Meghan McCain is stepping into the fray.
You go girl. (to borrow a phrase from Beck, you are not alone)
Or… your tax dollars at work. As an Oregon resident, I’m all too familiar with state employees (Remember the PERS fiasco with teachers a few years ago – UGH!) hiding under the skirts of their unions and using the blame game as an excuse to raid the checkbooks of the folks they serve. The biggest fans of entitlement spending feel entitled to a retirement package that exceeds that most folks get in the real world.
Oregon residents are not alone. Recently, a friend in California brought my attention to a similar problem emerging there. (Or should I say re-emerging?) Here’s where the outrage begins:
California’s SEIU is pushing a particularly bad piece of legislation (AB 1967) that further politicizes investments by the state’s public employee retirement funds — CalPERS and CalSTRS. They want to force out private equity funds that take passive investments from certain sovereign wealth funds — disregarding the job-creating businesses these funds invest.
Naturally, the investments the left is trying to kill off are among the most lucrative for pension fund retirees. So much so that the Calstrs board (for retired teachers) stuck their neck out in the last week in strong opposition to this bill:
“We can’t eliminate the portfolio’s best performers by banishing the top-tier private equity firms,” Jack Ehnes, the fund’s chief executive, said in a statement.“This bill ignores the realities of the global financial marketplace where sovereign wealth funds are passive investors in a growing number of the most attractive investment opportunities in the world,” Ehnes said.
The irony is that most if not all of the beneficiaries of state pension fund investments are retired union members, many of them SEIU members. The national and state unions are happy to undermine their former members’ retirements to score a political point. Shocking but not surprising.
The teachers’ retirement board isn’t the only one that thinks the union is putting its interest above that of its members and retirees. California United Health Workers head Sal Rosselli is waging war on SEIU national head Andy Stern over what he calls Stern’s “growth at any cost” strategy that puts scoring political points over measurable benefits for workers. RedState recently covered this HERE.
I will keep an eye on this story, and report back as I learn more. My opinion is my own, and I am actively seeking additional information. However, in the interest of full disclosure: In 2004, I was the California BC04 Delegation Media Director. In that role, I interacted with a lot of folks – including the California BC04 Chairman – Gerry Parsky. He was, and remains, a partner of Aurora Capital which reportedly works with CalSTRS and CalPERS. I also advised a firm that counted him as a client. To be clear, I never provided advice nor was involved in any of his pension works – that material is way outside my field of expertise. Good governance, like good journalism and most ‘good’ things begin with transparency.
The American people deserve some real answers. Now that CalPERS is offering an ‘opt-in’ to National Guard folks – this is looking like a blatant political move by the unions to co-opt a “support the troops” argument, in addition to the standard election year rhetoric and machinations we have all come to expect.
For those of you interested in full coverage of the Antoin “Tony” Rezko trial, I recommend checking the Gavel-to-Gavel coverage by the Chicago Tribune. There is plenty of in-depth history, analysis and facts galore. The Democratic Governor, Rod Blagojevich, has been publicly identified as “Public Official A” and the hits don’t stop there.
Barack Obama has successfully redefined the 2008 presidential campaign – and made it entirely about “judgment.” Via the Rezko trial – the question becomes, “What judgment did Barack Obama exercise in maintaining a close relationship with Rezco?”
Just a friendly reminder to all comers that we several contributors here at Media Lizzy & Friends. Some love Obama, some love McCain, and occasionally – a commenter will give some love to Hillary. We have folks from the US, UK, & Ireland. When you read an article – look at the top to identify the author.
I am your humble host, and I support John McCain. I am excited to finally attend a Republican National Convention for pleasure – instead of as a senior communications person navigating the multiple agendas & internecine battles that bubble beneath the surface. While it breaks my heart to see President George W. Bush’s term coming to a close – the irony of Senator John McCain following him as the nominee is bittersweet. It’s a great message for those of us who were on the ground in 2000.
Hopefully, when the votes are counted tonight – Senator McCain will have the mathematical lock on the nomination. Then, it’s time to get down to General Election Business.
UPDATED: I received some questions regarding the title of this post. Some were concerned that, by implication, I am ratifying the point of view that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads in 2004 were a “bad” thing. Quite the contrary. I have always, in writing & on the air, expressed my support for the right of those men to go on the record against John Kerry. (full disclosure – I worked on multiple campaigns with one of the producers of the ads – during the general election cycle I was spokesperson for President Bush’s BC04 Campaign Chair in CA) As we all know, it’s about the man next to you. And if those guys didn’t trust Kerry – the American people needed to know that before they made someone Commander in Chief. Obviously, the voters overwhelmingly supported W’s reelection. So, as far as I am concerned, the “Swift Boat-ing” of Barack Obama is just one way of noting that his free ride to the nomination is over. He is one degree away from a direct relationship with an Iraqi-born Billionaire with close ties to Saddam Hussein going back to the good ol days of plotting assassinations together. I stand by the title.
On The Media Lizzy Show: It’s make or break time for Hillary Clinton. The latest polls, the blistering partisan divide and emerging opposition research may reset the table. With the trial of Tony Rezco – a friend/bundler for Obama since the beginning of his career – reveals Obama may have met with an Iraqi born British billionaire / arms dealer / key ally of Saddam, Nadhmi Auchi.
I will tackle why the anti-War left doesn’t understand how to use reality to their advantage. McCain’s “experience” argument can be set aside. It’s not the land deal – it’s the arms dealer. Everyone has been asking what topic would make for the “Swift Boat-ing” of Barack Obama. The Rezco/Auchi revelations go straight to “judgment.”
It’s not about his middle name. And the facts clearly show Obama is a devoted Christian. But an openness, or a single-degree relationship with a convicted felon like Auchi – that IS a problem that will be exploited.
The 2008 presidential campaign is about authenticity. If voters smell a hypocrite – will they hit eject? even if it’s against the post-partisan Obama? This will be the most explosive show ever! Be sure to click HERE to tune in at 3PM Eastern / Noon Pacific!!!!
Inside the Ring by Bill Gertz: Auchi Connection
Washington Post: Obama and the Fixer
Times of London: Court case makes life difficult for Barack Obama
Chicago Sun Times: Tony Rezko’s billionaire buddy
President Obama. Let that phrase fall from your lips. How does it sound? Probable? At this stage in the campaign, prior to Ohio and Texas, it’s plausible at the very least. As head of the First World’s only superpower, he will face a series of challenges in the foreign policy arena. Regardless of experience, age or character, he will have a very busy in-tray come January ’09. We know where he will start.
Iraq is a searing wound on the American body politic. The key question for Americans is has the overthrow of Saddam made the Homeland a safer place and the answer is no. Apologetic Neo-Cons now lament their naivety, cruelly exposed by the activities of Blackwater and Halliburton. Liberals are appalled at the mess they have to clear up. A President McCain may stay the course but the conventional wisdom holds that the war is unsustainable domestically and internationally. Former Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz has recently highlighted the enormous financial deadweight of the war – tragically, it’s a war gift that keeps on giving. A President Obama would have no attractive options. A withdrawal date within a year of coming to Office might seem too long – why wait? Any set date could act as deadline for increased Al-Qaeda. Fighting till the Endgame is impossible – when would he declare a righteous victory? The UN does not want to get involved in peace keeping in such a dangerous territory. This will be one of the defining decisions of an Obama first-term.
Which brings us to the War on Terror. Guantanamo is an international embarrassment. It must close. But how and when? Does he go for a swift closure coupling it with increased funding and focus on domestic security? Will he try to de-escalate the levels of fear many ordinary Americans are living with by emphasising the nature of risk in everyday life? Can Obama the word poet change the mood and the reality of the contempory climate of fear? Al-Qaeda are still a huge threat to American security – would Obama make good his statement to bomb Pakistan if, and the Pakistani Army is, they’re found to be encouraging or harbouring terrorists? Obama may adopt a line from the Gordon Brown administration in Britain by dropping the term ‘War on Terror’ and instead focus on defeating terrorism with a mixture of soft and hard power.
How will a President Obama treat with the new Russian President, Putin’s anointed successor, Dmitry Medvedev? Russia, like a punchy old prize-fighter, has been throwing her weight around much to the chagrin and alarm of NATO and the EU in recent years. President Obama should seek to stress human rights and democracy and if he does he will probably be accused of lecturing Russia. Well, so what? The Russian Government’s treatment of journalists and freedom of speech has been frightening – in America, or the West you might be ignored as a commentator, but you won’t end up dead. Obama will be tested by Russian rhetoric and actions – his Secretary of State will have to consider being more critical of Russian foreign policy.
China will be another dilemma for Obama. Clearly, international trade has done little or nothing since the Tiananmen Square Massacre to democratise the country. The Communist Party is still endemically corrupt and China is unwilling to recognise that its own future self-interest lies in democracy and the rule of law. Does a President Obama seek to maintain the Clinton/Bush trade not tirade line? How would the US react to Chinese aggression against Taiwan? Will the US increase pressure on China to de-value its currency? Obama should approach China as one would approach a large, moody drunk – with considerable caution.
America holds huge influence over Israel and the Democrats can be relied on to continue largely unqualified support for Israeli diplomatic and military behaviour in the region. Obama will probably continue US policy of isolating Hamas and dealing with Fatah – he must also know that long term American interests demand that some form of equitable settlement be reached between Palestinians and Israelis. His political courage will be tested when it comes to condemning illegal Israeli activity; he would automatically be lining himself up to be accused of being soft on terrorism.
Will we see the beginning of détente in with Cuba? Or will the Miami exiles’ views hold sway and will an Obama administration tighten the economic noose around the island? Again, Americans need to ask themselves if Cuba is a threat to their domestic security. Realistically, the answer has to be no. Raul Castro may carry the family bogey name – but there’s a chance for Obama to announce an initiative in the early days of his Presidency to thaw relations between the two nations. With Miami having the electoral importance it has, Cuba could be a significant issue in November ’08.
Finally, and sadly for the continent in terms of international priorities, there’s Africa. Will Obama have an emotional and moral commitment to seek better governance on the continent? Will he seek to address trade reform and encourage a new generation of democratic leaders? Or will the US, like the EU, continue developmental aid and seek incremental reforms on the continent? Obama will decide if Africa should be treated strategically or whether it will remain left at the bottom of the in-tray for the next President of the United States.
Obama knows the limits of American influence in the world. He also knows the potential America has to act as a catalyst for change. He will come up against ‘unknowns’, as any American President will. But it’s by how he tackles the ‘knowns’ that Obama will be judged most keenly. He has the chance to change the world. And if he takes it, he will be remembered as great.
Or, perhaps…. Red is the new Black. Last night at the 80th Academy Awards – ladies were draped in scarlet. Marion Cotillard, who played Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, won the Oscar for Best Actress AND she wore a daring, delicious Jean Paul Gaultier design.
Thankfully, there weren’t a bunch of anti-war speeches at last night’s Oscars. No “yes we can” moments during an acceptance speeches. Only briefly, when Taxi to the Dark Side won for Best Documentary Feature was there even a hint of political speechmaking – but Taxi is a grim, anti-extraordinary rendition documentary – so at least the diatribe was in context.
I noticed that Spike Lee was sporting an Obama lapel pin. Thankfully, this year it was the legacy of movies at center stage. How writing, production design and costuming or makeup inform a film – and by extension the viewer’s perceptions. It was lovely, lovely.
And speaking of writers, the folks at Saturday Night Live returned for the first time since November. Tina Fey returned to her old haunt as Guest Host – and boy, did she take the low road by declaring that Hillary Clinton is a B!tch – and that “B!tch is the new black.” Technically, Fey endorsed Hillary – but somehow – I don’t think that the angry, cynical, who-cares-if-Bill-cheats, position has proven very effective.
I suppose one more tone-deaf diatribe can’t hurt.
On the other hand, back in the real world – Hillary Clinton launched a new line this weekend. Noting the “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” – rather daring, since she is THE authority on a man shaming her more than once.