Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Whose Side Are Certain "Republican" Senators On?

Need more evidence...?!?!

Lamar Alexander (R-TN); Scott Brown (R-MA); Richard M. Burr (R-NC); Susan Collins (R-ME); Michael B. Enzi (R-WY); Charles E. Grassley (R-IA); Judd Gregg (R-NH); Mike Johanns (R-NE); Mark Steven Kirk (R-IL); George S. LeMieux (R-FL); Richard G. Lugar (R-IN); Lisa Murkowski (R-AK); Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME); David Vitter (R-LA) and George V. Voinovich (R-OH).

Yep. These are the 15 Republicans who voted with a unanimous Senate Democratic Caucus to sociali... er... "regulate" the nation's free market exchanges from the "commanding heights" of Washington D.C.

Oh... and by the way... this new "regulation" is going to cost $1.4 billion just in additional direct government funding - nevermind the adverse effects it'll have on industry and of course our pocketbooks as consumers.

Notice, folks, the "duplicate" names from the preceding post concerning the earmark issue...

Susan Collins... Lugar...
Murkowski... Voinovich...

Again, folks, Voinovich is retiring after this session and won't be a factor come January... but Collins, Lugar, and Murkowski...


Eight Republicans (+2) to Keep a Close Eye On

Today, led by the Democratic majority, the United States Senate refused to ban earmarks.

Thirty-nine politicians voted "nay"... (a vote to ban earmarks) while fifty-six followed Harry Reid's lead - voting "yea"... (a vote to continue "business as usual").

For whatever reason (out of town...??? ill...???) five Senators failed to vote. These "MIA" Senators were:

Bond (R-MO); Brownback (R-KS); Boxer (D-CA); Mikulski (D-MD); and Shaheen (D-NH)

Eight Republicans joined with Harry Reid and the bulk of his Democratic Caucus in turning back the anti-earmark measure:

Bennett (R-UT); Cochran (R-MS); Collins (R-ME); Inhofe (R-OK); Lugar (R-IN); Murkowski (R-AK); Shelby (R-AL); and Voinovich (R-OH)

Voinovich is retiring and Bennett is also gone come January, but Cochran, Collins, Lugar, and Murkowski aren't to be trusted. As to Inhofe... his was apparently a principled position. Still...


As for the "good Dems"...

Bayh (D-IN); Bennet (D-CO); Feingold (D-WI); McCaskill (D-MO); Nelson (D-FL); Udall (D-CO); and Warner (D-VA) voted with the anti-earmark Republican Caucus majority.

(Note: Bayh is retiring... Feingold was defeated in November... McCaskill and Nelson are up for re-election in 2012... only Udall and Warner really bucked their party in a way that could potentially bite them in the ass.)

Folks... pay attention to how they vote... not just what they "say."

Barker's Newsbites: Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010

Sorry about no newsbites yesterday, folks; this is a tough week - work plus preparing for the Spain trip.

Anyway... today's Newsbites Theme Song is... er... (*GRIN*)... a classic!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Barker's Newsbites: Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010

A bit of "mood music" to put you in that pre-Thanksgiving state of mind!

Yeah... audio quality isn't the best... but the mix of audio, video, and sheer energy packed into the performance makes this one a keeper...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Barker's Newsbites: Friday, Nov. 19, 2010

In honor of my alma mater...

God bless Cappies...

Our Kitchen... R.I.P.

The Cask... R.I.P.

Playing Tic-Tac-Toe on the drunk'n passed out blond neighbor girl... in permanent magic marker no less... (*CRINGE*)... sorry'bout that! My bad!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Another Anti-Romneyite Draws a Line in the Sand

I just read an outstanding op-ed penned by Michael Graham, radio talk show host, newspaper columnist, and blogger.

Allow me to (heavily!) excerpt:

Add another name to the list of Massachusetts conservatives who have signed the ABM Treaty: Anyone But Mitt.


Until Mitt Romney admits that his mandate driven, big government RomneyCare was a mistake, I will be supporting any viable GOP candidate running against him in 2012.


[T]his is all about policy, specifically RomneyCare - which has thus far been the "Big Dig" of health care, except costs have risen faster.


ObamaCare has the benefit of having not yet been fully implemented. It’s already hurting the economy and costing people their jobs, but the worst has yet to arrive. Well the RomneyCare disaster is already upon us.

The highest health insurance costs, the highest medical costs and the fastest rising costs. Massachusetts has them all, thanks to Romney. And they’re getting worse.

[T]he Herald reported yesterday that the folks at the beloved Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector created under RomneyCare are “cracking down on more than 3,000 residents who are fighting state fines, and has even hired a private law firm to force the health insurance scofflaws to pay penalties of up to $2,000 a year.” Big Brother is watching - and suing - you.

Everything about RomneyCare is awful. Until a change in the law this year, it actually incentivized people to go without insurance, or buy a minimalist plan. Then, as Romney’s fellow Republican Charlie Baker pointed out, if they got diagnosed with an expensive illness, these people could sign up for top-of-the-line coverage, get their immediate issues addressed, run up a big bill and then drop their insurance and go back to paying the fine for being uninsured. According to Forbes magazine, these treatments include hospitalization for childbirth or hip replacements.

And who was left holding the bag? The “honest” insured, who got stuck with still-higher premiums, [not to mention] insurance companies like the non-profit Blue Cross, which has been suffering losses under RomneyCare.

Forbes also reports that the median annual premium for family plans jumped 10% from 2007 to 2009 to $14,300 - both figures much higher than the national average.

And if you’re a taxpayer, your costs went up even more.


Before RomneyCare, you were on the hook for $1 billion for Medicaid and other state health care subsidies. Less than three years later, the taxpayer bill has gone up another $750 million - a 75% increase!

All of which is why, until Romney admits that RomneyCare was a mistake - not just mismanaged by Deval Patrick - I’ll be voting for anyone else.

Even (gasp) Sarah Palin.

I’ve got some favorites (Run, Mitch Daniels, run!), but the former Massachusetts governor is off the list. Period.



The battle over ObamaCare is likely to be the central struggle in 2012.

Romney’s trying to have it both ways, telling the Herald he would vote to repeal Obamacare but still supports the Massachusetts mandate.


Sorry, Mitt. Either you believe in the top-down, socialized bureaucracy vision of government or you don’t.

The GOP absolutely must own the “we don’t” side of that debate.


Barker's Newsbites: Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010

This video is really, really cute!

What a good dad, huh?!

Anyway... I remember when Kim was little... maybe, oh, five years old... and the three of us were at this restaurant on Rt. 4 in Hackensack...


Anyway, we were just finishing up our dinner when the band in the next room - the bar area - started their first set of the night and one of their first songs was "Brown Eyed Girl."

Well, next thing you know Kim was up and bopping... heading to the bar...


It was the cutest damned thing!

"Brown Eyed Girl" has always been Kim's song.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wow... This Is Truly Amazing... As Well As Obscene

The Headline...

Ethics Panel Finding Hints at Guilty Verdict for Rangel

The story...

A House ethics panel sitting in judgment of Rep. Charles Rangel agreed Monday to all of the prosecution evidence against him...

Mr. Rangel faces 13 counts of "violating House rules," including failing to report assets, failing to pay taxes on rental income from a vacation property and misusing congressional stationery to try to raise money for a college center named in his honor.

Hmm... violating House rules, huh? And what of... er... violating the law...???

The panel's finding to accept as fact the case's details doesn't by itself represent a guilty verdict, but it strongly suggests the panel will find he violated House ethics rules.

Huh...??? So let me get this straight...


...not only does Congressional "Ethics" Committee stipulation that Rangel actually did what the prosecution alleges not necessarily equate to a finding that Charlie Rangel broke the law... it doesn't even necessarily mean that he'll be "found guilty" of... er... what the prosecution has already successfully proven to the Committee he's done...???


But, wait... it gets worse...


Blake Chisam, the committee lawyer acting as a prosecutor in the case, outlined the evidence against the congressman...

Wait for it... wait for it...

Under questioning from lawmakers, Mr. Chisam said he didn't believe Mr. Rangel's actions were corrupt, but were sloppy and in violation of House ethics rules.

Folks... this is insane... is this some sort of sick joke...???


The accusations aren't viewed by investigators as corruption or profiting from his position, but rather a failure to follow the rules of ethical conduct and accurately report his finances as required.


Thus, Mr. Rangel is unlikely to face expulsion from the House even with a finding of guilt; the most likely punishment would be a public reprimand.

Folks... one more time... read the damned charges...!!! (The charges already accepted by the Committee as fact...!!!)

These people are making a mockery of justice itself...

A Newsbite Specifically For Nan Hayworth

From today's Wall Street Journal:

A major task for the next Congress will be rewriting the laws governing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and House Republicans have now won a seat at that table - which makes it all the more important that their seat not be occupied by Members who were once powerful defenders of the toxic mortgage twins.


The destructive duo [of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] were long protected by a bipartisan phalanx of Members, and a core group of Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee were among the guardians. They include Gary Miller of California, Randy Neugebauer of Texas and Spencer Bachus of Alabama.



Mr. Bachus is worth special mention because he has the seniority to succeed Mr. Frank as Chairman of Financial Services. Yet when other Republicans, including the Bush Administration and Senator Richard Shelby, were trying to reform Fan and Fred during the last decade, Mr. Bachus was on the wrong side of the debate.


In 2005, other Republicans offered amendments on the House floor to rein in the companies' mortgage-backed securities portfolios; eliminate their ability to borrow from the Treasury; kill an increase in the size of mortgage loans that the companies could guarantee; and strengthen their capital requirements. Mr. Bachus voted against every one.

In 2007, after Democrats had taken the House, Randy Neugebauer, a leading ally of Spencer Bachus, joined with Democrat Melissa Bean of Illinois to...gut the power of Fannie's regulator to limit its risky mortgage portfolios. [This amendment to a so-called "reform" bill] passed 383 to 36, with Mr. Bachus voting with the majority, while even Mr. Frank voted "no" to honor [a previous] deal [made] with [then Secretary of the Treasury Hank] Paulson.

In 2008, the OpenSecrets blog that follows campaign contributions reported that Mr. Bachus was the single largest House recipient of campaign cash from Fannie and Freddie from 1989-2008. Only Senators Chris Dodd, Barack Obama, John Kerry and Utah Republican Robert Bennett received more than Mr. Bachus's $103,300.


Mr. Bachus now says he's a born again reformer, and most of his subcommittee chairmen are supporting his attempt to become Financial Services Chairman.


We [here at the WSJ] think the best choice to run Financial Services is California Republican Ed Royce, who was right all along about Fannie and Freddie.

Republicans need a spokesman who is going to do more than take dictation from Wall Street in return for campaign cash. Mr. Royce is more likely than other Republicans to speak up for taxpayers and free markets, not merely for financial businesses that claim to represent markets but are really speaking for their own self-interest.

[I]f [the GOP] wants to do better in the 112th Congress than they did the last time they squandered their majority, they need leaders who are genuine reformers, not spokesmen for crony capitalism.





Causality or Coincidence: Academic Credentials as a Predictor of Asinine Decision Making

One of these days I'm going to look into whether scientific peer-reviewed studies have been done exploring the hypothesis that the greater the degree (Get it? I made a pun!) of liberal arts education, the greater the decline in the ability of the credential-holder to distinguish between common sense and sheer idiocy.

Case in point:

DENAIR, Calif. -- A 13-year-old Stanislaus County boy at the center of a flag controversy got a big show of support Monday as many bikers rallied to his side.

Cody Alicea was earlier told by Denair Middle School officials that he could not ride onto campus with a U.S. flag on his bike.

Officials at the school told Alicea not to display the flag, citing "safety concerns." ("Some students" had complained about the display.)

Denair Unified School District Superintendent Edward Parraz said the campus recently experienced some racial tension. He said some students got out of hand on Cinco de Mayo. He said some students displayed the Mexican flag, while others displayed American flags.

The school changed its mind, and now Alicea can display the stars and stripes.

"It means a lot to me," a tearful Alicea said after arriving at school.

Alicea said he was surprised at the attention.

"This is big," Alicea said. "I didn't think it'd get this big."

Yeah... these bozos running
the Denair Middle School eventually came to their senses... but what does it say about this Parraz dude and the other educrats at this California public school district that their initial call would be to ban the American Flag...?!?!

My point, folks...

For far too many of the people running things in America 2010, common sense is... er... apparently not all that common.

Do You Trust Our Government?



When I warn you that there's real trouble brewing underneath the surface of the American body politic... I'm not simply being hyperbolic.


Judges who hear Social Security disability cases are facing a growing number of violent threats from claimants angry over being denied benefits or frustrated at lengthy delays in processing claims.

There were at least 80 threats to kill or harm administrative law judges or staff over the past year - an 18% increase over the previous reporting period, according to data collected by the agency.

The data was released to the Association of Administrative Law Judges and made available to The Associated Press.

Now understand, folks... I'm coming at this not from the perspective of, "oh, these poor abused people," but rather, "hmm... I wonder what the percentage of fraudulent claims is?"

That said...


Continuing to excerpt:

Fifty of the incidents came between March and August, including that of a Pittsburgh claimant who threatened to kill herself outside the hearing office or fly a plane into the building like a disgruntled tax protester did earlier this year at the Internal Revenue Service building in Austin, Texas.

(Yep... remember that guy...?!?! Funny how the incident has faded from memory...)

Continuing to excerpt:

While no judges were harmed this year, there have been past incidents: A judge in Los Angeles was hit over the head with a chair during a hearing and a judge in Newburgh, N.Y., was punched by a claimant when he showed up for work.

In January, a gunman possibly upset about a reduction in his Social Security benefits killed a security guard during a furious gun battle at a Nevada federal courthouse.


My point? Just this...

While it may be comforting to assure yourself that even the "angry" Tea Partiers - such as myself - would never fly an airplane into a building or even consider committing the far lesser crime of assaulting a judge, the point I'm trying to get across here is that there are a lot of extremely angry Americans nowadays.

How far do you - you reading this - trust the government...???

Are you 100% confident that the new airport security scanners you'll soon be asked to trust are 99.999% safe...???

Be it a dispute with local, county, state, or federal government authorities, how confident are you that you'd have the same odds of prevailing as say a rich, powerful, politically connected fellow citizen?

(Now of course that's always going to be the case to some extent... but would you say that the odds of "right" winning out against "might" would be better for you today or would your father have stood a better chance back when he was your age?)

My fellow New Yorkers... do you trust "the government" in Albany?

My fellow Americans... do you trust the majority of our elected and appointed representatives in Washington to be both competent and honest...???

(Obviously the answer is "no" to both of the above posed questions...)


Anyway, folks, just some food for thought...

Barker's Newsbites: Monday, Nov. 15, 2010

White Plains - not just a small city in Westchester County, New York!

California is One F--ked Up State!

Here's the headline:

In-State Tuition For Illegal Immigrants is Preserved With California Supreme Court Ruling

Is there really anything else left to be said...???


Is Glenn Beck Doing A Ross Perot...???

First off, I'm not a conspiracy nut.

Not that I have to convince any of my regulars, any of my friends, but I do get random traffic here so allow me to make it very clear that while I'm a huge believer in "connecting the dots," I tend to identify human nature - self-interest, greed, stupidity, short-sightedness, laziness - as the driving force behind the ongoing decline and fall of the United States of America.

Oh, yes... there is of course a "vast Left wing conspiracy" of the liberal media, academia, the unions... yadda, yadda, yadda... but it's largely organic. Oh, sure... there exist "organizational" links and "leaders" such as George Soros behind the scenes, but the same applies to linkage between conservative Think Tanks, certain Republican politicians, certain influential talk show hosts... yadda, yadda, yadda.

And then, of course, we have the "non-partisan," non-ideological "oligarchs" - the folks who run the "game" of world finance... the investment bankers, the Goldman Sachs crowd, the men and women at the top of the pyramid who straddle the corporate/government world - and when I say "world" I mean exactly that - their concerns are not strictly parochial, not nationalistic, but rather internationalist.

In any case, what's my point and what's it have to do with Glenn Beck and Ross Perot...???

Well... as regulars know, I'm a big fan of Glenn Beck. Just as I say about Newsbites - namely, that if you read my newsbites regularly you're going to learn a hell of a lot of stuff you won't learn otherwise - so too with Glenn Beck's television show.

Anyway... last week Beck concentrated his fire on "outing" George Soros. At the same time he launched an aggressive populist attack against the American political establishment.

Now neither fixation is new... and neither "attack" is unwarranted. George Soros is a bad guy. As for the American political establishment...


...we no doubt we can all recite the names of a number of absolute scumbags in Washington, D.C. and various state capitals and metropolitan communities large and small who are destroying our nation from within as a cancer upon the body politic.

Last week, though... Beck was going off a bit. To be honest... more than a bit.

Beck spent time warning of possible hyperinflation - hinting at coming Wiemar Republic levels of inflation - quoting "estimates" of the National Inflation Association such as a prediction that next year a single ear of corn will cost $11.43... that a loaf of wheat bread will cost $23.05 and Hershey's chocolate bars will be selling for $15.50.

Now, folks... these "predictions" are nuts!

Yes... we're in for inflation - stagflation - but we're talking deli roast beef going for $14.99/lb. and other food and fuel costs rising by anywhere between 20%-50%.

(I'm talking individual items and categories; my guess is that overall "real" inflation - your individual/family expenses - will go up at least 15%-20% over the next few years... perhaps more... but we're not talking hyperinflation as in a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk costing over $20.)

Another "over the top" segment Beck ran with last week was when he had a studio audience of West Point cadets and army officers and while ranting about the (granted!) inflated salaries of Members of Congress in particular and government employees in general as compared to the pay and benefits given to our military personnel (which by the way have gone way, way up over the past decade...) Beck went into a full populist rant demanding that Members of Congress should be paid no more than median enlisted personnel pay... something like $22K-$23K according to Beck.

Now, com'on... let's not be ridiculous.

I'm all for reducing congressional pay - let's say bring it down to the $150K range; say no more than triple American median pay - but Beck's "proposal" came across as ridiculous.


(Beck is about the money. While I believe he's sincere, he's a businessman every bit as much as he's an entertainer or a social/political phenomenon.)

So why would Beck have gone so overboard last week...??? That's what I ask myself.

I don't have an answer - but I do have a question... an observation...

Remember Ross Perot?

Perot was the real deal for a time. I know. I was there. We're talking a guy who received roughly 19% of the popular vote in the 1992 presidential election!

And... here's the point connecting Perot to Beck in terms of this post:

Perot won roughly 19% of the popular vote in the 1992 presidential election
after self-destructing... after imploding... after publicly portraying himself as over wrought and perhaps even unstable just a few short months earlier when he suddenly (and as it turned out, temporarily) withdrawn his candidacy for the presidency, bizarrely claiming that the Bush (George Herbert Walker Bush - "Bush the Elder") campaign was engaged in some sort of "plot" to wreak Perot's daughter's upcoming wedding if Perot didn't withdraw.

Folks... prior to Perot's public meltdown he was leading both Bush and Clinton the polls...


Will we ever know why Perot sabotaged his own campaign?


I mean, he did... sabotage his own campaign that is.

Which brings us back to Beck.

What's going on...???

After the successes of the past two years... after what he accomplished with the 8/28 Restoring Honor Rally... after all he's contributed to the "Tea Party" spirit which spurred a tidal wave of political change two short weeks ago... why would Beck suddenly begin acting in such a way seemingly sure to backfire on him in terms of general public acceptance and influence...???

Did "someone" get to Perot...???

(A man named Scott Barnes has been blamed for creating the "hoax" that Perot got caught up by... yet...) (*SHRUG*)

Well... conspiratorial as this question may sound... ever since watching last week's Beck shows I've been asking myself... has someone "gotten" to Glenn Beck...???

I don't know, folks... I'm just throwing it out there...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Weekend Newsbites: Sat. & Sun., Nov. 13 & 14, 2010

O.K, so I'm heading for Spain - not Mexico - but as we say in America...



By the way... my stepmother just loved Engelbert Humperdinck...

I've gotta hand it to the guy... 74 years old and still going strong...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Recommended Restaurants, Bars, and Cafes in Barcelona, Spain

Hey Folks!

It'll be interesting to see what sort of hits (if any) I get via the post title and restaurant names (and addresses) themselves...

Cerveceria Catalana - C/ Malloca 236; Ciudad Condal Cerveceria - Rambla de Catalunya 18; London Bar - Nou de la Rambla 34; Boadas (Cocktail Bar) - Tallers 1; Alt Heidelberg - Ronda Universitat 5; La Dama - Avinguda Diagonal 423; Botafumeiro - Gran de Gracia 81;
Ca L’Isidre - C/ Les Flors 12; Restaurant Hofmann - C/ La Granada del Penedes 14-16; Quo Vadis - Calle Carmen 7; Café de L’Academia - Lledo 1; El Pla de la Garsa - Assaonadors 13; Can Ravell - C/ Arago 313; La Dentelliere - C/ Ample 165; Can Sole - C/ Sant Carles 4; Cal Pep - Placa de les Olles 8; Tapioles 53 - Tapioles 53; La Bodegueta - Rambla de Catalunya 100; Casa Alfonso - Roger de Lluria 6; La Vinya del Senyor - Santa Maria 5; Bubo Pastries & Bubo Bar - Caputxes 10; Quimet & Quimet - C/ Poeta Cabanas 25; Cacao Sampaka (Chocolates) - C/ Consell de Cent 292; Casa Leopoldo - Sant Rafael 24; Cinc Sentits - Aribau 58; Café Zurich (Coffee, snacks, a drink...) - Placa Catalunya 1; Pinotxo Bar - La Rambla 91; La Rita - Carrer d'Arago 279; Taverna Basca Irati - Cardenal Casanas 17; La Gardunya - C/ Jerusalem 18; La Palmera - Carrer d' Enric Granados 57; La Flauta - C/ Aribau 23; Quim de la Boqueria - La Rambla 91; Los Caracoles - Escudellers 14; Cuines Santa Caterina - Francesc Cambo 16; La Llavor dels Orígens - Pg. del Born, 4; Taller de Tapas - Rambla Catalunya 49-51; La Vinya del Senyor (Wine Bar) - Santa Maria 5; Classic Gotic - Calle de la Plata 3; L'ovella Negra Bar - C/ Carrer de les Sitges 5; Galeria Gastronomica - Ptge de la Concepció 7; Gorria - Calle Diputacion 421; Casa Calvet - Carrer de Casp 48; Can Cortada - Avinguda de l'Estatut de Catalunya; El Rincon del Cazador - Passeig de la Mare de Déu del Coll 68; Restaurant Ipar-Txoko - Mozart 22; El Vell Sarria - Major de Sarria 95; Hermanos Tomás - Carrer del Pare Pérez del Pulgar 1

Friday, November 12, 2010

Barker's Newsbites: Friday, Nov. 12, 2010

A bit dated, perhaps... describing the travails of an earlier era... but doesn't it make you think...???

Our nation "on the eve of destruction" is still a virtual paradise for the vast majority of our citizens... and even non-citizens... compared to daily life for the vast, vast majority of the world's people.

Still... greed, selfishness, and irresponsibility are slowly dragging this nation down into the muck. There's just no denying this.

Believe me, folks... it's no picnic being Usually Right.

* Oh... about today's Newsbites theme song...

Yeah... there are better versions - clearer audio with far more jarring video - but just consider the passion this man displays while performing.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The U.S. Dept Reduction Commission

The U.S. Debt Reduction Commission apparently has no access to calendars.

It is 2010, right...???

Here's why I ask - according to various news reports:

A presidential commission’s leaders proposed a $3.8 trillion deficit-cutting plan that would cut Social Security and Medicare... The co-chairmen of the panel appointed by President Barack Obama suggested reducing Social Security spending by raising the retirement age to 68 in about 2050 and 69 in about 2075.

Now isn't 2050... er... 2050? (As in 40 years from now...???)

And... er... isn't 2075... er... 65 years from now...?

Now I freely admit, I'm not what you'd call a math wiz... but I'm pretty sure I've got the math down on this one.

Are Erskin Bowles (Bill Clinton's former Chief of Staff) and Alan Simpson (former Republican Senator) - the co-Chairs of the U.S. Dept Reduction Commission - kidding...???

This is a joke... right...???

Folks... what's it gonna take? Seriously... what's it frigg'n gonna take...?!?!

I try to stay positive; I really do. I try not to let my mind drift back to certain favorite paragraph's from Vince Flynn's novel Term Limits... but I've gotta be honest...


In any case...


As far as Social Security and Medicare are concerned...

Does this sound like a problem to you:

Social Security expenditures are expected to exceed tax receipts this year

How about this:

The (Medicare) hospital insurance fund still fails the test of short-range financial adequacy, as projected annual assets drop below projected annual expenditures within 10 years - by 2012. The fund also continues to fail the long range test of close actuarial balance

Jeezus, people... does it sound like we've got 40 years before we'll "need" to raise the retirement age?

Jeezus, people... even the frigg'n French have come around to facing reality!

Barker's Newsbites: Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010

...but I've got eyes...


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Barker's Newsbites: Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010

A shout out to faithful reader Jared!

Less than a month, now, Cous!

Ya know... when you think about it... it's really wild that we've not only kept in touch for all these years, but that we've been friends, shared some great times - key events - and now Mary and I are heading over to Spain to visit you, Dana, and the kids!

Wild, man... just wild!

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Annual Pre-Christmas Rant

Well, folks... it's still weeks till Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but I know some of you are already focusing on Christmas (yeah, yeah, yeah... and Hanukkah!) (December 1-9
this year!), so here it is... Bill's Annual Buy American Rant!

You know the deal, folks. Happy 'ol Bill is "Mr. Year Around Bah Humbug" when it comes to consumerism at the best of times, but as Christmas approaches...


...all I can think of is all the foreign made - often Chinese made - crap that people are loading up on in order to celebrate the Birth of Christ.

(Yeah, yeah... I know... he was born in the summer. Give it a rest, won't ya?!)

Here's what I'm saying: Buy American!

See... I'm not even harping on the evils of materialism or spoiling the kids... (though these are huge problems in and of themselves...)

Look at the label before you purchase a present. If the label reads, "Made in China," at least consider whether there's something else you can purchase... another gift... something "Made in U.S.A."

A bottle of wine... a bottle of booze... a bottle or six-pack or case of micro-brewed beer...

A gift certificate to a local restaurant... to a local nail salon... to any business owned and operated by a local merchant...

Com'on, folks... use your heads... all it takes is a bit of thought and perseverance.

When you go in to your local Walmart, Target, Sears, Macy's, Kmart... whatever... ask to speak to the store manager and tell him or her that you expect to find "Made in America" products in the store!

Demand "Made in America" Products...!

Com'on, folks... you're not stupid... perhaps you've noticed that the Nike sneakers you just paid $90 for were made in some Asian factory hellhole and... oh, did I mention... you just paid $90 frigg'n dollars for them!!!

Hey... have you been underwear shopping lately - T-Shirts let's say? What are you paying for a two or three-pack of Jockey T-Shirts at Kohl's...??? (I just surfed on over there and it shows a two-pack of men's tall Jockey V-Neck T-Shirts regularly sells for $23 frigg'n dollars...!!!)

Folks... where's the god-damned "savings...???" You're seriously telling me that American factories couldn't produce frigg'n T-Shirts that sell for $12.50 a piece while making a profit...?!?!

Do you really need more cheap plastic Chinese-made "holiday decorations," chackas, and knick knacks...???

Folks... (*SIGH*)... if you really feel the need to buy "stuff" as gifts, consider higher end quality "Made in America" merchandise. It doesn't matter if your budget is $10 or $100; there's "American Made" goods to fit every budget - you've just got to do your homework!

(*SIGH*)... I hope to hell that I'm not the only one you're getting this "lecture" from. I'd sure as heck like to think that all the newly elected Tea Partiers will use their newly acquired public megaphones to make the same plea to their fellow Americans that I'm making to you all here.

I remember last year - when John Hicks and I were still doing our radio show on WTBQ-AM radio up here in Orange County, NY - devoting quite a bit of time to this very topic. Last year John was in perfect agreement with me. This year John ran Nan Hayworth's successful campaign for Congress. I'm hoping that this year John remembers last year... I'm hoping that John reads this post... I'm hoping Nan reads this post...

Anyway, folks... an early "Merry Christmas" shout out to you!

(And yeah... a happy and healthy Hanukkah to all my Jewish friends...!!!)




Barker's Newsbites: Monday, Nov. 8, 2010


It doesn't matter who's singing, what matters is the song.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

John Boehner's "commuting" shouldn't involve private government jets

Dear Speaker-Elect Boehner,

Once you're elected Speaker of the House... discontinue the practice of using military transport back and forth between Washington D.C. and (your home state of) Ohio.

Remember how Sarah Palin got rid of "the Governor's jet" upon winning the governorship of Alaska...???

Anyway, John...

(May I call you John?)

...not only would such a move save taxpayers buko bucks, but such an unexpected action would no doubt be a public relations coup.

Yes, yes... I know that it was President Bush who ordered that the Speaker (Dennis Hastart at the time) of the House to start using military jets for all official air transportation after 9/11 as a "security measure" (since the Speaker is third in line to the presidency).

Frankly... Bush made a wrong call there.

In any case, "Air Hastart" was long ago grounded; "Air Pelosi" will soon be no more; let's set the proper tone for "Washington 2011" by returning to the pre-9/11 norm of the Speaker of the House commuting between his district and the Capital just like any other Member of Congress.

The President has Air Force One. He's Head of State as well as Head of Government. Same logic applies with the V.P. getting Air Force Two.

Let's send a message, here, Mr. Boehner!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Just a Note on "Style"

Hey, Gang...

(Jared... Carl... ODM...)

Though there's probably no need, allow me to just post a general "clarification" regarding my commenting "style."

Obviously "regular posts" are self-explanatory.

Regarding "newsbites," I can only hope that even the first time (first and last time...???) a web surfer visits Usually Right he/she will quickly figure out that the actual "newsbites" of "Newsbite Threads" are to be found in the comments folder of the thread.


A note on my "stylistic" intent with regards to my interspaced commentary within individual "newsbites" as well as applied to "straight" front page posts.

When I'm appearing to be unusually frustrated, condemnatory, and downright sarcastic in my commentary, I'm basically... er... talking out loud... blowing off steam.

Obviously all of my regular readers are intelligent and "right thinking."

(I'm not sure if Rodak still pops in to now and then or how many "lurkers" I have...)

I know - from private emails and just from knowing you guys - that in most cases I'm preaching to the choir and in some cases (ODM) mine might actually be the voice of... er... hope and optimism!


Listen... folks... there are millions and millions and millions of absolute dummies out there!

Rasmussen Reports Daily Presidential Tracking Poll - Friday, November 5, 2010:

26% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Overall, 45% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the president's performance.

See what I'm saying...???

Basically, folks, in many respects my blogging simply serves as a vent as I reach out to the approximately 150,000,000 registered voters who... er... never heard of William R. Barker and will never stumble upon Usually Right.

Mainly I'm talking to myself, folks... yes... I understand this...!!!


Think about this reality I'm outlining: A quarter or more of the U.S. voting population is a lost cause!

I mean... (*SHAKING MY HEAD*)... think about the fact that folks like Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters were re-elected in landslides. Consider that even now... after everything they've done over the past four years... the outgoing Pelosi/Reid Congress still has 12% - that's one in ten - of American voters telling pollsters they believe Congress is doing a good or excellent job...!!!

(In other words, folks... more than 10% of the American electorate is certifiably insane...)

So... to close... if anyone every finds himself or herself wondering if perhaps I'm talking to them rather than simply ranting in general... just email and ask.


One favor I would ask:

Tell your friends and family members about this blog. Invite them to tune in! (I appreciate that some of you have told me you do this in any case!)

I really do want people to know what I know and I realize that most folks - even if they're interested in the sort of "reporting" Usually Right engages in - don't have the time or expertise to view and digest the amount of news they should.

Carl...! Victoria should be reading Usually Right daily.

Phil...! Young "Mr. Harvard" surely needs to consider the information I put on display daily in light of the crapola he's undoubtedly being fed up in the Ivy Tower.

Jared... thanks for all the encouragement you give me and thanks for "turning on" your dad and father-in-law to Usually Right!

ODM... continue to read aloud from Usually Right during puppy story hour... (*GRIN*) (*WINK*)

That's it, folks...!

Barker's Newsbites: Friday, Nov. 5, 2010

This is...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

How Many of You Regularly Read Zero Hedge?

All of you should read Zero Hedge, you know.

(Note... the above link has been on my "Recommended Reading List" - to your left on this page - all along.)

Here's a sampling of Zero Hedge wisdom from this moment's in time Zero Hedge front page:

David Stockman, director of the OMB under Ronald Reagan, today said, "An independent Fed is what we had when I was in the government. Volcker was the head of it...today the Fed is scared to death that the boys and girls and robots on Wall Street are going to have a hissy fit. And therefore these programs, one after another, are simply designed to somehow pacify the stock market, and hoping to keep the stock indexes going up, and that somehow that will fool the people into thinking they are wealthier and they will spend money. The people aren't buying that. Main Street is not stupid enough to believe that engineered rallies as a result of QE2 stimulus are making them wealthier and so they should go out and buy another Coach bag. This is really crazy stuff that I can't say enough negative about...the Fed is telling a lot of lies to the market...it is telling all the politicians on Capitol Hill you can issue unlimited debt cause it doesn't cost anything. We have $9 trillion of marketable debt. Upwards of 70% of that has maturities of 5 years or less down to 90 days. ... I think the Fed is injecting high grade monetary heroin into the financial system of the world, and one of these days it is going to kill the patient."


The market as we know it, is now finished. As of last night, stocks are nothing but a policy tool, controlled exclusively, and very much legally and with no legislative control, by Ben Bernanke. The Federal Reserve has rendered the economy irrelevant. We hope America enjoys paying $10 for a loaf of bread shortly. In the meantime, the market closed down 1.5% priced in gold, which closed $7 dollars short of $1,400. Next stop: $10,000.


Yesterday's Ben Bernanke penned an Op-Ed in which he essentially said: "I am doing whatever I interpret my mandate to be, which right now means only thing: Dow 36,000. I am only accountable to the private bank that is the Federal Reserve, a few Wall Street CEOs, and no one else. Congress has no power over me. Try to stop me." And while the stock market is so far in love with this exhibition of outright hubris which promises record bonuses even as a record number of Americans subsist on food-stamps and real, not BLS, unemployment is over 20%, putting the Chairman in a long-overdue strait jacket will ultimately require an outright clash between those who still believe in that piece paper called the Constitution and the kleptocratic cartel to whom the trade-off between a senior bond impairment and their first born is never all that clear. And while more and more try to educate a hypnotized, strategically defaulting US society what QE2 means to their future, the rest of the world is already rising in a tidal wave of disapproval aimed at the Federal Reserve. As the FT reports, Brazil, China, German, and Thailand, and soon everyone else, have already voiced their highest criticism and their condemnation of this escalation in FX wars. Everyone now realizes that the most benign outcome of this act is the symbolic isolation of the US by the rest of the world. The outright isolation will come the second China, Germany and Russia announces they have come up with their own, commodity-backed currency. At some point all Americans, no matter how engrossed with their Facebook profile, will have to ask themselves: is preventing a few multi-billionaires from suffering debt write-down losses a sufficient compensation for the trillions in incremental debt, for the conversion of America to the laughing stock of the world and its subsequent insolvency, and to the collapse of the standard of living of those 81% of Americans who barely have any stock market holdings, and thus benefit exactly zero from this action.

Anyway, folks, you have the main link... (*SIGH*)... see for yourselves.

I'm not insane and the folks at Zero Hedge certainly aren't a bunch of kooks and flakes.

As I keep trying to get across to those who refuse to get it, there actually is a sort of "conspiracy" to destroy the America of our forebearers.

And as crazy as this sounds.... the enemy really is within...

Alaska Stat. § 15.15.360. : Alaska Statutes - Section 15.15.360.: Rules for counting ballots

(a) The election board shall count ballots according to the following rules:

(1) A voter may mark a ballot only by filling in, making "X" marks, diagonal, horizontal, or vertical marks, solid marks, stars, circles, asterisks, checks, or plus signs that are clearly spaced in the oval opposite the name of the candidate, proposition, or question that the voter desires to designate.

(2) A failure to properly mark a ballot as to one or more candidates does not itself invalidate the entire ballot.

(3) If a voter marks fewer names than there are persons to be elected to the office, a vote shall be counted for each candidate properly marked.

(4) If a voter marks more names than there are persons to be elected to the office, the votes for candidates for that office may not be counted.

(5) The mark specified in (1) of this subsection shall be counted only if it is substantially inside the oval provided, or touching the oval so as to indicate clearly that the voter intended the particular oval to be designated.

(6) Improper marks on the ballot may not be counted and do not invalidate marks for candidates properly made.

(7) An erasure or correction invalidates only that section of the ballot in which it appears.

(8) A vote marked for the candidate for President or Vice-President of the United States is considered and counted as a vote for the election of the presidential electors.

(9) Write-in votes are not invalidated by writing in the name of a candidate whose name is printed on the ballot unless the election board determines, on the basis of other evidence, that the ballot was so marked for the purpose of identifying the ballot.

* Whoa...! Whoa...! Whoa...! Check this out, folks...!!!

Quoting: Alaska’s Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell, who oversees elections, told the Associated Press that write-in ballots for Miller will be tossed out.


Folks... I've posted the actual law... the actual text... if the Associated Press' reporting - as highlighted by the Politico article - is accurate, then what we're witnessing is a blatant attempt to steal an election by not just "bending" the law, but by breaking it!

(10) In order to vote for a write-in candidate, the voter must write in the candidate's name in the space provided and fill in the oval opposite the candidate's name in accordance with (1) of this subsection.

(11) A vote for a write-in candidate, other than a write-in vote for governor and lieutenant governor, shall be counted if the oval is filled in for that candidate and if the name, as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy, of the candidate or the last name of the candidate is written in the space provided.

* Once again, folks, I respectfully direct your attention to the following...

Quoting: ...while election officials plan to be lenient in deciphering voter intent in determining whether a ballot for Murkowski counts...

Again... HUH...?!?!

The law is the frigg'n law! It's right there in black and white...!!!

Folks... for God's sake... Murkowski's sleazy political allies - elected officials who swore an oath to follow their state's laws - are apparently so arrogant and corrupt that they're brazenly willing to admit to the press that they're willing to steal an American election in order to re-install their candidate in office and damn the voters... damn the law...

(12) If the write-in vote is for governor and lieutenant governor, the vote shall be counted if the oval is filled in and the names, as they appear on the write-in declaration of candidacy, of the candidates for governor and lieutenant governor or the last names of the candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, or the name, as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy, of the candidate for governor or the last name of the candidate for governor is written in the space provided.

(b) The rules set out in this section are mandatory and there are no exceptions to them. A ballot may not be counted unless marked in compliance with these rules.

(c) [Repealed, Sec. 24 ch 113 SLA 2003].

* Folks... Alaska election law is clear.

Barker's Newsbites: Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010

Why this version...???

Simple. The "old" Tokens of 2008 deserve - if anything - more respect than the "young" Tokens of 1961.

Real talent in both cases... but jeez... think about what it takes at their age now to even come close to hitting those notes!


Raise your hand if you can define the term "Gerrymandering."

Here... this may help.

Having done very, very well with regard to winning governorships and control of key state's legislatures the GOP - as a partisan political organization - is looking forward to "locking in" Republican victories for the next decade via control of much of the post-Census once a decade "redistricting" process.

I beg Republicans in power to look at the bigger picture and use their temporary clout not to manipulate the redistricting process (as is normal behavior for BOTH parties when such opportunity arises)... not to treat this power as simply another spoil of victory... but rather to take this historic opportunity to truly reform the way political lines (districts) are drawn in this country.

I'm not a "math guy." I'm certainly not equipped to opine on the pros and cons of various computer modeling algorithms...

(Heck... I had to look up the correct spelling of "algorithms!")

...but I'm quite capable of laying out concepts:

Here's what we want - districts that are as "square" (or perhaps triangular... rectangular... whatever! Basically, I'm talking "as uniform as possible" fitting within an obviously non-uniform set of state and municipal boundaries...) as possible with as close to equal population as possible and which are "anchored" (as far as possible) to the taxing authorities which most directly effect said voters.

What we don't want is the continuation of the partisan or racial gerrymander that is now the norm.

Folks... a free and just society shouldn't continence - let along require - "black" districts or "Hispanic districts" or "Republican" districts or "Democratic" districts...


I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm championing the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s color blind dream... not self-imposed segregation... and certainly not "minority candidates for minorities" vs. "white candidates for whites."

(You'd think this would be common sense, but it's not. Indeed, federal law is in large part responsible for the purposeful "race anchoring" of much specific district creation!)

Understand, folks... certain politicians will actually defend purposeful voter segregation by race! They'll tell you it's about "minority rights," but it's not; it's about power and artificially picking individual partisan winners who will exercise this power.

Understand, folks... the politicians of both parties by and large want to retain their power at all costs and gerrymandering is a part of the incumbent protection racket.

Anyway... (*SIGH*)... I'll leave it to anyone interested to explore the topic further.

As always... I'm just trying to get good ideas out there.

The Logistics of Civic Participation - i.e. VOTING

How much voter fraud was there this election?

(Rhetorical question...)

I really have no idea.

As frequent readers know, I'm very careful about the information I post here. I'm not much for rumor and innuendo; I tend to stick to "mainstream" sourcing. While you will find news and opinion here that rely partly upon "accusation," I pride myself in dealing only with speculation I consider well founded.

Every election season there are all sorts of stories and allegations concerning voter fraud. I've passed along a few credible news reports concerning "campaign irregularities" via past newsbites.


In any case, returning to my opening question, I have no idea how much voter fraud actually goes on.

Rather than speculate, allow me to offer some suggestions:

1) I believe in treating voter fraud as the serious crime it is. Folks... an illegitimate vote cancels out a legitimate vote. Vote fraud is a knife thrust into the heart of the democratic process. Therefore, willing participation in deliberate voter fraud by a citizen should mean serious jail time and financially crippling fines. For a non-citizen involved in vote fraud... confiscate every dollar and every bit of property the alien has other than the clothes on his back and deport him. No ifs, ands, or buts...

2) No more early voting except for active duty military personnel when appropriate. No absentee ballots - there's just too high a possibility of fraud. Yes, computers and the internet makes it possible to enable "remote voting," but ask yourselves... how many times have you heard or read about "Fortune 50" companies and even our own supposedly "secure" government computer networks being compromised... hacked? It's simply not worth the risk. Bottom line, the security of our democratic rights is more important than the ease with which we exercise them.

3) Perhaps most important... proof of identity must be established. The phrase "National I.D. Card" stirs up fears of encroaching totalitarianism in some folks. These folks are... er... nuts. Seriously, folks, whether you like it or not you're presently required to utilize your social security number for all sorts of official - and in many cases unofficial - constantly. If you want to exercise your... er... privilege... of intra or interstate travel via driving an automobile you must have a drivers license and produce it upon request by police or other "proper authorities." Heck... if you're walking, minding your own business, and a police officer for whatever reason gives you a lawful order to produce identification... you're under legal obligation to do so. Bottom line, you should have to produce government issued identification (drivers license, passport, non-drivers license i.d.) in order to vote. (Frankly, I'd like to see retina scans and finger-printing - perhaps even DNA sampling - done upon voter registration and then used for positive i.d. at the actual polling station when you vote!)

Folks... I know that some of you may disagree... may think my proposals are too... er... intrusive. Fine. If that's the case, then just go with the concept - the concept being that only citizens should vote and that it's "one vote to a customer."

Unless you favor voter fraud... (*SHRUG*)... each and every one of you should at least demand that our government somehow better combat voter fraud.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Ahh... what the heck... label this another "Open Letter" to Nan Hayworth!

Nan. As you well know the Democrats and their media allies will try hard to "tag" Republicans with wanting to "extend tax cuts to the rich."

Well... it's time that you and indeed all Republicans officeholders and soon-to-be officeholders respond with a intellectually honest reply based upon basic American concepts of fairness and equity.

What's a "fair" percentage of one's income for the authorities to demand? Throughout human history - both secular and religious tradition - a 10% "tithe" seems to represent a reasonable opening gambit.

(One might say, "if it's good enough for God...")

Of course the more separate "authorities" one is answerable to, the greater the number of individual "tithes" - or in terms of government demands... taxes - individuals are subject to.

Here in America - depending upon where one lives, works, or simply spends money - one is subject to federal and/or state income taxes, capital gains taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, school taxes, fees, surcharges, tolls... and on and on and on.

Individual taxes, fees, and surcharges can amount to pennies... well under a full percentage point... but they can also be levied at rates some would consider confiscatory.

Now we come to the question, though... don't we...? What exactly is "confiscatory?"

Is 10% confiscatory? Most would no doubt say "no."

How about 20%?

Thirty percent...??? Forty percent...??? Fifty percent...???

I ask... assuming the money is legally earned... does a government supposedly of and for free citizens have a right to demand half - or, worse, beyond half - of a citizen's income (or in regard to sales taxes half or more again in taxes accessed for the "privilege" of buying a legal product or service) under penalty of law... under threat of force?

Now, putting aside for the moment the multitude of federal, state, and local taxes Americans are subject to and also laying to the side the reality that these taxes are cumulative, allow me to focus the topic upon just one tax... the federal income tax.

First a bit of context:

When the 16th Amendment was first ratified and signed into law, the new "federal income tax" rate went into effect with a ceiling of 7% - and that top rate was only for taxpayers earning more than $500,000... and we're talking $500,000 in 1913 dollars! (And bear in mind... this new "federal income tax" - even at the then-floor of 1% - was paid by only one out of a hundred Americans! Ninety-nine out of a hundred were exempt due to the fact that their incomes didn't rise to the level triggering even the 1% tax!)

In any case... (*SIGH*)... the key number here is "seven" - as in 7%.

So... for the sake of argument... allow me to posit as an "opening bid" that if our nation is going to rely upon a federal income tax for a huge portion of federal revenues, then the 7% "top rate" of the original federal income tax "table" is the "opening bid" for a top assessment of 7%.

On the other extreme... the ceiling... (and bear in mind, again, for the moment we'll just pretend - for the sake of this discussion - that other taxes besides the federal income tax simply don't exist)... let's throw out a common sense guideline:

It is... on it's face... universally recognized as unjust for any government supposedly representing a free People to demand more than an equal share of any citizen's income.

Fair enough...???

Setting the basic goal posts at 7% and 50% respectively... a fair enough starting point for further discussion...???

Well, Nan, going back to addressing you directly with regard to how Republicans need to respond to the Democrats' charges that we unjustly favor "tax cuts for the wealthy" my suggestion is a simple one:

Since in the real world all of us do pay taxes above and beyond federal income taxes, I'd suggest that an "opening bid" of say 33.3% as a federal income tax ceiling would be looked upon by the average American as just.

Your position and that of your fellow Republican elected officials: "No just federal government would even contemplate laying claim to more than one-third of an American's income."

Now... if you're wondering why then I suggested planting the "high end goal post marker" at 50% rather than 33.3%, this is where we connect the concept of "federal income tax" to the reality of "American taxation."

Of course it's up to the individual states and their component municipalities to decide upon their own tax rates. Most states have some form of income tax... a few don't. A resident of one locality in one state making say $50,000/yr. will "share" a higher or lower percentage of his or her earnings with "government" than another American making the same salary but living or working somewhere else. Then of course there's property taxes... school taxes... yadda, yadda, yadda....

My point is this: Just as it's surely defensible - even laudable... a demonstration of common sense - for you and your Republican colleagues to argue that no American should be forced to turn over more than one-third of his or her earnings to the federal government in income taxes... it's just as obvious - and I'm guessing that it would be even more universally accepted - to promote as a moral and ethic concept that no American should be forced to surrender more than half of his or her income to "government" as a broad entity.

Anyway... (*SMILE*)... I'm not trying to write a bill here... I'm simply outlining a philosophical proposal that I believe would resonate with the American People.

Barker's Newsbites: Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010

A little tune to stir the blood...

More Advice to Nan Hayworth: Staffing

Yep... for the next few days there's gonna be a flurry of posts - "Open Letters" - addressed to my newly elected Congresswoman-Elect, Dr. Nan Hayworth.

I hope to hell that others are emulating me... are reaching out to their newly elected (and even re-elected) representatives!

O.K., Nan... staffing...

First off, you've publicly committed to carrying through on my call to cut 10% out of your first congressional office budget as compared to what Democrat John Hall ends up spending for this final year of his term... this final year of his final term in office.

(*GRIN*) (*WINK*)

Great! 'Nough said!

Now... some other advice:

First of all some context...

When I was a junior at Northeastern University I spent a semester abroad (in London, England) studying, earning credits, and most important, interning for a senior backbench Tory Member of the House of Commons.

I'm not telling you this to reminisce, but rather to point out the following: This senior backbench Member of the House of Commons - the "Mother Parliament" of Western Democracy - had one full-time professional researcher (aide) "on staff" and... me.

My Member - the Right Honorable Sir Teddy Taylor, MP (retired) - shared a secretary with another (even more senior!) Member of the House of Commons.

Nan... this was (and to the best of my knowledge still is) the norm.

Now I'm not telling you to emulate British Parliament staffing norms (after all, they have a professional non-partisan civil service which acts as professional staff to the combined Legislative-Executive Branch that is the British Parliament), rather, I'm pointing out that our system goes deliberately in the complete opposite direction.

In America... in Congress... each senator and representative is King (or Queen as the case may be) of his or her domain.

Oh... it's not as bad as it used to be pre-Republican Revolution 1994 (at least staffers since the Gingrich era have enjoyed certain basic labor protections under federal law), but congressional staffing is still pretty much a "feudal" enterprise based upon personal loyalty to the individual senator or representative.

When hiring staff, Nan, the first question you should be asking of applicants is the following:


The answer, Nan, will tell you everything you need to know.

The correct answer is "The American People."

Now of course people working for you are... er... working for you... but you get my point, right?

When George Schultz served as President Reagan's Secretary of State he used to call newly minted foreign service officers into his office and ask each young man or woman to "go over to that map and point to the country you've been assigned to or hope to represent."

Inevitably the nervous youngster would point to France or England or Russia or Japan...


Schultz would then gently shake his head and answer "no." He'd then point to the United States and say, "no, this is the country you represent."


You're going to be the boss, Nan. It can't be otherwise. And of course your staffers have to be "loyal." This too goes without saying. HOWEVER...

Those who end up working for you must understand and accept - willingly accept... indeed, embrace - the concept of "greater loyalty."

No... I'm not saying that in your office staffers can follow their own "hearts and minds" to the contrary of your agenda. What I'm saying is that each and every member of your staff must want to work for you not primarily out of financial need or a quest for personal advancement, but rather because they believe in you and believe in your agenda.

At the same time... each staff member needs to understand that while reasonable people can disagree on specific issues and details... should a staffer ever lose faith in the overall "righteousness" of your agenda it is that staffer's responsibility to resign rather than make take the unethical path of either working against you from within or - on the other extreme - surrendering his or her own most deeply held beliefs.

Nan. You know what kind of people tend to gravitate towards "staff work" in Washington?

Self-serving, slippery, brighter than average but too lazy to have majored in a hard science or even business or other "math-centric" field of study in college personalities - that's who.

Washington D.C. is full of bright, eager, hard-working young go-getters. The question is... what is it that they're actually focused on getting...???

My advice, Nan... if I were you, I'd contact Ron Paul's chief of staff... Michele Bachman's chief of staff... I'd try and reach John Shadegg directly... I'd reach out to my fellow physicians serving in the House... I'd try to directly reach Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn over on the Senate side... in other words, Nan, I'd reach out to sources you can trust for staffing advice and assistance.

Nan. It's crucial that if you're sincerely committed to "recapturing Washington from the politicians" and "returning power to the People" (as I know you are!) that you're supported by a crack team of sincere true believers.

Anyway... as always... just giving the best advice I'm able to give.