‘Three things cannot be hidden: the Sun, the Moon and the truth’

Buddha sure had that right. For hardly a day goes by that the true story about someone or something doesn’t surface in the media or by word of mouth.
And that tends to be more prevalent at all levels of government, when it’s revealed that an office holder has been caught up in a web of deceit. And then tries to weasel their way out of it, or by shifting the blame for their misdeeds to others.
Much to his chagrin, the Guv of New Jersey, finds himself embroiled in such a difficult situation, besieged as he is daily (if not hourly) by a torrent of accusations questioning what role he may have played in the ill-fated decision to close lanes of George Washington Bridge-ostensibly for the purpose of conducting a traffic study by the Port Authority-that resulted in traffic jams of monumental proportion.
And his repeated denials of any involvement in it whatsoever-claiming that he only knew about it afterwards, not beforehand-has been taken by the print media and political pundits with more like a mountain of salt than a mere grain.
But in a dramatic turn of events, a former close ally of Christie, David Wildstein, who he’d appointed to an executive position at the Port Authority, suddenly became his “Brutus,” by indicating through his lawyer that he knew about the lane closures “as they were happening.” An allegation that the governor’s office adamantly denies.
Then, as politicians are prone to do whenever barbs and arrows are slung their way, his staff has mounted an aggressive smear campaign against his accuser, going so far as to unearth his high school records, which, in so many words, described him as a “troublesome student, giving to unruly behavior in the classrooms.” (If mine were ever checked, I wouldn’t be here today writing blogs.)
It, of course, remains to be seen whether he can produce the documentation, he says he has, to back up his charges when he testifies before the various legislative committees and in his response to possible inquiries by federal prosecutors.
So, what it comes down to, is will he be proven to be as credible as, say, John Dean, the White House lawyer during Nixon’s presidency was is his testimony before the 1973 Senate Watergate Committee that set the stage for Nixon’s downfall?
Or will his claim of Christie being, in effect, a boldface liar be discredited, and his underlying motive for challenging Christie’s truthfulness be, as the spokesperson in Christie’s camp alleges, to turn the spotlight away from himself and to seek immunity from prosecution for carrying out the cryptic message he’d received from Christie’s administrative aide, Bridget Kelly, to proceed “creating the traffic problems?”
Although it’d been only a one in a million chance of nipping her scheme in the bud, it could have happened, if perchance someone else on his staff was aware of what she was up to and raised a quizzical eyebrow over the strangely-worded message she sent to her co-conspirator.
As to how many other heads besides Kelly’s will roll before the final curtain descends on this fiasco is unknown at this juncture. And unlikely as it may be, it could end up being Christie’s by his impeachment.
Personally, I consider it inconceivable, that known as he is as a hands-on guy, who runs a tight ship and who prides himself on being mindful at all times of any real or potential problems he’s faced with, could have been unaware of the plot being hatched by an administrative aide on her own, supposedly in retaliation for a certain Democratic mayor not endorsing his reelection. It just doesn’t pass the smell test. .
But one thing for sure, is that the fallout from that debacle, regardless of whether it either confirms or disproves his veracity as regards his involvement in the matter, will be to derail his presidential aspirations beyond repair, as well as doing irreparable damage to his heretofore cordial and effective working relationship with the Democratic controlled legislature.
Alas, so it goes in the grimy, cut-throat world of politics.
Quote of the day: “It’s better to tell a good lie than a well-known fact.” Chinese proverb

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It’s de ja vu all over again

That’s one of my favorite yogi-isms from Yogi Berra, which humorous as it is, accurately depicts the Donnybrook that occurs like clockwork when the funding for the school system is debated in the annual budget process.

And true to form, this year’s go-around is off to a rousing start, with the same commissioners at loggerheads as to how much of the amount of money requested by the Board of Education should be allocated.

As always, it has the Rothschild-Frazier twosome pitted against the Howard-Shoemaker faction, with the former (as per usual) wanting to cut the amount to the bone, while the pro full-funders support it.

But there’s a new wrinkle added to this year’s debate, brought about by Howard and Shoemaker scheduling a series of public meetings on the upcoming discussions on the budget by the commissioners, which were to be held within the five voting districts from 1/7 to 2/3.

Topping the subjects to be aired was, not surprisingly, that old bugaboo of school funding.

While the obvious reason, that Howard and Shoemaker had in mind in setting up the meetings was to gain public support for their position, it had the resultant effect (intended or not) of putting their opponents on the defensive.

And from what I read in a 1/9 article written by a reporter of the Baltimore Sun (who was on the scene at the first meeting), that’s exactly what happened, what with Rothschild and Frazier resorting to taking pot-shots-from their seats in the audience-at Howard while he was speaking, and later telling the Sun reporter that they viewed his presentation as “deceptive.”

So much for the unity of purpose and camaraderie the commissioners proudly proclaimed having as they took office, and dubbing themselves as the “Fighting 57th,” when, as their constant squabbling has shown, they’ve become the in-Fighting 57th.

It should, however, be interesting to see what shenanigans or gimmicks they come with at the remaining meetings, short of recruiting those of like mind to form picket lines.

Gosh, I sure hope I didn’t give them a tactic to consider using.

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Republicans sounding like a broken record

As I watched from the grandstand (pun intended), more with bemusement than intense interest, the current majority of Republicans in the House, spearheaded by members of the Tea Party, remaining as steadfast in their resolve to stop (or at least delay) the Affordable Care Act from being implemented, as if it were their birthrights at stake, I kept hearing Frank (“Old blue eyes”) Sinatra’s Cole Porter song ringing in my ears: It seems to me I’ve heard that song before, from an old familiar score I know it well, that melody.

For ironically, Social Security and Medicare faced the same arguments and vehement opposition, and yet today’s House Republicans wouldn’t dare call for the abolishment of either one because it would be political suicide, plain and simple.

In retrospect, the 1935 Social Security Act was challenged in two separate lawsuits by Republicans and corporate interests as being unconstitutional and an illegal federal contributory insurance program, which ended up with the U.S. Supreme Court upholding that law in a 7-2 ruling, stating it promoted “the general welfare” of the nation.

Similarly, when Medicare was created in 1965, it met the same type of opposition by Republicans; namely, that it was an unearned entitlement and would, like the Social Security Act, lead to socialism. (Sounds familiar to what’s heard today, doesn’t it?)

A harsher view of it was preceded by President Reagan’s ominous warning in 1961, that “if Medicare isn’t stopped, you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once like in America when men were free.”

And later in 1964, George H.W. Bush described Medicare “as socialized medicine,” with Barry Goldwater adding his per usual rancorous comments that year by asking, “having given our pensioners their free medical care, why not food baskets, why not public accommodations, why not vacation resorts, why not a ration of cigarettes for those who smoke and of beer for those who drink?

Setting aside all the hubbub and chest-beating that prevails in Washington, the way I see it coming to an end, is once most Americans (even the most skeptical among them) have a clearer understanding of the basic benefits to be realized under the Affordable Care Act-such as, extending coverage to 32 million people who are currently uninsured, reducing the cost of care, preventing insurers from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, and allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26- they’ll come to accept and praise its benefits with the same vim and vigor as they do those they receive under the Social Security and Medicare programs, that have given those in the “Golden years” a new lease-on-life, and a less worrisome one to boot.

A major stumbling-block that has to be removed, however, in order to bring that about, is to dispel the illusion that more than a few people have (based on recent polls) that the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare are not one and the same; and that, according to those polls, the former is preferable by a wide margin.

That’s not surprising to me, considering the instant, negative, knee-jerk reaction people often have to anything with which his name is linked, except when, for instance, he pushes for lower middle-class and small business’ taxes.

And even then, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s the color of his skin which contributes to a substantial degree in  preventing his receiving any outpouring of kudos for such positive accomplishments by those wearing  permanently affixed blinders and ear plugs, which they’d opt to wear to the grave before admitting of their prejudice.

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“Retreat hell; we’re just advancing in a different direction”

When the president abruptly retreated from his position to give the go-ahead under his constitutional authority as Commander-In-Chief to attack specific targets in Syria, by choosing instead to request congressional approval of his planned course of action, I had an instant flashback to the Korean War, which I fought in as a 20-year-old, and returned from much older and wiser in mind and spirit.

For it was during the retreat of the Ist Marine Division from the battle at the Chosin Reservoir (which predated my arrival), that the commanding General Oliver P. Smith (nicknamed “O.P.”), uttered  those legendary words quoted in the title.

Though paradoxical as they were, they helped boost the morale of the decimated, battle-weary marines, and allowing them to regroup and withdraw in a more orderly way.

And the justification Obama offered for his holding off on attacking Syria was, in essence, the same sort of double-talk, which, of course, we’re used to hearing from presidents who find themselves in the proverbial “hot seat” on critical foreign policy decisions they’ve made or intend on making.

The difference, however, between those heroic words spoken by that general, which will forever be enshrined in Marine history, and those spoken by the president, is that he’ll go down in the country’s history as a president who, when push came to pull on issues of vital national interest, often lacked the courage of his convictions. Or to use that idiom, “had feet of clay.”

An afterthought on my part was, if only the family’s dogs were running loose and nipping at his heels when he and his chief of staff were taking that long walk on the White House grounds (where he said he had a change of heart about going it alone in punishing Assad), their antics may have distracted his attention enough to keep him from weighing the pros and cons of reneging on his word.

And if so, I wouldn’t have now missed both breakfast and lunch pounding out this blog, which upsets my dog who counts on getting handouts at both meals.

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What would Harry (“the buck stops here”) Truman do?

In a similar situation, where President Obama, who is now agonizing over whether or not to punish Assad for the use of chemical weapons against his own people-by given the green light for the nearby destroyers to launch cruise missiles aimed at strategic targets-he wouldn’t have hesitated  for a moment in giving the order to do so.

For he was not a man to waiver or have second thoughts about keeping his word, such as the promise Obama made to tolerate no crossing of the “red line” by Assad in resorting to using those illegal and inhumane weapons.

And Truman’s resolve to keep his word would but reaffirm the same sort of strong will and political courage he demonstrated so decisively by given the go-ahead to the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan in WW II.

Moreover, he let the opinions of the naysayers in his inner circle who argued against taking such drastic action go, so to speak, in one ear and out the other. And thankfully he did, for by all estimates a land invasion of Japan would have cost the lives of 500,000 or more US troops.

So, the lesson that grows out of that, which Obama would do well to adhere to, is for him to be equally resolute in doing what his gut instincts tells him is the right course to follow as regards the punishment to be inflicted on Assad.

And in so doing, he’d shore up not only his now sagging reputation as the acknowledged leader of the free world, but also send the clear message to tyrants elsewhere that they’d better refrain from embarking on any similar inhumane, maltreatment of their people, lest they, too, be subject to more than just economic sanctions being imposed on them.

Quote of the day: “I never did give them hell; I just spoke the truth, and they thought it was hell.”  Truman explains meaning of “give em hell Harry,” an oft-heard refrain from the crowds during his 1948 whistle-stop presidential campaign.

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Caught red-handed cheating again on promise

I found that heated exchange that took place between commissioners’ Frazier and Howard over the dismissal of a person she’d hired as a “paraprofessional” on Jan. 18, 2013 (at $27.50 per hour), to be as gratifying to hear as it was ludicrous.

While, on one hand, it cleared the air of any doubt as to how members of the board were, from the time they took office, factionalized and “marching to different drummers,”  it illustrated, on the other hand, where mudslinging has a way of boomeranging.

In that regard, I would hark back to my blog of November 21, 2011, titled “A Rose is a Rose by any Name,” in which I charged, in my usual not too subtle manner, both Howard and Rothschild of having played the same form of subterfuge themselves. (Or the political shell game as I call it.)

For despite their having pledged at an open meeting (reported in a Carroll County Times editorial of 5/8/2011) as part of their reducing the costs of running the board “to get rid of special assistants,” they cleverly (or so they thought), in order to avoid being accused of reneging on their promise labeled the newly created positions to be held by two individuals as “Administrative Coordinators.”

The first one of which was to work for Rothschild (at a salary of $25,000 for a 25 hours workweek); and a private lawyer to work for Howard (at a salary of $35,000 for a 30 hours workweek.)

It’s too bad that both they and Frazier didn’t heed the warning words in that song, I’m forever blowing bubbles before blowing their own, that were bound to burst in the air.

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What Anthony Weiner and Jimmy Swaggart have in common

That was the clear, unmistakable comparison I found myself drawing between them, from the moment I heard of Weiner making a public mea culpa for a newfound sex scandal that had surfaced during his mayoral run.

For although they lived in different times and gained prominence in their respective vocations-the former, a politician who resigned from Congress in disgrace for his explicit text messages; and the latter, a preeminent televangelist, who was defrocked for consorting with prostitutes-the common thread was that they both were guilty of having committed similar offenses subsequent to their initial fall from grace.

Their public confessions of their moral turpitude, differed more in the way they came across than in their content, what with Swaggart’s display of contrition delivered in a highly emotional, manner (chuck full of sobs and tears) before a stunned congregation of 7,000 in 1988, while Weiner’s, in both his first and second one, were presented in a matter-of-fact tone, sounding more like he was speaking about the latest market trends before a college class in economics than an admission of his willful, oft-recurring misconduct before New Yorker’s, whose forgiveness and continuing support he sought.

While it’s a toss-up as to whose confessions are more scandalous, I consider Weiner’s dalliances and infidelity less offensive than Swaggart’s yielding to ‘the temptations of the flesh.”

And I say that, because I’ve long since growing accustom to politicians at every level of government and stripe (congressmen in particular) going down that same inexcusable, self-destruction path , whose  names and positions would fill up a ledger. (Wilber Mills, the redoubtable  Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means committee set the pattern followed by others by his affair in 1974 with stripper Fannie Foxe, the”Argentine Firecracker.” (Both of whom were found drunk out of their minds by police in a Tidal Basin pool.

Swaggart, on the other hand, is a hypocrite of the first order. For in his having always being a firebrand on moral behavior and demon lust, it was he who had wielded the avenger’s sword, smiting Jim Bakker’s rival PTL network in particular as “a cancer on the body of Christ.”

Ironically, it was his doing in his rivals with his righteous tale-telling-a la Bakker’s affair with church secretary Jessica Hahn- that laid the groundwork for his own downfall.

And I betcha Tammy Wynette is grinning from ear to ear over the way Weiner’s spouse is living up to the title of her song, Stand by your Man. Rather than regurgitating at the thought of it, as many women undoubtedly are.

Quote of the day: “Three things in life can ruin a man: booze, money and women.”  Harry Truman

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