Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Senate Bill 3683

Senate Bill 3683

I am deeply concerned that Congress completely abdicated its responsibility by signing a truly blank check over to the Treasury Secretary. This past week, Treasury Secretary Paulson deepened that concern by announcing that he has completed a remarkable about -face (summarized elsewhere, e.g. by the November 13th Investor's Business Daily front page headline as linked here: In Major Reversal, Treasury Won't Buy Bad Mortgage Debt). Treasury should have formulated a comprehensive plan earlier in the crisis.

However, the lame duck session of Congress offers us a tremendous opportunity to change course. We should take it. On Monday, November 17, 2008, U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) introduced legislation to amend Section 115 of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA) to require an affirmative vote on the part of Congress to approve Treasury's plan for the remaining $350 billion and require a freeze on any remaining funds of the first $350 billion, stating, "It is imperative that we not allow that amount of money to be added to a deficit approaching $1 trillion this year without any input from the legislative branch."

Sen. Inhofe provides the text of his rationale at Inhofe.senate.gov - his legislation, Senate Bill 3683, may be our best opportunity to change course. When 70 Senators voted for the EESA I realize they did so in good conscience but with some reservations - Congress should have oversight over the Secretary's actions. Please now encourage your senators to vote to place some congressional control over knowing and approving how any additional monies would be spent under the EESA bailout.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Straight-Talk Motorcade Redux

Straight-Talk Motorcade Redux

Less than two weeks until the election, and on Wednesday [22 Oct 2008] I receive a phone call from someone I didn't know: "Hello, I'm Jim Gibbons with the McCain Campaign, and I got your name from Marta as someone who would be willing to be a driver for the McCain motorcade." Well, I had done this once before ... OK, when would this be? "Well, I have two days we need to cover: this Friday from 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm, and Saturday from 6:30 am to 3 pm. I think there may be early releases on both of those." Hmmmm. On Friday evening, I planned to take Bonnie and go to the Lady Lobos scrimmage at the Pit. "Put me down for Saturday morning." "OK, meet us at the Marriott Pyramid at 7 am on Saturday - do you know where the Marriott Pyramid is?" I kinda did, and as a driver I didn't want to give away my directional ineptitude. "Sure."

At swimming on Friday, Barry Howard told me he had been given the opportunity to drive this weekend and told them to allow a younger guy to get the photo op. Getting to the Marriott at 7 am means leaving the house by 6:30 am which means getting up on Saturday at 5:30 am. It was cold Saturday morning. I arrived at the Marriott at 7, and was glad to see Hoppy Hopkins, as all the other drivers had participated in the previous evening's drive from Cutter Aviation to the Marriott. Thus I was the only new face for everyone else this morning. Hoppy was wearing a light-colored sports coat, I was dressed all in black - however we both had our McCain pins.

Chris Livingston told me that there was a room down around the corner with food and coffee set up, and eventually we all went down there. However, I did not feel like eating at this early time. Hoppy said he needed to eat a muffin to help
absorb his coffee. Jim seemed to have this motorcade better organized that the previous - for example, there was an actual Information Sheet for Drivers with all of our names and cell phones (OK, everyone except me had a cell phone), and some tips:

Things to keep in mind when a driver for the campaign:
  • Stay with the vehicle! Because of security, it is important that our drivers stay with the vehicles unless told otherwise. If you are planning to step away for whatever reason, inform Secret Service and or campaign staff.
  • Don’t lock yourself out of the vehicle! PLEASE, do not do this. Keep the driver’s window open, unlock all the doors, don’t close the door, etc. Make sure you are never locked out of the vehicle.
  • Obey traffic laws. Staying on schedule is important. However, not at the risk of breaking the law or causing an accident. So follow all traffic laws when not in the motorcade. We are not running red lights, not tailgating, or taking undue risk.
  • Driving a 15 passenger van IS NOT like driving a car! Full size vans are longer and heavier. SO, give yourself more space when breaking and take your turns a wider. Always remember, your passengers are not as secure in a van as in a Keep your passengers’ well being in mind at all times.
  • Pay attention! Motorcades are dangerous. Pay attention to not only the vehicle in front of you, but two or more vehicles in front of you. You are welcome to use your camera, but not while the motorcade is moving.
  • Utilize the staff or passengers to communicate! Feel free to ask the staffer in your vehicle or a passenger to make phone calls to relay important information or to answer your phone if you’re concentrating on the road.
  • Have your phone charger! A dead cell phone is useless. Cell phones are used extensively. A dead cell phone will cause havoc, if we can’t reach you or you can’t reach us.
  • Have something to drink and read! You may want to make sure you have a bottle of water or something to drink, a snack, as well as something to read. There could easily be extended periods of down time, so having something to pass time helps.
  • Dress attire is business to business casual. Most campaign staff will be wearing suits. However, dress the way you feel most comfortable, yet professional, since you will be in a car most of the day.

This time, I drive PRESS 2. Always interesting to hear the conversations. In this case, the AFP correspondent was told that at the White House they are referred to as "A F'ng P." And the Getty Images rep was complaining that he (and others) was asked to get off the Straight Talk Express campaign plane for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday in order to make room for other staffers who had been working the campaign continually but not riding on the plane. He could follow the campaign from commercial air, and he dreaded getting back into that hassle. The other press pool folks were discussing ordering special T-shirts that would read "Joe The News Photographer," etc.

e drove from the Marriott, finally leaving about 9:45 am, to Expo New Mexico (the facility previously known as the New Mexico State Fair). The talk was outside, and had been 'warmed up' with local politicians for about an hour before we got there. Lindsey Graham introduced the Senator, and this time we could hear some of the remarks as we turned the motorcade around and waited behind the Expo buildings. We were taken into the area to be ready for our group photo shot, and could peer through the black cloth curtains to see the crowd and Senator and Mrs. McCain. Again, a fun experience.

We won't see our photo op result until a couple of weeks after the election. As seen in the drivers-only photo, we ended up dressing every way from blue jeans to suits. Well, I dressed comfortably: no suit, no tie - and at least I didn't lock myself out of my van. Mission accomplished.