December 19, 2014
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My Take on the News
Where do we go from here?
Lonnie Barham

$6 BILLION SPENT AND WE'RE STILL IN THE SAME PLACE: In the past several months the vast majority of Americans made it clear that they were disgusted with the gridlock in Washington caused by the U.S. House of Representatives being controlled by Republicans, the U.S. Senate controlled by Democrats, and the White House occupied by an ineffective president who was reluctant to work across party lines to get things accomplished for the country. Fast forward to today, after the national election and after $6 billion has been spent by politicians of both parties. And where are we now? We're exactly where we were before the election occurred – with the House controlled by Republicans, the Senate controlled by Democrats, and an ineffective president still in the White House.
Where do we go from here? Will our country continue to suffer from Washington gridlock? Will President Obama decide, for the sake of his legacy, that he will have to compromise once in awhile with Republicans? Will the two congressional houses, as they begin to look toward the 2014 midterm elections, finally begin to work together on the country's business?
The answer lies with the White House. America did not give President Obama a mandate to continue policies that have failed to lower the unemployment rate and that have ballooned the national debt to $16 trillion. Far from a mandate, President Obama won barely more than 50 percent of the popular vote; almost half of America voted against him. Worse, exit polls revealed that only 43 percent of voters believe the president has a vision for the country. If the president wants to leave a legacy more memorable than the hugely unpopular Obamacare, he has to change his style. He will have to become less autocratic, less arrogant, less condescending if he hopes to make headway with Congress and bring together a country that is more divided than it's been in decades. In a nutshell, President Obama will have to become a leader. If he doesn't, our country is doomed to another four years of misery.

38 STUDIOS LAWSUIT: A bunch of politicians and political appointees, without exercising due diligence, make a big mistake by issuing a $75 million loan guarantee to a company not really credit-worthy and then followed it up with the kind of shoddy oversight that would embarrass a first-year accounting student. Now, Rhode Island politicians and appointees are trying to shift the blame by suing the company's near bankrupt founder, his senior management team, their lawyers and their financial advisors. This is ludicrous! Let's place the blame squarely where it belongs. Those at fault: then-Governor Donald Carcieri, Speaker of the House Gordon Fox, the malfeasant EDC [Economic Development Corporation], and current Governor Lincoln Chafee, whose "I told you so" approach failed to provide the minimum support needed to keep the company in business.
Was Curt Shilling a far better pitcher than businessman? Clearly, he was. But, blaming him and his associates for a failure that was caused more by politicians and their appointees almost begging him to take the taxpayers' money and then failing to supervise its spending seems close to financial entrapment.

WHAT HAPPENED TO INTEGRITY IN RHODE ISLAND? Perhaps this question refers to an oxymoron. Has there ever been a time when the words "integrity" and "Rhode Island" were synonymous? Perhaps during the days of Roger Williams, but not often since. This election has proven that integrity is just not very important to Rhode Islanders. Otherwise, why would voters in the first congressional district have re-elected Congressman David Cicilline, the candidate whose record of dishonesty, deceit and dissembling points clearly to an alarming lack of integrity? We had a chance to "throw da bum out" and we didn't do it. Who lost in this congressional race? Integrity lost!

DEBT PERSPECTIVE: The massive damage caused by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy was spread across 26 states from North Carolina north to Maine and from New York/New Jersey west to the Great Lakes. The projected cost of recovery is mind-boggling; an estimated $50 billion! A lot of money, you say? You're right. But, without trivializing the human and economic misery caused by Sandy, let's compare those dollars to the national debt at $16 trillion. Our debt is equal to the amount of money it would take to recover from 320 such storms – enough to pay for the damage incurred by a Sandy every year for the next 320 years! Surely, this perspective tells us we must rid ourselves of this terrible and disgraceful storm called the national debt.

REFERENDA MADNESS: Rhode Islanders are quick to complain about high taxes, big spending by state government and seemingly continual state deficits. It’s difficult to countenance such complaints, however, when these same voters approved all seven referenda questions on this week’s ballot. Where exactly do these voters think the money will come from to repay the $209 million the state will borrow to fund the referenda projects? The money is going to come from these same voters’ pocketbooks through additional taxes. Let’s not hear any more complaints about taxes, spending and deficits!

MORE EXCUSES ON BENGHAZI ATTACK: The Pentagon now says it dispatched two special operations response teams to the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi immediately upon learning the consulate was under attack. Where were the teams dispatched from? Central Europe and the United States. Exactly how much assistance could the teams offer when they had to travel so far to get to the action? None. They got there long after the attackers had fled after killing the ambassador and three other Americans. This is supposed to make Americans feel better about the obviously lax security provided by the State Department to a consulate in an imminent danger zone? Having the closest special operations teams so far from where assistance might be needed is tantamount to a Rhode Island home coming under attack and the dying homeowner having to wait for the Maryland State Police to arrive to repel the attackers.


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