Notes & Asides

Posted by By at 7 April, at 14 : 47 PM Print

Starting next week, I will be adding a Monday morning column which I am calling, in homage to Bill Buckley, Jr., Notes and Asides. These will be a weekly collection of disconnected observations – a snippet of information, all interesting to me but none long enough for a column all by itself.

The perfect example is something like this note I saw on Politico this week: apparently YouTube had 6 times as many hits for the Republican parody of the Obama 2012 Launch video than the video itself. Probably because all of the Obamaniacs watched it on an app, but regardless – it’s the kind of metrics an Elephant likes. Check out the story aby clicking on Rock The Capital.

So, without further long winded self-serving adieu, here is the initial installment of Notes and Asides.

Penn State Idol? Saw something just hilarious this morning that I am sure many of you saw, pictures and a story about Penn State president Graham Spanier smiling away and having, in his own words “a blast” at American Idol in Los Angeles. One has to wonder, where, in all of the belt tightening, he was able to find the funds to take the annual junket to the Association of Governing Boards annual meeting on Trusteeship (assuming he attended – it happened to be held at the Century Plaza in Los Angeles the same day as he appeared on Idol and Penn State had other representatives there).

Here is hoping that he was able to make the whole trip, from the 1st through the 6th – nothing says “good use of academic funds” (or April Fool’s day) than a bunch of higher education administrators gathering not at any one of hundreds of member schools (where costs would be cheaper) but rather, in one of the most expensive neighborhoods, in one of the most expensive cities on Earth. But hey, they were all business, as the “A Championship Evening: NCAA Men’s Basketball Viewing Party” evidences. Check it out the whole agenda at RocktheCapitol – and then lodge your Title IX complaint with the Universities in attendance – there was no “A Championship Evening” party for the Women’s final the next night.

Your all grows’d up and your all grows’d up! Did anyone else find it more than a little amusing for the President – who makes more time to relax than Hef most weeks – decided to chide the opposition with being immature in budget negotiations? While I will admit that I am concerned Congress is debating a shutdown over a couple billion when the real fight over $6Trillion looms, did it ever occur to the President that this budget was supposed to be passed LAST year? When his alleged “grownups” controlled the House, Senate and White House? I guess they were too concerned with, to liberally use the VP’s phraseology, passing the”big F-ing deal” – and celebrating it – that they neglected to do their job and pass the President’s budget, complete with its, frankly, “big f-ing” $1.65T deficit.

So when you hear tales of woe about federal workers without paychecks (and the pain will be real, and I have friends who will feel it), remember that the shutdown occurred because a Democratic Party with complete power to pass a budget couldn’t even find time in the lame-duck session to get it done. So “nyah nyah nyah” Mr. President – grow up yourself.

Coming Soon: Pickett’s Charge Roulette! I must start by saying I am largely indifferent to expanded gaming. There are economic reasons to allow it – people will gamble, as even biblical history proves – but there is also undoubtedly a social cost. That said, I was recently watching the movie Gettysburg and it hit me all at once – there are places so hallowed and sacred that base commercialism is just an absolute wrong. A Casino anywhere near the battlefield in Gettysburg is just such a wrong.

When you consider how fragile history is and how important that battle was – we are mere minutes on July 1 from the Confederates overrunning Seminary Ridge, which would have meant another Union loss and perhaps the loss of the war – it is not too much to suggest that the entire future of the United States hinged on that fight.

Much like Disney’s abominable “America” park they considered at Manassas, the Gettysburg Casino should be laid to rest for good, so that the sacrifice of so many is not trivialized for eternity.

Say it ain’t so, Joe. The announced retirement of Sen. Joe Lieberman is a genuine loss to the Senate chamber. Long a committed liberal in many ways, he has likewise been a consistent voice of moderation in rhetoric and as committed a hawk with regard to the Middle East and Israel. Some might say his support for Israel is self-serving, but a careful examination of his position evidences a nuanced understanding of both Israel’s challenges and its strategic vitality to American interests.

His retirement is not news – he announced it some time ago. But a statement this week brought it to the forefront of my thoughts and showed the true statesman’s character within the man, a quality that will be missed in the Senate. The statement in plain terms praised the courage of Rep. Ryan for tackling the tough budget issues in a responsible manner while respectfully disagreeing with his structure – nothing more, nothing less. Yet it stands out like a beacon in a fog against the backdrop of petty politics the rest of the Democratic Party seemingly could not wait to unleash.

Only a fool or a liar would suggest we do not need to reform entitlement spending if we are to avoid default. Even more than that, there is not a credible person in government who argues the status quo is tenable. As such, sooner or later, a genuine leader will have to grab the third rail and start the process of reforming entitlements.

In 2005 Rick Santorum started to do that for President Bush. His courage was remarkable then – and his defeat 18 months later to little more than a sleepy smile and famous name was the result (yeah, I know – pot meet kettle – but I argued policy, and I lost). Rep. Ryan has taken an even bigger step – and the statement by Sen. Lieberman was a welcome show of statesmanship by a man who has never lacked for it.

My love is like a ship on the ocean… A few weeks back the White House made one of the weakest statements I can recall since the “Great Malaise” speech (which, incidentally, doesn’t include the phrase “great malaise” anywhere – Carter just exuded it) when it responded that the President had not tackled entitlement reform because, well, he lacked political courage.

The exact answer was “This is an issue that requires bipartisan cooperation, requires everybody getting into the boat together, so it doesn’t tip over.” The meaning is clear: The President is not risking the political capital of leading – he’d rather secure a second term by letting the GOP charge up the hill in the lead vanguard.

It made me think of that great scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, when Sallah says to Indy, after looking into the Well of Souls: “Asps. Very Dangerous. You go first.”

Well Mr. President, pick your analogy and get moving – Rep. Ryan has gotten in the boat or jumped into the snake pit. He’d love to have you in it with him. So, to borrow your 2012 campaign question, “Are you In?” (more on that one next week). Or is that just another hollow phrase devoid of actual meaning, like hope and change? Time will tell, but sadly, it looks like the later.

***

So that’s it – a couple disconnected stories and snippets. They will appear every Monday as a sort of “week that was” bit. I will often include links at the end to things referenced. This week I have linked Senator Lieberman’s statement and two funny things: the first is a copy of the “great malaise” speech, the second a white house picture of the Easter Bunny (kidding) attacking president Carter a Georgia stream (or swimming behind him). That story actually cost Carter votes.

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This post was written by:
- who has written 77 posts for Rock The Capital
Scott Paterno is an accomplished policy analyst and political consultant based in Hershey, PA. Mr. Paterno, never one to sit still, has practiced law, run for a house seat, and worked as lobbyist in Harrisburg and Washington. Paterno is Vice Chairman of the Sustainable Energy Fund and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Political Science. He is happily married with three children. - Email scottp

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