1/29/15

Leadership . . .

I have loved politics since I was a little kid (literally - eight or nine years old) and one of the things I love MOST about politics is the idea that men and women not really much different than you and me can get up and make speeches and say impassioned things and then, if they get support, set to making big visions and plans happen. Also - they get to do all sorts of crazy crap and get away with it. I'm looking at you, my beloved Bill Clinton. I'm kidding. Sorta'.

Another thing I love about politics? They are personal. I know people who will only vote for candidates who are pro choice. That's fine. I think they miss the forest for the trees but that is their choice. I know people who will only vote for a candidate that is pro legalized marijuana. Insert metaphor about smoke here but note that is equally fine with me. They get a vote. They use it.

My politics skew "liberal". I make no apologies for that and don't make excuses about it. It is what it is. I get one vote. DO NOT WORRY! I cast said vote in Kansas. It is like flushing it down the toilet. Yet - still - I vote and I love to learn about issues and candidates and exercise my privilege/right to vote.

I don't ask for a lot from politicians. I want them to be informed. I want them to represent and reflect their constituents. I want them to be honorable men and women. I want them to be honest and open. I want them to work hard. I want them to be leaders that we can all admire. I do NOT care if their politics and mine align so long as they are Jeffersonian (which, we now know is sorta ironic) in their nature. I also, if I am being honest, want them to be eloquent and genuine and inspiring in their speeches and rhetoric and I want them to lead . . . as in "follow me, I have a plan" or "right this way, good people, to something better".

Know who violates just about all of what I want in a politician? "My" Congressman. Congressman Mike Pompeo. Now in his third term I still can't figure out what anyone sees in him (I presume it is a lesser-of-candidate-evils thing and, let's be honest, he hasn't really been challenged by a Democrat because the national committee cares not about a state and district that should love them and a Democrat representing them (I digress)).

Take Rep. Pompeo's latest travesty of an effort to inspire and "lead" - his response to the State of the Union. It is just 7:00 long. Give it a watch (and make a mental note the first time you realize you just cannot take it any more).

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Are you inspired, Kansans? Do you feel like we have a real gem doing our work in DC? Anyone from another district or part of the country mumbling about how lucky we are to have him AND all these beautiful miles of farm, sky, and beauty? Anyone? No? NONE of you?! Huh. I'm not surprised.

Let's break it down . . .

00:00 - 00:27 - The ONLY sorta honest stuff he says. He is a "Conservative American". Then he ruins it by saying that Conservative values are the best way to realize dreams (or some crap like that) despite no evidence to support either party's (continually evolving) "values" are better for our hopes and dreams and then he talks about worship. What?! Remember that he implies here that we can all have our own vision of G-d (as long as it is a Christian G-d and/or his son Jesus).

00:28 - 00:33 - This is when you first start to notice his eyes darting back and forth while reading what his comms people (or more likely/tragically the folks from the RNC or some conservative PAC or some other political shadow group) wrote for him. It gets worse. Sadly.

00:38 - 00:41 - This is my favorite dismissal of President Obama (let me restate here - he is not my guy. I think he's a fantastic orator and I think he has a great sense of self and history but I have never cast a vote for him) . . . "It's about people, not programs". What does that even mean?

00:48 - 1:00 - ALL due respect to the 20,000 folks in Wichita that have lost their jobs in the last seven or eight years due to the aviation industry's workings but a) There are millions more Americans working now than January 2009 and one thing President Obama has been clear on is that we need to invest in industries that are growing and the next phase of our economy. Aviation is important and relevant but it is not the future - at least not the sum of it. I would think our Congressman would realize he could/should be doing more to attract businesses here and to help work with national/global companies that have presence here to keep them here. But, nope, this is about 500 people losing their jobs and Obama being personally responsible (not true in any way).

1:01 - 1:14 - If you noticed if the guy is Hispanic or not (in this story) you are either racist or grasping to show that you are down with brown. Either way - pound sand. Also . . . Obamacare was ratified as law by both chambers of Congress and has been upheld by courts and your own party can't get the votes to strike it down. This is not some despot laying out policies for his own ego. This is a systemic law that has changed healthcare in this country. Also - if the hour restrictions on Obamacare bum you out YOU should do something. Congress could offer/pass legislation to change minimum requirements at any time. If they opened the door for more opportunity for insurance . . . I'm sure the President would sign off.

1:38 - 1:41 - Last year the President collected and spent more money than in any previous year in the history of our country. Um. Yep. And THAT is a good thing. He's lowering the deficit and it shows that the money is there and that the programs are being funded. Also - to say "more than ever" is like talking about the price of candy bars today vs. in 1920. At LEAST adjust the dollars collected/spent for normalcy. NO chance the budget now is like it was during The Big Deal. But, you know, facts.

1:56 - I love this (and the other jump cuts) in the video. Can this guy not go eight WHOLE minutes without edits or flubs while reading his speech? He graduated from West Friggin' Point. He's SMART and capable. Maybe he just doesn't have the passion for what he is saying . . .

2:02 - 2;32 - To clarify . . . 18,000 kids waited to try and get in to see President Obama and they went GORILLAS for him (to quote Kanye) and if they go to KU they are just fine with "faculty lounge liberalism". Have you ever BEEN to Lawrence, good sir?! That's some liberal, hippie-dippie greatness going on and on and on. These kids will be poor because there are no jobs waiting for them. They will be poor because the working model is changing. They will be poor because . . . liberal arts. I was there once. I get it. I never blamed Bill Clinton OR George W. Bush.

2;37 - Thef*ckouddaheah that you just said "Koch Industries" in your speech. Are they the only place in Kansas hiring? Oh, oh . . . they are just your string pullers. Got it. Yes. Get them a plug. Did you want to slowly reach for your Pepsi and sip it followed by "Ahhhh. Generation Next indeed"? You're a caricature of yourself, Rep. Pompeo. Those dudes ARE evil. They are. They have the money to and plan to buy and sell our political process. They don't even make apologies for it. Why should you deny it?

3:02 - The country IS better off - on just about every major indicator - today than it was in January, 2009. Where do you get your facts?

3;33 - The smirk and laugh when he talks about his mother? I'll bet he's actually practiced that crap in the mirror. Does it even feel sincere to you? Does he sound like something spontaneous or heartfelt?

3:44 - Tongue twister. I totally get it. NO need to edit that one out like you did the others. Slip-slop-and-POST to YouTube. And to go on to college at West Point IS to go to a government program. You are a product of what you claim to oppose.

3:56 - Another flub. Another eye dart. Another random spin on employment figures. It IS true that fewer Americans are working now than any other time. There are also more children and retired people and the business model of full time people becoming consultants have all played a role in that statistic. Only one of them (the replacement of full time work with pay-for-skills) is unfortunate.

4:09 - That we can't afford to keep up with life and that food stamps are booming is not the fault of a President. That is a failure of our society and our economy and our business. That IS (you're right) an embarrassment. We are of, for, and by the people. We should all feel some share in the blame here and we should all want to be fed and to have our fellow man, woman, and child go to bed less-hungry.

4:42 - 2008? Wait. You are admitting there were problems then? Before him? Okay. I'm putting a point back on the board for you.

4:53 - This notion that insurance changed for dozens of your constituents does not mean that we have an insurance crisis. MOST Americans saw no change in their coverages or options (unless the options and coverages went up or improved) and their fees went down. If they renamed the McDonald's #1 the letter A and took a buck off - it is still a Big Mac meal, right?!

5:03 - Here we go with the terrorism stuff. This was the part that made my head explode. Shutting down Gitmo is not weakness. It is saving us money and getting people held - in some cases for a dozen years or more with no progress from them - off our hands. We are not soft on terrorism for putting these suspects in OTHER prisons in OTHER lands. We are not exactly giving them bus fare and what was on their person when they came in back and wishing them well while sending them off to meet with their probation officers.

5:34 - It is radical and it is extremism but it is NOT Islamic. Not a single act of terrorism (that I am aware of) has ever actually been in line with the faith, traditions, and directions of the faith nor is it in line with the majority that practice the religion. Don't confuse those things. If a fat man kills another person that is not radical, extreme obesity. That is just an asshole who happens to be fat.

5:35 - Whoa, whoa, whoa . . . are you saying there are threats against Kansas and Kansans that you are aware of? Specific ones? No? Just spewing fear and divisiveness. Phew. You had me so worried for a minute.

5:48 - Is it hundreds killed or thousands? You said both. In the span of a minute. Talking points are hard. I get it.

5:54 - PROVE that Gitmo is effective at doing anything other than providing a reason for radicals filled with hate to point the finger at Americans for not respecting their fellow nut jobs. Seriously. One shred of proof is all I ask for. I know - you can't tell me - government secrets. Like those threats to Kansas you mentioned 20 seconds ago.

6:00 - Are you trying to tell me George W. Bush was a leader against terrorism? That we really had stuff under control in his years and ways? HOW do you fight terrorism, good sir? Beside "programs" and government expenses? There is no country to target. No obvious threats. Just dudes and a few women and children in mountains, caves, and other secret places plotting and doing horrible things. I don't envy any President in the 21st century who has to fight an enemy that is not there until it is in action.

6:08 - Our heavy price is men and women who have fought for this country to come back to no jobs, no support, long lines for care and concern, and little support to get them comfortable with that is here all while knowing some of their work was to no success. But, again, it is about people not programs. Hmmmm.

6:40 - We've had 50 years of massive Government growth. And about half of those have been Rep. presidents and half Dem. presidents and more Rep. control of Congress (both houses) than Dem. So - again - what does this stat mean in a relevant context? Just that it is hard to govern and that our government is probably not efficient? Agreed!

7:00 - Merciful fade to black.

You know what was missing from Rep. Pompeo's pre-written speech? Ideas. Solutions. Ownership of his role in any problems or solutions. A promise to do more. A clear-cut, take-away message that he would love a chance to fix whatever is wrong with these United States and whatever is plaguing those of us here in his district. That is leadership. NONE of this was leadership. It was fear and slide and slight of hand and negativity.

Taking cheap shots is easy (I take (and land) dozens a day) but there is nothing great or encouraging or inspiring in that. There is nothing wonderful in it. There is nothing that reminds me of what it was like to be a kid watching Ronald Regan (yes, Ronald Regan) and thinking "Man. That guy has a whole thing going on that I can get behind."

I want more. I wish my fellow Kansans did, too.