Thursday, January 28, 2010

Who gets Thrown Under the Bus Next?

Every President has to throw supporters and aides under the bus.

When Presidents flounder, some aide must make the ultimate political sacrifice. When major initiatives, such as health care reform fail, someone has to pay the price.

President Nixon, for example, had to throw Erlichman and Haldeman under the bus, or more precisely, to the Watergate prosecutors. It didn’t save his Presidency, but may have bought time.

President Obama tossed the Reverend Jeremiah Wright aside during the campaign. The candidate claimed not to have heard any of the Reverend’s racist and anti-American rants in 20 years of worshiping at his church, but seems to be pursuing the Reverend’s social agenda in Washington.

Van Jones, Special Advisor for Green Jobs, technically resigned in September after disclosures he once claimed to be a communist. “Better red than green” did not play well even in the Obama Administration.

Anita Dunn, Interim Communications Director, left in November after a video surfaced of her at a high school graduation saying Mother Theresa and Chairman Mao were her favorite political philosophers.

So who should be next on the list?
Ben Bernancke
Tim Geithner
Rahm Emanuel
David Axlerod
Robert Gibbs
Harry Reid
Arlen Specter
Eric Holder
Janet Napolitano
Chairman of the Democratic National Committee

Chairman Ben Bernancke of the Federal Reserve Bank faced sustained opposition in the Senate on his reappointment. Someone should be a scapegoat for the bank failures last year, but the President supports him, and the Senate just confirmed him.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, the Turbo Tax cheat, is much more deserving of being tossed, perhaps even keel-hauled, under the bus. He though has great bureaucratic survival skills. President Obama went out of his way before the State of the Union Speech to embrace the Secretary. Hence, he seems safe, at least for now.

Rahm, “Rahmbo,” Emanuel is the President’s Chief of Staff. As such, Rahm is the designated flak catcher for the Administration. A graduate of the Chicago Bare Knuckles School of Politics, Rahm takes no prisoners, and is increasingly building up an extensive bipartisan list of politicians who would love to drive the bus.

Emanuel is rumored to be considering a run for Blago’s old governorship in Illinois. He should do so. That bus has not yet left the station.

Attorney General Eric Holder is filling his resume with bad decisions affecting the national security. He precipitously moved many of the GItmo detainees to federal court in New York for trial, instead of continuing the military tribunals already under way. More significantly, after only 50 minutes of a desultory interrogation, he had the previously loquacious, Christmas Day bomber Mirandized, retained an attorney, and then zipper his lips. Without telling any of the Homeland Security and National Security officials, Holder turned the case into a criminal investigation instead of part of the War Against Terror.

Of course, Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security, durst not use the phrase “War Against Terror.” Instead, she calls it “human caused disasters.” Her agency prepared a report last year arguing that the biggest terrorist risk faced by America is from returning veterans.

Right after the capture of the Christmas Bomber, she stated “the system had worked.” Only luck, and not the system, averted a tragic airline bombing.

The terrorist was a classic case for additional screening, but someone missed the obvious signs. He bought a one-way ticket to Detroit for cash, checked no luggage, and had no coat while flying into Detroit during winter.

Someone’s political head should roll for that.

President Obama has a major problem with his Administration’s efforts against terrorists. The government is still lacking a permanent director of the Transportation Security Agency as we enter the second year of President Obama’s term.

The President waited eight months before nominating Errol Southers to direct the TSA. Errol ran into substantial opposition in the Senate, misspoke to the Senate during his confirmation hearings, and withdrew his nomination on January 19, 2010.
Withdrawal before confirmation does not qualify for ejection from the bus. He simply missed the bus.

The Christmas Day Bomber revealed a critical gap in the Administration’s efforts to safeguard Americans. The President announced in August the creation of HIG, a “High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group.” The purpose is to have expert teams available to interrogate these suspects, and retrieve valuable information to protect us.

We now know that HIG is not yet operational. That bus is out of service.

David Axelrod, the chief campaign advisor for President Obama, is also a graduate of the Chicago School of Bare Knuckles Politics. He let President Obama pursue his statist dreams rather than applying the critical political contribution of President Clinton “It’s the economy, stupid.” President Obama needs Axelrod too much to abandon him. That bus is going nowhere, but doesn’t know it yet.

Senator Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, has uttered more gaffes lately than Vice President Biden, who seems to be muzzled. The Senator appears hapless and a living exemplar of the Peter Principle in action. He was filmed nodding off during the President’s State of the Union Speech. But then, so did I.

Senator Specter’s switch back to the Democratic Party from the Republicans has won no fans in either party. His contemptuous putdown of Representative, the lady, Michelle Bachman illustrates he’s past his prime.

Both Reid’s and Specter’s seats may go Republican in November. They should emulate Senator Dodd’s example, fall on their swords under the bus, and retire to the end of the line.

Robert Gibbs is clearly the most ineffectual Presidential Press Secretary in my lifetime. He had a facial transplant to eternally capture the deer in the headlights look in respond to every reporter’s question.

Fortunately for President Obama, the President has great oratorical powers. Gibbs though is a poor public face for the Obama Administration. One of the jokes about President Ford is that he played football too long without a helmet. Gibbs comes across as having been hit by too many soccer balls earlier in life.

The Democrats just lost three major elections, governorships in New Jersey and Virginia, and Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts. Someone should walk the plank. The chair of the DNC is an obvious candidate, but I don’t even know who he is. Enough said.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Don't Californicate Oregon

Tom McCall, a progressive Republican environmentalist, served as Governor of Oregon from 1967 to 1985. He was highly effective, and in a TV interview uttered the famous remarks: “Come visit us again and again. This is a state of excitement. But for heaven’s sake, don’t come here to live.” The statement was directed at neighboring Californians.

Bumper stickers soon appeared “Don’t Californicate Oregon.” The sentiments spread to Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, and Washington. None wanted the seemingly mindless, inexorable sprawl of Southern California.

We should know by tomorrow if Oregon is adopting the worse of California: high taxes to subsidize public employee unions.

Voting by mail closes today on a seemingly “Tax the Rich” referendum. Income tax rates would go up 2% on high earners, tying Oregon with Hawaii for the highest personal income tax rates in the nation, exceeding even California’s. Corporate tax rates will also rise. The rich are defined as couples earning over $250,000 and individuals $125,000. Washington State has no income tax. Do the math.

Oregon has lost 131,000 private sector jobs in this recession. Instead of trying to improve the state’s economy, the public sector unions wish to suck money out of the private sector to support government employees. The Oregon Education Association has contributed $1.65 million to the campaign while other public employee unions within Oregon and nationally have chipped in an additional $1 million.

Oregon is a beautiful state, but persons of money find beauty elsewhere by voting with their feet. That is happening in California at an accelerating rate.

Students at the University of Oregon a few years ago urged a boycott of Nike products because of alleged sweatshop conditions in Nike’s overseas factories. The largest financial benefactor of the University is Phil Knight. He simply stated that if the boycott went forward, then he would reconsider his generosity for the University. The boycott failed.

Phil Knight has joined small businesses and other entrepreneurs in opposing the tax increases.

The voters, who rejected tax increases in the past, may approve these, based upon a campaign of class warfare, populism, and demagoguery, but these increases would constitute economics ignorance.

Oregon should look to Texas, rather than California or Hawaii, as its model. Texas had 43 companies among the Fortune 500 in 2000. By adhering to its no income tax policy, and encouraging business, it now has 64 corporations in the Fortune 500.

Oregon would have high income taxes and rain. Texas has no income taxes and sun. Oregon has two corporations in the Fortune 500, but risks losing one of them, Nike. It’s already lost much of its historic mainstay timber industry. The glow may be off the Portland Rose.

Please don’t Californicate the wonderful state of Oregon.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Biggest Loser, and the Biggest Winner, From Tuesday

A veritable Nor’easter blew through Massachusetts last Tuesday. The political losses were catastrophic.

The losers include:
Attorney General Martha Coakley
Camelot and the Kennedys
Health Reform
President Obama’s leftist agenda
The Far Left Wing of the Democratic Party
The Democratic realignment
John Maynard Keynes – yet again
The New World Order
Cap and Trade Legislation and any other legislative restraints on coal
Rahm Emanuel (Not every crisis is an opportunity that should not be missed).
David Axelrod
Blue Dog Democrats, who walked the plank for President Obama
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
Senators Nelson, Lincoln, Bayh
Stimulus III
Unions (Almost half the union members voted Republican on Tuesday)
The Massachusetts Democratic Party
One Party Government
Tax Increases
Rube Goldberg and Kafka
And perhaps Financial Reform

The biggest loser is none of the above, but the ashen faced gentleman standing behind Martha Coakley in her concession speech. Governor Patrick Duval was watching his reelection go down the tubes in Massachusetts. Whether or not Martha Coakley was a good or bad campaigner, he saddled with unpopular, substantial income and sales tax increases while unemployment jumped to 10% in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Governor Duval should consider moving back to Chicago.

Several winners emerge from the Nor’easter, including

Senator Scott Brown
The Massachusetts Republican Party
The National GOP and Republican National Chairman Michael Steele
Governor Mitt Romney
Tea Parties
The Medical Profession, Pharma, and Insurers
GM Pickup Trucks

The last time the Democrats screwed up Massachusetts, under the leadership of Governor Dukakis, the voters elected two Republicans to Congress, several to the Legislature, and Republicans as governors for 16 years.

The biggest winner though could paradoxically be President Obama. Eventhough his agenda was shattered last Tuesday, his presidency might survive as a result.
The American public rejected President Clinton’s leftist agenda in 1994 by turning Congress and most statehouses over to the Republicans.

If President Obama is smart, he will learn from President Clinton who veered to the right and practiced the art of triangulation. No more big agenda items, except the conservative, and popular, goal of welfare reform. He waited patiently until the Republicans overstepped and shut down government.

If President Obama is smart and flexible rather than doctrinaire!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Scott Heard Around the World

David slew Goliath

Appalachian State upset the Mighty Wolverines in the Big House

Scott Brown decisively defeated Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts Senate race, one of history’s great political upsets.

The unknown Republican state senator defeated the Democratic machine candidate, the state’s attorney general

The sacrificial lamb was a ram

Senator Scott Brown touches the people. Martha campaigned above them. She was as out of touch with the American people as Governor Michael Dukakis when he ran for President.

Senator Brown is the rhetorical equal of President Obama.

Scott Brown ran a classic grass roots campaign while Martha Coakley brought in the heavy weights, President Obama, President Clinton, and the Kennedys. Scott Brown though had the endorsements and assistance of Doug Flutie and the Yankee fan Curt Schilling.

The Republicans in the Massachusetts state legislature traditionally play the role of the Washington Generals against the Harlem Globetrotters. The Democrats treat the Republicans as gnats.

Yes, she ran a bad campaign, but many Senators and Representatives run bad campaigns and win when they ride the wave.

“Please come to Boston. She said no” goes the song. Why campaign in Boston when you can raise campaign contributions from drug industry lobbyists in Washington, D.C.?

The great shrines in Boston are Fenway Park and the Garden. She insulted the people of Massachusetts by replying to a reporter’s query “why should she campaign by shaking hands in front of Fenway when it is freezing?” You can be elitist in Massachusetts, but don’t campaign as one. The Democrats, who campaign on the side of the ordinary people, don’t hesitate to tax Joe Six Pack. If you represent them though, do not campaign as an elitist above them.

Martha Coakley may be Irish Catholic, but in rejecting a conscience clause in the health care bill, she stated “Maybe Catholics shouldn’t work in emergency rooms.”

She stated there were no terrorists in Afghanistan when suicide bombers were blowing up Kabul.

She was elitist and out of touch.

Yet, as the Massachusetts great Democratic leader Tip O’Neil stated: “All politics is local.”

Martha Coakley had the problem that her governor and state legislators imposed substantial income and sales taxes on Massachusetts while the state unemployment rate is 10%. Someone in the majority party had to pay for that.

Massachusetts is the birthplace of the American Revolution with “The shot heard around the world.”

Massachusetts is the home of the Boston Tea Party, but also where the Tea Parties did in fact represent the American people.

Massachusetts is where Shay’s Revolt in the early days of the new nation was a warning against taxes.

Massachusetts is where, exactly one year after Senator Obama was inaugurated, the people revolted against the socialist, anti capitalistic agenda of President Obama and the radical Democrats in Congress.

Massachusetts is the home of the Boland Amendment, but even Massachusetts voters reject the Anti-Americanism foreign policy of the Obama Administration.

Massachusetts, the bluest of blue states which voted for George McGovern, halted the Democratic attack on the individual, the entrepreneur, the creator of wealth.

Massachusetts may no longer want to be known as “Taxachusetts” and the “People’s Republic of Massachusetts.”

New Jersey and Virginia were warning shots to the Democrats, but Massachusetts has just gone nuclear.

Massachusetts may be a progressive state, a liberal state, but it also the state of the independents.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Petty Tyranny of Bureaucrats

2009 was, unfortunately, a routine and devastating year for California wildfires. Hundreds of thousand acres burned.

The Station in the San Bernadino Mountains started on August 28 and continued until October 16. 160,557 acres burned, 209 structures, including homes, were destroyed, and 2 firefighters lost their lives. The famous Mount Wilson Observatory was threatened, as were most of the LA basin’s transmission towers.

A 57 mile stretch of the Angeles Crest Highway on the mountain was closed for 3 months. Newcomb’s Ranch is the only restaurant on this stretch of this road. Electricity from Southern California Edison, the local utility, was cut off for an extended time; the transmission system was burnt to a crisp in the fire.

Several employees live above the restaurant. The owner kept the structure functioning by operating his emergency backup diesel generator while the hills burned. He used 40 gallons of diesel daily.

His reward: The South Coast Air Quality District announced it would impose a fine on him for operating the diesel generator.

One of the largest generators of greenhouse gasses, especially carbon dioxide, are forest fires. For example, the October 2007 wildfires in California produced 7.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, equal to one week of fossil fuel generation.

He is to be fined for consuming 40 gallons a day during an emergency to continue functioning. If the bureaucrats at SCAQMD had looked out their windows, they would have noticed the huge plumes of smoke coming from the fire. Had they simply watched the evening news, they would have observed the tremendous devastation of the fire.

Any pollution he might have created during this public emergency was microscopic compared to that of the Station Fire.

But no; they had to fine a survivor.

Clearly the restaurant can hire a lawyer, and perhaps successfully fight the fine. To do so though would cost large legal fees, and leave the owner in a state of Kafka for an extended period.

The restaurant has survived natural disasters over seven decades, fires, mudslides, downpours and blizzards, and road closures, but SCAQMD may be too much.

The current owner is a pediatrician, Dr, Frederick Rundell. The power of medicine is as naught compared to that of the law or bureaucracies.

Businesses complain in California of the high costs of doing business, high taxes, and the thicket of overzealous and petty regulations.

Dr. Rundell has about $1.5 million invested in the restaurant, which he may tear down.

Just more jobs and property tax losses for California!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Slip Slidding Away in Massachusetts

The permanent Democratic majority is slip sliding away in the special Massachusetts Senate election next Tuesday. Polls currently show the Republican Scott Brown in the lead over Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Republicans should not drink Champaign quite yet though. 3 1/2 days can be an eternity in politics.

The Democrats are bringing in the big guns in a state which abhors guns.

President Obama is flying up on Sunday in support of Martha. He won the state by 26% a little over a year ago. Maybe some of that popularity will spill over onto Coakley, who has run an incredibly inept campaign. She cannot even spell Massachusetts.

Endorsements don’t usually amount to a hill of beans, but Scott Brown has two that might carry some weight.

First, Boston College Heisman winner Doug Flutie has endorsed Brown. Maybe Flutie can pull off another Hail Mary.

Second, Curt Schilling, the great Red Sox pitcher, has come out for Brown and pilloried Coakley on his blog.

Acorn has yet to be heard from. Clearly Acorn, SEIU, other unions, and the Democratic machines in Massachusetts will get the vote out.

If the rising tide is too great though, as in New Jersey and Virginia last November, it won’t matter.

The main lever in the liberal Massachusetts block has also not been heard from. That is the Boston Globe. I’m not talking about the editorials or op-eds in the Globe, but the front page. The Globe has a well-earned reputation for playing politics on page one, masking editorials and hatchet jobs as news. If the Globe editors are sitting on something devastating to Brown, it will be published this weekend, probably on Sunday.

If Senator Brown wins, then the closest analogy I can think of is John Tower in 1961. Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson won reelection to the Senate in 1960 as well as the Vice Presidency on the Kennedy-Johnson ticket. LBJ resigned the Senate seat to assume the Vice-Presidency.

The conservative Republican, John Tower, won the special election to succeed LBJ in the Senate. Senator Tower was the first Republican Senator from Texas since Reconstruction.

Far from being a political anomaly, the election of Senator Tower marked the ascendancy of the Republican Party in the once solidly Democratic Texas.

Massachusetts will not become a Republican state anytime in the near future, but the GOP might have a resurgence that gives it some political clout in the state.

Even if Martha Coakley wins, the lesson of this election is that the Democrats are in, to use the words of the first President Bush, who was born in Massachusetts, “Deep doo-doo.”

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Is a Massachusetts Political Miracle in the Making?

Another Massachusetts Miracle?

The Massachusetts economy rebounded in the early 1980’s, based upon Route 128 and the growth of the financial industry.

Governor Michael Dukakis sought the Presidency in 1988 by heralding “The Massachusetts Miracle,” which he took credit for.

The Massachusetts Miracle was failing by the time of the November 1988 general election. Route 128 was centered on the mini-computer industry. Where are Digital Equipment, Wang, DEC, and Prime today? Governor Dukakis was spending the state into an economic debacle – sounds like many states today. The Governor barely carried Massachusetts against Vice President Bush.

One week from today, January 19, 2010, a new Massachusetts Miracle may emerge. Possibly, just possibly, a Republican could win the United States Senate seat held for eternity by Senator Ted Kennedy.

Massachusetts, the bluest of the bluest states, may vote Republican as New Jersey and Virginia did last November.

Massachusetts, where the GOP should petition the United States Fish & Wildlife Service for listing, and then protection, as an endangered species.

No Republican currently holds statewide office or any Congressional seat in Massachusetts. They occupy about 10% of the state legislative seats. The Boston Globe, the money losing Boston Globe, still shrills for liberal democrats.

The last Republican United States Senator from Massachusetts was Senator Edward Brooke, who served from 1967-1979. He was defeated for election by Congressman Paul Tsongas because of financial irregularities in his divorce.

Senator Brooke, a Republican, was the first African-American Senator since the 19th Century.

The Democratic candidate this year is Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. Her Republican opponent is state Senator Scott Brown.

Martha has run an uninspiring campaign, attempting to tie Brown to President Bush and his tax cuts. Massachusetts is also known as Taxachusetts, and sometimes as “The People’s Republic of Massachusetts.”

Scott has tagged Coakley to President Obama and his health care plan, as well as her plans to raise taxes. President Obama may be a liability in this election.

Last night in a statewide debate, she asserted that there are no terrorists in Afghanistan. Her campaign continues to shoot itself in the foot. In a print ad attacking her opponent, she misspelled Massachusetts.

Senator Brown raised $1.3 million in internet contributions yesterday from small contributors.

Attorney General Coakley’s home page touts she “held health insurers accountable.” Tonight she flew to D.C. for a fundraiser where lobbyists for health insurance companies are pouring funds into her campaign.

Hypocrisy is not a criminal offense for politicians.

A poll a few weeks ago showed Coakley ahead by 30 points. A Boston Globe poll a few days ago showed her lead down to 15%. A more recent poll shows the race even or even Brown ahead by 1%.

The Attorney General received 73% of the vote three years ago in her election as Attorney General. President Obama carried Massachusetts by 26 points in November 2008. Yet he is becoming an albatross even in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts may be a liberal state, but independents actually outnumber Democrats and Republicans combined. Independents oppose the health care plan.

Will Brown win in Massachusetts? Probably not, but if he does, or even keeps the election close, incumbent Democrats throughout the country should follow Senator Bryan Dorgan’s lead to the exit doors.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Winter is Back

The Association of American Law Schools held its annual meeting in New Orleans this past week. Two sessions were on global warming. It was freezing outside.

How ironic! N’awlins was below 32°. The news reports devoted long segments on how to keep your pipes from freezing.

Europe is in a freeze, reminiscent of Napoleon’s and Hitler’s defeats by General Winter, the freezing, heroic GI’s fighting the Wehrmacht in the Battle of the Bulge on Christmas Day 1944, and the withdrawing Marines from the Frozen Chosun in Korea. Winter’s back.

Copenhagen was snowing during Copenhagen. Copenhagen may be cold, but it hardly ever snows. Even the large carbon footprint couldn’t warm up Copenhagen during Copenhagen. Winter’s back.

The Chunnel broke down because of freezing weather in France, trapping 2500 passengers on 4 trains under the English Channel for hours without food, heat, lighting or power. Winter’s back.

18 inches of snow in London. That's not a traditional English winter.

The Lower 48, with the conspicuous and fortunate exception of Southern California, is in a deep freeze, in some cases going back weeks. Ra smiled on the BCS Title Game in the Rose Bowl last week, while the Florida Bowls suffered. Winter’s back.

Florida citrus growers struggled to save their orchards. That’s a real winter.

16 inches of snow fell on the National Mall, 23.2 inches in Philly, 24.9 inches on Long Island in a vicious N’oreaster. That is not global warming. It should have put a freeze on the Health Reform Bill, but Senator Reid froze the Senators in session until Christmas Eve. Little hot air was generated in the Senate because it was mostly in a back, non-smoked filled room. Winter’s back with a vengeance.

Remember the winters of 1994 (The winter from hell) and 1996? They’re back.

Snow is blanketing Mid-America, and cities are exhausting their snow plowing budgets. That’s a true winter.

Atlanta airport cancelled flights because of snow in Atlanta. That is a true winter.

Heating oil prices are unfortunately jumping. I remember those days; we had a 1,000 gallon tank in Massachusetts. Winter’s back.

The Dakotas are freezing below normal - winter’s back.

The Siberian Express has awaken from hibernation. Winter’s back.

Much of Asia is freezing. New Delhi‘s in the 60’s. Now is the time to visit the Taj. Winter’s back.

Ever since the prophet Al Gore trumpeted global warming, global temperatures have been dropping.

Newsweek and Time forecast a coming global freeze a quarter century ago. Now they trumpet a different tune. But winter is back.

How soon we forget what a real winter is like.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The NBA Right to Bear Arms

Washington Wizards players Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton apparently got into a dispute over a gambling debt and pulled guns out on each other. Neither shot, symbolic of the fact that the Wizards are one of the worse teams in the NBA.

Why should we be shocked?

Many NBA and NFL players pack heat in spite of league admonitions to the contrary.

Sometimes accidents and tragedies happen. Last year Plaxico Burress, the star receiver for the New York Giants, shot himself in the gluteus maximus at a Manhattan nightclub. He’s now spending 2 years in prison.

Brian Blades, a Seattle Seahawk player, in 1999 accidentally killed his cousin while trying to shoot a clump of sod off his cleats. Brian was not a rocket scientist.

Ray Lewis copped a plea to obstruction of justice after being arrested for murder after an altercation outside an Atlanta nightclub during a Super Bowl party on January 31, 2000.

Many mishaps have occurred and players have been arrested for weapons violations.
And yet, the number of NBA and NFL players who are victims greatly exceeds those who misuse guns. Players have been shot, beaten, and robbed, sometimes in their own homes. Several have been killed in shootings in which they are the innocent victims.

Athletes present a visible target to many criminals.

Self-preservation explains much of the possession of guns by athletes, but not all.
Many of the athletes come from the Hood, and have never left it. Some hang out in it or associate with friends from the Hood. Why should we expect them to leave the Hood behind?

Others frequent black night clubs, where many of the patrons, not just celebrities or athletes, pack heat.

White, black, and Hispanic athletes mess up in many ways.

NBA players have a sterling record for promiscuity. Sports Illustrated printed an article a few years ago on the loose morals of some NBA players, and the number of illegitimate children they sired. Some had women in every NBA city. Kobe’s mistake was that he did not take no for an answer.

Some engage in spousal abuse, including major league managers.

Other players and former players commit crimes of violence or theft. Some are druggies while others are alcoholics. DWI’s are common.

Some of the star players never make it to the pros. They mess up in college, including some of the nation’s top universities, getting arrested for drugs, theft, rape, batteries, and perhaps homicides. These incidents are publicized more often these days, or perhaps it’s more honest to believe, that the athletes can no longer get away with this misconduct today.

14 players were left behind by Michigan State before the Alamo Bowl. The players celebrated their football banquet by wearing ski masks into a dorm and beating up 7 people. Ohio State only left 6 behind before the Rose Bowl.

Some of the nation’s best basketball players shoot hoops behind bars, perhaps with football players as spectators.

We hardly ever hear of the athletes, not to mention celebrities, who lead exemplary lives.

Athletes don’t screw up any more than other celebrities, or non-celebrities.

In short, they are a microcosm of America.

Charles Barkley said it best after one of his escapades: “I am not a role model.’

Saturday, January 2, 2010

George Orwell is Getting a Museum

George Orwell, the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair, is getting a museum.

Orwell, one of the 20th Century’s great authors, essayists, and literary critics, but most significantly, perhaps the century’s greatest political commentator, is getting a museum.

Orwell currently has no museum, building, library, institute, fellowship, chair, encomium, named for him. No statue has been raised in Trafalgar Square, or anywhere else.

His grave has this simple marker on it “here lies Eric Arthur Blair, born 25 June 2003, died 21 January 1950” - nothing to indicate that this grave in Oxfordshire is the burial site of the great George Orwell.

The actual person became a non-person.

Russia celebrates its great literary figures. The United States does something for most of ours. England has interred many of its greatest poets, writers, scientists, and public figures in Westminster Abbey, but not Orwell.

Kipling’s there, but not Orwell.

Robert Burns, the Scot, is there, but not Orwell.

Gerald Manley Hopkins, S.J., a Jesuit is there, but not Orwell.

John Milton of Paradise Lost is there, but not Orwell.

Ayn Rand has an institute, but not George Orwell.

Tolstoy has an estate, but not Orwell.

Mark Twain has a house, but not George Orwell.

Even the fictional Sherlock Holmes has a pub named for him, and Admiral Benbow Inns spam America.

Maybe’s there an Orwellian bar somewhere.

My generation read both Animal House and 1984 in high school. Orwell’s still major reading in England. Even if you haven’t read him, or seen the movie 1984, which was on cable tonight, you know Orwell.

Think of these phrases: Big Brother, Newspeak, Thought Police, and Double Think, and that great line from Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Think about it: Big Brother and the Nanny State, Newspeak and political double talk, Thought Police and political correctness, and Double Think and Bill Clinton. “All animals are equal ….” is a simple proposition recognizing that in any democracy, aristocracy, theocracy, plutocracy, monarchy, dictatorship, including that of the proletariat, some will always be more equal. The Bolsheviks simply appropriated to themselves the dachas of the capitalists.

1984 had such a ring that when Congress enacted the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and the Clean Air Act, it imposed many deadlines in the two statutes, but never 1984.

Orwell lead quite a life – born in India during the Raj, raised in England, joined the Indian Imperial Police and posted in Burma, fought for the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, and became disillusioned with Communism, but died before England became socialist.

Yes, he’s finally getting a museum.

But it's not in England.

The Indian state of Bihar will restore Blair's colonial birthplace home in Motihari, India and open it as a museum.

Feel free to pay a visit on your way to Nepal.