SOMETIMES THERE'S A REASON TO BE UNREASONABLE
Mark Funkhouser won Kansas City's mayoral election of 2007 by a scant margin. He was one of a crowded 13 candidate primary, eventually narrowed down to a race between him and a well-known city council incumbent. Thus far his first term has been one mired in massive media attacks, lawsuits, and general acrimony. He had my support from the first moments he vacated his long time post as Kansas City auditor. He got my vote on Election Day. He was an invited guest on my radio show each Friday for the last three years. Last Friday, that all changed.
Funkhouser's first major public battle during his first year in office galvanized my support for the man. He appointed an elderly woman named Francis Semler to the city's park board. The post was purely voluntary, and unpaid. Her love of gardens and city green space made her the perfect fit. Nevertheless, Semler was the focus of a national debate when it was disclosed that she was also a member of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps. The organization gained national recognition for their strong stance on border enforcement and their voluntary, physical presence on our nation's southern border.
The activist left revolted and targeted Semler as a racist and Funkhouser as a tacit endorser of racism in standing by her appointment. The NAACP and LaRaza both blasted Funkhouser and the city, vowing to cancel any future convention business and encouraged other organizations to do the same. Nonetheless, Funkhouser remained "unreasonably" loyal to Ms. Semler and stood with her until the public pressure grew too great and she resigned.
There have certainly been other political problems for the mayor. His "unreasonable" support for his strong-willed and opinionated wife as an unpaid office volunteer drew an internal lawsuit. His rocky relationship with the former city manager and an opportunistic city council often formed an unholy alliance to leave Funkhouser the lone "unreasonable" voice and vote on many issues.
His "unreasonable" selection of his favorite "right wing nut," yours truly, to light the Mayor's Christmas tree lit every Kansas City liberal's hair on fire. His weekly appearances on my radio show continue to infuriate the left. Simply put, Mark Funkhouser hasn't many friends in politics or the press. Politics wasn't his game, and that made him "unreasonably" charming.
Sadly, Mr. Funkhouser has been studying his political playbook lately. A resolution drafted by two radical, left wing city council members to rebuke Arizona's latest crack-down on illegal immigration was offered to a vote of the Kansas City council. The resolution calls on Arizona to retract its legislation and condemns the state's legislature for inviting racial profiling and harassment by law enforcement. The vote to support the city's resolution was 13-0, with support from every member of the council, including the mayor.
During his weekly visit to my radio show, Funkhouser defended his vote. When asked if he'd read the Arizona law he voted the day before to rebuke, he confessed he had not. When confronted with the numbers of an overwhelming national majority siding with Arizona's new law, Funkhouser played an alarmingly cynical card. He suggested that a majority once favored the segregation of blacks in our country as well. This is a highly irresponsible comparison for a host of reasons, chiefly as it cannot be verified. Even accepting the premise, the suggestion that securing our borders and arresting law breakers is akin to separate drinking fountains and forcing persons of color to ride at the back of the bus is laughably absurd.
Disappointed, infuriated, and insulted, I ended the interview abruptly and have temporarily suspended the segment going forward. I have asked listeners to weigh in on the situation. Ultimately, however the decision is mine. Just as it was my decision three years ago to create the weekly feature. Just as it was my decision as a Kansas Citian to give him my vote.
Some of my regular listeners have suggested this is akin to me "taking my ball and going home." Others have opined it is nothing more than a fear of debating people with whom I disagree. Even though we disagree, some say, it is important for me to continue to challenge and confront him "reasonably”--as though my show is a classroom lecture in theory.
No, this issue is far too important. I don't write this column or host 20 hours of radio a week based in theory. I have core principals and beliefs in right and wrong. Heretofore, the mayor and I parted as friends on dress codes, urban core violence, land development, and taxes. But those were city issues. Civic issues. Issues with which a mayor and city council should only concern themselves.
But Mayor Funkhouser and the Kansas City council stepped into decidedly "unreasonable" territory that was not their per-view. They took a stand against our nation's laws. They took a stand against state sovereignty. They took a stand against the will of the American people. It is not puzzling. It is not "reasonably" debatable. It is wrong.
At the end of my show last Friday, one of the mayor's staff pleaded with me to be "reasonable." I needed to understand that the mayor was in a lose-lose position with his vote. I have no doubt that is true. Some have suggested my ban of Mayor Funkhouser going forward is a losing proposition as well.
Truly, I'm not terribly concerned about my decision because I know I was true to myself. I make decisions about my show and take positions on the air rooted in my convictions and beliefs every day. The revenue and ratings the show pulls will ultimately determine my success.
If that sounds "unreasonable," then so be it. If Mayor Funkhouser's vote and subsequent justification for it is considered "reasonable," then I wish him all the best. But I have a feeling Mr. Funkhouser's just "reasoned" himself out of a second term. Meanwhile, you'll continue to hear me being "unreasonable" every morning well beyond the next election.
(Listen to Stigall each weekday morning on KCMO 710 AM and read him each week, only in The Landmark. Email him at email@example.com)
SUPERMAN MEETS HIS MATCH
“This was the moment when the rise of the ocean begins to slow and our planet begins to heal!” Those were the words of a mere mortal man with seemingly super-human leadership abilities. Barak Obama on the campaign trail back in 2008 would so often remind us in crowded arenas and non-stop, wall-to-wall paid television spectaculars that “We were the ones we’ve been waiting for!” A year and a half later, the Gulf Coast is still waiting for that superhero.
President Obama is looking more Earthly these days as we head into month number two of a spewing oil and gas leak 5,000 feet below the Gulf. In fact, rather than a “Superman” with power unlimited, President Obama sounds more like a bumbling Clark Kent. This week, a political blogger at The Hill released a tale of a behind the scenes White House meeting regarding the oil disaster which painted a decidedly less confident picture:
But to those tasked with keeping the president apprised of the disaster, Obama's clenched jaw is becoming an increasingly familiar sight. During one of those sessions in the Oval Office the first week after the spill, a president who rarely vents his frustration cut his aides short, according to one who was there.
"Plug the damn hole," Obama told them.
Plug the damn hole, indeed. Amazingly, my great Uncle Ken, my grandfather, and next door neighbor all made the same statement. I had no idea I had such leadership in my immediate circle!
When former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin came to town this month, I had the opportunity to ask her specifically about the ongoing disaster in the Gulf and if it has changed her position on domestic oil drilling. While Palin called the BP rig accident a “tragedy,” she remained committed to the necessity and importance of continued domestic oil exploration.
The press has been absolutely apoplectic at Palin’s reaction, almost snickering as they report her continued support for “big oil.” Once again, a woman once deemed “irrelevant” months ago is being treated as though she’s still a candidate running for the highest office in the land. Why? Because Palin knows of what she speaks here, while President Obama displays an utter lack of capability.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs became more than a little snippy when cornered with Palin’s assertion last week that the Obama administration was “too cozy” the oil industry. Among other petulant retorts, Gibbs suggested Palin become “more informed” on what is going on within the oil industry.
Is he serious? You can say a lot of things about Alaska’s former governor, but on the subject of “drill, baby drill,” there’s no national public figure more informed on this issue. Yes, even more than our White House “Superman.”
Palin’s track record with oil companies is one of tough oversight, and no cozy deals. While understanding her state’s rich potential, she became known as a hard-bargaining executive with those who wished to capitalize on those riches. A simple internet search leads to a vast collection of stories that speak to her expertise in managing a relationship with “big oil.”
Driving home the point, Palin responded via her Facebook page this week in a lengthy and frankly embarrassingly informed post on just what leaders do in an oil crisis:
“… let me make a constructive suggestion to help the White House out of its current impasse. They should reach out to the best oil and gas team in the nation and tap into its expertise. I know just the team: Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources, led by Commissioner Tom Irwin. Having worked with Tom and his DNR team as Governor, I can vouch for their expertise and their integrity in dealing with Big Oil and overseeing its developments.
“We all lived and worked through the Exxon oil spill, and we all committed to the principle that this would never happen again in Alaska’s waters, at least not on our watch. That’s why we created the Petroleum Systems Integrity Office (PSIO) when we saw proof of improper maintenance of oil infrastructure in our state. And that’s why we instituted new oversight and held BP and other oil companies financially accountable for poor maintenance practices. And that’s why we cracked down on unethical and unsound practices by oil companies and their contractors that operate in Alaska… Our relationship with Big Oil may have been perceived as contentious because we always put the interests of Alaskans first.”
Palin’s suggestion that the Obama team was too cozy with big oil received such a sensitive reaction from the White House simply because the truth hurts. ABC News reported last week that in the 16 months from January 2009 through April 2010, the Obama Administration failed to inspect Deepwater Horizon four times – in May 2009, August 2009, December 2009, and January 2010. The reasons for the lack of inspections, sources said, were logistic. Further, it was learned that President Obama was the single biggest beneficiary of BP campaign donations in the last election. Sounds pretty cozy, doesn’t it?
In a time of crisis, real leadership is needed. Speeches don’t cut it. Avoidable crises need leadership, too. Not finger-pointing and lectures on accountability once the crisis has already occurred. Governor Palin should have been one of the first calls President Obama made upon hearing the news from the Gulf. He could have learned something about leadership, oil drilling, and crisis management.
The Gulf tragedy has proven to be our White House Superman’s kryptonite. Turns out the “one we’ve been waiting for” was a “Wonder Woman.”
(Listen to Stigall each weekday morning on KCMO 710 AM and read him each week, only in The Landmark. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
THE CHANGING MESSAGE OF CHANGE
Wait just a minute. Was that our president bemoaning technological advancement last weekend? The president with whom the nation's kids are supposedly in love? The man who became the first president to use a Blackberry, holstered to his hip at all times? Surely this visionary for our nation's future didn't just proclaim technology a threat, did he? Oh, but he did. The question is, why?
Speaking to the graduates of Hampton University last Sunday, President Obama warned of technology placing a strain on our democracy:
“Meanwhile, you're coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't rank all that high on the truth meter. With iPods and iPads; Xboxes and PlayStations; information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment. All of this is not only putting new pressures on you; it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy.”
Setting aside Obama's obvious dislike of talk radio for a moment, and exempting Xboxes and Playstations as they are purely recreational. Let us focus on iPods and iPads specifically. These are unbelievable advancements in the portability and accessibility of information. Never before has more information been more readily available, and on-demand than today. There can be no disputing that. So why would this be “pressure” on our democracy?
At the heart of such a statement, at the heart of this commencement address is, simply put, a frightened, indoctrinated soul. We find a man clinging to a narrow, limited worldview that is in the process of crumbling all around him. There is too much media, too many blogs, websites, talk radio stations, and cable channels to possibly control them all. Spin is stopped almost as soon as it starts, and that's all this administration has offered America. Controlled spin and half-truths.
Apple Computer products like iPads and iPhones are just a few of the new portals of information and entertainment. They are simply part of the pursuit of happiness in the twenty-first century. They are a part of the never-ending technological breakthroughs that can free minds and turn the pages of history. They are the new frontier for the imagination. This is a new age of discovery where we all have unlimited access to libraries of information and high tech playgrounds.
And that scares Barack Obama.
A self-proclaimed "progressive," Barack Obama comes off as an enemy of progress in this speech. You hear a man who fears new ideas and new ways to explore. Barack Obama assumes that an education can only come from a university in a lecture hall. A university, of course, that attempts to indoctrinate his failed, leftist ideology. Obama is a control freak fearing anything that doesn't support his narrow, peculiar worldview. Need proof? Here's another excerpt of Sunday's address:
“It's a period of breathtaking change, like few others in our history. We can't stop these changes, but we can adapt to them. And education is what can allow us to do so. It can fortify you, as it did earlier generations, to meet the tests of your own time...”
Didn't President Obama want “change” when he was elected in 2008? He was the change agent, was he not? Now that his party is threatened with "change," he's “Mr. Status Quo” trying to adapt to all this “breathtaking change.”
Why the denunciation of the freedom to explore, play and think in one's own way and on one's own time? Mr. Obama's commencement speech was an attack on everything that young people find stimulating and exciting. It is an attack on freedom. But it is more than that. This speech reveals a man who was indoctrinated from the time he learned to speak and desperately wants to preserve that world.
Obama's narrow, theoretical universe disintegrates every time it meets reality, and it is all he knows. He is threatened by anything he perceives as disruptive to the Marxist fairy tale he was told as a boy and a young adult in Jeremiah Wright's bigoted, Marxist church. What Obama portrays as a grand vision for the pursuit of happiness is, in reality, a narrow personal experience. That is Obama's "normal."
Free markets, individualism, American exceptionalism - these uniquely American ideas frighten and threaten Barack Obama. We're talking about a man who wants to control information to make damn certain no one gets any ideas that conflict with his upbringing. It is perhaps as revealing and sad a portrait as we've seen of President Obama. He is simply a frightened authoritarian who could not be less interested in what the young and young at heart enjoy and use every day.
The candidate of “hope and change” now finds his support eroding and the youth vote waning in inspiration and interest in his mythical candidacy of old. Now he finds himself “hoping” he can “change” their minds.
(Listen to Stigall each weekday morning on KCMO 710 AM and read him each week, only in The Landmark. Email him at email@example.com)
SHOULD WE JUST SHUT EVERYTHING DOWN?
Sometimes procrastination doesn't just put you behind, it takes you out of the game. If the doors close to a meeting at a certain time and you're late, might as well slow down. No need to hurry anymore. You aren't getting in.
Obama is too late to hurry in his reaction to the Gulf oil disaster. The Associated Press and the New York Times agree. In fact, their assessment is more brutal than any “right wing crazy” on the radio.
“Now we have another disaster in more or less the same neck of the woods [as Katrina], and it takes the administration more than a week to really get moving.
“The timetable is damning. The blowout occurred on April 20. In short order, fire broke out on the rig, taking 11 lives, the rig collapsed and oil began leaking at a rate of 40,000 gallons a day. BP tried but failed to plug the well. Even so, BP appears to have remained confident that it could handle the situation with private resources (as did the administration) until Wednesday night, when, at a hastily called news conference, the Coast Guard quintupled its estimate of the leak to 5,000 barrels, or more than 200,000 gallons a day.
“Only then did the administration move into high gear.”
Yes, you read correctly. The New York Times called this Obama's Katrina. Desperate measures were taken at once by the White House to deflect the criticism and get back in the good graces of their favorite propagandists. Secretaries of Homeland Security and Interior took to the air waves over the weekend and early this week with a new narrative. “We've been on this spill since day one.”
The Associated Press didn't buy it:
“That sense of urgency was not so apparent when White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was questioned about the incident April 23, three days after it occurred. At the time he seemed to dismiss its severity and indicated it wouldn't affect Obama's plans to open up new areas of the coast to offshore drilling.
“A week later, Obama was announcing plans for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to review whether new technologies were needed to safeguard against oil spills from deep-water drilling rigs. The president said no new offshore oil drilling leases would be issued without any such safeguards.
“And Napolitano's comments over the weekend about the Pentagon's Day One role seemed a change from last Thursday, when she seemed to indicate the Defense Department was not yet involved in responding to the spill: "If and when they have something to add, we'll certainly make that known," she said.
The administration's evolving rhetoric reflects not only the increasing seriousness of the spill itself, but its determination to be seen as responsive from the get-go and to squelch comparisons to the Bush administration's slow-footed response to Hurricane Katrina.”
Ouch. There's the big “K” word again.
The damage has been done. Just as the Fort Hood shootings, the Christmas Day bomber, and most recently the attempted detonation of a bomb in Times Square. No offensive strategies, just reactive disasters. Confusion, misinformation, and blind luck are all this administration has offered the American public. But terrorism isn't something this administration is interested in handling offensively. Those strategies are saved for their political enemies.
Do you remember when the abortion doctor was murdered in Wichita, Kansas? It took Obama and Eric Holder less than a day to send out the U.S. Marshals to “protect” abortionists around the country. Let that sink in.
As mentioned here in a recent column, the trend of not “passing judgment” on Islamic radicals continues. Yet the same trend of passing judgment on true random accidents and crimes continues as well. It's not a matter of rectifying the immediate problem of an oil spill. It's now a condemnation of oil drilling. Just as coal mining before it. And “reckless” Wall Street “greed” before that.
Shutting down new offshore drilling isn't being prudent. It's political. But keeping with the theme of closing the barn door after the horses are out for a moment, some questions:
Should we stop accepting new Muslim recruits until we figure out what happened at Fort Hood?
Should we stop approving new federally-backed mortgages until we find out exactly what caused the financial meltdown?
Should we put a stop to all new spending in Congress until we find out exactly what caused the massive “red ink spill” into the economy?
Should we put a stop to all new “stimulus” spending until we find out why unemployment surged over 8% when the White House promised the exact opposite?
Should we shut down all new diplomatic activities until we find out why the White House has “spilled” so much bad blood between the United States and Israel?
Should we shut down” Obamacare” until we get our hands around why health care costs as well as health insurance premiums continue to go up?
Should we shut down new speeches from Obama while we study why in every speech he spews more lies and contradictions than most of us can track?
Obama's response to the Gulf Oil spill has been a disaster. So has everything in which this administration has meddled.
Perhaps Obama's idea isn't so bad after all. Indeed, let's shut everything down until we find out what caused this president to destroy everything he's touched.
(Listen to Stigall each morning on KCMO 710 AM and read him each week in your Landmark. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
The success of liberals in power depends largely upon division. There has to be a good guy, and someone wearing the black hat. If you're a woman, you're a victim. If you're black, Latino, or gay, you're a victim. Really, unless you're a white man--congratulations! You're somehow a victim liberals would love to exploit in exchange for more power.
Now, victimhood means you're due some kind of restitution for your painful existence. If Tiger Woods had a meaningless one night stand with you, or your name is Al and you can't get married to Steve, or your illegal cousin was deported--these are all crimes against victims in the liberal view.
For many liberals, the world of community agitating, and protesting, and lawsuits is a pretty great way to make a living. That is until an issue comes along so massive, so universally important to most Americans, it transcends the demographic categories liberals have created for us.
In 2008, California's state ballot featured Proposition 8--effectively a state constitutional ban on gay marriage. "Prop 8" was a called a "bigoted, attack on civil rights" by leftists like the Reverend Al Sharpton.
"An official spokesperson for black America," Rev. Al marched and protested to defeat the initiative. But a funny thing happened. Prop 8 passed, and by a pretty healthy margin. How can this be? Here's how the Associated Press explained it:
"California's black and Latino voters, who turned out in droves for Barack Obama, also provided key support in favor of the state's same-sex marriage ban. Seven in 10 black voters backed a successful ballot measure to overturn the California Supreme Court's May decision allowing same-sex marriage, according to exit polls for The Associated Press. More than half of Latino voters supported Proposition 8, while whites were split."
As it turns out, black and Latino voters didn't seem to embrace the gay community's plight. Many black and Latino families are evangelical and Catholic conservatives on Sundays. And just like white worshipers, the church and its teachings still mean something. That faith transcends liberal victimhood, even among oft-pigeon-holed minorities.
This week some Latino organizations are claiming Arizona's tough new crack down on illegal aliens in their state is an open door for racial profiling. On Monday, the Arizona State Capitol's windows were smeared with refried beans made to look like Nazi swastikas. One local protester made a sign declaring, "No Juan Crow." Never mind Juan translates to John, when in fact they were going for Jim. But I digress.
Now, correct me if I'm wrong here. These protesters are suggesting that deporting illegal aliens to their country of origin is on par with gassing a race of people and segregating another at the water fountain?
Care to put that to a nationwide polling question, my activist friends?
The Rev. Al raced back on the scene this week promising to march on Arizona to protest. But there's another sticky wicket for the good reverend. He even admitted it on his radio show last week:
"There are many in our (black) community that say no. These immigrants are taking our jobs. They're milking our economy, and Reverend, I don't agree with you on that. I have a lot of people even in National Action Network say to me Reverend; I'm with you on a lot of things. I'm not with you on this."
Again, the good reverend wasn't banking on a united, commonly held American sentiment to prevail here. That sentiment is largely economic, and it affects all legal citizens of this country. Especially the legal, minority population.
Barack Obama and the Democrats are ready to paint the majority of the country, once again, as compassionless and out of touch with civil rights. Buried within the latest health insurance takeover bill is a provision to grant every illegal alien government-supplied health insurance one amnesty is granted.
Meanwhile, unemployment rates of legal, minority citizens in the United States are at Depression-level highs. There is a crisis in most every state and it is a crisis of debt. States don't have enough revenue to continue to give assistance to those here legally and in need, much less millions of newly christened citizens via a pen stroke.
Where is the compassion for those who are here legally and want to work? Why push them aside? To pander for votes, of course. That is the "compassion" of liberals. They care about getting reelected, not about helping anyone but themselves back to the seat of power.
Their cynical calculation of pitting races, genders, classes, and sexuality against one another is bound to collapse on itself from time to time. Americans believe in certain undeniable truths no matter their demographics. Most believe in a moral authority not of this Earth. Most believe in earning a living to pursue happiness. Most value what being an American citizen means, especially those who have immigrated legally.
Still, liberals like to define us to divide us. But sometimes it just doesn't work. It's usually when most Americans stand together on important issues. When it really matters to our country, much to the liberal's chagrin, sometimes we're simply red, white and blue.
(Email Chris at email@example.com and listen to him from 5-9 each weekday morning on KCMO 710 AM)
When 29 West Virginia coal miners were killed two weeks ago in an explosion on the job, President Obama was quick to assign blame:
"We cannot bring back the men we lost. What we can do, in their memory, is thoroughly investigate this tragedy and demand accountability."
The shootings at Ft. Hood by an Islamic radical posing as an army officer last year killed 19 people, and wounded many more. President Obama reacted two days later:
"We don't know all the answers yet. And I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts."
When a single fanatic bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City back in 1995, President Clinton was quick to assign blame:
"We hear so many loud and angry voices in America today whose sole goal seems to be to try to keep some people as paranoid as possible and the rest of us all torn up and upset with each other. They spread hate. They leave the impression that -- by their very words, that-- violence is acceptable. You ought to see --I'm sure you are now seeing the reports of some things that are regularly said over the airwaves in America today. It is time we all stood up and spoke against that kind of (pounding podium) reckless speech and behavior."
In 1993, the World Trade Center was bombed by Islamic terrorists. President Clinton seemed less resilient in finding answers:
"I would plead with the American people and the good people of New York to keep your courage up and go on about your lives. I would discourage the American people from overreacting to this."
Memorializing the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombings, President Clinton took to the editorial pages of the New York Times with a pointed warning for those angry with government today:
"As we exercise the right to advocate our views, and as we animate our supporters, we must all assume responsibility for our words and actions before they enter a vast echo chamber and reach those both serious and delirious, connected and unhinged.
In the current climate, with so many threats against the president, members of Congress and other public servants, we owe it to the victims of Oklahoma City, and those who survived and responded so bravely, not to cross it again."
Next week, President Obama will personally fly to West Virginia to memorialize the 29 dead coal miners. Perhaps he'll take the opportunity to remind us of the dangers of coal mining, and why we should seek to stamp out coal all together. Maybe he'll take another shot at the mine operator while he's at it?
Let's face it. Democrats like Clinton and Obama are students of the "Rahm Emmanuel School of Crisis." They know to never let one go to waste when it furthers a political agenda. It's disgusting, cynical, and hopefully transparent.
When a wing-nut militia member blows up a federal building, there's an "important lesson to be learned," say our dynamic Democrat duo. When a wing-nut, anti-abortion fanatic guns down a late term abortionist, we can "learn" from this, too. When a tragedy kills men in a mine, there must be a "lesson" on bad management and greedy capitalism. When Democrats in Congress willfully vote to take over health insurance against the wishes of the majority, we must "caution against and learn" from the rage of the governed. Usually, those "lessons" translate into attacks and takeovers of everything from talk radio to coal mining. Bankers, Wall Street, insurance companies, car companies, energy companies, and everyday Americans protesting their government all "bad actors" from whom we can "learn" to be better, say Democrats like Clinton and Obama. Meanwhile, the true enemy of America looms large and lies in wait to hit another subway station, Army post, or airliner. True random acts of God, insanity, and evil in the United States are usually just that. Random. They are not symptomatic of a larger network. But that's what men like Obama and Clinton would love the middle-of-the-road voters in America to believe.
"Gosh, those tea partiers must be tipping on violent if what President Clinton says is true," some may reason. "Wow, if the President has to protect all abortion clinics with the National Guard, that pro-life movement must be dangerous," say the ill-informed. "Yeah, times are tough. Why should those Wall Street guys get more bonuses? And why does that rich mine owner not care about keeping his workers safe," our Presidents hope you'll conclude.
All the while the network of truly committed warriors out to destroy our homeland looms as focused and lustful for our blood as they've ever been. Their mass murder, attempted bombings, and rage are rooted in a deep, perverted, committed movement to annihilate free people everywhere. Presidents Clinton and Obama assure us these successfully executed acts of terror are "isolated" and we are not to "rush to judgment." November 2010 and 2012 will tell us just how judgment impaired the electorate has become.
(Stigall can be heard each weekday morning on KCMO 710 AM and can be read each week in this spot in The Landmark. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
FLASH MOB FOCUS SHOULD BE ON THREAT, NOT DEMOGRAPHICS
Kansas City's crown jewel is the Country Club Plaza. Yes, the stadiums are great. Certainly the Liberty Memorial is a source of pride. But the Country Club Plaza IS Kansas City. Ask anyone who's visited only a short time what they know about the town. They'll likely say one of three things. "Great ribs," or "Wow, your airport is way out there" come to mind. You'll also likely hear, "I love that beautiful outdoor shopping area. What do you call it?"
Last Saturday night, the city's most famous destination became the scene of a youth mob. Specifically known as a "flash mob." But were you to watch and read local reporting on the mayhem of that evening, you wouldn't have understood the context. Nor would you have understood this is a growing problem in cities across the country.
Instead, local television news as well as the Kansas City Star took the predictable, cheap route. Because this mob of teens and pre-teens happened to be majority black, the focus turned not on what they were doing. Rather, how they were broken up and by whom.
"Now there were some people who were critical of the police response to this incident. They thought they might have gone too far," sensationalized KMBC's crack weekend reporter. "Since last night's (incident), some have told us police acted prejudicially against a predominately black crowd," said the vapid reporter assigned by KCTV.
Not surprisingly, the most vile, irresponsible coverage came from the Kansas City Star's Tony Rizzo. So concentrated was he on creating a story of police abuse, a Star colleague's husband offered "eye witness" testimony:
"Otavio Silva, the husband of Kansas City Star reporter Jill Silva, said he received a face full of pepper spray while he and his dinner party were walking behind a large group of young people.
"Silva said the youths were walking down the sidewalk and he hadn't witnessed them misbehaving when a police car pulled up and officers told them to ‘move on’ before unleashing a blast of the chemical spray."
And so the race-bait trap was set yet again. Lazy, sensational reporting by most of Kansas City's media outlets immediately jumped to the easy, inflammatory narrative that a large group of black teenagers were unfairly and needlessly roughed up by Kansas City cops.
As someone who makes his living following news at both a national and local level, I saw the story as something far more troubling. Monday morning on my radio show and through communication with Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser, I shared my understanding of what had occurred that ugly night on the Plaza.
Philadelphia's Mayor Michael Nutter has been dealing with a rash of youth violence in his city streets. Hundreds of kids will suddenly swarm an area of town and begin fighting, looting, and physically harming residents and property. The term "flash mob" has been used to describe the activity.
The term is tied to social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter. Kids are able to quickly send out messages via such networks declaring where and when to gather. At the same time giving very little warning to anyone that a mob is about to descend on their part of town.
Once Police Chief Corwin and the mayor began using "flash mob" to describe or compare Saturday nights' Plaza ruckus, the press quickly noticed. Suddenly journalists began to research just what a flash mob was and how often they are occurring.
They are an epidemic in Philadelphia and a growing problem here in Kansas City. It was revealed only this week that a group of 800 kids suddenly swarmed a church gathering at a soccer field in Blue Springs last month. Were most of those kids black? Highly doubtful, knowing the demographics of Blue Springs.
The obvious focus in all this should be the size, scope, history, and real threat these flash mobs pose--not their demographic make-up. Were the press in Kansas City left to their own irresponsible devices, this story would have spiraled into nothing more than minorities versus cops. Or ludicrous discussions such as, "Are black people welcome on the Plaza? Story at 10."
Once some responsibility and conscience was injected into the story, we came to learn the facts. Plaza patrons were beaten, mugged, and hospitalized. Diners on patios near the scene were inadvertently swallowed in a cloud of pepper spray police used to disband the group. Restaurant managers had to keep thugs from charging into their buildings.
While unacceptable anywhere, it does not happen on the Country Club Plaza. If allowed to continue unchecked, the city's premier destination will be forever ruined.
Kansas City's press should be deeply ashamed of their laziness and cheap ratings ploys in their initial coverage of this story. Our city's most valuable attraction must be protected and defended at all costs. To allow it to be swallowed by street thugs is unacceptable. And it is preventable.
Prevention starts by telling the truth and identifying the problem. Kansas City media better grow up and accurately report what's happening to their town. Or there won't be much of a town left to cover.
(You can read Stigall in your Landmark each week and listen to him each morning from 5-9 on 710 KCMO-AM. Email him at email@example.com)
BASEBALL SEASON IS HERE, BUT LYING SEEMS TO BE OBAMA'S FAVORITE PASTIME
One of the very first things you learn in politics is "if you don't know the answer to a question, just admit it." Reply with a standard, "I'll look into that and get back with you." Or try, "You know, I'm not familiar with that issue."
When someone lies about an issue of which they're not familiar, it's symptomatic of weakness - a desperate need to be liked or be all things to all people. When someone gets caught lying about something insignificant, they look foolish at least and untrustworthy at worst. Rarely is the President of the United States caught so off-guard as to display all of the above.
This isn't a column about the President's policy decisions. This isn't a commentary on the President's inability to create jobs or his fundamental misunderstanding of how to grow an economy. Nor is this a traditional analysis of his aggressive march to strengthen a centrally-planned, command and control government. Nope, this is the story of a weak man who wants desperately to be loved and adored. A man so consumed with appearing as something he's not he's willing to lie about the supercilious.
It was opening day for baseball fans all across the country this week. Tradition calls for the President to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at one of the major league games. his year, he chose the Washington Nationals game in his back yard. Dressed in a red Nationals jacket, President Obama was announced to the crowd. There was applause, though the booing was evident and fairly pronounced. He took out a Chicago White Sox cap and put it on. Some conspiracy theorists believe wearing the Sox hat in another stadium was a move specifically designed to later explain away the jeers the President's handlers knew he'd receive.
Chuck Todd, political correspondent of MSNBC did his best to "spin" it. He actually quantified the booing, comparing it to a video montage of presidents past throwing the first pitch. The video was shown in the stadium before Obama took the mound. Todd, live via phone and on national television explained when the clip of George W. Bush was shown, the audible "boos" in his "professional" opinion were, in fact louder than those for President Obama today. I kid you not. But I digress.
After a silly looking first pitch high and to the left (like his politics), President Obama headed for the broadcast booth for a post-pitch interview. He was asked a very simple question. He has always claimed his allegiance to the Chicago White Sox. So, naturally the interviewer asked the President to name his favorite Sox player as a child. The answer to follow was so painfully, torturously labored I actually felt embarrassed for the man. This is the actual transcribed answer:
"You know, uh, I thought that, uh, you know, the truth is that a lot of the Cubs I liked, too, uh, but I did not become a Sox fan until I moved to Chicago. Because I, uh, you know, I was growing up, uh, in Hawaii, and so I ended up actually being an Oakland A's fan. But when I moved to Chicago, uh, I was living close to what was then Cominskey (sic) Park. And went to a couple games and just fell in love. And the nice thing about the Sox is it's real blue-collar baseball.”
Allow me to be the first to admit, I'm a fair-weather fan of baseball. I can't name players or stats. I know the names of some of the 1985 World Series-winning Kansas City Royals, but that's about it. The difference is - I'd just admit it.
Don't misunderstand the point, here. This isn't picking on the President because he throws like a "Special Olympian." (Obama's own description of his bowling, you'll recall. Not mine.) This isn't chiding him because he doesn't know the past or present White Sox roster. Though a great follow-up to his laborious answer would have been, "You said you were an A's fan in your childhood. So, who was your favorite player there?" But then, that's just the petulant child in me. I digress again.
No, the discovery found within this silly exchange with the President of the United States regarding baseball is one of character. When asked a simple question about baseball, why not just shoot straight? He could have said, "You know, Rob. I didn't really get into baseball until I moved to Chicago as an adult. I pull for the Sox because that's my old neighborhood. But I'm so busy running the country; I honestly haven't been able to keep up with rosters. But I hope they finish strong this year."
But, no. Instead we were treated to a vast, twisted, meandering trip through a hodge-podge of geographic personal travels. Never truly answering the question in the end.
The fact is there is little we honestly know about the man named Barak Obama. His inability to be truthful about his church, his family history and his college grades are perhaps more alarming than his disastrous presidency of today. A President's biography is important because those are the things that shaped him. Shockingly they are the things he's least truthful about and the press seems intent to ignore.
Add his "love" of baseball to the list.
(Listen to Stigall from 5-9 each morning on KCMO 710 AM and read him each week only in your Landmark. Email firstname.lastname@example.org)
DEMS SAY 'YOU'VE HAD YOUR SAY, NOW SHUT UP'
Americans are scary people. What have we become in the last week since the passage of “health care reform?” Our racist, violent, religious, anarchist tendencies are frightening the poor Democrats and their friends in the press. Listen, you had your say. It's time to shut up.
Never mind what we knew about this legislation before the vote. Never mind the electorate's repeated rejection of the bill. Never mind all of 2009 and the roiling national debate on the issue. It's over now. President Obama and the Democrats won as they love to remind us. As though the consequences of their actions are no more significant than a winning hand of Texas Hold 'Em. We are to congratulate them now. Not argue further. We are to eagerly await the reward we're all due from their benevolence. Not dissect the real costs of this bill to our bottom lines. From this day forward, any debate or discussion that disrespects their “hard work” on “your behalf” is just unwelcome and ugly. Get it?
Here's how the strategy unfolds:
Step One: Demonize your opponent.
The groundwork was laid early. This vote was not going to go over well. Democrats needed a game plan. Then, eureka! With an abundance of protesters lining the sidewalk and the steps to the Capitol building, Democrats would defiantly walk right through the belly of the protester's beast the day of the vote. Specifically black Democrats. Then, at just the right moment with absolute certainty the cameras are trained on their “brave, Selma-esque” march one black Democrat would turn to a white protester and declare, “You spit on me!”
For good measure, the black Democrat would turn to the press to later describe the “chorus” of white racists chanting the “N-word.” Yes! It was perfect. Never mind it was provably untrue. The story would have a new narrative after Democrats willfully defied the American people. No longer would headlines read, “Democrats Cast Unpopular Vote.” Instead, the headlines would exclaim, "Tea party protesters scream 'nigger' at black congressman."
An avalanche of news would follow, all fed by “frightened” Democrats. The threats. The racism. The vulgarity. Sarah Palin's web site was responsible for much of the danger proclaiming, “Don't retreat, RELOAD!” Why, the woman is practically begging her zombie followers to assassinate members of Congress!
Step Two: Embarrass and threaten powerful and influential detractors.
Major companies like 3M, Caterpillar, and AT&T came forward last week to explain the real costs to their companies' bottom lines after this bill became law. The news was not pretty. Millions, up to a billion dollars in real costs to their operations would be immediate. In this economy, the news most certainly guarantees future layoffs.
But this could not stand. The White House and Democrats in Congress were certain these corporate CEOs were simply out to embarrass them. As though CEOs manufacture bad economic news for their shareholders just to score political points with the public. Nevertheless, these companies will be summoned to Capitol Hill in coming weeks to account for these “scurrilous, slanderous lies” about this “perfect piece of legislation” cutting in to their corporate profit. Business better shut up and stand down, or gird themselves for the wrath of a congressional subcommittee hearing.
Step Three: “What were you so worried about? No Harm Done.”
The closing strategy. Allay the fears of the unknown. Make your rounds on TV and have a good-natured chuckle with journalists. As President Obama told the “Today Show” this week:
“A lot of the rhetoric has been overheated and overblown…as I pointed out this week after I signed the bill, I looked around and no asteroids had hit the planet. No cracks appeared in the Earth.”
Critics of this legislation draw on history to understand the harm this bill will do to our country. No one ever suggested it would be overnight. Social Security and Medicare insolvency didn't happen overnight either. This too, is a strategy: A slow, progressive, incremental push toward all Americans dependence on government for their healthcare needs; the total destruction of a private insurance industry through increasingly more expensive government mandates, fewer customers, less profit, and eventual insolvency.
This can't happen overnight, but it will happen.
But yes, for the “Today Show” viewer paying no attention to the debate this day, one can suppose the fight seemed silly. Critics of the President and Democrats in Congress must have been making it all up, right?
Listen, the bill is law. You don't want to seem like a racist, or a greedy profiteer, or a “Chicken Little” do you? Just shut up already.
(Listen to Chris weekday mornings on KCMO 710 AM and read him only in your Landmark. Email email@example.com)
'D' IS FOR DEPENDENCY; 'D' IS FOR DEMOCRAT
The House of Representatives and the President put the finishing touches on their “historic” health insurance reform package this week. Historically, such an event would sound like a major American moment. In the spirit of FDR's “Social Security” and LBJ's “War on Poverty,” this bill is certainly sold as something equally meaningful to the country. The difference of course, is the lack of “buy-in” by even a modicum of the minority party. Not one member. More significantly, nearly 60% of the nation's voters did not support the legislation. Not even a third of the nation supports its architects Pelosi and Reid in Congress. Less than half support the President.
Americans never bought the sales pitch on this bill as they had other social welfare programs' past. Generations from now, analysts will write about the budgetary devastation of this week just as they write about the bankrupt Social Security and Medicare programs of today. Unlike today, future critics won't have the American people or Republicans on which to place even partial blame.
FDR told seniors and those that would follow what he was giving them: A monthly check at retirement age until they died. Americans, being kind-hearted and knowing they would some day be in the same situation, agreed to give up a part of their income to support that idea. We bought it with our taxes. It was a relatively easy sale. Once the sale was made, retired Americans showed their gratitude to FDR's party with their votes.
LBJ told those in poverty and those who feared they might end up there what he was giving them: A monthly check once they fell below a certain income level. Americans, being kind-hearted and aware that there are those less fortunate, poorly educated, or born into a dysfunctional family--agreed to give up a part of their income to support that idea. We bought it with our taxes. A tougher sale, but given where the country was in the 60's, welfare checks were an untested idea sold with great skill and perfect timing. Once the sale was made, lower income Americans showed their gratitude to LBJ's party with their votes.
President Obama's pitch was a tougher, more radical sale. He set his sights on the middle class. The Obama strategy depends on the largest constituency in the country and the least dependent on the government--the middle class--to be slowly eroded to create an ever-growing dependency.
So, it was Obama's task to give something to the middle class. Something they needed and would be terrified if denied or lost. Government-run health care was the product. What would be his sales pitch? Obama tried painting insurance companies as evil, profit-mongers. He tried making them out to be reckless in dropping coverage, as if contracts didn't exist. He actively stymied the economy in order to terrify the middle class into thinking they might lose their jobs, e.g. their health insurance at any moment.
Unfortunately for Obama, the middle class is so large and the benefit he promised so tenuous, the President never closed the sale. Let's face it, the product stinks. The overwhelming number of the middle class has insurance that's reasonably priced and serves them adequately. The middle class knows enough to understand that with more competition and capping trial attorney's incomes instead of insurance company incomes; they could have an even better insurance plan. The middle class understands that 32 million uninsured will now be insured, and that's not going to be cheap. The middle class understands that never in our nation's history has the federal government made purchasing a product or a service the law of the land.
Obama isn't giving the middle class anything they value now, or in the future. Instead, he'll tax and ration what they value today. He's growing a dependent class through the destruction of private insurance and a micro-management of modern medicine. There was no sale to be made, because American voters were too smart and too loud. All that was left at this President's disposal was the raw, brute force of a government temporarily controlled by radical Democrats obsessed with power.
FDR had the Great Depression as his crisis. LBJ had racial conflicts. Both had a public and two political parties that were willing to buy what they sold. Obama tried a mix of his “Great Recession,” populism and the hope Americans would deny nothing to his “historic” presidency.
But that didn't work. And it didn't slow him down a bit. He forged on. Because President Obama knows creating dependence on government means creating dependence on those who strengthen and embolden government - Democrats. Not satisfied to merely pick off the senior vote as FDR had, or the lower-class as LBJ had--President Obama seeks to create the ultimate majority vote for his party long after he is gone.
He knows that those who depend on government vote Democrat.
(Read Stigall each week only in your Landmark. Or listen to him on KCMO 710 AM each morning from 5-9 a.m. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
TREATING YOU LIKE FAMILY
Take a moment to consider two of the most important relationships you have in your life. Now, imagine you get a call at your work that those persons dearest to you have been rear-ended on the interstate by a semi-truck. They are taken by ambulance to the hospital. You quickly rush to the hospital to be with your loved ones. You get the news that they're going to live but their noses, necks, and backs are broken. There may be some paralysis, and surgery may also be necessary. Doctors need time to assess the situation. Your loved ones are now in serious but stable condition.
Naturally, you go back to work the same day, don't you?
Or consider you have a high profile job that you've held for a number of years. There is a lot of travel involved. You're away from your family a lot. Lately, your job has become stressful. You've made decisions that have made your shareholders and customers very angry at you. They demand you hold a public hearing to air their grievances. In fact, they'd like to see you fired. You refuse to meet with any of them publicly, citing fear of violence. In fact, you've had your office secretary call the police and file a report after receiving what you believe is a death threat. It's become too much. You resign from your job announcing the ugliness you've been experiencing at work isn't worth it anymore. You choose to spend more time with your family now, you explain.
Of course, your spouse applies for the same position within days of your resignation, right?
These absurd scenarios aren't fiction. They're true stories of two members of Congress who at this hour are on the verge of hijacking one-sixth of our economy. They call it “health care reform.” Americans know it is actually the destruction of private health insurance and private medicine as we know it.
Nevertheless, these two men have spent the last year sharing stories of the sick and impoverished for whom medical care is “out of reach.” It's been an attempt to cynically manipulate some Americans by tugging at their hearts, while trying to steer clear of most Americans who are using their heads.
Ironically, these men claim it is their “compassion” that drives their willful disobedience of the people they represent. Yet their breathtaking lack of compassion for their own families tells the tale of the dark-hearts they truly possess.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's wife and daughter were the aforementioned victims last Thursday of the semi-truck accident. The story received nationwide attention. But it was the second- to-last paragraph of the New York Times' account of the accident that was astounding to read:
Reid, D-Nev., went to the hospital after being notified of the accident and returned to Capitol Hill for a meeting with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on efforts to pass health care legislation. He went back to the hospital Thursday evening.
Now before you claim Reid's family business is none of our business, typically I'd agree. Though if anyone reading this column would like to write in and defend this callousness, I'd love to read it. Still, you'd be correct. A man and his family's business is their business. But we're talking about the Senate Majority Leader of the United States, folks. Not your neighbor down the street.
Harry Reid, who is championing the destruction of America's health care system with Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, leaves his wife and daughter in the hospital with broken backs and necks, to do what? Work on “health care” for the rest of us. THE SAME DAY of the accident!
Reid has directly orchestrated and revamped the way we treat human beings when they are sick and injured. His wife and daughter are damn-near killed. What does he do? He quickly checks in at the hospital with enough time to determine if they still have a pulse and heads back to work on his plan to cut doctors' pay and undermine the system keeping his family alive.
Can you wrap you mind around this? By the way, didn't the Senate already pass their bill? On Christmas Eve! Harry skipped out on the family then, too. Quite the family man. Anyone who demonstrates such a lack of basic human compassion can't be in charge of America's health care, can he?
Kansas Congressman Dennis Moore is the second chivalrous husband in this tale of two jerks. After a year of dodging and ducking his constituents, Congressman Moore has had enough. Last August when many members of the House held town halls and took an ear-full from angry voters, Mr. Moore hid out and hunkered down. He literally claimed his life would be in jeopardy if he met with voters in the Kansas 3rd. The rancor and partisanship of Washington he claimed was too much, and he'd been away from his family for too long. He declared this year would be his last in Washington.
Then, last week he coyly teased the press and a small audience that his wife Stephanie is strongly considering running to replace him. Sources close to the situation say she's actively, privately making calls for support and money at this hour.
So let's get this straight. The highly partisan, family-time decaying, allegedly life-threatening job of representing voters in Kansas is too much for Mr. Moore. So he's sending his wife?
Our heroes! (Swoon)
And you thought being treated like one of the family was a good thing!
Stigall’s column is always a good thing. Find it only in The Landmark. Listen to him on 710 KCMO-AM each morning and email him at email@example.com
WHAT WAS THE QUESTION?
President Obama has set another one of his famous deadlines. He wants the House of Representatives to pass the Senate's version of "health care reform" by next Thursday. As the clock ticks, Obama is barnstorming the country as if he's running for re-election all over again. Controlled crowds, by invite only, are seen screaming and swooning as he bashes private health insurance. Just one question: What does any of this have to do with the COST of health care? What's that? You forgot that was supposedly the whole reason this debate began last year?
Maybe this sounds like a silly, obvious, or simple-minded question. But seriously, what does any of this charade have to do with lowering the cost of my annual physical? What does this legislation have to do with the cost of your bypass surgery? Or the expense of your neighbor's mammogram? Your child's cast for his broken arm?
Honest, thinking people realize this legislation has nothing to do with the cost of medicine. This is, and always has been about controlling and destroying the private health insurance market. This bill doesn't make a drug you need cheaper. It doesn't make an x-ray more affordable. This bill's sole purpose it to drive every American into the arms of a government administered health insurance program. Once in its warm embrace, our doctors will have a decision to make. They can:
A.)Continue to treat us at a rate set by the government, no matter the actual cost to the doctor's office.
B.) Treat many more of us, leading to longer wait times and less one-on-one time for you.
C.) Shut down their private practice and go to work for a large hospital and at a lower wage.
D.) Refuse to take anyone tied to government issued insurance and/or go to a straight cash operation.
Admittedly, I don't know anything about running a doctor's office or even my own business. But this is Economics 101, folks. I'd take option D, or just retire altogether.
Last week, the Kansas City Star was lamenting the current Medicare cap for physical therapy on its front page. Congress has hit a ceiling on what it will pay out per year to certain Medicare patients. This was done back in 1997 to "control runaway costs," specifically in the practice of physical therapy. Yet, somehow, physical therapy continued to get more expensive.
Apparently physical therapists didn't get the memo that the cost of doing business wasn't supposed to go up because, well… Congress passed a law!
Things cost what they cost. Even the mighty Congress can't stop that.
President Obama can order insurance companies to take everyone onto their rolls. He can demand all insurance rates be held at "manageable" levels. He can subsidize everyone who can't buy their own health insurance. But again, we're talking about insurance costs, not medical costs.
Simply put, and by design, this President and his winged-monkeys in Congress want to choke competition right out of this sector of the economy.
A favorite blog commentary at Powerlineblog.com put it this way:
"Obama says insurers will raise premiums "as long as they can get away with it." You could say the same about a lot of people, of course. Lawyers have tended to raise rates as long as they could "get away with it." Obama's labor union supporters negotiate to raise their wages "as long as they can get away with it." The newspapers that made Obama a national figure raise their advertising rates "as long as they can get away with it." Any manufacturer will raise the price of its goods "as long as they can get away with it." To do otherwise could expose management to legal liability to shareholders. What stops (private business) from raising prices indefinitely? Why, at some point, can't (private business) "get away with it?"
The answer is competition. Any company will--and should--raise the prices of its goods or services until they reach the point where they are constrained by competition. Our government has followed a perverse policy with regard to health care, by limiting the extent to which health insurers can compete against each other and thereby constrain each others' prices. The obvious solution, if we want to rein in health insurance costs, is to 1) broaden competition in the industry to the maximum amount possible, and 2) repeal all mandates that require insurance companies to charge for coverage that many people don't want.
If the Democrats took those two basic steps, they would significantly reduce the cost of health care. But they wouldn't dream of doing anything so effective to reduce costs, because they want health care costs to remain high. They need high costs to justify government medicine, which means, at its core, a radical restructuring of the relationship between the citizen and the state."
So what does this legislation have to do with the cost of health care? Nothing. It will destroy the doctor/patient relationship. It will destroy your doctor or specialist's autonomy in private practice. It will destroy the quality of care we all receive. But hey, we'll all be insured!
But at what cost?
(The Landmark is the only place you can read Stigall. You can listen to him each morning on KCMO 710 AM. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
THE GOVERNMENT WHO CRIED WOLF
Do our public officials mean to scare us into submission and financial ruin? Are they simply like a well meaning, overprotective parent? The cynic claims the former, and I often tend to agree. Either way, many of our "most trusted leaders" have been engaging in reckless warnings of "dire" consequences far too many times. God forbid an actual threat or tragic event loom for our country. Who'd believe the warning?
There are public service announcements airing at this hour on television and radio encouraging you and those you love to get an H1N1 vaccination. Perhaps you already have, or you're prepared to do so soon. That's perfectly fine, and wholly up to you. But if you dare not, the consequences will be DIRE, say officials.
Just before Thanksgiving of last year, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was leading the nation in sneezing lessons in our sleeves. Taking to the airwaves, Secretary Sebelius urged everyone with children, and the elderly, and the brown eyed, and the indigent, and the Methodists…you get the point. She urged everyone to get a vaccination at once.
A run on health clinics across the country ensued. Confused and angry parents waited in massive lines only to be turned away with no shot. Sebelius urged calm and patience as more vaccine was on the way.
Meanwhile, some questioned the safety and necessity of the vaccine. There were reports of terrible reactions nerve damage, illness, and even some deaths. But you weren't to question. You were to ignore such warnings because "swine flu," like "the Blob" was coming to YOUR TOWN!!!!
This week, the Wall Street Journal reported this was the "Flu Season That Fizzled." In fact, not only has swine flu virtually vanished without a trace, but even run-of-the-mill flu didn't make a splash this year. The Journal's experts noted while this is typically the peak time for flu, cases nationwide are down sharply. Down, despite over half the nation never having taken the "life-saving" vaccine.
Scores of global warming con artists have had their bloom effectively plucked this winter. Record cold and snow, coupled with fraudulent emails, destruction of contradictory evidence to their claims, and leading voices now forced to admit the climate has not warmed in 15 years make the profits of doom mere punch lines.
According to Gallup, global warming is the dead-last priority of Americans polled on over 20 issues they were asked to rank in order of importance. Had it not been offered by Gallup to rank, it is doubtful it would have made most Americans priority list.
What government orchestrated panic portfolio would be complete without mentioning the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP? The 2008 bank bailout, as it's also known, was created to "save our nation's financial institutions from total collapse. " If Congress didn't act to pass the $700 billion dollar taxpayer bailout, the global economy would spiral into ruin. Over the weeks and months to follow, we still saw some institutions go under. Others never seemed to want the money to begin with. Others are already back to standard practices within less than a year of "near ruin." Still others never took a dime and are healthy as a horse. The "left over" money not used to "save" banks from "ruin" was used to buy General Motors and Chrysler, and bail out insurance company AIG.
Nonetheless, this emergency spending kept us from the "second Great Depression" we were told. That is until the $787 billion dollar stimulus came around last year to "create jobs." President Obama now says it was that action that staved off the "second Great Depression." Of course, it didn't "create jobs." In fact, unemployment went up 2 points. So Congress tossed another $15 billion out there last month to "create jobs"…again. Whew! That was a close one.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned every Toyota driver on the road last month to stop driving and get to a repair shop immediately. He would later clarify his remarks. But the damage was done. A nation of Toyota drivers panicked. Only eight deaths were potentially linked to faulty breaks nationwide. Not thousands, eight. Caution was certainly called for, but conclusions weren't entirely clear. Nevertheless, the nationwide brand of Toyota was irreparably harmed. Thousands of car dealers, mechanics, and assembly line workers are employed here in the United States by Toyota. As of today, their jobs, their company, and their futures have been potentially railroaded by an insignificant, hapless cabinet secretary.
Like a small child who wants to "help" you bake a cake, or fix a car government's "help" usually leads to slow progress and inevitably bigger messes. President Reagan nailed it. The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."
(Read Stigall in your Landmark each week and listen to him each morning on KCMO 710 AM. Email him at email@example.com)
STICKS AND STONES
One of the finest comedy movies ever made was the Mel Brooks classic "Blazing Saddles." It's a cult classic that's still aired on TV today. The film's dialogue is riddled with racist, sexist, bigoted speech. The "N" word is used 17 times. Yet, 36 years after the film's debut the "N" word is "bleeped" whenever it's broadcast on television.
It isn't because the movie was insensitive to racism in 1974. Quite the opposite. The bigotry is an intentional punch line at the expense of the bigoted. Sensitivity to mere words has neutered an extraordinarily important commentary on race in film.
Mel Brooks, like so many entertainers of his era, made his living skewering racial, religious, ethnic, and social mores. Brooks, a Jew, was quite fond of poking fun of his heritage. His movies have lampooned Hitler, Nazis, and the Holocaust. It makes the "N" word seem like Sesame Street.
Have you ever watched or listened to the Friar's Club or Dean Martin celebrity roasts? One of the most famous "roast masters" was legendary comic Don Rickles. While roasting then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, Rickles proclaimed it was "his people" that got Reagan elected. When roasting Sammy Davis Jr. he said "We all have our differences. Dean's Catholic, I'm Jewish, Sammy, you're black. I'm sorry."
Again, these are tame examples, mind you.
One of my favorite recordings is "Frank, Dean, and Sammy Live at the Sands" during one of their famous club appearances in Vegas. Martin lifted Davis in the air and thanked "the Jews for this award." Yes, Sammy Davis Jr. was not only black, but also Jewish which meant twice the punch lines. In the same show Frank asked Dean, "How do you make a fruit cordial?" "I dunno," replied Dean. "Be nice to him, I guess."
For better or worse, you couldn't perform as a mainstream entertainer, musician, or filmmaker and get away with many of these punch lines today. Remember, I didn't say cable. I said mainstream.
In the last couple of years, in fact, words have become heavily scrutinized. What's the context? Is it funny? Is it inappropriate? Who gets to decide? It's gone beyond what the late George Carlin called the "seven dirty words." Just about any physical anomaly, condition, religion, or description is receiving heavy scrutiny. For a talk show host and columnist like me, that's a troubling trend.
Anyone with an appreciation of our freedom to speak and write must be cautious. Our discomfort cannot manifest itself into censorship. Even if we detest what we hear.
The recent comments of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel were infuriating to many, but for different reasons. For Sarah Palin, Emmanuel's use of the word "retarded" elicited an emotional response. The mother of a child with Down syndrome, Palin's heart leapt in defense of her child and a special needs community she feels she represents. It was an understandable, though perhaps hasty reaction.
When the Fox animated sitcom "Family Guy" wrote an entire episode based around a character with Down syndrome, Palin was pulled in further. She was boxed in. She'd already addressed Emmanuel's comment, and now she was being pushed to comment on a sitcom plot. Palin criticized the show. Days later, it was revealed the voice actress that played the animated character actually had Down syndrome herself. The actress spoke out in the New York Times telling Palin to "lighten up" and that she did not speak for everyone with special needs. The entire episode was a brilliantly orchestrated trap by the "Family Guy" staff, and unfortunately, Gov. Palin took the bait.
Harry Reid's recent "off the record" comments calling President Obama a "light skinned" black man with "no Negro dialect," was another test of the speech police. This time, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, a black man, called for Reid's resignation. Most liberals, including the President, rushed to defend Reid and the episode is already history.
For most people, it's not simply the words of Emmanuel, or Reid, or sitcoms that offend. It's the double standard. It's the spirit in which they're indented. Reid was cynically calculating and using race as an election ploy. Emmanuel was mean spirited, branding his critics "retarded." Family Guy was trying to pick a fight with Sarah Palin for publicity, not to be funny. (And the show was not funny, incidentally.) The left calls Americans who assemble to protest big government "tea baggers." This is a vulgar sexual term used by the left to marginalize and attack those with whom they don't agree politically. Not good natured ribbing.
I don't use "retarded," "N-words," or "teabagger" in my vocabulary. I personally find them objectionable and uncomfortable. Unlike the left, however I'm fine to simply ignore them. Liberals’ words shouldn't be banned. No words should. The maddening hypocrisy, of course, is the sanctimonious crusade in which the left engages when one of their political enemies runs afoul of their "approved words" list.
Conservatives aren't in the word-censorship business. We're content to let one's character do the talking. Americans are savvy and can hear the intent of words. They know when they're meant to make you laugh or inform you. They know when they're meant to be cynical and deceptive. And they know when they're used to be hateful.
Mel Brooks used free speech to ridicule free speech. Hate speech, turned on itself though ridicule, is the strongest, smartest kind of free speech.
36 years later, liberals insist Brooks' speech be censored as to not offend. It is weak and it is certainly not smart.
(Listen to Stigall on KCMO 710 AM each morning and read him each week only in The Landmark. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
NOW THEY WANT BIPARTISANSHIP?
It's funny what losing a 60-vote Senate supermajority does to your political “mojo.” A Republican wins Ted Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts. A Republican beats an incumbent Democrat in New Jersey for the governor's mansion. The Democrat's majority leader will most likely lose his seat this fall. Democrat “moderates” are bailing out of races before they even get started in both the House and the Senate. Now President Obama wants to “talk” about health care with the Republicans.
From Reuters last week:
“The Obama administration on Friday invited 12 Democratic members of Congress and nine Republicans to a Feb. 25 conference on healthcare and said it would post its proposal for a legislative overhaul online before the event…The meeting will be broadcast live, answering criticism that the Democratic president did not engage Republicans and instead negotiated backroom deals in an effort to get legislation passed.”
If Republicans are listening at all, they'll check the “will not attend” box and mail it back today. This country is in serious trouble and it has nothing to do with another attack on health insurance.
In his very own State of the Union address, the President said jobs would be his focus this year. Republicans have to hold him to this. The American people have spoken clearly at the ballot box. They want jobs and spending cuts. They aren't interested in gamesmanship. Republicans have to be strong for the country. Jobs and the deficit have to be their only focus or the country as we know it is ruined. Period.
With this meeting and whatever new bill the President has, staffs will be exclusively tied up trying to get up to speed on it. Everything will be dropped just as everything was dropped for this foolishness last year. This stunt has to be labeled and treated as such. Further, in response, Republicans should produce a jobs and deficit cutting bill ASAP. The President can't be allowed to veer off his own clearly stated agenda and have yet another debate on an issue he's already lost.
No business can survive its challenges if it ignores or downplays its most serious problems. The President has never run anything and it shows. This is how failure occurs for the country: Everyone taking their eye off the ball - again - because we have an inexperienced freshman Senator trying to salvage his presidency at the expense of the American people.
Jobs and the deficit. That's all there is for our ailing nation at this hour. If a patient has cancer, you don't obsess over male pattern baldness. Forget the Rogaine. Get to the chemo, radiation therapy, and surgery. Stat! For Republicans to participate in this silly new TV show is to endorse the premise it's what the American people want. We know it is not.
There's many a “thoughtful” pundit, columnist, and commentator who believe the Republicans must accept the President's invitation. “To say no is to look obstructionist,” some say. “They'll continue calling us the party of no if we don't go.” Excuse me. Do you think Scott Brown just won Massachusetts because folks there hoped he'd go to Washington to assist the President and the Democrats?
Republicans who buy the garbage that Americans want them to “get along” with Obama just don't “get it.” Think of Congress as the nation's board of directors, and Obama is the C.E.O. Now, I don't care what Obama's IQ is. Smart people make dumb suggestions and decisions every day. Discussing health care in this financial crisis is like the President of McDonald's announcing they're going to add new pasta dishes to the menu and dump the burgers.
Just like any board of directors, Congress like it or not, must say, "No" to ill-conceived ideas that are bad for business. It's not a bad thing. It's a big and necessary part of the job. We can't get tangled up in the mistakes of amateurs. We can't get caught up in saving a failed presidency and in the process losing the country in the hopes the media will praise Republicans for their brilliant performance in a televised circus. Jumping through the President's hoops will get no standing ovations.
Now is the time to focus on the obvious and rub the President's nose in it. And I mean aggressively rub his nose in this. 17% of Americans who should be working, aren't. People are suffering and we are fast-tracking the country to oblivion with a deficit that leads to bankruptcy. We don't have time for hastily arranged political chess matches.
Republicans have to do what is right for the country, not what's right for the media, political consultants and Democrats. Leadership requires the risk of making priorities and focusing on them.Leadership does not react to distractions. Leadership is not moistening a finger and sticking it in the wind. Leadership is not responding to the whims of a fool. This meeting is what's wrong with the country. The tea parties of last year and again this year sprung up due to misplaced priorities. Republicans may not have learned this yet. Some so-called conservative pundits haven't either, apparently.
The President said his number one focus was jobs. Republicans have a duty to hold him to his promise. They have a duty to the American people. Not a duty to bipartisanship.
(Read our man Chris Stigall each week only in your Landmark. And listen to him each morning on KCMO 710 AM from 5-9 a.m. Email him at email@example.com)
THE ACTIVIST-LEFT HAD A ROUGH SUPER BOWL
This year's Super Bowl ranks as the most watched television event in American history. If you're a fan of football you weren't disappointed with the play. If you were an advertiser, the record viewership makes you feel brilliant in spending $3 million dollars for a 60 second commercial for your product. Meanwhile, if an environmentalist, feminist, or pro-abortionist tuned in, they most likely had a very rough evening.
No doubt you heard the scuttlebutt surrounding the Focus on the Family ad featuring Pam Tebow well before last Sunday's game. Mrs. Tebow is the mother of Tim Tebow, a Heisman Trophy-winning college football star. For two weeks prior, we were treated to the screeches of pro-abortion activists and feminists decrying CBS' decision to allow the “divisive” ad to air. The message, they claimed was an attempt to intimidate women and rob them of their legally protected right to an abortion.
“Wow! This ad was going be big,” I thought to myself. What kind of over-the-top zealotry would be featured in 30 seconds that has the activist left so afraid and angry?
Watching intently to see the offensive propaganda, finally it came. The room fell silent. Below is the shocking transcript:
Pam: I call him my miracle baby. He almost didn't make it into this world. I can remember so many times when I almost lost him. It was so hard. Well he's all grown up now, and I still worry about his health. You know, with all our family's been through, you have to be tough...
(Tim suddenly rushes in from off the screen and “tackles” his Mom. Mrs. Tebow jumps to her feet.)
Pam: Timmy! I'm trying to tell our story here.
(Tim jumps to his feet and wraps his mom in a hug)
Tim: Sorry about that, Mom... You still worry about me, Mom?
Pam: Well, yeah, you're not nearly as tough as I am.
(The ad closes with text urging Super Bowl watchers to visit the Focus on the Family web site)
Everyone in the room turned to one another. In near unison, the crowd exclaimed, “Was that it?!” Indeed, the ad was so unobjectionable, so syrupy sweet even the most hardened of liberals struggled to take offense. The word “abortion” wasn't even uttered.
Boy, this was going to be embarrassing watching the feminists spin this into a negative. How could anyone possibly object to that ad? Ladies and gentleman, I give you National Organization of Women president Terry O'Neill:
"I am blown away at the celebration of the violence against women in it," she said. "That's what comes across to me even more strongly than the anti-abortion message. I myself am a survivor of domestic violence, and I don't find it charming. I think CBS should be ashamed of itself."
No, Terry. Women everywhere should be ashamed they must claim you as their unelected, non-appointed “spokesperson.”
The most significant 60 seconds of the night belonged to the car company Audi. Promoting their new “clean diesel “vehicle, Audi skewered the environmental movement. The ad begins with a man in the checkout line at the grocery store. When he chooses a plastic sack over paper, he is tackled and cuffed by the “Green Police.” The next several scenes unfold in a similarly absurd, though uncomfortably plausible way. The “Green Police” aggressively arrest men from their hot tubs when the water temperature is set too high. Another is yanked from his home and cuffed for using incandescent light bulbs. A helicopter search light flushes one more from his home for throwing produce peels down the disposal instead of composting.
Plastic bottle use, trash searches for improperly disposed batteries, and Styrofoam cup use - all criminal behavior under the “Green Police.”
The ad concludes with the driver of the new clean diesel Audi escaping the scrutiny of the “law” at a checkpoint. He is waved through upon sight of his “eco-friendly” Audi as he zips around the cars in line and speeds down the open road. The screen fades to black to read, “Green has never felt so right.”
It's clear to almost everyone that the folks behind the Audi campaign were impugning the over-zealous and largely discredited “green” movement. Yes, they were acknowledging the desire of some to be responsible and respectful of environmental issues. No one is pro-pollution. If you can afford an Audi with a powerful diesel engine, and it makes you feel better that it's “clean” diesel good for you. “Green never felt so right” can be translated another way:
“Audi knows you want a powerful car that makes a statement. We know you care about a clean environment, too. Even though most of the green movement is a punitive, silly, overbearing lie--here's something simple you can do that doesn't mean a primitive step backward in to some plug-in, Flintstones- era, rickshaw, tin can, hybrid.”
Granted, that doesn't sell as well. But it's what they meant without saying it, I believe.
But one wild-eyed, tree- hugger named David Roberts at Grist.org had this thoughtful analysis:
“The ad only makes sense if it's aimed at people who acknowledge the moral authority of the green policepeople who may find those obligations tiresome and constraining on occasion, who only fitfully meet them, who may be annoyed by sticklers and naggers, but who recognize that living more sustainably is in fact the moral thing to do.”
Sure, Dave. If that's what helps you sleep at night.
As for me, I can't wait until next year's Super Bowl. If all goes according to plan, I'll be watching some great looking cheerleaders and gorgeous models promoting some web site, or potato chip or beer on my plasma flat screen television. When the game is over, I might run out to the store to stock up on lots of incandescent light bulbs in my gas-guzzling SUV with a pro-life bumper sticker in the window. Go Chiefs!
(Catch Stigall on Talk Radio 710 KCMO or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
IT'S ABOUT TRUSTING MY GUT FEELING
Many find the story of John Edwards disgusting, lecherous, deceitful, and prurient. And it is all of those things. But it's also very instructive in the human condition. I can't be sure there's an important lesson to be learned, but the story taught me something important about my gut. I should trust it.
My first real background on Edwards was during the 2004 presidential race when John Kerry picked Edwards as his vice presidential nominee. I learned John Edwards built his young fortune on the backs of obstetricians. He was one of the first major attorneys in the country to play on the emotions of juries and exploit quack medical "professionals" for financial gain.
Edwards was adept at capitalizing on the pain of parents whose children were born with cerebral palsy. Though no conclusive science confirms it, the handsome trial attorney was able to convince multiple juries that "reckless" delivery doctors were directly responsible for the debilitating condition in newborn babies. Countless doctors paid millions in malpractice settlements, shuttering the doors of many practices. All the while, John Edwards became a very wealthy man. As a senator, Edwards would lament the high cost of health care. Ask your doctor about their malpractice insurance costs some time. Then thank John Edwards for passing some of that on to you.
After leaving the U.S. Senate, Edwards made two unsuccessful runs at the Democratic nomination for President. It was his second campaign launch in 2007 from New Orleans when he denounced the "two different economies in this country: one for wealthy insiders and then one for everybody else."
Of course what he left out was where he found employment post-Senate -- a hedge fund. For Democrats like Edwards, it doesn't get anymore wealthy and inside than a hedge fund. But that was his public, "two Americas" face. The Washington Post described his private gig:
"Edwards became a consultant for Fortress Investment Group, a New York-based firm known mainly for its hedge funds. A midsize but growing player in the hedge fund industry with more than $30 billion in assets, Fortress was the first hedge fund manager to go public, thereby subjecting itself to far more scrutiny. Edwards, for years decried offshore tax shelters as part of his broader campaign to reduce inequality. While Fortress was incorporated in Delaware, its hedge funds were incorporated in the Cayman Islands, enabling its partners and foreign investors to defer or avoid paying U.S. taxes."
There must be a third America, Senator. I'm somewhere in between a homeless shelter and the Cayman Island investors you represented. Destroying doctors and playing in tax shelters was just the beginning, and frankly, the least offensive of Edwards' long list of deceit.
Just about the same time he left his hedge fund job, John Edwards met the woman with whom he would carry on a long-term affair during his failed presidential campaign. Ever classy, Edwards first met Rielle Hunter in a New York City hotel bar and slept with her that night. He would later hire her to do "campaign video work" to the tune of $114,000 dollars. Not long into the affair, Edwards' wife Elizabeth was diagnosed with a form of terminal cancer. Gallantly, Edwards campaigned on and continued "carrying on" with his mistress simultaneously.
But if you thought that was sleazy…
Edwards' affair led to his mistress' pregnancy. Tabloid gossip began to swirl. Undeterred, the former senator did what any right-thinking campaigner would do. Ask a trusted campaign staffer to take credit for the affair and pregnancy. Amazingly, the campaign staffer agreed. Gossip magazines would not stop digging into the story, however. It was time for phase two.
Calling on billionaire donors to his campaign, including a widow in her 90s, Edwards would begin to funnel large sums of money to his mistress and his campaign staffer and family. The money would be used to send all parties involved into hiding. Conventional wisdom was Edwards' girlfriend could have her baby, his campaign staffer would be forgotten, and Edwards could go on about the business of campaigning. Until that pesky paparazzi caught up with ol' John in an L.A. hotel visiting his mistress and love child who'd been on the lamb.
You might think this is where this story of chivalry would end. You'd be wrong. Edwards would eventually admit to the affair, but not the baby he'd fathered. Two or three mea culpa interviews with the likes of Oprah found the "son of a mill worker" extremely apologetic and humbled…and shamed…and (pick your phony, feigned emotion.) Senator Edwards was ready to move on and work things out with his cancer-stricken wife. But remember that campaign staffer who fell on the sword for his old boss? Well, he had an axe to grind. Funny how falsely admitting to fathering a child that's not yours and destroying your life will chafe a bit.
Recent investigations into campaign finance violations and testimony by all involved wrote the final chapter in this soap opera late last year. Voicemails and emails Edwards' former staffer had been collecting from his old boss were used as evidence in the ongoing investigation. Edwards was finally forced to admit to fathering his mistress' child. His wife Elizabeth began the long process of divorce. His former staffer has written a tell-all book and is making the television interview rounds as of this week peddling all the salacious details.
As for Sen. Edwards, he left the county and went to Haiti. I'd like to believe he had a genuine tug at the heart to do some good for the earthquake ravaged nation. But lest we be fooled by this charlatan, it is obvious Haiti is yet another backdrop for his selfish, deceitful theatrics. Presumably, Edwards has calculated the poverty, destruction, and devastation will provide a place to hide. Maybe for a moment, he strategized; no one will ask him about the destruction he's caused back home.
At least, that's my gut feeling.
(Listen to Stigall from 5-9 each weekday morning on KCMO Talk Radio 710. Email him at email@example.com)
ME, RACIST? I VOTE DEMOCRAT
How often do you audit your speech? Meaning, you blurt something out and you knew it sounded terrible as soon as you said it. Perhaps you've found yourself defending your comments after they were taken out of context? Here's a sure-fire way to never spend another moment in such introspective agony. Join the Democrat Party.
It's hard to know the rules of the game called political correctness. We're not all playing by the same rules to begin with. You could surely spend the day making a long list of prominent folks who've taken a career hit for something they've said. Don Imus' "nappy-headed hoes" comes to mind. That cost him a radio show.
Former Senator Trent Lott once said of his Senate colleague Strom Thurmond that the country would've been better off were he elected president. Because Thurmond was a former segregationist, Trent Lott, it was implied was cheering segregation. Lott stepped down from his leadership post soon after the comment and left the Senate at the end of his term.
Just a few months ago, Rush Limbaugh was denied ownership of an NFL team for comments he made in 2003 on ESPN. Limbaugh had the temerity to suggest Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb didn't deserve the accolades the sports media heaped upon him. Rather, McNabb's adoring press, Limbaugh suggested, was a press desirous to see "a black quarterback do well." Within days, Limbaugh resigned from ESPN.
Let's move to another level of absurd at 30,000 feet. The 2004 lawsuit filed by two Kansas City sisters who felt a Southwest Airlines flight attendant made a racial rhyme at their expense. Louise Sawyer and her sister were the last two to board a flight. In an effort to get the two passengers to their seats, first year Southwest Airlines flight attendant Jennifer Cundiff used a widely used rhyme:
"Eenie, meenie, minie moe - get a seat we've got to go."
Cundiff says she was trying to be humorous and entertaining. However, Sawyer says, "If she wanted to produce humor, she could have found something better to say than that."
Cundiff says she didn't know the rhyme had a "history." Sawyer says her sister became so upset she experienced physical and emotional injury. It's surprising she wasn't injured in the enormous stretch she made crafting this shake-down.
Admittedly, we don't know the politics of the airline attendant. As for Limbaugh, Lott, and to a lesser extent Imus, well, they're conservative/independent white men. That's all you need to know. White men are heard-hearted bigots. If conservative, doubly so.
These vulgar people have the chance to break free of the chains of conversational bondage, never to be haunted by their hateful speech again. Simply join with liberal Democrats.
In 1984, the great reverend and civil rights champion Jesse Jackson used the term "Hymies" to mean Jews and "Hymietown" to mean New York City while talking with Washington Post reporter Milton Coleman. Jackson denied making the remarks, blaming the Jews for conspiring against him. When he finally did acknowledge that it was wrong to use the term, he said he did so in private to a reporter.
Former President Jimmy Carter, while running for office proudly touted a pro-segregationist. Upon receiving the endorsement of former Democrat Gov. Lester Maddox, Carter responded by praising the life-long segregationist: "He has brought a standard of forthright expression and personal honesty to the governor's office, and I hope to live up to his standard." Maddox had not only refused to serve blacks in the restaurant he once owned, but he had also greeted civil rights protestors with a gun, and made sticks available to his white customers with which to intimidate them.
Candidate Barak Obama was pressed repeatedly during the 2008 election to distance himself from his preacher of 20 years, Jeremiah ("U.S of KKK-A")Wright. Defending his preacher, Obama declared he could no more disown Wright than he could his white grandmother who he referred to as "a typical white person" in her racist remarks and general fear of black people. You know, typical white stuff. By the way, the good Rev. Wright was recently asked if he's spoken to President Obama lately. His reply? "Them Jews ain't going to let him talk to me."
Last month, a brief racial fire was quickly extinguished by the President himself.
Seemingly devastating comments surfaced courtesy of the best selling political bombshell, "Game Change." In it, the authors describe Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2008 as enthusiastic about candidate Obama's chances of winning the Democrat nomination.
From page 37:
He (Reid) was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama -- a "light-skinned" African American "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one," as he said privately.
But judge lest ye be judged. Just as Rev. Jackson with "Hymietown," let's keep Senator Reid's comments in perspective. It was meant to be a PRIVATE conversation. One can't be racist in private, of course. Also private was former President Bill Clinton's comment about then candidate Obama. While trying to convince late Senator Ted Kennedy to endorse his wife Hillary for the party's nomination, Clinton said of Obama, "A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee."
Do you suppose he takes his coffee black?
But the pièce de résistance of all racial free-passes among Democrats has to be the senior senator from West Virginia, Robert Byrd. Byrd joined the Ku Klux Klan when he was 24 in 1942. His local chapter unanimously elected him Exalted Cyclops. The highest of cross-burning kudos.
What would Byrd's old Klan buddies say about their Exalted Cyclops hob-knobbing with the nation's first black president were they around today?
If they're Republican Klan members, probably something hateful and bigoted.
(Email Stigall at firstname.lastname@example.org and listen to him each morning on Talk Radio 710 AM)
AMERICA: ALIVE AND WELL
A couple of very inspiring things happened on the way to this column. First, a reminder. One year ago this week President Obama was sworn into office. Rather than recap what's been written during the last year within the confines of this column, I'll take the opportunity to plug the website. plattecountylandmark.com, click on “Straight From Stigall” and you can bone up on some of my thoughts. If you're one of those goofballs that still have the creepy stickers with “Dear Leader's” Warhol-esque picture on your bumper, I'll save you the time. You won't enjoy the reading.
Meanwhile, as this paper goes to print early in the week, the special election in Massachusetts to fill Ted Kennedy's seat is underway. The early stories and polling, it can be said at the very least, have Democrats nervous about the prospects of losing this election to a Republican. Should it happen the “liberal lion” of the Senate godfather of “health care reform” the last living member of Camelot will be put to political rest forever.
No matter a Republican victory or loss, that it's even close is all you need to know about a year of President Obama. Massachusetts created the single biggest political story of a generation.
As the press and the Democrats tie themselves in knots at the prospect of an entirely blue state turning half red. As the country's electorate rages at tea parties, town halls, and protest rallies outside congressional offices to stop government overreach. I couldn't help but smile this week and think, “This is just as our Founding Fathers envisioned our system working.”
This feeling was only reaffirmed when I received a copy of an email this week by a listener to our radio show. This individual works for Commerce Bank, and he wanted me to read and even share the contents of the email with our audience (and Landmark readers, too). The email was an internal communication to all Commerce Bank employees from their CEO David Kemper.
What little I know of Mr. Kemper, I can tell you the email was unusual for its candor and direct message aimed at Washington. In a day and age of political correctness, and at the risk of offending Obama-loyal customers and employees, Mr. Kemper felt it was time to stand up and speak his mind on behalf of his company. The subject of the email addressed President Obama's new plan to levy a tax on financial institutions. Suffice it to say, Mr. Kemper felt this was the last straw. He offered some comments, and 6 points-of-fact he felt his employees needed to know. Some abbreviated highlights:
“I am writing to you to keep you informed concerning the current highly politicized debate in Washington concerning additional taxes and regulation on the banking industry. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the Obama Administration has chosen to vilify the banking industry as a politically expedient way of boosting their standing in light of a very difficult economy.…The Obama Administration, the media, and some members of Congress have been making some incorrect and very misleading comments concerning the cost of the financial crisis and governmental losses on the TARP program… saying that the industry "owes" further taxes to the governmenton moral grounds or to make up for losses the government will take on advances to other industries is a very dangerous precedent and further contributes to a populist anti-business feeling that could be very harmful in the long run.
The facts are:
1) Commerce Bancshares luckily did not take any TARP funds because we did not need it, did not want to be beholden to the government and did not want to pay a very expensive rate on the money.
2) $700 billion was appropriated for the fund of which $250 billion was advanced to the banking industry. Nearly 75% of that money advanced to the banks has already been paid back.
3) It is estimated by the US Treasury that the government will make a profit on their TARP advances to commercial banks of around $19 billion. This profit is not being mentioned by politicians who are implying the government will lose money on the bank portion of this program. This is patently incorrect.
4) The government will lose money (perhaps a lot of money) on its TARP advances to AIG, GMAC and the auto companies. The government made aconscious decision to subsidize the auto industry and AIG - that is their choice but has little to nothing to do with main stream commercial banks…
5) The banking industry will pay for the losses of failed banks through the industry's recapitalization of the FDIC fund. Last year we paid $28 million into the FDIC fund, an increase of $24 million over 2008: that $24 million comes directly out of our profits… This is very expensive but the industry (not the government) is paying for the failure of poorly run banks.
6) We welcome higher capital ratios and strong regulation because we do not like paying for the failure of weak banks. We all know we have a tough economy and high unemployment and are working closely with our customers through this challenging period. We also need to communicate that weakening the banking system through unfair taxation and excessive regulation is going to severely damage our industry and economic recovery."
Now that's leadership.
America is being awakened and engaged in their country en masse for the first time in generations. Voters who would traditionally vote party line, or with their union, or with that familiar family name on the ballot know this week's vote is about something much more. The traditional assumptions about blue states and red states are dead this week. Executives and CEOs are standing up, speaking out, and even pushing back when free markets and their very livelihoods come under attack from Washington.
It's truly inspiring to watch. It's just what our Constitution ordered.
(Be inspired by Chris Stigall each week only in The Landmark. And listen to him each morning on 710 KCMO. Email him at email@example.com)
THE ABORTIONIST, THE ACTIVIST AND THE TERRORIST
The murder of Wichita late-term abortion doctor George Tiller was a justified act aimed at saving unborn children. So says the defense counsel representing Scott Roeder. A Kansas judge has allowed such an argument, opening the door for charges of voluntary manslaughter rather than what the Associated Press regarded as an "open-and-shut first degree murder" charge. Liberal activists and abortion doctors are furious at the decision. Some abortionists suggest they will now fear for their lives if the manslaughter charge sticks.
AP reporter Roxana Hegeman asked the rhetorical question, "Will the judge's decision embolden militant, anti-abortion activists and lead to open season on abortion providers?"
The answer is "yes." If Scott Roeder is allowed parole, or the chance to sit in jail as a pro-life martyr for the rest of his life, the answer is "yes." There are activists in our midst that believe killing abortionists is worth a measly life sentence if babies are saved. A voluntary manslaughter charge would invite such behavior, no question.
For clear thinking people, there is no gray in the issue of defending life. Killing a defenseless, innocent in a premeditated fashion is a crime. A crime punishable by death in Kansas. Death is what Roeder deserves. Or at the very least, locked away without the chance of seeing the light of day.
Those that take lives of innocent people have shown a disregard for life. They are nothing more than rabid animals. And we know what we do with rabid animals. We destroy rabid animals to protect lives.
Ah, but enter the sticky wicket of abortions, and those that perform them. For those on the left, the issue of murder suddenly becomes very complicated. For those that believe all innocent life is sacred, even in a woman's womb, it's crystal clear.
Honest, clear thinkers: Roeder - murderer. Tiller - murderer. They are the same.
For the muddled thinking of an "intellectual": Roeder - murderer. Tiller -advocate, degreed professional, hero of women everywhere. They are entirely different.
Still, there is a third component to this great debate over lives, threats to those lives, and the rights of those that would take those lives. Our civilian courts are now being used to try terrorists who have attacked our country in an act of war. The masterminds behind the slaughter of 3000 American innocents in the attacks of 9/11 will be treated to their day in court. As will the lawyered-up "crotch bomber" on board a Detroit-bound jet on Christmas Day.
For honest, clear thinkers this is just as absurd as Scott Roeder's potential charge of voluntary manslaughter. The 9/11 murderers, as well as the Christmas Day bomber, are enemies of the state. They are not citizens of our country, thus they are not afforded any rights under our laws.
For "intellectuals" like our president and attorney general, the 9/11 murders are an opportunity to show the world our capacity for fairness and compassion for even those who would kill us. Acts of war are mere "isolated incidents" of "individual extremists" and not symptomatic of a larger organized threat.
But that's not how our president and attorney general feel about anti-abortion activists.
When Scott Roeder killed George Tiller, both men dispatched the National Guard to protect the nation's abortion clinics that very day.
Intellectuals have really boxed themselves in on this, now haven't they?
Follow along the path of the intellectual's state of mind:
Roeder kills Tiller in cold blood. Roeder took a life. Roeder deserves no defense that's not "open and shut" first-degree murder. Anything less would encourage more murder.
Tiller aborted babies in women's wombs as late as 9-months old. Tiller performed abortions on victims of child rape and fought to protect the names of the rapists. Tiller used "depression" as the medically necessary justification for otherwise illegal late-term abortions. George Tiller was a good, church going man who "helped" women. This kind of murder should be encouraged, or at the very least, protected.
Terrorists who have trained with organized terror groups on international soil execute or attempt to execute thousands of innocent Americans. In an effort to look just and fair to those around the world, we must provide these captured murderers with three square meals a day and an attorney so they may air their grievances with America in an open court. This kind of murder is isolated, and a trial will not encourage more murder.
All clear on the intellectual front?
A man who murders an abortion doctor. An abortion doctor who murders hundreds of babies. Terrorists who murder thousands of Americans.
For clear thinkers, they are all one of the same disgusting, vile cloth.
For intellectuals, two out of three aren't all that bad.
(Listen to Stigall on 710 KCMO each weekday morning, read him in your Landmark each week, and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
BRIT HUME THROWN TO THE LIONS OVER TIGER
Here's a list of three names. Once you read them, place them in the order of most objectionable: Tiger Woods, Jesus Christ, Fox News correspondent Brit Hume.
The Lord was your most objectionable choice - followed by Brit Hume, correct?
This was the order of most offensive individuals as listed by ABC News and many left-wing bloggers and Internet publishers this week.
First, you must accept the premise that comments made by Brit Hume last Sunday on Fox News Sunday as a guest panelist were newsworthy. The panel discussion was a "year-in-review" of 2009 and predictions for the year ahead. When the subject turned to Tiger Woods, Hume made this shockingly, offensive comment:
"Tiger Woods will recover as a golfer. Whether he can recover as a person I think is a very open question, and it's a tragic situation for him. I think he's lost his family, it's not clear to me if he'll be able to have a relationship with his children, but the Tiger Woods that emerges once the news value dies out of this scandal -- the extent to which he can recover -- seems to me to depend on his faith. He's said to be a Buddhist; I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, 'Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.'"
If you've read this far, you're clearly a hard-hearted, insensitive, judgmental zealot. Otherwise you'd have already run to your computer to fire off an email to Fox News and Hume for such objectionable content.
That is just what many across the country watching the Sunday broadcast did. The feedback was so voluminous in fact, Hume was forced to return to TV's most watched cable show "The O'Reilly Factor" to "explain" himself the very next evening. Except, he didn't "explain" or even clarify. He dared make it worse.
O'Reilly played a clip of Hume's comments, then asked him: "Was that proselytizing?" "I don't think so," Hume said, and added that the content of Woods' character was "not what we thought it was."
Then Hume doubled down on the insidious, hateful, nasty rhetoric:
"He needs something that Christianity especially provides and gives and offers, and that is redemption and forgiveness. I was really meaning to say in those comments yesterday more about Christianity than anything else...I think that Jesus Christ offers Tiger Woods something that Tiger Woods badly needs."
The press accounts of Hume's comments and the "fallout" thereafter would have you believe their are millions of Buddhists storming the streets in a rage, calling for a Fox News boycott. In reality, Buddhists aren't exactly the protesting type. Never mind their numbers in the United States are barely a measurable fraction of the population.
Moreover, Hume was certainly not condemning Buddhists or their belief system. Rather, he was promoting his own.
This, of course, is the salient and thorny issue for the left and the press. Christianity, as discussed in last week's column, is a "tough issue" for our president. Not just tough, it was an irrelevant issue when the President's pastor of 20 years was caught on tape issuing a fiery condemnation of the United States.
Last May, the President called on the Jews to halt development of the West Bank - the Biblical heartland of Jews and Christians. This was an effort to appease the Palestinian government. At a press conference in Turkey a month earlier, President Obama casually rebuked the old chestnut that the United States is a Judeo-Christian nation:
"One of the great strengths of the United States," the President said, "is ... we have a very large Christian population -- we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."
It is unclear where President Obama or Tiger Woods derive the values of which he speaks. But as for Brit Hume, it is clear. His Christian faith has taught him about forgiveness and redemption. His Christian faith calls him to speak out to those struggling or in need of direction. Hume's statement was jarring because it is not what we've come to expect of public figures in our culture, much less a veteran, street-wise anchor/correspondent. It was beautifully unorthodox.
Just a year ago or more, Hume was a Fox News anchor. He is now semi-retired and an invited commentator only. With his new role comes a new, unfettered honesty. In truth, Hume has undoubtedly held this in his heart for many years. Sadly, only after retirement can he comfortably speak with such personal, human, heartfelt bravery.
Hume inspired far more than he offended, most assuredly. His "bully" pulpit of Fox News combined with his own celebrity elevated his faith to a public level few can achieve. Perhaps without realizing it, Hume inviting Woods to his faith likely invited many more. More importantly, Hume perhaps inspired his colleagues and contemporaries to share their own faith in Christ more boldly. This poses a direct threat to the press industry's secular, boundless view of our nation.
Far too many stories have been reported in the last decade of perverse persons carrying out acts of terror in the name of their religion. The 9/11 hijackers, the Fort Hood shooter, and the attempted jet bombing on Christmas Day were all acts of men proclaiming their faith. In each instance, activists, even our President, called upon Americans to not "rush to judgment."
Brit Hume shot no one. Brit Hume hijacked no plane. He professed the saving grace of Christianity and took the slings and arrows of public persecution simply for sharing it. This, of course, pales in comparison to the persecution of Christ. A persecution that led to His death. A persecution He endured for our sins. A persecution He endured to forgive us all, no matter how egregious the offense. Brit Hume knows the peace this brings Christians.
He simply wanted Tiger Woods to know, too.
(The Landmark’s Chris Stigall can be heard on your radio each weekday morning from 5-9 a.m. on 710AM KCMO, and reach him by email to email@example.com)
A TIME FOR CHOOSING--OR FOR GOLFING
From where do you draw your personal strength? When times are tough and your back is against the wall, what is it you look to? Now imagine you ran the country, times are tough and your back (really, your country) is against the wall. Where do you turn? If your answer is the gym or the golf course--you could be the leader of the free world.
Time Magazine profiled the Obama family's plans for Christmas vacation last week titled, "No Churchgoing Christmas for the First Family." It went on to chronicle the "surprisingly tough issue" of church for the family. In fact, in his first year in office President Obama has attended church three times at three different venues. Of course, for 20 years he was right at home, married in and had two children baptized in Reverend Wright's famous "G-damn America" church. But then, that's old news.
Don't misunderstand this to be a criticism of the man simply because he doesn't attend church. Many religious people in this country do not attend organized religious services. And while you can certainly debate the importance of churchgoing, there can be no debate in the vast majority of this country's belief in a higher power at work in their lives. Guiding, shaping, protecting and molding most American's lives is the belief in something greater than self.
If you're an American who has no such faith, surely you and all Americans can agree to the fundamental principals spelled out in the preamble of our Constitution.
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
The first "action item," in the preamble is to "provide for the common defense." In other words, our government's chief task as spelled out by our founders is to keep our country tranquil or safe through strength. So the question bears repeating. From where does our president find strength?
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was charged with the attempted Christmas Day bombing of Northwest Airlines flight 253. Thankfully the would-be terrorist was ill-prepared to launch his attack. But in a tape released four days before, the leader of al Qaeda in Yemen boasted of what was planned for Americans, saying, "We are carrying a bomb to hit the enemies of God."
In November, Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan gunned down 13 American soldiers and wounded 38 more from within the walls of Ft. Hood.
The instances of domestic terrorism are shockingly too many to list in this column. In fact, the LA Times featured a story earlier this month headlined:
"U.S. sees homegrown Muslim extremism as rising threat. This may have been the most dangerous year since 9/11, anti-terrorism experts say."
How is it, then that President Obama and his hapless Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano appear so flummoxed, if not downright unimpressed with the threat? After the Hassan shooting at Ft. Hood, President Obama warned Americans not to "jump to conclusions" regarding a possible motive. To date, no Congressional inquiry has been called to investigate how it is a known radical can exist within our military ranks for so many years.
President Obama was notified two days after the attempted Christmas Day attack. A full three days later, he gave brief remarks and a "Happy New Year" greeting as he ran back to the beach. CBS News summarized the president's initial reaction this way:
"The vacation continues, even though he is getting daily intelligence briefings and the White House says he is constantly monitoring the latest with the investigation into the attempted terrorist attack. One of his basketball partners today was his national security chief of staff, so you could say that even while relaxing, he's always close to his top aides."
President Obama does not have a profound respect for the Constitution. He does not seem to have much public conviction of faith either. Thankfully, most Americans still possess both. Our sworn enemies ironically share that in common with most of us. Deeply held, faith-based convictions. Our way of life is not according to God's plan in their view. Our freedoms granted us by the Constitution are a violation of God's law, not His gift.
No finer words summarize so clearly what faces our nation than those spoken by President Ronald Reagan in the 1964 speech called "A Time for Choosing."
"You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard 'round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn't die in vain.
“Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it's a simple answer after all.
“You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, "There is a price we will not pay.
"There is a point beyond which they must not advance." And this is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater's "peace through strength." Winston Churchill said, "The destiny of man is not measured by material computations. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we're spirits, not animals." And he said, "There's something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.
“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny."
President Obama simply isn't capable of speaking this way. He believes none of it. Spirit, strength, enemies all irresponsible, rhetorical cowboy flourish in his view. He does have a rendezvous, however. Not with destiny, or even church. Just his early morning workout and a mid-morning tee time.
(Hear Chris on 710 AM each day from 5-9 a.m. and read him only in your Landmark. Email firstname.lastname@example.org)
HEY GOP! READY FOR CONSERVATIVES' HELP NOW?
Was anyone really surprised? This was their moment. The moment the “rise of the oceans would slow and our planet would heal,” remember? The Democrats are that delusional in Washington. So, when they scrape, fight, deal, connive, cajole, bribe, and arm twist to get their 60 Senate votes on “health care reform” there should be no one surprised.
Rather, it is what conservatives warned would happen. Yes, Senator McCain, we told you so.
Were the circumstances not so serious, you might have done a comedic spit-take when Senator John McCain appeared on Sean Hannity's radio show last week. The Senator pleaded with Hannity's listeners to do everything they could to help stop the Senate's destructive moves toward a final vote on “reform.”
At the risk of sounding like your mother, here - what have we learned? When the chips were down, and his famous “maverick” charm wasn't working on his “friends” in the Democrat party, he came running to conservatives for help.
All too often, conservatives are taken for granted. We're always told it's the Independents, the Reagan Democrats that are considered essential to get a campaign over the top. Conservatives are the dependable vote. They are looked to first for donations, not direction or message. In fact, we were told to “shut-up and sit down” most of last year's presidential campaign.
Now John McCain needs our fire, mobilization, and passion. Well, we're way ahead of you, Senator.
McCain ran for President as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) even though he called himself a "Reagan foot soldier." He lost and he lost big going up against a radical leftist. There is no way McCain, an American hero, should have ever lost that race though we know why he did. McCain refused to identify Obama as a radical leftist. McCain refused to embrace talk radio. McCain refused to give up pandering to “disenfranchised” groups and simply run on conservative principles.
Instead he was desperate for Colin Powell's endorsement. He was desperate for Lieberman's help. And while his old friend Joe flirted with saving Americans from this legislative disaster this week, what did he do? He voted with the Democrats as that key 60th vote. Golly, remember when he was at the RNC convention last year? Lots of good his old buddy Joe is now.
And we all know how McCain's campaign treated Sarah Palin. She was buried, looked down upon, and she was an embarrassment to them. She was the best friend they ever had. She was the only hope they ever had. She is the reason McCain barely won Missouri.
RINOs like McCain were disinterested with, if not embarrassed by, the patriots of their party last year. Conservatives meanwhile, simply respect McCain because of his military service. Yet McCain didn't and doesn't respect conservatives for our service. Our service to protecting the integrity of the Republican party, ergo the Constitution. McCain and the GOP put conservatives in their place last fall now McCain and the party are being put in theirs.
The core of any political party can only be fooled so many times. The Republican party is in a very dangerous place right now. People like McCain are playing with fire. If the core of the party --- conservatives--- are going to be asked to go to the mat for the party, things have to change.
Either the Republican party becomes a conservative party, or it will fade into the ash heap of history.
Conservatives will not be denied. Our time has come. We would prefer to rise to power as Republicans, but people like John McCain better get in line or get ready to be run over. McCain can't ask for our help on healthcare and then co-sponsor an amnesty bill. John McCain can't ask for our help and then lock arms with Joe Lieberman and Lindsay Graham on Cap and Trade. John McCain can't reach across the aisle anymore because there aren't any Democrats we want to cut deals with.
This country has been hijacked by politicians that will sell our liberty and property out for any bill that has their name on it. Liberals and RINOs are in Washington working for them. They're independent contractors, not representatives of you and me.
These corrupt sellouts are the kind of people who loathe Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin doesn't cut deals with insiders. She understands the role of public servants. The Republican Party better start loving people like Palin and her message--- a conservative message--- or our check writing and volunteer days for the GOP are over.
So this is where conservatives are today. We are ready to take back our country. We are ready to donate to conservative candidates. We are ready to march, make calls, protest, and vote. Now, all we need are candidates who respect us.
John McCain is a patriot when it comes to all things military. He would jump into a bomber today and fight for this country if our national security was at stake and he is to be eternally thanked and admired for that. But we face an equally destructive and insidious threat today and it comes from within. We want to know: Is John McCain a Republican Party patriot, or is he something less? Does he want phony bi-partisanship with radicals or does he want to increase and protect our liberty?
If McCain stands for conservative principles, we will stand with him. If McCain stands with RINOs, we'll run him over with every other conservative in our ranks in 2010 and 2012.
We're in a difficult position. Our backs are against the wall. Our liberty is at stake. We're looking for committed conservatives who will be strong and who won't take sides with Democrats. John McCain is correct. We should all call our Congressmen and try to stop Obamacare. It is a disaster. But when that's over, let's call John McCain. Let's tell him that on some important issues, he and his RINO buddies have been a disaster.
2010 is OUR moment now.
(Listen to Chris Stigall each morning on 710 AM and read him each week right here in The Landmark. Email him at email@example.com)
AL GORE SHOULD MEET MY GRANDPA
Bill Stigall has taught me more about Earth, nature, and the environment than Al Gore ever will. Bill's not a scientist, or a teacher, or a politician. Bill is my grandfather. Growing up, I spent countless hours at his side. I learned to respect and appreciate nature greatly, as he does. What my grandfather unknowingly taught me is a lesson folks like Gore would do well to learn.
I learned about trees. I learned walnuts were green on the outside long before they made it to your kitchen. Sweet gum trees that drop those spiked, round balls from their branches are actually seeds. So are those “whirly-birds” that looked more like helicopter propellers when you dropped them. Persimmon trees are one of an opossum's favorite snacks. If you cut into a persimmon, look for the shape of the seed inside. It will look like a fork, spoon, or a knife. And each of those “utensils” forecasts the coming weather season's severity. Ok, it's not an exact science, but it was neat to a kid.
Grandpa's hunting dogs were German Shorthaired Pointers. They ran wildly with lightning speed when they were released from their kennel in the back yard. But when he called them, they knew not to waste time hurrying back. They were highly disciplined hunting dogs. They knew what a covey of quail or pheasant smelled like in an open field well ahead of their human companion. They knew exactly where to find the downed birds after a successful shot. It was amazing to watch all they knew. They knew it because Bill taught them, too.
Grandpa grew up in a family of farmers. He taught me why a cow can't eat too much alfalfa, and why you didn't want the job of relieving that cow's discomfort if it did. He would tell stories of working fields with a lone mule and a plow. He picked tassels off the top of acres of corn stalks by hand, bucked bales of hay, and sold home-grown produce from the back of my great grandfather's pick-up truck. The acres of land he still owns near the Missouri River are where I watched my first duck hunt from a duck blind. It's where I took my first shot of a gun and learned the importance of respecting a river that took homes, lives, and farmland over the years.
If real estate agents sold bird houses, my grandfather would be their Donald Trump. His martin houses towered ten to fifteen feet high. A bee-bee gun was occasionally used to scare away the starling invaders. Wren houses are very petite. Blue bird houses are significantly bigger. Cardinals like sunflower seeds. You can get suet from the meat counter at the grocery store for a woodpecker feeder. And there's nothing to making homemade hummingbird food.
To this day, all I know about fish I owe to my grandpa. It took a lot of tries as a kid to get that night crawler or river worm on the hook, but grandpa always made it look easy. Fish by fish, I learned not only how to identify them, but how to hold them and whether they were any good to eat. I never really got the hang of cleaning them. I was always content to let Grandpa do that. Like so many kids and their parents and grandparents, there are seldom fonder memories than on a bank, boat, dock, or stream hooking a fish and reeling it in. It's my preferred method of relaxation to this day.
Now in his 80s, Grandpa and I still talk about the turkeys and deer we've seen or what kinds of birds have been at the feeder. He still hands me his copy of Missouri Conservationist from time to time when he's done reading it, and I still ask him plenty of questions about the outdoors.
Importantly, my grandfather has always has a quiet respect for God and the role faith plays in his life. He and my grandmother instilled that in me at a young age as well. So today, as I watch politicians arrogantly proclaim dominion over the “climate,” and predict the dire consequences of our behaviors or inaction I can't help but laugh.
Real life taught me a respect and appreciation for nature from a very young age. I watched nature entertain, feed, destroy, kill, and beautify my life as well as those around me. Each passing year, I try to pass on to my kids more of what my grandfather has taught me. I hope they'll learn a respect and appreciation for God's creation as I have. I hope they'll learn humility as well. Humility to know we could no more create our natural surroundings than we can control them.
Humility to understand the dangers of people, like Al Gore, who claim they can.
(Listen to Chris Stigall each weekday morning from 5-9 a.m. on KCMO 710AM and read him each week only in your Landmark. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
WHAT'S THE BENEFIT OF BENEFITS?
It's that time of year again benefits meetings. If you work for an employer who provides you with any kind of insurance, 401K program, etc. you're probably familiar with the annual benefits meeting. My company recently gathered all of their Kansas City employees together to watch a video presentation on the matter. The video featured our company CEO in a casual, sit-down setting describing his/shareholders' feelings on the current state of health care. It won't come as a surprise to you when he divulged health insurance coverage for his employees was the company's largest overhead expense.
The cynical employees gathered in the room snickered and sneered as the big boss shared the statistics. “Well, we know they're not spending money on salaries,” one malcontent muttered. Our CEO went on to explain the strategy he believed would not only “empower” his employees but also help rein in the rising cost of health insurance coverage for them too. His solution was to encourage all of us to join a health savings account, also known as an HSA. Through an HSA, employees are allowed to contribute portions of their paychecks, before taxes, to this account for anything and everything they spend money on related to health care. Dental, eyes, medicine, co-pays, you name it.
Besides being pre-tax money, the employee can continue to contribute to that account year after year just like a bank account or a 401K. The money is yours to keep forever. And in the case of my company, the boss announced an added incentive to participate. The company will match 30 cents for every dollar you put in your account.
The thinking goes; you'll make better decisions as a consumer of health care if you're using your own “bank account” to pay for services. If the doctor says, “Let's run a test.” Your response will likely be, “Is this test vital? How much will it cost? What if I don't get the test? Can I get the same test cheaper somewhere else?” If you have a cold, can you wait it out or will you run right to the doctor upon that first sneeze? Now you're thinking, “What if something really bad happens? You'd go broke with this HSA!” There's a limit to your out- of- pocket expenses. Five to ten thousand dollars on average for most HSAs. After that amount is reached, you're covered 100%. In other words, a few thousand dollars of out-of-pocket costs versus selling your house. It may not be the ideal scenario compared to full coverage, but when did we come to the conclusion we're “owed” a limitless sum of money for our health care?
Let's face it. Multiple generations have grown accustomed to not thinking about the cost of their treatments. Now certainly there is no cost too great when you're talking about beating a deadly illness, or needing a life-saving procedure. There is a different set of circumstances for those born with pre-existing conditions, too. But that is not the overwhelming majority of us. It is the rare, and catastrophic that health insurance truly ought to serve. I'm talking about the run of the mill sprained ankle. The sniffle, cat-scan, x-ray, prescription waterfall that has become the norm in this country is breaking our employer's backs.
How many of us have received bills for hospital visits pages thick with line by line expenses? We look at the thousands of dollars charged and say, “Whew, I'm glad I'm not paying for this.” But seldom do we care to ask, “I wonder who is?” The answer for many of us through the generations has been, “Our employers.” As though that means nothing to you, your wages, or your job security. If we were all truly honest about it, it's pretty amazing employers were ever conned into this to begin with.
For instance, many of us have cars to get us to work every day. We need those cars to earn a living. Sometimes they break down, and sometimes they blow a transmission. That's a bad situation, no doubt. But why don't we look at this situation the same way we look at health insurance? If we did, we'd tell the mechanic, “Do whatever you have to do. Rebuild the transmission. And while you're in there, change the oil and rotate the tires. It needs to be done. Anyway, I have insurance. I'm not paying for it.”
The thing about us consumers is we like bargains. We like the best deal. We shop and compare with everything we pay for out- of- pocket. Groceries get the coupon treatment. Jiffy Lube has the early bird special oil change, while Firestone and Midas might sweeten the deal with a free tire rotation. Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren't big shopping days because people are willing to pay any price for computers, appliances, clothes, etc.
No, we're looking for a great DEAL!
So, CEOs like mine are trying to force us out of our comfort zones for our company's financial health. They want you to shop and compare. Think through treatment decisions. Spend what you think is necessary for you, while your fellow employee spends much less or much more if they chose. But it's your own decision. That's a good thing, right? Yet amazingly, so many in our benefits meeting that day were in a state of panic. “What's this CEO trying to pull, anyway?”
Truthfully, he's just undoing the disservice done to the American worker long ago. In doing so, he and others like him will force us to become more prudent in our choices of lifestyle and medical treatment. That will go a long way in the debate over “rising health care costs.” There are many more problems with the system than simply this, it's true.
But if it comes down to shopping for my own health care benefits versus losing my job that paid for them in full, well, I'll keep my job.
(See Stigall this Friday at The Landmark Christmas party and listen to him each morning on KCMO 710 AM from 5-9 a.m.)
THIS WEEK: WHAT A TANGLED WEB
Cover-ups, denials, finger-pointing, and destruction of evidence--the past news week has been chock-full of lies. Some of those lies have serious implications for a public image. Some have serious implications for national security. Then there are some lies so big, our very freedom is at stake.
Last Friday the world's most legendary golfer, the highest paid athlete in history was in a car accident. Here's what we know. Tiger Woods left his driveway Friday morning, and only traveling a few feet at a high rate of speed, slammed his SUV into a fire hydrant, then into a tree. He was not drunk or medicated, he said. His petite wife immediately appeared on the scene moments after the accident at two thirty in the morning with a golf club. Because Woods was knocked unconscious in the accident, his wife sprang into action to free him from the vehicle. Taking the golf club she, uh, carries on her person at all times, Mrs. Woods instinctively, uh, smashes the… um, back window. Then, dragging her husband's….er, uh, um…limp, unconscious body three rows back and through the broken window, Mrs. Woods lays her husband on the road and calls an ambulance.
Now, to be clear we don't and probably won't know what happened that early Friday morning. But if you buy the story as just recounted, then you believe 30 million Americans will get free health insurance from the government and you won't pay a dime for it. Did Woods cheat on his wife? Did his wife flip her lid when she found out? We don't know. It doesn't matter, really. What Woods knows is he has a multi-million dollar reputation to protect and he's hunkering down to do so.
Last Tuesday night, Tareq and Michaele Salahi attended President Obama's first official state dinner at the White House even though they weren't invited. Here's what we know. The Salahis showed up at the gates of the White House on a rainy Tuesday night dressed for dinner. The first guard shack did not have their name on any list, but didn't see any reason not to let them in…uh, to the second check point. At the second check point, another member of the Secret Service also saw no listing of the Salahis on the invite list. Normally, the White House social secretary is present at this post to greet invitees, but she…um, wasn't there. So, the Salahis just, um, convinced a second member of the Secret Service to just, uh, trust them. With that, the Salahis were whisked into the party where they were announced to the press pool and mingled with other invitees as well as the most powerful man in the world. The Secret Service apologized for the oversight.
Now if you believe this one, you believe 30 million Americans will get free health insurance from the government and you'll receive the same quality care from your doctor you currently receive --and it won't cost you anything.
Let us stop the silly hand wringing over breaches of security at the White House. You do not "show up" uninvited to the White House. You don't talk your way into shaking hands with the President. It doesn't happen. Someone in the White House invited and allowed the Salahis into this dinner. Someone in a position of power allowed the Salahis access to the party. That person's name will come out eventually. Why the Salahis are important to someone in that party will become clear soon.
Nevertheless, the Salahis were not on an official check list for the Secret Service, thus the Secret Service takes the fall. But the Secret Service doesn't point fingers. They don't blame others. It's simply not how an elite security team conducts themselves. That said, the finest security detail in the world did not suddenly become Barney Fife Tuesday night.
Last week also led to the publication of more than 3,000 private emails and documents authored by some of the world's most influential climatologists. Here's what we know. In these emails, scientists appear to urge each other to present a "unified" view on the theory of man-made global warming while discussing the importance of the "common cause;” to advise each other on how to smooth over data so as not to compromise their hypothesis; to discuss ways to keep opposing views out of leading journals; and to give tips on how to "hide the decline" of temperature in certain data. Additionally, much of the raw temperature data used to compile their case has been "thrown away to conserve space."
Of the lies and deceit in the last week, this is far and away the most significant to all of us. The scientists in Europe and the United States responsible for the theory of man-made global warming have lied and covered up evidence to the contrary. This sham has been used as the justification for the most aggressive freedom-snatching legislation Congress has ever created. Factories, cars, light bulbs, agriculture, and energy providers have all come under attack. Men like former Vice President Al Gore have made millions and won Nobel Prizes for movies and lectures all predicated on a phony science. It is the single biggest scientific fraud since the Nazi party created the "science" of a superior race. And like the Nazis, some are so committed to the phony science only political defeat will terminate their blind loyalty.
Universities and courthouses have variations of a well known Bible verse etched in stone all across the country. It is an American axiom. Surely it's somewhere to be found in the Capitol Building and the White House. Free and freedom loving people should always keep it close to their hearts. "And the truth shall set you free.”
(Listen to Stigall each morning from 5-9 a.m. on 710 KCMO and read him in your Landmark each week. Email him at email@example.com)
THIS THANKSGIVING, IT'S THANKS BUT NO THANKS
Have you noticed Christmas decorations going up earlier this year? I don't mean at stores. That always happens. Particularly in this economy the earlier you can get potential shoppers to lay-it-away or charge it for Dec. 25, the better your bottom line will appear. Two radio stations in town go wall-to-wall Christmas music just after Halloween. That's not really new, either. Obnoxious, yes. But not new.
Taking stock of multiple blocks in the neighborhood this month, it seemed unusually Christmas-festive with still weeks to go until Thanksgiving. There are always a couple of families that live to decorate early every year. It's not that. It's that there were SO many houses in the neighborhood decorated SO early. True, we've had some great weather days to get the outdoors decorated. But it's not simple weather practicality in play here.
Here's a theory. It's just my gut talking. No empirical data to back it up. Christmas came on strong this year because we need the distraction. I'll bet you're seeing the same thing. The bright, shiny, happy, character-filled event known as Christmas helps us forget or maybe ignore what has become a tiresome, frustrating, and sometimes frightening threat to our way of life as we know it.
What's the threat, you ask?
This week is Thanksgiving, not Christmas. A time to count our blessings and reflect on all we cherish. Our blessings are directly tied to our uniquely American way of life.
Specifically life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The freedom we are God-granted is inextricably linked to each and every blessing you count this year. Just try to extract freedom from your list of thanksgiving. Gets mighty short, does it not?
For example, many are thankful for their health. In a country with the finest advances in medical training, education, pharmaceuticals, and technology we enjoy a health care system that is the envy of the world. At this hour, Congress is on a wild-eyed crusade to destroy it in the name of “cost savings.” It is a disaster the American public does not want, yet those in Washington defiantly march on.
Maybe you're thankful you have a job, or earn a decent living. It's freedom that allows you to advance in the career of your choice or shoot for maximum earnings potential. Yet our government says you can make too much money. This president and Congress say “too much” is $250,000 dollars and up. Once you've reached that salary - then you are to “share the wealth” through aggressive taxation. This government is presiding over double-digit unemployment while growing and protecting only government and union jobs. These, of course, are jobs that have limits on earning power and absolutely no opportunity for meaningful advancement. Meanwhile, they spend our nation into a deficit many generations yet born will pay for dearly.
The creature comforts of our lives are always something for which to give thanks. Heat and air conditioning keep us comfortable from the elements. Our cars allow us to commute not just to work, but also to travel and shop. Food is in ample supply thanks to American agriculture. Yet every one of these things is under attack from government.
Even as this week brings evidence of rigged, phony science--uncovered in the “man-made, global warming” lie--Congress and this president arrogantly march on to regulate “emissions” from our homes, cars, and yes, even cows. This reckless, disastrous attempt to micromanage our lifestyle and very movement is more than honest Americans can stand.
We Americans are decent people. We work hard. We value our freedom to reach our maximum potential and reap the full benefits of that freedom. But we are in unchartered waters this day. We are watching a president and a Congress hell-bent on the destruction of that freedom. Their vision is an American public governed through central-planning. Their vision is an American people wholly dependent on the state for their health, wages, education you name it.
Still, it isn't that we've become thankless. The American people continue to be thankful for their freedom, as it still exists today. However, the prospects of this unprecedented government assault have become a heavy emotional and mental burden for most of us still paying attention.
Maybe next Thanksgiving the neighbors will take some time before Christmas and stop to recognize Thanksgiving first. A new Congress will be in place by then. Maybe that will restore some pause. Until then, it's too hard for some to reflect on our unique, God-granted blessings. They're being damaged and potentially destroyed. We need a distraction.
We need one more strand of lights on that gutter, don't you think?
(Listen to your favorite conservative talker Chris Stigall each morning from 5-9 a.m. on KCMO 710 AM, and read him exclusively each week right here in your Landmark. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
CATHOLICS MAKE 'EM SQUIRM IN THE CAPITOL
You have to hand it to Catholics. They know what they believe, and their leadership is becoming more vocal about it every day. The first time I truly sat up and took notice was a couple of years ago when Union Station hosted the traveling exhibit, “Bodies Revealed.”
If you missed the debate, allow me to summarize. Dead Chinese people, skinless, plasticized and posed in various states of activity are hauled around from city to city. About the time “Bodies” came to Kansas City, ABC's Brian Ross conducted an investigation into the company who “owns” the bodies and built a very chilling case. Those human beings on display were very likely Chinese prisoners, executed and then sold.
I was quick to personally denounce the exhibit on my show. After research and watching the ABC investigation, I learned legislators on both sids of the aisle as well as the State of New York were calling for big investigations of the exhibit's parent company, Premier Exhibitions. Nevertheless, doctors, teachers, and parents overwhelmingly applauded the exhibit as a learning opportunity. A chance to see the mysterious, fascinating human body in a way we've never seen it before. The promoters of the show came to my radio studio with some plasticized organs in the hopes I'd have them on the air for a chit-chat. They were shown the door. Even if these bodies were obtained legally, which I doubt, there still seemed to be something inherently wrong with it to me. The audience didn't widely seem to agree with me. Then I stumbled across a couple of Catholic Bishops' statement on the issue:
“…We regard the "Bodies" exhibit as an unfortunate exploitation of that which is "real" to teach something that could be accomplished by use of models. As such it represents a kind of "human taxidermy" that degrades the actual people who, through their bodies, once lived, loved, prayed, and died. For these reasons, we do not believe that this exhibit is an appropriate destination for field trips by our Catholic schools.”
It was a joint statement from Joseph F. Naumann, Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas, and Robert W. Finn, Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph. If you follow politics at all in this part of the country, you know their names. Archbishop Naumann famously denied former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius communion because of her pro-abortion positions. Many bishops have made news on this issue in recent years. Not exclusive to Democrats, pro-abortion Republicans like Rudi Guiliani have been denied communion as well.
In the waning days of the 2008 presidential campaign, Bishop Robert Finn made a rare phone call to my radio show. I asked him simply what he would say to Catholics who were considering a vote for Barak Obama. His answer? Brace yourself. “I would say give consideration to your eternal salvation…” Not a lot of grey in that statement, now is there?
Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy recently wrote an open letter to his bishop defending his support of taxpayer funded abortion in the latest health care “reform” bill. “The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic,” Kennedy proclaimed.
Quick to respond in another open letter, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence shot back, “Well, in fact, Congressman, in a way it does….Your rejection of the Church's teaching on abortion falls into a different category--it's a deliberate and obstinate act of the will; a conscious decision that you've re-affirmed on many occasions,” wrote Tobin.
The Bishop slams the door shut on Congressman Kennedy. Brace yourself again. “Sorry, you can't chalk it up to an ‘imperfect humanity.’ Your position is unacceptable to the Church and scandalous to many of our members. It absolutely diminishes your communion with the Church.”
In Washington D. C., the Roman Catholic Archdiocese has also taken off the gloves. They warned the city council that if same-sex marriage is legalized by their vote next month, the church would cut its social service programs known as Catholic Charities. Estimates place those they serve at some 68,000 local residents, including about a third of the city's homeless people, who go to city-owned shelters managed by the church. Officials from the archdiocese said they fear the law might require them to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples.
This is the same city that tried to ban possession of all firearms within city limits. The U.S. Supreme Court had to overturn that madness. I think the Archdiocese is far from paranoid, here.
It is true the church hierarchy has taken a public bruising over the years for the duplicitous behavior of some of their own. But the vast majority of the Catholic Church leads with a clarity, conscience, conviction, and commitment to their beliefs that no politician, press, or public protest will shake. Catholic leadership continues to stand resolute in their beliefs rooted in their faith. Providing politicians with political comfort and cover from the winds of “change” and “progressive” thinking has never been their motivation. Rather, Catholic leaders are providing politicians a spiritual framework with which to make important decisions. They are unapologetic, clear and consistent in their message.
Unapologetic, clear and consistent --everything most politicians are not.
(Listen to Chris Stigall each morning on KCMO 710AM, and read him each week, only in your Landmark. Email Chris at email@example.com)
WILL REPUBLICANS APPRECIATE THE GIFT DEMS THREW THEM?
Last weekend was a gift. Over 2,000 pages of some of the most ill-advised, rushed, freedom squashing, economy wrecking legislation ever crafted in the House of Representatives. Now will Republicans appreciate the gift?
The “health care reform” offered by Democrats in the House promises everything the President swore wasn't in the bill. Remember Joe (You lie!) Wilson? Well, old Joe had it right. This legislation covers illegal aliens. It did cover abortion with taxpayer money until a conservative Democrat stripped it out. Nevertheless, it was in there. This legislation will force you to carry insurance even if you choose to not. This legislation will ruin the quality insurance coverage and care over 80% of Americans already receive. This legislation will require already broken states to increase their Medicaid roles. It will ration care - specifically for Medicare participants through cuts in service.
There are end-of-life counseling incentives in this bill (e.g. “death panels”). This legislation will tax small business--the job creators of our nation. This legislation will begin to collect taxes on you immediately, while the “benefits” of government run health care for all won't kick in until 2013. That's one year after the next presidential election. Consider it a lay-away plan on the destruction of 1/5 of our economy.
All this, and you have to hand it to liberal Democrats they passed the bill anyway. The gift for Republicans in all of this is the colossal, unapologetic overreach by Democrats. Tea parties and town halls of 2009 and poll after poll proves the “movement” and passion that exists within the electorate today is not with Democrats, and it's clearly not with a growing government.
Despite last week's Republican victories in gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey, the House Democrats threw caution to the wind. Speaker Pelosi actually declared, “we won” last week. Yes, Democrats won two special seats in an off year, but to say “we won” is akin to celebrating your ship sinking because you have a life vest.
Forging ahead as captain of this legislative Titanic, Captain Pelosi promised and delivered a weekend health care vote despite all evidence suggesting public support had evaporated. President Obama lobbied gun-shy Democrats last weekend for their support. One representative quoted Obama as saying, “Does anybody think that the tea-bag, anti-government people are going to support you if you bring down health care? All it will do is confuse and dispirit your supporters and it will encourage extremists.”
The President of the United States is behaving as a ruthless partisan. Just as his congressional colleagues have displayed, this is a ruling party beholden to and motivated by their base of support alone. They are not “of the people.” They are of their people. An Oregon representative was quoted in the New York Times making this very case. “If you want to see a recipe for failure, don't do the things you talked about in your campaigns and turn your back on your base. All the independent voters in the world don't matter if the Democrats don't turn out.”
This is what is so admirable about liberal Democrats and why they have given such a gift to Republicans. They're showing them how to run the show when in control. Their problem, of course, is the American people don't like this show. This is low-hanging fruit for the GOP congressional candidates of 2010. With the knowledge that independent voters chose the conservative last week in both New Jersey and Virginia, all Republicans have to do is keep it simple. Be conservative. Don't try to moderate your message purely to pander to independents.
The independents are with the conservatives. The American public, when polled, overwhelmingly live their lives as conservatives. Americans have an inherent mistrust of big government. Americans don't like more taxes, big deficits, and less freedom. The Democrats care not. They are on an economic jihad, giddy with power and fiddling while the country burns.
If Republicans can't turn this environment into a winning proposition, they simply deserve the scarlet letter of “minority party” forever. Once in power, Republicans must unapologetically serve as promised--and as elected--as conservatives. Americans crave political sanity desperately after the Democrats' Jim Jones revival of 2009. It is a political gift for Republicans. Just in time for Christmas.
(Listen to Chris on Talk Radio 710 AM from 5-9 a.m. each morning and read him each week in your Landmark. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
GOP WOMEN ARE WEARING THE PANTS IN THE PARTY
Behind every successful man there is a strong woman, as the saying goes. In politics, that's almost always true.This week, a question for the women - who's behind a strong, successful, political woman? Among conservatives, strong women stand largely alone right now. Most of the men are out to lunch.
Allow me to take you back to the first column I wrote in the pages of this fine publication. It was the weekend Sarah Palin resigned as Governor of Alaska published July 8th, 2009:
"Sarah Palin knows she holds something more powerful than elected office right now. She has a consistent, unwavering commitment to celebrating American exceptionalism, freedom, and less government in the lives of every American. She now has the ability to hold each and every politician who calls on her for help to rise to her standard and maintain the integrity of the conservative movement. Put plainly, she will now determine the standard, direction, and message of conservatism going forward if they want her help.
“She holds popularity, trust, interest, and an excitement with a sizable national constituency who listen to her more than any public official today… When she leaves office in a couple of weeks, she assumes the role of the Republican's titular kingmaker."
Now, I was raised a humble man and taught that bragging was unbecoming. But, after one of the most amazing political weeks we've seen in some time, please forgive me. I told you so!
A little New York congressional race has become the proof of the power of Palin and conservatism, more specifically. When an outgoing Republican needed to be replaced in a special election this year, the New York Republican party elite nominated a pro-union, pro-abortion, pro-tax Republican named Dede Scozzafava. It's important to know there was no primary race, just party bosses handpicking an insider. Enter a man who'd had enough of just this kind of out-of-touch elitism in Washington and decided to try to do something about it. Republican Doug Hoffman, calling himself a member of the Conservative Party for election purposes, made it a three-way race and ultimately a national debate for Republicans.
Former House Speaker and Republican Party star of the 90s, Newt Gingrich jumped in weeks ago to endorse his party's nominee in Scozzafava. John Boehner, the current Republican leader in the House, did the same. Surely these men never figured a little race in New York would receive any meaningful attention. They concerned themselves first with bolstering House membership by acquiring anyone with a little (R) behind their name. Remember, for politicians it's too often about winning with numbers and not about winning with principles. And that's where a certain former governor changed the rules of the game.
Sarah Palin took to her Facebook page, and with a few paragraphs not only endorsed conservative candidate Doug Hoffman, but forced every major player or potential player in Republican politics to choose. Will it be the numbers game of Gingrich, or the principals of Palin? Mind you, she didn't actually push the choice. Yet interestingly, within a week nearly every Republican on the national stage who typically wouldn't get involved in such an election found themselves lining up behind Palin, thus Hoffman.
The anointed Republican, Scozzofava fell precipitously in the polls almost immediately. Money from all around the country began to pour in for Doug Hoffman. Scozzafava, writing clearly on the wall, bailed out of the race last week. Scozzafava's final act in this drama? In true RINO fashion, she threw her paltry support behind the Democrat in the race. She educated the nation, specifically Republicans, as to just how insincere and unprincipled RINOS (Republicans In Name Only) are. Sarah Palin helped New Yorkers dodge a bullet in a political shell game and led conservatives to successfully fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota also showed some muscle this week. While her party leaders in the House seem sheepish in opposing Nancy Pelosi's radical health care takeover, Bachmann took off the gloves. While Republican "leaders" wasted time offering their "alternatives" to Pelosi, Bachmann released a nationwide all-call to stop her:
"…The American people need to stand up again and make sure that Congress hears them this time. Speaker Pelosi is putting her bill on fast track to a vote… The people need to make a House Call on Washington this week and tell their representatives to vote no to a government take-over of one-fifth of our economy. This is gangster government at its worst. I urge all Americans to come to Washington this Thursday. Come and meet up with your representative and tell them that you want to control your health care."
How many Americans will join Bachmann Thursday in Washington is anyone's guess. She has been making media rounds on national TV and radio shows asking like-minded citizens to join her in one last town hall, tea party - style fight. Sarah Palin meanwhile has been firmly stating her belief that Republicans must stand for conservative principles, not simply "big tent" numbers with no spine or direction. Millions of Americans are listening and donating and hopeful Republican candidates can't wait to mirror Palin's every move.
It seems the ladies of the Republican Party are leading while most of the men are flummoxed and flat-footed. In politics, behind every successful man there is a strong woman. For these successful Republican women, there are millions of voting American men behind them. The men in Republican "leadership" are behind them, too. In their dust.
(Listen to Chris every morning on KCMO 710 AM from 5-9 a.m., read him each week in your Landmark, and email him at email@example.com)
Hypocrisy in the NFL rears its ugly head
Conservatives don't believe in silencing speech. Even reprehensible, bigoted speech is legally protected in the conservative's view. Not just tolerated, but protected. The Bill of Rights, amendment “numero uno,” spells it out. As for the National Football League, there's been some "challenge flags" thrown on speech as of late. And the officials are making some terrible calls.
By now you've heard of conservative radio star Rush Limbaugh's failed bid to purchase the St. Louis Rams a couple of weeks ago. Even after the story died, some local “journalists” and opinion writers continued to misrepresent the entire episode.
In summary, once Limbaugh's name was leaked to the press regarding the potential team purchase, liberal journalists and politicians forced the NFL to pick political sides. To force their hand, racist comments attributed to Limbaugh, the liberal mob claimed, were lifted from the internet and reported across the country. The comments were later deemed utter fiction. Multiple personalities were forced to apologize to the host for their libelous misdeeds. But the damage was done. His business deal was killed.
Politicians and race-baiters like Al Sharpton, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas, and Jesse Jackson all demanded the National Football League reject Limbaugh's money. Columnists like the Kansas City Star's Jason Whitlock and NFL Players Union head DeMaurice Smith as well as a host of players said Limbaugh should not share sidelines or locker rooms with players of color. Their voices so loud, shrill, and sadly effective that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and one NFL owner both denounced Limbaugh publicly. Limbaugh's ownership group, in their estimation, could not weather the backlash--a manufactured backlash over comments that were never made.
Despite the insincerity and duplicity of Limbaugh's critics, there was a reaction within the NFL typical of corporate entities under fire. “Damage control” always trumps truth when the bottom line is under attack. And the shake-down artists mentioned above know it. In just the last few months, health insurance companies, hospitals, doctors, energy companies, Wall Street executives, banks and talk show hosts have all had to fall on swords just to save their collective hides from financial ruin. Not because of anything they've done, per se, but what these con artists have managed to conjure up to destroy their credibility and profitability.
Just two weeks after the alleged bigotry of Limbaugh was proven untrue, the proven bigotry of the Kansas City Chiefs' Larry Johnson came to light. The once glittering star of the NFL, now largely unimpressive on the field, has been a seven year thorn in the side of the Chiefs organization. His mouthy, disrespectful behavior to fellow players and coaches is well known. So, too, are the multiple charges of battery, abuse, and assault to women in his private life. This week, bigoted comments caught on tape and online against homosexuals have Johnson under investigation with his team and the NFL.
But Larry Johnson looks like a regular Wally Cleaver compared with many of his on-field colleagues. There's not enough column space to chronicle the thug attitudes and activities of players and some coaches in the NFL. In Oakland, a head coach allegedly pummeled one of his fellow coaches. In Philadelphia, a backup quarterback was just given a hero's welcome after a stint in prison for dog fighting. Theft, illegal firearms, drug use, battery, dog fighting--all crimes most professionals would lose their jobs over--are all mere career sidetracks in football.
This is where the hypocrisy of the NFL rears its ugly head. More to the point, this speaks volumes of just what the NFL thinks of its fans. The NFL bets you'll tolerate the bad behavior of their players, no matter how illegal, repugnant and bigoted it may be. You'll tolerate it because you love that Sunday roar of the crowd. You love to tailgate. You love the war-like strategy of your fantasy leagues. And if any of these thugs can get you closer to a win on Sunday, their rap sheet is irrelevant. At least, that's what Commissioner Goodell seems to think.
But if a radio talk show host wants to become (ironically) a minority owner of a football team, and a couple of street thugs cry “racist,” well, that's too much for fans to withstand. Surely if Limbaugh became a partial owner of the St. Louis Rams, there would be massive walk-outs at stadiums all over the country. Players would quit, and return their millions. Satellite subscribers would cancel their 16-way split screen, plasma high-definition, game-day orgies in their living rooms. The other 31 groups of individual billionaires would probably sell their teams and get out of the football business. Yes, Limbaugh would certainly decimate the purity, piety, and wholesome goodness of the National Football League.
It was Limbaugh's “speech” that the NFL and his potential business partners deemed unwelcome in their transaction. In truth, it was not racism, but conservatism that was determined too toxic to withstand for the weak-kneed executives of the league. Meanwhile, the true, vulgar bigotry of Larry Johnson is “under review” as of this column. No doubt, he'll be welcomed back to the field soon enough, if not with the Chiefs then with one of the 31 other franchises.
It's safe to assume Limbaugh would never suggest Johnson lose his job for the true bigotry he displayed this week. It's also safe to assume Johnson wouldn't be so supportive of Limbaugh in an ownership bid. But what do you expect from a bigot?
(Listen to The Landmark’s conservative columnist Chris Stigall each weekday morning from 5-9 a.m. on KCMO Talk Radio 710 AM. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
A Comedy Fairness Doctrine?
On Oct. 6, 2009 the Comedy Fairness Doctrine was conceived. A liberal civil war was declared. CNN versus Saturday Night Live. The cable news network turned its heat- seeking missiles of truth detection on the laser-guided precision of punch lines delivered on a variety show.
The weekend preceding this historic day, Saturday Night Live returned for a new season of shows. Their signature opening sketch featured President Barack Obama (played by Fred Armisen) reading off a laundry list of agenda items he pledged to do, and has yet to accomplish since winning the presidency.
The list was comically, painfully long and the audience applauded and laughed at the real-life, obvious absence of leadership the sketch had captured in President Obama. It is key to remember this is the work of comedy writers who could not find something funny about candidate or President Obama for nearly two years. They did all they could to mock anyone and everyone around the man to avoid skewering the “One” bearing gifts of “hope and change.” But we're coming up on a year in elected office and the liberals have grown restless.
While their motives were most likely to gently nudge their hero to act on his promises, SNL's writers still came to the conclusion that they couldn't afford to lose what comedic street credibility they have left. Doing what they've done since the late 70s, SNL finally acknowledged and parodied a substantive character flaw to flog our Commander in Chief. Enter CNN.
Monday, Oct. 6, Wolf Blitzer took to the airwaves:
“It seems no politician is safe from Saturday Night Live. While many people think SNL has mostly spared President Obama, what they're doing now is not necessarily all that kind. They essentially cast the leader of the free world as a do-nothing president, at least so far. Even though SNL deals in comedy, what they said about the President rings true for a lot of you, apparently. So, did the show accurately capture a mood, or did it go off track for comedic effect? Let's bring in CNN's Kareen Wynter. She's checking the facts for us. All right, Kareen, what are you finding out?”
Yes, CNN fact-checked the comedy of Saturday Night Live.
Just this past Saturday, yet another opening SNL sketch slapped President Obama for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. Armisen's Obama conceded he's accomplished absolutely nothing to deserve the award. The sketch again received big laughs and applause and more scrutiny from news media. This time, the analysis came from the news division of SNL's parent network, NBC. Sunday's NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt found the anchor asking his correspondent if the White House was “concerned” about the “comedy gloves coming off.”
The comedy world sat up and took notice of the press scrutiny immediately. The Daily Show's Jon Stewart launched into a blistering, 12-minute assault on CNN's fact-checking session this week. "While you were doing your research did you also find that sharks live in water and don't deliver candy grams...,” demanded Stewart, referring to a classic SNL sketch called Land Shark.
While Stewart's admonishment of CNN was hilarious, it was also telling. In just over 20 minutes of actual programming, the host and writers devoted two-thirds of their comedy to assailing CNN. Why? Stewart and company have just been introduced to the chilling effect of a White House and news media offensive traditionally reserved for the “wing-nuts” on Fox News and talk radio.
It's a beautiful symphony when your comedy, the White House, and the news media are on the same stage swinging at conservatives in concert. Last week, however, the comedians strayed from the sheet music in a major way. The public was demanding their honesty if they were to still enjoy a credible laugh with their favorite shows. In delivering for their audience, our friends in comedy got a taste of the treatment “tea partiers” and conservative talk radio regularly receives. Welcome to the enemies list, funny men.
This will certainly be only the beginning. The fact that CNN and NBC News find comedians poking fun at the president as “news” acknowledges what honest media watchers have known all along. The press, the president, and comedy formed an unspoken “circle of trust” with one another when it came to the Obama administration. Banding together, they helped elect an inexperienced radical as president. They also acknowledge their power “misdirected” individually can destroy all they worked together to create.
The press is still willing to battle on behalf of this White House, but the comedians are off the reservation--choosing honesty over ideology. The comedian's punishment? Fact checking and discrediting attacks from their former pals. In no time, surely good members of Congress will call for a Comedy Fairness Doctrine.Perhaps all broadcasts of comedy material should be reviewed by the White House before delivery? Maybe an appointed, diverse community board of writers should be created in New York and L.A? If the comedy seems particularly biting to the President or the Democrat Congress, President Obama's appointed board members may add and subtract punch lines to maintain a sense of humorous equilibrium.
Sure, it sounds absurd. It did to talk radio hosts once, too. Not so funny now, is it?
Listen to Chris Stigall on KCMO 710 AM each weekday from 5-9 a.m. And read him right here in your Landmark each week. Email him at email@example.com
Confessions of a Letterman intern
David Letterman inspired my broadcasting career.
Twenty years ago, he was an awkward, self-deprecating guy who wore tennis shoes with his blazer and tie. He was edgy, silly, and unconventional compared to the traditions of variety television at that time. He resonated with an awkward high school kid watching at home in Missouri. Carson was still the king of late night, and some guy named Leno filled in for him a lot. But Dave was cool because he didn't seem to fit in. Yet, when Carson announced his retirement, Letterman was said to be the heir apparent to the Tonight Show.
As a fan, I didn't want Letterman to move into Carson's chair. Not because Letterman couldn't handle it. It just seemed too refined for someone as eccentric and edgy as Letterman. Turned out NBC saw it that way too when they awarded "Tonight" to Leno. It pained Letterman. But it helped to foster that continued edgy, underdog status that led fans like me to follow him to CBS.
Letterman's historically large deal with CBS was fascinating. He was granted an enormous contract and complete ownership of his own show. A show that could be built from the ground up with no expectations or standards set by a previous host like Carson at NBC. More importantly, Letterman answered to no one. He became his own boss--a dream scenario for an entertainer who always answered to someone else.
For fans at home it was like watching the underdog finally win one. He won by remaining true to his "Late Night" formula. Silly characters, Stupid Pet and Human Tricks, Top Ten Lists all made the trip to the new show. Though Letterman only enjoyed one year atop the ratings heap versus Leno, it mattered not to me and people my age. Ask a high school or college kid at the time who was the "cool" host, or the "funny" host Letterman won in a landslide.
As a college student in the rural Midwest, I applied to become an intern with my broadcasting hero. I would later discover hundreds of kids a semester applied for one of 15 spots as interns on the show. Although I presumed I stood little chance, the internship coordinator informed me that Letterman's show favored Midwesterners. Letterman was a Midwest kid himself, and the show was of the mindset that Midwest kids were generally polite, conscientious and hard working. It was the most exciting, promising, thrilling moment a young college kid with a broadcasting dream could have.
It took only a few months of my internship to learn a thing about the business of comedy, at least as it relates to Letterman. It was not an epicenter of fun and creativity. Rather, it was an atmosphere of employees who worked for a man many of them never saw and seldom, if ever, talked to. Many of his employees seemed to resent his cold distance. He was most certainly guarded and unapproachable. This was not the irreverent showman I came to adore. The wide-eyed enthusiasm I arrived with in New York was quickly dashed.
To be clear, I never witnessed anything inappropriate as it relates to Mr. Letterman. I was not mistreated nor was there any juicy gossip overheard during my stay. The knowledge I came home with regarding Letterman was purely observational. Honest students of "Late Show" and comedy in general have certainly come to the same conclusion. Letterman, we must sadly confess, is seldom funny anymore.
It's hard to know just when his entertainment value began to decline. It most likely began the day he became his own boss, ironically. Letterman's personal work ethic he admired in Midwesterners like me seemed to be wanting. He slowly phased out any sketch comedy that featured him. It was a staple of his old shows. The Alka-Seltzer-covered suit he sported before jumping in a tank of water and the Velcro suit that left him stuck to a wall of fabric were no longer. His roving interviews and interaction on the streets of New York became less and less. It was as though the thing that made Letterman so likeable--his ability to be silly and laugh at himself--disappeared. He was too important for that now.
Letterman's personal politics have become so strident and hostile in just the last two years, any conservative feels unwelcome to watch. He would regularly pontificate about the war in Iraq. "George Bush is a dumb guy" jokes were told with such frequency it became wrote. When candidate John McCain had the "audacity" to cancel a scheduled appearance in 2008, Letterman blasted McCain with both barrels until Election Day. A tasteless shot aimed at Sarah Palin's daughter seemed to be the joke that broke the audiences' back. Letterman, after much public outrage, eventually apologized for the remark. Then, the recent hour-long sit down with Barack Obama. It seemed to be the host's final admission. Dave's a pundit, not a comic. He's not interested in entertaining the masses any longer. Just the partisans.
Letterman's admission of sex with members of his staff and stories of sex in the office dominated his show in the last week. News of his personal life, his humiliated and injured wife, his six year old son, and his beleaguered employees made a once entertaining show of comedy and variety nothing more than a television tabloid. Ratings, while high, weren't due to the quality of show being produced by the legendary host. America is tuning in to see a famous man's life crash and burn around him.
David Letterman has, in fact taught this intern something. He is a cautionary tale of the ultimate success story. Success can be achieved through hard work, tenacity, and staying true to your style. Success can also breed complacency. Success can breed arrogance and narcissism that places your personal needs, wants, beliefs, and desires ahead of all others. Success can ultimately be your undoing.
I wish I could have interned for that edgy, Midwestern underdog at NBC.
(Read Chris Stigall in your Landmark each week and listen to him on 710 KCMO from 5-9 a.m. each weekday. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
While Obama plays TV guest, American lives are at stake
In July of 2008, CBS news sat down with then-candidate Barack Obama. When asked about Afghanistan and his position on that front, candidate Obama was clear:
"This is where they can plan attacks. They have sanctuary here. They are gathering huge amounts of money as a consequence of the drug trade in the region. And so that global network is centered in this area. And I think one of the biggest mistakes we've made strategically after 9/11 was to fail to finish the job here, focus our attention here. We got distracted by Iraq.”
Candidate Obama went further--declaring his intention to fight and win in Afghanistan:
“Losing is not an option when it comes to al-Qaeda. And it never has been. And that's why the fact that we engaged in a war of choice when were not yet finished with that task was such a mistake."
Perhaps you shared in a moment of stunned disbelief if you caught last Sunday's broadcast of 60 Minutes. CBS correspondent David Martin interviewed President Obama's hand-picked commander in the field of battle in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal. The most notable, telling, alarming, (pick your adjective) moment in the entire interview came near the end. Few in the press seemed to pick up on it. In the print business, this is what's known as burying the lead. From the CBS transcript:
Asked how often he talks to the president, McChrystal said, "I've talked to the president since I've been here once on a VTC.”
"You talked to him once in 70 days?" Martin asked.
"That's correct," McChrystal replied.
"Can you imagine ever saying to the president of the United States, 'Sir, we just can't do it,'?" Martin asked.
"Yes, I can," McChrystal said. "And if I felt that way, the day I feel that way, the day I'm sure I feel that way, I'll tell him that."
Just two weeks ago, a classified memo was leaked to the press. The memo from General McChrystal to the White House warned the war could be lost if he doesn't get more troops to Afghanistan in the next 12 months.
Now, our great leader who is such an “elegant and eloquent man of words” must clam up and lead. “Actions speak louder than words,” goes the cliché. Obama has neither actions nor words when it comes to the “real” war in which “losing wasn't an option” last year. The McChrystal admission of his boss' lack of interest in his efforts is damning and disgraceful. It is THE biggest story of this administration's infancy. For anyone who has a loved one in harm's way in this war effort, I can only apologize on behalf of Americans who elected this abject failure of leadership.
The Commander in Chief has no meaningful communication with the man leading his war effort. This President has played golf virtually every weekend. He's been on dates with his lovely wife aboard Air Force One. He's running car companies. He's indoctrinating our children. He hasn't met with Republicans on health care since April. But, he has plenty of time to talk to David Letterman and five Sunday talk shows. Now he's off to Denmark to make a pitch for the Olympics. Secretary of Defense Gates suggested the President may get around to making a decision on additional troops in “a few weeks.”
No hurry, Mr. President. It's just American lives on the line. Take your time.
Please take a moment to reflect on what you've just read. In the last 70-plus days, President Obama has talked to General McChrystal the same number of times he's talked to David Letterman. In fact, one can safely wager his hour-long appearance with Letterman was a longer conversation than with the General.
There is no acceptable rationalization for this abdication of responsibility. I receive regular emails and phone calls from spouses, parents, siblings and children of men and women serving in combat at this very hour. They are all of one mind. If their precious warrior must be at war allow them to fight this war and win.
It is time for this president to grow up and realize our enemies are real and determined. It is time for this president to realize he holds lives in his hands. Certainly it's more fun to give speeches and appear on talk shows, but this junior-league, one-term senator's party is over. He won the election. He's now leader of the free world, and Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces.
Get off the television, Mr. President. Lead. Provide for the common defense. Better still, just turn the keys over to the capable leadership of your generals and get out of the way. They're not interested in winning popularity contests. Military men and women are interested in defending freedom and winning wars when necessary.
President Obama knows nothing of either.
(Read Landmark columnist Chris Stigall right here each week and listen to him each morning from 5-9 a.m. on KCMO Talk Radio 710AM. Email him at email@example.com)
We learn nothing about Obama from television
Rush Limbaugh reminded listeners this week of a phrase many journalists might have learned in their studies. "The medium is the message" was a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan in his most widely known book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, published in 1964. Here's the academic definition of the phrase: a medium affects the society in which it plays a role not only by the content delivered over the medium, but also by the characteristics of the medium itself.
Translation: Folks love TV no matter who or what is on it. They trust it. It instantly legitimizes almost anything on the screen. John, Kate and their "eight," "bachelors and bachelorettes," "survivors," and "idols" are all household names because of the TV. Not because they're particularly talented, or interesting, or intelligent it's just…they're on TV, man!
At the same time, there's always been an instinctive cynicism about television in our homes. "The boob tube" and the "idiot box" are slurs you've no doubt heard directed at television over the years. But when it comes to effectively selling your message, or yourself, there's nothing like it.
Ask President Obama. In the month of September alone, Mr. Obama visited with 60 Minutes. He commanded all cable and network broadcasts (save Fox) for an address to a joint session of Congress for the second time this year. Just this week he appeared on five Sunday morning talk shows (save Fox News), rounded out with a Monday night appearance on Letterman. Throw in a nationwide address to the kiddies via the internet and only Ryan Seacrest and Tom Bergeron give Barack Obama a run for the money in overexposure. If you don't know Seacrest and Bergeron, you're not watching the highest rated television offered today. Get with it!
The equation is two-fold, however. Just as we love television viewing, many crave to be viewed. They line up for miles, in cities across the country in the hopes they'll achieve that household name in the next weight loss, bug eating, rose receiving, dance-off. Make no mistake, viewers will invest themselves in total strangers if that stranger can make the cutting room floor. That stranger winds up on multiple covers of grocery store magazines and entertainment shows. Some of these strangers are likeable enough. Some have quirky behavior, or good looks. But who are these strangers, REALLY and why do you REALLY care? Well, they're strangers - on TV! They must be worth watching, knowing, caring about and listening to. Some even become President.
Barack Obama counts on this. If you see him enough, just the event of seeing him signifies "news" and importance is happening. But what is he saying? What are you learning? He has no health care reform plan, but continues to defend it. He says the left and the right are angry with him, but over what? He says some people want more troops in Afghanistan, but others want to pull out. OK, so where do you stand, Mr. President?
There is nothing to be learned from all of these TV events today you didn't know during the campaign. Which was little. He obfiscates, if not flat-out refuses to answer questions directly. He says he's open to tort reform offered by Republicans in one breath, then says there's no evidence it works in another. He invokes FDR and Reagan as his mentors in leadership, yet provides no evidence of Reagan. He creates straw-man arguments about his opposition, "The other side says we should do nothing…staus-quo." He claims he's tired of the lies and misrepresentations of his plan. By the way - HE HAS NO PLAN!
No, not a bad plan or a flawed plan. NO PLAN! There are five or six versions of health "reform" plans, but he's authored none of them.
It's getting monotonous. You can almost say it in your sleep. "The time for bickering is over. The time for action is now. People sent us to change Washington. They're tired of the games. Common purpose. Bi-parsian. All sides at the table. Future generations. We will meet this challenge. My plan"…blah, blah, blah. OK, we get it. You won, already. Make your move.
The things we've learned about this president have, ironically come from everywhere but TV. Television has failed the American voter. It's been talk radio and bloggers that have investigated and uncovered this President and his administration's misdeeds and misrepresentation. Van Jones, ACORN, the cost of Cap and Trade, NEA conference calls--all breaking news stories uncovered by media that are supposedly inferior to that prestigious living room fixture.
We learn nothing about President Obama from TV. No interviewer asks aggressive follow-ups. The President just continues to wander the great platitudes of conversation like a campaign commercial on steriods. Of course, that's an insult to campaign commercials. There's all kinds of laws limiting campaign commercials. No law keeps the president off our TV. Soon he'll be his own cable channel offering. HBO--Home Barack Obama. I imagine each show ending one of two ways: in a disappointing and confusing fashion like the Soprano's finale, or waking from a dream next to Suzanne Pleshette in Newhart.
Polls don't seem to suggest all these cult-of personality appearances on late night TV and Sunday news shows are helping him in the long run. He'll get a short term bounce. It's understandable. He's a likeable guy. But then, there's the inevitable analysis of what that "must see TV event" was all about. Most are left with a scratch of the head and a shrug.
What else is on? Oooh, they're down to two contestants on "I Survived a Japanese Game Show!”
(Read Chris Stigall each week in your Landmark and listen to him each weekday from 5-9 a.m. on KCMO Talk Radio 710 AM. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Obama turns 9/11 into 'Extreme Home Makeover'
Who needs all this patriotism and respectful remembrance when there's so much work to be done? Last week marked the 8th anniversary of September 11th, 2001--but this is Barak Obama's show now. Yes, even something as sacred and significant to our nation as 9/11 has to have that fresh Obama coat of “change” applied to it. This year, President Obama dispatched Vice President Biden to New York. Mr. Obama stayed close to the White House. Here's how CBS reported the President's day:
“The First Couple was commemorating the 8th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, which this year is designated a National Day of Service and Remembrance.
…Having fulfilled the remembrance portion of the proclamation, the Obamas returned to the White House, got into some dry clothes, and then headed to a Habitat for Humanity housing project in Northeast Washington, D.C.
They toured two side-by-side row houses and then rolled up their sleeves to begin painting the interior. Mr. Obama used a roller while the First Lady performed more delicate work in a corner of the room with a brush. They spent about half an hour at it.”
You know, painting corners is tricky. But don't discount the challenge of a roller. Potential splattering, too much paint can drip, not enough spreads the paint thin. You'd have to come back to add a second coat. Who wants that hassle?
Sorry, where were we? Oh, yes - 3000 dead Americans and a declaration of war on our country.
President Obama has effectively turned the most tragic day in America, rivaled only by Pearl Harbor, into a do-it-yourself demonstration at Home Depot. Did you catch the report by CBS? “Having fulfilled the remembrance portion of the proclamation…”
Remembrance PORTION!? That PORTION of the day incidentally, coming AFTER the newly declared PORTION of the day we are to “serve.”
To recap: Serve, then remember.
Speaking of Pearl Harbor, historical perspective is instructive and necessary to understand just how “change-tastic” President Obama really is. On Dec. 8th, 1941 President Roosevelt delivered a stirring speech to Congress and the nation one day after a Japanese attack on our homeland. It is important to remember FDR is the president Barack Obama and most of his supporters liken him to today. Here's a portion of FDRs remarks to the American people regarding their attackers of 1941:
“…The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation. As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.”
Now, in fairness there's no way of knowing if immediately following the address Mr. Roosevelt and his wife went to the hardware store for some drop cloths and fresh brushes. Perhaps Mrs. Roosevelt darted to a soup kitchen to ladle some split-pea to the hungry? After all, nothing says remember and react to a declaration of war like “give a hoot, don't pollute” or “it takes a village.”
Just as we were in 1941, America is at war. Remember Afghanistan? When campaigning, then candidate Obama said, "It's time to refocus our attention on the war we have to win in Afghanistan. It is time to go after the Al Qaeda leadership where it actually exists." An Obama campaign advisor said at the time, “Iraq has distracted us from Al Qaeda.”
In short, we are as we were in 1941. Granted, this war has lasted far longer but the realities are no different. We are very much at war with an enemy who plotted to destroy us, then carried out systematic attacks to that end. Just as the events of Pearl Harbor killed innocent Americans, so too did the attack of 9/11. Just as our brave military forces responded and shed blood to defend our homeland, so too do they this day.
The only difference today can be found in the White House. In 1941, the Commander in Chief reminded us of “the character of the onslaught against us.” In 2009, the Commander in Chief declared a “National Day of Service… and Remembrance.” President Obama asked us to “summon once more the ordinary goodness of America -- to serve our communities, to strengthen our country, and to better our world.”
President Obama will never understand or accept what FDR believed to be true. America has been attacked because of our goodness and strength. Not because we lacked it. We are still at war. There is still an enemy in our midst that desires the destruction of the American people. God forbid we experience another Pearl Harbor or 9/11 during Mr. Obama's presidency. He may have painted himself into a corner.
(You can hear Landmark columnist Chris Stigall each weekday morning from 5-9 on KCMO Talk Radio 710 AM. Email him at email@example.com)
What is there to trust about President Obama?
President Obama addressed the nation's school children this week. Predictably, the message was harmless. Stay in school, work hard, etc. If you're a parent and you found yourself skeptical of the president's speech, only to be derided as a “wing-nut” enemy of the president, hang in there and trust your gut. Not because of what he said, but because a parent's instincts are almost always right. In a simple, seemingly unobjectionable way, President Obama was laying the ground work to establish an emotional bond of trust with our kids this week. Parents know these kinds of people, and we know Barack Obama.
For those that say you're simply partisan and paranoid, I'd ask them - just what is there to trust about Barack Obama?
Did you trust him when he said he had no interest in running banks, then said to the heads of those banks that the only thing between them and the torches and pitch forks was him?
Did you trust him when he said he had no interest in running the auto industry then took majority control of GM and Chrysler while forcing secured lenders to take pennies on the dollar for their loans? Meanwhile, he systematically forced the closure of car dealerships across the country.
Did you trust him when he appointed five different cabinet members who have unpaid taxes in the tens of thousands?
Did you trust him when he made Tim Geithner - the biggest tax cheat of them all - the head of the IRS?
Did you trust him when his Homeland Security Secretary issued a domestic threat assessment suggesting military veterans and Ron Paul supporters could be the next assassin or bomber?
Did you trust him when he told leaders in the faith community via conference call that “we are God's partners in life and death?”
Did you trust him when he told Pastor Rick Warren that determining when human life begins is above his pay grade?
Did you trust him when he spoke to the Muslim world declaring the United States is not a Judeo-Christian nation?
Did you trust his anti-war message during the campaign, only to double down in Afghanistan? Afghanistan, by the way is a war according to polls just as unpopular as Iraq. You remember Iraq? The war we won.
Did you trust him when he said Iraq was un-winnable?
Did you trust him when he said a single cop acted stupidly, then suggested racial profiling before he knew all the facts?
Did you trust him when he said doctors remove kids' tonsils instead of curing their sore throat or cut off a foot instead of treating diabetes because there's more profit in surgery?
Did you trust him when he said his proposed federal panel of health experts and budget officers will determine the economic feasibility of treating your family's elderly or disabled?
Did you trust him when he said you can keep your doctor and private health insurance even if the government creates a public option to take on millions of uninsured?
Did you trust him when he said he's not interested in looking backward in investigating or prosecuting our intelligence officials and former President Bush for decisions made during a time of war?
Did you trust him when he said we must pass with urgency a $787 billion dollar taxpayer bill to create or save jobs?
And that's just eight months.
Still, you'll hear this week's address to school children was benign. You'll hear his supporters say the President is an inspirational figure who wouldn't and didn't say anything objectionable to our school kids.
Nothing wrong with a message of personal responsibility, working hard and staying in school.
But don't trust this. Why should you? Where has this president earned your trust? This is a man that cannot help himself. He cannot leave us alone. Our financial markets, our private business, our private health care, our intelligence operations and in the last month he has used and manipulated our faith, our health, and our schools.
“”We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.””
That's the preamble to the United States constitution. I suppose you could say President Obama is trying to establish his kind of justice. Domestic tranquility? Skip Gates? Rev. Wright? Van Jones anybody? Provide for the common defense? By interrogating our interrogators? Promote general welfare? Tripling the national debt, and spending our tax money while job loss sits at ten percent? Secure blessings of liberty? Any honest taxpayer and private businessperson will confirm that's not happening.
But more importantly, this is no longer about policy and politics. This is about your faith, your health, and your children. The President needs to leave all of them alone. They're not his business. They are not of his concern. They are not in his purview.
So instead of folks asking you what's wrong with this president talking with our kids and teachers and why don't you trust it? Here's your answer.
He's spent the last month talking about your health, your faith, and your family. This isn't about politics. This is about your personal, private life. Simply put, you cannot trust this president.
If you really want to see your critics squirm--turn it around on them. Rather than defend your suspicions of Barack Obama, ask them to tell you, despite all the evidence, just why it is they trust him so completely?
(Read Chris Stigall in your Landmark and listen to him each morning from 5-9 a.m. on KCMO Talk Radio 710. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Congress could use Todd Haley
Whether you're a Chiefs football fan or not, you must admit we have a markedly different style of leadership at Arrowhead these days. Todd Haley is taking quite a beating in the press lately for his tough-as-nails demands on his team. It is a reminder of the engaged citizens attending town hall meetings, tea party rallies and all those taking on their representatives by phone, fax and e-mail.
These energized and patriotic Americans are finished with political correctness and “polite niceties” when they have their member of Congress' ear. They are holding their representatives to a higher standard. They expect results and won't put up with excuse-making and feigned hurt feelings for not being respected by their constituents. Voters will continue to speak forcefully and directly to those we pay to guard our liberties and manage our tax dollars.
Haley spoke directly not long ago about his being charged with the responsibility of changing the culture and putting a winner on the field:
"We're going to have to scrap to figure out ways to win games. We've got some work to do. … There's not a lot of room for sensitivity. That's what I said at the beginning. I don't want sensitive guys. I want guys that understand what's happening …why someone is screaming (at them). It's not about respect. It's about having high expectations."
The Chiefs are trying to reverse a downward spiral of losing and excuse-making. It has resulted in a massive loss of revenues because fans have stopped going to the games. The organization is taking responsibility. It is demanding accountability and raising the bar for results from the players on the field.
That is what the people of this country are demanding from the people working for them. President Obama and Congress work for us and just as the Chiefs, they have a dysfunctional culture. It was a culture fully on display during the funeral of Ted Kennedy celebrated last as some kind of national hero. The people of this country have had enough. There will be "roster cuts" in 2010. There will be wholesale changes. They want a better country for themselves and their children and their alleged “representatives” are now failing in that mission. Expectations are not being met. Americans have always had high expectations for this country and they will fire anyone who does not share them.
It's simply laughable watching President Obama and his supporters in Congress defend an as yet to be defined piece of legislation called “health care reform.” The business killing “cap and trade” still looms large. There are the billions in taxpayer dollars wasted in the name of “stimulus,” a crippling national debit and private industry seized in the name of “market stability.” The Congressional inmates are running the asylum.
Meanwhile, here in Chiefs country, head coach Todd Haley has done what American voters have begun doing to their “team” in Washington. They're taking this mess in their own hands and leading their broken system.
No additional coaches. No "Offense Czar." No layers of bureaucracy.
Todd Haley was dissatisfied with his offense this pre-season and did something you'll never see in government. He took personal responsibility for better performance.
Todd Haley fired his offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. According to a recent Rasmussen survey, 58% of the country now wants every member of Congress kicked to the curb. In other words, there's about to be a whole-sale firing within Washington.
Haley has his own vision of where the Chiefs offense should go and as training camp and the pre-season progressed, problems on the offensive side of the ball became obvious to everyone. He wasn't satisfied with the results, and he made a move. The American voter knows the vision their founders had for this country, and they're prepared to make a move.
Yet much of the media is unhappy with Haley and voters. Why? Haley's a tough guy and they don't like that personality type.These town halls are getting too “heated and ugly” and they don't like that either. They like Chan Gailey. They certainly like Barack Obama. On the surface it's understandable. Both men seem to be nice enough. But to argue Gailey's or Obama's affability is reason enough to tolerate losses on the field and losses of wealth and freedom in our country? This is where fans and voters draw the line.
Haley is being attacked today by people who don't like his style. Voters at town halls are being attacked and maligned by people who don't like their style. But Todd Haley and the American voter share something else in common. They don't much care what you think of them. Most importantly, they're in charge.
(Read Chris Stigall in The Landmark each week, listen to him from 5-9 a.m. on KCMO Talk Radio 710, and email him at email@example.com)
A political cult figure's image has died
The Summer of '09 has been a tale of two Americas. An America based in Washington fighting desperately to seize individual liberties and an America across the fruited plain fighting desperately to keep them.
It was appropriate that this battle for Americans' liberties took place during one of the coolest summers in memory. As global temperatures fell, Americans turned a cold shoulder to their President and his political agenda. The summer months have produced a chilly reception for President Obama's plans for this country. The winter months' promises of hope and change have turned into a summer of reality. A summer of soaring job losses and deficits. The Summer of '09 has been an awakening for this country.
The 40th anniversary of Woodstock---the Summer of Love---has a different feel than liberals would hope. 1969 captured the intellectual heft of today's liberals---mindlessly dancing in pools of mud intoxicated with the power of controlling the Executive and Legislative Branches. And it is even more embarrassing today than it was then.
During the Summer of '09---the Summer of Liberty---this country fell out of love with a cult-like political leader of undefined promises of hope and change, and fell back in love with our founding fathers and America's founding principles.
Throughout the Summer of Liberty, America reminded Washington that we love our liberties far more than we love any elected official.
The emotional crush on Barack Obama has been replaced with an intellectual crush on Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence----the hand-written genesis of the world's last best hope for liberty and a meaningful pursuit of happiness. The document that embodies individual freedom is a call to action when unalienable rights are threatened. Americans are answering that call in town halls across the country. We are answering it when polling companies call us on the phone, as President Obama's plummeting approval numbers demonstrate.
Americans elect guardians of liberties, not embezzlers. In the Summer of '09, the Summer of Liberty, we caught Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and hundreds of other Democrats in Washington RED-handed. We caught a band of committed socialists with their hands in the liberty jar.
The town hall meetings represent Americans slapping the hands of their elected leaders. And our leaders don't like it one bit. They aren't sorry, they're bitter and resentful. And they have revenge on their minds.
The Summer of '09 also marked the death of two pop stars. One death literal, the other figurative. Michael Jackson passed away this summer and with his death we lost a once-in-a-generation creative genius. Jackson left behind hundreds of brilliant and honest expressions of that genius. His work entertained millions if not billions---and it will stand the test of time. But the Summer of '09 also marked the death of a fictional rock star. The image, the cult of personality of Barack Obama was stripped away as the President piled on proposal after proposal to deplete the private sector of its capital and individuals of their liberty.
Michael Jackson, with all his flaws, was the real deal. Jackson tried to disguise his personal flaws, but he laid his professional life bare for all to see and most to applaud. Barack Obama has done no such thing. Obama masks his professional work and will never share his real agenda. As glimpses of Obama's work have slipped out, audiences are booing and walking out on him. Barack Obama is no Michael Jackson.
During the Summer of '09, America discovered that Barack Obama was not the one we've been waiting for. In fact, Obama's brand of politics is the one we prayed we would never encounter. And that discovery marked the end of the fictional character sold to us by Obama, his followers and the state controlled media. Barack Obama was not the Beatles, he was a lip-synching, tone-deaf rapper who couldn't rhyme two words without the help of a teleprompter. A performer whose political agenda would never go "platinum."
The Summer of '09 was the summer a political cult figure's image died.
So, the Summer of '09--the Summer of Liberty--has been the best of times and the worst of times. A majority of Americans have rediscovered their country's roots, found their voice and have stood tall for their liberty. However, we are still confronted with a significant threat to our unalienable rights. Cap and Trade has passed the House of Representatives and Democrats---who have the votes in both Houses of Congress--- have vowed to pass a bill that will lead to socialized medicine.
But at least things have come into focus. The "purple haze' of Obama's campaign has cleared. We now know the threat and the exact nature of that threat and have the opportunity to preserve our liberties. To continue our pursuit of happiness. To remain in control of our own lives and to be in charge of our own destinies.
The Summer of Liberty, the Summer of '09, will be long remembered. There may not be any songs to commemorate it as with Woodstock, but the voices of millions of Americans will be in perfect harmony with America's founding principles. That's always a #1 hit.
(Read Chris Stigall each week in your Landmark and hear him each weekday morning from 5-9 a.m. on KCMO Talk Radio 710. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
It happened: Every voter in America agrees
Have you ever known someone that you:
A.) Can't trust farther than you can throw them?
B.) Completely trusted and then felt betrayed by?
C.) Thought seemed trustworthy, but you're now hearing otherwise?
D.) All of the above
If your answer was “All of the above” then you are an American voter in the last presidential election.
It seemed impossible to imagine only weeks ago that a president could actually unite this divided country. Red states, blue states, liberal, conservative, moderate, Democrat, Republican, Independent all joined in one united chorus. “We don't trust you, Mr. President.”
It seems the national debate on health care took a fate-sealing turn this week as the White House signaled they weren't necessarily committed to a government run “public option.”
This sudden shift in message was a direct result of “Blue Dog” Democrats, Independents, and conservative Republicans united in opposition to such a scheme. Town hall meetings are over-run by constituents all across the country who are confronting their elected members of Congress with devastating effectiveness. The people have spoken, and in the United States that still means something.
But simply striking the public option doesn't mean conservatives trust this President to keep their hands off private sector health care. The new “co-op” being bandied about is socialism in free-market clothing. It is still government funded and managed, just not exclusively so. Ask Wall Street, banks, and car companies about their arrangement. Just how hands-off do you suppose their government funded partnerships to be? Maybe we could consult the “Pay Czar” President Obama appointed to regulate and seize their executive's “bloated” pay. Perhaps the government appointed boards of directors could shed light on their hands-off government partnership. Simply, a government funded co-op is like your kid telling you to stay out of “his” room. As many a dear old dad has made clear, “I pay the bills. My house, my rules.”
Next, the issue of the moderate or independent voter who thought they'd give this new, fresh face of leadership a chance in the booth last November. Check please! According to the latest USA Today/Gallup poll in a survey of 1,000 adults taken last week, Independents by 2-to-1, 35%-16%, say demonstrations at town halls made them more sympathetic to the conservative protesters' views.
It is the final voting block, however that is the body-blow for President Obama. His proud, liberal, unabashed supporters who chanted “Yes we can!” all the way to Election Day are deflated. This column recently noted comedians like Jon Stewart began telling some pretty aggressive jokes at the president's expense in the last month. Have you tuned in lately? “Mr. President,” Stewart said this week, “I can't tell if you're a Jedi--10 steps ahead of everything--or if this whole heath care thing is kickin' your [rear.]”
It's getting ugly.
Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York and former leader of the Democrats Howard Dean have both declared a reform package without the public option will not pass the House. With Speaker Pelosi at the wheel, their can be no doubt.
MSNBC's uber-liberal hosts Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow are apoplectic over the recent suggestion that the “public option” may be off the table. Olberman went so far as to say this week that “reform without the public option was just window dressing.” Maddow outwardly suggested no public option meant Obama was committed to the status quo of “lining the pockets of insurers” with obscene profits. They are questioning everything from their hero's strategy and strength, to his intellect and ability as a leader. His magic, his hope, his charisma and charm they lament, seem to be disappearing.
The wheels didn't just come off Obama's popularity bus; they blew out and are rollin' on their rims.
It would be unfair, though to suggest the President hasn't lived up to all of his promises since taking office. Allow for a moment of reflection on his inaugural just a mere eight months ago:
“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.”
Ok, so he slipped on ending false promises. But to his credit, President Obama has done in eight short months what seemed impossible. He united the country. We now all agree. He can't be trusted.
(You can trust Chris Stigall will be right here each week in your Landmark. Also catch him from 5-9 a.m. Weekday mornings on KCMO Talk Radio 710 AM. Email him at email@example.com)
Advertisers embrace what Congress hates
During a recent trip through Chicago's Midway airport, I was struck by an American irony. The paper heart posted above the Southwest ticket agent's desk said “We love customer freedom.” In fact, Southwest Airlines’ entire marketing campaign is based on this one word concept freedom.
Pepsi told us ten years ago we had the “freedom to choose” them over Coke.
There's a 2001 article in the advertising trade magazine Ad Age headlined “Selling idea of freedom is most important assignment for beers.” Have you seen a liquor ad lately? Their products are almost always featured in an island paradise or a party.
There's a motorcycle and recreational vehicle company both right here in the metro area who so believe in the effectiveness of the word it's on their companies' letterhead Freedom Cycle and Freedom RV.
It's not exactly subtle that Ford F-150 and Jeep ads feature their vehicles off-roading through mud and climbing rocky landscapes, is it? Not that we regularly do that as drivers, but if we wanted to we could. That's the point.
This isn't a new marketing concept. Freedom has been a commercial mainstay for decades. Any psychologist and marketing veteran will tell you the message of freedom is one of the most powerful tools used to sell a product.
Americans have always craved freedom. The Declaration of Independence was written to obtain more of it. The Bill of Rights was crafted to maintain it and clearly define it.
Specifically, our founders' sought to stave off anything that posed a threat to it. For the incumbent crew in Washington D.C., this poses one hell of a tactical problem.
Back in the airport, I waited in the security line to get to my gate. I handed my boarding pass and ID to a woman sitting at a podium with the official “Office of Homeland Security” seal affixed to the front. I took off my shoes and belt then emptied my pockets and placed them in a bin for x-ray scrutiny. My shorts were patted down by another man in a Homeland Security/TSA uniform. I chuckled to myself as I got dressed to leave the security area. “We love customer freedom.”
Don't misunderstand. I know we're coming up on the eighth anniversary of the tragic day that created the security experience we now endure. I know Southwest has nothing to do with it. But I couldn't help but wonder what our founding fathers would say about it all.
As I sat down on the plane, I pulled out a copy of USA Today and began studying the headlines. In this one edition, with the founders of our nation still fresh in my mind I began to read the day's headlines.
Soaring deficit may defy forecasts
Obama: Heath care plan won't be like Canada's
Air collision prompts calls for limits Politicians want flight restrictions over Hudson River
NYC county hopes to attract minorities
10-year tab for House's global warming bill: $8B
Military gauges public pulse via social networking sites
Over-limit fees ending for 2 credit cards ahead of new law
This is just a sampling. Read it and weep. In one day's news, you can see the path our country is taking. Bloated government spending, government take-over of private business, government social engineering, government monitoring, increased government taxation, and government regulation in the private marketplace it's all in the headlines.
The health care town halls you're seeing on television aren't an accident. They're not rigged, staged, or scripted. They are American citizens who love their freedom. They see it slipping away and they're prepared to fight. It's a fight they must win because once freedom is taken; it will not be given back.
A recent Southwest Airlines television commercial concludes with the familiar “ding” of an overhead announcement made on a plane. Then, the voice of the captain says “You are now free to move about the country.”
Not if this president and this congress gets their way.
(Read Chris Stigall in your Landmark each week and listen to him each morning from 5-9 a.m. on KCMO Talk Radio 710 AM)
Obama is losing Jon Stewart
July 15th, 2009 a day that shall live in comedic infamy. The Obama administration's first direct hit from reliably friendly allies.
Former Saturday Night Live star, now stand up comic Dana Carvey was the guest on the new Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. When O'Brien asked Carvey his opinion of Obama, Carvey trotted out some fresh material. “I'm worried. The economy just had a heart attack, but Barak just wants to work on the knee,” Carvey riffed. “Should we do CPR? No, we're gonna fix this knee. We can do CPR when it's efficient and cost effective, but right now we're going to work on the meniscus.” Carvey concluded the bit suggesting George W. Bush would have used an economic “crash cart.” “Tax cuts for everybody CLEAR!” The audience roared.
Were they laughing at Carvey's “dumb guy” Bush impression, or was it the excitement of more money in their pockets as an economic remedy? No matter the audience response, Carvey saw fit to address economic policy in his comedy. That's telling.
At the same hour, on the same day - The Daily Show's Jon Stewart opened fire. “Last night, Obama threw out the first pitch at the All Star Game. He even played short-stop for a time,” Stewart said. “There's nothing he can't do…except create jobs.”
Ouch. The audience laughed tepidly. It was as though they couldn't believe what they'd heard, and Stewart moved past the line quickly.
During the same show, Stewart went on to skewer the health care reform fight in Washington. Initially mocking Republicans for sounding the alarm on Obama's ultimate desire for a “single payer” system, the joke took an unexpected turn. “…that's just a Republican scare tactic. The Democrats are not proposing a government takeover of health insurance. And they're certainly not trying to “Trojan horse” us into some European or Canadian-style single payer system,” said Stewart. With that, Stewart played some grainy campaign video from 2008 in which Obama told a cheering crowd, “I happen to be a proponent of single-payer health care.” The next shot is a dumbfounded Stewart back at the desk as he coldly confessed, “Wow. That Communist sounded a lot like our President.”
Since this watershed event in comedy, the Daily Show has taken on a new tone. A day after President Obama declared Cambridge cops “acted stupidly” in the arrest of his friend “Skip” Gates, Stewart took it head on. “Now, I wasn't at the press conference last night, and I don't have all the facts. But I think it's fair to say that Obama handled that question…oh, what's the word I'm looking for? Stupidly?”
In another segment of the same show, Stewart playfully cheered as Nancy Pelosi and President Obama suggested increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans to pay for health care reform. He pretended to be surprised when he was “informed” in his earpiece that he, in fact was wealthy. “Oh, so they're coming for me…ok,” Stewart said sheepishly. Remember, Stewart is a New York-based millionaire. Theirs is the highest taxation in the country, and President Obama and New York want more from him. Is Stewart sensitive to that? Again, economics and federal budgets as punch lines? You've got your answer.
Last week's Daily Show also featured a montage of the President refuting criticisms of his health care plan. After the string of presidential rebuttals Stewart concluded, “You know a sales pitch is in trouble when it starts with “Look, you've got to trust me. We're not going to kill your grandparents.”
The impression shouldn't be left that comedy's liberal leanings are absent. The bias for this president is still deeply entrenched in comedy writers. But writers and performers are also wealthy, privately insured, and often well-educated. They have lost much of their own wealth in the markets while beginning to realize the finest doctors and insurers who serve them are growing nervous. Comedians have families and friends in medicine, finance, and industry. Reality is setting in.
The truth of the nation's growing pessimism and skepticism in Washington is at historic highs and on display every day. Comedians' choice is clear. Continue to cheer and cover for a president in whom they emotionally invested so much. Or realize the investment just didn't pay off as they'd hoped and get back to the honesty in their craft.
Never have there been so few jokes directed at a President who deserves so many.
Jon Stewart was just voted “America's most trusted” by the online readers at Time Magazine after Walter Cronkite passed away. He led the likes of Couric, Williams, and Gibson--all network news anchors who “play it straight.” Meanwhile, Gallup polling reports Obama's job approval among likely voters age 18 to 29 and 30 to 49 has dropped 6 percent in the last month.
Obama is losing Jon Stewart. The question is: Can Obama get him back?
(Read Chris Stigall weekly in your Landmark, listen to him weekday mornings from 5-9 a.m. On KCMO 710 AM, and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
There's no business like show business
July 31st, 2006 Hollywood, California:
"At a time of escalating tensions in the world, the entertainment industry cannot idly stand by and allow Mel Gibson to get away with such tragically inflammatory statements.People in the entertainment community, whether Jew or gentile, need to demonstrate that they understand how much is at stake in this by professionally shunning Mel Gibson and refusing to work with him, even if it means a sacrifice to their bottom line. There are times in history when standing up against bigotry and racism is more important than money."
This is a portion of a Huffington Post entry authored by a prominent Hollywood talent agent. It was written exactly two years ago this week after the arrest of actor Mel Gibson. During the stop, an angry and intoxicated Gibson made physical threats and was reported to say, “"The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," and asked the arresting officer, "Are you a Jew?"
The national news erupted.Hollywood did, in fact, quickly turn their backs on their colleague. Gibson himself began a weeks-long, public mea-culpa. He issued a statement describing his words as “despicable.” His publicist said he was checking into a multi-step program to get his mind right and his alcoholism under control. Gibson's career as a leading star has stalled since the incident, and in many corners of Hollywood he is still persona non grata.
(ATTENTION READERS: BLATANT SARCASM AHEAD)
Now, for a moment, let's try to understand where Mel Gibson was coming from that night. He's angry about being pulled over. He reportedly had a troubled history with his father, Hudson Gibson who has been quoted to say the Holocaust was “mostly fiction.” Gibson's most famous, and intense motion picture work with “The Passion” must certainly haunt the corners of his mind. These extenuating circumstances, coupled with the fame and recognizable face of Mel Gibson leads any honest thinker to conclude Gibson is a victim here.
Certainly the arresting officer detected alcohol and yes, Gibson was speeding. But the words Gibson used and the threatening language he directed at the officer should be understood and forgiven, shouldn't it? Then President Bush probably should have addressed Gibson's comments and his arrest in a national press conference. Bush should have called Gibson a friend of his in Christian brotherhood.
Perhaps Bush could have said, “Now, I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role religion played in that. But I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the police acted stupidly and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there's a long history in this country of Christians being underrepresented in Hollywood and law offices disproportionately. That's just a fact.”
Certainly to some, that kind of language from President Bush might have sounded judgmental of the arresting officer and perhaps mildly anti-Semitic itself. Nevertheless, such leadership from the President would have opened up a needed national debate on anti-Semitism in our country. It would have been a “teachable moment” for all persons of faith. Perhaps the officer, President Bush and Mel Gibson could have all met at the White House for a non-alcoholic beer. (Bush doesn't drink, and Mel Gibson should probably avoid it.) But alas, President Bush failed to lead.
Thankfully we now have an enlightened president in Barack Obama who's not afraid to wade into local law enforcement issues. Unafraid to tackle cases of perceived bigotry by personal friends on a national stage, President Obama might ruffle some feathers. He may mischaracterize, impugn, and malign individual police officers without a shred of evidence - but our nation is better off for it. Our Teacher-In-Chief is the perfect blend of his old preacher Jeremiah “we had 9/11 coming” Wright and Dr. Phil. He can stoke the fires of racism without batting an eye while coolly extinguishing the discourse over a beer.
(ATTENTION READER: THIS CONCLUDES BLATANT SARCASM)
It's easy to forget that this episode involving President Obama, his friend “Skip” the Harvard professor, and the Cambridge cop all sprang from a prime time press conference. The press conference was supposed to address Obama's wildly unpopular plan to overhaul our nation's health care system. The event did nothing to persuade the country to his side in the debate. In fact, he made it worse by portraying doctors and insurance companies as nothing more than profit mongers. So in the closing moments of the prime time event, in what can only be described as a moment of pure Hollywood distraction, the President of the United States waded in to an obscure municipal police case and turned it into a fictional national debate.
It may interest you to know the name of the aforementioned talent agent who called for a Hollywood boycott of Mel Gibson two years ago. It's Ari Emanuel - brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Apparently the way blatant bigotry is dealt with in the Emanuel family varies case by case. Ari calls for a public rebuke of bigotry while Rahm and his boss call for its “understanding” and “cool headed” embrace.
No doubt, the brothers Emanuel know the art of show business. Rham once famously said, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.” And when your “crisis” is in crisis? Create another crisis and the crisis your old crisis faces is forgotten. Now that's pure showbiz!
(Listen to Chris Stigall from 5-9 a.m. on KCMO 710 AM and read him each week in your Landmark. Email him at email@example.com)
Watson and Walter:
Missouri's Show and Tell
Last weekend two men from the “Show Me” state simultaneously commanded some 96-plus hours of television, radio and print news coverage. Both were considered leaders in their professional field. Both men went on to become wealthy, famous, respected, and admired by peers and fans alike. Each man would receive the highest professional honors to be bestowed. One of the men is commemorated in Jefferson City's capitol rotunda with a bronze bust. A major university named an entire school of study after him. The other man is revered in portraits and famous photographs adorning the walls of premier country clubs all across the country. The parallels between the men are many, but when it came to living the motto of their shared home state, only one really “showed us.”
CBS Anchorman Walter Cronkite, called the “most trusted man in America” while in the network's anchor chair for nearly 20 years died last Friday. All major news programs, both local and national launched what seemed to be morbidly pre-produced tributes. That's not an editorial comment to be clear. The CBS tribute that aired Sunday (7/19) featured “Uncle Walter's” second successor to his anchor chair - Katie Couric.
The significance of Walter Cronkite cannot be ignored. He had power in his day. The Associated Press reported, “When Cronkite took sides, he helped shape the times. After the 1968 Tet offensive, he visited Vietnam and wrote and narrated a "speculative, personal" report advocating negotiations leading to the withdrawal of American troops. Cronkite declared American forces “mired in a stalemate.” After the broadcast aired, President Lyndon Johnson reportedly said, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America."
This moment in time did untold damage to the profession that made Cronkite famous. Commentary, narratives and “taking sides” became the new standard in journalism. News, facts, information the traditional “who, what, where, when, and why” of reporting was shelved for “speculative and personal.” Once the genie of comment was out of the newsroom bottle there was no turning back. The most trusted man in America became the most biased man in America and sadly created a perverted template to which all future “journalists” would aspire.
Cronkite would spend his years in retirement lobbying for campaign finance reform and trashing organizations like Fox News. The former anchor's activist “golden years” ranged from disturbing to hypocritical and allowed a peek into the mind of the man in whose basket America once put all her eggs.
Cronkite was also a firm believer in the human culpability of what was once called “global warming” - now “climate change.” Posting on the Huffington Post back in 2005 Cronkite wrote, “The governments of the world have tarried long enough, and the United States is scarcely without doubt the greatest culprit among them.” This is America's most trusted man? If your name is Castro, perhaps.
The other captivating storyline of last weekend was that of professional golfer Tom Watson. In the prime of his golf career, he was one of the leading players in the world. Watson won eight major championships and topped the PGA Tour money list five times in the late seventies and early eighties. Twenty six years after his last major tournament victory, Watson made history last weekend as the oldest player to ever lead a major and come ever-so-close to winning it all.
Unlike Cronkite, Watson never retired from the game that made him famous. His profile had diminished significantly on the national stage. He remained a star on the senior circuit, but betting folks would have said his competitive days in the majors were behind him. Watson never accepted that narrative, carping and pining away as an elder commentator about the way the game once was or should be today. Tom Watson embodied and celebrated individual exceptionalism. Not content to use his status to remake, complain about, or reinvent the thing that made him famous.
Walter Cronkite used his status to remake and reform the country that put so much faith in him for so many years. He saw the country as a place unfair, unjust, and guilty on the world stage. He wished to create a collectivist, global community where no one nation or people lead or achieve beyond another. Cronkite used his fame not to tell us “the way it is,” as he so famously used to close each broadcast. Instead he spent his career and retirement telling us the way it should be. Watson used his status much differently.
In 1991, Tom Watson terminated his long-time membership with the Kansas City Country Club. He did so in protest of the club's exclusionary membership policies of Jews and minorities. The negative public scrutiny the club received led them to change their policy. Even in this instance, Watson acted only individually in defense of the individual. Watson did in 1991 what he did on the course last weekend at the British Open. He didn't sue the club. He didn't rewrite the rules of golf to suit his style. Tom Watson stood on individual principle, spoke only for himself, and played within the rules of his profession.
Walter Cronkite was an American and a Missourian who described the way the country was as he saw it. Tom Watson is an American and a Missourian who described that which makes our country great as he “showed it.”
(Listen to Chris Stigall from 5-9 a.m. weekdays on 710 KCMO AM, and read him each week only in The Landmark. Email firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Wedding Crasher
A friend recently held a Godless wedding service. Godless isn't meant as a pejorative. The groom was indifferent about religion. The bride was a committed atheist. They read their written, heart-felt vows to one another. The couple's friends serving as officiates reminded all in attendance that a marriage's success was not dependent on anything but love. Finally, “by the power invested in him by the internet,” their friend pronounced them man and wife. It was a beautiful ceremony, incidentally. It was all accounted for; the stately banquet hall, flowers, multi-piece string ensemble, generous open-bar and fine buffet meal, punctuated with a delicious cake and the wacky DJ played the Electric Slide. Still, it was Godless. The “Big Guy's” name was never uttered.
As a Christian, admittedly this may sound like a lack of practicing that which one preaches: “Judge lest ye be judged.” This column isn't meant to be a judgment of the couple. People commit to one another in many different ways. Chuck and Steve can now marry in Iowa. You can marry while scuba diving or before a justice of the peace.
Personally, this sort of thing is between you and your state legislature. Highly traditional, religious wedding vows still suffer their share of dysfunctional divorces. While a couple married by a shaman on a plateau in Arizona may live until death parts them. Does a wedding day without God mean your marriage will fail? Does a life without God mean you can't be a productive, meaningful member of society? Certainly not.
That said, there is a common thread connecting those without a personal faith in their life. It isn't laziness or a lack of zealous passion. In fact, the opposite is true. Often they become champions of the secular and Earthly. Religion isn't necessarily a “God” thing. Properly defined, religion is “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.”
Sports fans who are also animal lovers seethed over Michael Vick's dog fighting. Regarding dog fighting, I've heard fans say, “Vick should be locked away and his career as a football player destroyed for life.” Ask the same fans about the thugs in the NFL who beat women, use drugs, and tote illegal firearms and you'll hear silent indifference if it means maintaining a winning roster. Cities council aggressively debate how to humanely manage deer, bears, coyotes, and beavers as our communities continue to expand. But give cities council the opportunity to seize your property on a whim to bolster tax revenue and you'll find no such thoughtful debate.
The most obvious example of this new religious experience is found in the epic fight called “global warming.” Global warming has recently shape-shifted to the less debatable term “climate change” for those who didn't get the memo. After all, who can argue that the climate is changing? Take the Divine out of the equation, and guess who's to blame for all this “change?” You and me, of course.
Despite record cooling, growing ice shelves, and expanding polar bear populations - our government is aggressively moving to force you into a plug-in, tin can on wheels to move about the countryside. Entire industries will be forced to pay for a new money making scheme called “credits” simply to emit carbon dioxide. CARBON DIOXIDE!? Remember grade school science class when you studied photosynthesis? Humans exhale CO2 and vegetation takes it in. Vegetation creates oxygen for us carbon based life forms. The circle of life is now called “pollution” and it, in other words YOU must be dealt with. The car you drive, the company for which you work, the temperature you keep your home must all be “managed” so as to save you from yourself.
Please don't misunderstand this as an endorsement of animal cruelty or pollution. Animal cruelty is often symptomatic of something far more sinister. It must be identified and punished. Governments should strive to keep our waterways clean and our air reasonably clear of actual particulate matter. Give a hoot--don't pollute. You'll read no argument here in any of that.
But this is a new religion. It is a love of animals, air, ice caps, polar bears, etc. that cloud a love of people and freedom. This can, and for some does become a disregard for humanity and basic liberties. There is a rise in the mindset of many that we humans are a scourge. Nature was here first, and we are cruel rapists and violators of her majesty. Your behavior and very existence is damaging, and government must step in and deal with you. It's worth noting the only acceptable caveats to these crimes against nature are euthanasia and abortion. Most “Earth warriors” believe these issues are between nature and its doctor.
Our President and this Congress are proud congregants of this new religious movement. But it is a far cry from our founders' intent for those of us fortunate enough to call ourselves Americans. Our founders didn't believe any government could manage, regulate, or restrict your basic rights. In fact, they could not be clearer.
“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
There's the rub for our atheist, humanist, and secular friends. No individual or government can take from you a freedom that is a natural gift from God. Our founders did not possess the arrogant notion that they controlled nature or guaranteed individual freedoms. God did. Simply, a Godless land for our founders was a land subject to authoritarian rule and certainly no guarantees of unalienable rights.
The newlyweds may not have included God on their guest list, but He showed up and crashed their wedding day anyway. He even brought gifts. I pray someday they'll send a thank you note.
(Listen to Chris Stigall from 5-9 a.m. weekdays on KCMO 710 AM and email him at email@example.com)
It's her party,
she'll resign if she wants to
It has been amusing to watch the speculation of the Alaska Governor's motivations and future aspirations after announcing her resignation last Friday. Senate bid? “No, Alaskans would never forgive her for leaving them” said the Sunday shows. Presidential bid? “Not possible now,” say the smartest strategists and campaigners. Host a talk show? Sell books? Go on the lecture circuit? All possible, though not all probable. But the one thing most of the pundits on both the left and the right in Washington D.C. have declared certain Palin's political career is D.O.A.
Not so fast, my friends. You can roll your eyes and tease Palin's supposed lightweight intellectual status. You can bury your head in shame when Charlie Gibson peers down his nose through his reading glasses and stumps her with international policy questions. You may say she had no business on the national stage from the get-go last fall when John McCain announced her as his vice presidential pick. But what you cannot ignore, nor take from her is what she is about to seize on in a big way.
The dirty little secret is the 2010 and 2012 Republican candidates in both houses of Congress need Palin now more than ever. They need her just as John McCain needed her. Conservative voters both independent and Republican don't trust the crew in Washington. Historically it is true they never have when asked. But this is not your typical “throw the bums out” mentality fomenting at tea party protests of late. This is a time when long term blue dog Democrat and Republican moderate office holders are nervously wondering, “Just how real IS the anger?” Bailouts, takeovers, stimulus spending, aggressive energy taxes, and nationalized health care have this electorate frightened and angry. The public is paying attention to their every vote, and those that are on the side of the American taxpayer will be rewarded in coming elections.
Then there are those politicians who got it right most of the time, but voted to bail out car companies because, “American car companies going bankrupt would signal the end of our economy.” Or a personal favorite, “Well, sure, I voted to bail out Wall Street and the banks, but, can you imagine the kind of trouble we'd be in today if I hadn't?” One shudders to think. (Tongue firmly buried in cheek, of course.)
Americans aren't buying what Washington's selling anymore. Especially wary of this fact are the damaged Republicans who bought into the economic Chicken Little routine last fall. So just how does a Republican candidate whip up a base of support when voters are angry or suspicious of their voting history? Enter the most powerful motivator and fundraiser in all of Republican politics today.
Name a Republican today who could draw a larger crowd, and encourage more checks to be cut to a political candidate than Alaska's governor. Ex-presidents don't count, by the way. But even if you included George Bush--I think she'd give him a race for the dollar. That said - go ahead, try it. Cheney? Romney? Pawlenty? Jindal? Rove? Steele? Rice? Powell? McCain? Huckabee? Ron Paul? None of them touch the pull of Palin. Remember, it's not about whom you like personally. It's who can raise the most money and draw the biggest crowd that matters most in this game.
This one-term pony from the sticks is stealing their thunder. Plain and simple, this woman is not only a license to print money, she is the belle of the ball--the envy of the Republican political establishment. Palin has achieved a level of authentic, average-Joe appeal unmatched by any Republican on the national stage since Reagan, and that is sexy as hell to a party that needs money and excitement now more than ever.
No, they'll not say it publicly. In fact, they'll dismiss her influence altogether if asked. But I'll bet my house that the weekend voice mailbox of Gov. Palin was full of begging, pleading Republican Senate, House, and gubernatorial candidates humbly requesting this “erratic, irrelevant, lightweight” to come stand at their side during their upcoming picnic/potluck/townhall/cocktail fundraiser.
Perhaps the political chattering class is correct. Maybe Sarah Palin isn't electable anymore. Sarah Palin knows she holds something more powerful than elected office right now. She has a consistent, unwavering commitment to celebrating American exceptionalism, freedom, and less government in the lives of every American. She now has the ability to hold each and every politician who calls on her for help to rise to her standard and maintain the integrity of the conservative movement. Put plainly, she will now determine the standard, direction, and message of conservatism going forward if they want her help.
She holds popularity, trust, interest, and an excitement with a sizable national constituency who listen to her more than any public official today. She can write a best-selling book, turn out big donors, and virtually steal the spotlight from anyone who shares the stage. Not bad for an “erratic, lightweight, quitter with no political future.”
Sarah Palin will be around and relevant long after those quietly begging her to save their political lives today. When she leaves office in a couple of weeks, she assumes the role of the Republican's titular kingmaker. Call it “Palin's Green Party.” Green - the color of envy and the color of money and oh, how she's going to create both.
(When he’s not busy penning a Landmark column, Chris Stigall can be heard on KCMO 710 AM from 5-9 a.m Email firstname.lastname@example.org)