Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hughes' Struggle Not Uncommon

Hughes’ Struggle Not Uncommon
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
May 26, 2009

That Alexandria City Councilwoman-elect Alicia Hughes (I) is struggling to make ends meet may be a concern to her and those who care about her well-being, it certainly should not be grist for the mill of public opinion.

Defeated Councilman Tim Lovain (D), who commented on the eve of his defeat that in a city like Alexandria, no Democrat should lose, or words to that effect. Playing on his sour grapes mindset, he has set out to attempt to reverse a decision made by an electorate who obviously had enough of one-party rule in Alexandria.

In an unfriendly economic climate such as the one experienced by most Americans, Hughes fell behind in her rent payments, but at the same time did not shirk her financial responsibilities and has made good – according to both Hughes and her property manager. This same climate has dictated that a home owned by Hughes has yet to be put on the market – a smart financial decision made by someone entrusted with raising and spending the taxpayers’ money.

Lovain’s assertion also lends credence to the notion that only people of financial means should run for and serve in public office. That is just the elitist and arrogant attitude that cost him his seat.

It is also a might suspicious that eviction notices given Hughes allowed her a less than reasonable amount of time in which to respond. “Sheriff’s officials said they notified Hughes on April 24 that she would be evicted May 12.” (TWP, B1) An overly paranoid person might wonder if forces beyond her control were at work just two weeks prior to Election Day in Alexandria.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

Moran Out Of Touch On Many Levels

Moran Out Of Touch On Many Levels
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
May 26, 2009

Congressman Jim Moran is out of touch – with both his constituents, and quite frankly, as well as with reality. Several weeks ago, Moran opined in another publication that the United States should not only close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, but that the detainees would be accepted by the good people of Alexandria – a major city within his Congressional District.

“By and large, Alexandrians are civic-minded people and are ready to do their duty if it serves the greater good,” wrote Moran.

It is not our duty to take prisoners of war, at best, and blood-thirsty terrorists hell-bent on destroying the United States and Western Civilization as we know it, at worst, out of a secure detention center for the purposes of giving them trials for which they are not entitled, on American soil where potential danger is an unnecessary possibility. When did it become the duty of non-uniformed citizens to be purposely put into harms way, Mr. Moran? This is not the kind of sacrifice civilians make during wartime. Cutting back on energy, raw materials, buying war bonds – these are the sacrifices civilians make in support of a war effort as our history has demonstrated.

Alexandrians “have shown this public spirit time and again. The ‘20th hijacker,’ Zacarias Moussaoui, who participated in planning the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon, was held and prosecuted in the Alexandria courthouse,” wrote Moran.

As a former resident of the Carlyle Towers condominiums located directly across the street from the Albert V. Bryan U.S. Courthouse and Detention Center in Alexandria, I can attest to the media circus that gathered day after day, not to mention the inconvenience of the simple exiting and entering our homes on a daily basis while the hearings and trials occurred. I can also attest to the fact that the overwhelming majority of residents opposed those activities, many of whom spoke their minds at a town hall-type meeting hosted by Moran in an effort to assuage people’s concerns.

Several years later, and with the advent of the Patent-Trademark Office and its population, such trials will be a bigger nightmare than Moran can imagine. And he demonstrated his lack of imagination when he wrote “taking the easy route and joining the chorus of those crying ‘not in my back yard’ is appealing. But that’s not the Alexandria I know and have represented in Congress for nearly 20 years.” This, clearly, is not 1989.

Perhaps that’s because you, Mr. Moran, are out of touch with your constituents and no longer know what is on their minds. You win reelection every two years like clockwork without breaking a sweat and often times taking voters for granted. In an unscientific survey of liberals, conservatives and neutrals alike, 84 percent of the people I communicated with are opposed to the shut down of Gitmo in the first place. Then, to top it off, 93 percent of the folks I communicated with oppose holding trials for terrorists in American courts such as here in Alexandria. Granted this is admittedly a non-scientific poll, but the honest, patriotic, generous people of Alexandria running the spectrum from right to left are speaking out, and you, sir are not listening.

Mr. Moran noted JFK’s call to accept challenges for a higher purpose, but this is not such a purpose, nor did he envision al Qaeda or the Taliban. The Soviet Union was tame by comparison.

When people have a mission to take innocent life, they cease to be part of the community of man and surrender the right to be treated as men. The home countries of these miscreants don’t want them back. That Obama wants Gitmo closed my mid-January 2010 is purely an arbitrary decision and deadline, which as more and more members of his own party have come to realize, makes less and less sense as there is no legitimate place to put these terrorists.

Guantanamo has been working out nicely, and to a person, those who have inspected it have commented that it appears in better condition that mainland prisons. The prisoner’s religious observances are being adhered to along with their dietary needs and they even have more exercise and prayer time with their fellow prisoners than if they were in a supermax prison in the US. Gitmo is a far cry from Auschwitz.

Mr. Moran uses as a reason to close Gitmo that both Obama and GOP presidential candidate Senator John McCain (AZ) pledged to shut it down. Fine, so they were both wrong. Using McCain as part of the defense is disingenuous at best, especially since he did not really represent the heart of the Republican Party during the 2008 election.

Further, the Congressman makes the mistake of writing that the enemy combatants are entitled to habeas corpus. Enemy combatants are not entitled to habeas corpus. As for the rules regarding the Geneva Convention, enemy combatants may be held until the cessation of hostilities.

Representative Moran referred to Guantanamo as a “stain” on the reputation of the United States and “on our national character,” when in fact, it is his and this administration’s appeasement to Islamo-terrorism that is the stain on this nation. Closing Gitmo will not endear the United States to the fanatics whose goal is to kill us. Appeasement failed miserably for Chamberlain and it certainly won’t work today.

Priority one is the safety of American citizens, not worrying about what other countries think of us. If our reputation is so tarnished, why then are millions of people trying to enter this country, not flee – and by any means necessary (another topic for another day). This is still the greatest and freest country on G-d’s earth.

We are at war against a flagless, borderless, nationless enemy – a war, by the way, Mr. Moran publicly blamed on the Jews just a few years ago. September 11, 2001 is not just a passing historical fact – the Pentagon is in Mr. Moran’s district, as is Arlington National Cemetery – the memories of those who rest there are being sullied by Congressman Moran’s callousness.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Two Strikes Enough for DC Gov't

Two Strikes Enough for DC Gov’t
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
May 4, 2009

Like petulant three-year-olds arguing over their favorite toy, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty and the City Council should be ejected from their cushy-tushy box at Nationals Park and made to sit with the constituents they claim to represent. In this case, two strikes should be enough for the out.

For the second year in a row, 86 season tickets are the bones of contention. Several members of the City Council assert that Fenty is ostensibly holding the council’s tickets hostage – tickets that neither the mayor nor the council paid for. These are tickets to stadium suites and parking passes valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars; at 81 home games, that’s a total of 6,966 tickets. The notion of a government body accepting such gifts smacks of nothing short of graft. If the mayor or members of the council want to take in a Nationals game, and they are encouraged to do so, they can pay for their tickets like the rest of the grit-eating community.

Councilman Kwame Brown had the smart idea of auctioning off the tickets – 67 of which are allotted to the mayor and the remaining 19 to the council. Let’s face it, most of those seats remain empty throughout the season. Quite frankly, most seats around Nationals Park are empty with the product that’s being put on the field. Perhaps instead of auctioning the tickets, they should be given to honor role students for setting a good academic example. Perhaps they could be used for Make-a-Wish style give-aways. People are not clamoring for seats to Nationals games. John Lennon and George Harrison could rise from the dead and the Beatles couldn’t fill that stadium. The only prayer of filling Nationals Park was when Pope Benedict XVI paid a visit last year.

Make no mistake, it’s great that the nation’s capital finally has a team after 31 years of dormancy, but this was not an expansion team, but instead the move of an existing team – the team formerly known as the Montreal Expos. And as nice a stadium as Nationals Park is, public/government funding of stadiums is a big no-no. Teams should be footing the bill for their own ballpark; after all, who reaps the rewards? The team owners. If taxpayer dollars are utilized, then the taxpayers ought to be shareholders entitled to dividends, or in this case, tickets.

For as nice as the ballpark experience is, and it is, it’s just too much of a hassle to wait for Metro before and after the game in crowded stations, or afford the parking lot fees, plus the cost of food not to mention the outrageous notion of charging $29.95 for a book of 100 blank scorecards, as advertised while watching a Nationals game on television one night last week. One announcer shamelessly endorsed the blank-paged book by saying there are helpful hints on how to keep a proper scorecard. Folks – here’s a nickel’s worth of free advise: go online, print out a scorecard, bring it with you to the stadium. If you want some helpful hints as to how to fill it out, I’ll post them to my website for free. There you go; 30 bucks saved; buy your friend Sanford a kosher dog next time you see him at the ballpark.

Another Nationals-related travesty is the recent decision that the city will pay the costs to keep Metro running overtime when the Nationals play into the wee hours. This should have been a no-brainer. That should be an E-DC. The Nationals organization should without a doubt be coughing up the dough here. Could the city be kissing the team’s tuchus any more?

Ultimately, when Metro raises it rates to cover the overtime to the tune of $27,000 an hour, all Metro riders will pay the price. Two hours of overtime could pay an experienced teacher’s salary for a year. Apparently the city has been paying the freight on overtime since the return of baseball to DC in 2005 as the Nationals have refused to pay for the service. Nationals fans already pay enough to attend a game as it is. The team is the one entity raking in the bucks during rain delays, extra-inning affairs and double-headers, not that a real double-header exists any more.

The District ought to reverse its call, demand the team fork over the dinero for the overtime or see its fans stranded. Angry fans do not revisit ballparks when the team is the cause of their ire. The team cannot afford to alienate any more fans as it is. It’s high time the Washington Nationals remember their first name is Washington and become a homer.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA. He is a lifelong New York Mets fan.