Many loyal readers of the PWB have been asking why we haven’t been publishing our weekly column for the past several months. Frankly, we ran out of things to talk about. Seriously. So instead of coming up with any old crap just for the sake of consistency, we took a vote around the PWB offices and the decision was… quit yapping until I felt like we’d restocked the pantry.
As part of the agreement to shut up for a while, I told the staff and interns that there would be no layoffs. The interns were kept busy on research projects sponsored by secretive elements of the War Department while Ms. Beasley, our marginally effective office manager, spent her time updating the PWB Christmas Card list and decorating for the holidays. Bobo the talking intern decided to apply for a White House Press credential, basically because I bet him a large pizza that there was no way in hell the White House would issue someone named Bobo a pass.
I then retired to the back booth at Buzzy’s Pool Room and Tavern to watch life pass by. You can learn a lot about what ails us by spending time in an establishment that sports a pool table, jars of pickled eggs and a payphone that still works.
My Dad used to say that the most valuable skill a man could have was the ability to shut up and listen. I went to Buzzy’s to shut up and listen. Here’s what I learned:
Lesson 1. I actually like a few drops of vermouth in my martini. Frankly, if you don’t add any vermouth at all, it’s a glass of gin. If you want a dry martini, ask the barman for a cold glass of gin. Don’t be pretentious.
Lesson 2. The only people in America this past year who thought that what Americans really, really wanted more than anything else was sweeping health care reform were the elitist liberals in the White House and on Capitol Hill. Oh, and the caustic commentators on MSNBC. My scientific survey of Buzzy’s patrons showed that for every mention of health care there were seven references to jobs.
Lesson 3. You had to be a complete wanker not to understand during the course of 2009 that what Americans really, really wanted more than anything else was a focus on strengthening the economy and creating jobs.
Lesson 4. Americans are much smarter than the politicians on both sides of the aisle give them credit for. Not necessarily book smarts, but street smarts. It may take a lengthy presidential campaign and an election and maybe a few months of governing, but eventually most Americans will spot the shell game.
Lesson 5. There are few things that piss Americans off more than being treated in a condescending manner by a politician regardless of political stripe.
Lesson 6. Term limits are viewed as a good idea by everyone except elected officials, special interest groups, lobbyists and anyone who has a vested interest in keeping the same officials in control of key committees for decades at a time. What a load of crap.
Lesson 7. The Tea Party movement isn’t a political movement, it’s simply anti-establishment. It’s a “Stick It to the Man” t-shirt paired with khakis and comfy shoes. One day the man is a Democrat, one day he’s a Republican. You can’t build a viable 3rd party on that platform.
Lesson 8. Until the attempted Christmas Day terrorist attack, no one at Buzzy’s had ever used the words “exploding” and “underpants” in the same sentence.
Lesson 9. The majority of patrons surveyed while drinking and shooting pool don’t actually believe it is the government’s job to go overseas and nation build in an effort to create stable, possibly democratic societies. I don’t know if the drinking and/or pool playing influences this negative view of nation building but we have commissioned a national survey by the Fenster-Speewak Institute to identify any possible correlation.
Lesson 10. Never bet against someone named Bobo. He arrived at the office yesterday proudly sporting his new White House press credential. Next week’s column will include his coverage of the latest press briefings from Washington.
Finally, ponder this thought… how many of today’s gripes directed at our politicians and government excesses could be addressed if we would grow a pair and find a way as a nation to insist on term limits? You think our founding fathers intended someone to go to Congress and stay there for 36 years? How stupid are we that we go along with sending people to Congress who then spend at least fifty percent of each two year term working to get re-elected and before you know it they’ve made a career out of being an elected official. The founding fathers would’ve hurled at the notion of a career politician.
We should be sending people to Congress for a maximum of two four-year terms, and the Senate for a maximum of two six-year terms. Then get the hell out of Washington and go back to work. Some folks against the idea of term limits (see Lesson 6 above) argue that “…my God, you can’t learn how Washington works in a couple years… it’s complicated and you need time to understand the complexities of legislating and being an elected official and hey, can I blow some more smoke up your kiester?” Really? Here’s what I think… If you can’t figure out how to be a Congressman or Senator inside of six months then you’re too stupid to be an elected official. To quote Ben Franklin, it ain’t rocket science.
Now frankly, term limits aren’t enough. The second prong in my two prong attack against the status quo is to significantly reduce the financial attractiveness of being a politician. Limiting the amount of time that someone could be in Congress or the Senate to eight years of 12 years respectively will certainly reduce the percentage of tools seeking office and widen the potential candidate pool, but you also need to take away the long term financial gain. Keep this one simple… link the pension/benefits plan available to elected officials to the military’s compensation package. If it’s good enough for our men and women in uniform, it’s good enough for anyone serving in Washington up on Capitol Hill.
Just my opinion. Let me know what you think…send your comments directly to FoxNews.com or to firstname.lastname@example.org
Til’ next week, stay safe.
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Mike Baker is the Co-Founder of Diligence LLC, a leading global intelligence, security and risk management firm. Prior to starting Diligence, Mike spent over a decade and half with the CIA as a covert field operations officer. He is a regular contributor in the national and international media on intelligence, security, counterterrorism and political issues. He appears regularly on Fox News, as well as other major media outlets.