Monthly Archives: October 2011

Medicare Paid For?

Reprinted from

You know the ad we are talking about. The one where the burly-looking senior looks in the camera like John Wayne and intones something to this effect:

‘You mess with our Social Security and Medicare benefits…and we are gonna kick your butt!’

How is that for ‘thoughtful, rational civil discourse’ in America today, huh? We wouldn’t want to face that guy in a showdown death match on the golf course or the shuffleboard court. Continue reading

Sizing Up Iowa Race

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The Des Moines Register released its poll of how Republicans in Iowa see the GOP candidates running for President.

The top line numbers are:
Herman Cain – 23%
Mitt Romney – 22%
Ron Paul – 12%
Michelle Bachmann – 8%
Newt Gingrich – 7%
Rick Perry – 7%
Rick Santorum – 5%
Jon Huntsman – 1%

The surprise to me was not that Herman Cain and Mitt Romney are at the top of the layer cake; it is that Rick Perry’s campaign has fallen so far, and so fast. In the run up to the Straw Poll in Ames, Iowa (which, you remember, was won by Michele Bachmann) Rick Perry announced he would announce, but he was a write-in for the actual tally. He got 4.3% of the votes cast and those of us who think about these things wondered how well he would have done had he paid the entry fee and had his name on the ballot. Continue reading

Spam, Football, & Twitter

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Like you, I get about 2,713 e-mails a day. Most are routine work-related, or Mullings-related; and messages from campaigns or political organizations. I get plenty of spam and I normally ignore them, but one came in yesterday which made me laugh out loud. Here’s how it began: Forgive my indignation if this message comes to you as a surprise and may offend your personality for contacting you without your prior consent and writing through this channel.

Of course it had to do with a box full of money containing “9.7 Million U.S. Dollars” which this guy needed to move out of, in this case, Afghanistan. I was just about to send the guy all the personal information he asked for when I read that the box is in Mazar-e-Sharif “which is a suburb not too far from here in Kabul.” Continue reading

Victory in Iraq? Maybe.

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President Obama has announced all U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year. Eight years, 4,500 U.S. troops killed and more than 33,000 wounded and we’re leaving. My vast store of knowledge about the military/political situation in Iraq ended in May 2004 when I came home and it wasn’t that vast even when I was there. I point that out to put myself squarely in the corner of people who say “I have no clue whether this is a good idea or not.”

Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta said in what I read as an extremely diffident statement, “Going forward, we will work closely with the Iraqi government and their armed forces to help them continue to build a stronger and more prosperous country.” I spent a considerable amount of time on the phone yesterday with a friend in the Gulf region – the “Persian,” not the “of Mexico” – who said with some conviction that the Iranians would be calling the shots in Iraq in short order. Continue reading

Media Focus Flounders…10 Tips for Improvement


The media made another contribution to the ‘dumbing down’ of American politics this week in their coverage of the Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas.

If you saw the debate, ask yourself a question. What piece of information conveyed during the debates will be most important to you in making a decision at the polls in 2012? The discussion of Herman Cain’s tax proposal? Foreign aid to Israel? Cutting defense spending? Securing our borders?

Not to Carl Cameron of Fox News or Brian Williams of NBC or Scott Pelley at CBS or the Washington Post or the Washington Times.

The most important piece of information in the debate for the media was the exchange between Gov. Rick Perry and former Gov. Mitt Romney about a meaningless lawn mowing incident four years ago. Apparently, back in 2007, Romney hired a lawn-mowing company that employed an illegal alien. Yep. Romney didn’t hire the worker and when a reporter exposed his employment, Romney ordered the company to fire him. When the company failed to, Romney fired the company. We weren’t told whether Romney had to mow his own lawn. Nothing in the exchange was new. The incident had been thoroughly vetted and reported years ago. Continue reading

Protests: What’s It All About, Richie?

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As I have told you before, I watch CNBC in the morning because I know about as much about politics as most of the guests on the morning cable news programs who talk about politics, but I know nearly nothing about finance so I watch the guests on CNBC who talk about finance.

Last Friday I was listening to CNBC on my Sirius radio as I drove to Ohio and heard Jim Cramer talking about the Occupy Wall Street crowd. Even though he made a very large pile of money as a trader and investor, he said that in his youth he was pretty far to the left of his colleagues. When he was asked whether, if he were in his early 20s today, he would be camping out with the demonstrators, he paused and said he probably would. But, that’s not what caught my ear. Continue reading

Flirting with China Trade War

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For the past few years, fear of China’s predatory mercantilism has been steadily growing in America, both amongst the public and in elite business and political circles. But last week, for the first time, one could discern the genuine possibility that America might actually do something about it — even if it means a trade war.

It’s not that anything new has been revealed about China’s practices, but rather that something new has emerged about the nature of Washington’s opposition to it. Last week, the Senate passed a bill that would force U.S. retaliation against China’s currency manipulations. The bill passed with 63 votes — including 16 Republican votes.

There is nothing new about most Democrats supporting what some might consider “protectionist” legislation. But 16 Republican Senate votes are new and revealing. There was no ideological or regional pattern to them. They included Ohio’s Rob Portman, a solid senior member of the Republican free-trade establishment who served as President George W. Bush’s trade representative and director of the Office of Management and Budget; Maine’s liberals Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins; conservative southerners such as Jeff Sessions and Lindsey Graham; and the Rocky Mountain’s conservative Mike Crapo. Continue reading

GOP Debate: Duds, Dirt, and Division

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This debate was actually watchable. I’m not certain if it was because Anderson Cooper was such a good marshal, because the candidates have now done 274 debates, or both, but it was fun to watch.

As you saw, the first 30 minutes (or so) were all about Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan. As I Tweeted, if this were a straw poll, then Cain lost because the other six candidates didn’t think 9-9-9 was so swell.

The next 20 minutes was Romney and ObamaCare.

Rick Santorum, attempting to get noticed, kept interrupting Romney and drew boos from the audience. Continue reading

Obama Campaign Running Against Obama

Reprinted from The Hill

Today, David Axelrod, the chief of the Reelect Obama Campaign, announced that it will formally join the Occupy Wall Street protests and start mobilizing against the policies endorsed by the Obama administration. 

Axelrod brandished a Tim Geithner bobblehead doll, which he stabbed repeatedly with a pen knife while chanting an indecipherable spell, which he later said he hoped would lead to the Treasury secretary’s immediate departure from his office.

Axelrod, in announcing this unusual campaign, said: “We have decided that we aren’t going to defend the indefensible. Yes, we have terrible unemployment. Yes, Wall Street is getting away with murder. Yes, people have lost faith in the future. As much as I have tried, we can’t blame Bush for this anymore. We have to blame the Obama administration.

“I believe in Barack Obama, the campaigner. I have lost faith in Barack Obama, the president. So our campaign will basically run against the president and urge his replacement with the guy on the campaign.” Continue reading

Random Thoughts


The Post ombudsman reported this week that the newsroom is arguing over whether to include foul language in its reporting.

Those who favor the use of the f-word and others like it, believe they make the writing more vivid and less dull. What a talent pool we draw from today when a journalist can’t make his or her writing vivid and interesting without swearing?

There are a lot of reasons to maintain the current standard, but the most compelling to me is the ever-widening behavioral sinkhole our society is already in. We live in a media environment in which it is almost mandatory that you behave badly to get coverage. Protesters get more attention if they beat up a cop or burn a car. Politicians get more attention if they call somebody a liar or claim their adversary is cheat or a racist. People who truly do not deserve coverage get it for being brazen, abusive, disrespectful or rude, while others who make reasoned, intellectual arguments and actually work at something worthwhile, get ignored. Why encourage more of it? Why sanction more mediocrity, less civility and the dumbing-down of politics and social interaction even more? Continue reading

Jobs Plan Balderdash


Some years ago, a politician in West Virginia hired a very savvy political professional to write strategic plan for him to run for Congress. The professional burned the midnight oil and produced a comprehensive, 60-page roadmap to Capitol Hill. 

She presented it and waited while the prospective candidate began reading:  “OBJECTIVE: TO WIN ELECTION TO THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS.”

The candidate lookup up from manuscript and said he had a problem with the first line. He really had no interest in serving in Congress, he wanted to set himself up to run for governor and thought running for Congress would be a good stepping stone.

I was reminded of that story September 7,when President Barack Obama appeared before joint session of Congress and demanded–seventeen times, no less—that the legislators pass his latest job-creation program. Why?

President Obama’s speech was a hoax. His objective that night was not congressional approval of his jobs agenda. He was really setting the stage for his re-election in 2012.  Continue reading

Intrigue With Iran

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So, let me get this straight. The Iranian government decided it would be a good idea to launch a plot to kill the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the U.S.  To do this they sent two geniuses to contact a guy they thought was a Mexican drug bandito but was actually an undercover agent pretending to be a drug bandito to do the deed.

They offered the undercover agent pretending to be a Mexican drug bandito $1.5 million to blow up the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. while he was dining at a restaurant in downtown Washington, DC.

Oh, yeah. This was going to go down like clockwork.

One-point-five-mil for a member of a Mexican drug gang? The Iranians could have gotten some Russian Mafia thug from Brighton Beach in Brooklyn to do it for bus fare and an all-expenses paid night at the Elliot Spitzer suite at the Mayflower Hotel in DC. Continue reading

Praising Romney’s Flip-Flopping Ways

Reprinted from the Washington Times
October 3, 2011

William F. Buckley Jr., founding father of the modern conservative movement, famously asserted his doctrine of voting for the most conservative candidate who is electable. Let me presume to add an analytic codicil: The GOP and the conservative movement have tended to support the most conservative policies only when they are understood to be conservative and are plausibly supportable by the conservative half of the electorate.

As the ideological center of gravity on various issues has shifted back and forth across the conservative-liberal spectrum over the decades, so inevitably has conservative policy support. I have in mind four examples: abortion, federal aid to education, “cap-and-trade” and individual health mandates.

As a campaigner for Barry Goldwater in 1964 and Ronald Reagan in all his campaigns, starting in his 1966 campaign for governor of California, I can vividly recall that in 1964, Goldwater and the conservative movement were against federal aid to education in its entirety. Continue reading

New Hampshire Debate Recap

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The only candidates that matter at this point are Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain. I know this will draw 23,372 emails about Ron Paul but he is what he is which is not a potential nominee of the Republican party.

With that in mind, here’s what the big three have to do. Continue reading

Perry, Paul, & Romney

Reprinted from &

I was in Las Vegas Friday night as the guest of the conservative Citizen Outreach organization. We got to talking about the importance which may be visited upon the Nevada caucuses this year which, on the GOP side of the ledger has never been that big a deal.

A couple of weeks ago Florida decided to move its GOP primary up by about a month to January 31. That set all the other early states into a frenzy trying to figure out when they should hold their caucuses (Iowa and Nevada) or primaries (New Hampshire and South Carolina).

As of this writing the guessing is, Iowa will move its caucuses up to January 3; New Hampshire to January 7; Nevada to the 14th; and, South Carolina to January 21.

That means, the week between Christmas and New Year will be spent in places like Red Oak and Clear Lake, Iowa; and Claremont and Gottstown, New Hampshire.

As Mullfave Ed Rollins pointed out last week, “you can’t live off the land in Florida like you can in the other early states.”

Nevada’s population is centered around Clark County (Las Vegas and its environs) and Washoe County (Reno) so you can organize there pretty easily. South Carolina’s population is more than four million and spread out throughout the state, but SC is geographically the 10th smallest state so driving from point A to point M (or wherever) is not much of a challenge.

Florida is a different kettle of alligators. Continue reading

Perry’s Rock and Perceptions of Prejudice

For six days the Washington Post conducted what, in the extreme, could be described as a smear campaign against Presidential candidate Rick Perry. At best it was a case of highly prejudicial and irresponsible reporting, editing and ‘ombudsing’.  
It was irresponsible, regardless, because it raised the ugly specter of racism without clear reason. It lowered the journalistic bar yet another notch, setting a precedent that will only encourage even less responsible media and partisans along the long, long road to next November. 
The campaign began on October 1, with a front-page story about a rock that stood near one of the entrances to a ranch leased, not owned mind you, by the Perry family. On the rock was inscribed the word “Niggerhead”, a grotesquely offensive term apparently once used to describe everything from products to geographic locations.
The Perrys claimed they painted over the name of the rock in 1984. The Post reporter Stephanie McCrummen said she talked with 12 people, seven of whom said they saw the name still on the rock in the 1980’s and/or the 1990’s. One anonymous source claimed the rock wasn’t painted over until a few years ago. Continue reading

Where’s the Outrage?

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In one of the GOP Presidential debates the number of prisoners who had been put to death in Texas drew applause from the audience. In a subsequent debate, the issue of the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was being discussed and, during a short video of a Marine talking about being openly gay, two members of that audience booed.

None of the candidates on stage reacted to the boos which led to a week of projectile sweat outrage by Liberal commentators as to why no-one told the boo-ers to put a sock in it. Note, please that the moderator(s) didn’t ask the candidates about it after the fact.

During my tour de force performance on the Bill Maher show later that week, they showed the same clip with the two people booing and I said, “It was only two people. It wasn’t like the whole audience stood up and waved its collective fists at the screen” or, as Dr. Samuel Johnson was wont to say, “words to a like effect.” Continue reading

America is Great Because…

Reposted from

A)  We have great infrastructure; public education and public welfare systems, or
B)  People have the freedom to make and create whatever products or services they want to and are only constrained by their creative energies.

Massachusetts Senate Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren fired the opening salvo in her campaign against incumbent Scott Brown last week with the following statement:

‘There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did.

Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.’

One wag responded thusly:  ‘Define ‘hunk’’.

Rich Lowry of the National Review responded:  “Focusing on infrastructure as the crucial support of entrepreneurial activity is like crediting the guy who built young Bill Gates’s garage with the start of Microsoft.”

This seems to be the fundamental difference between the two major parties right now, doesn’t it? Continue reading

The Christie Crunch

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First. Chris Christie.

As I predicted back in 1957, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced at a press conference yesterday that he would not be a Republican candidate for President in 2012. He said 27 times that he has only been Governor for 20 months and didn’t think (a) he could turn his back on the people who voted for him and (b) he could leave before the job of fixing the state was done.

This was widely seen as a poke in the eye of Sarah Palin who (a) resigned as Governor of Alaska as soon as she got her first paid speaking gig and (b) wasn’t Governor long enough to know what the problems of Alaska were; much less care about fixing them.

Who does this help and who does this hurt? Continue reading

Time for Economic War Council

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In 1939 Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announced the creation of his War Cabinet which was made up of five Conservative members and four Liberals. When Winston Churchill became Prime Minister he narrowed his War Cabinet to five members – three Conservatives and two Liberals.

War Cabinets, over the past 100-or-so years, have been formed in Great Britain when it was determined that the very survival of the Kingdom is at risk and it is necessary to bring the best minds in Parliament to bear on the threat, notwithstanding party affiliation.

As I am writing this, at about 9 PM Sunday, I am looking at the Asian markets. They are all down. If you watch CNBC on weekday mornings, as I do, you want to pull the covers up over your head, curl up in the fetal position, and hope that your 401(k) doesn’t go to zero-oh-one(k).  Continue reading