Monthly Archives: September 2013

Boehner and Reid Know What They’re Doing

Reprinted from

John Boehner and Harry Reid are both professionals when it comes to the legislative process. They know what the system will bear and they know how to negotiate.

Harry Reid has apparently told President Obama not to bother calling any meetings at the White House. He told the President that if he calls such a meeting, he won’t be attending.

Reid doesn’t really need the President’s help on this stuff and he doesn’t really want him screwing anything up. The President is still a rookie, despite winning the White House a second time. He is not much of a negotiator, although things tend to work out despite his efforts.

The timing of this negotiation, on a short-term CR, is fascinating. Continue reading

Obamacare on WTOP

Reprinted from

I was driving in to work this morning and listening to WTOP, the news radio station, with traffic on the eights, and I was stuck in terrible traffic.

Go figure.

But I was sitting there in the traffic, waiting for the traffic news to come on at 8 minutes after the hour, and I heard the latest story about Obamacare.

No, it wasn’t about the government shutting down over Republicans objections to Obamacare. It was about Obamacare itself.

And as it turns out, according to WTOP news radio, Obamacare is going to be a nightmare if you happen to want to actually get health care with your new health care law. Continue reading

Skilled White House, Aggressively On Message

Reprinted from

President Barack Obama, fresh from having his lunch money taken from him by Russia’s Vladimir Putin, is flailing about trying to find someone he can shift the public’s attention to.

He has chosen House Speaker John Boehner (R-Oh) as the person and the upcoming end of the U.S. government’s fiscal year on September 30 as his verbal weapon.

I think that is the wrong fight against the wrong guy.

The last time we were headed down the road to actually shutting down the federal government was in late 1995 and early1996 . Two main players – and this is important – were President Bill Clinton and Speaker Newt Gingrich. Continue reading

40 Billion

Reprinted from

Teach a man to fish. That’s the biblical admonition.

The Food Stamp program doesn’t do much of that, and that’s probably why we need to rethink our whole social safety net.

House Republicans voted to pass legislation that would save taxpayers about 40 billion dollars of spending on the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.

That’s a big number, and I’m pretty certain that it won’t become law. Continue reading

Kanye Counters Kardashian Slam, Really Good


It’s about time.

If someone disses your woman, you should diss ‘em back. It’s the law of the jungle.

I’ve been wondering how Kanye was going to respond to Ray J; how he was going to jab the knife into the rib cage, just far enough to inflict pain, but cause no damage.

When the time was right, Kanye made his music the sharp blade of his revenge. He stepped onto the stage of Jimmy Fallon’s late night show last week, in a leather skirt, no less, and sang his hit ‘Bound 2,’ with new lyrics that answered Ray J’s ‘Hit It First,’ about how he hooked up with Kim Kardashian before Kanye. It was bad, really bad. The woman just had a baby, for crying out loud. Continue reading

This Other Town

Reprinted from

Mark Leibovich wrote a memorable book about official Washington, its fancy parties, its self-absorbed culture, the incestuous nature of lobbyists, journalists, pundits, strategists, party planners, and socialites.

But there’s a whole other town out there, right under the nose of This Town, and you could see the face of that town in the obituaries of those who died on Monday.

Twelve people were gunned down at the Naval Yard, and I can pretty much guarantee that nobody from This Town had ever met them.

There are plenty of people in this other town in the Washington DC metro area. Some serve at the Navy Yard, some at the Pentagon, some the Geospatial agency, some at the Departments of Agriculture, Labor, Health and Human Services, and various other government agencies. Continue reading

The Yin and the Yang

Reprinted from

We have spoken of this before: The veneer of civilization is very, very thin.

Anyone. Anyone can cause unimaginable horror by virtue of doing something that you or I would never think of.

Such an event happened earlier this week at the Washington Navy Yard when a mentally disturbed contractor shot and killed 12 civilians who had gone to work that morning expecting that it would be just another day at the office.

Aaron Alexis, the shooter, had a significant number of dings on his record. A general (as opposed to an honorable) discharge from the military; at least two issues regarding firearms; and a deteriorating mental state that, near the end, included hearing voices. Continue reading

Repo Club

Reprinted from

The number one candidate backed by the Club for Growth is not only a trial lawyer but also a Repo Man.

Bryan Smith, who is running against Mike Simpson in the second district of Idaho, is pretty well known commodity in his home town. He is not particularly well-liked there, because he is a trial lawyer and runs a debt collection business on the side.

Smith also has some experience lobbying. He lobbied hard against efforts to pass tort reform in Idaho. Continue reading

Great Debate Coming on Syria


The Congressional debate on Syria, if not trumped by a United Nations resolution confiscating that country’s chemical weapons, and hopefully it will, could well be one of the greatest national debates in some time. It will certainly be instructive. The American people may learn a lot about how their government functions, or doesn’t.

Let’s just hope those who participate in the discourse, including the media, will keep in mind that the United States response to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government on its own people is more about who we are as a people than how we respond as a nation.

Fortunately, the debate should transcend partisanship and electioneering. The issues don’t break along party lines and it is doubtful punishing Syria will tilt an election in 2014, even a primary, one way or the other. Continue reading


Reprinted from

The White House chief of staff during the reign of President Richard Nixon was a guy named H.R. Haldeman who was not known for being a terribly patient man. The story goes that he would put the letters “TL2” atop memo that he thought were weak.

TL2 stood for “Too little, too late.”

That pretty much sums up the Administration’s frenzied attempt to gain support for an attack on Syria.

Americans are opposed to it, according to Gallup, by 36 percent to 51 percent. That is not only the lowest approval for military action in 20 years, but it is the only time that “opposed” has been a majority. Continue reading


Reprinted from

Now, the Congressional nose-counting begins: Who’s for the resolution to attack Syria, who’s against, who’s undecided, and who is calling their chief of staff asking, “What’s all this about Syria? Where the hell is Syria?

Those are mostly U.S. Senators.

Problem is, there is no resolution to be for or against.

The White House sent one up to the Hill on Sunday a couple of hours after the President’s staff found out he was going to ask for Congressional approval, but was being told in home room that a social studies paper was due by third period. Put something on paper and hope the teacher is in a good mood.

Continue reading

Saving Syria from Itself


It is striking, the degree to which President Barack Obama can do the right thing so badly.

Look at the last ten days of Syrian decision-making. He made a decision to attack Syria, unilaterally, for using chemical weapons on its own people, without the public concurrence of the United Nations or many of our allies, both Middle Eastern and European, and without consulting Congress. He made the decision before United Nations’ weapons inspectors had even started their inspection of the site of the bombings in Damascus.

In the intervening week, however, the President has consulted with our allies. He delayed a military strike until after Congress debates and goes on record for or against authorizing military intervention for him, which now won’t occur until after the UN inspectors have had time to submit their findings. His rationale, as explained in the Rose Garden Continue reading

Asking for Permission

Reprinted from

In matters of foreign policy, tis far better for Presidents to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission.

If a President takes bold and decisive action, the Congress will usually follow along.

If a President dithers and negotiates and asks the opinions of scores of lawmakers, all of whom have different constituencies and vested interests, the result is usually a mess.

Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory, amid murky Constitutional concerns. Congress didn’t blink, because it was such a damn good deal.

President Reagan sent a few missiles into Libya to send a message to Muammar Khadafy. While a few members of Congress may have complained, most saw it as a justified strike. Continue reading

Syria (sly)

Reprinted from

I decided to run the annual Back to School issue on Friday because I thought events surrounding Syria were moving too quickly.

For the first time in over 15 years, I was correct.

Syria is bordered by Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Mediterranean Sea. That is important because most of its neighbors don’t like the Assad regime. And he doesn’t like them.

Let’s stipulate that what we’re talking about is the use of Tomahawk Cruise missiles (or some analogous – stand-off weapon) and not invading Syria. Continue reading