Monthly Archives: January 2013

Space Exploration Needs Obama Relaunch

Reprinted from the Wall Street Journal

During his first term, President Obama set out to transform NASA’s relationship with the private sector, announcing a plan in February 2010 to make technology, innovation and commercial space travel and exploration the centerpiece of his administration’s space strategy. Despite great resistance from special interests, the president proposed to cancel NASA’s programs to build government-designed rockets, leaving that to the private sector.

Unfortunately, Congress wouldn’t go along. Now that Mr. Obama has started a second term, however, he is well positioned to recommit himself to a vision that in the long run will benefit every American and may be remembered as a 30-year arc of Reagan-Bush-Obama space policy. Continue reading

Still Leading From Behind

Reprinted from

In another example of his highly developed strategy of “leading from behind,” President Barack Obama gave a speech in Las Vegas coming out in favor of Immigration Reform just a day after a group of Senators announced the outlines of a bipartisan plan for … Immigration Reform.

Get used to this. In his first four years in office, President Obama pretended he had nothing to do with almost anything going on with the economy or in foreign policy. If it was going badly – whatever “it” might have been – it was all George W’s fault. Or the Republicans in Congress. Or both.

If it was going well – whatever “it” might have been – it was a first person victory “I did it,” or “My administration did it.” Continue reading

The Most Important Amendment

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We all know the term “The Bill of Rights” which are the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution although few of us (including me) could name them.

Hint: None of them start “Thou shalt not …” Rather they tend to start “The Government (or Congress) shalt not …” Keep that in mind.

The First Amendment is a catch-all of rights upon which the Congress may not trample: It protects an individual’s freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press, as well as the right to assemble and to petition the government. The American press corps is very, very focused on the First Amendment and will go to great lengths to make sure that right is not diminished. Continue reading

Immigration From Tribulation to Triumph?


“Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Indian.”

There is as much truth as humor in those words from my friend and former colleague Bob Orben, a brilliant political speechwriter and comedy script craftsman (sometimes they are one and the same, but I digress).

The point is that Americans have been both immigrants and native population. Many of us are the progeny of immigrants. But despite our heritage, we still struggle with immigration, both legal and illegal, how we feel about it and what we should do or not do to integrate new arrivals into a burgeoning and diversifying American society.

Continue reading


Reprinted from

John Boehner might be right. The President may very well want to annihilate the Republican Party. But if that is true it is going to take far longer than Mr. Obama thinks.

Obama’s speech on Monday and his efforts to force gun control on an unwilling Senate served two invaluable purposes for the GOP. First, it unified them to an extent that they haven’t been unified in a long while. Second, it made it awfully hard for Harry Reid to keep control of the Senate. Continue reading

Learn From Obama

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The President’s second inaugural brilliantly pushed forward his political agenda in ways that Republicans need to understand and learn from.

Republicans will never be able to outbid the President when it comes to coalition politics. But they need to appreciate how coalition politics, as practiced by the Democrats in the Obama era, is played and they need to come up with a game plan to counter it.

The President’s message was aspirational for the country, inspirational for his coalition partners and infuriating for his opposition. He was able to make the cause of his diverse coalition – gays, immigrants, anti-gun people, African-Americans, Hispanics, poor people – seemingly the most important cause of the nation.  And he dared the Republicans to oppose it. Continue reading

Hard a-Port

Reprinted from

One hundred years, and 100 pounds ago I was the coxswain on the freshman crew at Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio 45750.

During that year I learned that “starboard” means right facing forward, and “port” means left facing forward. President Barack Obama’s inaugural address on Monday was a clear signal that he intends to steer the ship of state hard a-port.

During the speech I Tweeted that it was “⅓ Gettysburg, ⅓ FDR, and ⅓ State of the Union.”

The speech didn’t have the traditional reach across the aisle to the other political party suggesting Republicans and Democrats are smart enough, dedicated enough, and patriotic enough to find common ground and make America a better place. Continue reading

Ideology of an Inauguration Address


Newly inaugurated President Barack H. Obama left the balcony of the west front of the Capitol and paused before going inside. He turned around and looked back down the mall at the throng that had just witnessed him taking the oath of office for his second term. It was a poignant moment. There was this triumphant, historic figure prolonging the experience, taking just one last look at a scene he will never see again, a scene that framed one of the greatest achievements of his lifetime. Continue reading

Inauguration Day

Reprinted from

For foreigners, the only thing nuttier than watching the way we elect our Presidents is watching the way we inaugurate them.

For a nation that wears its egalitarianism not just as a badge of honor, but (as we saw this past November) almost as a requirement for office, the pomp and circumstance involved in a modern U.S. Presidential inauguration would have moved Louis XIV to modesty.

Both parties face the same issue: Looking for the balance between demonstrating a public outpouring of interest, if not affection, for the person preparing to take the oath of office without giving your political opponents any more ammunition than necessary. Continue reading

More on the Majority of the Majority

Reprinted from

I have been thinking a bit more about Denny’s Hastert’s famous dictum on the majority of the majority.

It is still a very good guideline for how to keep the job of Speaker of the House. But it requires some more refinement.

For most of his tenure, Hastert ruled as Speaker when George W. Bush was President. When you have a President of your own party, you damn well better deploy the majority of the majority philosophy. There were plenty of things that Bush wanted to do that weren’t exactly popular with the Republican base. He got some of those things done, and other things were put on the shelf. Continue reading

The Business of Business

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“The chief business of the American people is business.”

Calvin Coolidge said that to a group of newspaper editors in 1925, smack dab in the middle of the Roaring 20’s, a decade of brisk economic growth. It was also in the middle of a huge stock market bubble (a bubble which would collapse four years later).

Coolidge summarized perfectly both the Republican and the business sector’s approach to government. Get the government out of the way and let business take care of the people through greater prosperity. Continue reading

When is ‘Compromising’ not ‘Compromising?

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We have a serious problem in America today.

Many Americans on both ends of the political spectrum think ‘compromise’ is a 4-letter word. It is clearly not. There were 10 letters in it last time we counted.

Beyond that mere formality, the whole concept of ‘compromising’ is met with disdain and scorn by activists at both extreme ends of the political spectrum.

The rest of the nation? They think our elected leaders in Washington are flat-out ‘crazy’ for not cutting deals and fixing what ails us as a nation. 32% of them in North Carolina alone are now officially registering as ‘Not Democratic’ and ‘Not Republican’ as they sign up as Unaffiliated/Independent voters and that number is rising by 8% per year. What does that tell ya? Continue reading

Slow Down on Guns

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The Obama Administration is making a huge mistake if it wants to pass significant gun legislation in this Congress.

I understand the impulse. They want to strike while the iron is hot. They believe that they have to pass something before people start forgetting about Sandy Hook.

The Vice President unveiled his proposals from his task force yesterday prematurely. Continue reading

Oh, Great

Reprinted from Loose Change (

The release of the much-anticipated movie, Texas Chainsaw 3D, hit theaters last week. I could hardly contain my excitement, imagining myself lounging in one of those cushy theater seats with a bin of buttered popcorn watching a masked serial killer slice and dice (in 3-D yet!) people’s bodies up like he’s carving up a sculpture at the St. Paul Winter Carnival. And, be still my heart, to hear the bones crack and the victims scream in Dolby THX Sensaround! Yes! Apparently a lot of folks saw it the same way, because Texas Chainsaw 3D was last week’s number one box office hit.

Do you suppose those millions of people forgot that just three weeks ago the Sandy Hook elementary school had its own version of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Continue reading

Time to Purge

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If the vote for Speaker on opening day confirmed anything, it confirmed that simple fact. By having a dozen of his Republican colleagues either vote against him or not vote at all, John Boehner just barely squeaked by in his bid for a second term for Speaker.

The vote against Boehner wasn’t a vote against the Speaker’s actual performance. By all accounts, Boehner has done yeoman’s work leading the House under what can only be called difficult circumstances.

The vote against Boehner was really a vote against the Republican Party. It was a protest against Republican policies and against the Republican establishment. Continue reading

The Payroll Taxes

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The big hoo-hah over taxes we had to suffer through last month had to do with income tax rates and some specialty items that largely attached to corporations.

As you may know if you’ve ever made the mistake of saying “about half of those who work pay no taxes at all” in front of a Liberal, everyone who shops pays sales taxes, everyone who drives pays gasoline taxes, and everyone who works pays … payroll taxes. Continue reading

A Trillion-Dollar Coin? Seriously?

Reprinted from

Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama and others on the national scene and in Washington are giving serious consideration to issuing a $1 trillion coin in the event that the debt ceiling becomes a major point of contention in the next several weeks with House Republicans.

Which it will. You can count on that.

Seriously. A group of 4 US Senators in the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body sent a letter to President Obama today basically saying they have ‘got your back, Mr. President!’ to do ‘anything possible’ to avoid any discussion on spending cuts in advance of the next debt ceiling debacle. Continue reading

Boys Acting Badly

Reprinted from

In one of those stories that, in the end, has all the policy implications of a White Sale at Macy’s, it seems that conservative radio talk show host Alex Jones appeared on the television talk show of British transplant Piers Morgan on Monday night.

The topic was Jones’ leading the petition to have Morgan deported because of Morgan’s heavy hand on the topic of gun control. Continue reading

Fiscal Cliff Tragedy/Comedy Part II


“Do you ever get the feeling that the whole world is a tuxedo and you are a pair of brown shoes?”

That was comedian George Gobel’s quip after he was upstaged during  a 1969 Johnny Carson Show by the unscheduled appearances of Dean Martin and Bob Hope.

Forty years later the whole country is a tuxedo and Washington is a pair of brown shoes–out of step, out of fashion, out of vogue and out of touch with the realities of governing the country. Continue reading

Biden His Time

Reprinted from

I used to think that Hillary Clinton was the front-running to take the Democratic nomination once Barack Obama stepped aside.

Now, I think it is Joe Biden.

Clinton’s health problems are only part of her problem. She will be dogged by Benghazi the rest of her career. And I think people are actually pretty tired of the Clintons and their act. Continue reading