Author Archives: mjohnson

The High Price of Being First

DECEMBER 11, 2017 | Reprinted from

There is no other way to put this: The press frenzy to get Donald Trump is causing mistakes. Big mistakes.

Moreover, it is providing ammunition to the Trump family and friends that the press, as Don, Jr. Tweeted over the weekend, “couldn’t care less about the truth.”

As an example, on Friday, CNN spent the day breathlessly reporting that on September 4, 2016, “Candidate Donald Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., and others in the Trump Organization received an email…offering a decryption key and website address for hacked WikiLeaks documents, according to an email provided to congressional investigators.” Continue reading

Egregious Political Ad Harbinger for 2018


There’s a critical piece of business regarding the election of Democrat Ralph Northam as Governor of Virginia Nov.  7, that needs to be addressed. It has to do with a campaign ad.

The ad’s message and what it says about the state of American politics is important. Campaign advertising is one aspect of American politics that needs to be fixed, soon.

But before talking about today, it may be helpful to look back a half century to where it all began in the modern era on September 7, 1964.

That evening, NBC’s popular Monday Night at the Movies was on television. During a commercial break what came to be called the “Daisy Girl” advertisement ran for the first time.  Continue reading


OCTOBER 23, 2017 | Reprinted from

Give me a day to get back up to speed with all the wonderful political news I have missed. There will be a regular MULLINGS tomorrow covering what you have been cringing about.

A number of you – a gratifying number of you – sent me emails over this past week wondering if I was ok.

There was no MULLINGS on Thursday, and my Tweets (and corresponding Facebook entries) dropped to near zero.

The reason is, I was elected to the Marietta College (Marietta, Ohio 45750) Board of Trustees. This is a very big deal to me. For those who have followed me for some time know that my checkered commercial career is a paragon of smooth sailing compared to my academic career. Continue reading


AUGUST 31, 2017 | Reprinted from

If you’ve never been in a flood, you have no idea of the devastation it brings with it.

A flood that makes its way into your house is not like the bathtub overflowing. It is like a swamp came into your house bringing with it the mud, the smells, sometimes the critters and it gets into every nook and cranny.

A minor flood only exists in newspapers and on TV. Any flood in your house is a major disruptive event.

Look around the first floor of your house and measure up two inches from the floor. Continue reading

Trump Hysteria and A Little History


“The election of this man as President filled him with ‘smoldering dread.’ He believed that the worst said about this man was all too true. He had not only lied but had been caught in that lie, and the great majority of voters didn’t care.”

President Donald Trump? No. It is an excerpt from a new book describing how Henry Clay felt about the election of President Andrew Jackson, 190 years ago. The book by David and Jeanne Heidler is a vivid look back at the life of one of America’s greatest political figures.

Continue reading

A National Article 5

JUNE 15, 2017 | Reprinted from

One of my many self-invented theories is this: Reaction to a news event diminishes, like sound, as a square of the distance between you and the source.

If there is an earthquake on the West Coast, we on the East Coast will feel empathy, but it will not have the same emotional zetz as it does for those of you whose dishes vibrated off the breakfast table.

If there is a major fire in the East, the same level of emotion will be experienced by TV viewers in the West.

My house is less than two miles from the baseball field and YMCA where people were shot Wednesday morning.

That, to my ears, was a very sharp, loud sound. Continue reading

Trump Had A Right to Fire Comey. The Question Comes: Who’s Next?

MAY 11, 2017 | Reprinted from

Donald Trump had every Constitutional right to fire James Comey if he thought he wasn’t doing a good job.

Comey himself said that in his resignation letter.

Trump had the right to fire him for any reason. He could fire him if he didn’t like the tie he wore to a Committee hearing. He could fire him for putting ketchup on a hot dog. He could fire him if he perceived he wasn’t loyal to him. Or he could fire him for incompetence.

Under the law, Donald Trump had the power to fire James Comey.

The question is not about the legality of the action. This firing has not sparked a Constitutional crisis. Continue reading

The Healthcare Vote

MAY 8, 2017 | Reprinted from

A Tweet of mine from May 4: Here’s what I know that I know: When everyone says THIS is going to happen … THAT happens. Healthcare vote today may prove that again.

You may have heard, seen, or read about the House voting on its version of “repeal and replace” last week. It passed by a vote of 217 – 213. No Ds voted for it. 20 Rs voted against it.

The popular press made a big deal about how the vote was soooooo close. Well, it was. It got one more vote than required for an absolute majority. Because of four vacancies in the House (Georgia 6, Montana At-Large, South Carolina 5 and California 34) Republicans needed 216 votes to assure a majority. Continue reading

Chuck Schumer, Tax Reform: There’s a fine line between clever and stupid.

APR 12, 2017 | Reprinted from

Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, thinks he is being clever by linking action on tax reform/business tax relief to President Trump’s own tax returns.

Here is how the Washington Post reported it: “It’s going to make tax reform much harder” if Trump doesn’t release his returns, Schumer told reporters Tuesday. Anytime the president proposes something on tax reform, “the average American is going to say, ‘Oh, he’s not doing that because it’s good for me, he’s doing it because it’s good for him.’ So for his own good, he ought to make them public. And the big mystery is why he hasn’t.”

Actually, the average American doesn’t really care about Donald Trump’s tax returns.

Throughout the campaign, the Democrats attempted to raise Trump’s tax returns as an issue. They also raised Trump’s connections to Vladimir Putin. They called him a racist, hinted that he was anti-Semitic, claimed he was homophobic, and launched all kinds of other charges. Continue reading

Part III: Fake News, Another Face of Lying


A couple of months ago, Reuters, NPR, ProPublica reported and a Washington Post correspondent tweeted about Donald Trump’s appearance at the DC Trump Hotel one Saturday, to attend a “pay-to-play” party hosted by Kuwait’s US Ambassador Salem al-Sabah.

Trump was there on Saturday, all right, but the party was the Wednesday before.

Several months ago a pizzeria in Washington DC was exposed as a secret location of a child sex trafficking ring affiliated with Hillary Clinton. It almost got people killed.

The media is still squeezing every bit of life out of an unverified dossier allegedly put together by Russian spies revealing nasty accusations about Donald Trump.

More news. Tom Selleck is dead. And so is Bill Murray. Melania Trump is getting a divorce.

It is all “fake news, or a variation of it.”     Continue reading

Everybody Lost

MAR 27, 2017 | Reprinted from

Ok. Enough.

Enough pointing, and jumping up and down, and sneering.

“Repeal and Replace” failed. Ignominiously.

Everybody gets some of the blame. Some of the blame goes to President Donald Trump. Less, though, than most people are assigning. His blame comes largely from the hubris borne of ignorance during the campaign when, according to the Liberal group “Think Progress” Trump promised 68 times to “Repeal and Replace.” The first time was on the first day his campaign.

But, when it came down to it, President Trump did everything he could with the limited knowledge of the way things work. And a limited knowledge of what was in the bill. Continue reading

A Week in the Arts

MAR 20, 2017 | Reprinted from

Tough week for the arts.

One the one hand, President Donald Trump served up a budget which would starve them of the funds they need to help people find their artistic voices; to be able to teach children there is more to life than a new video game; that a song can move you to tears or to blessed laughter.

A writer who was an artist died this weekend. Jimmy Breslin.

Jimmy Breslin was a newspaper columnist. But, that is like saying H.L. Mencken was a newspaperman. Continue reading

Route 81: High Road to Civility

MAR 16, 2017 | Reprinted from the blog at

Congressmen Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) and Will Hurd (R-TX) might not agree on every aspect of education or trade policy. But they have experienced life on the highway – together.

Faced with travel delays caused by a winter storm, Reps. O’Rourke and Hurd made the practical decision to rent a car and head north, a choice anyone who knows the two men could understand. Rep. O’Rourke, who started his own small business, and Rep. Hurd, who served in the CIA during the War on Terror, are “get the job done” kinds of guys.

Their shared work ethic and commitment to serve their Texan constituents helped them connect during their long ride back to Washington. As they cruised along Route 81, these bipartisan road trippers drank coffee, stopped for snacks, and took questions from Facebook Live viewers tuned into their trip. Continue reading

Legacies Are Honored More with Deeds Than Words


The Chamber of the US House of Representatives was practically empty. It was Monday.

The House was in session, however, for “special orders,” a time when Members are recognized to talk about anything on their mind and invite other members to join them. It was this procedure rebellious Republicans used a quarter century ago to turn deadly boredom into live political theater in their campaign to take control of the Congress from Democrats.

On this Monday, Congressman Darin LaHood of Illinois was hosting a special order to memorialize a predecessor, Bob Michel, who represented Central Illinois for 38 years before retiring in 1994.

Bob died on February 17, 2017. He was 93.

LaHood put a nice photo of Bob on an easel and recalled the Leader’s extraordinary life and career, from a wounded and decorated infantryman in World War II, to more than 40 years in Congress as a staffer, Member and leader; a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather. It was all there. Continue reading


MAR 6, 2017 | Reprinted from the blog at

The Freshman members of the 115th Congress know something we all know; the 2016 election was marked by some of the coarser political rhetoric of modern history, and not surprisingly left our country feeling more divided than ever.

More uniquely, they have taken an important first step toward doing something about it.

Recently, 28 Republican and 18 Democratic Freshman Members — representing red and blue states from coast to coast — signed a Commitment to Civility and spoke on the House floor about why they made this commitment, what their constituents had sent them to Washington to accomplish, and how civility is essential to working together across the aisle to achieve those goals. In all, 46 of the 52 new members signed the commitment, which urges productive dialogue and rejects the idea that political rivals are enemies. Continue reading

Trump’s First Presidential Speech

MAR 1, 2017 | Reprinted from

At 9:39 (about halfway into the speech) I Tweeted this:
I know it’s part of the deal to find fault with every syllable of this speech, but so far it’s very well written and very well delivered.

My Twitter feed, which is mostly national political reporters, was soggy with the tears of disappointment that President Donald Trump hadn’t put on a clown suit and gone completely off script.

While not officially the Constitutionally mandated “State of the Union” address, it had all the trappings and all of the elements. Continue reading

Flak Under Fire

FEB 27, 2017 | Reprinted from

By this morning you know two things: First, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences screwed up the presentation of the biggest award of its year. Second, President Donald Trump is at war with the Washington press corps.

I’d love to hear from you on which you care about more.

I don’t know much about the movies, so I’ll leave The La-La-Land/Moonlight fiasco to the real news outlets.

I’ll stick with what I actually do know a little about: The “Fake, phoney, fake” news outlets around which I’ve spent most of my life. Continue reading

Quit Whining

FEB 20, 2017 | Reprinted from

The Press and the President have to quit whining about how badly each is treating the other.

If you leave out President Donald Trump’s rhetorically sticking his fingers in the eyes of his opponents and making up events like terrorist activities in Sweden; if you had awakened from the hour and 17 minute fever dream that was the press conference on Thursday; and, had he stuck to his vision for America, President Trump’s speech at the rally in Melbourne, Florida over the weekend would have been pretty good.


Mr. Trump needs an enemy. He doesn’t have the emotional strength to operate solely on his own talent. He has to constantly compare himself, his achievements, with others. And the comparison is always taunting, derisive, and hurtful. Continue reading

Former House leader Bob Michel, a person and politician for the ages


Originally published in The Hill

Shinny! Fudge! Son of a buck! Judas Priest!

When those exclamations echoed through the halls of the second floor of the U.S. Capitol you knew Bob Michel was upset.

He was a man of incredible calm, of combat-tested self-discipline.  His Midwestern values prevented him from cursing or speaking ill of his fellow man or breaking his word or violating the bonds of family and friends.  He couldn’t even gesture with his middle finger.  He would raise three digits and make you read between the lines.

So the outbursts were rare. He found it easy to smile, easy to forgive and he was “awe shucks” humble right up until he, as he would describe it, shuffled off his mortal coil in the early morning of Friday at the age of 93.   Continue reading

Shark Attack

FEB 16, 2017 | Reprinted from

It is no secret that I have not been Donald Trump’s strongest supporter.

I do not think this keeps the President up at night.

But, watching the breathless coverage of The Russian Connection, all I can say is: I’ve seen this movie before.

The Trump-Flynn-Russia story is at the point where the news media in Washington are falling all over one another working their friends, their sources, the guy who makes their toasted bagel with a little cream cheese in the morning … anyone who might have a sliver of information – real or not – that can get them a headline on the web version of their news organization. Continue reading