Poor Winners & Sore Losers

BY RICH GALEN
NOV 28 | Reprinted from Mullings.com

As if we needed even more evidence that the system has been fractured like a giant egg having fallen off a wall, both major candidates in the November 8 elections are demonstrating bad form in the aftermath.

Donald Trump is a poor winner. Hillary Clinton is a sore loser.

If third graders exhibit this behavior they are sent to the back of the classroom for a time out. And deservedly so.

Hillary Clinton – Continue reading

Thanksgiving Do Over

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON | NOV 26

This Thanksgiving occurred in an unusually negatively-charged atmosphere. It seemed harder for some to open the chest cavity and let the heart breathe, tell friends and family you love them, pause long enough to be thankful, forgive and forget.

Not even for a day. This condition was particularly acute near the epicenters of American politics, where people seem more entitled to be angry and righteous in their indignation against others. Continue reading

American Media: A Time for Change

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  NOV 22

“As a general rule of thumb, the more important the issue is to large numbers of working people, the less interesting it is to corporate media…The less significant it is to ordinary people, the more attention the media pays.”
Vermont Senator and socialist Bernie Sanders, quoted in the Washington Post in his new book, Our Revolution.

The media never translated the story. This was the first time media went without attribution.  Panel members on news shows are no longer analysts but propagandists. Will the media change? No. Look at the numbers. Profits are up.
Paraphrasing the assessments of a former broadcast journalist now a university faculty member, whose comments were not for attribution.

Continue reading

Whiskey Rebellion

BY RICH GALEN
NOV 17 | Reprinted from Mullings.com

I did a post-election panel for a telecommunications group earlier this week during which the Democrat, former Congressman Rick Boucher of Virginia, talked about how he foresaw bipartisan cooperation in the House to update the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Not to worry. This is not a column about Title II or Section 706.

I conceded that the Congressman – a long-time expert on telecoms – knew more about that than I did, but I knew a lot about how political parties act when they’ve been knocked on their collective butts and, like Oliver Twist, meekly holding out a bowl asking for more gruel wasn’t in the playbook. Continue reading

Participation Trophies

BY RICH GALEN
NOV 15 | Reprinted from Mullings.com

The demonstrations against the results of last Tuesday’s election are the grown up equivalent of a child screaming and kicking at the Chinese restaurant because they don’t have fish sticks and ketchup.

Act out all you want. Ain’t gonna make over-battered, pre-formed fish and a bottle of sugary tomato sauce show up at your table.

The anti-Trump protesters can act out all they want but it’s not going to cause the election to be re-run. At least not for the next four years. Continue reading

Trumpism, Media, & Egalitarianism: Part I

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  NOV 14

“And so tonight—to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans—I ask for your support.”    — President Richard Nixon, November 9, 1969

‘Silent majority’ is a term used to describe people who do not speak out, do not make themselves known and whose opinions are overshadowed by those who do. President Richard Nixon coined the phrase in defense of his Vietnam policies and generated favorable ratings above 70 percent.

And, today, it turns out there is a silent majority in this country and it, they, just elected the next President.

A good many of those locked inside the Washington beltway or high up in Rockefeller Center or in Hollywood or in any number of college faculty lounges did not get or did not want to acknowledge the silent majority, so to them Trump’s election was a shocker. The loudest voices of mainstream media, pollsters, pundits, American liberalism, and a community of ‘establishment’ Republicans, instead produced, directed, and sold a narrative that Trump was unfit for office, a clown, a charlatan, a liar and a cheat, homophobic, xenophobic, racist, and sexist, and also really uncouth. Not since Andrew Jackson has a candidates’ wife been dragged Continue reading

Idiom For A Distracted Public

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  OCT 22

Most of us use idioms in our daily conversations.

‘I would give an arm and a leg for that.’
‘Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.’
Here is one I hear from readers: ‘Don’t give up your day job.’

There’s one idiom that is especially pertinent today: ‘You can’t see the forest for the trees.’

Its origin is not clear, but it means you are so busy paying attention to detail, you are missing the larger picture. You see the pine needles, but not the tree; you see the tree but not the forest.

In presentations on political survey research, professional Dave Winston displays a slide of a white wooden-frame house in need of a paint job, with broken windows and a leaky roof. The House is also on fire. Winston makes the point that we spend too much time fixing the roof and replacing the windows, but ignore the fact that the house is burning. Continue reading

View from Inside the Beltway

BY RICH GALEN
OCT 13 | Reprinted from Mullings.com

These last 26 days of the 2016 Presidential campaign might be the ugliest, most embarrassing, and least informative in our lifetime.

The entire campaign has been flushed down to: Did Donald Trump manhandle (pun intended) more women in more disgusting ways than Bill Clinton?

Here’s my prediction: It won’t matter. Other than making us change the channel on the TV in the kitchen from a cable news program to something on the History Channel about World War II, I don’t believe any significant number of people will change their vote from Clinton to Trump, or the other way around. Continue reading

How About a ‘Stand for the Flag’ Constitutional Amendment?

BY FRANK HILL
OCT 5 | Reprinted from TelemachusLeaps.com

Unless you have been around for awhile, a pretty good long while, you would think the Colin-Kaepernick-kneeling-during-the-National-Anthem controversy was the first of its kind in American history.

It is not.

We remember quite well the controversy nationwide over the so-called ‘Flag Burning Amendment’ since it was introduced and debated during the time we were serving in the US Congress in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled in a split 5-4 decision that burning the US flag in a protest was protected by the First Amendment.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said this at the time: Continue reading

2016 Debate I

BY RICH GALEN
SEP 26 | Reprinted from Mullings.com

The pre-Debate questions more-or-less came down to these:
Will Hillary Clinton come across like someone who regular people can feel comfortable with?
Will Donald Trump come across like a person who could be President?

As the debate opened – with Hillary Clinton getting the first question via coin toss – she began by thanking Hofstra University and welcomed Donald Trump. She talked like someone who had read her briefing books and was comfortable with the material – jobs, and trade. “We are five percent of the world’s population and we have to trade with the other 95 percent. Continue reading

One Day to Celebrate the Constitution…Or Not

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  SEP 20

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Preamble to the Constitution, adopted  September 17, 1787

Last Saturday the nation celebrated the signing of the US Constitution at Independence Hall in Philadelphia 229 years ago.

There were parades and fireworks, great speeches and events all across the country.

Actually, there weren’t. The anniversary went by mostly unnoticed, unlike that for the Declaration of Independence, last July 4.

In fairness what is Constitution and Citizenship Day is a relatively new observance, dating back to 2004 and legislation sponsored by the late West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, although there have been observances of citizenship dating back nearly 100 years. Continue reading

McCain: Primaries, Pundits, and the Press

BY RICH GALEN
SEP 1 | Reprinted from Mullings.com

I was in Phoenix to spend some time watching a non-Presidential campaign. In this case it was Senator John McCain’s campaign for U.S. Senate. I picked this campaign because it’s just about the end of the primary election season and I’ve known – or at least known of – McCain since he was a freshman Member of Congress in 1983 and I was doing my first turn at the National Republican Congressional Committee which is the political arm of Republicans in the House.

I had forgotten what a race for U.S. Senate, even a big-time race like this one, was like.

McCain’s primary was Tuesday night. On Monday, I stopped in to watch the Professional Firefighters Union endorse McCain at Fire Station #30 in Phoenix. Continue reading

Nation Off to the Races

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  AUG 29

Donald Trump says Hillary Clinton is a bigot.

No, Hillary retorts. Trump is a racist.

Trump charges Hillary with exploiting blacks.

Hillary claims Trump is white supremacist, who blows a dog whistle for neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.

Trump says Hillary is crooked and should be arrested.

Hillary says Trump is profoundly dangerous.

And, so, after another day on the dusty campaign trail, the two candidates ride off into the sunset. If only there were another time zone so their performances could go on even longer. Wait. What about Guam and American Samoa? Continue reading

Two Screenplays

BY RICH GALEN
AUG 22 | Reprinted from Mullings.com

I think the whole full-court press to protect Hillary Clinton’s emails has little to do with Hillary Clinton. I think it has to do with keeping Bill Clinton – former President of the United States Bill Clinton – from being indicted for conspiracy to sell access to Hillary’s State Department.

But first …

On Friday, former top dog of the Donald Trump campaign, Paul Manafort resigned. This was about two days after the top dog his own self, Donald Trump, hired Stephen Bannon who, like Trump, has never been in a major political campaign before, to be the new top dog. Continue reading

Random Thoughts

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  AUG 22

DAY OF FINANCIAL RECKONING

It is getting closer to the end of the month and my nerves are on edge. I’ve done everything I can to prepare. I’ve filled out the forms; I’ve talked to my financial adviser, Sean Joyce, and I’ve made calculations for all contingencies. Waiting is the worst. It gets worse as you get older.

The only step I didn’t take was to make a purchase. It could have been a fatal mistake, but we’ll see.

The day of reckoning, August 31st, is the announcement date for the winners of the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. If you’re an old geezer, who grew up in the 60s, and weren’t exactly on the doorstep to the middle class, the Sweepstakes was a quick and easy way to get up and out; one of the least labor intensive paths to the American Dream. (see footnote below)* This was before they invented the lottery. Continue reading

Lessons From Ryan Election

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  AUG 11

“I’m not happy with him and some of the things he’s done, but you have to look at the big picture and you have to look down the road.”

A pearl of political wisdom from a Wisconsin teacher named Kim, after voting for her Congressman, Paul Ryan, in the Republican primary August 9, 2016.

There are other little pearls to be extracted from the Ryan landslide over a slick-talking, biker-businessman who the national media tried hard to mold into a credible candidate for public office when he was not. Continue reading

Dem Convention 2

BY RICH GALEN
JUL 28 | Reprinted from Mullings.com

I was wrong. I thought that Michelle Obama’s speech on Monday night would retire the trophy as best speech of this, or any other, year.

Then came Joe Biden. First of all, he called the First Lady of the United States “kid” and got away with it. Then he called the President of the United States “Barack” which, as it happens is his name, but it was jarring to hear the Veep call his boss by his first name.

Biden got off the best line of the night – not a gigantic cheer line, but an important one: “When the middle class does well, the rich do very well and the poor have hope; they have a way out.” Continue reading

Fast From Presidential Politics: Let Mikey Do It

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  JUL 19

I find it very uncomfortable writing in the first person and reading the work of those who do.  After the sixth or seventh personal pronoun, I often just quit reading.

This, on the other hand, is all about me so I just can’t avoid talking about me.

This week it will have been a month since I suggested to the half dozen or so good friends who read my stuff that I feared the entire country was hyperventilating over presidential politics and that we should take a month off from Don and Hil, breathe into a brown paper bag, and adjust our attitudes and our behavior.

My editor said I ought to take my own advice, so I did. So here is my report. Continue reading

The Conflicts of Race, Reality, and Resolution: Part 1

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  JUL 18

John Korsmo, Lincoln NE, said it pretty well on Facebook after the killing of police in Dallas:

“There isn’t enough room on people’s timelines to address all of the ridiculous things people are doing. I may be wrong but it seems like there is more unrest than I can ever remember in my lifetime. May just be how prevalent social media is too but just this last couple months has been very disheartening.”

I don’t know John. I don’t know if he can be called “an average American” but he expresses a bewilderment and frustration that most Americans must feel about events and behavior over which we have no control but have a profound effect on our lives. Continue reading

The Conflicts of Race, Reality, and Resolution: Part 2

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  JUL 18

A year ago, after the Charleston killings, I wrote:

“I don’t know how we ever get to that national conversation about race that for some reason is the ultimate, if unachievable goal of so many. My friend, the late Bill Gavin, told me years ago that there is no good outcome from a conversation in which two sides do not trust the motivation of the other. And regrettably, those individuals usually thought to be the best to conduct a conversation about race—activists, politicians, academics—are those who seem to question each others’ motivation the most often. They usually cannot extract the politics and prejudice, the suspicion and ulterior motives from their own discourse.”

I write about much that does not stand the test of time, but this does. One year later, we are no closer to honest discourse. Continue reading