Monthly Archives: March 2012

Work More? Go Home? Honestly, Go Home

Loose Change Reprinted from

I’ve heard hundreds of wails from people who claim they work 60- to 70-hour weeks. Occasionally, I’ll even hear about someone working 100-plus-hour weeks, the most recent example coming from my own company. The individual just had a heart bypass at age 47. Ahem.

I mostly don’t believe the hours-worked stories any more than I believe compensation stories. However, if one does the math on a 70-hour work week, over a five-day period one must work 14 hours per day, i.e., a 6 a.m. start would land you home at 8 p.m., every single flipping day of the week. Actually, working that schedule would not land you home—more likely you’d end up in a clinic or psych ward.

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Martin Killing Not Trivial Moment

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The Trayvon Martin incident is no trivial moment in American history.

Mr. Martin was gunned down by George Zimmerman in a Sanford, Florida gated community.  Zimmerman says he was defending himself.  Civil rights leaders and the Martin family believe it was murder.

The Sanford Police Department doesn’t quite know what to believe, and so far, has refused to arrest Zimmerman.

Upon this one deadly confrontation, America’s racial past and future collapse.

Will we ever live in a post-racial society or must we continue to harbor resentments and fears that poison our respective outlooks on our society?

I was watching a documentary the other night on PBS about Reconstruction in the old South. For a brief moment in time, things improved for blacks in the South after the Civil War.  African-Americans were allowed to vote, and several were elected to political office, including the United States Senate. Continue reading

Etch-a-Sketching a Campaign

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One might say that the Etch-a-Sketch is the perfect metaphor for the Republican primary season. One day, Mitt Romney is featured on the screen; the next (shake-a, shake-a) Rick Santorum appears! Shake-a, shake-a, ba da bing – Mitt’s back!! Shake-a, shake-a…well, you get the idea.

Romney’s campaign guy, Eric Fernstrom, mucked up with his comment. It happens in a campaign. And in a campaign marred by a few of these kinds of comments (see: Mitt Romney, more than a few times, so far), Fernstrom’s comment becomes an even bigger “story” because the media’s “narrative” of Romney’s campaign is they say dumb things at dumb times and Mitt’s a chameleon. His slip up becomes a “gotcha” – well, if you buy the “narrative.” Continue reading

Time to Hit The Road We’ve Traveled

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Does anyone else find it odd that the President’s campaign team is releasing its Hollywood biopic “The Road We’ve Traveled,” a full six months before the actual election and in the middle of a bloody and nasty Republican primary?

This is not some in-house production. Davis Guggenheim, who put together “Waiting for Superman”, and “Inconvenient Truth”, produced this for the President and perhaps the most popular actor in Hollywood, Tom Hanks, is the narrator.

This is the kind of film you show at the Convention. This is the kind of film you buy network time in the middle of High School football season. You don’t release this the day before St. Patrick’s Day, unless of course you are starting to panic about your crashing poll ratings.

Speaking of St. Patrick’s Day, the former White House Chief of Staff, Bill Daley, an Irishman if there ever was one, decided his first move after leaving the Obama Team was to join the Third Way, the “think tank” dedicated to making the Democratic Party less radically socialist. Good luck with that. Continue reading

I Know It When I See It

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This column may well generate about 40,000 “Unsubscribes” this morning, but there you are.

In the early 1960s a man named Nico Jacobellis was arrested after the showing of a French movie in his theater by the name of “The Lovers” on the grounds that the film was obscene.

This case would doubtless be relegated to punishing second year law school students were it not for the fact that (a) the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court and (b) in a concurring opinion Justice Potter Stewart penned one of the most memorable phrases in Court history.

In concurring with a reversal of Mr. Jacobellis’ conviction, Justice Stewart wrote about trying to define the phrase “hard-core pornography”: I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”

Putting aside how Mr. Justice Stewart had come upon comparative material, this famous quote came to mind when I read that GOP Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum plans to boldly go where Supreme Court Justices have feared to tread.

On his campaign web page a position paper on pornography contains this: While the Obama Department of Justice seems to favor pornographers over children and families, that will change under a Santorum Administration. Continue reading


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Alabama and Mississippi. Southern States. States that help define the word “Southern” in the United States.

Rick Santorum, of Pennsylvania – western Pennsylvania, not southern – won them both.

Newt Gingrich made it clear after Nevada that he had a plan to turbocharge his campaign once the primary calendar moved into the South. On CNN a couple of weeks ago, Gingrich said he thought he’d win at least two among Mississippi, Alabama and Kansas.

He didn’t win Kansas. Santorum won Kansas, too.

That meant, by his own arithmetic, Gingrich needed to win both Mississippi and Alabama. Continue reading

Civility Isn’t Easy

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This will be a test. A civility test. I want to talk about this Rush Limbaugh v Bill Maher business of using really bad words to describe people they don’t agree with.

This is not a discussion about contraception or Obama-care or Women’s reproductive rights or free speech.

It will be a discussion about civility. Of which we are in dreadfully short supply these days.

Those of us who are professional political hacks – Republican and Democrat – have been taught since kindergarten that the way to win is to draw the starkest possible distinction between your candidate and your opponent.

If your opponent says it’s dawn, you claim the man was probably up partying until all hours and can’t tell day from night. If your opponent says it’s a nice day, you turn it into a full-blown attack on his belief that global warming is killing baby seals. Continue reading

Romney Did Win

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At 10:08 PM Rick Santorum was hanging on to a two percentage point lead in Ohio, but it was a very good night for Santorum no matter what happens as the rest of Ohio’s votes are counted.

The pre-game analysis – by me – was that Romney would probably win Ohio fairly easily – by four or five percentage points. He had closed a double-digit gap over the past 10 days and I thought he was catching Super Tuesday on an upswing.

I was wrong.

I also thought that he would have a good chance of picking off Tennessee where he had been doing well among late deciders. I was wrong. The high-level of Evangelical voters there boosted Santorum to an easy 9 percentage point win.

I thought Ron Paul might pick up his first win in North Dakota. I was wrong. Santorum won there, too. Even though only about 10,000 people participated, Santorum got about 40% of them. Continue reading

Hazing The Rich

Reprinted from Loose Change at

Hey brother, can you spare a dime?

On second thought, keep it. . . . I’d prefer that people like me.

Two-thousand twelve is not a good year to be rich. I haven’t seen rich-bashing like this since my days as a 10-year-old caddy at Minnehaha Country Club in Sioux Falls. My pals and I would deride the potbellied, Cadillac-driving, cigar-chomping rich guys whose golf bags we lugged around on hot summer afternoons, chasing down their shanks, duck hooks, and chili dips for a 25-cent tip.

Although we had nothing but contempt and fear for these guys, not a day went by that we didn’t think to ourselves, “I’m going to work my butt off and someday have a bunch of money just like them.” Unfortunately for me and some chums—Jaybird, Kenny the Torch, Boo Radley, Punjab, Laff-A-Lot, and Bucky—that plan didn’t work out so well. Continue reading

Time To Pack It In, Rush


If Rush were my Mother’s child, she would have washed his mouth out with soap, smacked his butt with a ping pong paddle and sat him in the corner for some quiet time with the Catholic missile to read.

But Rush is no child. He is a powerful voice in and for conservative America who influences both thinking and behavior.

Limbaugh, on Feb. 29th, called a female law school student, who testified at a faux hearing on Capitol Hill in support of insurance payments for contraception, the equivalent of a “slut” and a “prostitute”.

Limbaugh went way beyond the bounds of civility, maturity, simple human decency and most importantly, Christian behavior. Continue reading

Super Pacs are Over-Rated

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It is conventional wisdom that the rise of the so-called Super Pac is good for the Republican Party.

That is false.

The Super Pac is very good for some campaign consultants who want to ply their trade without having to consult directly with the pesky candidate. But they have been bad for the party as a whole.

Rick Santorum wouldn’t still be in the race if it weren’t for his Super Pac. Newt Gingrich wouldn’t still be in the race if it weren’t for his Super Pac. Those two Super Pacs have largely been funded by two rich guys who kind of like Rick and Newt.

The New York Times reported a couple of weeks ago that one rich guy gave money to the Rick Super Pac, the Newt Super Pac, and the Mitt Super Pac. Those Super Pac dollars were then used to beat the hell out of Rick, Newt and Mitt. So, in a sense, this one rich guy spent a million dollars so that Republicans could attack each other. Continue reading

Regular Order Guy

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When David Dreier co-chaired the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress in 1993, Bob Michel assigned me to keep an eye on the process for him.

Even back then, Dreier was a regular order guy. He believed in the best possibilities of open rules, open debate and an open process.

Of course, back then, Republicans in the Minority, and an open process was the only shot we had at influencing legislation.

When Dreier first came to Congress in the early 80’s, Tip O’Neill was the Speaker and open rules were more of a regular occurrence. But Jim Wright ascended to the throne, and soon it became harder for Republicans to offer amendments.

Wright wasn’t much of a fan of open debate, and he used all kind of parliamentary shenanigans to impose his will on the House of Representatives. Wright’s abuse of the process begat the radicalism of Newt Gingrich, which begat an era in the Congress that can only be described as dysfunctional. Continue reading