Monthly Archives: November 2011

Let’s Drink to the Hard-Working People

Reprinted from Twin Cities Business Magazine

Say a prayer for the common foot soldier, spare a thought for the back-breaking work. Say a prayer for his wife and his children, who burn the fires and still till the earth.

Every Thanksgiving my son and I drive 90 minutes into western Wisconsin to visit the Coon Creek family farm. We buy a heritage turkey or two. They are, hands down, better than store-bought by leaps and bounds. But that’s not the only reason we go there. We go because of Vince and Julie Maro.

They are the salt of the earth. If Chicago was Sinatra’s kind of town, the Maros are my kind of folks. Vince hails from the windy city, so there’s a certain “been there, done that” intensity to his countrified manner that makes the Coon Creek space even tastier. And, the heritage turkey is the most rich and luscious I’ve ever had. My friend Andrew Zimmern gave Coon Creek a shout out a few years ago and now we wouldn’t go anywhere else for our big bird. Is this a paid political announcement? Nah. Full disclosure, we do leave the farm each year with a few squash or vegetables that Vince and Julie throw in, but let’s call them gift with purchase. Continue reading

How to Break the Partisan Fever

Reprinted from

Sunday on “Meet the Press” Colin Powell blamed divisive, poisonous Washington politics on the media and the Tea Party. The essence of Powell’s argument was: “Republicans and Democrats are focusing more and more on their extreme left and extreme right. And we have to come back toward the center in order to compromise. … The media has to help us. The media loves this game, where everybody is on the extreme. It makes for great television. … So what we have to do is sort of take some of the heat out of our political life in terms of the coverage of it, so these folks (Congress) can get to work quietly. … But the Tea Party point of view of no compromise whatsoever is not a point of view that will eventually produce a presidential candidate who will win.”

Of course this is historic. The media have been a circulation-, listener- and viewer-motivated political snapping turtle since the country’s founding (and a liberal snapping turtle since the 1940s). And, of course, the rise of divisive Washington politics predates by decades the emergence of the Tea Party to national attention in 2009. Continue reading

Gingrich Gets Hot Endorsement

Reprinted from

The New Hampshire Union-Leader (neé Manchester Union-Leader) endorsed Speaker Newt Gingrich for President in the Republican primary which will be held there on January 10, 2012.

This is no small deal for Gingrich because it is a legitimate endorsement from the daily newspaper of the largest city in the state.

As I tweeted yesterday (follow me at @richgalen): Newspaper endorsements are like polls & poker: Winners whoop & holler. Losers say “Shut up and deal.”

Endorsements, polls and poker hands are generally not determinative but in each case it is better to win it than to lose it. I don’t read the Union-Leader with any regularity, but I had to tip my hat to the lead (spelled “lede” in news-speak) in the front page editorial written by publisher Joseph W. McQuaid: This newspaper endorses Newt Gingrich in the New Hampshire Presidential Primary.

In support of this simple, but strong, declarative sentence Mr. McQuaid encapsulated his reasoning by pointing to the Contract with America in 1994 and the resultant take-over of the U.S. House of Representatives in the elections that year; as well as “forging balanced budgets despite the challenge of dealing with a Democratic President.” Continue reading

Super Committee Failure & Public Judgement


The death of the super committee on deficit reduction was so painful to watch.

It didn’t even get a decent funeral. But then it didn’t deserve one. Its life was ill begotten and misspent.

The eulogies were a mix of  ‘I told you so’s’ by people and press who told us nothing, and politicians and interest groups pointing the finger of blame at each other—back and forth between conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans, Senators and House members, Congress and the President (how does the Supreme Court always escape blame?), tea partiers and occupiers and on and on.

Nobody apologized for the failure.

The combatants remain defiant. They were still harping at each other the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  Some seem to be under the influence of an elixir that has them hallucinating about the next election. They believe if they put off governing for another year, the American people will reward them by electing more politicians of their ilk. They could then, beginning in 2013, impose their political will on the country without any of this nettlesome bickering standing in their way today. Continue reading

Ultimate Thanksgiving


There is one person I know who is having a very special Thanksgiving this year, probably more special than all the others.

Her name is Tricia and just last Friday, November 18, she was what the medical community calls “clinically” dead.

This weekend she is home with her children and grandchild gathered around, no doubt looking into their smiling faces giving thanks for the miracle of her rebirth.

Tricia was at her job at a private club in Annapolis, MD last Friday. She had just left her secluded office in the lower level and gone upstairs. Moments later she collapsed. Her heart stopped beating. Someone yelled to call 911 within earshot of a doctor (a neurosurgeon) who rushed to her side and performed CPR. Continue reading

Thanksgiving 2011

Reprinted from

As we approach the festive season — the elongated, enchanting month from Thanksgiving through Christmas to New Years — my mind has been drifting through various memorable past holidays. Some have been personal — the last one with my father before he died. But one that stands out for historic reasons was Christmas 1991.

It was precisely on Dec. 25, 1991 — 20 years ago next month — that the Soviet Union expired. Mikhail Gorbachev resigned his office, and the godless Soviet Union formally ended its existence. On that Christmas Day — of all days –mankind was given the gift of deliverance from the half-century-long threat of nuclear annihilation. Mankind had never been more than one human misjudgment away from the unthinkable. It seemed a miracle that for all the human blundering, the crass politics of the world, the trillions of dollars spent on nuclear weapons — we had come out the other side untouched by the long-dreaded nuclear flame.

But after expressing my heartfelt gratitude for the deliverance from such an evil, I remember thinking that it was a pity that from then on history and politics would be so boring — not that I was complaining. Continue reading

Post Debate Download

Reprinted from

Generally: Every debate starts with more and longer packages, more solemn announcers, and a greater sense of import. Took 13:30 to get to the first question. I was surprised – pleasantly surprised – that for the most part the candidates had a good idea what they were talking about, and had thought through their basic positions. I say “for the most part” because Rick Perry and Herman Cain were clearly out of their depth. Continue reading

Super Committee = FAIL

Reprinted from

The conventional wisdom out of Washington is that the Super Committee will not reach an agreement to cut between $1.2 and $1.5 trillion dollars over the next ten years.

That same narrative holds that the six Representatives (3 Rs – 3 Ds) and six Senators (3 Rs – 3 Ds) who were picked to serve on the Super Committee by their leaders have failed in their mission to effect real change in the tax code, in entitlement, and in the trajectory of federal spending.

I disagree.

I believe that the need to appoint a Super Committee in the first place was a failure of governance on the part of both parties, in both Chambers and, just to complete the rogues’ gallery, on the part of the President of the United States.

We pay rank-and-file Representatives and Senators $174,000 per year. Members of the Leadership get about $20,000 more. The Speaker’s salary is $223,500.

Continue reading

The Chicago Guys Would Not Let Me Do It

Reprinted from

A very high-level and important person that you may know personally or have heard of said that this is the answer President Obama gave when he was asked why he did not introduce the Bowles-Simpson (let’s call it ‘BS’ for brevity’s sake) recommendations as a bill in the US Congress.

Just who is the President here and who are the minions serving whom?

President Obama might have had the best of intentions when he officially signed the document creating the BS Commission by Executive Order 13531. We’ll give him credit for that at least, although at the time, we speculated on January 29, 2010 that this commission would fail just like the other 18 before it.

But when the BS Commission failed to pass the recommendations by the required 14 votes out of the 18 members present in late 2010, President Obama still had it within his power to be the Chief Executive of this great nation of ours and ask the Democrat Majority in the Senate to introduce the BS recommendations and force a vote on the floor of the US Senate and then the US House. Continue reading

Inaccuracy on Internet Hard to Fix

Reprinted from

Before we start, let me advise everyone whose time is valuable that today’s MULLINGS is not going to be worth it. Go get a bagel and a cup of coffee, instead. Bye.

I have a Google Alert on myself. I have often said that I have that to make sure I have been quoted correctly, but it is really because I have an ego the size of Wyoming.

Yesterday, though, it came in handy. A website – which I won’t name because I don’t want you to go to it and increase the traffic by about 1500% – ran a column which included, essentially this:

Some months ago former Gingrich campaign manager Rich Galen quit, having likened Gingrich’s candidacy to “an airliner with no wings, no engines, and no landing gear” because the candidate was more interested in vacationing …on a Greek isle than stumping in Iowa …

I read it again to make sure I had it right. I was the manager of Newt’s campaign, and I had quit because Newt took a trip to the Mediterranean.

I not only was not the manager of the campaign; I had no contact with the campaign. I wasn’t on the staff; I wasn’t a “senior advisor,” I wasn’t a consultant. I wasn’t anything. Continue reading


Reprinted from

City officials from coast-to-coast have finally decided to live up to their responsibilities to enforce the law and have been evicting the Occupy (fill-in-the-blank) squatters from public spaces.

The District of Columbia has decided to allow the squatters to remain in McPherson Square Park because … well, maybe so the city won’t have to mow the grass until next Spring.

I am not totally unsympathetic to the general theory of the demonstrators: The deck is stacked in favor of the people who have the lion’s share of the chips because they already own the casino.

In the end, the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement was a pale shadow (how’s that for an oxymoron?) of the Arab Spring demonstrations.

Part of the problem for the OWS crowd was nobody paid much attention to them. I suppose people who actually work on Wall Street paid attention to people who were attempting to occupy it.

But Manhattan is a pretty big island and for most New Yorkers a bunch of rich kids from New Rochelle sleeping in tents and relieving themselves in garbage cans was not much of a reason to miss their morning bagel-and-a-schmear before they got to the office. Continue reading

Letter: One Generation to Another

Reprinted from Loose Change at

Talking last week with a client about social media, she commented, “Facebook posts really provide me with a lot of thought-provoking information I otherwise would never find myself.” I mostly agree. It’s like having 500 peers on the lookout for interesting perspectives and thoughtful insights from the collective conscious. I have found that Twitter provides very much the same kind of access, though it’s mostly up to me to find it. I rarely find re-tweets of much value. Somehow FB is more substantive. I particularly am a fan of apps like Flipboard that aggregate information.

That said, there are volumes of crap on FB. From privacy-invading ads to schmaltzy Stuart Smalley bromides and games like Dr. Zoo Little to inane updates on trivial daily activities, it’s astonishing how some people burn up their precious time.

Then there are times when a post is important and enlightening.

One such post was of a column in the Washington Post’s Guest Voices section, written by Thomas Day, an Iraq War veteran, Penn State graduate, Catholic, product of Jerry Sandusky’s infamous Second Mile foundation, and a current graduate student at the University of Chicago.

The line in his column that really jolted me was: “I have fully lost faith in the leadership of my parents’ generation.” Given that he was referring to me, I decided to respond. Continue reading

Important New View of China

Reprinted from

A just released book, “Bowing to Beijing” by Brett M. Decker and William C. Triplett II, will change forever the way you think about China — even if, like me, you already have the deepest worries about the Chinese threat. As I opened the book, I was expecting to find many useful examples of Chinese military and industrial efforts to get the better of the United States and the West.

Indeed, there are 100 pages of examples of the most remorseless Chinese successes at stealing the military and industrial secrets of the West and converting them into a growing menace — soon to be a leviathan — bent on domination and defeat of America. The authors itemize the sheer, unprecedented magnitude of this effort. But the opening chapters dealt with human rights abuses, and my first thought as I started reading was that I wanted to get right to the military and industrial examples.

But the authors were right to lead with 50 pages itemizing in grizzly detail Chinese human rights abuses — for the profound reason that after reading those first 50 pages, the reader will be impassioned to resist Chinese domination not only on behalf of American interests, but also for the sake of humanity. Continue reading

On Upton: Left Not Right; Right is Wrong



Energy and Commerce Committee chairman and Super Committee member Fred Upton of Michigan must be doing something right. He’s being criticized by both right and left wings of America’s political ideology.

The Left Wing, particularly environmental organizations, believes Chairman Upton poses a threat to the radicalized environmental agenda that emerged following the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Upton has aimed the Committee’s big guns on the regulatory excesses of the Environmental Protection Agency, which is attempting to implement the new agenda without bothering to run things past the Congress.

Continue reading

A Good Deal for Grover

Reprinted from the

I like Grover Norquist. He is a smart guy who has built an impressive organization, Americans for Tax Reform, that has served the conservative cause well over the last 25 years or so.

Grover has gone far in Washington by being unyielding in his opposition to increased tax revenue. His premise is simple: Washington is too big and spends too much. It doesn’t need any more money, and if it wants to balance the budget, it should cut spending.

His argument works for most Americans. Poll after poll shows that the American people want Washington spending cut, don’t want their taxes to go up and don’t like messy compromises that increase spending and raise taxes.

So why in the world would a supercommittee deal that includes increased revenues be good for Grover Norquist? And how can so many Republicans who have signed the Norquist pledge betray their own principles and vote for such a package and hope to survive a GOP primary?

Here are five reasons: Continue reading


Reprinted from Loose Change at

A young man I know visited a college campus with some friends this past weekend. For very good reason, he’s not inclined to whoop it up much. While on campus he was confronted by a college wrestler who used a homosexual slur to try to start a fight. Sensing considerable danger, the young man wisely chose to leave. The wrestler followed him to his car and proceeded to cold cock him in the face five or six times, knocking him senseless as he sat buckled up in his car seat. His friends drove to an emergency room where it was determined he had a severe concussion.

The wrestler will hopefully be prosecuted. We know who he is. His wrestling coach has a responsibility, once he’s found guilty, to kick the bully off the team. Beating campus visitors senseless can’t possibly be the type of behavior the school administration or the wrestling team at a Division 1 school espouses.

At least that’s what the school spokesperson would insist if asked. But frankly, the goings on at Penn State make me wonder if even the most respected universities give a damn, until of course they’re caught holding the bag. Continue reading

Newt Up, Newt Down, Never Count Newt Out

Reprinted from

I have mentioned to you before that when it comes to making political predictions I am exactly 50-50. I am wrong exactly as often as I am correct, thus you can’t make any money betting on what I say, nor betting against me.

As a case in point let me direct your attention to MULLINGS from May 20, 2011, in which I wrote: In the week or so since Newt formally announced that he was a candidate for President, his campaign has gone from sputtering to on the rocks. I, like just about everyone else inside the Beltway, declared his candidacy over and his quest for the Presidency dead.

Yeah. Well…

In a poll released late last week Mitt Romney was leading Republican candidates with 23%; but Newt Gingrich was right on his heels at 19% (just outside the margin of error which was 3.5% among registered voters in the poll). Herman Cain may be succumbing to both political gravity and the grave nature of the charges against him and was at 17 percent in this poll. Continue reading

Ricky, Ricky, Ricky

Reprinted from

You’ve seen it a thousand times since Wednesday night. Gov. Rick Perry, primed with a talking point about the three Federal Departments he would shut down as President named the Departments of Commerce and Education and then couldn’t remember the name of the third Department.

One of the other contestants suggested the EPA, but that wasn’t it. John Harwood pressed the issue: “You can’t name the third one? Perry repeated the Department of Education, fumbled around for the Department of Commerce, and finally surrendered… “and let’s see. I can’t. The third one, I can’t. Sorry. Oops.”

So, Perry can’t debate. So what?

Here’s his problem: Voters have precious few data points on which to decide for whom they will vote for President. News reports (which they largely don’t trust). Advertisements. Mail. Phone calls. And, for a very, very few in the totality of the popular vote, having seen and/or met the candidate somewhere on the campaign trail. Continue reading

Cain, Paterno Will Not Survive Scandals

Reprinted from

One of my Tweets (@richgalen) as I watched the Herman Cain presser the other day: “I am now officially as over watching pressers re: #thehermancain as I am watching GOP primary debates”

I said on Channel 9 in Washington, DC Monday night about Cain: [This is] the fourth one. I mean, the first one you say: “It never happened.” The second one you say: “Well, something happened but it was a misunderstanding.” The third one you go: “Well, it happened but not the way you think.” Now you’ve got the fourth one, all you can say is: “I’m, going to rehab.”

Mullfave Alex Castellanos was on CNN yesterday saying that Republicans needed to hold Herman Cain to the same standard they demanded of Bill Clinton. When I e-mailed him to say I thought that was a pretty good point he wrote back:

This is like Mel Brooks in The Producers. Herman never thought he’d get this far. The damned show was supposed to be fun, then fold!

Herman Cain will not survive this.

Meanwhile up the road in University Park, Pennsylvania a story has been unfolding which makes all the other violations by every major university in every sport look like they were caught stepping on the line in hopscotch. Continue reading

Media Commits ‘Comment Creep’


“This was Romney’s moment to make the case, that he is the substantive one, the electable one…But he didn’t. Instead he queued up his talking points…”

Who would you think made a comment like that? A cable news show talking head or a political consultant from the camp of the opposition? A newspaper columnist or a blogger? Not this time.

The opinion, not factual reporting or even analysis– was that of Philip Rucker, reporter for the Washington Post and it appeared in a Page 1 story under the opinion-rich headline: “Up close and way out of his comfort zone; On campaign trail Romney boggles chance to make connection with voters.”

The headline and the story violated what I, and I assume other consumers of American journalism, consider  one of the sacred standards of reporting: objectivity.

Rucker’s opinions weren’t confined to the first couple of paragraphs. Most of the piece was opinion or at best subjective analysis. But it wasn’t labeled commentary or analysis or opinion. It was presented as a straight-up news story, on the front page, no less. Continue reading