Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Van Magness on NECN

Fred Van Magness was a guest on NECN's Morning Show twice this week to discuss the presidential election and GOP primaries in Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Delaware.

Here are the links to the videos:

April 24, 2012

April 25, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Barack Obama: When Being Transcendental Becomes Presidential

Mirroring the historic campaign that swept him into office in 2008, much of Barack Obama's presidency has been built upon a fundamental desire to solve problems by transcending traditional political relationships and understandings.

Evidence of this spirit has been clear from the earliest moments of the Obama Administration.

For example, it was a highly-transcendental spirit that served as the underpinning of Obama's inaugural address on January 20, 2009:

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics…. There are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans…. What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long, no longer apply."

The same theme was echoed by the President on June 4, 2009 in a major foreign policy speech delivered to the Muslim world at Cairo University:

"I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world…. We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written."

Likewise in the President's address to Congress about health care reform on September 4, 2009:

"The time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action. Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together, and show the American people that we can still do what we were sent here to do."

Yet, for all of his desire to be transcendental, President Obama's first term has seen little tangible progress on the issues that served to catapult Obama into office back in 2008 -- most notably, the economy.

The reason, we believe, is that Obama entered the presidency ill-prepared to deal with the size and scope of the substantial problems confronting the nation when he took office.

Despite sporting a wealth of Harvard-educated intellect, Obama's role as a freshman senator gave him little time to form the relationships and gain the practical experience necessary to achieve success on the national political level by 2008.

What it did give him, however, was a platform from which the former community organizer could deliver lofty speeches based on his gift for inspiring, passionate oratory.

Hence, Obama the candidate expounded on the "audacity of hope" and encouraged all Americans to overcome the differences that divide us to realize a common sense of purpose. In other words, he encouraged transcendence as a way to achieve prosperity.

A noble goal, no doubt.

However, the desire of one to transcend a certain condition is absolutely meaningless unless it is firmly rooted in a mastery and dominance of the condition itself.

As they say, windmills aren't usually built within the sky; they are mere mirages if they lack a solid foundation. So, too, is much of Obama's first-term agenda. It is a highly-liberal mirage in search of a solid foundation.

In consistently trying to transcend the thorny issues that underlie national and international problems, President Obama has either ignored or purposely avoided addressing these issues head-on. He talks about problems, but he doesn't solve them. And, in the process, he has made the meaningful change he campaigned on in 2008 practically impossible. He has also shown that he, himself, is not above leveling partisan blame when things don't go his way.

The White House believes its central role is to pacify the turbulent political waters in Washington to create a condition where change can occur. Once such a condition is created, the process of solving national problems is essentially crowd-sourced to the supportive masses who will have set aside their differences in search of a common purpose.

Calling for the nation to come together is unquestionably good. But, it's simply not good enough. Presidential leadership demands more, particularly in troubled times.

Being president means solving real problems by offering real solutions and finding ways to accomplish them. And, it's at exactly this point that the Obama Administration falls woefully short. President Obama has no solutions to offer at a time when America needs real solutions the most.

Thus, by choosing to call merely for transcendence instead of solving problems on his own, President Obama has shown that America's challenge isn’t just that we need a new mindset. It's not just that we need to be transcendent.

What we need is to elect a new president.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Tim Cahill -- Public Enemy Number One? Please...

Maybe we're going soft, but... we're feeling sorry for Tim Cahill today.

This is not to say we forgive Cahill for doing something wrong, if that's indeed what happened. Published reports indicate that Cahill apparently was involved in a decision to run promotional ads for the state Lottery (using public funds set aside for that purpose) as a way to give lift to his simultaneous independent run for Governor. Using public money for personal gain is wrong, and those who do it should be punished. Period.

But, that's exactly our point. Right now, there are hundreds of people sitting on Beacon Hill (or back in their "district offices" on a nice springtime day) who routinely commit the same type of abuse in some way, shape, or form, or to differing degrees. (Joe Battenfeld lays out some excellent examples in his Boston Herald column here.) Those elected officials are not preparing for criminal trials today; they're preparing to take off on school vacation week.

In our observation, all of the laws that are passed to "clean up Beacon Hill" seem to stop at the doors of the State House, which makes them nothing more than window dressing intended for good press.

For an example separate from Cahill, look at the recent wave of indictments involving former Probation officials, who allegedly were conspiring to run a racket to get people patronage jobs. We get it -- running a racket is wrong, it's despicable, and it should get you in trouble. But, as they say, "it takes two to tango." If there was a racket, who was on the other side of it? If people in powerful public offices were funneling constituents for jobs as a way to curry electoral favor, weren't they accessories? And, to complete the thought -- while Commissioner O'Brien and his colleagues might have been more guilty of committing a crime by handing out patronage jobs, wasn't the greater betrayal of public trust committed by those seeking benefits for their own political gain?

Again, window dressing. As Senate President Therese Murray said in a Boston Herald story on the subject, "I can assure you I wasn't nervous." Our point.

Why should politicians on Beacon Hill be worried about anything? They get good press for passing pro-ethics laws, but they do not suffer consequences for violating them -- unless, apparently, if they leave their party and run for statewide office as an independent and lose, which leads us to think that this is at least partly why Tim Cahill is the one taking the fall today. And, these same solons will likely be issuing official press releases in just a few short weeks, spending public resources (staff, stationery, etc.) to promote money they're bringing home to their districts as part of the state budget -- at about the same time their nomination papers are due. Call us crazy, but we highly doubt they're going to be next to appear before a judge.

Doesn't Attorney General Martha Coakley have anything better to do? Is this her highest priority right now as the state's top law enforcement official? Shouldn't the priority be on making sure there is no current abuse of public funds? Or doing anything else?

And, while we're on the subject -- if it's wrong to use public resources for advertisements that result in political gain, why did the Attorney General stage an elaborate press rollout of the indictment against Cahill?

Sorry, but taking down Tim Cahill is not going to change the culture on Beacon Hill. It merely makes a mockery of the entire process.