Personally, I would look to a leader who got something done while on vacation over a leader who thinks it's his job to travel around and meet celebrates on the tax payers dime.

Friday, August 15, 2014

(Lack of) Leadership During a Crisis

During the 'Recovery Summer' of 2010, President Obama took his 6th vacation as President in less then 2 years.

Israeli Prime Minister requests an audience with President Obama amid escalation in the Middle East. Obama declines and instead goes on David Letterman.

He then passed on an opportunity to meet with world leaders to meet instead with the ladies of the View.

When our Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Ty Woods, and Glen Doherty were killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi, the President took the following day to head to Las Vegas for a fundraiser.

As the border crisis broke out, the President headed west. Not to the border, but to a Colorado bar to play pool and drink with the Governor.

Russia invades the Ukraine while the President declares it happy hour.

When the bombs dropped in Iraq, the President headed off in Marine-One. Not to the Pentagon, but to the golf course for 18 holes of golf.

As Ferguson, MO struggled with another night of unrest, the President's press conference on the matter was delivered, not from the Rose Garden, but from a makeshift location near his exclusive Martha's Vineyard vacation home.
Crisis that face the American people don't have access to your day planner. His lack of experience managing, administrating, and leading is only all too highlighted when people look to the person they elected to give them direction, and a proverbial 'Gone Fishing' sign is in the place where we would expect to find a mature, tempered force that would reassure us.

Please, put down the beer and get off the golf course Mr. President. Are you that blind to how awful this looks? Is your golf game that important? We don't have the luxury of leaving for the weekend when our businesses are struggling. We don't have the luxury of ignoring the feelings of those that rely on us for leadership when we are needed most. 

It’s understandable that Obama would want to get away from it all, but for a president struggling to build support for his foreign policy, vacationing during a crisis is negligent and a display of disinterest.

Step up and lead, or step aside and let someone else. America deserves better. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The 5 Reasons I Won't Vote for Bruce Braley

Released in tandem with The 5 Reasons I Will Vote For Joni Ernst.

1. I have very little of an idea what he stands for.

I do a fair amount of Braley following, since he is my local representative in the IA-1 district. He supported the Amash amendment, good. He opposed taking military action against Syria, good (all though it would have been nice if we hadn't basically said we would and then didn't). In general, it's hard to be opposed to a person 100% of the time.

We currently have a that congress appears to be doing nothing but sitting on it's hands while the world is figuratively flying off the handle bars, so it would be nice to know what we would be sending someone to Washington for. And it's a little disheartening when you go to a candidates web site and the first thing you see is this;

The very first eye full when trying to learn more about a candidate is an essential message flyer about the other guy, errr.. gal. Read along on the home page for BruceBraley.com and you'll see several links to other articles, many of which are about... Joni Ernst. 

It's one thing to flaunt some dirty laundry about your opponent, but most of these attacks keep centering around Joni not supporting the minimum wage increase called for by the President. Something she is very forward and upfront about is her belief that things like setting a minimum wage is a state issue. A stance that is a wedge issue at best because it's probably a more popularly held stance then the Braley camp is giving it credit for. 

In the end, you have to watch a lot of Braley ads and read pretty far into his own online content before you start finding anything terribly substantive about what he would actually do while in Washington. This approach to politicking is a turn off.

2. Iowa Values vs. Iowa Values

As mentions, dirty laundry is expected in a political arena, but Braley's approach here appears to be the metaphorical sock-off challenge in which both candidates are to take off their shoes and compare the stench of their foot odor, and Bruce appears to have much smellier feet. 

This has more to do with his choice of a campaign strategy than the strength of his or her convictions His counter punch effort against Joni Ernst's Iowa Values mantra is his own Iowa Values message in the form of fliers that I have to pull out of my door in the morning. In effect he is claiming the same slogan, common as it is, that Joni has been touting since the near legendary castration commercial

Had Braley raced against a true unknown this approach could have worked. Had he not made a statement that could easily be construed as an insult to the intelligence of farmers, it may have worked. Had he not sued his neighbor over a couple of chickens, this might have worked. 

His character is taking a front and center position in this race, and for some reason he decided that stealing a line from his opponent that forces these issues was the best approach.

3. If you're going to insult someone, do it in your home state

A factor if the aforementioned insult to farmers that did not get a lot of playtime was the fact that the clip came from a campaign fundraising event... in Texas. At least if he had been talking to a group of lawyers and attorneys in Iowa he could have claimed that it was a concern of some of his constituents that he was addressing. As is, he continues to paint him self as an outsider.

4. Seriously, what would you do in Washington?

According to govtracks.us, which is the attendance sheet for members of Congress, Braley has missed almost twice as many votes as an average member of congress does (95.1% attendance compared to 97.5% congressional average), contrast that to Sen. Chuck Grassley who hasn't missed a vote in about 20 years serving in the Senate. Also, consider the latest attack ad from Concerned Veterans for America that (somewhat misleadingly) states that he missed 79% of the hearings concerning the VA in 2011 and 2012. In some instances he was needed elsewhere, but it brings into question his ability to prioritize his time.

In all fairness, Joni has come under some scrutiny for her unwillingness to prioritize senate obligations over campaign obligations since deciding to run for the U.S. Senate. However, prior to 2014, she voted in 98.3% of roll call votes compared to the Iowa Senate average of 97.5%

5. Braley is part of the problem.

As I opened with, there are a few things that I've agreed with Bruce on over the years. In the end, however, the singular item that I point to as a root of a lot of the problems that arise from a wealthy, developed, ahead of the pack country is central planning. At the root of Braley's positions in the belief that we can make day to day things better through the actions of people thousands of miles away and nearly completely disconnected from my
day to day life. Be it that these people believe that all 50 states should have the same minimum wage or should teach our kids the same way, there is no one size fits all approach in this country. And the greater and larger we grow the more and more true that is going to ring. If I can extract anything from Braley's campaign, it's that he believes the exact opposite.

The 5 Reasons I Will Vote for Joni Ernst

Not only are there several reasons that I'm opposed to Bruce Braley, turns out there are a few things I actually like about Joni Ernst.

Released in tandem with The 5 Reasons I Will Not Vote For Bruce Braley.

1. All the superficial things

If you want to refer to this is simply breaking the mold of the typical politician you have my blessing. Iowa has never elected a woman in a state wide election (save for Lt. Governor as part of a gubernatorial ticket) or as a member of the U.S. congress. There are also few woman in politics with military service experience. She's an Iowa State Alumni. She's young for a politician at the age of 44, and her first campaign ad garnered national attention because, frankly, it was hilarious.

2. She doesn't use hyperbole

That is to say that she states her position almost always with a preceding "I think that..." or "I believe in...". I've listened to several of her stumps and read many of her articles. She never talks about the things being so desperate that it's a matter of life and death. Never implying that the other guy will destroy your way of life or stating that their plan would be a disaster. Agree with her or disagree with her, she's quite cordial.

3. What it means to be a career Nation Guard Officer

When looking over the resume of Joni Ernst, it's obvious she puts a lot of emphasis on her 20+ years working in the Army Reserve and the Iowa National Guard, but what does a career in the Iowa National Guard look like? Frequently, it's a call to service in the time of a disaster. When people are in truly dire need and organization and prioritization are essential to the success and failure of a mission. The Iowa National Guard has an impeccable reputation of being one of the first respondents in an emergency. Joni, being a Lt. Colonial, undeniably has seen and accomplished much in these pressure situations that would be a great resource for what the real 'boots on the ground' response team would need in the event of a crisis. Think of Katrina or Irene and the lack of capacity for a proper response from Washington. It would be nice to have a member of congress be able to say "When I was called to respond to a flood/tornado/disaster, the big thing I needed from the government was <blank>. Most members of congress are veterans long removed from service while Joni was in uniform serving just last month.

4. Keeping things positive

Well before Joni was tapped as the Republican nominee, attack ads had already started rolling against Bruce Braley. And, not so different from ads now being ran against Joni from out of state PAC's, there are still ads being ran against Braley. These are, for the time being, not originating from the Ernst campaign.

The difference starts when you see the Braley camp start their own set of ads against Ernst, Joni has not followed suit (again, yet). Joni is attempting to take a path not followed often during a close race, the stay positive and on message road. Touting her military career and life in Iowa above all else.

5. The fundamental belief of the role of Government

In much the same way that I and Bruce Braley have a fundamental difference of opinion on the role of government, I feel that Joni Ernst and I share the same core belief that the government, especially the federal government, is not a catch all tool and solution that is to be used often and applied to every situation like duct tape or WD-40, but rather a specialty tool for particular situations that gets thrown back in the drawer when you are done with it.

To take this line of thought a few more steps, people have started to take their belief in central planning to the point of redundancy. Take a popular topic in the ads being played out in commercials where Joni talks about getting rid of the Department of Education. If someone automatically assumes that someone is against education as a result of the department's closure, it reveals their way of thinking about such things as highly central planning, well...., centric.

Why are we spending billions in administrative costs to administer programs that exist at the state level. Just give the money to the state equivalents and trust them to use it wisely. For example, Iowa has a low income grant program that requires the exact same paperwork as the federal grant program to be filled out and submitted. In other words, a prospective student has to submit the same application to two different entities to get grant money for the same, singular, thing. Pell grants would not go away, it would simply reduce the multi-billion dollar bureaucracy that administers it.

I hope as this campaign develops and becomes more substantive that I can continue feeling that Joni is a good candidate rather then simple Bruce is a bad one. Perhaps this relative unknown is still just so shiny and new that I'm blinded until it is revealed that she eats babies or prefers Coke over Pepsi or some other game changer like that. Until such a time, I am a Joni Ernst supporter, and I approve this message.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The New Way A Bill Becomes A Law

Gone are the days of a Bill simply standing there on Capitol Hill. Please use the following chart as a reference on how law is made now. Thank you.