Tag Archives: politics

Institutions and Values Part II: The Pyrite Rule


“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”
Bible, (Matt. 7:12)

It was taught to my siblings and me by my mother back in the 1950s, but the Golden Rule or versions of it have been a lantern for life’s journey for 2000 years or more, a version of which was propounded by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, according to an Internet search. I am not sure if my mother read Aristotle. She was probably introduced to the Rule by Catholic nuns who schooled generations of us back in South Dakota, but who often let it lapse in their own behavior in the classroom where weapons-grade yardsticks were always close at hand. Continue reading

Republicans, Democrats, & the Righteous Few



There is no word that better explains the intractable nature of our government’s dysfunction, particularly now in the throes of frozen federal appropriations and a looming debt ceiling crisis.

Righteousness is a noun that describes an attitude that results in behavior “arising out of an outraged sense of justice or morality” (the appropo Webster definition). It is a behavior rooted in a sense of such uprightness that it is essentially free of guilt or sin. The righteous feel absolved from any need for self-judgment or self-reflection.

Can I have an amen?

We have heard President Obama again and again refuse to negotiate and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warning of Armageddon if no one acts. We have listened to Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee pontificate about the immorality of compromise, and we have heard the same refrain from dozens of Members of Congress from Justin Amash of Michigan to Continue reading

Don’t Focus on Only Scandal

Reprinted from TheFeeheryTheory.com

Can they walk and chew gum at the same time?

That will be the question for congressional Republicans as they navigate the next year and a half before the 2014 elections.

The scandals that have dogged the Obama administration at the beginning of its second term have presented the House GOP with a seemingly golden opportunity. But all that glitters is not gold, and the temptation to put all of the political eggs in the scandal basket might be overwhelming but should be resisted.

The conservative advocacy group Heritage Action has sent a warning letter to congressional Republicans telling them to stop walking toward legislative accomplishments and focus only on chewing up the administration on the scandal front.

Continue reading

Getting to the Bottom of Benghazi


President Barack Obama has dismissed it as a political circus. Senator John McCain thinks it is a cover-up. Rep. Jason Chaffetz raises the spectre of impeachment.

Somewhere between a political circus and an impeachable offense is the truth about the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Lybia, that resulted in the deaths of four Americans on Sept. 11, 2012.

The truth, of course, is seldom an absolute. That’s especially the case in politics where opinions legitimately differ, recall is never total, and facts and circumstances can generate more interpretations, descriptions, analyses, and conclusions than there are facts and circumstances.

We will never know exactly what happened in Benghazi, but we do know that four good people died there. We have reason to believe their deaths may have been prevented. We certainly don’t want their sacrifices to have been in vain. Continue reading

The Hatfields and McCoys

Reprinted from TheFeeheryTheory.com

“These guys are like the Hatfields and McCoys. That’s why they can’t get anything done in Congress.”

My cab driver pretty much nailed it on the head. Relations between the Democrats and the Republicans in Congress have taken on all of the characteristics of that famous family feud.

The Hatfield-McCoy feud started out when a McCoy came home from the Civil War as a Union soldier, angering a group of Hatfields, who had formed a pro-Confederacy vigilante group called the “Logan wildcats.” They promptly murdered him. Continue reading

The Train Wreck

Reprinted from TheFeeheryTheory.com

Originally Published in The Hill.

The healthcare train currently chugging down the tracks is going to crash, and it is not going to be pretty.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the Senate Finance Committee chairman who helped design the healthcare reform bill signed into law by President Obama three years ago, was the one who initially called it a “huge train wreck.”

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, characterized the law as “beyond comprehension.” Continue reading

Seeing the Big Picture

Reprinted from TheFeeheryTheory.com

Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) were the highest-profile stars of the Tea Party Class of 2010. They successfully scared two centrists out of the Republican Party before a primary vote was even cast, and were held out as examples of conservative leadership, dedicated to stopping President Obama at all costs.

Less than three years later, they no longer seem to be so extreme. Instead of being content to vote “no” and go home, they are in the middle of the various Senate gangs. Toomey is working with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to enact Continue reading

Politics Ain’t Beanbag

Reprinted from Mullings.com

From Newport Beach, California

One reader asked me: “If Fox News Channel is so far ahead of MSNBC and CNN why did the GOP lose the Presidential election last fall?”

The answer is: The number of people who watch cable news is a tiny percentage of the voting population. Continue reading

What Does ‘True Equality’ Mean Today?

Reprinted from TelemachusLeaps.com

The debate in the Supreme Court over marriage equality has certainly opened up the core essential debate we have had in America since the Founders founded this nation in Philadelphia in 1787, one of the epochal beginnings to any great civilization the world has ever known: ‘What is equality in 21st Century America today?’

‘We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal…..’ is the rallying cry that the Founders used from the Revolution of 1776 to underpin the US Constitution. Continue reading

Paranoia Will Destroy Us

Reprinted from TheFeeheryTheory.com

The Blade Runner was paranoid.

South African Olympic track star Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his beautiful girl-friend and those gun-shots have been heard around the world.

We don’t know if the no-legged phenom was paranoid over a potential intruder (as he maintains) or was paranoid over the beauty’s faithfulness (which the police could charge), but we do know that paranoia played a role.

Paranoia plays a huge role in our national political discussion. Despite the fact that crime is at historic lows, everybody is paranoid that the bad guys are coming to rob them. Continue reading

Learn From Obama

Reprinted from TheFeeheryTheory.com

The President’s second inaugural brilliantly pushed forward his political agenda in ways that Republicans need to understand and learn from.

Republicans will never be able to outbid the President when it comes to coalition politics. But they need to appreciate how coalition politics, as practiced by the Democrats in the Obama era, is played and they need to come up with a game plan to counter it.

The President’s message was aspirational for the country, inspirational for his coalition partners and infuriating for his opposition. He was able to make the cause of his diverse coalition – gays, immigrants, anti-gun people, African-Americans, Hispanics, poor people – seemingly the most important cause of the nation.  And he dared the Republicans to oppose it. Continue reading

Fiscal Cliff Tragedy/Comedy, Part I


The tragedy and the comedy of the fiscal cliff negotiations are that they have little to do with the fiscal cliff.

The fiscal cliff is a relatively straight-forward collection of budget issues. But like so many other budget issues that have become the playground of ideologues, the fiscal cliff negotiations have been hijacked by a herculean clash over political dogma, a classic struggle between progressive forces dedicated to the redistribution of wealth and libertarian forces dedicated to dismantling government as we know it. Continue reading

Attention Wal-Mart Shoppers

Reprinted from TheFeeheryTheory.com

I am thankful that I never, ever have done the early shopping the night of or the morning after Thanksgiving.

Black Friday is a black mark on American capitalism in my view. For once, I am with the union workers, who said “enough is enough” to the folks who run Walmart.

No offense to my friends at Walmart, but come on people. There is plenty of time between now and Christmas for everybody to get their shopping done. Continue reading

Barack Obama’s Charmed Life


President Barack Obama has had a charmed political life.

He has been a first class passenger on a supersonic rise in politics from community activist, state legislator and part-time U.S. Senator to President of the United States. And now he is running for a second term, wrapped in coats of Teflon slapped on so thick the negatives just don’t stick.

President Obama is rising in the polls and enjoying high personal popularity at a time when so much seems to be crumbling around him. Continue reading

Are You Better Off…

Reprinted from Mullings.com

As the Democratic Party gathers in Charlotte, North Carolina this week to re-nominate Barack Obama, the big question Republicans are asking Americans to answer this week is: Are you better off now than you were four years ago?

There is almost no metric that would allow a segment of the population to answer, “Yes.” But, before we get into the wrangling of the coming three days, let’s step back a bit.

Continue reading

Campaigns Part II: News Media Save Thyself


New survey data released August 27, confirmed that more than 70 percent of Americans give the economy negative marks. Nearly the same number believes the country is seriously off track and the same number, 70 percent of Americans, believes the economy will be the dominant issue in how they vote.

The Washington Post headline over that story reflected a different reality: “While the rhetoric reflects other issues, economy still dominates race.” In other words,  what the vast majority of Americans are most concerned about is not what the news media are covering. Continue reading

Campaigns Part I: Public Must Save Campaigns


“This is a political stunt.”

That was the analysis of Meet the Press host David Gregory, who was summoned to the anchor desk on the NBC Nightly News August 17, to offer more incisive in-depth coverage of what everyone in America was anguishing over, the Romney and Ryan tax returns.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had taken the podium on the Senate Floor a week or so earlier and accused Mitt Romney of not paying income taxes for 10 years. It is reasonable to assume that Reid deliberately lied about Romney’s taxes in a silly attempt to goad him into releasing tax returns for those 10 years.

Gregory was close, but he didn’t get it quite right. What we were witnessing was not a stunt, but a political disgrace. Continue reading

US Garage Needs Cleaning

Reprinted from Mullings.com

According to two pieces I read over the weekend, the world is coming to an end but I am going to be out-of-town for it.

I am at JFK awaiting a flight to Accra, Ghana to whence I will be traveling on behalf of the ONE Campaign. Ghana is introducing two new vaccines to its medical system and I’ll be there to watch (and write about) the roll-out.


While I’m gone I would appreciated it if you would take some steps to straighten up the national garage. It’s a mess and it would be a good thing if we started tossing out the junk and putting the good stuff in its proper place. Continue reading

Hazing The Rich

Reprinted from Loose Change at TCBMag.com

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

Obama Presidency Sum of Its Parts


The Obama Presidency is a wonder to watch.  Barack Obama is making changes, which taken together—the sum of their parts—are transforming government and politics in disturbing ways it will take years and maybe decades to reverse.

His presidency is the triangulation of three distinct characteristics of politics and government.

First, the Obama Presidency is an Imperial Presidency, accumulating and concentrating power in the Executive like few Presidents have done before.

Second, it is a campaign Presidency, intensely focused on winning a second term, at the expense of public policy and cooperation with Congress.

Finally, it is an Administration, a collection of Cabinet departments and federal agencies which he is using to move the government and the country in a starkly different direction than in any time certainly since Reagan, and maybe Roosevelt.

The Imperial Presidency, historically, is a label applied to administrations that have taken unilateral military actions or engaged in aggressive foreign policies: James K. Polk’s intervention in Mexico; Theodore Roosevelt’s internationalism; and in more modern times, Lyndon Johnson’s expansion of our role in Vietnam or Ronald Reagan’s aid to Contra rebels in Nicaragua. Continue reading