Monthly Archives: August 2013

Gullible We

Reprinted from Loose Change (

Over lunch a few months ago, digital marketing whiz-bang Tim Brunelle recommended that I start reading a column by Bob Lefsetz. I did; I loved. Sir Bob reminds me of another columnist I followed religiously as a young man, Rolling Stone writer and co-founder Ralph J. Gleason. He bought the farm in 1975.

Like Rick Reilly does in sports, Gleason (then) and Lefsetz (now) find the micro-story in music and transform it into a macro, urban language big-think. A recent column about her royal twerkiness Miley Cyrus left Sir Bob rightly wondering, “What’s the big deal, people!?” Continue reading

King and Obama

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Rereading Martin Luther King’s speech from 50 years ago, it is a remarkable piece of rhetorical wonder. The New York Times ran a front-page story on it yesterday.

King’s speech struck a chord because it went narrow and deep. It spoke specifically of a vexing problem: the persistent, violent, and inhumane treatment of black people in America.

There was no sugar-coating in Dr. King’s speech. He didn’t name names, but he did name a particular region of the country: The South.

And what he said was as direct as it was forceful: We have had enough of this crap.

Of course, King made the point with the magic of poetry enshrouded in the mysticism of spiritualism. He called forth for help from the almighty, mostly through allusion, to a specific goal: Let my people go. Continue reading

Paper Tiger

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I am writing this shortly after 8 PM on Monday. By the time you read this, we might have dropped a hell fire missile on Bashir al-Assad’s head.

Not really, but there are some interesting ironies about the Syrian situation.

Secretary of State John Kerry (who famously – or infamously) pretended to throw his Vietnam-era medals over the White House fence in 1971. When I write “pretended” it is because, according to ABC News, Kerry said during a news program on the Washington, DC NBC affiliate on November 6, 1971: “I gave back, I can’t remember, six, seven, eight, nine medals.”

Later, during the Presidential campaign, he claimed “”I threw my ribbons. I didn’t have my medals. It is very simple.”

Working definition of a difference without a distinction. Continue reading

Chemical Weapons & the Human Experience


The United States cannot be the policeman of the world.

We cannot hope to solve what President Barack Obama calls “sectarian complex problems.” Iraq and Afghanistan have proven that.

The United States will never fully understand or be able to orient itself to thousands of years of multi-faceted conflict in a region of the world where conflict is in the DNA.

We will never win an international war against Islamist extremism. Continue reading

Still Have Far To Go

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So, it turns out that those three black guys who killed the Australian baseball player were actually only two black guys and one white guy.

Kind of reminds me when it turned out that George Zimmerman was more Hispanic than white and that Trayvon Martin turned out to be less a choir boy and more a pot-smoking thug.

The Drudge Report loves to highlight every story where a black person kills a white person or when a pack of black kids go on a rampage, both of which seem to happen with some regularity. Continue reading

Defining What the Something Is

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Passing a debt limit extension is hard.

The Democrats like to talk about how the Republicans should pass a clean debt extension. And then they like to run campaign ads against Republicans who vote for a clean debt extension.

Denny Rehberg, the Republican Congressman who ran for the Senate seat in Montana, found that out the hard way. So did George Allen, who ran against Tim Kaine.

Democrats ran ads hitting both Allen and Rehberg for voting to extend the debt limit, just as their President was beating up Republicans for not voting to extend the debt limit.

Hypocrisy runs so deep with the Democrats in Washington that they aren’t even self-conscious about it. Continue reading

It’s August. Jack.

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August. The silly season. When events that would never even be covered during the other 11 months of the year (the other 3 months if you’re counting by Congressional work days) get a spinning police light on Drudge, are featured on Google News, and trend on Twitter.

Here are a couple.

Sen. Ted Cruz (Tea Party-Tx) apparently holds dual citizenship – U.S. and Canadian.

This came to light when the Dallas Morning News dug up the info. Cruz was born in Calgary but his mother was a U.S. citizen at the time so that counts as having been “natural born” if you want to be President. Continue reading

Deficit Reduction, President Gets His Way

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Congress and the President are on holiday, resting up for the next round of budget wars that will resume after Labor Day. The issues they will face when they return are familiar: the federal government is about to lose authority to do what it does best (or, at least, most naturally) – borrow and spend.

Absent a fresh appropriation of funds, government agencies will close October 1; and unless Congress agrees to raise the government’s credit card limit, Treasury will default on its debt at a yet-to-be-determined date in October or November.

The positions taken by the two parties also are familiar. The President wants a straight increase in the debt ceiling, while Republicans insist on pairing new borrowing with spending reductions. The President says that he will not negotiate with Republicans on this point. On appropriations, House Republicans favor steep cuts in domestic spending Continue reading

Leading From Behind

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President Barack Obama has cancelled joint military exercises with Egypt in the wake of a government crackdown on demonstrators demanding the return of deposed president Mohammad Morsi.

That crackdown (through yesterday afternoon) had led to the deaths of 525 people and the injury to more than 3,700 others. Friday in the Muslim world is the equivalent of Sunday in the West (or Saturday in Israel) and it is likely those numbers will rise dramatically. Continue reading


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A hundred years ago, when I was the news director at WMOA Radio, 1490 on your AM dial in Marietta, Ohio 45750; I read that there was an editor – probably in New York – who would mark up copy with the letters M.E.G.O.

The acronym meant: My Eyes Glaze Over – the piece was so boring as to make him enter alpha wave mode such as I go into when I’m behind a high school class trying to get through the TSA security area.

Living in Our Nation’s Capital we have many opportunities to be bored by long explanations by powerful people telling us why something can’t get done – that it’s too complicated for mere mortals such as myself to understand. Continue reading

Random Thoughts


I would guess that most current and former Hill employees get really rankled every August when well-tanned and rested television anchors like Bill Hemmer of Fox News (it is really hard to take that guy seriously), get indignant over Congress leaving Washington for August recess. Hemmer is not alone, of course. August recess wisecracking is a popular sport.

Fox, however, has lowered the bar even more. It just spent a lot of money conducting survey research, which Hemmer reported on August 8. Breaking news, breaking news, stop the presses: “A new Fox news national poll has found that 82 percent of voters think Congress hasn’t worked hard enough to go on vacation for five weeks.”

Hemmer looks like he’s 12, but I wonder why he acts like it? Continue reading

Reid’s Plan to Raise Middle Class Taxes

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The message to the Senate Finance Chairman was pretty clear: No tax reform unless you raise taxes on middle class Americans.

That is the only conclusion you could reach from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s demand that Max Baucus back off on his tax simplification plans unless it raises close to a trillion dollars in new revenue.

Everybody recognizes the need for fundamental tax reform. The system is inefficient, unfair, and so complex that most people have to hire outside help to figure it all out.

Dave Camp, the Ways and Means Chairman, and Mr. Baucus have gone on an unprecedented road show building the case for a simpler, flatter, and more fair tax regime. They have visited small businesses, big businesses, manufacturers, exporters, farmers, and everybody in between, bringing their charts, facts, and figures to the people. Continue reading

Republican Party of Racism? Think, Again


The old ‘massahs’ of the antebellum South were Democrats. So were their whip-toting overseers. So were the post-bellum white supremacists, the KKK, the enforcers of Jim Crow laws, separate but unequal schools and racism in all its hideous manifestations: lunch counters, bus seats, rest rooms and, well, everything.

The Chicago Cubs’ Cap Anson, the greatest baseball player of the 19th century and a hateful bigot, personally saw to it that the National League was a whites-only operation by refusing to play against any team that had a black player, as some did in the 1880’s;  But for his racial intransigence, Jackie Robinson’s heroism might have been unnecessary.

When Anson hung up his cleats, he ran and won, as a Democrat, the office of City Clerk of Chicago. (The greatest Cub of the 20th Century, by the way, was Ernie Banks, a black man, and like Robinson a Republican. Banks was defeated in a race for Chicago City Council.)

Continue reading

Who’s on the Run?

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A couple of weeks before the Presidential election in November 2012, President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney had their foreign policy debate which was moderated by CBS’ Bob Schieffer.

This was about a month after the deadly September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. State Department post in Benghazi, Libya and about 15 months after the death of Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011.

The President was scrambling to show that he was maintaining the forward momentum against Al Qaeda gained when Osama bin Laden was killed. Continue reading

August Is Here!

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What issue will dominate August of 2013?

1. Will it be war?

In 1914, as Barbara Tuchman wrote in the Guns of August, war dominated the discussion, more specifically, the First World War. The Great War, as it was called until the Second World War, forever ushered in modernity, with all of its terrifying warts.

We were allies of the British in those wars, but in the War of 1812, they burned the Capitol building in August.

When I first started on Capitol Hill, war invaded August when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. The Viet Nam War officially started in August when the Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. Continue reading