Posts Tagged ‘John Boehner’

“TOY STORY REDUX” — A PREVENTABLE FABLE

Less than twenty-four hours after coordinated attacks left more than 750 Holiday shoppers dead and twice as many wounded, the White House conceded the likelihood of a terrorist operation.

President Obama also urged shopping malls throughout the nation to reopen tomorrow. “We can not, indeed we must not, allow terrorists to derail our Holiday shopping and thus set back our fragile economy.”

The President and top security officials conducted a videoconference with the mayors and chiefs of police of the cities in which the shootings occurred: Orlando, Memphis, Houston, Dallas, Phoenix and Tucson. The governors of Florida, Tennessee, Texas and Arizona attended.

A White House spokesman acknowledged that the attacks could not have been foreseen despite extensive security procedures. “Naturally, no one suspected anything was amiss. The shooter teams in each city made themselves practically invisible by walking into malls carrying AK-47 assault rifles with orange tips on their barrels.”

Federal law requires orange tips on the barrels of replica weapons to identify them as non-lethal collectors’ items.

Eyewitnesses in Dallas said that a young girl called out, “Mommy, those men have guns. I’m scared.” Her father then scolded her: “See those orange tips? Those nice men just want to have fun. Don’t you go trying to spoil someone’s Christmas.”

Members of Congress demanded that the F.B.I. bring the perpetrators to justice. They cited video cameras in all of the malls as playing a major role in the investigation. They acknowledged, however, that the shooters wore masks portraying Santa’s reindeer and elves when entering the malls.

The National Rifle Association challenged protests by groups supporting tougher gun laws. An NRA spokesman stated that sufficient federal laws already exist, and that the Second Amendment protects Americans’ rights to have toys and take them anywhere. “Let’s remember that Americans love guns. Who wouldn’t want a replica of an AK-47, not to mention the real thing?”

A spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Dem.-Cal.) hinted that Mrs. Pelosi might consider initiating legislation banning replicas if she can find adequate support among fellow Democrats. “Of course, serious discussions won’t be conducted until Congress comes back from its Holiday vacation. The Minority Leader also understands that this is a hot-button political issue that could endanger Democratic seats in the House.”

A spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (Rep.-Ohio) dismissed as “anti-American” the possibility of a vote banning replicas coming to the House floor.

In a related matter, investigations continue into the October 22 police shooting that killed 13-year-old Andy Lopez in Santa Rosa, California. The boy carried an AK-47 replica known as an airsoft gun, which uses compressed air to propel plastic pellets. California law requires an orange tip on the barrel of replicas but not on airsoft guns.

Manufacturers of airsoft and related paintball guns declined comment on the Holiday shootings. They cited respect for the dead and wounded.

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Read the first three chapters of SAN CAFÉ and of SLICK!, named by Kirkus Reviews as one of the 25 Best Indie Novels of 2012, at davidperlstein.com. Order at iUniverse.com, Amazon.com or bn.com. 

AND THE WINNER IS…

On Wednesday, Congress finally agreed to reopen the government and extend the debt ceiling. Many House Republicans yielded and joined with Democrats to end Washington’s latest stalemate. Yet TV showed House Speaker John Boehner fist pumping. “We fought the good fight,” Boehner said. “We just didn’t win.” He seemed to suggest that Republicans really didn’t lose, either. That left me curious about the political outcome.

Yesterday, The New York Times saw definite losers. “Republicans Lose a Lot to Get Little” headlined a story by Jeremy Peters. A Times editorial addressed “The Republican Surrender.” Its lead: “The Republican Party slunk away on Wednesday from its failed, ruinous strategy to get its way through the use of havoc.” But The Times represents only one voice in the United States. A brief survey of other newspapers and related websites revealed a variety of opinions—and non-opinions.

Closest to home, the San Francisco Chronicle headlined, “End of shutdown boosts Democrats.” Of course, this is Nancy Pelosi country. So I went online to get the word from between the coasts.

Dallasnews.com (The Dallas Morning News) simply stated, “Federal employees get back to work after 16-day shutdown.” No winners and losers here. Still, an editorial offered, “Budget deal is reached, but internal split is harming GOP.” Orlandosentinel.com (The Orlando Sentinel) led with, “Lock your car while pumping gas, cops warn.” I had to scroll down to find, “Post-crisis, Obama tells Congress to get to work.” Is the State of Florida in a state of denial?

Kansascity.com (The Kansas City Star) showcased a sex assault case. But an editorial—if you looked for it—asserted, “GOP political tantrum has damaged America.” Ajc.com (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution) stayed with the story: “Obama: ‘American people are completely fed up.’” Columnist Jay Bookman offered the moral: “Excessive certitude proves to be a damn poor substitute for intelligence.” Memphisdailynews.com (The Daily News) led with Shelby County foreclosures dropping 10 percent in the last quarter. Again, I had to scroll for news of the agreement. Commercialappeal.com (the Memphis Commercial Appeal) didn’t run a story at all.

Only a TV news clip—from St. Louis yet—was available at cincinnati.com (The Cincinnati Enquirer). On the other hand, azcentral.com/arizonarepublic (The Arizona Republic) led with: “Obama signs bill averting default on debt, ending shutdown.” Neutral stuff. The site also ran an Associated Press report by Donna Cassata noting, “To Senate Republicans, Cruz and [Sen. Mike] Lee [Rep.–Utah] are near pariahs” but that “Among ‘tea party’ Republicans, Cruz’s popularity has climbed, from a 47 percent favorability rating in July to 74 percent, according to a Pew Research Center poll released Wednesday.” A presidential run gaining steam? The top story at deseretnews.com (Utah’s Desert News) concerned football changing the life of a teen with Asperger’s Syndrome.

After all this, I’m thinking that winning and losing is a matter of perspective. But two things seem certain. The sound we heard coming out of Washington wasn’t cheering but the clink of the can again being kicked down the road. And if anyone got the short end of the stick, it wasn’t the Republican Party—it was the American people.

In a previous version of this post, I referred to Ted Cruz as a Republican senator from Florida. Cruz represents Texas. I must have confused him with Marco Rubio. Now how could that happen? 

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Read the first three chapters of SAN CAFÉ and of SLICK!, named by Kirkus Reviews as one of the 25 Best Indie Novels of 2012, at davidperlstein.com. Order at iUniverse.com, Amazon.com or bn.com. 

“GLITTER”—A FABLE

Once, the people of a great land divided power between their king—chosen after each fourth harvest—and heroic knights. The king reigned in the Great Castle. The knights gathered in the Great Hall to debate at a trapezoid-shaped table. A round table would have upset the narrow hall’s feng shui.

Many knights wore beautiful armor. Some of their helmets, however, had loose screws. These knights could not always see what was before them. A few strutted in armor rusted by uncontrollable drooling. The marketplace speculated on injudicious parental mating.

One day the king proposed, “Let everyone in the land be given a daily banana.” Despite the kingdom’s wealth, not everyone could afford bananas, rich in health-enhancing potassium. A majority of knights assented. Bananas were made available to all. Still, some knights insisted that the doors to the treasury be locked and bananas restricted to only those subjects who could afford them. “Let them eat cake!” they cried. “Sugar promotes energy. Besides, we question the blasphemous tenets of modern dentistry.”

“Bananas for all!” announced the king. “It’s the law of the realm.” The opposing knights countered, “The law isn’t the law unless we say it is.” In protest, they established the Cake Party. Donning bakers’ garb and brandishing studded rolling pins, they bellowed, “The king must be removed and the Great Castle turned into a bakery.”

Some knights who opposed distributing bananas nonetheless believed Cake Party members to be several ounces short of a cup. Still, they feared making enemies. Chief among them was Sir John, who sat at the head of the trapezoidal table. “Only if the kingdom forswears spending on bananas,” he said, “can it amass more gold. Then everyone can buy their own bananas—although scientific evidence concerning potassium is questionable.” Hoisting a screwdriver, he sighed, “If only the king would negotiate and do as I say.” Then he watched as the Cake Party catapulted stale loaves of bread at the Great Castle’s walls.

The king, many knights and most of the people objected to these attacks, but Sir John held firm. Hadn’t he the kingdom’s best interests at heart? And if the Cake Party pried him from his chair, wouldn’t conditions worsen? But in truth, Sir John loved his special chair at the trapezoidal table more than gold or even croissants. The chair was covered in glitter and sparkled with bits of shiny metal and glass. Privately, Sir John granted that the Cake Party might be a cup or even two short of a quart. Yet he lusted after his glittering chair.

The kingdom foundered. Dragons, now emboldened, flew overhead, belching fire and brimstone. The rich hunkered in bunkers, their gold in iron vaults, while farmers’ fields and craftsman’s studios went up in flames. “Fools!” the people cried. In response, the Cake Party baked cakes and iced them with the words, “It’s a matter of principle.”

This, of course, is only a fable. And everyone knows the old saying, “All that glitters is not gold.” But legend has it that each morning, Sir John would stand in front of his glittering chair, wave at the dragons and with a long-handled wooden spoon wipe the spittle from his chin.

Many thanks to Michaela for inspiration. This post, however, expresses only the opinions of the author.

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Read the first three chapters of SAN CAFÉ and of SLICK!, named by Kirkus Reviews as one of the 25 Best Indie Novels of 2012, at davidperlstein.com. Order at iUniverse.com, Amazon.com or bn.com. 

MAKEOVER 101

Republicans are upset. Speaker of the House John Boehner proclaimed that President Obama is out to destroy the GOP. But the GOP’s wounds seem self-inflicted. As Robert Bennett, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, recently declared, “We need to understand that we can’t come off as a bunch of angry white men.” All it takes is a little makeover.

As a former advertising guy, I believe that Republicans can deliver their core messages without making Americans wonder if the party is a few pinto beans short of a full burrito. Because it’s not just what you say. It’s how you say it.

Abortion: Forget baby killers. This is an economic issue. The more children born in America, the more legal workers we’ll have to pay for entitlements.

Entitlements: American workers have a great opportunity to boost the economy rather than hobble it. All they need do is switch to privatized health care and retirement benefits. This will enable corporate CEOs and wizards of Wall Street—our job creators—to employ more nannies, cooks, chauffeurs and personal trainers, thus lowering unemployment.

Unemployment: Americans aren’t lazy. They’ve regrettably been disconnected from nature. The solution? Move people out of dangerous ghettos and barrios into the countryside for fresh air and healthful exercise picking America’s bounty of fruits and vegetables. This will force illegal aliens to flee and terminate our immigration problem.

Immigration: Folks who cross our borders without documentation are good people. Each is a potential ambassador who, upon being sent home—unless a proposed path to citizenship passes Congress—will spread the good word about American free enterprise. So much the better if they take their guns with them to display as tokens of our democracy and the rich culture it supports.

Gun control: Firearms (“guns” is a negative term) constitute more than a right. Firearms enable a citizen defense force (“militia” is a negative term) instantly ready to repel Al Qaeda or the Taliban—not to mention the Chinese and the United Nations. Let hostile forces attempt marine landings in Maine, Miami, Mobile or Malibu (San Francisco’s out—water’s way too cold). Or airborne assaults on Altoona, Atlanta, Abilene or Albuquerque. Americans will handle it. We have to. It takes minutes to scramble American fighter jets over Milwaukee and hours to move rapid-reaction ground forces to Austin. By then aggressors could be eating our double-bacon-double-cheeseburgers and chili fries for lunch.

Gay marriage: Every American is precious. But let’s not forget that the American family—Dad, Mom, Junior and Janie Sue—built this country. They also need our love and protection—which they didn’t get in Newtown, Connecticut because the local school board was too pansy-pink-liberal to put not just one but two armed cops in each school with a SWAT team on alert from dawn to dusk each school day. No, the people of Newtown cared more about visiting Planned Parenthood, maxing out their Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits, collecting welfare checks and coddling illegal aliens.

Whoa! Putting a happy face on the GOP might be a struggle after all. But still, it’s possible. Like calling cyanide coated in chocolate a gourmet candy—as long as we keep the Food and Drug Administration out of Americans’ business and let the marketplace decide.

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Read the first three chapters of David’s new novel, SAN CAFÉ at davidperlstein.com. SAN CAFÉ is available at iUniverse.com, Amazon.com and bn.com.

WHAT IF?

At year’s end, the United States faces interesting questions. What if our economy really is improving? What if the naysayers are wrong about the President’s position on taxes and spending cuts? And what if Washington responds accordingly? I’m not wearing rose-colored glasses, but a level of optimism may be justified. Here’s why…

First-time unemployment claims dropped to 350,000 for the week ending Dec. 20. The current four-week moving average stands at 356,750—the lowest since March 2008. Some economists tagged 400,000 as the milestone for stopping job loss and 350,000 as the target for meaningful job growth. We’re getting close. Oh, and in October (the most recent date for figures), single-family home prices rose for the ninth month in a row. Meanwhile in November, contracts for home resales hit a 2-1/2 year high.

Good news about the Treasury, too. It recently sold the last of its shares in the insurance giant, AIG. The $182 billion bailout rankled some people—particularly Tea Partiers—but America’s financial system was on the brink. And while the matter should never be considered a business opportunity for Washington, the Treasury cleared a $22.7 billion profit.

The government also is getting out of General Motors. Steven Rattner (The New York Times, Dec. 19) wrote that Washington should recover all but $14 billion of the $82 billion in TARP funds invested in Detroit (Chrysler also needed assistance; Ford made it through on its own). Auto sales have increased from 10.4 million in 2009 to a projected 15 million-plus for 2012. Moreover, Rattner reports, as many as 250,000 workers have been added.

Just as encouraging, American manufacturing may be coming back. In the Dec. 2012 Atlantic, Charles Fishman writes about General Electric bringing appliance manufacturing onshore from China. Why? Product designers, production specialists and marketers can all work face to face. GE is lowering manufacturing costs while eliminating shipping costs from Asia. In the same edition, James Fallows writes about small start-up companies designing and manufacturing products here (San Francisco is on the cutting edge) to respond faster to market demand. We won’t re-capture all our lost jobs, and new jobs will require more education. But the future offers exciting new opportunities.

Add to that, the U.S. may be heading towards energy self-sufficiency and more. Roger Cohen pointed out in the Times (Dec. 14) that the U.S. National Intelligence Council (NIC) sees the nation being a major energy exporter as soon as 2020. This will result from new technologies enabling dramatic increases in the production of shale oil and natural gas. There are risks, yes. But risks can be overcome. Improved mileage standards will help, too. Cohen cites the NIC study: “The prospect of significantly lower energy prices will have significant positive ripple effects for the U.S. economy, encouraging companies to take advantage of lower energy prices to locate or relocate to the U.S.”

I’ve always believed in American ingenuity and flexibility. What if Congress—particularly Speaker John Boehner—demonstrates enough ingenuity and flexibility to believe in our nation’s strengths and turn away from the Fiscal Cliff lying in wait? What if they got out of the way and actually put America first?

May the New Year be a good one for you!

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Read the first three chapters of David’s new novel, SAN CAFÉ at davidperlstein.com. SAN CAFÉ is available at iUniverse.com, Amazon.com and bn.com.

QUESTIONS

The election is over. We can all take a breath. But that breath better be short. Because looking back—and forward—a lot of questions come to mind.

1. If the nation is as bad off as so many people believe, why did President Obama win? Discontent should have swept Mitt Romney into the Oval Office as it did Ronald Reagan in 1980 when he trounced Jimmy Carter. Granted, Mr. Obama won on a narrow popular-vote basis. Do those who voted for him know something about this nation that Romney supporters don’t? (Thursday’s report of first-time state jobless claims dropped to 355,000, a continuing sign that employment is slowly expanding.) Can Republicans learn something from this election?

2. If the Republican Party is a party of “old white men,” how did Mr. Romney come so close? The GOP seems trapped within a narrowing demographic. Yet many disaffected voters who aren’t “old white men” almost put Mitt Romney in the White House. The ideologues on the right opposed Obama from day one. But many Americans who voted for Obama in 2008 or didn’t take to Romney demonstrated disappointment with the President’s  record. What did they think Obama should have done? What does Obama believe he should do differently? Can Democrats learn something from this election?

3. Will Congressional leaders choose patriotism over power? House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi face re-election every two years. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—who elevated making Mr. Obama a one-term president to the top of his priority list in 2008—also faces re-election in 2014. Senate Majority leader Harry Reid has until 2016. All want to be re-elected. Have they and other Congressional leaders the courage to move to the center and end Washington’s gridlock? Or will they keep pandering to their political bases and hold the nation hostage to their ambitions? Can Congress learn something from this election?

4. Will the American people face reality? Many Americans believe that the President and Congress can control both the domestic economy and global economy. Washington can regulate pragmatically to help prevent the kind of economic bubble that led to the Great Recession. It also can encourage the building of infrastructure, from roads and bridges to better schools. But what assurances can it make of success? Will Americans continue to believe that the economy can be controlled like a dancing bear in a circus? On the geopolitical front, the U.S. can help foster positive outcomes. But do we really believe that “American Exceptionalism”—and this indeed is a great nation—grants us not only the right to recreate the world in our image but also the unfettered ability to do so? What lessons have we taken from Iraq and Afghanistan? Can the American people learn something from this election?

America in 2012 is not the America of 1952… or 1972… or 1992. The rest of the world has changed even more. One of our great strengths is flexibility. Will we use it? Or will holdouts on the edges of the right and left look backward?

I believe that Americans can look forward to better times. But we will never provide suitable answers to our extensive challenges until we start asking suitable questions.

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Read the first three chapters of David’s new novel, SAN CAFÉ at davidperlstein.com. SAN CAFÉ is available at iUniverse.com, Amazon.com and bn.com.