Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Irish British Handshake

Reprinted from

It was the handshake heard around the world.

Martin McGuinness, the former commander of the IRA, and Queen Elizabeth II, the current Monarch of Great Britain – which at the moment includes Northern Ireland, shook hands in Belfast.

The IRA killed the Queen’s Cousin, Lord Mountbatten, it has duly noted, making this handshake theoretically difficult for Elizabeth. Of course, the Queen’s people have killed hundreds, if not thousands, of Marty’s colleagues, and hunted him down for a couple of decades.

McGuiness is now the Deputy First Minister of the Northern Irish local government.  He has responsibility to help run things, build roads, provide social services, tax and spend, and all of the other chores that come from running a government. Continue reading

Momentous Supreme Court Decision

Reprinted from

Well, no one saw that coming, did they?

Virtually every professional pundit said they ‘knew’ that the individual mandate would be overturned by the Supreme Court by a 5-4 majority today.

They got the 5-4 majority correct. They just didn’t envision Chief Justice Roberts siding with the 4 Justices appointed by Democratic presidents Clinton and Obama. On anything. Ever.

So what the heck happened and what does this all mean now for your health care; your taxes and our national budget deficits and economy? Continue reading

Supreme Court Decision Threaded Needle

Reprinted from

In many ways, it was a perfect decision.

John Roberts probably didn’t want to face the heat for destroying President Obama’s top legislative achievement. And the country probably couldn’t survive a Constitutional crisis that pitted the President vs. the Supreme Court.

But Roberts neatly threaded the needle by declaring the use of the Commerce Clause as an excuse to dictate to people to buy insurance unconstitutional, while acknowledging that Congress does have the power to tax, and that the mandate amounted to a tax.

This serves Republicans well, because if there is one thing that Republicans are good at, it is running against tax and spend Democrats. Continue reading

News Media’s Minimalist News


For millions of us the evening news is a ritual. There’s a lot of star power from which to choose. There’s muscle man Scott Pelley on CBS, ABC’s drama queen Diane Sawyer, and breathless Brian Williams on NBC. They all dish up a tossed salad of news, usually with the tastiest and most attractive morsels atop the more nutritious ingredients buried beneath.

Take for example the NBC Nightly News on May 31st.  According to the Peacock network the most important story that day was the hung jury in the John Edwards case. The Edwards trial wasn’t just the lead story. It was also the second story and the third story, taking up about seven minutes of the 28-minute news cast, and I use the term ‘news’ loosely.

We got long clips of Edwards talking about God. Then a sleepy Matt Lauer, sitting in for Brian, went to Lisa Myers who droned on about Edwards and his family. On came legal correspondent Savannah Guthrie with even more analysis. It was mostly favorable to Edwards, who has long enjoyed a place on the altar of media adoration. Continue reading

Watergate Lessons Not Learned (Part II)


The recent stream of classified information leaks compromise our national security on a number of fronts, and they only add to the crisis in public trust in government, the likes of which we haven’t seen since Watergate.

While the main body of leaks is investigated by Congress and the Justice Department there are several subplots, or as lawyers and editors like to call them, sidebars to this sad saga that should not go unattended.

The first is the misuse of anonymous sources. It has reached epidemic proportions among traditional and new media. Those journalists, or pseudo journalists, who use them have absolutely no public oversight. The users and abusers answer to no one, except in some cases, a faceless, nameless editor who may be as much a participant in the misuse as the reporters. We don’t get to judge. Continue reading

The Bipartisanship Myth

Reprinted from

Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann recently released It’s Even Worse Than It Looks, a book dedicated to the principle that bipartisanship is a worthy goal and that its breakdown is all the Republicans’ fault.

It’s hogwash on two fronts.

First, the nature of our politics is adversarial. We have a two-political-party system, where compromise between the parties is supposed to be a rare accomplishment. Otherwise, why have two parties?

In such an adversarial system, it is complete nonsense to blame one party for being too partisan. The Democrats are looking out for their own constituents just as ardently as the Republicans are looking out for theirs.

In fact, Democratic leaders are far more beholden to their extremes than are Republican leaders. Think about it. Barack Obama is far more liberal than Mitt Romney is conservative. John Boehner, while not exactly a centrist, is not by any means a conservative ideologue, while Nancy Pelosi was easily the most liberal Speaker in the history of the House. Continue reading

Contempt is Holder’s Reputation

Reprinted from

In 1821, the Supreme Court found in Anderson v. Dunn, that Congress’ power to hold someone in contempt was essential to ensure that Congress was “… not exposed to every indignity and interruption that rudeness, caprice, or even conspiracy, may mediate against it.”

Outside the power of purse, this is one of the most potent weapons the Congress has to assert its power over the Executive Branch.

Bribery of a Senator or a Representative used to be viewed as holding Congress in contempt. I could say something funny here, but I am going to let you draw your own conclusions.

The beauty and the weakness of our constitutional system is that the legislative and executive branches don’t always get along. Sometimes, the Congress wants to find out exactly what the President’s people have been up to, and sometimes the President doesn’t feel like sharing. Continue reading

Obama at Summit Embarrassed Us

Reprinted from

The G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico is, thankfully, over.

During the proceedings we watched as President Barack Obama maneuvered himself into a position of being – if not totally inconsequential – certain a minor member of the chorus.

From Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush American Presidents have held the title “the most powerful man in the world.” Sometimes it was altered to “the most powerful man in the western world” but, you know what I mean.

Barack Obama has not just allowed that label to lapse. He appears to have been happy to toss it aside.

This isn’t about American exceptionalism. It’s about Obama ordinariness.

Obama is not First Among Equals at international meetings. At best he’s fourth among equals between Russia, China, and Germany. If you include Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, Obama is no better than fifth. Continue reading

Thinking in Shades of Gray

Reprinted from Loose Change (

So how does it feel living right smack dab in the middle of the Anthropocene Age, the newly named era of history where “man,” by virtue of his sheer numbers, seems to have become the dominant influence on our physical world?

And how’s that working for you, my Man?

One thing is for sure: Regardless of the geologic ages we’ve weathered, humanity still seems unable to grasp the “greys,” the sometimes incongruous and always complex issues that require not only deep dives but a whole lot of transparency, particularly when it comes to addressing problems that literally affect the survival of our species. Continue reading

Watergate Lessons Not Learned (Part I)


The leaks of classified information from the Obama Administration in recent weeks raise the specter of a Watergate scandal and lessons not learned.

There have been at least five different incidents in which it appears people in the White House or the Obama Administration, or people with their sanction, have leaked highly classified information to the media, presumably to make Obama look tough on terrorism.

Each incident has its own set of dubious circumstances. Each has its own disturbing story of compromised national security, the endangerment of professionals in clandestine services, the abuse and betrayal of our friends and allies, and the abuse of the White House and other government offices for partisan advantage.

The five latest incidents were: Continue reading

Bank Regulations Killing Banks

Reprinted from

A Wall Street Journal story by Robin Sidel looks at a troubling trend in the banking industry. No, not the JPMorgans of the industry losing $2 billion on bad bets, but on small community banks who don’t have the word “billion” anywhere on their balance sheets.

According to her piece: “A growing number of tiny community banks are deciding it’s time to put out the ‘for sale’ sign … many executives of these small lenders are frustrated by costly, new regulations.”

Let’s head into the Way Back Machine: In October, 1975 New York City was on the verge of bankruptcy. Sort of like California in the summer of 2012.

New York’s Democratic Mayor and Governor (Abe Beame and Hugh Carey) came to Washington, DC begging for Federal help. President Gerald Ford said he would veto any bill which would have the effect of taxpayers in, say, Michigan, bailing out New Yorkers whose profligate ways had led them in that fiscal blind alley.

The New York Daily News published a famous front page with a photo of Ford and the blaring headline: Ford to City: Drop Dead. Continue reading

President Obama’s Fine Mess

Reprinted from

My friend Meg’s mother likes to say, “Everything is fine until it’s not fine.” That pretty much sums up Barack Obama’s quest for reelection.

The President stepped in it last week when he reiterated his belief that the private sector is “doing fine.” The Romney campaign jumped on the statement and got plenty of traction framing the President as out-of-touch on what is really happening with our economy.

When unemployment is north of eight percent, obviously things are not fine with the private sector. It is easy to see why the White House believes everything is fine with the private sector, especially as compared to the public sector. Jobs have been created in the market place but have been lost in government, especially at the state and local level. The Obama team sees those statistics and assumes that the real problem with the unemployment numbers comes with severe cuts in government spending. Continue reading

Obama Ship is Sinking

Reprinted from

The holes in the Obama Administration continue to show the greatest inherent problem to the President’s re-election: These people are incompetent.

At almost every level, in almost every issue the Obama Administration is barely keeping afloat. The recent leaks that Obama himself approves using drones to kill specific targets was first brought light in a New York Times piece: “Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture, and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding “kill list,” poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre “baseball cards” of an unconventional war.”

Imagine the apoplexy among the studio hosts on MSNBC if George W. Bush had been found riffling “baseball cards” deciding who should live, who should die and in which order.

They would be “Leaning Forward” so far they’d be staring at their own backsides – as unpleasant an image as that might be. Continue reading

The Gaffe That Keeps On Giving

Reprinted from

Two weeks ago the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics dropped a bomb on the Presidential campaign of Barack Obama when it released data showing only 66,000 jobs had been created in May – far below estimates – and that the top-line unemployment rate rose from 8.1 to 8.2 percent.

This past Friday at a press conference, in response to a question about the GOP’s contention that it is his Administration’s policies that are strangling job growth, President Obama said, “the private sector is doing fine.”

He went on to explain that the rise in unemployment is largely due to budget difficulties at the state and local government level because mayors and governors are not getting the “kind of support they need from the federal government.” The federal government needs to send money to states and cities so those governments can hire more people. People who may do important work, but create nothing.

A few short hours after Obama had essentially proclaimed the return of prosperity for private industry, was running a piece by Chris Burritt headlined, “CEOs Losing Optimism as Job Slowdown Imperils U.S. Growth.” Continue reading

Wisconsin Recall Vote Worth It?


The Wisconsin recall election last week made history. It was apparently the first time the recall of a sitting governor was unsuccessful.

It was a resounding victory for Governor Scott Walker, the Lieutenant Governor and the Wisconsin senators who were retained in office (one was not). And while it may not have been an affirmation of their governing style, it was a vote of confidence in what they were doing and why.

But the Wisconsin spectacle may ultimately be more notable for what it didn’t do.

It didn’t prejudge, predict or pre-determine the nation’s presidential election. The media would have liked us to think that as Wisconsin voted, so votes the nation, but the reality is the issues on which Wisconsin voters passed judgment, are not those that will determine the outcome of the national elections. Wisconsin is not the nation, Romney is not Walker, Obama is not Barrett, and June is not November. Continue reading

Star Trek: Romney and Obama Like Mr. Spock

Reprinted from

Mark Liebovich revealed yesterday in the New York Times that both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are huge fans of the television show Star Trek.

He didn’t mention if they were also fans of Star Trek, the Next Generation.  I bet you dollars to donuts that Mr. Obama is a big fan of Star Trek Voyager. If you recall, Geri Ryan starred in Star Trek Voyager, and she was married to Jack Ryan.

Jack Ryan, you might recall, was the leading contender and favorite in the Republican primary until it was revealed that his ex-wife divorced him because he wanted to have sex with her in a Parisian sex club.

That shocked and surprised Illinois Republican primary voters, who didn’t realize that you could have sex with your wife in a Parisian sex club. Ryan dropped out of the race, and Mr. Obama ended up facing Alan Keyes, who turned out to be the closest thing to a real life Star Trek character, in the general election. Continue reading

Wisconsin Win

Reprinted from

It is tempting, but not entirely accurate, to say “Obama Loses!” after Democrats suffered another embarrassing defeat last night when the effort to recall Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker failed by the surprisingly wide margin of 55 percent to 44 percent for the Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. An independent got about one percent of the vote.

As of this writing, with 76 percent of Wisconsin’s precincts reporting, it’s over. Walker wins. Much of the Political Punditry Class has been touting this as a preview of the 2012 Presidential election, but now that the Republican won, don’t expect to hear too much of that kind of talk.

In fact, the ink was barely dry on the headlines when the word went forth that it was actually a good night for Obama because the exit polling showed Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney 51-45. This is being spun by the Obama team as a victory even though Obama won Wisconsin by a 56-42 margin over John McCain in 2008.

An exit poll showing the incumbent President just barely over 50 percent does not a victory make, seems to me. Continue reading

Economy Ticking Time Bomb

Reprinted from

From Bayeux, France, I am in Normandy for the annual D-Day commemoration on Wednesday. As part of this year’s festivities the World War II Foundation, headed by Tim Cook is presenting a statue of Major Dick Winters who was the central character in “Band of Brothers.”

More about that on Wednesday.

As I type this it is 5 AM Monday morning in France. That means it is 11PM Sunday night on the East Coast of the United States.

That is only useful because I am looking at the Asian markets as they open for business after Friday’s dreadful jobs numbers. As of this moment both the Japanese and Hong Kong market indices are down two percent. The European markets are set to open lower in that same range which means if the Dow follows suit it will lose nearly 250 more points today and end well below 12,000.

Other than my 401(k) being worth about 268.67(k) or minus one-third of its value, I am not much of a player in the stock market. However, like you and everyone else I have a monetary interest in the direction of the economy.

The direction appears to be decidedly down. Continue reading

Future of Artur Davis

Reprinted from

“While I’ve gone to great lengths to keep this website a forum for ideas, and not a personal forum, I should say something about the various stories regarding my political future in Virginia, the state that has been my primary home since late December 2010.The short of it is this: I don’t know and am nowhere near deciding. If I were to run, it would be as a Republican. And I am in the process of changing my voter registration from Alabama to Virginia, a development which likely does represent a closing of one chapter and perhaps the opening of another….If you have read this blog, and taken the time to look for a theme in the thousands of words (or free opposition research) contained in it, you see the imperfect musings of a voter who describes growth as a deeper problem than exaggerated inequality; who wants to radically reform the way we educate our children; who despises identity politics and the practice of speaking for groups and not one national interest; who knows that our current course on entitlements will eventually break our solvency and cause us to break promises to our most vulnerable—that is, if we don’t start the hard work of fixing it….On the specifics, I have regularly criticized an agenda that would punish businesses and job creators with more taxes just as they are trying to thrive again. I have taken issue with an administration that has lapsed into a bloc by bloc appeal to group grievances when the country is already too fractured: frankly, the symbolism of Barack Obama winning has not given us the substance of a united country.”

This is an excerpt from the blog of Artur Davis, a former Member of Congress from Alabama. When he served in the House, Davis was unique in that he was a proud member of the Black Caucus and the Blue Dogs. He was also the only Democrat to vote against Obamacare. Continue reading