Category Archives: Featured

Cheney Dilemma Challenges Republicans to Think Again

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  MAY 17, 2021

“As a republican, I say to my colleagues on this side of the aisle that the Republican party faces a challenge today that is not unlike the challenge which it faced back in Lincoln’s day. The Republican party so successfully met that challenge that it emerged from the Civil War as the champion of a united nation—in addition to being a party which unrelentingly fought loose spending and loose programs.”

Those were the words of Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith June 1, 1950, in the wake of what became the maniacal campaign of fellow Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy to purge Communist sympathizers from the Federal Government and the movie industry.

McCarthy encouraged bad behavior and perpetrated severe threats to our freedoms. He was the grandfather of cancel culture.

In her famous “Declaration of Conscience’ speech Smith dared challenge the intimidating McCarthy, warning against a Republican regime “embracing a philosophy that lacks political integrity or intellectual honesty (that) would prove …disastrous to the nation.” Smith said “I do not want to see the Republican Party win that way. While it might be a fleeting victory…it would be a more lasting defeat for the American people…”

Democrats produced their own version of a popular despot. Just a short two decades earlier they had to face down Huey Long, a corrupt, mean-spirited and flamboyant Governor of Louisiana and US Senator. When once challenged on acting contrary to the Louisiana constitution, Long declared “I’m the Constitution around here now.” He caused a near riot in the State Capitol, and later was the target of an armed insurrectionist movement in response to his attempt to stay in office illegally. Lt. Gov. Paul Cyre, who earlier supported Long’s impeachment, took control of the state when Long was out of town. Long was assassinated in 1935.

The similarities between then and now are striking. It is a shame we do not learn from the events in our history that give us perspective and map for us the road ahead. Continue reading

Mother’s Day Recollections at 100

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  MAY 9, 2021

Marge would have been 100 years old this year, in August. We were never sure whether she was born on August 1 or 2, but after a century it really doesn’t matter.

I loved my Mom and each passing Mother’s Day, I learn just how much.

Marguerite Ellen Brown was reared and went to school in Sioux Falls, SD, born there in 1921 to Earl and Veronica Adams-Brown. Earl and Veronica brought her up in a strict Catholic household during the depression with four younger brothers. It was a tough male-dominated environment.

All of the siblings served in World War II, except the youngest, Uncle Jack. Howard was a Navy pilot in the Pacific theater. Earl joined the Army and served in General Douglas MacArthur’s elite honor guard. My sister’s granddaughter Isabella found in her research that brother Richard Leo (Dick) lied about his age and joined the Army in 1942 at the age of 16. Continue reading

Immigration Not a Crisis, Illegal Immigration Is

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  APR 29, 2021

“The Southern border is not under control. It’s a mad house. We have car chases on a daily basis. We have immigrants jumping off trains. We have them coming into our schools…coming through people’s yards…most of the time now when your dogs bark at night, you wonder if somebody’s getting in your car or somebody’s fixing to break into your house.”  — Uvalde TX Mayor Don McLaughlin, April 2021

The frustrations and fears of people in one small Texas town epitomize but don’t really dramatize nearly enough the scope of the crisis on our Southern border. It is a real and serious crisis, President Biden and his legion of language manipulators notwithstanding. His persistent campaign to add a rosy tint to the crisis is reminiscent of President Donald Trump’s early portrayal of the COVID crisis.

Immigration is one of the perplexing and perpetual issues that have taunted the Republic since the first explorers dropped anchor here, my ancestors and likely some of yours among them.

It has been both a scourge and salvation of our successful experiment in individual, economic and societal freedom. The vast array and diversity of the people our way of life has beckoned here has helped mold the American character. It has also challenged what we have stood for, what we have strived to be. It is hard to calculate the benefits that flow from the American melting pot. But it is also difficult at times to surmount the problems that have spilled over the edges, particularly unlawful entry. Now it has once again gotten away from us; out of our control.

Continue reading

President, Congress on a Spending Spree

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  APR 4, 2021

A White House summary of its new infrastructure plan before it was unveiled put the total price tag at 2 trillion, 251 billion dollars.

But the media and most others talking about it had already rounded off the figure to an easy to read, easy to say $2 trillion. In other words, to keep things simple they lopped off $251billion. I remember Senator Ev Dirkson’s popular refrain: “A billion here and a billion there and pretty soon we’re talking about real money.”

Do you have any idea how many trips around the Moon it would be if you laid 251 billion dollars end to end? Neither do I, but I did some rough calculations. If you divided it among every American who received a stimulus check this year each would get $1,976. The defense department could buy 19 Gerald R. Ford nuclear class aircraft carriers. The total defense budget in 2000 was $293 billion. How about 5 billion, 20 million hot meals at $50 apiece? You could buy every team in the four major sports leagues-baseball, football, basketball, and hockey and have enough left over for two more aircraft carriers. You could buy Finland. Continue reading

The On-Again, Off-Again Filibuster Fight is On Again

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  MAR 28, 2021

There is a strong political wind blowing against the filibuster in the Senate.

The filibuster is a practice that arguably protects the rights of the minority in the Senate by allowing unlimited debate on most measures—talking a bill to death—unless the bill gets 60 votes, a practice known as cloture, to shut off debate. Some contend the threat of filibuster also encourages bipartisanship, which is good.

The debate over the filibuster is one that has always generated more heat than light, but in today’s climate where civility is a sign of weakness and timidity, the debate generates even more hypocrisy, hyperbole, disingenuousness, and nasty partisanship.

Senate Democrats, along with the President, who used to support the filibuster, are now taking the debate to new heights, or lows, by accusing those supporting the filibuster of racism. The race card is being played by Senator Elizabeth Warren, among others, and her friends in the media. They contend that the filibuster was created as a parliamentary procedure for blocking anti-slavery legislation and is a “relic of the Jim Crow era.”

A little history sometimes clears the air of hyperbolic pollutants. The use of the tactic can be traced back to the Roman Republic and a debate in the Senate over tax collectors pitting Marcus Cato against rival Julius Caesar in 48 BC. It’s an interesting tale but not relevant. Continue reading

Another Tragedy Mishandled by the Media

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  MAR 27, 2021

No one can argue with the Asian community’s long-simmering anger over the significant increase in violence against Asians over the past year—up 149 percent—and the timid response of society and the media.

It is understandable that the senseless murder of six Asian Americans caused an eruption of that anger across the country. The shooting spree was a display of unspeakable brutality that just defies comprehension.

The agony and anxiety of Asian Americans, however, is no excuse for the national media’s unwarranted campaign to portray Atlanta as the work of a racist white guy motivated by former President Donald Trump’s incitement of blame on the Chinese for the spread of the coronavirus, and Trump’s own timid response to white supremacy.

The coverage has been consistent with radical new paradigms in news dissemination. One of them is that if facts get in the way of a righteous narrative, the facts can be ‘reimagined’. Continue reading

Civility Is a Path Out of Desolation

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  FEB 28, 2021

“If we do not join now, to save the good old ship of the union on this voyage, nobody will have a chance to pilot her on another voyage.”
— President-Elect Abraham Lincoln February 15, 1861

It is probably not ‘woke’ to quote Lincoln.

San Franciscans are still thinking about scouring his name from schools. Elsewhere his statues are being pulled down like Hussein’s were in Baghdad.

The rail-splitter’s name and legacy are being purged from history by pseudo-progressives who prefer their own version of antebellum and Native American history without the benefit of pertinent facts or an ounce of reason. They’ve concluded Lincoln must go.

Those of Us—also a great band once upon a time in the Great Plains—who came of age in the 60s and 70s try to keep an open mind, but it’s tough. We recall how our elders damned Elvis and his gyrating hips (under their breath, of course) and how we thought they were so out of touch glued to the black and white watching Lawrence Welk. What was with the bubbles? Continue reading

Enough is Enough. The President Must Leave

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  JAN 8, 2021

When President Trump invited his hard-core supporters to Washington to protest the congressional certification of the electoral college vote declaring Joe Biden the President-Elect, he surely knew what he was doing. He has been toying with and exploiting the emotions of his supporters for years and when they got to Washington, he incited them to head for the US Capitol for a “wild” protest.

The Capitol was desecrated by violence. It hurt. I saw rooms in which I once worked, in hallways and rooms once revered. But the President did not condemn the insurrection; he told the rebellious horde that he loved them.

Only on Thursday, Jan 7, after a category five storm of anger and repudiation did he step before a camera and read from a script that the invasion of the Capitol was wrong.

He should resign the Presidency immediately. Hopefully, everyone around him including his family will encourage him to do so. Continue reading

Georgia Senate Campaign Can’t Find Kendelyn

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  JAN 4, 2021

“Kendelyn?”

Silence.

“I am sorry. I must have the wrong number,” a hesitant and polite voice offered.

“Well, you do and you don’t,” I replied. “You have the number you were supposed to dial, but you’ve got the wrong person. My name isn’t Kendelyn and I don’t live in Georgia. I have been getting calls and texts from you folks for months and would appreciate it if you would take me off the call list.”

“Yes, of course,” the polite voice responded.

She did not have to tell me why she was calling. I knew. Her call was one of a barrage of incoming missiles from both sides in the January 5 special elections in Georgia. I have received nearly 200 text messages, phone calls, and emails, many of them for Kendelyn. Continue reading

The Election is Over; Time to Govern If We Only Could

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  DEC 22, 2020

“Our mess of an election has finally, officially, irrefutably been resolved. We owe this to the brilliance of our Founders, but we deserve credit too for our continued fidelity to their vision.”
Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal 12/17/20

Hallelujah, Sister Peggy. Can we have an amen?

It is indeed over. The Electoral College voted 306-232 on December 14, ratifying the November results and completing a critical formal step in the American tradition of a peaceful transfer of power from one presidency to another.

It’s the Electoral College that calls the election officially.

It seems to be a common presumption in this country that the Constitution authorizes the national media to call our elections based on their keen political intuition, careful analysis of voting precincts, and exit polls. We then are expected to fall in line as though their declarations are formal, official, and final.

I looked again at Article II and the 12th Amendment of the Constitution and found no such instructions. Nor do I believe there are any written into any law other than the law of the political jungle. Good thing. The media of late have not been too swift at calling elections correctly as Thomas Dewey, Al Gore, and Hillary Clinton all discovered.

Continue reading

‘Tis the Season of Hope, Help, and Some Heroics

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  DEC 8, 2020

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act became law at the end of President Donald Trump’s signing pens on March 27, 2020. It was the centerpiece of four bills aimed at relief from the virus.

Since then, we’ve been pounded by one crisis and one catastrophe after another: floods, fires, hurricanes, recession, and deadly riots. Compounding it all is a lethal virus that we couldn’t even name, let alone tame. It continues to rampage through big cities, small towns, and farms. It has killed 280,000 people from 15 million cases, with more dying every minute. That foreboding statistic doesn’t count those who have taken their own lives or succumbed to maladies associated with the pandemic.

The medical community, several government agencies, charitable organizations, and those incredible American volunteers who always show up in times of crisis have all mobilized to fight the virus. The outpouring has been life-saving and heartwarming. Continue reading

Most Important Election in a Lifetime? Not Yet

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  NOV 10, 2020

Election day has come and gone. Well, it has come, but it isn’t gone…yet. The court challenges continue, hopefully for not too much longer. There is evidence of voter fraud and partisan mischief as there has been in just about every presidential campaign in our history, but the resistors have not made a compelling case for widespread fraud the likes of which would change the course of history.

The media has declared Joseph Biden the winner and it appears that presumptuous unofficial coronation will stand. It will be a great relief, a national exhale. Congratulations to him and to Senator Kamala Harris, who broke through so many glass ceilings on her climb to the Vice Presidency she’ll have to watch where she steps.

The 2020 election was touted as the most important election in our lifetime.

The message fell flat. We have heard it too many times, before too many elections. This time candidates and pundits began adding the phrase: “no, this one really is!” I’m not sure whether they were trying to convince their audience or themselves, because it wasn’t.

The election was important, as are most in a democratic Republic. But was this one the most important of a lifetime? History would say no unless you’re 11 and missed the election of our first black president. Common sense and a cold dose of reality say no, too.
Continue reading

Woodward, Inc.

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  SEP 20, 2020

What should have been a blinding dust storm of controversy over the pre-release promotion of Bob Woodward’s new book Rage, turned out to be a minor dust up quickly swept under the rug by most of the journalistic establishment.

The media seem to adore Woodward and largely for good reason. His stature is iconic. He paved the way for a whole class of tell-all books that have no doubt made some enterprising reporters a lot of money. He and Watergate sidekick Carl Bernstein were modern-day pioneers in a new brand of investigative reporting powerful enough to bring down a President. He is a publishing industry tycoon. What a guy.

The pre-release public relations campaign for Rage, however, raised enough troubling ethical questions that the press should not have let slip through the crack of professional courtesy so easily. Continue reading

Violent Protests, Killings Threaten Social Justice Movement

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  SEP 2, 2020

The country remembers the names of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. Now the nation knows the name of Jacob Blake.

Blake and the others were all killed in incidents of alleged racial discrimination and most cases, charges of police brutality. Several of the killings were captured on amateur video. One in particular, that of George Floyd in Minneapolis depicted what was to me a horrendous and gruesome act of murder. It made you sick, sad, and angry.

There are other reasons for sadness and anger that don’t get much attention but are critical impediments to achieving the kind of national unity needed for change.

Do you know the names Italia Kelly of Davenport, or David Dorn of St. Louis or Chris Beaty or David McAtee of Louisville or Patrick Underwood of San Francisco? How about Anthony Huber of Silver Lake? Probably not. Continue reading

Will COVID-19 Restock the Shelves with Civility, Tolerance?

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  APR 29, 2020

“I get it. You’re mad. The President is mad. My Democratic friends are mad. My wife is mad. My kids are mad. Even my dog seems mad, and Luna is a golden-doodle and they don’t get mad.” — Professor Jonathan Turley, testifying on impeachment before the House Judiciary Committee December 2, 2019.

The intensity of hate and anger that Dr. Turley experienced on Capitol Hill when he testified late last year in the impeachment proceeding against President Donald Trump has been subdued by the COVID-19 pandemic…for now.

Little did we know just four months ago that while national attention was in the clutches of the political theater being staged in the Capitol, the deadly virus was already creeping into the lives of people on the west coast.

What better time for an old cliché:

If we had only known then what we know now…. think how different things might be.

But that’s water under the bridge, over the dam, down the drain. Continue reading

Coronavirus Crisis Will Pass; Then What?

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  APR 21, 2020

When you have friends and family exposed to the risk of the “novel” coronavirus, which most of us do, it is difficult to think about much else.

New data based on revised models hold out hope for a quicker- than- predicted earlier cessation of the anguish. But just as hope gets brighter the light at the end of the tunnel dims. One scientist warns of a resurgence in the fall worse than this one and other scientists warn of a resurgence now if we don’t keep our distance from one another.

Still, it is time to think and plan ahead. The COVID-19 virus experience has left us with a mountain of problems and challenges, some caused by the virus, some older simply given new urgency by the pandemic. Continue reading

Broken Branch of Government Is Legislative

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  NOV 19, 2019

Last week was an important one in the House of Representatives. No, it wasn’t because of impeachment hearings.

While former Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was putting in a command performance in the Longworth Building, across the street in the Capitol the House of Representatives was voting to extend the life of its Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress.

I know what you’re thinking. In a desperate attempt to focus your attention on mundane news about the Modernization Committee I used a well-worn attention grabber to focus your attention on modernizing Congress. Continue reading

It’s Government, but is it Good Government?

BY RICH GALEN  |  OCT 9, 2019

As I may have mentioned to you, I think the House – run by Democrats – is doing this impeachment process all wrong.

In the House if the Ds have one more vote than the Rs (or the reverse) then the Ds get to do pretty much whatever they want within the established House Rules. That includes taking a bill or resolution to the Floor. I get one more vote than you; I win.

It is the same in the Senate at the Committee level, but as you know very well, the current filibuster rules require 60 votes to proceed on most bills and resolution.

Next time you hear someone complain about the 60 vote rule, remember how Democrats are treating Republicans in the House without a filibuster rule.

The Constitution of the United States says that a President (or any other officer of the Executive Branch) can be impeached by the House of Representatives. Continue reading

Impeachment is Back for Final (?) Run

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  OCT 7, 2019

As Yogi Berra would have likely observed, “this is deja vu all over again.”

President Donald Trump is again accused of violating the law and his Constitutional oath of office; committing impeachable offenses for which he should be removed from that office.

The clamor for his removal has been loud and angry since Nov. 8, 2016, the day he was elected. The accusations have run the gamut from tax fraud, covering up extra-marital relationships accompanied with violations of campaign finance laws, to continuing to profit from his businesses, and the catch-all for other charges–constant abuse of presidential authority. (I’ve always wondered if Mr. Trump was the kind of child who just couldn’t stay out of trouble. But I digress.) Continue reading

Good Way To Reform Government: Move It

BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON  |  JUN 23, 2019

Back in January 2016, the FBI was searching Maryland and Virginia for a new location for its Pennsylvania Ave. headquarters and I wondered why the search did not include North Carolina, Kentucky, or any of the other many states in which the Bureau could be housed less expensively and more efficiently.

Moving more of the Federal bureaucracy out of Washington is not a new idea. Legislators had been musing about it for years and legislation to explore the prospect was actually introduced in the last Congress by former Congressmen Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Luke Messer of Indiana. Continue reading