– Senator Harry Reid talking about Nevada Rancher Cliven Bundy.
Used to be that elected members of Congress would stand up for their Constituents when they have a problem with the Federal Government. Based on the statement above, it seems that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid views his job differently.
“There is a vast amount of discretion that a president has — and, more specifically, that an attorney general has,”
– Attorney General Eric Holder testifying before Congress regarding the enforcement of Federal laws.
Seems that Sen. Reid and Att. Gen. Holder need to get on the same page. Holder has been responding to criticism that the Administration and he in particular have been very selective in which Federal laws they enforce when it comes to illegal immigration statutes, criminal marijuana laws, the Defense of Marriage Act and other measures. Holder has been arguing that some laws do not need to be vigorously enforced due to conflicts with State law or changes in Federal court rulings.
Reminds me of the enforcement of Jaywalking in downtown Los Angeles. When visiting our daughter who was in college in central L.A. as I was about to cross the street against the light a passing pedestrian yelled at me, “Don’t do it! The cops fine you for Jaywalking here! They are very serious.”
As someone who grew up in New York City I found this baffling. There’s no way to get around town in Manhattan in a reasonable amount of time on foot unless you Jaywalk. New York City’s Finest recognize this fact – at least when I was growing up – and ignored the pedestrian traffic violation thousands of times a day. A New York cop would tell you, “I got better things to do.” I thought that LAPD should have “better things to do,” as well.
Attorney General Holder seems to be expressing the NYPD view when approaching some of the above mentioned laws. (I disagree with him on some but not all of them.) Given that attitude, it begs the question:
Why was the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) willing to spend, according to a Washington Post timeline of the Bundy cattle controversy, over $1 Million in a cattle roundup? Yes, according to the BLM Bundy had run up $1 million in unpaid grazing fees – over a period of decades – now the BLM was going to spend that amount in a several day round-up?
Some are pointing to connections to Senator Reid’s son and a Chinese energy company with designs on the land as the real reason and connections to a BLM director who was a Reid staffer. Accurate or not, it still does not seem right at all that a Nevada senator would take a position against a citizen of his home state in favor of the Federal government when it comes to the rancher’s private property – his cattle.
For now the BLM has stood down. Senator Reid says it is not over. Meanwhile Eric Holder is explaining to Congressional oversight that the Executive Branch has a “vast amount of discretion” in enforcing laws. All while stalling on releasing information regarding Fast and Furious – a case where US Federal Border agents were actually killed.
Listen to the New York Cop – seems to me all of these Federal law enforcement personnel “have better things to do.”
“They have one thing you haven’t got. A diploma!”
– The Wizard of Oz
Recently I received my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI). As I posted on Facebook, friends and family have claimed for years that I was certifiable – now I am actually certified.
The experience of receiving my PMP made me feel a bit like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. For years he wondered if he had a brain; the Wizard informed him that it was not a brain he needed, it was a diploma.
In a similar fashion, it had been difficult for me to explain what I have done throughout my professional career. I have done Film and Video Production, Political Campaigns, Book Writing, Digital Media and a great deal of consulting for both for profit and non-profit companies – in the US and overseas. I have even been in government positions and in corporate structures. The thing was, I was usually the person on the organizational chart where a line ran from either THE top person or A top person and did not intersect or fall under any other category in the organization.
The reason was that I was usually either a Program Manager or Project Manger doing special projects to meet the strategic goals of top management. These were often projects outside of the functional or operational scope of work in the organization, yet required me interacting with numerous parts of the organization – IT, Legal, Marketing, Public Relations, Accounting and Finance, Human Resources, Operations and Product Development. I was the box outside the other boxes.
This why I was so pleased when I found out about the PMP certification. Finally there was an acknowledgement of my profession. Film and Video Productions, Political Campaigns, and other consulting I have done have all been projects. At last I was able to tell people what it is I do – as diverse a background as I have in many different fields and industries, the one thing I have been consistently is a Project Manager.
While studying for the exam I did find that there were some Project Management Institute approved terms for things I had already been doing for years – so there was some re-learning of vocabulary (for example, what I had always called “vendors” PMI called “sellers.”) Yet on the whole it did feel like the exam was testing my entire career – which worked out well since I passed with high marks.
So like the Scarecrow in Oz, I finally have the diploma that defines me – and like the Scarecrow, I too always had a brain – now I can express what I was doing with it for all these years.
Thanks PMI for giving our profession recognition and a name!
Seven Sure Fire Ways to Fix the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – Web Site and Avoid the Dreaded Death Spiral
In this site’s never ending quest to solve problems and make the world a better place, we are going to dive – head first – into ways to help solve one of the greatest problems of the day; how to fix the screwed-up, Affordable Care Act (ACA), Obamacare, The Great SNAFU, or What-Ever-You-Want-To-Call-It web site.
Apparently there are different phases to the problem.
First problem: just plain ol’ logging on.
Then actually registering for an account seems to be trouble.
Then signing up for an insurance policy; next signing up for a policy you can actually afford (the A in ACA), and finally getting enough young healthy people to sign up for an expensive policy to pay for all the new people with chronic health problems who are desperate for insurance.
This last is to avoid the dreaded “Death Spiral” – must admit, this is the first time have heard of a government program that is not military in nature with the potential to “Death Spiral.”
After much thought (fifteen minutes at least) and a targeted focus group (talked to a guy at a bus stop) here are the Seven Sure Fire Fixes to the Obamacare web site that we were able to come up with:
“Dad, is it true the government is shutting down?”
“Yes son, it’s true.”
“Does that mean there’s no school?”
“No, schools are open.”
“But It’s all over Facebook that the government is shut down and so are schools…”
“So everything on Facebook is true?”
“Like the time your sister took your smartphone and posted on your Facebook that you have different names for your farts depending on how they smell?”
“OK, not everything on Facebook is true.”
“Besides, it is the Federal Government that is shut down, school are run by local governments.”
“What about 9-1-1 calls? And the cops? Is it going to be like that movie ‘The Purge’?”
“No, 9-1-1 and the vast majority of law enforcement on our country is done by local law enforcement. I know when you watch TV and Movies it looks like the FBI and Homeland Security are solving most of the crimes, but that is not nearly true. Local police and state police deal with the vast majority of crimes.”
“What if we are attacked? And all the soldiers are not at work?”
“The Military is Federal but even during a government shutdown they stay on duty. Just non-essential employees stay home.”
“So what shuts down?”
“Things like the National Parks and other things to annoy us. Flight controllers stay on duty so the airlines can still fly.”
“What about the courts?”
“There are Federal Courts, but most courts are local so they will stay open.”
“You sure the courts are open today?”
“Why the interest in the courts today?”
“Remember when I borrowed the car in July? Well…I went a little fast…”
“A speeding ticket? When were you going to tell us about this?”
“Well, it was a long time until my court date and I hoped it might just go away. Then when I heard the government might shut down today I thought the court might be closed and it would all go away…”
“So let me get this straight…you had a fiscal responsibility coming up because of something you did….and you chose to ignore it for a long time, and then at the last minute you hoped something would come up that would make it all go away?”
“Son, with thinking like that you could grow up to run for Senator.”
Since the current American Foreign Policy regarding Syria has swung back and forth more than a half-naked Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball, we have taken it upon ourselves to interview some of the principle players involved and attempt to clarify things.
First up, Secretary of State John Kerry:
Q: At first you said that there would be no “boots on the ground” in Syria but then you opened up the possibility of “boots on the ground” if we needed to secure chemical weapons. Which is it?
Secretary Kerry: Both. I was against “boots on the ground” before I was for them.
Q: What about arming the rebels fighting against the Assad regime? Do you favor that?
Secretary Kerry: I was against arming the rebels before I was for it.
Q: Finally, what about getting Congressional approval before the US Military action?
Secretary Kerry: I was against getting Congressional approval before I was for it.
Q: I see. Thank you very much Secretary Kerry.
Now we turn to President Obama.
Q: Mr. President what do you have to say about “boots on the ground” in Syria.
President Obama: Let me make this perfectly clear. There will be no “boots on the ground” in Syria.
Q: But Secretary Kerry said that if we needed to secure WMDs we would go in, and there has been talk of providing arms to the rebels. How can we do this with no “boots on the ground”?
President Obama: Let me make this perfectly clear. The US Military wears boots. The C.I. A. wears shoes. We will have no “boots on the ground” in Syria.
Q: Secretary Kerry has said that any action by the US in Syria would be very limited…yet you said that the “US Military does not do pin pricks.” What about the drone strikes we have been doing around the world – aren’t those small precision strikes?
President Obama: Let me make this perfectly clear. The US Military is not in charge of the drone strikes. The C.I.A. is in charge of the drone strikes at my direction. The US Military does not do pin pricks – when I am looking for pricks, I look to the C.I.A.
Q: Are you sure you want to phrase it that way?
President Obama: Why? I didn’t draw a Red Line or anything again did I?
Q: No, no – never mind. Let’s move on. What do all of these changes signal to regimes like Iran or North Korea? What will they think about the reluctance to bomb or put “boots on the ground”?
President Obama: Iran is not Syria. You can check that on a map. Or even a globe. Or if you have a smart phone: use Google Maps. As for North Korea; let me make sure this is understood; the US Military wears boots, the C.I.A. wears shoes, and Dennis Rodman wears sneakers.
Q: That’s all the time we had with President Obama as he was off to a game of golf with Speaker John Boehner where they were going to talk about how budget negotiations are as painful as nicotine withdrawal.
Our next guest is Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Q: President Putin, after years of being sidelined in the Middle East it seems that Russia is once again flexing diplomatic muscles. Can you tell us what led to this change?
President Putin: There is no change here. I have been flexing my muscles for years. Haven’t you seen the pictures?
Q: What we mean is that you seem to have been very vigorous in your defense of Basher Assad in Syria…
President Putin: That’s not the only place I have been vigorous. I am recently divorced. So ladies, if you are looking for vigorous, text a picture to “Comrade Danger.”
Q: I can’t believe you went there…
President Putin: OK I have to go now, very busy schedule…
Q: Doing what?
President Putin: Have a photo opportunity of me riding shirtless on a unicorn.
Q: A unicorn? Aren’t they imaginary?
President Putin: You don’t believe in unicorns?
Q: Well, no…
President Putin: But you believe that all of the chemical weapons on a civil-war torn Middle Eastern country can be identified, secured, and transported out of the country by the International Community – with no American “boots on the ground”? You Americans crack me up. It is almost as funny as sending Dennis Rodman to North Korea.
Q: Not sure that we “sent” Rodman…
President Putin: Have to go. Have the photo op and then dinner with Eric Snowden. He tells me an NSA story, I tell him an old KGB story – we drink some vodka. Good time all around.
Next we turn to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Q: As a senator you voted to authorize President Bush to use military action in Iraq. Later you opposed it. As Secretary of State you supported military strikes on Libya, yet when our Ambassador in Benghazi was in danger you opposed using the military. Last week, now that you are out of office, you urged Congress vote in favor of supporting military strikes on Syria by the Obama Administration, but now you agree with the President to postpone the vote?
Secretary Clinton: Exactly.
Secretary Clinton: My position as a Senator, as Secretary of State and now as a Candid – oops! I mean as a private citizen – has been consistent.
Q: How so?
Secretary Clinton: I have always been in support of authorizing the President to use military force, until I am no longer in support. Well, gotta run – like the subtle hint there?
Q: Where are you going?
Secretary Clinton: To a photo op of me riding on a lion. That Putin is a genius – even Bill said he never thought of the “riding on a wild animal” thing. It’s almost as brilliant as sending Dennis Rodman to North Korea.
Q: You mean… we did send Rodman to North Korea…? Why?
Secretary Clinton: What difference does it make! See ya – in 2016.
Finally, to try to put some perspective on all of this – we ask former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to comment.
Q: What do we know about the Syria situation?
Secretary Rumsfeld: You and I don’t know what President Obama knows. And we don’t know what President Putin knows. And we don’t know what Obama knows about what Putin knows. It looks like President Hollande of France knows something – but what it is, we don’t know.
Q: Is there any way out of this mess?
Secretary Rumsfeld: That’s what they used to ask me about Iraq – so I’ll say the same thing:
I don’t know.
The NFL season is about to begin again – and my beloved New York Giants are getting ready for their season opener against the Dallas Cowboys. Bare with me, but it relates to our Syria situation.
Last year my Giants went from being surprise Superbowl champs, to not making the playoffs. A big factor was that the punishing Defense was nowhere near as good against the opposing team’s ground game and not as dominating in the pass rush. Part of that was that Jean-Pierre Paul (JPP), the stand out Defensive Lineman, was playing with a hurt back. He had off-season surgery and hopefully will be back to form.
But the Pre-Season has been a little menacing. While the Giants have scored, it has mostly been on Big Plays – a long pass and run by Wide Receiver Victor Cruz, or a breakaway run by Halfback David Wilson. But when in the Red Zone (or as their Head coach Tom Coughlin likes to refer to it: the Green Zone) they have floundered. This is concerning.
In a similar way, over the past decade, American foreign policy has been effective with the Big Play; Regime Change in Iraq and Afghanistan. But once we get into the Green Zone, changing hearts and minds, we don’t do so well. Like the Giants, we have had limited success stopping our opponents ground game.
So just as I am concerned with the upcoming Giants season, since I am not sure the weaknesses have been corrected, I am also concerned with the upcoming season in American Foreign Policy.
Since the political pundit class is gearing up for a Hillary Clinton Presidential run, it has almost become the media consensus to praise her time as Secretary of State. While it maybe true that there were no major gaffes or debacles on her watch at State (I count Benghazi as more of a failure of the Intelligence Community than State), there were no major accomplishments or victories.
In fact, the events of the past week, where the US has been increasingly isolated on taking action against Syria shows that our diplomatic ties and credibility are not that strong. The two Bush President’s, snidley derided as “Go I Alone Cowboys” overseas and here at home, were able to put together larger coalitions than the Obama/Clinton/Kerry team. We were supposed to not be so hated around the world by now. Then why can’t we get other countries to follow our lead? Maybe we aren’t as hated, but we aren’t as respected either.
The US military has given us effective control of the skies since the First Persian Gulf War in 1991. Special teams, (Drone strikes,Stuxnet Virus, etc) have been effective but have created backlash as well.
But we still don’t seem to have a consistent ground game, or the ability to stop the opponent’s ground game. That’s why the plans to “punish” the Assad regime for chemical weapons with some cruise missile strikes seems like another attempt at the Big Play. But what then? If Assad survives and then launches another chemical attack, then what? And is Middle Eastern Dictators have taught us anything, it is their willingness to hide military targets among the civilian population, making “clean” military strikes almost impossible.
Seems to me that before we launch another Big Play strategy, we better get our ground game figured out.
Looks like America will be flying solo – another “kinetic” intervention in the Middle East.
Everyone condemns the use of chemical weapons. Nobody but the US and Israel are willing to do anything about it. (Remember months ago the Israelis attacked Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles – now it seems America’s turn is coming.)
In fact is seems this is the pattern. Israel attacked the Iraqi Osiris nuclear power plant in the 1980’s to prevent Saddam Hussein from getting nuclear weapons. A few years later, the US led the first Gulf War against Iraq and a decade later went in for a long bloody stay, based on reports (that turned out false) of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) production.
Israel bombed what may have been a Syrian nuclear processing facility last year, and as mentioned previously, chemical weapons stockpiles a short time ago. Now the US looks like it is going to take its turn in Syria. Meanwhile, the people of Israel are stocking up on gas masks. Is any other nation having to do that?
In Iran the nuclear program was pushed back by the Stuxnet computer virus. Depending on whom you listen to, it was probably done by either Israel, the US or both together.
As for North Korea, has anyone other than the US stood up to them?
(Side note: sixty years ago we came to South Korea’s aid as part of the Cold War and because the North and South were even matches for each other. Today South Korea is far richer and incredibly more advanced technologically than North Korea. If it weren’t for the WMD question, the South Koreans should be able to easily hold off the North without our help. Yet twenty-thousand US troops still remain in that breach.)
It has been stated that Syria has violated the Geneva Conventions with this attack. That sounds about right. But were Israel and the United States the only signers of the Geneva Conventions? Don’t the other states that signed have an interest in upholding the Conventions?
Yet it seems that it is up to Israel and the US to go it alone.
The American people are tired of being the muscle for Germany, France, Saudi Arabia and other countries that are well off financially but expect Americans to always pay the price in blood and treasure.
If this Syrian adventure goes badly – you can expect a time where it will become very hard to get the US to intervene militarily without being attacked directly. Perhaps even Israel will become war-weary.
There’s an old saying that you need to pick your battles – it’s time for some of the other nations that profess to be for a stable international order – to do some heavy lifting; instead of always hiding behind the US and Israel.