Cigar Mike Meets President Obama


Throughout the years, I have met some interesting folks. I’ve met several famous politicians, governors, senators, congressmen, etc., I have also met some American Presidents as well, George H. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.  Bush the Elder I met when he spoke at my University in 1988.  I met Bill Clinton, the candidate, when I was having lunch at an Italian restaurant in Sunrise, Florida the Monday before Super Tuesday in 1992.  I met GW Bush at a fundraiser in 2003. I didn’t have my camera for Bush 41 or Clinton. I did photograph GW Bush and have some great photos of him (albeit on B&W film).

So today I got the opportunity to meet our current President, Barack Obama, during a fundraiser at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach.  You bet I was going to take my camera there.  Interestingly enough, I had a special VIP pass which allowed me to have my picture taken with the President and I got to attend a small VIP dinner with 14 tables or so which included a speech by the President, and other important politicians with the Democratic Party.  I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. It was akin to being a scout for the Phillies in the Yankee locker room.

So I arrive at the hotel and hang out in the lobby for a while.  I see all the politicos walking in.  Then I see Dwayne Wade and say hello to him.  Minutes later, all the politicos there, certain local Congressmen all come by to get their photo with Wade.

Now to be able to go, you have to days in advance give the Secret Service your name, address, and ss#.  Well Cigar Mike had no trouble getting in.

So I sign in and give them my photo bag and gear which the security guy checked with me. I turned on my camera and showed him it was a camera and the pics I had on the card: a model I photographed last Saturday in the Glades and pics from Shenandoah. Interestingly enough, he lived near there and we started to chat about the snowstorm that hit the area last week when I was there.

I then am led down a hallway with three doors.  The door where the general cocktail reception will be held (these folks paid $500 per ticket and will get a short visit from the Prez); the door with the folks who had two stars on their tag (the big wigs); and then the folks who had the one star on their tag (the intermediate big wigs).  I was in the middle group.  In the two star group were the celebrities and the politicians.  The crème of the Dems: Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Wexler, Congressman Grayson, Congresswoman Wasserman-Shultz, Congressman Meek, Senator Nelson, and others. But all the attention was not on them, it was on Dwayne Wade, Alonzo Mourning, and Jason Taylor.  I wasn’t allowed in that room; but no big deal. The folks would walk into my room shortly thereafter to have dinner with the President.

I was bemused in the room by the folks there. Folks like Roy Black and his wife, and other big money donors.  I saw one guy who looked familiar to me too. I asked a friend of mine who he was. He tells me, “It’s Emilio Estefan.”  So Emilio was there too.  I also saw an interesting machine there. It’s called “Instant Replay” and they had a program on it called “Potus Only.” You press certain buttons on it and it plays “Hail to the Chief” or other tunes. Button on it said “Armed Forces” and then the different services. You press a button and an instant band theme from the armed forces too.

So a guy with the Presidential Detail comes in after about an hour and tells us to get in the photo line.  While in line, everybody walked in. Alonzo, JT, Wade, Pelosi, etc.  Then all these folks got out of the line to take pics of Jason Taylor.  He got more attention than Pelosi.  After 15 minutes or so, President Obama walks in and the photo line begins.  I stand there and talk to a bunch of friends, partners, and associates of mine, many who are Republican, and I note how ironic that here I am, Cigar Mike, in a line to have my picture taken with the President, with whom I disagree on nearly every policy.  A friend of mine, and a Democrat tells me, well “he is our President, politics aside.”   I told him, “I agree.”  While I disagree with him, he is the President and I will be respectful and take a photo with him.  I then think it’s funny cause I cannot imagine any liberal or other leftist even considering taking their picture with GW Bush and being respectful towards him.

And then while there were a few folks in front of me zipping through the photo line, I could only think of the famous lines uttered by Michael Corleone in Godfather II, “We’re all part of the same hypocrisy.”  You see folks; there were people there who are as right wing as they come.  In fact, at GOP fundraisers, I’ve seen many Dems there too.  So I was asked by someone, “why are there GOP folks there donating so much money to the Dems?”  It’s simple folks. It’s called access.  You get access with only one thing – dollars.  In the true scheme of things,  there are no real political parties.  There is only money and access. They will take your money even if you give the same amount to the other side. And the more money you give, the more they will listen to you. It’s really amazing when you come to think about it.  They don’t really care about regular folks. No one does.  Unless that regular folk coughs up a few hundred grand or so.  So here I was, myself and my GOP friends, 5 feet away from Congressman Grayson.  You think he saw us as folks that want people to die? No. He saw us as folks that probably paid a lot of money to be there, so he was most friendly with others and us in line.  None of these folks are heroes. They are mere politicians.  No different from any other politicians. In fact, this Dem fundraiser was no different than the GOP fundraisers I’ve gone too.  They both had their share of women with excessive plastic surgery; bloated and balding men with lots of money; and young volunteers with the belief that these people are different from everybody else and that they are making a difference.  Sorry to burst your bubble folks. But only money is spoken here. I think 1.5 million dollars was raised at the dinner I attended for 100 seats at 15 tables. Do the math. Unless you have the money,  don’t even think you could have a seat here.

At the dinner, which followed, a few others and myself went towards the real stars there, JT, Wade, and Zo.  We had our pictures taken with them and chatted up with them for a bit.  We were seated and then the politicians started their speeches. Senator Nelson and the head of the Dem. Congressional Committee all patting themselves on the back and telling everyone that with additional contributions, they intend on holding the current seats and gaining more seats in the Congress.  Wasserman-Shultz was there and introduced Speaker Pelosi who introduced the President.

I was snapping away of course and took about a few hundred images.  I will say that the President gave a speech without a teleprompter and was coherent.  He touted all he has done while in office and the legislation coming up. Then he notes that the GOP got them in the mess they are in and have no business criticizing their “change.” In the same breath, he then says that he welcomes a healthy opposition. But what do you expect? I was in their locker room. They say the same things about us that we say about them.  We’re all part of the hypocrisy; pure and simple.  It’s all about the money.  There were no folks there, or radical leftwing bloggers.  Just folks with lots of money.  Interestingly enough, many of the Dems I spoke to all told me how much they dislike Pelosi and how bad she was for the party; all telling me that they need someone like Tip O’Neil who wasn’t so damn polarizing and a political hack.  But when she came out; they all applauded her and sang her praise.

After the President spoke, lots of folks took off leaving the untouched and quite tasty filet mignon on their tables to be thrown out. I asked one of the waiters there for a box saying I’d take it home. It was fantastic. I was told they were not allowed to allow food outside the Hotel for health reasons.  Great, I figure.  All these politicians who love to talk about the regular common man, who’d love to be able to eat a steak,  throwing their food away. Oy vay!

So you may ask, “Cigar Mike, why are you there and why do you shake his hand?”  Simple. I’m there cause I have connections and I will not pass up a photographic opportunity such as being able to photograph the President of the United States.  Why do I shake his hand? Well, he’s my President, even if I don’t agree with him and frankly, I wanted to show the leftist nuts out there that unlike them,  we can show respect for the President even if we don’t agree with him. Their memories are too short, but we remember how they treated GW Bush.  But as they say, tomorrow it will all be history and I’ll continue my fight to keep the Dems policies from becoming law by focusing on the real issues out there and not on the ridiculous like those birther folks that were across the street from the hotel.

It was my turn to meet the President and I told him “it is a pleasure to meet you, Mr. President.”  I shook his hand, he told me “thank you for all your help,” a photo was taken, and I was on my way as the next person got his turn to take his photo with the President.

You can see some of my images from the event here on Flickr.  And don’t forget to check out my new photography website at MichaelPancierPhotography.Com.

By Popular Request …


Capital Hill © 2009 by Michael A. Pancier, All Rights Reserved

It’s been a while but I am glad to finally announce the debut of my photography website, Michael Pancier Photography.   Folks ask me all the time for prints and for my website. So thanks to fellow contributor and friend Claudia, who was kind enough to put it together for me, the website is now online.

I have many of my landscape, cityscape,  and wildlife images available with new ones going up from time to time.   Give it a whirl …

Enjoy and see you out in the field ….

What About Global Warming?

ShendNatPark-237-Edit-Edit copy

Well infidels, I have returned. I went to Virginia in mid October to get foliage photos. This is what greeted me yesterday morning….Virginia is not supposed to get snow until November. I was in a winter wonderland out there. Yep, I got my winter shots in October. That’s global warming for you.

Shot at Shenandoah National Park – Virginia.

Thank You TR

Sunset at Navajo Point

Speech by President Teddy Roosevelt made at the Grand Canyon, Arizona, on May 6, 1903:

“In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which, so far as I know, is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to do one thing in connection with it in your own interest and in the interest of the country – to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is.

I was delighted to learn of the wisdom of the Santa Fe railroad people in deciding not to build their hotel on the brink of the canyon. I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel, or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon.

Leave it as it is. You can not improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American if he can travel at all should see.

We have gotten past the stage, my fellow-citizens, when we are to be pardoned if we treat any part of our country as something to be skinned for two or three years for the use of the present generation, whether it is the forest, the water, the scenery. Whatever it is, handle it so that your children’s children will get the benefit of it.”

Lot’s of things which have been annoying me lately, but I’m not gonna dwell on it. So I’ll talk about something I like instead today. Thanks to the technology we have today, i.e., Apple iPhones, I’ve downloaded the entire Ken Burns National Park Documentary to my phone so I can watch it from my daily trek on the treadmill. Someone here the other day had lumped TR with some of the worst Presidents we’ve had. I’m certain that person was confused with TR’s nephew and/or was grossly misinformed about what a great President TR was. Among his greatest achievements was his support of the Antiquities Act whereby Congress gave the President the Power to create National Monuments and also his support for the National Park. He loved to hunt and fish and hike in the American Wilderness. His steadfast to the money changers of the day made it possible that generations after him and after me will be able to enjoy the view in the photograph I posted above. These national parks belong to us and the nation. They are a place we can get away from the mundane views and simply suck it in. Photos do not do these places justice.

I saw the Grand Canyon for my first time this year in my 40’s. I took my ten year old son to see it too. I’ll return no doubt and simply hope to see it in the same condition I saw it where the only changes would be made by God Himself. The vistas of the National Parks cannot be improved and we are fortunate that great men and women made it possible that we have these parks today; it truly is an American invention and one of the best ideas we as a nation could have come up with. A sign of true Democracy. These are places where the hand of man is minimal and at best unseen.

Since 2007, I made it a goal of mine to visit as many national parks as I can. Besides the Everglades which is in our backyard and is a place all of us in South Florida must visit and protect, I’ve been lucky to visit Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce, Arches, and Acadia National Parks. This weekend I’ll be headed to the pristine lands enjoyed by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson in what is now called Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. I’m talking my 5 and 10 year old as well. It will be the 4th National Park I will have visited in 2009. And my list is pretty large still. I have so many on my list that I have trips planned into 2011 and beyond.

So hopefully I’ll have some interesting images to convey to you upon my return next week from the Blue Ridge Mountains and hopefully I’ll have some autumn colors to give you. If you’re a videophile nut, get the National Park series on Blue Ray and see it. If you have kids, see it with them. Then make plans to take your kids to one or more of America’s National Parks. Everything you need is right here in the USA. And as you stand before these great vistas that we find in our National Parks, you can thank a lot of people, but you should give a special thanks to TR; who was a real man who enjoyed the outdoors, who hunted and fished, who hiked and rode horseback through the wilderness as compared to those who would rather spend their time playing golf and taking their Lexus SUV’s to the wine bar.

Challenge Question of the Day

I would love for anyone on the left, especially the buttmunches like Rep. Grayson to tell me, under which provision of the U.S. Constitution does Congress have the power to mandate that individuals purchase health insurance?

Here’s the text of the U.S. Constitution.

And while sadly, the bill being voted on in the Senate Finance Committee is not available for the public to read (transparency), here is the chairman’s mark up report.

Notwithstanding the fact that I challenge anyone who knows the law to tell me what enumerated power applies here. (I know what power the Congress is attempting to use, but it’s weak. But let’s see if all these folks out there (kind of like the ones who don’t know who is paying for those checks they’re getting) have a clue), here is what this bill will propose:

Beginning in 2013, all U.S. citizens and legal residents would be required to purchase coverage through (1) the individual market, a public program such as Medicare, Medicaid, the Children‘s Health Insurance Program, Veteran‘s Health Care Program, or TRICARE or through an employer (or as a dependent of a covered employee) in the small group market, meeting at least the requirements of a bronze plan, or (2) in the large group market, in a plan with first dollar coverage for prevention-related services as recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force – except in cases where value-based insurance design is used and cannot have an unreasonable annual or lifetime limit coverage or a maximum out-of-pocket limit greater than that provided by the standards established for HSA current law limit in order to meet minimum creditable coverage. Exemptions from the requirement to have health coverage would be allowed for religious objections that are consistent with those allowed under Medicare, and for undocumented aliens. An individual enrolled in a grandfathered plan would be deemed to have met the responsibility requirement.

In order to ensure compliance, individuals would be required to report on their Federal income tax return the months for which they maintain the required minimum health coverage for themselves and all dependents under age 18…

Now you know this is to require most young people to purchase insurance. And what if they don’t? The answer will lead you to the hint to the answer to the question above.

Excise Tax. The consequence for not maintaining insurance would be an excise tax of $750 per adult in the household. This per adult penalty would be phased in as follows: For 2013, $0; $200 for 2014; $400 for 2015; $600 in 2016 and $750 in 2017.

The excise tax would apply for any period for which the individual is not covered by a health insurance plan with the minimum required benefit but would be prorated for partial years of noncompliance. The excise tax would be assessed through the tax code and applied as an additional amount of Federal tax owed. No excise tax will be assessed for individuals not maintaining health insurance for a period less than or equal to three months in the tax year. However, assessed excise taxes for those not insured for more than three months include the entire duration the individual was uninsured during the tax year.

Non-compliance with the individual responsibility to have health coverage shall incur no criminal penalty; and neither civil penalty nor interest shall accrue for failure to pay such assessment in a timely manner. Collection shall be limited to withholding of federal payments due.

What does the Constitution say?

Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States;

Interesting huh? Now what is interesting as well is, if you don’t get insurance, you have to pay an excise tax. If you don’t pay the tax, under this plan, the only thing the government will do is garnish any tax refund check you may coming to you. Now why is this important folks? You see for this plan to work, everyone has to buy into the system. There’s no teeth to enforcement (granted, the power buttressing the legislation is weak too), so this means the plan will not be adequately funded.

So where is the money going to come from? And what’s even more amusing, this plan will not insure everybody. So you have a massive overhaul; costing gazillions of dollars, which barely changes anything vis a vis coverage from the current situation. Sounds futile no?

Well….I look forward to a healthy exchange of ideas …..

I’ll Take Manhattan

Here's to You New York
© 2009 by Michael A. Pancier, All Rights Reserved

Just taking a break from the daily political crap. Here’s a pic I took last week in midtown.

Happy Columbus Day. Of course I can’t figure out how if his last name was Colon, how the heck did they end up with Columbus?

Hey Mr. Peace Prize Winner, Even Lanny Davis Says You’re Wrong on Honduras

Interesting article in today’s WSJ by Democrat Lanny Davis on the Honduras situation where he points out the idiocy of Obama and his Chavez dupes about their refusal to recognize the new freely elected government in Honduras following the November 2009 election:

What’s made the situation even more intractable is that the U.S., the OAS and the EU have strongly suggested that they will not recognize the results of the upcoming Nov. 29 presidential elections. They took this position without taking into account that the electoral process is supervised, pursuant to the Honduran constitution, by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. The tribunal is thoroughly independent of the executive branch led by Roberto Micheletti.

These policy decisions have produced an ironic and embarrassing scenario: The U.S. is apparently unwilling to recognize free and fair elections in Honduras with international observers; this at the same time it is about to recognize the president of Afghanistan, who was elected in what is now seen as a fraudulent electoral process.

He points out to an interesting situation which seems like a reasonable compromise, but which would be contingent on the following:

1) a moratorium on all prosecutions of political crimes, which was interpreted to apply both to accusations against Mr. Zelaya and those responsible for deporting him

2)  the resignation, after the election, of Mr. Micheletti

3) renunciation by Mr. Zelaya of his intention to be restored as president;

4) the succession, as provided by the constitution, of a caretaker president between election day and inauguration day.

Makes sense, but it seems like no one is willing to compromise.  And even in the case that there is no compromise, Mr. Davis notes the following that hopefully our Nobel Winning Prize President should take heed:

But given reports from yesterday’s discussions of continued intransigence by both parties, this seems overly optimistic. If Mr. Zelaya refuses to “resign” or renounce his intention to be restored, which is a distinct possibility, one would hope that the U.S. and other nations of the OAS and EU would no longer feel compelled to insist on his reinstatement. They should then recognize the election of the new president, and the crisis would truly be over. Honduras would be restored to its rightful role as a stable constitutional republic and loyal ally of the U.S.

My $50 is with Obama continuing to follow the Hugo Chavez position of not recognizing a freely elected government.  Mr. Davis’ article can be found here.

Great Article on Gorky’s Trip and Performance in NYC


A fantastic article on the Tersites blog about Cuban Punk Rocker Gorky’s trip and performance in NYC. This is very poignant:

La gente entró hasta llenar la sala. Enrisco, organizador del evento, hizo la presentación. GA comentó con sorna que Enrisco había escrito aquel texto en cinco minutos… lo cual explicaba todos sus errores. La gente se rió —sobre todo Enrisco—, y a partir de ahí el personaje de la noche pareció sentirse más cómodo en su piel. Uno de los primeros inquisidores le preguntó a GA que cómo era posible que no lo hubiesen fusilado por escribir “la canción esa del comandante”. “¿Aquí se puede decir pinga?”, preguntó GA, antes de proceder a responderle. Y, extrañamente, con esa grosería se adueñó de un público que en su mayoría jamás había escuchado música punk ni a Porno para Ricardo.

Read the entire article here.