Thursday, July 24, 2014

Maybe All McCain Needs Is A Good Meal

Senator McCain must get on a plane.  Restaurant week  is still going on in Los Angeles. But if he can't get away before the 27th, he still has time to catch New York City's restaurant week, which extends to August 15. No doubt in the Big Apple, by far the largest city in the country, exciting, and even exquisite, culinary options are available.

But as expensive as New York- or at least Manhattan- is, McCain may want to wait until August 13 and get in on Denver's restaurant week.  Then he can hop a plane and go to Stamford, Connecticut, which is celebrating restaurant week from August 18 to September 2.

This all sounds silly but Senator McCain really, really is anxious to go somewhere special for dinner. Politico reports

Sen. John McCain turned amateur psychologist on Wednesday and diagnosed President Barack Obama with a lack of desire to “social interface” with people and with “self-pity.”

“The self-pity that Obama continues to exhibit is really kind of sad, really,” McCain said on Wednesday during Fox News’ “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.”

McCain’s comments came in response to a comment from Obama at a California fundraiser that suggested that the GOP is not “loyal and rational.”

“You know, I can’t work with him at all,” McCain said. “When is the last time he really called leaders of both parties together over at the White House, say, for a dinner, a social event.”

When asked why Obama has not sent out bipartisan invites to the White House, McCain said, “I cannot explain it except to say that he does not have this desire to have social interface with people and sit down and try to work things out.”

Senator McCain's interest in bipartisan action, however, appears not to be held by House Speaker John Boehner who, responding to the crisis of thousands of children illegally crossing the southern border, declares of President Obama's proposal  "I don't have as much optimism as I'd like to have" about action before Labor Day.

Senator McCain probably wasn't thinking about "social interface" and working things out when he referred to "a cowardly administration that failed to give the Ukrainians weapons with which to defend themselves."  Nor when he called U.S. policy in Syria an "abysmal failure and a disgraceful one."   Nor when he labeled the situation in  Iraq a "colossal failure of American security policy."

Given McCain's propensity to slam every inch of President Obama's foreign policy, his remarks about Iraq are mild, perhaps because the Senator may sense that the whole escapade has been a dismal failure.  At an event hosted yesterday by CNN and National Journal, McCain commented "I think I would have challenged the evidence with more scrutiny. I hope that I would have been able to see through the evidence that was presented at the time... You'll find this surprising but I think I would have been more reluctant to commit American troops."  That's at least halfway to an admission of mistake.

Such introspection, however, doesn't reveal to McCain that much of the testosterone-infused commentary about Iraq amounts to a classic case of sunk cost fallacy.   Neither does it deter Senator McCain from attributing Obama's approach to Iraq as infused with "self-pity."

"Self-pity" is the biggest crime in GOP-land.    Many Repubs live by the credo of never admit error. Never admit uncertainty. Never admit weakness.  Do not contemplate; do what feels right.  If President Obama were even more bipartisan (cartoons below by, respectively, Joel Pett of the Lexington Herald Leader, Steve Sack of the Star Tribune and Ben Sargent ), it would be perceived as even greater weakness. then the Republican Party would be really annoyed.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

And He Doesn't Own A Dog Named Checkers

Nixon for President!

No, not that Nixon (button, above) and probably not Democratic Governor Jay Nixon, either, who is visiting Iowa to advance the economic interests of Missourians. According to The Daily Beast, the governor (photo below) with the most unfortunate surname

is visiting Project Liberty, a brand new ethanol plant that processes cellulosic ethanol, which is made from the waste parts of corn like the husk and the cob. In contrast, traditional ethanol is made from the actual corn kernels. 

Poet, the company which operates the plant, has several plants in Missouri and Nixon is apparently going to promote the new process and encourage similar plants to be built in his home state.

Still, given the dearth of Democrats willing to challenge putative nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton, the visit by Missouri's chief executive is intriguing, especially given his apparent understanding of at least one issue, public school security.  ABC News last week reported

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed legislation Monday that would have allowed specially trained teachers to carry concealed guns, asserting that the move could jeopardize student safety in public schools.

The veto by the Democratic governor sets up a potential showdown with the Republican-led Legislature, which could override Nixon if it gets a two-thirds vote of both chambers during a September session.

Nixon announced the veto with a written statement on the deadline day for him to take action on bills passed earlier this year.

"Arming teachers will not make our schools safer," he said. "I have supported and will continue to support the use of duly authorized law enforcement officers employed as school resource officers, but I cannot condone putting firearms in the hands of educators who should be focused on teaching our kids."

The Missouri legislation called for allowing public school districts to designate certain teachers or administrators as "school protection officers," who would undergo special training to carry concealed weapons.

Most significantly, the Governor has vetoed a bill which would have provided for some public school employees to portray law enforcement officers.  Educators "should be focused on teaching our kids," the governor noted, understanding that neither teachers nor administrators are police.   If educators are expected to carry concealed weapons, they likely won't focus on teaching the children. If they do, it's thenew role which won't be executed effectively.

Additionally, this would establish a two-tiered system in which one set of teachers would be granted a special kind of status, with the other educators of a lesser standing. That is injurious to the profession, as it would be to the members of it.

Nixon also recognizes what some on our side don't, given that he has evidently "supported and will continue the use of duly authorized law enforcement officers employed as school resource officers."  Police judiciously stationed in some schools can provide a needed law enforcement function and might present to young people a positive image of the profession disturbingly absent in many neighborhoods.

In most instances, police officers understand their power, the limits duly placed on that power, and the consequences of abusing that power.  Educators can be trained but they are, at base, individuals whose personalities led them to choose careers in teaching children rather than in carrying weapons and responding to delinquency or crime.  

Teachers are teachers. Police officers are police officers. That should be easy to understand and in Missouri, the governor does.

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And Helping You Helps Me- How?

The online edition of the Star-Ledger of Newark, NJ reports

Gov. Chris Christie was campaigning as chairman of the Republican Governors Association in Connecticut today, but don’t expect him to be making any similar upcoming trips to New York.

The governor, boasting about his ability to make a quick campaign trip for a Republican gubernatorial hopeful here because of its proximity to the Garden State, suggested it’s unlikely he’ll be supporting the Republican hoping to oust New York’s Democratic incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo anytime soon.

“I will spend time in places where we have a chance to win, I said that right from the beginning,” said Christie, who took the reins as chairman of the RGA in November.

“We don’t pay for landslides and we don’t invest in lost causes,” he said when asked about the possibility of campaign trips to the Empire State. “If the New York race becomes competitive, I’ll consider campaigning in the New York race, but right now, by the public polls, there’s a lot more competitive races like this one in Connecticut.”

According to a poll released Monday, Cuomo holds a 37 percentage-point lead among likely voters over his Republican challenger, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino. Cuomo led Astorino 60 percent to 23 percent, the Sienna College survey found.

Astorino maintains if Christie

is unable to help a Republican candidate for governor, then maybe he should consider stepping down as chairman of the RGA. That’s his job....

I don’t know if there’s a connection between him and Andrew Cuomo on Bridgegate, or if Cuomo has something that he’s holding back, information that could be damaging to the governor.

Whatever Gov. Christie knew or didn’t know is probably the same for Gov. Cuomo. And if there’s anything being held back that Gov. Cuomo knows and if he’s holding that over Gov. Christie’s head, I don’t know.

Of course he should, certainly there is, and Mr. Astorino needn't be so reticent.  On December 12, The Wall Street Journal had reported (subscription required; this from Daily Kos)

Mr. Christie, a Republican, complained in a private phone call to Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, that Patrick Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was pressing too hard to get to the bottom of why the number of toll lanes onto the bridge from Fort Lee, N.J., was cut from three to one in early September, according to this person. The lane closures occurred without notice to local authorities, officials have said, and snarled traffic for a week in the small borough on the Hudson River bluffs.

There is a blizzard's chance in Miami Beach that the Repub New Jersey governor and the ostensibly Democratic New York governor (photo below of them and Astorino from Getty/AP) don't have something going together.  But when Christie, who could have said something nondescript such as "we will apportion our resources in a manner which would be most effective," is taking his cue from his political ally.

Just after Memorial Day, 2013, when the Governor was gearing up for an election campaign against Democratic challenger Barbara Buono, he was granted the privilege (at that time, in New Jersey, a major gift) of appearing in public with President Obama while feigning interest in Hurricane Sandy victims.  The President's schedule was so completely filled that summer and autumn, he was unable to find the time even to endorse the Democratic nominee, thereby helping to boost Christie's victory margin as the Governor dreamt of the White House.

Barack Obama gave the back of the hand to his own party's gubernatorial nominee so he could come to the aid of Chris Christie.  Now Governor Opportunist is doing the same to Rob Astorino so he can boost Andrew Cuomo, who would jump into the Democratic presidential race yesterday if Hillary Clinton declines to run. (And if she does run, as expected, a Cuomo re-election landslide would boost his hopes in 2020 or 2024.) Whatever works for me is the guiding principle.

Sixty years ago in The Lone Ranger, it was "varmints." Now it's scoundrels. Either way, it's how they roll.

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