Monthly Archives: November 2013

Papal Populism

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At the height of the Guilded Age in America and the Industrial Revolution elsewhere, Pope Leo the XIII issued a papal proclamation on the plight of the working classes in the new economy.

Rerum Novarum (Latin for “Of Revolutionary”) ironically was more evolutionary in its approach than revolutionary. It rejected communism as it affirmed the right of citizens to have private property. But it also said that laborers had a right to organize while rejecting unbridled capitalism. Continue reading

I Ran, You Ran, We All Ran

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Everyone who thinks they know all the aspects of the Iran deal raise their hands.

Secretary Kerry, put your hand down.

I have no idea whether this is a good deal, a bad deal, or no deal at all. I hope it is a good deal and I hope it leads to a safer Middle East and, thus, a safer world.

But I don’t know.

This deal was brokered by what is known as the P5+1. That is the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (U.S., France, Continue reading

Market Forces Still ‘Work’ in America

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One of the more interesting things about working on Capitol Hill was learning what big words mean when luminaries such as Alan Greenspan, Paul Volcker and just about every other famous economist or technical expert came to testify in Congress.

‘Disintermediation’ was one of those words. We heard a lot of it on the House Banking Committee when the S&L industry melted away between 1985 and 1990. We also heard a lot of it during the financial meltdown of 2008 when commentators on CNBC repeatedly talked about the threat of ‘disintermediation’ on financial giants such as Wachovia (which passed away) and Bank of America (which somehow survived, albeit with massive taxpayer-supported federal help). Continue reading

Where Were You When…

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Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas. Anyone over the age of 55 will be asking everyone else over the age of 55: “Where were you when you heard the news?” We all know exactly where we were.

Here’s my story.

I was a senior at West Orange Mountain High School in West Orange, New Jersey. I was in drama class in the auditorium and the teacher, Miss Levin, asked me to go backstage to get some piece of business that she needed to demonstrate a point. Continue reading

Fifty Years After Kennedy

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Originally published in The Hill

Five decades after the brutal murder of President Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, who had promised to keep America out of war in the election of 1912, became the first president to show a movie at the White House.

That movie, “Birth of a Nation,” directed by D.W. Griffith, was a wonder of technical achievement. It also portrayed the Ku Klux Klan in heroic terms, employed white actors in black face (presumably because the director refused to hire actual black actors) and generally denigrated the historic legacy of America’s 16th president.

Continue reading

Got Real?

Reprinted from Loose Change ( 

“We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion-year-old carbon, and we got to get ourselves back to the garden.” — Joni Mitchell

When I was in second grade, the ancient monsignor who ran our parish died. He was a player, having managed the seat of the bishopric for decades, the former Papal Chamberlain and right reverend from “Baaahstun,” Monsignor William L. Mulloney. When he kicked, the nuns of the parish draped the cathedral in black crepe. A Requiem High Mass was celebrated by the bishop, a special service performed exclusively for the students of St. Joseph’s Cathedral grade and high school. The wee ones were required to processional up to the open casket at the foot of the high altar in the heavily incensed, darkly lit cathedral as funereal dirges droned from the formidable pipes and organ donated by the good monsignor’s Brahmin family.

We circled around the casket enabling a 200x zoom-shot of the body—a breath-catching moment as smothering as Aunt Betty burying my face in her considerable bosom on

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Making Ron Burgundy Proud

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The commercials are frickin’ hilarious. Ron Burgundy, Anchorman, selling the Dodge Durango.

The ad campaign is brilliant. In one, Burgundy (aka Will Ferrell) talks about the size of the glove box, which comes standard, in case you didn’t know. In another, he shoos off some “dirty dancers” who are dancing too close to his beloved Durango. In a third, he wins a staring contest against a white horse, who he mocks as having insufficient giddy up compared to the horse power of the SUV.

There would have been no ad campaign like this if George Bush hadn’t started the bailout of the auto industry at the end of his tenure. Continue reading


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Since the grand opening of – the federal home of Obamacare – on October 1, 2013, the federal government has been able to sign up only 26,794 people.

26,794 people is something short of what the Administration of Barack Obama had hoped for, had sneered at Republicans for doubting, and had assured the American public it was on target to produce.

Put another way, after spending over three years and, according to the Washington Post, between $170 and $300 million (just for the website), the geniuses at the Department of Health and Human Services have been able to sign up the equivalent of the entire population of … Carbondale, Illinois (Pop. 26,241).

If you’re looking for something to compare all this with, gets about 4.3 million unique visitors – per day; almost 129 million per month.

According to NBC News, HHS has had a “goal of 7 million newly signed up by the end of March” 2014. Continue reading

The Great War

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Frank Buckles is dead. He didn’t die this week. He died in February 2011 at the age of 110.

Why do we care? Frank Buckles was the last living American veteran of World War I.

At the time, World War I was not known as World War I. It was known as “The Great War.” We didn’t know we were going to have to number world wars back then.

The shorthand for the beginning of The Great War is this (from

— On June 28, 1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife are assassinated in Sarajevo. Continue reading

Candidates Matter

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Chris Christie won in New Jersey; Ken Cuccinelli lost in Virginia. Whatever can we make of that?

I was in a wonderfully interesting meeting yesterday with a man named Brian Loughnane who is the Federal Director of the Liberal Party of Australia. Under the odd-to-our-ears naming conventions, the Liberal Party of Australia is the center-right party and currently controls the government under Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

In the course of our conversation at the International Republican Institute offices in downtown DC, we got into a discussion of Tuesday’s election results. I said I could describe the results in two words: Candidates matter. Continue reading

The Men in the Mirror

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I have never heard anything more pathetic in my life.

Jason Johnson, the brains behind the Ted Cruz operation, inked a column in Red State, blaming the Republican Establishment for Ken Cuccinelli’s loss in Virginia.

This is the same guy who advised Ted Cruz (I assume, since he is the brains in the Cruz Operation) that urging House and Senate Republicans to shut down the government would be a smart political strategy. Continue reading

You Can’t Fake Credibility

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“Authenticity is vitally important in politics. If you can fake that, you have it made.”

That’s an old Washington joke. Ha Ha. You might be able to fake authenticity, but you can’t fake credibility.

And that’s a problem for President Obama.

His credibility is now shot, thanks to the provable lie that helped him pass his signature legislative achievement.

When the President promised that the American people could keep their health care insurance under Obamacare, he knew he was lying. But the voters bought the lie, hook, line and sinker.  Continue reading

The Race in Virginia

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“Don’t it make my brown eyes blue.” That’s what Crystal Gayle sang in 1997.

“Don’t it make my Red State blue,” is what the Republican Party will probably be singing on Wednesday morning.

If Ken Cuccinelli gets within 10 points of Terry McAuliffe in tomorrow’s election, it will be a pretty big shock. And, you never know. It will be a low turnout election, and low turnout elections tend to work out pretty well for the Republican Party.

The Macker is a notoriously weak candidate, but he is a likeable guy who is exceptionally good at raising money.

With McAuliffe, ethics has trumped issues to become the number one reason to vote against him. Continue reading

Obamacare Spiraling Downward

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I am not cheering as I write this column. The Presidency of Barack Obama is spiraling downward largely because of Obamacare and it is not clear to me that Mr. Obama can avoid a Presidential face plant.

Earlier this week Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, testified before a House committee about the ongoing disaster that is the Obamacare website.

She didn’t know who was responsible or what went wrong any more than she could have pulled out a stack of code three feet high and walked the Committee Members through it line-by-line. Continue reading