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

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What's New(s)?

  • What was the big news over the long holiday weekend? No brainer: The couple who crashed the State Dinner at the White House, and Tiger Woods' run-in with a fire hydrant, a tree, and possibly a niblick.

  • Let's deal with them quickly.

  • On the White House deal, the Secret Service will fall on its organizational sword, but the concept of having a social event with no one from the social, political, protocol, or First Lady's office at the gates checking names is unbelievable, and demonstrates a lack of professionalism in the operation of the White House at the most basic level.

  • Notwithstanding they had to go through a magnetometer to get into the actual structure, this was a State Dinner. If they wanted to do harm, they didn't have to sneak weapons in, the White House provided them. Forks and knives. At every seat at every table.

  • My brother-in-law pointed out that we now know it is harder to get onto an airplane than to get into the White House: "You don't have to take off your shoes at the White House."

  • Not much to say about Tiger. He is the first professional athlete to have booked $1 billion in appearance fees, purses, and endorsements. He is now paying the price for celebrity.

  • If it turns out his wife did come after him with a golf club, this goes from a accident investigation to a criminal inquiry into assault and battery … or worse.

  • Of somewhat more import was the news last week that a bunch of climate scientists - in fact THE bunch of climate scientists - who have been at the center of the global warming movement were found to have cooked the books to make the "Earth-is-warming" numbers work.

  • According to Mullfave, Dr. William Hamilton's weekly "Central View" column, emails which were hacked and released,
    "reveal that climatologists at Penn State, Amherst, the University of Arizona and England's East Anglia University have been engaged in a conspiracy to:

  • hide data that the planet is cooling,

  • apply pressure to scientific journals to exclude studies casting doubt on their theories of global warming,

  • hide data being requested under the Freedom of Information Act that would discredit global warming, and,

  • delete any data in their files that would support the existence of global cooling."

  • Yikes.

  • The very people who 10 days ago were laughing and pointing at global warming skeptics for hanging on to their position notwithstanding the evidence in support of the man-induced effect on the Earth's climate, are now very quiet.

  • A lot of people have a lot invested in the business of global warming, and the concept of their scientific beards having cheated on the numbers, coerced their opponents, covered-up the data and shredded potential evidence is impossible for them to accept.

  • Notwithstanding the evidence.

  • Last week I told you that the Gallup tracking poll had President Obama's approval number at 49 percent. The latest number is +2 at 51 percent.

  • Gallup has a look inside the overall numbers on its webpage which shows Obama's approval among Blacks is 93 percent, about where it has been since the beginning of his Administration.

  • However, among Whites Obama's approval has dropped to 39 percent down from 61 percent during his first full week in office (the very week in which the President was deemed to have done enough to have warranted winning the Nobel Peace Prize), a loss of 22 percentage points.

  • Moreover, among Americans who self-identify as "Moderates" his approval has dropped from 73 percent in January to 55 percent last week a drop of 18 percentage points.

  • Obama's first year will go down as a failure. Domestically, he will probably not get a health care bill this year. He won't get a climate bill (see above), and he didn't even try for card-check. That, plus going into 2010 with unemployment over 10 percent and likely to stay there for months, is not a recipe for improving his support levels.

  • Internationally, the Iranians are thumbing their noses at us again, there is no progress in the Middle East, and it has become painfully clear that Barack Obama has been desperately searching for an Afghanistan strategy which is unlikely to fail, rather than a policy which is likely to succeed.

  • Another Mullfave, Peggy Noonan, writing in her Wall Street Journal column, distilled all this brilliantly:
    "Americans demand baseline competence. If [President Obama] comes to be seen as Jimmy Carter was, that the job was bigger than the man, that will be the end."

  • I guess there was a lot of news

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to everything; the gate crashers, Tiger, the Bill Hamilton & Peggy Noonan columns, and the Gallup poll.

    Also, another great cat Mullfoto and a Catchy Caption of the Day showing what happens when you try to get too cute with technology.

  • Tuesday, November 24, 2009

    Thanksgiving 2009: Destiny's Child

    From Great Barrington, Massachusetts

    This is a rewrite of the Thanksgiving MULLINGS first published in 2002.

    Please take a moment on Thanksgiving to say a Prayer of Thanks for those brave Americans in uniform, but also the civilians, who are serving in far off places, away from their families, protecting us, projecting America's values while we enjoy our Thanksgiving dinners safe from fear, and from want, and protecting our freedoms of worship and of speech.

    In 2003, I wrote the Thanksgiving column from Camp Victory just outside of Baghdad. Please take a look back at the Iraq Travelogue by clicking here: "Good Morning Mesopotamia"


  • It was the day before Thanksgiving and I was giving the Mullmobile it's quarterly treat: A professional car wash. At Andy's Car Wash in Alexandria, you drop your car off, then go inside to pay. A woman and a little girl - about three-and-a-half - were paying ahead of me.

  • It was a cold day, so the little girl was bundled up in the way little girls are on a cold late-Autumn day.

  • Ignoring the advice of The Lad, ("Dad, just because you CAN talk to everybody in the world, doesn't mean you HAVE to talk to everybody in the world.") I asked the woman what little girl's name was.

  • "Destiny," she said, beaming. "She's my baby."

  • In the way of precocious little girls, Destiny asked me where my car was. I told her it was right behind her mom's.

  • Destiny looked up and me and asked me if my car was going to be a shiny as her mommy's.

  • I said I hoped so, and I asked her, in that patronizing way that grownups talk to children, how shiny her mommy's car was going to be.

  • She thought about this, staring off toward the seafood store across the street with that look of deep concentration little girls assume when contemplating great concepts. Then she looked back up at me and said, "Rainbow Shiny."

  • The magnificence of that phrase took my breath away.

  • The problem with looking at the world through middle-aged eyes is we can no longer see things as being "Rainbow shiny." Even on those rare occasions where we see things as beautiful as a rainbow, we know from long - and often harsh - experience that rainbows are, like fame and glory, fleeting.

  • But for Destiny, everything in her world is decorated with the brilliant hues and gentle shadings contained within the infinite colors of her world's rainbow. Her entire future is decorated with vivid thoughts and sparkly dreams.

  • On Thanksgiving, we should try - just for a few minutes - to look at our world though Destiny's eyes: Look at our world as being "Rainbow Shiny."

  • Even though we know it won't last, we should enjoy Thanksgiving for this one day while we look around the table eating the wonderfully familiar meal, telling the well-told stories, to the same precious people, remembering fondly, if sadly, any who may be missing from this year's gathering of friends and family.

  • As her mom was strapping her into her child seat, I caught Destiny's eye and pointed to her mom's clean car and, smiling and nodding, I blew her a kiss.

  • Destiny, in that way little girls do, hid her eyes and giggled.

  • This is another kiss to Destiny: Thank you for reminding a grown-up that if we look at our world with the simple trust of child we, too, can see it as "Rainbow Shiny."

  • That little girl is destiny's child. All children are.

  • Happy Thanksgiving.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring today: A print of a line drawing by Norman Rockwell of Thanksgiving dinner.

  • Sunday, November 22, 2009

    The Landrieu Bribe

    From Great Barrington, Massachusetts

  • Here's a new maxim: Nothing good ever happens when the Congress is in session on a Saturday night.

  • As you know, Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-Nev) cajoled, coerced, and co-opted Senators Mary Landrieu (D-La) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark) into adding the 59th and 60th necessary votes to prevent a GOP filibuster of Reid's health reform bill.

  • Reid and Obama Administration officials relied on the time honored method (used by Republicans and Democrats) of getting recalcitrant Members to vote a certain way: Bribery which, in the real world, is a felony but in Washington it is called "hardball."

  • In Sen. Landrieu's case the bribe was $300 million in Medicaid benefits to Louisiana.

  • It's not even a close call. According to the website "Total Criminal Defense,"
    Bribery is an attempt to influence another person's actions, usually a government or public official employee, by offering a benefit in exchange for the desired decision.

  • Three hundred million in return for a vote to proceed. If walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck …


    Imaginary - but very possible - transcript of a phone call between a Senior Administration Official and Senator Landrieu:

    Mary, either you accept our offer or I will have researchers from the Democratic National Committee sent down to Louisiana to make certain that every death of every patient who dies for lack of care anywhere in the state will be called a death caused by the "Landrieu Legacy."

    I am fully prepared to back this up with paid advertising. Every time. You know my reputation, I would advise you not to test me.


  • Landrieu caved like a sand castle at high tide.

  • Landrieu is a better bribee than she is an accountant. She said in her floor speech that there was $100 million in the bill specifically to pay for Medicaid in Louisiana and only Louisiana.

  • Talking to reporters afterward, she said,
    "I will correct something. It's not $100 million, it's $300 million, and I'm proud of it and will keep fighting for it."

  • No reports, yet, on how angry White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel was when he found out she had been satisfied with the $100 million and he overpaid by a factor of three.

  • Everyone is being very clever comparing the bribe of Landrieu with the Louisiana Purchase which cost the U.S. government about $15 million. According to the "How Stuff Works" website,
    The value of the purchase price negotiated in 1803 of $15 million in today's dollars would equal about $284 million.

  • STILL less than Rahm and Reid paid for Landrieu's vote.

  • Not only that, but now all the other Senators know there is a baseline price for their vote. Reports immediately surfaced that Reid had now turned his attention to Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Me) and Susan Collins (R-Me).

  • Six hundred million for the pair.

  • I'm moving to Maine.

  • This laser-focus on getting a health care done before the end of the year is carrying a political, as well as a financial, price.

  • The Gallup folks announced that Obama's approval rating has dropped below 50 percent for the first time in his Presidency (49-44). The track which was available last night measured the three-day period between November 17-19. From the Gallup website:
    Among post-World War II presidents, only Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan dropped below the symbolic majority approval level faster than Obama.

  • Putting aside President Ford, let us remember what happened in the first mid-term elections of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

  • In 1982 - two years after Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter - Republicans lost 26 seats in the house (starting from a relatively weak minority, much as they have now). In 1994 - two years after Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush - the Democrats lost 52 seats and control of the House.

  • Clinton forced Democrats off the plank for a health care bill. Reagan oversaw unemployment numbers which touched 10.7 percent before it started back down.

  • Obama's Democrats are facing both.

  • So, when Gallup points out that Obama is in about the same political position as Reagan and Clinton, don't think 2012. Think 2010.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the Gallup poll, a pretty good analysis of what's in the current version of the Senate bill and the Wikipedia entry for the Louisiana Purchase.

    Also, a very clever Mullfoto - or at least the Mullfoto of a very clever sign - and a Catch Caption of the Day.

  • Thursday, November 19, 2009

    Another 2,000 Page Bill

  • United States Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (DEMOCRAT-Nev) unveiled a 2,00>0 page bill Wednesday night which alleges to reform the healthcare system in the United States.

    Oh, Wait! Before I forget …

    I know many of you never go to the Secret Decoder Ring Page, but today you should.

    Take a second, right now, before you continue, and click HERE, scroll down to the bottom, and take a look at what I think of Newsweek's Sarah Palin cover.

    Ok. Back to health care.

  • The first problem with the Senate bill is there doesn't appear to be any agreement on how much it will cost. According to the LA Times, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored it at $849 billion, less than the $1.05 trillion the House version would cost.

  • But, the New York Times' Robert Pear pointed out in his piece on the bill that:
    "Many provisions of the House bill would take effect in 2013. But to help hold down the cost of the bill, Mr. Reid decided to delay the effective date for many provisions by one year, to 2014."

  • The assumption, then, is Reid's bill is scored on nine years worth of benefits. I hope someone asks the CBO: In the ten years that the provisions in Sen. Reid's bill are in effect, how much will this bill cost?

  • Whatever the number; how will this get paid for? Here is a list of some of the tax increases as listed by CBS News:
  • Forty percent tax on high premium insurance plans, so-called "Cadillac" plans, those plans costing over $8,500 for individuals and $23,000 for families.

  • Creates a new 5 percent tax on elective Cosmetic Surgery

  • Increases Medicare payroll taxes by one-half percent to 1.95 percent for individuals earning more than $200,000 or couples earning more than $250,000.

  • Limitations on Health flexible spending accounts, capping annual contributions at $2,500.

  • Let's go back to those "Cadillac" plans. We know that civilian employees of the U.S. Government have great health plans available which are quite affordable because they are heavily subsidized by you and me.

  • I wonder if the "Cadillac" designation includes that subsidy because if it does, guess who is exempt from the Cadillac tax? Keerekt. Members of the U.S. House and Senate.

  • Another problem estimating the cost of the Reid plan is a great deal of the newly covered individuals will fall under the Medicaid program. Unlike Medicare, which is paid for with taxes collected by the federal government, Medicaid is a shared program between the feds and States.

  • According to a NY Times article by Adam Nagourney, the GOP Governors meeting in Texas are less than pleased. Nagourney reports the govs are concerned that the Reid bill,
    "will impose new costs on the states at a time when governors, almost without exception, are struggling with huge shortfalls in revenues."

  • The feds pick up a maximum of 50 percent of states' Medicaid costs - in some cases far less - so saying people have to be covered, and then mandating that the states do the covering seems to be shifting the costs onto already bankrupt state budgets.

  • And, the CBO doesn't count state expenditures. It only counts the money coming into and going out of the federal coffers, so if honest accounting existed inside the Beltway (which it has not since at least 1954, the year before the Beltway was started) the states' share of Reid's bill would be counted in the total.

  • Governor Mitch Daniels (R-Ind) who, having been the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush and so knows a little something about how these things work, said,
    "This is a fraudulent description of the costs, direct and indirect, of this bill. We know a sucker play when we see one."

  • The first procedural vote will occur Saturday. If the Majority Leader rounds of 60 votes, the Senate will begin floor debate after Thanksgiving with an eye to getting to final passage before Christmas.

  • After that the Senate and House Democrats will meet in secret to combine the two bills into one and then come back for votes in each chamber to pass a final bill which would then go to the President for his signature.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to all of the stories quoted above, plus an really nice Mullfoto and that Newsweek cover which is today's Catchy Caption of the Day.

  • Tuesday, November 17, 2009

    So Many Jobs, So LIttle Time

  • To great fanfare a couple of weeks ago, the Obama Administration proudly ignored the unemployment rate spiking to 10.2 percent to announce they had created or saved exactly 640,329 jobs.

  • So that each and every one of us can track exactly where those jobs were created or saved, the Obama spin machine created a website,, which has as its slogan: "Track the Money."


    In France, their stimulus website is headed "Count de Monet" which is very funny, but only if you are a Mel Brooks fan.


  • The money, the Obama team would like us to be able to track amounts to precisely $158,705,328,811, which, if the calculator that came with Windows 7 is functioning properly, works out to $247,849.67 per job.

  • A quarter of a million per job sounds a tad high to me, but maybe it's a generational thing.

  • ABC News actually went to the trouble of looking at some of the entries on the website and found an example about which reporter Jonathon Karl wrote:
    "In Arizona's 15th congressional district, 30 jobs have been saved or created with just $761,420 in federal stimulus spending."

  • I did the calculation for you. It's $25,380.67 per job, but that will probably go up when those 30 people find out they're getting paid just 10 percent of the going rate.

  • Except they won't. Why? Karl goes on to point out that,
    "There is no 15th congressional district in Arizona; the state has only eight districts."

  • Oops! Don't you hate when that happens?

  • According to ABC, the communications director for the Recovery Board said, simply:
    "We report what the recipients submit to us."

  • Let's run that past the IRS and see if this has become a government-wide operating theory.

  • Similar errors were found for jobs created in non-existent districts in Oklahoma, Connecticut, and Iowa. You will be interested to learn that 142 jobs were created in the 99th congressional district of the Northern Mariana Islands.

  • As you might expect, a Member of Congress immediately leapt into the fray saying the inaccuracies,
    "are outrageous and the Administration owes itself, the Congress, and every American a commitment to work night and day to correct the ludicrous mistakes."

  • Before you roll your eyes and whine about those dopey House Republicans jumping on the President while he is over there in China doing whatever he is doing, I should point out that the statement came from Rep. David Obey (DEMOCRAT-Wis) who is the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee (which is always written as the powerful House Appropriations Committee and for good reason).

  • A few weeks ago, the New York Times reported that $1,047 in stimulus money was used to purchase a riding mower to "cut the grass at the Fayetteville (Arkansas) National Cemetery."

  • I went to the Toro site and couldn't find a riding mower suitable for a home lawn for under $2,000 much less an industrial-strength mower such as one might buy for a cemetery, but that was not the point of the Times piece. This was: According to NY Times reporters Michael Cooper and Ron Nixon, the website,
    "improbably claims that that single lawn mower sale helped save or create 50 jobs."

  • They go on to write that "a spokesman for Toro said the 50-job figure was not accurate."

  • I'm not sure how the spokesman would know that, but Toro is apparently paying closer attention to these data than the U.S. government.

  • The Washington Post, in a piece written for today's editions by Alec MacGillis, reminds us that from its earliest sales pitch,
    "the Obama administration framed the stimulus act as a job-creating initiative, saying that it would create or save 3.5 million jobs over the next two years."

  • With the jobs "created or saved" numbers having such little credibility, reporters are jumping on the data like a five-year-old on a leaf pile. From MacGillis' WashPost piece:
    The constant barrage of such stories may be taking a toll. In the new Washington Post-ABC News poll, 23 percent of respondents say they think the stimulus act has hurt the economy, and 39 percent say that it has made no difference."

  • Only 37 percent think the stimulus package has helped (one percent had no opinion).

  • Can't blame that on George W.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Lot's o' links: The site, ABC News, Washington Post and the NY Times. Also an explanation of that Mel Brooks line.

    Also a pretty amusing Mullfoto and a Catchy Caption of the Day which will irritate many of you.

  • Sunday, November 15, 2009

    President of All the World

  • Let me start this discussion of bringing terrorists to New York City to be tried in an American civilian court by reminding you that everything I know about the law is from covering Municipal Court for WMOA radio in Marietta, Ohio 45750 and, from watching endless Law & Order reruns on the USA Network.

  • This decision had everything to do with President Obama attempting to burnish his credentials as President of All the World and nothing to do with what is best for America.

  • The decision was announced by Attorney General Eric Holder, not by President Barack Obama. This wasn't like the AG announcing the bust of a major Mexican dope ring operating through El Paso. This was announcing the perps of the worst terrorist attack on American soil being tried in New York.

  • And, it should not be missed that Holder made the announcement while Obama was on his way to a major swing through Asia.

  • To be fair, they might have been planning on making the announcement last week, but what with the terror attack at Fort Hood by Nidal Hasan …


    Given the decision to try the 9/11 terrorists as civilian criminals, how long to we think it will be until the Justice Department decides to wrest control of the Hasan case from the Department of Defense and try him as a civilian in Killeen, Texas?

    Actually, given the enthusiasm of Texas in applying the death penalty, maybe that wouldn't be such a bad idea.


  • … Hasan, it was probably determined by the political staff at the White House that it was a good idea to wait.

  • On the Sunday shows yesterday, one Administration defender after another claimed it was important to show the world that the American system of justice is fair to all. Sen. Jack Reed (DEMOCRAT - Rhode Island) said, having civilian trials in New York was "an opportunity to show that we're better than they are, we're much better than they are."

  • (A) When did we start thinking we had to prove to anyone that "we're better than they are" and, (B) assuming the "they" is the terrorists, why do we think we have to prove anything to them?

  • On John King's CNN program David Axelrod was on from Singapore. Axelrod said,
    "We believe that these folks should be tried in New York City near where their heinous acts were conducted."

  • "We believe?"

  • I was watching at the Jiffy Lube while waiting for the MullFord to get its first oil change and when Axelrod said "we believe" I asked the woman who takes the payments whether she thought if Karl Rove had said "we believe" it wouldn't have started a firestorm about whether the NYC decision was made, influenced, and/or approved by Obama's chief political operative?

  • She told me my oil change was $39 including tax.

  • According to the Associated Press, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said,
    "What the Obama administration is telling us loud and clear is that both in substance and reality the war on terror from their point of view is over."

    Giuliani also said that the Administration has declared there is no longer a war on terror, but the terrorists are still waging war on us.

  • Former New York Senator Hillary Clinton, who is in Asia to hook up with Obama at some point said,
    "My goal is to make sure that the mastermind and the other implementers and designers of this horrific attack on us pay the ultimate penalty for what they did to the United States."

  • That, in the words of Col. Sherman T. Potter, is a busload of bushwah. If George W. had moved the trials to New York while Hillary was still a Senator, she and Chuck Schumer would be on the West Front of the Capitol having serial grand mal seizures.

  • The reality is this. Barack Obama wants to be the most beloved American President since … the most beloved American President; period.

  • The best line of the day came from NY Post columnist Michael Goodwin:
    Here's an idea: Put the trial in Chicago.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to all of the stories and columns mentioned above; also a Mullfoto of the kind of thing which makes me nuts, and a Catchy Caption of the Day which is not at all amusing; but which is very sobering.

  • Thursday, November 12, 2009

    The Strange Case of Dr. Hasan

    The Official Subscription Drive is over, but if you missed it, and would still like to subscribe, click HERE.

    Thank you.

  • The other night I interviewed a military doctor who was actually in school with Nidal Hasan. My Doc is an M.D., but his specialty is outside the mental health area.

  • The military runs a highly regarded medical school, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences - USU for short, which is located in Bethesda, Maryland. Hasan was a graduate of USU and chose to specialize in psychiatry.

  • According to an NPR piece by Daniel Zwerdling:
    Hasan spent six years as a psychiatrist at Walter Reed, beginning in 2003, and he had a fellowship at USUHS until shortly before he went to Fort Hood in the summer of 2009.

  • It was as a student during that fellowship (which led to a Master's Degree in Public Health) that the doctor I spoke with met Hasan.

  • First of all, Hasan didn't fit the profile of the typical student. According to my Doc, "Usually you're admitted to the program after you've been in practice for a while. But, Hasan went there right after his residency."

  • Perhaps his work at Walter Reed was so bad, and his behavior so odd, that the Army decided he was safer in a classroom than treating patients.

  • My Doc echoed what others in that program who are quoted by CNN that Hasan "wore his religious views on his sleeve."

  • In one particular exercise (again matching the reports in the CNN piece), students were supposed to do a presentation on water supply issues and public health. According to my Doc, Hasan used his presentation to claim that "people in the Gaza strip were justified in becoming suicide bombers."

  • In other discussions, Hasan said he believed that "The Koran trumped the U.S. Constitution and that his true allegiance was to Koran. Not only was that not appropriate in an academic setting," said my Doc, "but it was totally unacceptable for a uniformed officer, much less for a mental health professional."

  • My Doc said that "A number of us raised it with the head of the program but no one did anything."

  • We know now that people - including his superiors - knew about his behavior and proselytizing before he came into that program. According to CNN, he was "reprimanded for telling at least one patient that 'Islam can save your soul.'

  • But, my Doc told me,
    "Institutional inertia kept him in. It was too hard to drill into what should or could be done. A lot of it was political correctness, some of it was merely being careful not to be caught up in a situation where, if he filed a complaint, you were going to found to be the bad guy."

  • My Doc also pointed out that "there is a shortage of mental health professionals in the military, so they were disinclined to toss him."

  • This is the oath that all military officers must take upon receiving their commission and traditionally reaffirm upon receiving a promotion:
    I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

  • The phrase "So help me God" is not required. Nevertheless, there is no clause in his oath of office with which Hasan agreed, or by which he intended to be bound.

  • I asked my Doc about Hasan having been promoted to Major. A reader had e-mailed me to say that graduating from medical school got you Captain's bars, and becoming board certified was an automatic promotion to Major.

  • My Doc said, "You don't have to be board certified to make O-4 (Major). Having a pulse is qualification for Major" in the medical corps.

  • Which is why I've liked and trusted my Doc since we first met in a war zone six years ago this week.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the NPR and CNN pieces, also to the website of the Uniformed Services University. Also another license plate Mullfoto - one on which we will all agree - and a Catchy Caption of the Day.

  • Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    Politically Correct Murder

    The Official Subscription Drive is over, but if you missed it, and would still like to subscribe, click HERE.

    Thank you.

  • We are learning more about Nidal Hasan, the spineless thug who used handguns the same way a suicide bomber would use explosives to kill himself and those around him.

  • Except that Hasan is such an inept soldier he couldn't even get himself killed during his attack.

  • The questions surrounding this worm are growing and are becoming more troubling.

  • According to an article in the Wall Street Journal by Yochi J. Dreazen And Evan Perez,
    The Pentagon said it was never notified by U.S. intelligence agencies that they had intercepted emails between the alleged Fort Hood shooter and an extremist imam until after last week's bloody assaults.

  • At the center of Hasan's ability to not only remain in the Army, but to be promoted to the rank of Major may have more to do with our national obsession with political correctness and far less to do with promoting service members who have developed the appropriate skills for their rank.

  • The Military has an "up or out" policy. Generally speaking, if you are passed over twice for promotion, you have to resign and find a job in the civilian world.

  • This is very smart. Were it not for this policy the Army would be saddled with a bunch of 45-year-old 1st Lieutenants (which, by the way, I spelled correctly on my first try) blocking the upward path of younger, more talented officers.

  • As we have discussed many times, perfection is a religious concept, not a concept which works in the real world. So, occasionally someone who should not be promoted is. But Nidal Hasan not only slipped through the cracks, but was actually carried along by the powers that be and was deposited, with full military honors on the other side of crack solely on the basis that he was a Muslim and no one wanted to be accused of being a anti-Islamic bigot.

  • I got a call yesterday afternoon from a senior enlisted man with whom I had the honor of serving in Iraq. This is a good man. A man who, having served in Iraq, recycled back to a tour in Afghanistan. He is a reservist and his real job is delivering mail to along a rural route in the American Southwest.

  • He called because he was trying to understand how someone like Maj. Nidal Hasan, who was so clearly deranged, disloyal or both could have been permitted to remain in the Army - HIS Army.

  • My friend is an American soldier who has been responsible for the safety and welfare of younger enlisted men and women in really bad places where really bad people wanted to do really bad things to them.

  • I got to travel with him and his troops across large portions of Iraq in day and night moves. I trusted him with my life. When he called to complain; I listened.

  • Switch to Capitol Hill. I got an email from another friend. This one a Senate staffer wanting to know how she could light a fire under the Senate Homeland Security Committee or the Senate Armed Services Committee or the Senate Judiciary Committee to open an investigation into how a man who had been in contact with people who had openly proclaimed anti-American sentiments was allowed to be promoted through the Military system.

  • I asked my friend if she thought, had Hasan been a Lutheran or a Presbyterian or a Jew who had been found to have been in affirmative e-mail contact with the Unibomber, or Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, he would have been allowed to continue with his Military career.

  • I am not anti-Islam. As long-time Mullsters know, I spent three years running the Middle East for a major U.S. corporation and still have very good friends - Muslim friends - in the region.

  • I am, however, anti-stupid.

  • It is high time we recognize that we have entered a period of national idiocy in the matter of political correctness. Rather than making people adhere to American standards of behavior, we tell ourselves, "It's in their belief system, so it must be ok."

  • No. It is not ok. This is America. They must adhere to our belief system.

  • Political correctness be damned.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to the Wall Street Journal article, a Mullfoto which is on point, and a Catchy Caption of the Day.

  • Sunday, November 8, 2009

    Changing the Narrative

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  • The push to get a health care reform bill through the U.S. House over the weekend was a classic political maneuver called "changing the narrative."

  • It worked.

  • Last week was a really, REALLY, bad news week for the Obama Administration. There was so much bad news that one story cascaded over another and, ultimately, they cancelled each other out.

  • The elections last Tuesday were a disaster for the Obama Administration. The White House wrote off the poor Democrat in Virginia pretty early, but Obama campaigned for Jon Corzine, the incumbent Democratic Governor of New Jersey pretty hard.

  • The losses in New Jersey and Virginia may not have been a foreshadowing of what will happen a year from now, but they certainly represented a foreshadowing of what may happen a year from now.

  • Thursday, a Major in the Army Medical Corps who apparently didn't want to go to the Middle East later this month, killed 13 people and wounded 29 at Fort Hood in Texas. In addition to the horror of the event itself, it reminded us of the danger facing service members who are already deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan while the President continues to have difficulty settling on a new strategy.

  • On Friday morning, news which has the capacity to be the most damaging to the White House: The job numbers for October were released showing the unemployment rate had soared from 9.8 percent in September all the way up to 10.2 percent.

  • At ten percent just about everyone knows someone - or of someone - who has lost his or her job.

  • Not only that, but while 15.7 million Americans who want a job, can't find full-time work the financial news outlets are full of stories about how Warren Buffet is making billions of dollars. Goldman Sachs is making billions of dollars. The insiders playing the stock markets are making billions of dollars. But the unemployment is at 10.2 percent and shows no signs of shrinking anytime soon.

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, since December 2007, 8.2 million jobs have been lost. Kind of makes the Obama Administration's claim of "creating or saving 640,000 jobs" rings just a little hollow, doesn't it?

  • So hollow, in fact, that in the city of Buffalo, New York this was the lead graf in the "saved or created" story by the Buffalo News:
    The mammoth economic stimulus bill that passed early this year created or saved just 231 jobs in the Buffalo metro area as of the end of September, a Buffalo News analysis of federal reports shows.

  • For those of you who are wondering, I looked it up for you. Buffalo's population is about 271,000.

  • The decision to press for a Saturday vote on health care was formulated as soon as the Obama Administration realized how bad the job numbers were going to be. When the election results came in Tuesday night, that made the need to change the narrative even more important. After the Fort Hood horror, it became imperative.

  • Among those voting for the health care bill was the new Congressman from NY-23, Bill Owens, who had said during the campaign that he was opposed to the public option.

  • Here's an abridged version of the conversation which went on between majority leader Steny Hoyer and Owens as he was about to be sworn in:
    Welcome to Washington, Bill. Here are your two futures: Vote for the Speaker's legislation and we'll do everything we can to get you committee assignments which will help you in your district.

    Vote against it and your committee assignment will be the Committee on the District of Columbia with a seat on the Sewage & Sanitation subcommittee.

  • See how this works?

  • No matter how much the popular press pretends that the vote shows real momentum for a major overhaul of the nation's health care system, it was approved with a two-vote margin which does not sound like a choo-choo train racing across the Capitol Rotunda toward the Senate Chamber.

  • The narrative may have changed for now, but the problems facing the Obama Administration continue to grow.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the Bureau of Labor Statistics release of the job numbers on Friday and the Buffalo News story. Also, a Mullfoto from the baseball game in Philadelphia last week. There is no Catchy Caption of the day, but there is a very moving 45-second film clip from San Antonio I urge you to take a look at.

  • Thursday, November 5, 2009

    Combat Stress

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  • I don't know any more about this guy Major Nidal Hasan, M.D. than you do. I've watched the coverage of his insane shooting on the military base in Texas, Fort Hood, and I've watched, read, and heard all of the similarly uninformed discussion surrounding it.

  • Hasan is alive and in custody. Unlike so many other maniacs who shoot up innocent people, we'll learn why he did this.

  • Hasan is a Muslim from a Muslim family in Virginia. He joined the Army out of high school, spending eight years as an enlisted man. The Army put him through college and then through medical school. For that the Army requires that you spend a little time in the Service on its behalf.

  • Hasan is an Army psychiatrist. Somehow, over the course of his career, he has avoided service in either Iraq or Afghanistan over the past eight years. It may be that he had played all the angles but his number came up and his military butt was en route the war zone.

  • Psychiatrists in war zones - at least in the war zone I was in - work in a unit called "Combat Stress." Combat, by its nature, is stressful. Some people deal with it better than others. In my experience some people walked around the Green Zone in full "battle rattle" any time they left the palace, just because. Combat Stress helped them.

  • Some people see, hear, and smell things - like their buddy, sitting in the seat next to them in their Humvee, being blown up by an IED - which are more than any, any, normal human being can handle. That's when the Combat Stress folks get involved.

  • My first trip outside of Baghdad in 2003 was to the U.S. compound in Ramadi in the dreaded Anbar Province and was, at the time, the home of the 82nd Airborne. I flew up there in a helicopter with an Army psychiatrist who had, as Nidal Hasan had, gone through the military's medical school at Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Here's what I wrote at the time:
    "The psychiatrist is going out into the field for a year. A YEAR! This is a long, long way from being a psychiatrist on Park Avenue. In fact, this is about as far from Park Avenue as you can get and still be in the near Solar System.

    "The First Sergeant of the Combat Stress unit, a reservist who is a former nurse and most recently was a member of the California Highway Patrol dealing with organized crime specializing in the Russian mafia in Los Angeles.

  • My point is, the Combat Stress folks - doctors and nurses - were real soldiers and they were plenty tough. It may be harder to deal with the kid whose buddy was blown apart than to be the surgeon trying to save the life of the buddy.

  • Hasan who, according to the NY Times, is 39-years old "started having second thoughts about his military career a few years ago after other soldiers harassed him for being a Muslim."

  • Hello? You mean to tell me that after 9/11 a guy named Nidal Hasan wasn't harassed for being a Muslim but sometime over the past "few years" his fellow officers turned on him because of his name?

  • If he is 39 years old and joined out of high school, he has been in the military for about 20 years. If he was going to be harassed for being a Muslim, it is more likely to have happened in his enlisted days than when he was an Army physician.

  • Hasan, I suspect, started having those "second thoughts about his military career" not because of late-arriving harassment, but because he didn't want to be deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq.

  • Who has wanted to be deployed? Ok, not including me, I mean.

  • If Hasan was a staff psychiatrist working in the medical center at Fort Hood, there have to be some questions about whether his colleagues - his medical colleagues - noticed anything about his behavior which might have led at least one of them to wonder whether he might be headed down this path.

  • If not, why not?

  • We'll find out much more about Major Hasan over the next days and weeks. I wonder, though, where the Army psychiatrists and nurses, the Combat Stress heroes, go when they need counseling - when one of their own kills.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the NY Times and AP backgrounders on Hasan. Also a Mullfoto of the only person I have declined to be my Facebook friend, and a Catchy Caption of the Day.

  • Tuesday, November 3, 2009

    If I Owned a Network

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  • If I owned a cable news network, the Mullings News Network, this is what I would demand every anchor, analyst, guest, floor director and cameraman say:
    The Democratic Party in America is officially dead.

    It died in Virginia last night when Bob McDonnell the R*E*P*U*B*L*I*C*A*N won the election for Governor, beating the democratic candidate, Creigh Deeds by something on the order of 18 percentage points - way, WAY more than even the most optimistic public polls had predicted.

    Really, really smart political people are saying this result was because everyone in the Commonwealth of Virginia hates what President Barack Obama has been doing to the nation and they wanted to get a leg up on the rest of the country in voicing their displeasure.

    The Democratic Party also died in New Jersey, when R*E*P*U*B*L*I*C*A*N Chris Christie beat incumbent democrat Jon Corzine by better than 100,000 votes in a State which hasn't voted for a Republican since … a very long time ago (it was 1997 when Christine Todd Whitman was re-elected Governor).

    Hamid Karzai called Barack Obama to offer both condolences and advice as to how Obama might want to approach his own re-election in 2012 based upon Karzai's excellent showing in the Election That Never Was in Afghanistan.


    By the way, it was reported well after the polls closed that the former candidate for President of Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah, had endorsed Chris Christy on the grounds that he was for anyone whose first and last names were about the same.

    Former Secretary-General of the UN, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, did not immediately return phone calls.


  • Ok. Enough of the foolishness.

  • The Democratic Party is alive, even if not as healthy as it was this time last year. As I type this at 10:53 Tuesday night, McDonnell has been declared the winner in Virginia and the New Jersey race has been called for Christy.

  • Kudos, by the way, for the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Gov. Hailey Barbour (R-Miss). There were two GOP candidates for Governor and they both won.

  • As you know, these were the first state-wide races in America without Barack Obama on the ballot of George W. Bush in the White House.

  • The results of the election will, like a cannon going off in a cave, echo long after the initial report.

  • You have read this here before: Nothing is as important to a Member of Congress than his or her re-election. Blue Dog Democrats will read these results and begin immediately looking at the independent voters in their Districts and recalibrate their voting records, their floor statements, and their level of support for the agenda of President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

  • There will be no health care bill this year. There will be no cap-and-trade bill this year. There will be no net neutrality regulations this year. There will be no card-check legislation this year.

  • Also at 10:53 last night, reports of voting machine problems in upstate New York meant there may be no official result in NY-23 between the Democrat Bill Owen and the Conservative Doug Hoffman until later today.

  • The difference between the two men was about 4,000 votes. The Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafava, had about 5,200 votes. Before you start gnashing your teeth, there is no way to know, given her liberal outlook, whether those votes would have gone to Hoffman or to Owen had Scozzafava not been on the ballot.

  • It is always dangerous to draw a graph based upon one data point. One election night does not allow us to draw sweeping conclusions about what will happen in 2010 but it does tell us this: Whatever political capital the White House thought it had in reserve for the legislative and electoral battles coming up, have disappeared as completely as the capital behind Merrill Lynch, Wachovia, and all the other financial institutions which have failed over the past 12 months.

  • The Democratic Party is not dead, but it better get a flu shot in a hurry.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to coverage from the Washington Post and the Newark Star-Ledger; a Mullfoto from the World Series game in Philly on Monday night and a Catchy Caption of the Day.

  • Sunday, November 1, 2009

    Candidates Dropping Out

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  • On Saturday, the Republican candidate in the special Congressional election to fill the vacancy in NY-23, Dierdre Scozzafava, announced she was dropping out. This, three days before the election. She had been running third in the polls behind the Democrat and the Conservative.

  • On Sunday, one of the candidates for President of Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah, announced he was dropping out. This, six days before the election.

  • On Sunday, the Republican candidate in upstate New York, endorsed the Democrat instead of the Conservative.

  • No endorsement from Abdullah Abdullah, but I think the chances of him endorsing either the current President, Hamid Karzai, or the head of the Taliban (and former leader of Afghanistan), Mullah Omar, are thin.

  • As of this writing, no candidates have dropped out of the Governors' races in Virginia or New Jersey; nor the Mayor's race in New York City, but we have time.

  • We'll get back to the NY-23 race in a minute, but first let's look at Afghanistan.

  • According to the Times of London Abdullah did not tell his supporters to boycott the election, but
    Abdullah's decision threw the process into confusion, with [Afghan] election officials insisting that the run-off should go ahead with only one candidate, while Western diplomats pressed for it to be cancelled because of the risk of a low turnout and Taliban attacks.

  • It's a little hard to make the case that we're having success bringing democracy to Afghanistan when the first election was delayed for about four months then, when the election was held in August the results were thrown out because of widespread fraud, and now the people of Afghanistan will have only one candidate to vote for.

  • If you are Barack Obama, you are not looking forward to having to work with a guy whose strengths were summarized by the Associated Press thus:
    President Hamid Karzai's leadership is weak, his government corrupt and nearly a third of the votes he won in the August election were thrown out as fakes.

  • Oh, yeah. This is going to have a happy ending.

  • In upstate New York, Republican John McHugh resigned his Congressional seat in September to become the Secretary of the Army. Under New York party rules, the local GOP county organizations picked Ms. Scozzafava to be the Republican nominee, running against the Democrat Bill Owens.

  • NY-23 is a heavily Republican district, so this looked like a good change for the GOP to get off the schnied in losing special elections.

  • Ms. Scozzafava is married to a regional labor organizer, is in favor of card-check, and a whole bunch of other non-core-Republican programs.

  • In New York there is a line on the ballot for a candidate nominated by the Conservative Party. Very often the GOP nominee gets the Conservative "line" as well.

  • But, not this time.

  • The Conservatives nominated a guy named Doug Howard who does not live in the District, but is true to Conservative principals.

  • Nevertheless, the National Republican Congressional Committee and other big-time Republicans supported her on the grounds that the locals know their District and having someone like Howard in the race splitting the GOP vote might well give the seat to the Democrat Owens.

  • I agreed. Someone e-mailed me the other day saying that people like me who live in Washington don't understand what is going on out in the "hustings." I responded that upstate New York is as "hustings" as it gets and they picked Scozzafava.

  • I have spent my adult life helping to elect Republicans all across the GOP spectrum. The only vote I care about is the first one: will it be for the Republican candidate for Speaker (in the House) or Majority Leader (in the Senate)? After that first vote they're someone else's problem.

  • Nevertheless Conservatives around the nation got behind the Howard campaign, raised him a ton of money and, in polls released at the end of last week, he was running neck-and-neck with the Democrat Owens. Scozzafava was falling into a distant third.

  • Saturday she dropped out; yesterday she endorsed the Democrat. We'll see what happens on Tuesday in New York and on Saturday in Afghanistan.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to Scozzafava's statement and the London Times analysis of the state of play in Afghanistan. Also a GREAT Mullfoto segment and a Catchy Caption of the Day.