A more frequent publishing of Rich Galen's take on politics, culture and general modern annoyances. This is in addition to MULLINGS which is published Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays at

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Healthy Votes in the Senate

  • That sound you heard from Capitol Hill yesterday was the grinding of the legislative gears in the Senate Finance Committee which is working on the health care bill.

  • The chairman of the Finance Committee is Max Baucus (D-MT) who is the principal sponsor of this version of health care reform. His committee has 13 Democrats and 10 Republicans. So, if the Ds stay together they can pass any amendment and vote any bill to the floor.

  • There were two amendments which would have had the effect of adding a "public option." The first was offered by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WVa) and was defeated by a vote of 15-8. That means five Democrats voted against a public option (Baucus, Kent Conrad (N.D.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Tom Carper (Del.).

  • The second try was a version offered by everyone's favorite, Chuck Schumer (D-NY). That amendment came closer but still lost 12-10; Baucus, Conrad and Lincoln voted with the 10 Republicans on the committee to defeat it.

  • According to the Washington Post's William Branigin, the senior Republican on the committee, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said a public option "will ultimately force private insurers out of business" resulting in "single-payer health care" in which the federal government runs health insurance and the health-care system. "The government is not a fair competitor," he said. "It's a predator."

  • You can see where this is going. Two Democrats - Carper (Del) and Nelson (Fla) are already covered by having voted against the public option and then voting for it. They will have a minimum of two more shots at it when a bill comes to the Senate floor and the amendments are presented again. Although there are many, many rules which govern the Senate - a few of which are actually in writing - none of them required a Senator vote the same way on the floor that he or she voted in committee.

  • So, it is possible, nay likely, that many Democrats will continue to look for ways to vote on both sides of a public option to keep their re-election option open.

  • Where is Barack Obama, the President of All the World, in all this? According to Dan Balz, the best political analyst in Washington, Obama has been in the bullpen waiting for the House and Senate to do the heavy lifting, but "the time of hanging back is quickly coming to an end if he hopes to find the 60 votes needed to pass a bill in the Senate."

  • Balz goes on to warn Democrats who may be thinking about going out on a limb in favor of a public option despite the home town folks' opposition,
    "Obama supported the public option, but has strongly signaled his willingness to allow it to die if that is the price of winning broader support for overhauling the health care system."

  • Which is to say the P of A the W is perfectly willing to saw that limb right off with a bunch of Democrats sitting on it if it means being able to claim a personal win.

  • After the Senate Finance Committee is done with the bill, the snappily named Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions which is chaired by Grassley's colleague, Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) will take a crack at it. Harkin is almost certain to report out a bill with some version of a public option.

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) will have to try and figure out a way to craft one bill that can get 60 healthy votes.

  • Off the set at CNN yesterday afternoon, I was asked why I was against the public option. I said I was opposed to anything which would mess with Medicare.

    "Because I'm nearly 63," I said. I'm like a pilot on final approach: running out of airspeed, altitude and ideas when it comes to health insurance. I don't have time to make major changes in where I'm planning to land."

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the Dan Balz piece and the Washington Post round-up. Also a Mullfoto showing a lightly populated Nationals Park last night and a Catchy Caption of the Day.

  • Sunday, September 27, 2009

    Imagine There's No Countries

  • Interesting that many of us thought the election of Barack Obama might signal the end of American Independence as we surrendered sovereignty to the United Nations.

  • Imagine my surprise, then, to find that Obama has decided to give up American power to a group which doesn't even officially exist: The Group of 20 which is shorthanded to the G-20.

  • In an example of governmental inflation at its most dangerous, the G-20 was originally the G-6, then Canada was allowed to sit at the grownups table and it became the G-7. When the Soviet Union returned to being good old Russia, they were invited in and it became the G-8.

  • The G-20 is supposed to be a meeting of the finance ministers and central bankers of the 20 largest economies. But these G-X meetings have now become summits. The meeting in Pittsburgh last week, included a significant number of the heads of states who had been in New York a few days earlier for the opening of the UN and who decided to make the trek along the Pennsylvania Turnpike to spend a day or two in the Steel City.

  • And as an example of how far away from Central Bank business the G-20 has strayed, Obama chose that venue (flanked by the U.K.'s Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy of France) to accuse Iran of having a secret nuclear plant in the mountains near Qum, which is about 100 miles from Tehran.

  • Why make that accusation in Pittsburgh instead of New York earlier in the week? Because Obama knows he can never cede sovereignty to the UN, but he may be able to get away with the G-20 as the international Board of Directors dealing with everything from banking regs to global warming to human rights to labor law to … whatever.

    Hey, Mr. Mullings?

    Yes. You over there on the Right.

    Isn't this like that Lenin song is coming true?

    Vladimir? From 1918? The one that starts, "Someday there will be more Czars in the Obama White House than in all the history of Russia?" Snappy tune, that.

    No, moron. JOHN LENNON. The one that goes, "Imagine there's no countries; it isn't hard to do…"

    Ah. Yes. I do believe you may be onto something.

  • If Obama really wants to "fundamentally change America" what better way than to make America go away?

  • Obama knows America - even Air America - would never sit still for letting the United Nations make decisions for us. An organization which is dumb enough to allow countries like Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and Russia to …

  • Wait. Let me ask you this. If I say "Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Russia" what's the first term to come to your mind?

    Human Rights.

  • Really? Ok. I'm wrong. I was going to write "An organization which is dumb enough to allow countries like Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and Russia to belong to the Human Rights Commission is not an organization we want to have any say in how America conducts its business."

  • Actually, an organization which allows a country like Comoros (a group of islands between the Eastern coast of Africa and Madagascar) to have exactly the same number of votes in the General Assembly as the United States is not one we will pay much attention (even as we pay a great deal of money) to.

  • However, sharing sovereignty with the 20 largest economies on the planet is a potentially saleable deal as long as Obama doesn't say "We are sharing sovereignty with the 20 largest economies on the planet."

  • You say things like, "We are establishing new rules for international banking which will avoid the problems of last September." One of those new rules will be an international reserve currency which does not have "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" printed anywhere on it.

  • Trade issues, labor issues, climate issues, telecommunications issues (which run directly into news media issues) are just the tip of the regulatory iceberg which the G-20 can control.

  • When you think about it, oil companies, auto, electronics, soft drink, softWARE, pharmaceutical companies … the list goes on and on of multinational companies who only care about borders to the extent they have to change their formulations or work rules to suit different jurisdictions.

  • If I were running a multinational company I would be in favor of a G-20 running everything so I could lobby just one group and have clear sailing to 80 or 90 percent of the world's consumers.

  • And we've been wasting our time worrying about Obama's relationship with ACORN.

    I hope someday you'll join us; and the world will live as one

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A list of the G-20 countries, the lyrics to the John Lennon song, and the CIA Factbook entry on Comoros which will be on your mid-term, so you should read it. Also a Mullfoto from the Nationals game yesterday and a Catchy Caption of the Day.

  • Thursday, September 24, 2009

    Son of the Desert

  • There is an old saying in politics - which I think I made up - that says:
    "No matter how good your position, there is always someone who agrees with you that you wish didn't."

  • Which means it is not so much an old saying in politics, as it something that someone who is old and in politics has said, but that's not the point of this.

  • The annual waste of perfectly good money that could be going toward wiping out malaria and building clean water projects around the world, the U.N. General Assembly threw open its doors to the world and who should ooze in but Muammar Gaddafi.

  • President Obama's speech, which preceded Gaddafi's, was a description of a U.N. which does not, in real life, exist.

  • I believe I have stated before that the United Nations should move from the east side of Manhattan to central Africa so the dedicated representatives can be somewhat closer to the action in Mali, Chad or Sudan than they are to the best tables at Le Bernardin (French, 51st between 6th & 7th) , Basilica (Italian, 47th & 9th), or Jean Georges (French, Trump Tower 1 Central Park West).

  • Anyway, Gaddafi began his speech by saying:
    "I congratulate our son the president, 'Obama,' … and commend him because he is the host country."

  • We'll put that business about Obama being the host country down to a translation error. Even his staunchest supporters agree there are about 307 million of us and he, while Obama may be first amongst equals, he isn't the whole country.

  • The bigger deal is the reference to Obama as "our son."

  • Back in the campaign when some local talk radio guy in Cincinnati kept talking about "Barack HUSSEIN Obama," Michelle Lavaughn Obama threw a fit because she said using Obama's middle name was designed to frighten people.

  • Then President Obama went to Egypt and told the audience that his middle name was Hussein.

  • Turns out Michelle was right. It scared the hell out of me.

  • For a while Muammar Gaddafi was playing nicely with the world. His change in attitude came about some time after Ronald Wilson Reagan dropped bombs on his head following the attack on Pan Am flight 103 which killed 270 people.

  • But a Muammar can't change his spots. When the Scots and the Brits let the only guy who was ever convicted in the Pan Am flight 103 murders, Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, out of jail in return for an oil deal for British Petroleum, Gaddafi greeted the terrorist in Tripoli with a series of exuberant hugs and kisses which, after about seven minutes, made me just a bit uncomfortable, I don't mind telling you.

  • Gaddafi also called Obama a "young black Kenyan African" which Obama could have done without. That will start up a whole new round of people who believe Obama is not qualified to be President under the terms of Article II Section 1 of the Constitution which states:
    No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President.

  • This has been asked and answered a thousand times, but when someone with the international stature of Muammar Gaddafi says it, well … there you are.

  • In spite of the millions of dollars which were spent, and the thousands of hours wasted by the hundreds of reporters on hand, nothing much came out of the U.N. which has pretty much been the story of the U.N. for several decades.

  • Nevertheless, President Obama has a new best friend in Muammar Gadaffi. And, as that saying goes,
    "No matter how good your position, there is always someone who agrees with you that you wish didn't."

  • Pretty good saying.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to the full text of Gaddafi's speech. Suitable for framing. Also a Mullfoto of a York Peppermint Patty which will shock and disappoint you, and a Catchy Caption of the Day which will make you laugh.

  • Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    Those Color Codes

  • Way back when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was first established, Secretary Tom Ridge decided on a color coded system of alerts. Green was absolutely cross-the-highway-with-your-eyes-closed safe. All the way up to Red: Spend everything in your checking account and max out the credit cards; it's all over.

  • We all laughed and laughed and laughed.

  • Ridge, in his current book, referred to a case where there was serious debate just before the 2004 election as to whether the threat level should be raised. There was a great deal of gnashing of teeth as to whether it was because George W. Bush's popularity rose along with the threat level or because there was a real threat.

  • As Ridge has said, "The system worked." They discussed it and decided to leave the threat level where it where it was. Bush, you might have heard, won re-election anyway.

  • The normal state of alert is Yellow, which is where it stands as I type this at 9:43 PM Eastern Daylight Time. The alert level for airline flights remains at Orange which is why you have to take off your shoes, take out your laptop, and you can no longer carry your lucky Samurai Sword on an airplane.

  • In another one of those "it's easier to be a candidate than hold office" deals, the current DHS Secretary, Janet Napolitano, said on July 14, 2009 that she was ordering a 60-day review of the color code system. Sure enough, on September 16, the commission appointed to do the review reported back that the system should be changed.

  • To what?

  • Dunno. Maybe drop the number of gradations from five to three. OK! Now we're onto something.


    If a Republican were the Secretary of Homeland Security and, as part of the national effort to control swine flu had given the advice to "cough into your elbow" that would have been the national joke for the ensuing six weeks.

    But, because this is a Democratic Administration, the popular press nodded, winked to one another and ran out to Brook Brothers to buy sweaters with reinforced elbows.


  • All this because of those clowns in Denver and New York that the Feds rounded up and the threat they may still pose in blowing up a high-value target.

  • You might have also read that the U.N. General Assembly opens in New York this week and dozens of heads of state will be in Manhattan yukking it up and telling each other how it's all the last guy's fault.

  • According to the Washington Times,
    Two bulletins from the FBI and the Homeland Security Department were sent to local law enforcement agencies Monday, the same day three men were arraigned on charges of lying to the FBI in connection with the bureau's investigation of the purported plot.

  • The investigation into this potential plot is apparently just this side of a frenzy. The WashTimes reported:
    Authorities last week seized a large number of backpacks and cellular phones from apartments in the New York borough of Queens… The fatal train bombings in London and Madrid were carried out with bombs hidden in backpacks and detonated by cellular phones.

  • While all that was going on, the Associated Press reported at about 9:16 last night that:
    The government expanded a terrorism warning from transit systems to U.S. stadiums, hotels and entertainment complexes as investigators searched for more suspects Tuesday in a possible al-Qaida plot to set off hydrogen-peroxide bombs hidden in backpacks.

  • Attorney General Eric Holder told CBS, "'It's not totally clear to us at this point what it is they had in mind, though I think it is clear that something very serious and something very organized was under way."

  • We might have some better idea about who is plotting to do what and where they are planning to do it, if a significant proportion of CIA employees were not busy looking for lawyers to defend themselves against prosecution by that very same Eric Holder.

  • The New York Post detailed additional police presence in and around New York's transit system. It quoted Police Commissioner Raymond Keller as saying:
    The city is "obligated" to put itself on heightened alert whenever possible plots surface following the September 11, 2001, and 1993 attacks at the World Trade Center.

  • I pray that nothing happens. But you have to wonder: Is the Obama Administration reluctant to raise the terror alert because it is afraid of being compared to the Bush Adminisration?

  • If so, we may all be at greater risk because of Obama's fear of a color code.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the Washington Times, Associated Press and New York Post articles. Also a Mullfoto left over from the day I traded the Mullmobile for the MullFord under the cash-for-clunkers program and a MULLINGS-appropriate Catchy Caption of the Day.

  • Sunday, September 20, 2009

    That 3 A.M. Phone Call

  • Remember that political commercial by the Hillary Clinton campaign last year? The "It's 3 A.M." ad? This was the audio:
    It's 3 AM and your children are safe and asleep. But there's a phone in the White House and it's ringing.

    Something's happening in the world.

    Your vote will decide who answers that call: Whether it's someone who already knows the world's leaders, knows the military; someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world.

    It's 3 AM and your children are safe and asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?

  • That ad ran in the run-up to the March 4th primaries in Ohio, Rhode Island and Texas. Hillary won all the primaries, but not by enough to catch Obama.

  • As we've discussed here before, there was a deal between Obama and H. R. Clinton that if Clinton would not cause problems at the Democratic National Convention, then Hillary would be nominated for Secretary of State.

  • Hillary took the deal. She doesn't get to answer the phone in the White House at 3 A.M. but she gets to answer the phone at 3 A.M. when she's in the Congo, or Kenya.

  • You may remember that Hillary has replaced Joe Biden as the senior member of the Obama Administration most likely to say something stupid. She bit some kid's head off at a meeting with students because he mistakenly said "President Clinton" instead of "President Obama" and she snapped, "I'm not going to sit here and channel Bill Clinton." Yikes!

  • On that same trip she implied that the election of 2000 was stolen by the GOP with the recount in Florida even though it was later proven by major news organizations that the decision was the correct one.

  • All that as introduction to a front pager in the Washington Post yesterday which was headlined:
    Obama's Worldwide Star Power Finds Limits: Skepticism Abroad Echoes Doubt at Home

  • Although writers Michael D. Shear and Howard Schneider buried the lead, they got to it in the third graf:
    [J]ust as his domestic honeymoon has clearly ended, international events have demonstrated the limits of Obama's personal charm.

  • On the domestic front, the four polls release over the past five days show Obama's job approval has fallen to an average of 51.75 percent on the heels of what appears to be the collapse of a health insurance reform plan in the U.S. Senate, and the whole ACORN business which has splashed up all over Obama.

  • As the President prepares to address the U.N. on Wednesday, the Post points out - this is their list, not mine:
  • NATO allies have refused to send new troops to Afghanistan.

  • Few countries have agreed to accept detainees held at Guantanamo.

  • Scottish officials ignored Obama's plea to keep the Lockerbie bomber in prison.

  • U.S. efforts to head off a coup in Honduras were ineffective.

  • North Korea continues to develop nuclear weapons.

  • Iran may be making nukes, too.

  • Middle East leaders have rebuffed Obama's efforts at peacemaking.

  • Quite a list. And Obama's only been at this for eight months. Imagine how many international problems he and Hillary can exacerbate in four full years.

  • To make matters worse, people involved in the defense and intelligence business in Washington were abuzz yesterday on the rumor that someone had leaked the report and recommendations (assumedly for more troops) by the commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, to Washington Post über-investigative reporter, Bob Woodward.

  • If that is true, and if the Post runs with the story, that will overwhelm whatever Obama has planned for the opening of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, or the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh this week.

  • Foreign policy bedevils every Administration. Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon had Vietnam. Ford had Korea. Carter had Iran. Reagan had the Contras. Bush 41 had the Iraq invasion of Kuwait. Clinton had the Embassy bombings. Bush 43 had Afghanistan and Iraq; and Obama has the 137 issues listed above.

  • Rarely, though, has an American President swaggered across the world stage in the first months of his Administration with so much hubris and so little to back it up. The world, not impressed, appears to be heading to the lobby for some coffee and a smoke.

    It's 3 AM … Who do you want answering the phone?
    Your vote will decide who answers that call.

  • My vote? Let it go to voice mail.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to the 3 A.M ad on YouTube, and to that Washington Post story. Also a Mullfoto of a mini-flood in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia the other day and a Catchy Caption of the Day.

  • Thursday, September 17, 2009

    ACORNs Buried, etc.

  • In two separate votes, the Senate, the other day, voted to forbid the Department of Housing and Urban Development or the Department of to do any business with the geniuses at ACORN who have at least four offices which gave advice to a couple posing as a prostitute and her pimp on how to avoid taxes, get a housing loan to start a brothel, and get a child tax credit for 13-year-old Salvadoran girls the couple said they were going to bring into the U.S. for prostitution.

  • Well. Everyone has a bad day, right?

  • According to the NY Times:
    Republicans added the prohibition to a Democratic bill on college lending by a bipartisan vote of 345-75, showing that Acorn was increasingly seen by Democrats as a political liability.

  • But, don't bring out the cigars and bongo drums just yet. As Lisa Wright, press secretary to Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md) pointed out last night,
    There were three votes on three different bills. The House and Senate have to approve the same bill that prohibits funding to send the cut-off to President Obama's desk.

  • So, watch for the Democrats in the House and Senate to "fix it in Conference." As you know (because you paid close attention in Mr. Mirandi's 11th grade social studies class) both the House and the Senate have to agree on identical language before a bill can be sent to the President for signature.

  • A Conference Committee is a group of Senators and Representatives appointed to hammer out the differences the versions of a bill passed by the House and Senate. Although the stated rules hold that if a provision is not in either bill, it cannot be added in conference; and if a provision is identical in the House and Senate versions it cannot be deleted; a Conference Committee is free to do what it wants.

  • House and Senate Republicans will want to keep a close eye on these bills as they go through the Conference system to ensure the provisions forbidding payments to ACORN are not left on the cutting room floor or, as Lisa Wright also suggested, the provisions are re-written to affect only appropriations for 2010 - allowing ACORN to go back to its criminal ways, paid for by you and me, in 2011 and thereafter.

    New Topic

  • This wasn't as big news as two sharks being found off the coast of Massachusetts a couple of weeks ago, but the District of Columbia - your Nation's Capital - has decided to save some money by doing away with safety inspections on private vehicles.

  • According to the Washington Post:
    "Motor vehicles that are not used for commercial purposes will no longer have to prove that they are road-worthy" which will "save $400,000."

  • Here's the thing. According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, even with inspections "about 35 percent of vehicles fail" and are unsafe to drive.

  • I don't much care what pieces of junk are being driven on the streets of the District of Columbia. I do care when those same clunkers get on the streets in the Commonwealth of Virginia where they are in danger of spontaneously bursting into flame while parking in front of the Starbucks in Old Town.

  • On the other hand, maybe the District …


    Locals don't general refer to the District of Columbia as "DC." We call it "The District." Just a tip, if you want to sound like you live here when your Prius is destroyed by a vehicle with District plates having unaccountably rolled over on top of it.


  • … maybe the District is onto something. According to the 2009 budget the city can save over $700 million by simply closing the public schools. Parents can drive their kids to schools in Maryland or Virginia - if they don't mind putting their kids into their unsafe rust-buckets.

    Last Topic

  • Mary Travis died Wednesday. She was Mary of "Peter, Paul & Mary" fame. I know they were left-wing peace-niks, but I learned to play the guitar following along on PP&M and Kingston Trio records.

  • The sophisticated harmonies and intricate guitar riffs produced a sound which was smooth and soothing around lyrics which were often jarring and angry.

  • Nevertheless, I loved listening to them and, as many of you know, Puff the Magic Dragon lives in my heart.

  • I'm sorry she's gone.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the stories above including a list of the 75 House Members who voted to keep funding ACORN, a Mullfoto from my mailbox yesterday, and a Catchy Caption of the day.

  • Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    From Little ACORNS Big Problems Grow

  • ACORN is an acronym for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. It is one of those manufactured acronyms that come before the name is invented to fit the acronym. Does that explanation make any sense?

  • Whether it does or not, ACORN is an unreconstructed Liberal organization which was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the Obama campaign to turn out the vote for … Obama.

  • According to Fox News
    The organization has been accused by Republicans and conservative activists with fraud in voter registration drives around the country and has been under fire since last year for its support of President Obama and for its planned participation in next year's census.

  • But, because it was a Liberal group doing potentially illegal things and the Liberal group was being accused by Republicans … whatever ACORN was doing was ignored, if not actively applauded by much of the major media,

  • Why would these evil Republicans asking for an investigation? According to the LA Times, "some workers were accused of submitting false registration forms with names including Mickey Mouse."

  • Could be that someone is actually named Mickey Mouse and wants to vote. You don't know.

  • That's not why ACORN is in the news now, though. It seems that in at least four cases ACORN counselors advised two young people who presented themselves as a prostitute and her pimp on how to cheat and lie to get a government sponsored mortgage. The videos of the transactions are posted on the website.

  • The two people - described by the LA Times as "conservative activists" - went into ACORN offices in Washington, DC, Baltimore, New York City, and San Bernardino, California and asked for advice on how to account the $96,000 in income the woman (who said her name was Kenya) had earned the previous year as a prostitute on her tax returns so they could buy a house.

  • She was told to list her income as $9,600 instead of $96,000 and in the block which asks for occupation say she was a "performance artist."

  • Wait! There's more!

  • Why did they want to buy a house? To use as a … um … house of ill-repute. Not just any old house of ill repute, but one which employs other girls. Young girls.

  • According to the Fox News website
    The "pimp" later says that he and "Kenya" plan to bring up to 13 "very young" girls from El Salvador to work as prostitutes. Although an ACORN staffer points out their plans are illegal, she also suggests that the girls can be claimed as dependents.

  • Well, even ACORN people know you can't get away with claiming 13 dependents without someone taking a look-see so he goes on to advise them about how to get around that pesky problem:
    "You are gonna use three of them," the staffer says. "They are gonna be under 16, so you is eligible to get child tax credit and additional child tax credit."

  • The man knows his tax law.

  • Last week the Census Bureau "severed its ties" with ACORN after these videos were released.

  • If the geniuses over at the Census can't use ACORN, maybe they should make a deal with Hamiz Karzai's brother.

  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development pays organizations like ACORN to help poor people work their way through the paperwork necessary to get a house. The Senate voted yesterday 83-7 to forbid HUD from doing business with ACORN.

  • The House will have to agree for HUD to be barred from contracting if with ACORN. Let's see if the House Democrats, whose tender sensibilities were so badly battered by Joe Wilson last week that they well and truly got the vapors and just had to vote for a Resolution of Disapproval for Wilson, have the guts to vote with the Senate.

  • According to the website:
    President Obama, who was once an attorney for ACORN, has not commented publicly on the embattled group's growing troubles.

    Speaking to ACORN before last year's presidential election Obama promised to call on them during the transition and promised they would have "input into the agenda of the next Presidency of the United States of America".

  • Can we conclude that part of "the agenda" of the Obama Presidency is advising criminals on how to get a tax break by importing 14-year-old Salvadoran girls for the purposes of prostitution?

  • No. Of course not. But still. We can't wait to hear White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs describe how this whole thing is somehow George W. Bush's fault.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the, LA Times and Fox News websites on this story. Also the list of the seven Democratic Senators who voted to allow ACORN to continue to operate for HUD. Also a Mullfoto showing the fall harvest bounty in Alexandria, VA and a Catchy Caption of the Day.

  • Sunday, September 13, 2009

    A Small Gathering at the Capitol

  • None of the national evening news anchors were there to bring you breathless coverage.

  • None of the networks suspended regular programming to show the event in real time.

  • A number of the weekend shows were taped on Thursday or Friday and didn't even mention it.

  • The Washington, DC subway - called the Metro - which regularly puts on extra trains for large events announced it would actually close stations if they became too crowded.

  • The Washington Times said, "Rally leaders estimated the crowd at about 75,000" the Washington Post said it was "in the many tens of thousands."

  • It is one thing for Democrats to have ridiculed the people who turned out to those town-hall meetings as isolated groups of extremists. It is something else to have "many tens of thousands" of people show up on a Saturday afternoon on the West Front of the Capitol to express their dismay over how their government is being run.

  • The issue for Republicans is simple. Conservatives have shown you the parade route. The question is: Who, if anyone, will be able to race to the front and lead it?

  • The Republican National Committee didn't organize Saturday's march. The House and Senate Republicans certainly didn't organize it. According to Nafeesa Syeed writing for the Associated Press,
    FreedomWorks Foundation, a conservative organization led by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, organized several groups from across the country for what they billed as a "March on Washington."

  • I didn't know there was an outfit called "FreedomWorks Foundation" so I didn't know that Dick Armey runs it but, as I live in the immediate environs of Washington, DC I have very little idea what's going on in the real world.

  • Joe Wilson (R-SC) is the early betting favorite. Nancy Pelosi et. al. will overreach and introduce a resolution of censure or reprimand or something because Wilson, who called the President a liar during his speech Wednesday night, and who apologized to the President immediately thereafter, and whose apology was accepted by the President, refuses to apologize again in the Well of the House.

  • All that will do will be to make Joe Wilson - who was not on anyone's A list of Sunday Talk Show Guests five days ago - into more of a folk hero.

  • According to, since his outburst on the House Floor, Wilson has raised $1,005,021 from 18,859 donations. His opponent, Democrat Rob Miller said he has raised over a million dollars as well.

  • A senior Democrat said to me the other night, "You know? At some point you just have to say 'my apology tour is over' and walk away."

  • I don't condone Wilson's shouting at the President, but he may be onto something. If he can find the front of this parade, maybe he can wave the big baton and give it some direction.

  • Or, maybe, this movement doesn't need a leader, or direction. Maybe the town-hall meetings in August and the Saturday march were something akin to what the new media types call "viral marketing."

  • According to the website Internet Marketing Today
    Viral marketing describes any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message's exposure and influence.

  • Indeed, that's what the Obama campaign was doing two years ago when everyone - and I do mean everyone - thought Hillary Clinton was going to be the Democratic nominee for President. One begat two, then 4, then 8, then 16 and before you knew it he was standing on that same West Front of the Capitol taking the Presidential oath of office.

    Dear Mr. Mullings:

    You're supposed to be the Internet expert. MULLINGS has been MULLINGS since … forever. Why don't you use viral marketing to do whatever viral marketing does?


    The National Association of People who Still Can't Program their VCRs.

    I AM using it. I have, as I type this, 554 people following me on Twitter (which is a little spooky) and 2,509 Facebook "friends."

    And how will that affect your subscription drive next month?

    Absolutely no idea.

  • There will be more gatherings in more town-halls, and more county courthouses, and more state capitol buildings.

  • As Keanu Reeves said in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, "Strange things are afoot at the Circle-K." If we in Washington are as smart as we think we are we will sit up, pay close attention, and meet the folks when they show up at the Circle-K.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the FreedomWorks Foundation website, to the viral marketing site and a link to "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. Also a Mullfoto from Saturday's march and a pretty lame Catchy Caption of the Day.

  • Thursday, September 10, 2009

    Solo Homer

  • Regular readers know that I often go to the ballpark in Washington and suffer through a loss by the Washington Nationals.

  • As I typed that line last night the Nats were leading 8-2 in the top of the ninth when, with the bases loaded and one out, the Nats' pitcher served up a fat fastball to the Phillies' Matt Stairs who promptly smacked a grand slam. 8-6.

  • President Obama waited on a fat fastball Wednesday night in his speech to a joint session of Congress and, as expected, launched one into the right field stands.


    The President is left handed, as am I, and many other very special people. It is a paradox that left-handed batters tend to pull the ball into right field. Right-handed batters pull the ball into left field.

    How can that be?


  • The speech needed to be, we were told, a "game changer." It was not. It was a pretty good speech. Too long, I thought, and too late, but the man can deliver a speech.

  • It was a speech which he should have given before the August recess, but was not. It was a speech which should have answered a lot of questions, but it did not.

  • Even the Washington Post, not known as a mouthpiece for Congressional Republicans, questioned some of Obama's assertions:
    "The expanded coverage would add more than $1 trillion to the deficit. In that case, the cure would be worse than the disease."

  • The biggest news of the night was the outburst by Rep. Joe Wilson who shouted, "You lie" when, according to the NY Times, "Mr. Obama said that his health care overhaul would not extend benefits to illegal immigrants."

  • Turns out there is nothing in any of the four or five or 27 versions of this legislation which specifically requires proof of citizenship - or even legal immigrant status - so Wilson was right, if rude.

  • I said in one interview, if a student had shouted "You lie" at the TV set in his classroom when Obama spoke to the nations school children on Tuesday he would have been sent to the principal's office.

  • There is no Congressional detention, but maybe there ought to be.

  • Having said that, I don't remember this level of projectile sweat after a significant number of Democrats actually booed George W. Bush when, again from the NYT, "he made his case for Social Security changes during his 2005 State of the Union address."

  • Alas. The double standard, yet again. Democrats … good. Republicans … bad.

  • The speech was so NOT a "game changer" that by Thursday even Nancy Pelosi was backing away from her "no public option - no bill" stance which she had been touting as recently as Tuesday afternoon.

  • According to Dave Espo's reporting for the Associated Press:
    Reid said that while he favors a strong "public option," he could be satisfied with establishment of nonprofit cooperatives, along the lines expected to be included in the bill taking shape in the Finance Committee.

    Pelosi, who has long favored a measure that allows the government to sell insurance, passed up a chance to say it was a nonnegotiable demand. As long as legislation makes quality health care more accessible and affordable, "we will go forward with that bill," she said.

  • There is a long, long road to travel before the House and the Senate agree on health care reform. What will probably come out the other end is something which has a title like: "The Health Care for Every American Act of 2009" but which will do little more than tinker around the edges.

  • In the end, the Nationals hung on to win that game 8-7. The grand slam was exciting, but the Phillies still lost.

  • Obama's speech was very much like a solo homer in the bottom of the ninth with two out and the home team two runs behind. It was pretty and it brought the home town fans to their feet, but it didn't change the outcome of the game.

    New Topic

  • Please, for the next 20 seconds, put down your coffee cup, close your eyes, and say a prayer for those who died in the attacks of September 11, 2001.

  • Thank you.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the Wash Post piece about other parliaments acting badly in chambers and to Dave Espo's AP story. A pretty good two-foto Mullfoto which shows how fuel efficient is the MullFord and a Catchy Caption of the Day from China.

  • Tuesday, September 8, 2009

    Because it's Such a Good Idea

  • In the run up to his speech before a Joint Session of Congress tonight, President Barack Obama had a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) at the White House. After the meeting, as is the custom, they came out to speak to reporters.

  • Harry Reid had said "We're still approaching this in the form of bipartisanship. We want a bipartisan bill."

  • None of the reporters laughed out loud, but one did ask "Why was there no place for Republicans at the table today at this meeting?"

  • Reid fumbled the answer so Pelosi stepped in and said, "He has other meetings that we are not invited to that Republicans are at" which is at once dreadful grammar and not true.

  • But, the biggest whopper she told was suggesting that Republicans were involved in the three bills which have come out of the Education and Labor; Ways and Means; and, Energy and Commerce committees.

  • She said "All of them have strong numbers of Republicans on those Committees. I saw to that when we did our ratios. So they had a place at the table as our bills had come through the legislative process."

  • I checked, via e-mail, with the chief of staff of the House Republican Conference, Marc Short, about how many of the 57 Republicans who are members of those committees actually voted for any of the three bills.

  • "None" was the one word answer.

  • Republicans may have had a place at the table, but the deals were struck somewhere else (to modestly misquote Lincoln's Gettysburg Address) for House Democrats, with House Democrats, by House Democrats.

  • Pelosi insists there must be a "public option" for a bill to come out of the House of Representatives but Harry Reid was not so sure about the Senate, saying, "We're going to do our very best to have a public option or something like a public option before we finish this work."

  • The President will be delivering his speech to the Congress tonight because that's the only way the White House can get network coverage. As the Fall TV season is about to open, no network would have given up an hour of prime time revenue for yet another press conference nor for an oval office speech.

  • A Joint Session speech is unique so, according to Media Life Magazine:
    ABC, CBS and NBC will carry the live speech, as will the Big Three cable news networks, including Fox News Channel. Fox will advise viewers who want to watch the president's address to tune in to FNC.

  • But there is only one of those arrows in Obama's quiver so it is evidence of how far his health care initiative has fallen that the only way to get the country's attention is to use the Joint Session card.

  • On CNN yesterday, Rick Sanchez asked me what my advice would be to Obama if I were asked. I said I would tell him to invoke the name of Ted Kennedy who was so successful as a Senator because he would take what he could get, when he could get it and then work to expand whatever "it" was in the next Congress and the next one after that until he got what he wanted in the first place.

  • Obama should take whatever the Senate will give him and then try to expand it after the 2010 midterm elections. He won't, but that's what he should do.

  • On the issue of the "public option" here's my suggestion:
    Every Republican Member of the House and Senate should commit to supporting an amendment to whatever bill comes to the floor stating, in essence, "All civilian Federal employees shall be covered by the 'public option' because it is such a good idea."

  • See how Pelosi likes that.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A transcript of the Pelosi-Reid presser outside the White House yesterday, a Mullfoto showing why strange things happen at Nationals Park and a Catchy Caption of the Day showing why strange things happen in Germany.

  • Sunday, September 6, 2009

    Nationals' Notebook

    Sunday September 6, 2009

    On Friday night the Washington Nationals were mathematically eliminated from any chance of making into the post-season when they lost to the Florida Marlins. Going into Saturday night's game, the Nats were 46-89 which means they are on a pace to lose 107 games. They lost bringing their current losing streak to eight-straight; a season high in a season of lows.

    On Sunday afternoon third baseman Ryan Zimmerman came up for the Nats in the bottom of the ninth with one on and none out, trailing the Marlins 4-3 when he parked one in the right field stands for a two-run walk-off homer.

    The dugout emptied of the mostly 20-something millionaires who were on their way to their ninth-straight loss in a season which has been known for lots of losing streaks and all too few wins. The scrum formed around home plate and, when Zimmerman trotted around third you could - even from the press box which is about halfway between the Earth and the moon - see his eyes widen as he prepared for the good-natured pelting he was about to receive.

    Although I think I am alone in this assessment, I believe Zimmerman's home run may have saved the job of interim manager Jim Riggleman who over the team following the firing of Manny Acta at the All-Star break.

    The Nationals have been an awful baseball team this year, but I thought nine-straight losses might be more than the team ownership could bear especially, as the Washington Times' beat writer, Mark Zuckerman pointed out, of the Nats final 27 games, "21 are against teams still in contention: the Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves."

    For a while, after Riggleman took over the team, it looked like the Nationals might overtake either the Kansas City Royals or the Pittsburgh Pirates as MLB's worst team. But it didn't happen and it will not happen now. The biggest single reason is the loss of centerfielder Nyjer Morgan to a broken hand during a game in Chicago on August 27.

    Morgan started the season with the Pirates but got traded to the Nationals at the end of June. In the 51 games the Nationals played with Morgan on their roster (he appeared in 49 of the 51 games) they won 23 games and lost 28 a .451 winning percentage. In the 84 games without Morgan on the active roster, the Nats (following Sunday's win) are 25-61 - a .291 winning percentage.

    Over the course of a 162 game season .431 would translate into 73 wins and 89 losses. Playing .291 ball would have produced a season record of 47-115; a difference of 26 wins.

    A good deal of the credit for the Nat's improvement following the All-Star break went to interim manager Jim Riggleman, but it now appears it was having Nyjer Morgan leading off, stealing bases, upsetting opposing pitchers and generally making things happen that was the real difference. As the Nationals' lead-off hitter, Morgan batted .351 and stole 24 bases in 31 attempts. The Nationals are 8-1 since Morgan left the line-up.

    The majority of the Nationals' pitching staff should be learning their craft in the minors; but, because of injuries and athletic failures, the kids have been called up and forced to pitch at a level for which many are simply not ready.

    As former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld might have said if he were managing the Nationals, "You go into the game with the pitchers you have, not the pitchers you wish you had."

    It looks as if Jim Riggleman will finish the 2009 season at the helm of the Nationals. It looks as if the Nationals will lose about 110 games and will again have the number one pick in next summer's draft.

    The crowds are thin. The season is a bust. It may well take until the 2011 season for the pitching staff to grow into its talent.

    But when Zimmerman came up in the bottom of the ninth and hit that home run it was as good as the New York Giants' Bobby Thompson's walk-off homer against the Brooklyn Dodgers nearly 58 years earlier. I wanted to jump up and yell, as Russ Hodges did in his broadcast of that home run "the Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!" but (a) there is a rule against openly rooting in the press box and (b) I am looked upon at as enough of an oddity without someone feeling the need to inform me that the Giants have not, in fact, won the pennant.

    Zimmerman's home run reminded Nationals' fans why they came to the ball park. And why they will come again in 2010. Zimmerman will be back, as will Adam Dunn and, ahead of them in the lineup, Nyjer Morgan will be getting on base and driving opposing pitchers crazy.

    -- Rich Galen

    Thursday, September 3, 2009

    Back to School - 2009

    I went back and checked; I first wrote this on September 7, 2001 four days before the attacks of 9/11. I've made minor changes over the past eight years, but the message remains the same and it is one of my all time favorite MULLINGS.


  • The children of America have gone back to school. And, in nearly every household, there is at least one person who is standing over the kitchen sink in tears, wondering where the years have gone.

  • I understand.

  • Every year at this time, I remember a wonderful essay I heard on NPR the summer before The Lad first went to college. A woman talked about the day she sent her daughter to kindergarten for her first day of school. "My husband told me not to cry," she wrote, "because tomorrow she would still be in kindergarten."

  • "But, he was wrong," the essay continued. "Tomorrow, she went to college."

  • When The Lad was born - from the second he was born - he became the most important thing in my life.

  • I spent Saturday mornings with The Lad at the Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC. Later, it was afternoons at the Little League field in McLean, Virginia. Still later, Sunday breakfasts at our favorite deli in Dallas, Texas.

  • Very early one morning, in August of the summer before the Lad was to go off for his freshman year at the University of Texas, I was driving to work in Dallas. I oversaw operations in the Middle East so, to keep up with employees spread over nine time zones, I often went to work at about four A.M.

  • Driving up the Dallas Tollway, the overnight sports station was conducting yet another arcane discussion on the state of the Dallas Cowboys defensive backfield, so I shut the radio off and started singing "Puff the Magic Dragon," to which I can sing the harmony. In college, when I was a pretty good folk guitar player, it was a staple in my repertoire.

  • I was singing - in pieno voce - when I got to the stanza:
    A dragon lives forever;
    but not so little boys.

    Painted wings and giant's rings
    make way for other toys.

  • I tear up at Christmas coffee commercials. I sniff and wipe my eyes at every happy ending in every movie I've ever seen - including movies on airplanes which generally precludes any further conversation between my seatmate and me.

  • The "…but not so little boys" line caused me to pull over to the side of the road and stop, not just to wipe away a tear, but to actually sob. Which, on the Dallas Tollway, even at four in the morning, is no mean feat.

  • The woman who wrote that NPR essay said that she had divided her friends into two groups: Those who understood, and those who didn't.

  • I understand.

  • Around the United States, in addition to all the young men and women who recently left home for their first year of college, there are hundreds of thousands of families whose children are guarding our freedoms in far away places. Yesterday they, too, had left for kindergarten not even knowing the existence of the places in which they awoke this morning.

  • During my Iraq days, I wrote about a 23-year-old 1st Lieutenant in Fallujah:
    We just keep growing these kids, asking them to do unbelievably important things in the harshest possible circumstances at an age when we should be worried if they aren't home by midnight much less home by next September and, oh, by the way, please be responsible for the lives of a dozen-or-so other soldiers most of whom are years - or decades - older than you are.

  • The day after The Lad went to kindergarten, he left for college. The following afternoon he was working for the President of the United States. Four years ago he was scheduling helicopters in the disaster zone which was New Orleans after Katrina. Three years ago he was helping to re-elect the Governor of California. Five months ago he and The Ladette were married.

  • He is still the most important thing in my life. Where ever we are, we talk almost every day, The Lad and I.

  • In that way, on most days, we're still together.

  • In a land called Honalee.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: The definition of pieno voce, the Mullfoto of The Lad, The Ladette and the Mullings Director of Standards & Practices.