Friday, May 6, 2011

The U. S. Postal Service

You learn something new every day. The American based postal service actually came into existence in 1774, two years before independence. Opponents of British policy were fearful after Benjamin Franklin was fired from the Imperial service as American postmaster. They wanted to be able to exchange letters without concern that the British would open their mail (as Franklin had opened that of Loyalists.) Americans set up a postal service to rival the one run by the British government and soon pushed its competitor out of business.

Traditionally, the United States has had a government run postal service, although the current incarnation is semi-privatized. To do what it does, it actually runs fairly effectively and efficiently. Of course it must compete with electronic communications and private package companies to do so. The U. S. Postal Service also contracts much of its work out to firms such as UPS. Unfortunately, the service also runs at a loss much of the time.

As we debate the inevitable major budget cutting that this generation must do, the Postal Service must be part of the debate. Is the Postal Service a government run business that must at least break even? Or is this an essential service to citizens? These will be the questions asked about the Postal Service and our leaders must be prepared to answer them and then decide how debt reduction will involve the Postal Service.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gaston Caperton Is Definitely, Absotively Not Interested In Politics

Gaston Caperton just bought a $900,000 mansion in Charleston.

Does that mean anything? Should it? Younger folks are asking "who is Gaston Caperton?"

Caperton was governor from 1989-1997. He started off a little rocky, but became enormously popular and respected by the end of his tenure in office. Since then he has worked for the College Board, most recently as president. He plans to retire this year and return to Charleston to be close to his friends.

He's 71. In many places that is over the hill, but in West Virginia politics, he's still viable even if not a young whippersnapper. Should a Republican win the special election this fall, Democrats will start feeling Caperton out to see if he wants to pursue a third term a la Arch Moore. More likely, he could be putting himself into position to succeed Jay Rockefeller.

In any event, this is an interesting development.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

No Pictures After All

After we heard that pictures of Bin Laden's corpse would be made available, Obama today revealed in a taping of 60 Minutes that he has no plans of doing so.

It's hard to fathom why he would not. It makes sense on a variety of levels and is almost a no risk move for him.

Many argue that he received much more respect than an enemy would treat an American. Daniel Pearl was beheaded. Somalians dragged U. S. servicemen's bodies through the streets of Mogadishu. Not that we should hang him by the ankles as the Italians did Mussolini, but I fail to see what is served by not releasing the photos.

The aftermath of what should have been a clear public and political triumph for Obama's presidency has become predictably muddled by mixed messages and a lack of professional handling. I said it before and I will say it again. Obama misses Rahm Emmanuel and his ability to guide the White House more than anyone will admit.

In any event, my prediction is that the photos will be released or leaked within a week pending an outcry from New York and New Jersey.

Let's once again remember the real heroes here, both the brave servicemen who risked their lives on this mission, their support crews, and the intelligence operatives. Well done!

Governor's Race Heating Up

The Potomac Highlands Conservative, reluctantly, cannot endorse a Republican nominee for governor. We are members of a county executive committee and ethically, if not legally, cannot endorse anyone in a primary.

We have a very solid field of candidates this time in terms of experience, personality, and electability. If nothing else, the West Virginia Republican Party is continuing to grow into a more viable political force within the state.

When looking at who to choose in this cycle, look at issues and electability. This state needs a governor who can take the ship of state and wrench it into a completely different direction. The candidate needs to have the right principles, but also more than a snowball's chance in hell of beating the Democrat. The perfect candidate is the right mix of principles, experience, and electability. I do believe that there are a few candidates among the field that fit this bill.

Other random thoughts...

Thank you Congressman David McKinley. Even though both senators' offices were also called, David McKinley was the only congressional representative to greet the Keyser High School "We the People" team when they went to Capitol Hill this week. It was the day after the killing of Bin Laden, so it was likely a busy day, but the congressman made it down to see them.

West Virginia Red has obviously morphed into a Bill Maloney campaign mouthpiece. While there is nothing wrong with that per se, they would be more effective if they were more subtle. Right now, they are preaching to the choir and that won't accomplish their goal of spreading the campaign message. Also mix it up with some news and commentary.

How is it that Earl Ray Tomblin gets away with using "More Jobs and Less Taxes" as his motto? As Senate President, he was in a much better position to create those conditions.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Beautiful Day, Brought to You Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue

It's a beautiful day today. Every day after this will be a little more beautiful because U. S. forces removed Osama Bin Laden from this earth and dispatched him to the hellfire that he so richly deserves.

Since the American invasion of Afghanistan, the popular image of Bin Laden has remained that of a man on the run, moving from cave to shack, always elusive of his trackers. This image was evoked often by Bush officials and was one that Al Quaeda itself seemed to perpetuate. Every film of him showed a barren and rocky background.

Like the Mahdi of the late 1800s (a Sudanese revolutionary who sought to impose Islamic law in northern Africa) Bin Laden actually lived a life of indolence and luxury. This was a far cry from the sterile existence of many of his terrorists. As American and allied forces demolished his organization, he grew into a symbol more than an effective leader. He became, fair or not, an image of American impotence in the region.

This was not a fair characterization. The Olympic bomber, Eric Rudolph, lived out of dumpsters in North Carolina for five years while evading the FBI. Bin Laden had a whole world to hide in and billions of dollars to spend. The Bush Administration initiated a strategy that slowly closed the net around him, waiting for the other side to make a mistake. We finally got one and, as a result, Bin Laden is dead.

Will there be reprisals? Probably on a minor scale. The War on Terror succeeded in breaking up and breaking down Al Quaeda itself. Individuals can still wreck havoc by setting off small bombs or shooting into crowds. That is bad enough. However, we will not see attacks on the scale of what occured between 1995 and 2001. They just are not capable unless they have obtained a WMD.

Politically, does this help Obama? In the short term, yes. This happened on his watch and if he treads lightly and limits his use of the pronoun "I," people will remember that this happened on his watch. History tells us that any political bump from something like this can be fleeting. George H. W. Bush enjoyed 90% approval ratings after the Gulf War in 1991. Two years later, we inaugurated Bill Clinton as president. High energy prices, a stagnant economy, unacceptable unemployment, and out of control debt menace this country still. These will remain the issues of 2012.

So it is a beautiful day. The world has one less evil doer. We should all thank our brave military men and our capable intelligence community for a job well done!

Two things overheard yesterday night. "Enjoy your wedding, England. We're celebrating a funeral!" and the immortal "We'll put a boot in your ass! It's the American way!"


I went yesterday to watch the Keyser High School team compete in the We the People contest in Washington D. C. I was amazed at the preparation and the knowledge that they demonstrated inpresentations and subsequent questioning. Well done Dairic and Rae Piraino and all the kids who went.