Friday, September 25, 2015

Roger Ailes Steps in It. Big Time.

Roger Ailes is in big trouble.

I mean, his job's not in jeopardy. He's made a ton for his boss, Rupert Murdoch, and his stockholders. But, oh, man, Fox News has stepped into it big time. They are clueless about what is going on around them and Roger is doubling down.

Permit me to reiterate: I am not a Donald Trump fan for reasons I have explained in other pieces. However, the network has clearly made a decision - at who knows what level - to not just mock the Trump candidacy, but to undermine it actively.

No one is more central to this effort than Megyn Kelly. She is an affronted woman of position and authority. She has been anointed by Ailes as the personification of the network's future: smart, attractive, family-oriented, attorney. Unfortunately, she is also smarmy, sardonic, aloof and thin skinned.

Trump attacked her. Viciously. I think she deserved it to some extent because she undeniably singled out Trump in the Fox debate with an attacking line of questioning that was personal and singular in its focus. I don't know why she went after him and I don't know if Chris Wallace and Bret Baier were consulted beforehand.

Trump did not respond graciously. Ever since (and I have watched her nightly "newscasts" regularly since that episode), she has used her airtime to mock him, to seemingly promote his most vociferous critics and to conduct herself in an unprofessional manner that was not present before the debate dust up.

It is creepy to watch, difficult to imagine it hasn't been blessed by Ailes and has fundamentally undermined the covenant it had with its viewers. While always understood to be a counterpoint to the mainstream and liberal media, it has never been perceived as favoring or disfavoring individuals on the right side of the aisle. That has changed irreversibly.

Trump pissed off Ailes and Fox by attacking Kelly. They circled the wagons and lashed out at Trump. But Fox blew their moral high ground. In addition to Kelly's nightly sarcastic molotovs, she has been joined by the personality emerging as Fox's prince of arrogance, Shep Smith. This good 'ol boy from Ole Miss is taking Ailes' boosterism way too seriously.

In addition to joining Kelly in smarmy "we all know Trump is an idiot" asides, he seems to have positioned himself as a humility-free, cartoonish newsman who is neither reporter nor commentator. He is like some freakish self-generated hybrid, unbelievable as a straight newsman, irrelevant as a serious commentator.

No matter what happens to Trump's presidential campaign, he has successfully made the powers at Fox very uncomfortable. They have jeopardized their long-standing relationship with a very loyal audience by reacting childishly to Trump's petulant tweets. They are putting an extremely valuable franchise in harm's way because Ailes objected to the way Trump handled his hand-picked Talent of the Future.

Now, everybody kinda expects this from Donald. But to date, no one expected this from Ailes. He has left himself vulnerable and he will have to come to some sense of detente with Trump. Who has ever - EVER - heard of a network in effect boycotting a personality who has delivered HUGE ratings because of some perceived personal affront? Never happened. CAN'T happen. Ratings are the lifeblood that course through the veins of any enterprise dependent on advertising.

Trump has delivered Ailes ratings in a way Kelly and Smith can only dream of. Ailes is paid mega bucks to deliver ratings which generate revenue which begets profits which makes stockholders happy which makes the Murdochs ecstatic and rich which leads to another big contract for Ailes! Remarkable!

If I were Ailes, I would fire Kelly and Smith for promoting the candidacy of Marco Rubio to the detriment of my news division's objectivity. They have both become insufferable elites and have long since lost their fresh faced charm. I flash on today's image of Shep pointing to an oversized map of Manhattan as he explains to us rubes how the Pope has insured complete gridlock and inconvenienced his hipster buds because - shit - they'll have to go below ground to take the friggin subway.

Having accomplished that, I would make sure that I have locked down an option on a future services contract with Donald once his candidacy suffocates. His track record of ratings generation is enviable and, by God, we'll find someplace to put him.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Happy Days Are Here! Again!!

There is a fraud of massive proportions blanketing this country today.

No, it is not the Hil email embarrassment, although the details revealed almost daily diminish her proportionately. No, it is not the candidacy of Donald Trump, although the near total absence of policy pronouncements undermines his temporary position atop the polls.

Rather, it is a conspiracy of tectonic forces which often align ideologically, but my memory is challenged to recall anything similar. The heart of the conspiracy is the myth that somehow Obama has rescued us from the economic collapse of 2008 and the economy is in a slow, but undeniable, recovery.

Despite the protestations of Josh Earnest (maybe the smarmiest, most condescending press secretary ever. And that's saying something when you think that intellectual giants like Marie Harf, Jen Psaki and John Kirby are in the same administration), the economy sucks.

When one considers that more than 90 million people able to work cannot find employment; close to 50 million people are on food stamps; and the Bureau of Labor Statistics has the unemployment rate improving on a beautiful bar chart from a high of 10% in October 2009 to 5.1% in August 2015. Holy mackerel, people, Obama has cut the unemployment rate in half! Happy Days Are Here Again!

Except they ain't. The Federal Reserve has been unable to reimpose an interest rate of any kind because the economy - worldwide - is so fragile. The stock market is roiling as of this writing because China's economy, on which so much global success has depended, is in free fall. In the last 3 months, the stock market has dropped 2,000 points.

Today, Caterpillar, one of the bedrock operations in this country and reliable harbinger of global economic health, announced that they were laying off 10,000 employees. Their stock price is down 25% year to date. They said 2015 would be the third consecutive year of lower sales. If they're down again in 2016, it would be the first, 4 year negative stretch in their 90 year history.

Why is Obama wasting his and our time lecturing us on the perils of global warming and embracing the Pope whose theories on economics flange up better with Chavez and Peron than our own? Obama says there is "no greater threat" facing us than climate change.

I think he has reconstituted The Choom Gang and they are in control of Washington. Who cares about global warming if the economy continues its slide and there is a precipitous increase in those requiring government assistance? How are we supposed to pay for that? If more people are falling out of the workforce, but energy costs escalate because of "climate change initiatives", how will normal people absorb these weekly wallet extractions?

There is nothing - with the possible exception of defense preparedness - more critical than fixing this economy which has been in the dumpster since Obama was inaugurated. Please, oh please, explain to me how that is not true without cutting and pasting propaganda from Occupy Democrats or Think Progress.

The sad fact is that Obama's economic initiatives - whatever they might have been - have fallen on their face. Their failure has been masked by painfully twisted statistical reporting from government bureaucracies the administration controls. Those bogus statistics are then parroted by the media who have become masterful at manipulating the Obama Image.

He cannot seem to have been wrong in his actions or policies because they cannot seem to have been wrong in their support of him.

So, we are staring at a complex series of powerful enterprises which are ideologically aligned and tied together by the need to keep the President from harm. They have performed in a manner I have never seen duplicated. The media hated Johnson because he supported the war in Vietnam. They hated the Bushes because the were Republicans. Their support for Clinton was half-hearted because even they were privately disgusted by the notion of a democrat President getting blow jobs by an intern and then lying about it.

But it was close. Very close. Because their common ideological objectives nearly - nearly - convinced them to give him a pass until a blue dress stained with semen caused a momentary pause. Holy Shit, they said. And, despite their best efforts to sweep this scandal under a rug, there was no denying the reality of a semen-smeared dress to be "donated" to the Smithsonian. All went quiet.

Now, his wife resurfaces after having been rejected by a "clean" African American nearly 8 years ago. But her position is shakier than it was then. Her reputation has been influenced undeniably by shifting positions, obfuscating statements and outright lies about the night of Sep 11 in Benghazi. Her email story is ridiculous, an embarrassing coverup that should lead to her indictment - unless the prosecution of Gen. Petreus was politically motivated and no indictments will ever cascade from the insanity of Fast and Furious and the IRS targeting of tea party groups. Any attempt to prosecute her will be parried by forces ironically tied to the Clinton Foundation.

There will never be any Fast and Furious indictments, nor will anyone at the IRS ever be held to account for their use of private information to target groups with which the administration disagreed; goodness, right before Obama's reelection campaign. Amazing!

The sooner this administration is brought to its appropriate conclusion, the better. We need to move beyond it and try to recover which will take more than 2 terms of a new President. Should the Hil or Uncle Joe prevail in November 2016, we will be facing greater uncertainty in the stock market, rising taxes and no improvement in the employment outlook. It will literally mean the end of the country as we know it today.

The likelihood of that happening - when compared with the "no greater threat" global warming paranoia of Obama's current rhetoric - stands in stark contrast with the brain-addled encyclical of the
Holy See and his ideological allies.

There will be no global warming issues with which to concern ourselves if the economy deteriorates
further and the consequence of broadening unemployment drives our deficit to levels which exceed our ability to ever repay.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Clean Gene Must Destroy Stuart Smiley

Minnesota. Fine state. Minneapolis-St. Paul. Prairie Home Companion. Hubert Humphrey. Democrat Farmer Labor Party. Eugene McCarthy. Paul Wellstone.

For millennials, you probably think there is nothing out of the ordinary about politics - particularly democrat - politics in Minnesota. Ah, but that's where you're wrong.

I would suggest, from personal experience, that Eugene McCarthy may have been one of the most significant figures in American politics over the last 50 years. Unassuming, avuncular, apolitical in appearance, McCarthy was a guy who challenged the status quo - in the form of Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War - and ultimately forced LBJ to withdraw from a re-election bid. His candidacy was viewed as frivolous, a distraction, but it galvanized the anti war left in a stunning way.

He also paved the way for Robert Kennedy. Kennedy was reluctant to take Johnson on, given his brother's relationship to LBJ (although it was patently obvious that neither brother could stomach the Texan), but with McCarthy taking the early arrows, Kennedy saw an opportunity to assume the mantle of anti war activists to take Johnson out.

We know the tragic story which ensued, but Gene McCarthy is known more as a footnote than the heroic figure he really was. In fact, I would suggest that McCarthy was a Founding Father of the modern democrat party which has become uniformly left wing and thoroughly anti war. In McCarthy's day, the party was far less doctrinaire and remarkably diverse compositionally. There were military hawks, members who favored tax cuts and reductions in government spending and - holy mackerel - clinging segregationists who had led the charge against voting rights and integration.
Yes, they were democrats, not Republicans.

My, oh my, how times have changed, right? Now, we are blessed with one of the century's blazing intellects as a United States Senator from Minnesota. With all that wonderful history. The Honorable Al Franken. Author of insightful political analyses, like "Rush Limbaugh is a Big, Fat Idiot". Or my personal favorite, "Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them". Is there anyone alive who watched Al Franken on Saturday Night Live who didn't cring a bit when he did his Stuart Smiley routine? Humor was clearly not his professional destiny, so he turned to the next best thing.

Al is the epitome of the 21st century Democratic Party. There is nothing even remotely bipartisan about what he does or says. He is the #1 Senator in that esteemed body to fall in line with his party. He votes with democrats 98.8% of the time. It is interesting to note, if he joins candidates Clinton and Sanders on wanting to rid politics of "big money" (and his 98.8% voting affirmation would suggest as much) that his largest campaign contributor is a law firm, Susman Godfrey, specializing in "commercial litigation", a very fancy term for tort attorneys. They have offices in Houston, Dallas, Seattle, Los Angeles and New York.

What?? Not Minneapolis? I mean, that doesn't make any sense.

You and I cannot fathom what might link Senator Al Franken to a law firm that is his largest campaign donor and does not maintain an office in his home state. Can we assume, perhaps, that the industry of tort trial lawyers which is deeply intertwined with the democrat party and resists all efforts undertaken by Republican to limit tort litigation and damage awards might be inclined to support someone like Stuart Smiley? Doggone it. People just like me!

Al Franken is the personification of what's sick about American politics in 2015. Hyperpartisan, bombastic in his dismissal of opponents, blindly in lock step with his president, unconcerned seemingly with his active participation in doubling our debt, nearly invisible when it comes to meaningful legislation. In all fairness, Franken seems to be pretty solid in his support of veterans issues and all credit to him for that. But his support of other legislative initiatives are predictably and strictly ideological.

Do not misunderstand: I could just as easily have picked an " establishment" Republican like John McCain, but, wouldn't you know it, he votes with his party only 81% of the time. It is a sad factual commentary that Republicans are far more likely to join their colleagues on legislation than vice versa. And no one captures that with the singularity of Senator Al Franken.

If you kids check out Gene McCarthy on your smart devices, you will read about a quiet, humble man who was willing to sacrifice his political career and challenge a sitting President from his own party because he believed deeply in principle. His affectionate nickname was "Clean Gene" because he seemed to be uniquely unsullied.

Today's Democrats won't even challenge their sitting President to follow constitutional mandates to present treaties to the Senate for advise and consent; no individual with the courage to speak out against a President who follows the laws he chooses and allows those with which he disagrees to go unenforced; and who mock their opponents for their willingness to challenge their own party's leadership on matters of principle.

Nothing ever will change until lemmings like Al Franken are swept from power. We need more men like Gene McCarthy, whether you agree with their positions on policy or not, because they challenge the status quo and are not led by their noses with threats of losing seniority. Voters want to know what candidates really stand for and they utterly reject poll-tested platitudes and stump speeches read from a TelePrompTer.

You'll recognize a political player with real principles. They are generally solitary figures, rejected by their own party's establishment because their causes are intended to bring down those in positions of authority. Drawing attention to their cause is all that matters and they are willing to sacrifice their own positions of power or authority for the cause's sake.

That definition is the complete antithesis of Al Franken and others like him. Including Donald Trump and, especially, Hillary. But there are people on the political scene who do fit this definition. And they must supplant those who do not in order for this ship to begin a change in direction.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Quintessentially Unsubstantial

I would describe myself as a moderate constitutionalist. On social matters, fairly libertarian - I believe government has little cause or standing to involve itself in personal affairs. On fiscal issues, I am a hawkish, face-painted tea partier - I stand with the words of JFK.

Go to and read his address before the Economic Club of New York in December 1962. He describes an America that sounds precisely like this country in 2015. The challenges are the same, though magnified exponentially, and his proposed solutions would get my vote today. There is not a democrat on the planet today that would identify with the policy pronouncements of their icon.

That is precisely what I am looking for from this group of Republican candidates. I would like one person to get up on a stage and say something to the effect of: If I'm elected President within my first 100 days in office, I promise you that I will (for example) reduce the size of the Department of Education by 10% (which is actually too small a number). If I cannot get Congress to implement this change, I will issue an executive order and fight any legal challenge that might arise from it.

Or perhaps he or she might say: If I'm elected President within my first 100 days in office, I will conduct an exhaustive review of the VA (and how about the IRS?) and I promise to take decisive action to streamline the overhead of this agency, hold accountable those bureaucrats who have failed to provide appropriate services to the American taxpayers and outline specifically the functional changes in the agency I will be targeting.

I am tired of platitudes. "Making America Great Again" doesn't cut it for me. "Breaking up the Washington Cartel" is catchy, but excludes any substance. The CNN debate had little to do with policy and much more to do with generating ratings and conflict. It was quintessentially unsubstantial.

On my way home from a dove hunt last evening (yes, bicoastals, I did participate in this Texas tradition), I happened to listen to Megyn Kelly's show via XM radio. She spent 20 minutes of her "news" program on an incident at a Trump town hall meeting where an unstable questioner told Trump we needed to get all Muslims (including the President) out of the country. Donald did not dismiss the questioner's absurd contention, and this apparently turned into a firestorm.

Kelly asked her guests whether all this media attention was warranted, but she was in effect positioning herself in this media slipstream by devoting so much time to this story devoid of substance.

And, so far, that is my assessment of the campaign so far: substance-less. I don't fault the candidates completely because they have to bend to the astounding throw weight of the media. When they're on the stump or appearing at events at which they can address voters without intermediaries, they do address issues and experience. They shy away from attacking fellow candidates and redirect their criticism to Obama and Hil.

Let us not ignore that in the face of the truly ridiculous numbers the first two debates on Fox and CNN have generated, The Hil is drawing hundreds on campaign appearances, even on college campuses. Her numbers are in tectonic slide, the DNC is in full protection mode by not expanding their debate schedule and her platform seems to be....indistinguishable from Obama's. Bernie's platform is: let's take that $18 trillion debt and freakin' double it! Hell yeah.

Somehow, we must return to some place and time where we can find some commonality between the Democratic Party of JFK and the Republican Party of Reagan. Maybe Lindsey Graham is right:
perhaps more drinking is in order. Short of that, we should demand that candidates who wish to be taken seriously must represent themselves with concrete positions of policy.

Believe it or not, Donald Trump has taken the first legitimate step on this golden road. He has outlined (or, more likely, his advisors have) a cohesive, rational policy paper on the Second Amendment. Agree or disagree, it is serious attempt to tackle the tricky question of how to control the legal and illegal possession of firearms.

Instead of analyzing the Trump policy statement - which is dry, wonky and too un-Trump-like to be taken seriously - the media would rather expend its oxygen on magnifying the inadequate Trump response to a questioner a bubble off plumb (Bicoastals - this allegorical phrase relates to a construction instrument that measures "level" with an air bubble in liquid. If you're a bubble off, you're way off center.) who is convinced Obama's a Muslim.

I'm not prepared to generalize about the media, but Megyn Kelly is clearly still fuming about Trump's reaction to her performance in the Fox debate. It was embarrassing and creepy to listen to her last night, encouraging her guests to agree with her assessment that Trump had midhandled this addled questioner. To devote more than 20 minutes to this inconsequential exchange was indicative of Megyn's inability to put the debate exchange in context and her desire to take down Trump with some professional patina. She appears more petty to me than Trump right now.

The next logical step is for debate #3 to be telecast by Bravo and moderated by some reasonable number of Kardashians. Kanye West, an avowed admirer of Donald and known Kardashian affiliate, would have to be barred from partication for obvious conflicts of interest. Ratings would be huge, substance nonexistent, media interest off the charts. Andy Cohen needs to moderate going forward with his Housewives in tow.

Let's cut the reality TV crap and get on with the substance. If CNN or Fox can't figure out how to manage this process professionally, let's find someone who can. And let's also get Hil into a situation where she's got to address legitimate questioning from unbiased journalists (ok, you're right - forget it). Until we get there, these candidates are nothing but ratings pawns in a TV drama and they suffer by sucking up to Roger Ailes and Jeff Zucker who are the ultimate winners.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Puff the Magic Bernie

I have been peppered by bicoastal Friends on Facebook recently regarding the awesomeness that is Bernie Sanders. I don't know whether this is some desperate reaction to the train wreck that is Hillary or a real embrace of socialism which, of course, is a discredited social system.

What seems to have triggered this paroxysm of liberal delight was Bernie's appearance at Liberty University. That school, you will recall, was founded by The Reverend Jerry Falwell, one of liberalism's most hated figures from the last 25 years. And freakin' Bernie ventures right into the belly of the Beast and draws a huge crowd! Wow!

If I'm not mistaken, though, Sanders was invited to Liberty as part of Convocation where students gather to hear guest speakers. He was graciously introduced by Rev. Falwell's son, given a "Sanders" personalized jersey, and, according to nearly every news report, treated cordially and respectfully.

Let's imagine a contrasting (but fictional, unfortunately) contrast. If Ted Cruz, for example, appeared at Columbia University or UC-Berkeley, how might he be received? Would there be an open-minded audience of eager college students, offering a philosophical opponent the opportunity to present his vision? Would the university administration welcome such a forum, let alone actually invite Sen Cruz to address their student body?

The answers are all too obvious. Whether one is comfortable with evangelicism or not, there is an atmosphere of tolerance and acceptance on that campus that is all too rare these days. It is ironic that most people who might ally themselves with Sanders view evangelicals with disdain, believing them to be religiously simplistic and intolerant of those who do not share their beliefs. Worse, the dog whistle implication is that they're unsophisticated, so foreign to the bicoastals - a scary Force of The Lord, dedicated to destroying ungodly Liberalism.

But the very opposite has become true. Bernie Sanders and those who share his dogma have become the arbiters of free speech. They have determined what is acceptable these days and what is not. Examples abound. Though 98 Senators voted to approve the Corker-Cardin bill, giving the Senate a limited level of input to JCPOA (which violates Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution), the Democratic minority, including Bernie Sanders, blocked via filibuster any meaningful debate, so no one would have to go on the record with an up or down vote.

Similarly, both Bernie and Hillary have centered their campaigns around reversing the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision. They have both said that if elected they will hold any Supreme Court nominee to overturning this decision. Again, it is ironic to take this stance seriously when the left gets so outraged if someone on "the other side" claims to want to do the same with Roe vs. Wade.

Citizens United gave corporations the ability to contribute to campaigns and PAC's as any individual or union might. Somehow this has enraged the left, but it begs the question: under what circumstances are unions permitted to contribute liberally to political campaigns, but corporations cannot?

Uh, could it be that nearly every dollar contributed by unions goes to Democratic candidates? Please.

And Bernie, like many of his fellow social Democrats, loves to complain about "getting big money out of politics" and always focuses on the Despised Koch Brothers as the devil incarnate of Big Money. What Bernie and Hil never tell you is that, for example, 16 of the top 20 contributors to political campaigns during the 2014 election cycle gave to liberal Democratic causes/candidates nearly exclusively. How does this elude any media scrutiny?

Yes, Koch Industries was on the list at #14 with $10 million in contributions. At the top of the list - oh my goodness - is Tom Steyer's Fahr LLC at $75 million in contributions, all of which went to democrat and liberal causes.

Where is the outrage? Where is the absence of hypocrisy? How dare that evil corporatist Tom Steyer be permitted to influence American electoral politics so blatantly? Bernie and Hil indulge in such offensive, selective outrage; the only way their claims escape media scrutiny is because.....the media does not want to scrutinize these scurrilous claims.

Bernie is no more the "outsider" than Hil is. He may have a lot less money, but he has been inside Washington since 1991 - that's 24 years. He has sometimes labeled himself a "socialist", but now seems to prefer "independent".  But there's nothing the slightest bit independent about him: he caucuses with Democrats, his committee assignments are determined by Democrat leadership, and
he votes with Democrats 98% of the time.

By what conceivable definition of "independent" is he an independent? How does he have the cojones to refer to himself as an "outsider"?

Give me a shout when he denounces Tom Steyer with the same vitriol he reserves for the Koch Brothers and "Wall Street bankers". He is playing the cheapest of all political games, not unlike Donald Trump. He is preying on fear, he is identifying boogie men upon whom we can place blame for the sorry state of this country, and he does all this very selectively. It is demagoguery, pure and simple, culled from his heroes, Noam Chomsky, the Sandinistas and other "revolutionary" heroes from the Sixties.

This is pure political theater that only shines its light on one side of the stage.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Breaking Opinion

Remember when real breaking news interrupted "regularly scheduled programming?" That was long ago, before the advent of cable and 24/7 news channels. I'm going to interrupt my commentaries on politics with an observation on the news media.

Illustration: last week, a rather unlikely character, Kim Davis, became the nexus of a classic left - right confrontation - gay marriage and religious liberty. You all know the details of the story. What intrigued me, though, was the coverage of her release from jail and the near unanimous disdain shown for her personally.

Her release "ceremony" seems to have been organized by Mike Huckabee, former preacher, former Fox News contributor (as they are wont to say) and, soon to be, former Republucan presidential candidate. Huckabee was undoubtedly trying to resuscitate his candidacy by acting the champion to his evangelical base, but I do not question his basic sincerity in supporting this woman's position.

But the ceremony was easily mockable in severable obvious and uncomfortable ways. Kim Davis is not particularly telegenic. Huckabee introduced her with "Eye of the Tiger" playing prominently. Oh my goodness, and then Kim's husband appeared. A large, but in shape, white man wearing overalls, his head topped by a straw hat with a colored visor cutout to shade his eyes.

It was a spectacle that made you shift your bottom in your seat, trying to find a more comfortable position, but allowing you to avert your eyes periodically.

Regardless, Shep Smith of Fox News, who was anchoring at the time, commented repeatedly about how Ms. Davis was refusing to acknowledge our new social reality: that because of a heroic Supreme Court ruling, gay couples could and should be married anywhere by any public official. No exceptions.

He then brought on set "Kennedy" whose occasional appearances on Fox mystifies me. Kennedy was a relatively obscure "talent" for a brief period on MTV. I guess she's supposed to represent millennials, has a more pronounced conservatism than some of her contemporaries and wears these mannish glasses as her fashion signature. But she seems as qualified to present analysis as Meghan McCain, who has also begun making periodic appearances.

What ensued was even more cringe worthy than the Davis ceremony itself. We were blessed with the opportunity to share some great inside cosmic joke with the two, as they snickered about how the scene reinforced every preconceived notion one could have about Kentucky, religious zealotry and white rednecks wearing overalls. It was unadulterated New York, elite media condescension at its finest. I know. I came from that world.

My purpose is not to argue the merits of same sex marriage or the limits of personal religious freedom. It is to reflect on the changes - mostly negative - that have occurred in the coverage of news by the media.

The tremendous popularity of opinionated, conservative talk radio has triggered in my view much of what has followed. There is no opinionated, liberal talk radio. Not of any consequence anyway. It just hasn't gained any audience traction. We know that this talk radio phenomenon has beaten the drum against Barack Obama consistently and vociferously. Many on the left chalk it up to latent, or worse, overt racism. I have and will continue to reject this tawdry generalization categorically.

As I have tried to detail in my own small way, the resistance to Obama is to his stated objective to fundamentally transform this country. And, much to his credit, which I begrudgingly acknowledge,
he has succeeded spectacularly. But he has accomplished this by demagoguing and by using the
complete devotion of his party to do so.

He has received unprecedented cover from "mainstream" media whose members are substantially liberal and whose objective seems to be to counteract the influence of this talk radio uniformity. How else to explain the lack of critical reporting on Obamacare, for example? Have we heard a word about how costs or deductibles might be changing or whether people are satisfied with coverages under this new program?

How is the Iran deal hailed as any kind of foreign policy "victory" when debate was smothered and it effectively became national policy with a minority vote of 42 Senators from one party? There has been no critical reporting on this specific issue; not whether the agreement itself is proper policy or not, but how it's come to be. Is that not a relevant matter for legitimate news reporting? What if George W. had sent the military into Iraq using a parliamentary trick and only 42 Republicans

Just one small example of this: headline in today's New York Times - "Gloomy Republican Campaigns Leave Reagan Cheer Behind". This is objective journalism? The Times bashing the current crop of Republican candidates with Ronald Reagan? The Times despised Reagan when he was President.

The "gloomy" statements that seem to trouble The Times so is the suggestion by these candidates see that "the country is diminished and unrecognizable - imperiled by forces foreign and domestic...." This is a statement of complete conjecture by the reporter, not supported by fact. He uses campaign rhetoric which he weaves together to draw his speculative conclusion. It is offensive reportage - a slanted opinion cloaked as "real news" because of where it appears in the paper and the consent of editors.

The line between news and opinion continues to thin and it doesn't serve either well. More importantly, it intentionally confuses and misleads the uninformed which, of course, is its purpose.

We now return to our originally scheduled programming already in progress.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Silence the Spoilers

Josh Earnest, perhaps one of the smarmiest press secretaries I've seen whose attitude accurately mirrors that of his boss, described Congress' role in determining the fate of JCPOA as "spoilers". It is unfortunate that Earnest either has no working knowledge of the Constitution or like his boss just refuses to adhere to its limitations.

It is an inconvenient point of fact that the Founders built much latitude into the Constitution in terms of the President's ability to conduct foreign policy. But when it came to negotiating pivotal agreements between America and other sovereigns, the Founders also included an important check and balance which they did in so many cases.

Specifically, if the President during the course of conducting the country's foreign policy chose to negotiate an agreement with another country which committed the United States to military, economic or diplomatic ties that would bind the country into future administrations, the Senate was required to confirm this arrangement with a super majority approval.

Josh Earnest's boss doesn't seem to hold this requirement in high regard. Regrettably, neither do many mainstream Republicans.

Today, Mitch McConnell pushed a vote to the Senate floor on the Corker-Cardin bill that turned the Senate's responsibility on its head. In place of having to obtain a super majority to approve JCPOA, Harry Reid brilliantly punked the Republican majority by insisting that a legislative review of JCPOA was all the minority would permit. Petrified - as is customary - the McConnell/Boehner regime agreed, believing this presented their only opportunity to opine on JCPOA with the consent of the minority. Were the parties' positions to be reversed, and a Republican president was in the White House, does anyone imagine Harry Reid agreeing to this?

With 42 Democrat votes in support of JCPOA and 60 votes required to end debate and drive the bill to an up or down vote, the bill passed 58 - 42, but 2 short of the necessary 60. There will not be a vote on the merits of JCPOA and, more importantly, Obama will not be forced to veto a bill to proceed with JCPOA.

This is a brilliant procedural victory for Obama and the Ayatollah. It is another humiliating defeat for the mousy McConnell and establishment Republicans. This will be followed shortly by passage of a Continuing Resolution to fund the government - with $500 bil going to Planned Parenthood - because McConnell has already announced his pending capitulation.

I accept the fact I'm somewhat obsessed by this issue, but giving international legitimacy to a nuclear program driven by the world's terrorist vanguard which has defied every, single, UN resolution against it is a profoundly bad idea. Besides that, the President and his team assured the public, long before any understanding was reached with the Islamic Republic, that certain minimal performance requirements would have to met. As all the president's men skunked the Republicans, so did the Ayatollah take John Kerry and Ernest Moniz and play them like a Ghanoon.

Mitch McConnell and John Boehner have been shamed, intimidated and neutered by Obama, Reid and Pelosi. Their worst nightmare is to be accused of being obstructionists, racists, unwilling to work in a "bipartisan" manner. It's unfortunate they were elected to be obstructionists, to oppose Obama's agenda, to end executive amnesty, to repeal Obamacare, and to stop this catastrophic agreement with Iran. They have failed spectacularly.

So, the JCPOA is favored by 21% of Americans. Like Obamacare, this agreement will proceed without any Republican votes. But instead of being mere irritants, this time the Republicans could have actually stopped this treaty from implementation. Had the Senate insisted at the outset - long before Bob Corker had the chance to make his own lasting contribution to the last 7 years of Republican failure - that it would only consider JCPOA as the treaty it is, there would not have been 67 votes to legitimize an Iranian nuclear program.

Would Russia, China, Britain, Germany and France have lifted sanctions regardless of what transpired in the U.S.? No question. Russia, particularly, is so deeply entrenched with Iran that there would be no secret, UN defying nuclear program in the first place without them. Certainly, it is inconceivable that North Korea could become a nuclear power without at least a nod and wink from China. Russia and China are chronic, consistent bad actors and they cloak themselves in Security Council robes to insulate themselves from their provocative actions. They are hardly in a position to monitor Iran's compliance with JCPOA.

Why the rush to enter into an agreement with Iran? Obama's rationale is that they were dangerously close to a nuclear breakout and this was the only way to prevent it. But the cynical among us (ok, yes, that's me) believe the rush has been driven by the rapid approach of Obama's retirement. If the President and his party were so convinced of the JCPOA's benefit and security, why push the filibuster? Why not have the issue debated and voted upon? The Dems knew they had these 42 votes; knew they had enough votes to prevent any veto override.

But just as nearly every one of those 42 votes couched their support with words like "it isn't perfect" and "there are some elements that trouble me", they continued to cast their lot with Obama and could not see his "victory" tarnished by having to override a veto. The only option, then?

Silence the spoilers.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Obama Medals of Freedom

If I were Barack Obama, I'd be singling out a few members of the media for Presidential Medals of Freedom (or some other taxpayer funded gift) before I left office.

One would clearly be Juan Williams. He has assumed the role of Designated Obama Defender on Fox News, a role he's been serving for almost 7 years. The Five, Special Report, Bill O'Reilly - he's done it all. While defending himself as independent, it is challenging to find occasions where he has veered from the President's course.

My other nomination has to go to Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post. His column today, "Obama Has Good Reasons to Smile", is emblematic of the pitchers of Kool Aid he has guzzled over the President's two terms.

First President to Venture Above Arctic Circle! Unemployment 5.1%! The Iran Deal which "Definitvely" Keeps Iran from Building a Nuclear Weapon for Fifteen Years! He Brought the Economy Back to Real Growth! The Affordable Care Act is Well Established! Industries Are Accommodating New Restrictions! The Border With Mexico is More Secure Than Ever Before!

He really used these words to describe the near messianic reign of Obama The First.

Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood is on a very different planet than my own. Permit me to comment briefly on his claims of success.

1. Obama did in fact cross the Arctic Circle. What he said there was far more important than where he was when he said it. "The United States recognizes our role in creating [climate change]...." he
pled guiltily. According to The New York Times, Obama, "...warned the effects of global warming...
would soon...submerge entire countries, annihilating cities, and leaving fields barren...."

It seems appropriate to add that his Genius Secretary of State who negotiated the incredibly rigorous JCPOA compared the challenge of climate change to World War II when "all of Euope was overrun
by evil and civilization itself seemed to be in peril". I'm sorry - did the Genius just say "seemed to be
in peril"? That's an interesting way to describe the Thousand Year Reich. And he compared that to climate change? 

You've got to love the ideological devotion of the left and its ability to call forward the apocalypse for those who fail to follow the faith.

2. The only conceivable way that national unemployment is 5.1% is to exclude (which these labor
statistics do) the more than 90 million Americans eligible to join the work force who can't find
employment. That's men and women. All ethnicities. Even according to these cooked statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment in the African American community is double the national average. It would be difficult to argue, I think, that some of the frustration bubbling over in American cities is not due to some extent to a declining lack of JOBS available in those communities. How can Mr. Robinson just ignore this painful reality?

3. The Iran Deal. Enough said.

4. The Economy. See #2.

5. Yes, the Affordable Care Act is "well established" . Is that the best descriptor he can find? How about - it's wildly successful! People can't wait to get on board! Annual increases are 5%! Every family saved $2500 in premiums just like the President said! People really did get to keep their plans
and their doctors! He can't say anything like this because none of it is true.

6. Obama has given the EPA broad authority to promulgate regulations in place of legislation authorized by Congress. See #1. In an administration that believes - believes - that climate change is the biggest threat to national security we face, there is little that industry can do to resist the power of the Federal Government unless they commit to litigation against an opponent that can literally print money. The EPA acts with a level of impunity and disregard to constitutional strictures that can only be compared with the NLRB. Or the IRS. Or the FCC. Or the Justice Department. I think you get my drift.

7. I'm sure there's a poll out there somewhere, but how do you think Americans would respond to the question: do you believe our border with Mexico is more secure than ever? We all know what the answer would be. Any of us living in border states, particularly if you venture into areas immediately adjoining the border, know this is an absurd assertion. I have been on ranches in Webb County near Laredo. There are well worn trails through these ranches that illegals traverse to avoid the roads and Border Patrol checkpoints. Not along the border, but well inland on I35 northbound. Many ranches have trailers or modest bunkhouses for hunters since Webb County is one of the deer hunting destinations in Texas. These shelters are broken into constantly, and I will spare you the details of
what is left behind. This is not immigration. These are people who knowingly enter the country
illegally, often paying cartel coyotes to move them across a porous border.

So, we're I Obama, I'd get these guys and a few other colleagues over to the Kennedy Center ASAP. Time's a wastin'. Roll out The Dixie Chicks and Roger Waters for some inspirational anti-Bush, pro-BDS harmonizing. After that, we don't have an awful lot of time left to come to some conclusion on whether Hillary Clinton should be added to the Lois Lerner pardon list.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Rejecting JCPOA

I'd really like to write about something other than the Iran deal. Truly.

But, literally, every day there is some event, comment from a public figure, lunatic column by a "respected" pundit that cannot be ignored.

I have tried, in my own absurdly private way, to express a point of view which has, over the last few weeks, become more cogent and in which I am fully committed. Unlike Gen. Colin Powell, who as time passes becomes a figure I take less and less seriously, who endorsed the JCPOA (the only name by which I will refer to this treaty going forward) on "Meet Chuck Todd" today with the ringing endorsement that it's a "pretty good deal". That just ain't good enough for me.

The JCPOA (or a more effective replacement) should be air tight. Not subject to interpretation. As clear as a winter morning in Alaska when the inside of your nose freezes. Anytime/anywhere inspections that did not exclude American or Canadian inspectors. A definitive snapshot that would chronicle the nature of Iran's military nuclear program before the lifting of sanctions. You know what was promised and the paucity of deliverables.

We are quickly reaching a nexus point that will define - forever - the real willingness of legislators to embrace or reject the very essence of constitutionality. As I have opined before, the Corker-Cardin bill is a legislative anomaly: a stillborn attempt to forge a bipartisan initiative to present the entirety of the JCPOA before Congress and then consent or reject its passage. The president willingly agreed, knowing the outcome could be challenged and vetoed.

But there are several extremely important things we know now that we did not know when the Corker bill passed 98 -1.

First, the bill requires that within five days of an agreement every piece of information be presented to Congress before the passage clock starts ticking. The IAEA "side deals" have not been presented to Congress because they are confidential arrangements negotiated by the Iranians and the UN. We would not even be aware of their existence without Sen. Tom Cotton, the only "no" vote against the Corker bill. That legislation requires that any annexes be provided to Congress. It hasn't happened.

It also requires that the JCPOA only address the Iranian nuclear program. It specifically requires that sanctions in place on its ballistic missile program and its funding of terrorist proxies be excluded. Unfortunately, the JCPOA addresses ballistic missile restrictions and development and there is no mechanism for restricting the repatriated sanctions funds from being funneled to proxies or restricting the use of those funds for the purchase of weaponry for those proxies. So, again, the elements of the Corker bill are violated.

I have argued that the Corker bill should be repudiated. That the JCPOA is as important a treaty as any negotiated - including those with the former Soviet Union - in the post WWII era. It demands to be authorized as Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution requires: with a two thirds affirmative vote of Senators present. Not the House. The Senate. Only.

If this does not occur, then the JCPOA has the same force and effect as an executive order. The president has the authority to move the agreement forward because his authority to conduct foreign affairs is broad. But a new president to be inaugurated in January 2017 is not bound by the executive action of his predecessor and can rescind this agreement on his or her first day in office.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, assuming she's still serving her predominantly Jewish district in Florida after announcing her support of JCPOA today "holding back tears", will kick and scream. Court
challenges will ensue. Flagellation will be threatened. But a new president will have sufficient
standing to rescind the agreement - especially if today's democrats decide, with Obama's encouragement, to filibuster the Corker bill and block any vote - and it will take years for any kind of definitive court ruling.

Would we stand alone? Would we be an international pariah? Would the other signees of JCPOA never do another deal with us because we burned them on Iran? Would the Iranians suddenly come to the conclusion that they could not trust the Great Satan?

The inescapable conclusion is this: if Republicans wish to retain control of the House or Senate or both, they must delegitimize the Corker bill. They must pass a resolution that they will only consider JCPOA as required by Article 2, Section 2 and do so with a simple majority (thank you, one eyed Reed!). Then, the Senate should hold hearings on JCPOA as appropriate before holding a vote on affirmation. If it receives a two thirds vote, it goes into effect. If it does not, it is rejected and no presidential veto can prevent its rejection.

Not unlike the Alice In Wonderland conclusion that Rep. Nadler tried rationalizing after receiving a nonsensical justification from the President, Rep Debbie - chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, let's remember, and key legislator charged with retaking the House and Senate - explained today, "This agreement is not perfect." Gee, it sounds like that genius Gen. Powell. Or that other Master of Foreign Affairs, VP Joe Biden.

Why does every single justification for support of JCPOA start off with a disclaimer about how
imperfect the agreement is?

Are the stakes not high enough that we can't strive for a little less imperfection?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Obama's New Math: 34 Is Greater Than 67

Remember all the folderol about New Math?  How about the New Majority? As has become the rule rather than the exception, Barack Obama has now combined the best of these two abhorrent notions and given us something new and shiny.

News organizations ran banner headlines today that 34 Democrat senators have agreed to support the Obama-Kerry "Let's Make Iran A Nuclear Power" initiative and it will soon become a core tenet of American policy.

This is truly an incredible development. Back in the day, we used to have this antiquated notion in this country that was known as a "majority". What's a majority, you millennials say? Well, kids, a majority was a concept whereby more than 50% of a governing body that was charged with determining the outcome of a particular question was required for a contentious issue to be passed by a legislative body.

And you know what? We also used to have an antiquated concept called a "treaty". Never heard of it? No surprise there. A treaty used to be known as a formal agreement between two or more states in reference to peace, alliance or commerce or other international relations.

Our Constitution (that's an archaic, analog document that was written on parchment [a stiff, off white paper] likely with quills [the hard part of a bird feather formed into a pen for writing]) which is a system of fundamental principles according to which a nation is governed, stipulated in Article 2, Section 2 that "The President...shall have Power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur...." Not too complicated, right? Don't need a poli sci degree to figure that one out.

But what has just occurred with Obama and Kerry and the democrat party? They have coined an interesting euphemism for their giveaway to the Islamic Republic: The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). No, I am not kidding; that's really what it's called. And they have attempted to short circuit the requirements of the Constitution in three ways:

1) by referring to this as anything but a "treaty", they claim it is not subject to the provisions of Article 2, Section 2;

2) because they knew a treaty with the Islamic Republic - particularly a treaty that failed to achieve the goals they themselves had established, like "anytime/anywhere" inspections - would fail to be approved by two thirds of the Senate, they crafted a "concession" with spineless Republucans anxious to appear bipartisan. Both houses would be permitted to review and debate the agreement, and vote to approve or disapprove it. But it also gave the President the option to veto a negative vote. Then, a two third vote would be required to override his veto, thus reversing the Constitution's treaty requirements;

3) since the JCPOA has already been signed by Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, and many sanctions and violations by the Islamic Republic involve the UN, Obama and Kerry first took the agreement to the Security Council which approved it unanimously.

So, where are we now? The JCPOA will go into effect because 34 Democrat Senators will support it. That means a veto cannot be overridden. Obama and Kerry now want to get 41 Democrats on board because with that number, the bill can be filibustered and not come to the floor for a vote! So - just like Obamacare - this critical and dangerous strategic shift will go into effect without a single vote from the opposition. This, my friends, is then the new definition of Bipartisanship which Obama claims is his unceasing quest.

But for Obama, bipartisanship has always meant: agreeing with me!

Many people, here in the U.S. and in Israel, were critical of Bibi Netanyahu's "interference" in domestic political affairs here. But in retrospect that guy's a lot sharper than many think. I believe he knew from the outset that there was never a chance that no agreement would emerge from discussions with Iran. I believe he anticipated far more accurately than our own expert pundits that Obama and Kerry would do literally anything to come away with an agreement. That would be bad for Israel under any circumstance. Like Paul Revere, he tried to sound the alarm.

He was right. They did. And the Senate, which had the power to exert greater influence over the outcome, gave it away in the name of bipartisanship. Only Sen. Tom Cotton understood this and he was the sole Senator who tried to protect the Senate from itself in a 98 - 1 vote.

The hearings that will take place over the next few weeks on JCPOA are a sham. They mean nothing. It's a show they'll be putting on for their own benefit. This agreement goes forward, the consequences unknowable.