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Friday, May 8, 2009

President Obama How About a Little Appreciation!



One Voice Can Change The Room. Fired Up? Ready To Go?

Now that Obama's inauguration has come and gone and a new era has dawned for America I feel the time is right to express a little disappointment. No I am not disappointed in Obama's becoming President quite the opposite, I campaigned vigorously for his election. My disappointment stems instead from the invitation to the inauguration that never came; the telephone call from the man himself that never materialized; the brief mention in a speech using me as an example of a committed American that was never uttered. Even a handwritten card on construction paper signed by Malia and Sasha in crayon would have made me happy!

Maybe an explanation is necessary: In July of 2008 I attended an event called Camp Obama in Long Beach. This was an all-weekend, eight-hour a day training session where we learned how to organize phone banks and otherwise get out the vote. It was a great experience where I met other similarly committed people who wanted to make a change. We even heard folks testify about being "recovering Republicans" who had decided to change party affiliations. Although a long two days it was well worth learning politics on the grassroots level and meeting great people. Part of participating in Camp Obama meant that you had to also commit to attend one weekend in Las Vegas for further training then a subsequent 5 days around the time of the election also in Las Vegas. The reason they sent all us Californians to Nevada is because California was already in the bag for Obama whereas the difference between McCain and Obama in Nevada was well within the margin of error. Literally thousands of Californians poured into Northern and Southern Nevada participating in phone banks and knocking on doors. In fact so many Californians were promoting the Democratic ticket they swept Nevada Democrats into the majority in the state senate and Obama won Nevada by 13 points (Perhaps understandably, the Nevada Democrats kept their gratitude to California to themselves). The Californians who went to Nevada took days off work, paid their own travel and their own lodging. Even when we made phone calls we made it from personal cell phones. Many of us also made the maximum individual donation toward the cause.

Speaking for myself and perhaps others, the motivation for my efforts boiled down to this: I wanted to make sure that on the day after the election, when I looked at myself in the mirror, I could say that I had done everything I could toward the goal of effecting the necessary change the county needed.

Naturally, I cannot ignore that I was only one of the similarly inspired multitude willing to leave friends and family behind to join what became an all encompassing movement. The truth is that the memories of knocking on doors in challenged neighborhoods and hearing the enthusiasm and hope of the residents for the President-to -be will certainly remain with me longer then rubbing elbows at fancy dress balls or taking in the crowd on the national mall. I will never forget the people I joined forces with, many professionals like me who might have benefited from the tax policy of the other side but chose to do what was right for the vast majority of the country. So while I cannot complain about those great memories a little appreciation from the man might be nice. I am not asking for anything exorbitant just a phone call or a little game of hoops on the new basketball court. How about half court? Please?

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Nasty Southern Senators

In the end even George Bush had to agree that allowing the auto industry to go under and causing the unemployment of 3.2 million people was a bad idea. As he explained on Fox News although he is a "free market guy" he was not going to permit the economy to completely implode. Not on his watch. But what about those Senators from the South like Shelby from Alabama?

Senator Shelby adamantly opposed any bail-out arguing that it would delay the inevitable collapse of the auto industry. The good Senator seemingly oblivious to the jobs of all those Americans. Notably, not one economist I have heard of thought it was a good idea to allow the collapse of the auto industry and in fact most were emphatic they had to be bailed out since bankruptcy would not help either. But at least Senator Shelby is consistent: he also voted against the banking bail-out even though every economist on earth agreed it was needed to stop a complete catastrophe.

What gives then? Is Senator Shelby a closet economic guru who knows that a complete implosion of the economy is actually good while we all assume it will be bad? Republican Senators Cochran and Wickner from Mississippi also voted against the banking bail-out while hailing from consistently the poorest state in the union. Nothing from Senator Shelby's back ground (a lawyer) indicates that he has any particular economic experience and yet he has led the charge against both bail-outs.

Senator Shelby's state is home to several titans of the foreign auto industry like Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Hyundai. Senator Shelby has used these companies as examples of businesses which are well operated and do not have to run to Uncle Sam when things get rough. Of course, both Mercedes-Benz and Toyota come from socialist countries where pensions and medical care are paid for by the state while American companies are saddled with enormous legacy costs from previous and current employees. Anybody see the irony that foreign companies do better because they come from socialist countries?

Not that Senator Shelby is against the government helping out private industry here and there: Alabama granted $778 million in tax breaks to Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Hyundai to encourage them to build plants in that state. The return for Alabama and other southern states has been in the billions. What is truly disturbing is Senator Shelby's disregard for the well being of so many Americans.

I realize his constituency is from Alabama but does that mean that he does not give a hoot about his American brothers and sisters in the Northeast? The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was a government financed project that brought power and running water to huge areas of the south to include Alabama. In fact the TVA is still the source of power for some of those foreign owned manufacturing plants that Senator Shelby champions. Why is it that the American taxpayer can foot the bill to provide a decent living standard to the South in 1933 while Senator Shelby flippantly disregards millions of American jobs in 2008? I am sure Senator Shelby will explain that he does not believe in handouts. Adhering to principles your mother told you about is all well and good but sometimes (like in the middle of a Republican created economic crisis) you have to think outside the box. The people of Alabama and Mississippi should not have to rely on other state's senators to overrule their own when it comes to making the right decisions for the country.

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The Plame Affair Revisted

Scott McClellan, the former Press Secretary for President George W. Bush from 2003-2006 is the latest member of the Bush Administration to write a tell-all book aptly titled "What Happened". Although the book came out several months ago I felt a painstaking scrutiny of the book was warranted given McClellan's proximity to the inner circle of the Bush Administration and his long history with the President. This article is the result of that effort. McClellan's main objective is to explain the reason behind the disaster that has become Bush's presidency. He boils it down to an emphasis on the "permanent campaign" within the administration. That refers of course to the all consuming effort to please the political base and preserve the party in power as opposed to making decisions in the best interest of the majority of the American People. While McClellan is probably correct in his assessment, it is his discussion of the Valerie Plame affair which is most notable and of which he has unique firsthand knowledge.

The Plame affair should rank as the most serious transgression of the Bush years and this fact is reinforced by McClellan's book. Conservative columnist Robert Novak first exposed Ms. Plame's covert CIA status after learning it from a state department official and having it confirmed by Karl Rove. This caused the CIA to request an investigation since it is against the law to reveal the identity of a covert CIA operative. As the media storm began brewing, McClellan was required to answer the press's questions about the source of the leak. McClellan was told personally by both Karl Rove and Scooter Libby that neither of them had anything to do with the leak and he dutifully reported that to the press. In due time it was learned that Rove and Libby had both revealed Plame's identity to various members of the press before it was revealed to Novak. Some of these revelations arose from sworn hearings conducted by the Justice Department and resulted in the indictment and conviction of Mr. Libby.

Mr. McClellan does not hide his anger at being misled by these two gentlemen, although those of us who keep up on the news might have been surprised that he trusted them in the first place. By far the most insidious deception of McClellan and by extension the nation was on September 29, 2003, when McClellan asked the President about the Plame affair. The President confirmed that "I would fire anybody involved.." in the leak of Ms. Plame's status. McClellan reported this to the media. Almost three years later, when confronted with Libby's grand jury testimony revealing that the President himself had declassified the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that led to Plame's outing, the President admitted to McClellan that he had in fact authorized the release of the information.

In effect, if Bush had lived up to his pledge to fire whoever was involved with the leak he would have had to fire himself.

It is unclear to me how the President was able to remain in office after indulging in a campaign to discredit Plame's husband that was so reckless and mean spirited it resulted in the uncovering of a covert American spy. The latter being an act tantamount to treason. It really gives perspective to the colossal disaster of the Bush Administration that such an act gets swept under the rug because the results of other corrupt decisions appeared to pose an even greater threat to the nation.

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The Curious Case of Roland Burris

As everyone knows by now Roland Burris was chosen to fill Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat by the Governor of Illinois. Normally, such an appointment would not raise any eyebrows except that the Unites States Attorney's office released information to include recorded conversation that show the Governor, Rod Blagojevich attempting to sell the Senate seat to the highest bidder before he appointed Mr. Burris.

Apparently it is the opinion of the United States Attorney that the framers of the constitution might have frowned upon someone purchasing a Senate seat and that the actions of the Governor were corrupt and a violation of law. There is little dispute that Blagojevich is a crook and the victim of too many Soprano episodes. But what of Mr. Burris?

The Democrats were initially united in deciding that the Governor would not be permitted to appoint a Senator given the situation. The President-elect himself was on board with this idea and the Illinois legislature went to work to attempt to remove Governor Blagojevich who refused to resign. Then Blagojevich defiantly appointed Burris who accepted with a smile and headed to D.C. Mr. Burris apparently missed the memo that said Thou shall not accept an appointment from a disgraced, corrupt, pending indictment Governor who tried to sell the very Senate you are accepting. Notably, other Illinois politicians were approached by the Governor about accepting the seat and declined presumably because it did not make sense to go about business as usual with a Governor who although not convicted, had clearly committed a heinous crime. What does it say about the integrity of a man who accepts appointment of a Senate seat while the integrity of others caused them to decline the same appointment? Mr. Burris appears to be an opportunist who was not going to allow integrity, morality or principle stand in his way when it came to becoming a U.S. Senator. In fact it could be that Mr. Burris lacks all the attributes mentioned which would seem to be a serious omission in the character of a U.S. Senator.

What made the situation even worse is when Bobby Rush, a U.S. congressman from Chicago and an African American began to throw racism around as the reason behind people's hesitancy in accepting Mr. Burris. This red herring was also used by a CNN TV personality. I am unclear how Mr. Rush was able to make this accusation with a straight face. Apparently he too was willing to compromise his integrity to get his candidate appointed while setting back legitimate claims of racism in the process. Notably, Mr. Burris stopped short of making a claim of racism himself.

Although Mr. Burris was initially rejected by the U.S. Senate he has now been seated while those who declined Mr. Blagojevich's offer will not be. By illustrating his lack of character from the outset perhaps Mr. Burris is hoping to spare the people of Illinois from being surprised in the future. For a political party working to effectuate a sharp departure from the corruption of the Bush years this hardly seems like a good start. Meanwhile, Mr. Burris remains inexplicably unembarrassed and unashamed of how he has arrived.

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Shawn Fago

Shawn Fago

Shawn Fago. This Southern California native breaks the mold when it comes to Talk Radio. Fago embodies the independent spirit of the American West. Fago's unique experience with federal, state and local political elections earned him the respect of principal strategic advisors throughout the conservative movement. With diverse experience in coalition building, electoral analysis, grasstops & grassroots coordination, Fago represents the freshness of his generation and the perspective of a seasoned operative. Along with Will Bruzzo, Fago has created a forum for honest, insightful dialogue about the issues facing California and our nation. Fago has served as President of the Orange County Young Republicans (OCYR), Associate Representative of the California Republican Party, Vice Chairman of the Young Republican Federation of California (YRFC) and is currently campaigning for Chairman of the YRFC.

"My hope is to encourage you to open your mind, defend your convictions and to understand your fellow man. It is not always necessary to defeat the opposition but it is crucial to understand it. If you are open to living a meaningful life and if you are ready to do something positive then together we can change the world if not just ourselves." -Shawn Fago

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Will Bruzzo

Major Will Bruzzo
Will Bruzzo is the Co-host of Hardline a radio talk show on KLAA 830 AM in Anaheim, California. Along with Shawn Fago, Mr. Bruzzo debates current political and legal issues important to the public. He is a registered Democrat and a former alternate member to the Orange County Democratic Central Committee. Mr. Bruzzo also led the only Orange County demonstration against the U.S Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore on the front steps of the Orange County Superior Court house in Santa Ana in 2000.

Mr. Bruzzo is the senior attorney in the Law Offices of William W. Bruzzo practicing exclusively criminal law in Santa Ana, California. He has been a practicing lawyer since 1993.

In addition, Mr. Bruzzo served as an Officer in the United States Marine Corps for 7 years. His service included time as a Company Commander, Executive Officer and a military lawyer. He was honorably discharged as a Major.

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