Wednesday, July 17, 2019
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Thoughts on the Historical Sources of Democratic Weakness

In the present fraught moment -- with the Democrats hesitating in dealing with by far the most impeachable President America has ever had --...

“No Quitter”— How on Trump Even a Virtue Is Turned into...

This is my weekly op/ed in my red congressional district (VA-06) ************************* Interviewed on TV the other day, Democratic Congressman (and presidential candidate) Eric Swalwell was...

Monday News: “Truth Isn’t Truth”; “America is slouching toward autocracy”; “Nixon,...

by Lowell Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, August 20.  Trump Lawyers’ Sudden Realization: They Don’t Know...

Needed: A Pre-emptive Attack on the Abuse of the Pardon Power

A Legit Power Can Be Abused People have spoken – too much, in my view – about how broad, how nearly unlimited, is the power...

America’s Role in International Order and, Now, Disorder

This piece is appearing in newspapers in my very red congressional District, VA-06. *************************** For the entire history of human civilization, the international system has been...

Impeachment Delayed is America Imperiled

It looks to me increasingly likely that the Trump presidency will end with his removal from office through impeachment (despite the effort of the...

What Should a Morally Responsible Republican Do Now?

Appearing in newspapers in my conservative congressional District in Virginia. This is not addressed not to those Republicans who think Donald Trump is an appropriate...

If Only It Was as Simple as $100

Gift photo 140112Gift_zps71d7f333.jpgWhile you must applaud the leadership on gift limitations imposed by the new Governor and Attorney General, they are largely symbolic. There are no specific penalties for policy violations. Only because this is an "at will" state are these enforceable. But what is a gift? Who is a friend?

As Bob McDonnell learned, you don't always know who your friends are. Thanks to an embarrassing amendment to the Virginia Constitution championed by Bob Marshall and his ilk, we don't even know when a spouse is a spouse (even though we really know). And while the order may have a chilling effect on corruption in the executive, for the legislature and judiciary it is business as usual.

...Travel that does not serve a "legitimate public purpose" falls under the cap, as do loans, lodging, meals, services, special discounts and entertainment unless it is a ticket to a Virginia school or government event.

Gifts from personal friends, private business relationships and family members are excluded from the cap. So are financial aid, invitations from an official or candidate to political events, tickets that go unused, gifts that are returned unused within 60 days, retirement gifts from government agencies, honorary degrees, awards from civic or religious groups and competition prizes. - as reported in the Washington Post

What is "legitimate?" A "scholarship" to attend an ALEC meeting? I have to tell you, someone who gives me, say, $100,000 is going to be my close personal friend and we are going to have whatever private business relationship they desire. As Richard Nixon once explained, you just can't place a value on some "gifts."  

McDonnell Takes Credit For Obama’s Jobs

Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that Virginia has added a net 71,500 jobs since he took office. Richard Nixon congratulated Neil Armstrong on the moon and had a speech at the ready if the landing failed. What would McDonnell have announced if Obama's economy hadn't improved?

The inference is made that the "chief jobs creation officer," Bill Bolling, is somehow responsible for those 71,500 jobs. He may deserve some credit for the advertised 110 economic development projects, 7,154 jobs, and $1 billion in capital development that have been announced since McDonnell took office. But those 71,500 since February, that's a stretch. Nixon never claimed credit for the moon landing and most of us know it happened and how. It's pretty easy to throw around numbers, though, particularly in the absence of critical analysis.

"This is not a victory lap. Too many people are still out of work." - McDonnell's Chief Jobs Creation Officer, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling

Nixon was prepared for the worst and you'd bet Tucker Martin had McDonnell ready too. But neither Nixon nor Bill Safire relished the opportunity to take a swing in the event of tragic news. That is no guarantee with the GOP these days. In fact, taking the opportunity to talk down the economy is evident at every turn.  

McChrystal Offers Obama a Teachable Moment

To now, the teacher-scholar relationship between the Department of Defense and the President has been reversed. Obama has been led by the hand, blindly. Military matters were never his strength. With no idea where to turn, he kept the Bush team on. The McChrystal tempest should have been expected.

Hours after his inauguration, the Department of Defense (DoD) asked for and obtained authority to conduct a strike that blooded the new President. From that point forward, Obama has acquiesced to every important decision, carrying the failed Bush military policies forward not only in Southwest Asia, but around the world. Maybe that initial uncomfortable decision conditioned him and affects his approach to the DoD. Now is a time for him act Presidential. While the comments by McChrystal reported in a Washington Post article today and the subject of a Rolling Stone profile in this week's edition are far from seditious, it is symptomatic of a potentially pre-cancerous condition that merits preventive intervention.

Half a century ago the new President was handed the portfolio for the Bay of Pigs, a Richard Nixon nurtured plan of action. John Kennedy had military experience, but it did not prepare him for the kind of inertia found even then in bureaucracies. Fortunately for Kennedy, the then Commandant of the Marine Corps, General David Shoup, intervened with a dramatic illustrative objection and provided a perspective that altered history.

Times have changed and Obama faces a tempo of activity that did not challenge Kennedy. There are the two wars. There is the economy. There is the Gulf of Mexico. And the quality of advice that he is receiving from a former Commandant fails in comparison to the counsel of Shoup. While it may be appropriate to can McChrystal, it is more important to fire the National Security Advisor, General James Jones. It is Jones who has failed most miserably. It is Jones who figured in the alienation of General Tony Zinni and helped position the bullying sycophant Richard Holbrooke as senior envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Zinni might have turned out as Obama's Shoup. Now Obama has no one up to the task of taking on DoD or, for that matter, the State Department. Time for Obama to step to the podium but he is without a practical frame of reference or anyone to trust to provide it.

Update -- The article is available online and it is a nightmare.