Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Limits of Debate


I once read that Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last British Viceroy of India, said: “It is a curious thing but true that in all important decisions I made in my life, I have never been wrong.”

While my record is not quite as unblemished as that of Lord Mountbatten, I can at least lay claim to one accomplishment: after decades in politics, I have never been argued out of a strongly-held political position or belief and I also have never changed anyone’s mind about politics on the basis of an argument I have made. Continue reading

The Arab League Steps Up

MAR 30 | Reprinted from

The Arab League is a multi-national organization made up of 22 nations ranging from Mauritania on the West coast of Africa to Qatar in the Persian Gulf.

It was reported over the weekend by the BBC that members of the Arab League “have agreed to create a joint Arab military force” on the heels of military action by Egypt and Saudi Arabia against Shiite rebels in Yemen.

This is important here, because so many American voices have questioned why the U.S. is sending more ground forces to Iraq (and keeping forces in Afghanistan) and leading the air war with U.S. warplanes while Iraq’s neighbors have largely sat on the sidelines. Continue reading

As Budget Passes, Reid Departs

MAR 27 | Reprinted from

Perhaps it was the voter-rama that did it?

Was it just a coincidence that shortly after the Senate completed work on its budget for the year that Senator Harry Reid announced that he was hanging up his spurs?


But let us not forget that the Minority Leader had very little appreciation or respect for the Congressional budget process. Continue reading

Sgt. Bergdahl

MAR 26 | Reprinted from

From the Army Times: The Army has charged Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, officials announced Wednesday.

You know the case. As a PFC Bergdahl disappeared from his unit’s outpost in Afghanistan, on June 30, 2009. He was captured by the Taliban and spent the next five years in captivity. He was released on May 31, 2014 as the result of swapping five prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay for his freedom.

President Barack, with Bergdahl’s parents flanking him, took a bow in the Rose Garden Continue reading

Capehart on Facts, Fiction, and Finding Truth


Sometimes truth is hard to come by. We see it but don’t recognize it for what it is, or we choose to confront it, rather than embrace it.

Truth never seems to be absolute. It always leaves just enough in doubt, so that we can claim total deniability and go on believing whatever we want to believe.

Some have the courage not to do that; columnist Jonathan Capehart, for example.

Capehart found truth in the Justice Department report on the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri. The report discredited the now infamous “hands up, don’t shoot” narrative surrounding Brown’s death. It was a narrative that sparked protests, destroyed businesses, Continue reading

Our Broken Budget Process

MAR 19 | Reprinted from

Here are five things that are wrong with the Congressional Budget Process

1) It’s non-binding: The House and the Senate work feverishly passing their respective budgets, but they never send the final product to the President. For some reason, the guys who designed the process in the early 70’s didn’t want Richard Nixon to decide its fate. So, the budget resolution has about as much force in law as the resolution to name your local Post Office after Mickey Mouse. Continue reading

Lessons From Ireland

MAR 17 | Reprinted from

Originally published in The Hill

Ireland is on the mind of official Washington today.

From the White House, where the president receives shamrocks from the Irish prime minister, to the Congress, where the Speaker hosts a luncheon in his honor, St. Patrick’s Day is well celebrated in the nation’s capital.

The Emerald Isle may hold a nostalgic place in the hearts of millions of Americans, with partiers hitting the pubs to toast their heritage, but policymakers in the U.S. can learn a lot from the Irish experience.

Here are a few examples: Continue reading

Cruella De Vil vs Lucrezia Borgia

MAR 16 | Reprinted from

I lied. I said the other day I wasn’t going to write about Hillary’s email issue again, but here we are. There was an article over the weekend in the New York Post …

Ok. I know. The New York Post isn’t exactly the Tabloid of Record in the Big Apple. As of this writing (Sunday evening) no non-conservative publication – in print or on line has followed it up. Continue reading

Who’s on first?

MAR 11 | Reprinted from The Screaming Moderate (

Email and snail mail are in the news lately. Hillary’s email and a snail mail sent by 47 Republican senators to the leaders of Iran that, along with undercutting this country’s negotiations with a foreign country, also talked condescendingly to that country’s leaders. Oy.

First, Hillary. The email controversy is why even die-hard Democrats don’t want to go back to the future with a Clinton candidacy or presidency. As much as Clinton likers think he did a great job as president, they also remember the holier than thou approach of the Clintons, from all the scandals or alleged scandals, to the then-First Lady’s efforts at reforming health care (often in secret, there’s that word again) to the president’s “romancing” of a White House intern. Along with the good, we got the very, very bad. Continue reading

The Good Do Die Too Young

MAR 5 | Reprinted from

Amid the noise in a busy week in D.C., the widely loved and respected lawyer and politico Bill Schweitzer died in his sleep Tuesday morning. His passing once more proves the truth of the adage that the good die too young. In a town of people often lacking a moral compass, Bill Schweitzer was as good as it gets. He was respected and admired by anyone who had the good fortune to meet him. He was loved by those who had the chance to know him well.

Continue reading

Hurray for Mike Simpson

MAR 5 | Reprinted from

When John Boehner needed a Member to step up and take a leadership role in bringing the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill to the House floor yesterday, his friend Mike Simpson volunteered.

Simpson, a former Speaker of the House in the Idaho State Legislature, knows about leadership. He knows how hard it is to manage a sometime rambunctious legislative branch and he knows how doing the right thing is not always the same thing as doing the popular thing. Continue reading

Governor Walker Framed By GQ


“Wisconsin Gov. Walker Refuses to Answer Evolution Question”
February 11, 2015 headline over an Associated Press story on Governor Scott Walker’s trade mission to England.

The headline, of course, is inaccurate. Walker answered the question. He just didn’t answer it to the satisfaction of the AP. The reporter on the scene, Scott Bauer, wrote, more accurately, that Walker didn’t refuse to answer, but that he “refused to say whether he believes in the theory of evolution. Walker’s answer was: “That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or the other. So I’m going to leave that up to you.”

Not a great answer, but a legitimate one. Continue reading

Sushi, Cheese Pizza, & the House Freedom Caucus

MAR 3 | Reprinted from

Originally published in The Hill

According to news reports, members of the House Freedom Caucus celebrated a victory over the Republican leadership last week with sushi, cheese pizza and alcoholic beverages in an office in the Cannon building.

They really know how to party, those crazy guys.

I don’t think all 52 of the Republicans who joined with Nancy Pelosi to kill the three-week continuing resolution (CR) to fund the Department of Homeland Security (the reason for the celebration) are the hardest of the hard core. Looking over the list, I see plenty of members who Continue reading

Covering Washington

MAR 2 | Reprinted from

I love Twitter. With the advent of Twitter I can follow the major (and even some minor) national reporters and get 127 versions of what all of them have just seen, heard, and thought.

For someone like me, that is a significant time-saver and a major money saver.

The recent CPAC convention is a case in point. First of all kudos to Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which organized the convention. By all accounts it went off without a major hitch, and just about all of the major (and even some minor) unannounced, but “seriously considering” candidates for the GOP nomination made an appearance. Continue reading