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

Friday, April 2, 2010

By the Numbers

From Newport Beach, California

  • For those of you who may have missed the class on political polling here's the basic rule:
    You treat poll numbers like we used to treat Olympic figure skating scores. You knew the French and the East Germans were cheating so you threw out the highest and the lowest scores and whatever was left was probably an accurate reflection of the skater's performance.

  • Polling is the same way. Not that anyone is cheating, but if you look at a list of polls on the same subject, taken at about the same time, throw out the high and the low you probably have a pretty good idea of what is going on.

  • The polling for President Obama since Healthcare passed the House on March 21 is instructive.

  • The Quinnipiac poll shows the President's job approval at 45-46 which is the lowest approval number among the seven polls listed on the RealClearPolitics poll summary page this morning.

  • The best approve-disapprove number is from the Washington Post poll which has the President at 53-43 (plus 10) telling me the poll was done among the reporters who happened to be hanging around the city room that day.

  • I know that isn't true, but it is just after 4 AM here in California and I needed a smile.

  • The worst approve-disapprove number is from the Rasmussen poll which as of Friday morning was at minus 6 (47-53). Although Democrats' eyes roll and their chests heave heavy sighs at the mention of Rasmussen (because they believe it tilts toward the GOP) it is the only poll among those listed which measured Likely Voters as opposed to Registered Voters (Marist, CNN and Quinnipiac) or Adults (Washington Post and Gallup).

  • Every polling company has its own method of determining whether someone is a likely voter or not. This is called the "screen" and as we get closer to the mid-term elections, which will be held exactly seven months from today (all of which save April and June hath 31), you will hear that word in a phrase like "they use a very tight screen" to determine who is likely to vote and who is not.

  • As long as we're doing a general overview of polling, other than choosing the respondents, there are several factors which can influence how a question will be answered. The first is its position in the poll.

  • A good polling firm may ask early in the poll, "Do you approve or disapprove of the way President Obama is handling his job?" (or some variant). Then they will ask about how he is handling specific issues: the economy, jobs, foreign policy, energy, and so on.

  • At the end of that series of questions they may ask the job approval question again to see if, after thinking about individual issues, there is a change in the overall approval of the President.

  • The major bit of skullduggery that can occur in polling is now the question is asked. Asking what a respondent thinks about how the President is handling his job is far different than asking: "On a scale of one-to-ten, do you think President Obama is doing a good job as President or do you agree with the Tea Party and Sarah Palin that he is doing a poor job?"

  • That is why almost all public polls done by any legitimate firm will not only publish the results of the poll, but will let you read the actual questions.

  • Finally, there is the matter of looking deep into the polling numbers (words like "cross-tabs" will be tossed about) and this is not for the faint of heart.

  • For an excellent example of how to do this properly look at the essay Newsweek's Howard Fineman published earlier this week on the dangers facing Democrats in November based upon his looking at a number of different polls on health care.

  • Last thing about polls today: When someone says to you: "How can they ask 500 people a question and know what the whole population is thinking?"

  • You might say, "Last time you went to the doctor for a blood test, did the technician take out all of your blood, or just a small vial or two which represented the rest of it?"

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the RealClearPolitics page, the Rasmussen page, and to the Fineman essay. Also another Mullfoto proving the arrival of Spring and a really interesting Catchy Caption of the Day.

  • Tuesday, March 30, 2010

    Odds & Ends

  • I need a break from the Health Care aftermath.

  • This edition of MULLINGS has nothing which will cause you to paint a sign and stand in front of someone's Congressional office chanting things like:
    Hey, hey;

    Ho, ho;

    H.R. 3590 has got to go

    Which, while technically correct, seems to lack a little something in connecting to the people.

  • March, it turns out, is one of those "hath 31" months. We name each of the "30 days hath" months, and we make a special case out of February which stands alone, but those "hath 31" months are just lumped together.

  • You don't have to memorize the "hath 31" months and you can't recite them without writing all the months and crossing out the "hath 30s" and February.

  • Go ahead. Try it. Try to name the "hath 31" months.

  • Good bar bet, though.

  • This is another one of those self-inflicted LeRoy Jethro Gibbs head-slaps deals that I inflict on myself: Every college has a nickname. Marietta College's nickname, as you probably already know, is "The Pioneers" because … well, it just is.

  • During the course of the NCAA basketball tournaments (men's and women's) I keep hearing and reading about the University of Connecticut Huskies. Why, I wondered, did a team from Connecticut choose the nickname "The Huskies?"

  • After 63 years of following college sports, it came to me.

  • The University of Connecticut is known as UConn.

  • Yukon.

  • Huskies.

  • Head-slap.

  • Speaking of self-inflicted head-slaps, Carly Fiorina is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in California to run against Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer in the Fall.

  • In the way of campaigns trying to show they are so sensitive to every minority, the Fiorina campaign e-mailed a Passover greeting to Jewish supporters - the holiday celebrating the Jews' escape from Egypt in, I think, 1734 - which began at sundown Monday night.

  • A reeeeeaaaalllly big part of the Passover tradition is to forego eating anything which contains a leavening agent (like yeast) in remembrance of the Jews having high-tailed it out before the bread they were preparing had a chance to rise, leading to the tradition of eating matzoh during the eight days of this holiday.

  • The rule? No bread.

  • Carly sent out an e-mail which said:
    This week, as we break bread and spend time with our families and friends, I hope we also take a moment to say a word of thanks for our freedom and for those who have given their lives in freedom's name.

  • Slap.

  • On Monday I drove from Alexandria, Virginia to New Jersey where I joined with my brother and my mom for the trip to the traditional Passover meal (the Seder) hosted by my Aunt and Uncle at their home on eastern Long Island.

  • Getting from New Jersey to Suffolk County, New York entails a trip along the Long Island Expressway. Having to endure the L.I.E. during rush hour is one of the two ways God reminds us of the difficulties our forebears encountered during their 40 years in the desert.

  • The other is the aforementioned matzoh.

  • Dear Ms. Fiorina: If you really want to show your interest in Passover, please charter a helicopter for me to get to next year's Seder.

  • I can't find out why, in that pesky H.R. 3590, of all the things the Congress could have chosen to tax to help pay for the 30 million additional people to be covered by health insurance, they decided on … tanning salons.

  • According to CNN the tanning salon tax "is expected to generate $2.7 billion over ten years."

  • Ok. Big bucks. But the tab for the health care bill - by Democrats' accounting - is going to be $940 billion.

  • Even someone mathematically challenged as I am knows that, at $270 million per year, it will take 3,481 years of tanning to pay for health care.

  • Put another way, health care will be fully funded by the year 5,491.

  • Sounds like a Zager and Evans song.

  • I wonder if anyone in the intra-mural Democrat negotiations with Speaker Nancy Pelosi ever suggested taxing Botox injections to raise money.

  • Now that would have been worthy of a chapter in the next edition of "Profiles in Courage".

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the text of the health care bill (which you've probably already read and annotated), to CNN's analysis of the tanning salon tax, and to Zeger & Evans.

  • Also, a pretty cool Mullfoto and a Catchy Caption of the Day.

  • Sunday, March 28, 2010

    Recess Appointments

  • I know the Conservative ecosystem is in a tizzy about President Obama's making 15 recess appointments as soon as the Senate packed up for its Spring recess, but it is allowed by the Constitution and was utilized by President George W. Bush.

  • From Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution:
    The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

  • One of the most famous recess appointments made by President Bush was that of John Bolton to be Ambassador to the United Nations. Democrats had filibustered Bolton's confirmation, so the President waited until the beginning of the August recess in 2005 to appoint him.

  • Ambassador Bolton was not likely to win Senate confirmation when his recess appointment expired, so he resigned effective the date of the adjournment of the 109th Congress in December, 2006.

  • After the GOP lost control of the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) prevented any further recess appointments by simply not having any recesses. When the House and Senate were on a break, one Democratic Senator would take the floor every three days to conduct a pro forma session during which no business was transacted, but no recess appointments could be made.

  • One person who did not receive a recess appointment was the President's second attempt to get an administrator of the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) confirmed. This time the guy was a retired Army two-star general named Robert A. Harding.

  • Seems that MG Harding (Ret.) had a company which won contracts with the Pentagon totaling as much as $200 million. One of them, according to, was a "$54 million contract to provide the Defense Intelligence Agency with civilian interrogators."

  • Ok. He knew something about that kind of work, so maybe the contract was legit.

  • But then, according to the Politico piece by Kasie Hunt:
    The government terminated the contract after only a year and ultimately paid Harding's outfit about $6 million, triggering an audit that revealed the company had overbilled the government by at least $860,000.

    When the firm appealed the audit … negotiations resulted in Harding Security Associates repaying an additional $1.8 million to the government - a total worth more than one-third of the total contract cost."

  • Getting fired after one year and failing at least one audit wasn't what got my attention.

  • This was: According to a Washington Post piece yesterday, Major General Harding "as the owner of Harding Security Associates received a consulting contract worth almost $100 million from the Army after certifying he was a "service disabled veteran" as part of a set-aside for firms owned by service disabled vets.

  • That's good, the government giving preference to disabled veterans. Who could be opposed to that?

  • Oh. His disability? Swallow your coffee first.

  • Ready?

  • Sleep Apnea.

  • Over 37,000 American service members have been killed or injured in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11. How many, do you suppose, were send home because of sleep apnea?

  • And, in any case, how could sleep apnea possibly be defined as a service-related condition?

  • Turns out sleep apnea is a little more serious than what I shouted when I read the headline in the Washington Post yesterday morning:
    "He got $200 million in contracts because of being a heavy snorer?"

  • Which scared the cat, awoke the Mullings Director of Standards and Practices, and so was not a good way to start a Sunday in any conceivable dimension.

  • Harding would have skated on his bad bookkeeping on that $54 million contract, there would have been sixteen recess appointments announced last weekend, and every TSA office in every airport in the land would have been sent a color photo of Major General Robert Harding (Ret.) as the TSA's new leader.

  • Alas, Harding bailed at the end of the week after that difficult hearing and, according to the Post, "after The Washington Post raised questions with the White House on Friday about his disabilities status."

  • Who's vetting these people, Michaele and Tareq Salahi?

  • Remember that questionnaire that everyone was supposed to fill out before they could be considered for a job in the Obama Administration during the transition? The final question was:
    "Provide any other information that could be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-elect."

  • Maybe they ought to put that one back in.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the Congressional Research Service explanation of Recess Appointments, and to the Politico and Washington Post stories about Major General Robert B. "Snorey" Harding (Ret.).

    Also a Mullfoto that may confuse you as much as it did me and a Catchy Caption of the Day.

  • Thursday, March 25, 2010

    Be Strong but Civil

  • The discussion about health care reform began to take on an edge last summer during those town hall meetings which became the "August Story." In district after Congressional district, Democrats who had been sent home with a vague theory of a new way to handle health insurance were shouted down and fed up.

  • As we noted at the time, a cardinal rule of politics is: If you don't define yourself or your issue, your opponent will do it for you.

  • And, boy, did the opponents of a federalized health care system define it for the Democrats.

  • Those Democrats who realized they had been outflanked by said that the people who attended those town hall meetings had been organized and turned-out by the GOP.

  • In just a few weeks the Republican Party had gone from being a defeated and dysfunctional organization (which was on the cusp of not just being the minority party; but a minor party) to a highly efficient political juggernaut which could identify, organize, and turn-out hundreds of people at town hall meetings all over the nation.

  • According to Democrats and the press, the GOP had gotten really good, really fast.

  • The Tea Partiers did not start not with health care. They started after an on-air rant by CNBC's Rick Santelli over the way the Obama administration was planning to bail out people who couldn't pay their mortgages.


    The Obama Administration is, today, announcing a yet another series of programs to bail out people who can't pay their mortgages. This time it is aimed at those who are suffering because unemployment is at 9.7 percent and is likely to stay in that range for the foreseeable future.


  • Random groups loosely affiliated themselves into an organization called "The Tea Party" and created a national voice of opposition to one of the many versions of the Democrats' health care reform bill.

  • Republicans in the House and Senate - cut out of the process by the large Democratic majorities in each Chamber - embraced the Tea Partiers and, indeed, came within three votes of stopping the entire process.

  • On Sunday, it was widely reported that, while walking from the House Office Buildings to the Capitol, Black Members of Congress had been spat at and had been assaulted verbally.

  • I don't believe it. There is not one cell phone picture, not one second of Flip camera video, not one digital photo, not one anything that corroborates any of those stories.

  • I am convinced that Democratic Members invented those stories to call the people who were protesting against the health care reform bill into disrepute.

  • If evidence comes to light to prove me wrong, then we'll revisit this.

  • The quickly declining state of political civility in the nation was not helped yesterday by President Obama's campaign-style appearance in Iowa City yesterday in which he employed a tone which was mocking and disrespectful.

  • The President's spoke of how good this bill is going to be for business. In fact, he challenged Republicans who want to run on a platform of "repeal" in November to "go for it."

  • Last night the Associated Press released a short analysis of how this bill will affect American companies. This is the exact text as cut-and-pasted from the New York Times website:
    COSTLY CHANGE: The new health care law will make it more expensive for companies to offer prescription drug coverage for retirees because companies will receive smaller tax deductions for those benefits in the future.

    TOUGH TO SWALLOW: One study estimates that U.S. companies could lose as much as $14 billion this year because of the tax law change.

    SIDE EFFECTS: As many as 1.5 million to 2 million retirees could lose the prescription drug benefits their former employers provide because of the tax changes.

  • I agree with the President. If Republicans want to run against a bill which imposes $14 billion in new costs to American businesses, and causes and 2 million retirees to lose their prescription drug benefits they should "go for it."

  • It wouldn't hurt if both sides took a break from the hypertensive rhetoric and let America catch its collective breath.

  • Democrats are attempting to turn the attention of independent voters away from their opposition to the health care reform bill, to aversion to the protesters and Republicans who support them.

  • The GOP needs to be careful not to be seen as inciting physical harm to public officials. Dropping the decibels will help.

  • Republicans are on the correct side of this debate. They can afford to be strong, but civil.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the video of the Rick Santelli rant (which, if you've never seen it is worth four minutes of your time), to the AP's reporting on the new mortgage relief program, and to President Obama's appearance in Iowa.

    Also a pretty funny Mullfoto and a Catchy Caption of the Day.

  • Tuesday, March 23, 2010

    Forget About Repeal

  • I have received a couple of thousand e-mails from people and organizations who want me to donate to the cause of repealing the health care legislation which the House passed on Sunday night.

  • Forget it. Ain't gonna happen.

  • President Obama signed the bill into law yesterday at the White House complete with Vice President Joe "Potty Mouth" Biden dropping the F-bomb in the President's ear, in the White House, in front of an open microphone.

  • That Biden. What a frat-boy.


    Remember when Vice President Cheney used the F-word on the hallowed floor of the U.S. Senate during a conversation with Sen. Patrick Leahy back in 2004? It only became known because some Senate staffers showed themselves to be the weenies they truly are when they raced up to the press gallery to tell all.

    The next day the Washington Post assigned not one, but two reporters to get to the bottom of the outrage which was generally condemned as the end of civilization as we know it.

    Cheney said shortly after the exchange: "I expressed myself rather forcefully, felt better after I had done it."

    I feel better just writing about it.


  • No matter what happens to the reconciliation bill in the Senate - and I think it will pretty much sail through - the underlying bill is now law. Full (as the British say) stop.

  • The only way to repeal a law is to enact a new law cancelling the first one.

  • The only way to enact a new law (as we all re-learned last week) is for the House and the Senate to pass identical bills which are then combined, signed by the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tem of the Senate, sent to the White House, and signed by the President.

  • Except …

  • Even if Republicans were to win control of both the House and the Senate in November the House might pass a repeal bill, but such a bill would need 60 votes in the Senate, which would not happen.

  • Even if the repeal got 60 votes in the Senate it would still need the signature of President Barack Obama, which would not happen.

  • President Obama would veto such a bill and it would require 2/3 votes in each the House and the Senate to override the veto.

  • Which … Would … Not … Happen.

  • So, before you sign a check to help some group which claims it will help get the health care bill repealed, consider just how difficult that will be.


    I am officially changing my search engine from Google to Bing. Why? Because I , er, Googled myself on and got this result:

    1-10 of 3,170,000 results

  • If Microsoft can find 3.1 million entries for me, I'm their guy.

    BOOK PLUG - You, Me, and the U.S. Economy by Stacy Carlson

  • Now that President Obama has reformed health care, he and his pals in Congress are turning their attention to reforming the financial system, although one reform is already one too many for most of us.

  • As you may know I'm still cranky about the paying off AIG's counterparties at par (I only know what that means because of Stacy's book). Reform is probably necessary but not as a synonym for more government control and larger government bureaucracies.

  • In September of 2008, in the midst of the financial crisis, I wrote some pretty good stuff explaining why, even though we all hated it and Wall Street, the bank bail-out was a necessary evil.

  • Here's an example:
  • As far as I'm concerned Moe, Larry and Curly couldn't have done any worse than these Wall Street jerks with their slicked back hair, tailor-made shirts and suits, custom-fit shoes, gold cufflinks, and Hermes ties.

  • And that's just the women.

  • Mull-Pal Stacy Carlson was Hank Paulson's speech writer at Treasury and was in the building the whole time. She has written a book about it that was simple enough for me to understand, with humor, and with a handy crisis glossary.

  • "You, Me, and the U.S. Economy" available at Take a look by clicking HERE.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring today: A link to the Washington Post's breathless coverage of the Cheney-Leahy Senate debate, a Mullfoto which shows why Easter Break is the worst time to be in DC, and a pretty funny Catchy Caption of the Day.

  • Sunday, March 21, 2010

    The Health Care Bill Has Passed

  • I am not breaking my arm patting myself on the back. I've been doing this long enough to know that when it comes to predictions, I am correct precisely 50 percent of the time.

  • The end of the fight to defeat this health care bill came at about four o'clock Sunday afternoon when the President promised Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich) that he would sign an Executive Order banning the use of Federal money to fund abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother.

  • When Stupak agreed to the langue in the Executive Order as an acceptable safety net for the pro-life Democrats in the House, the issue was resolved. [A link to the text of the Executive Order is available on the Secret Decoder Ring Page HERE]

  • There are several steps left to go before this is done.

  • The Speaker and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate have to sign the official copy of the legislation which will then carried to the White House where it will be signed, with justifiable flourish, by President Obama. That satisfies Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution which provides that,
    Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it …

  • But, the bill which the House passed was the exact bill which was adopted by the Senate - including the Cornhusker kick-back and a tax on so-called "Cadillac health care plans" which many in the House don't like.

    Dear Mr. Mullings:

    This is where my head begins to hurt. Why did the House go through all this? Why didn't they just pass the bill they wanted and come up with a bill both Chambers would accept in a Conference between them?


    With the election of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass) in January, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) lost his 60-vote filibuster-proof majority. That meant that a bill passed by the House which was not identical to the bill already adopted by the Senate would be effectively killed by Senate Republicans.

    My head doesn't hurt any less. So, what's with this whole reconciliation thing?

    I'm on shaky ground here, but the main point is: Budget resolutions and bills which "reconcile" spending to fit within a budget resolution are not subject to filibuster and so need only a majority of those voting (51 Senators if everyone is working that day).

  • Here's what the Senate's glossary page says about the reconciliation process:
    A process established in the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 by which Congress changes existing laws to conform tax and spending levels to the levels set in a budget resolution. Changes recommended by committees pursuant to a reconciliation instruction are incorporated into a reconciliation measure.

  • Which makes my head hurt.

  • Anyway, the Democrats are claiming that the fix-it bill coming back from the House is really a budget reconciliation bill and thus needs only a simple majority.

  • Senate Republicans, as you might imagine, are in hearty disagreement with this theory.

  • The Senate Parliamentarian ruled that the reconciliation bill can't be presented to the Senate until the President has signed the underlying bill - there has to be something to reconcile. So, the Senate will wait to take up the fixes until after the signing ceremony at the White House.

  • Here's where I think the plan fails: If I have to buy insurance to drive a car, that's fine. I don't have to drive. I can walk, ride a bike, take the bus, whatever.

  • If I have to pay an airport tax to help defray the costs of the TSA, that's fine, too. I don't have to get on an airplane. I can walk, ride a bike, take the bus, whatever.

  • This bill says that I have to purchase health insurance. I don't have to drive or fly, but I do have to live, so that that seems to be a government seizure forbidden by the Fourth Amendment.

  • If I was on shaky ground on the reconciliation thing, given the single Con Law class I took from Professor Robert Hill at Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio 45750 I might be on quicksand on this one, but there you have it.

  • At about 10:48 last night, the vote was gaveled into history and the bill was adopted 219 - 212 - three votes to spare.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring today: The text of the President's Executive Order on abortion funding, a link to the Senate's glossary page, and the text of the Fourth Amendment.

  • Also a gentle Mullfoto of the season's first daffodil, and a pretty good Catchy Caption of the Day.

  • Thursday, March 18, 2010

    Health Care Will Pass

  • I think that the health care bill will be adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives on Sunday. It may need that screwy "having deemed to have passed" nonsense that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has up her sleeve or it may pass on a straight up-or-down vote.


    In 2003 the House printed 550,000 copies of a document titled: "How Our Laws Are Made."

    (A)None of them apparently made it to Speaker Pelosi's office because,

    (B) a word search did not turn up a reference to a bill "deemed" to have passed without an actual vote.


  • How do I know the health care bill is going to pass? I don't. I'm not rooting for it, but I think that is what will happen.

  • And on Monday … guess what? The sun will come up. The Earth will continue to spin on its axis. America will not be officially renamed: France; neither Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, nor Haile Selassie will not have come back to life; and Tiger Woods' return to competitive play will set an all-time record for viewers of the Masters.

  • Here's the point: The Democrats are only doing what Democrats do when they have the power to do it. If Republicans hadn't done so badly at the polls in 2006 and 2008 this wouldn't have happened.

  • Let's review the bidding: In the 109th Congress (2005-2007) there were 232 Republicans, 202 Democrats and one Independent. The GOP had a comfortable majority.

  • Too comfortable, it turned out, because following the election of November of 2006, the 110th Congress went to work in January of 2007 with 233 Democrats and 202 Republicans. Democrats had just a comfortable a majority.

  • A majority to which they added in the election of 2008 by picking up an additional 24 seats to go into the 111th Congress with a margin of 257 to 178.

  • That's far from the worst deficit the GOP has found itself in. When I first came to Washington in 1977 (post-Watergate) the split was 292 to 143. Because you will run out of fingers and toes I did the arithmetic for you. Democrats had a margin of 149 seats.

  • Even that wasn't the worst. Since the House went to 435 Members in 1913 the lowest number of Republicans was … 88 in 1937 which was the result of the election of 1936 - the beginning of Franklin D. Roosevelt's second term.

  • I have a theory that it is Roosevelt's first two terms upon which President Barack Obama has chosen to model himself. In those eight years Roosevelt forced through, among other programs, the following:
    - Civilian Conservation Corps

    - Federal Trade Commission

    - Agricultural Adjustment Administration

    - Securities and Exchange Commission

    - Tennessee Valley Authority

    - Works Progress Administration

    - Social Security

    - National Labor Relations Act

    - United States Housing Authority

    - Fair Labor Standards Act (minimum wage)

  • Nevertheless, the economy remained intractably awful. Throughout the New Deal the median jobless rate was 17.2%.

  • Adding to Roosevelt's woes, the U.S. Supreme Court kept blocking many of his programs saying that too much power which the Constitution reserved for the Legislative Branch was being usurped by the Executive Branch.

  • Roosevelt came up with a scheme to add six Justices (the legislation called for one new federal judge or Justice to be appointed for every sitting jurist over the age of 70). That plan was defeated by Senate Democrats but it showed that Roosevelt was willing to do anything he needed to do in order to get his legislative programs operational.

  • That is a lesson not lost on Barack Obama.

  • There is no record of FDR, during a State of the Union message, having pointed an accusing finger at Justices of the Supreme Court sitting 20 feet in front of him during the New Deal as President Obama did earlier this year.

  • That bit of theatrics might cost Barack Obama a great deal because it may well be that the current Supreme Court, and not the House Rules Committee, will have the final word on the scale and scope of national health insurance.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Very excellent links including "How our Law are Made," a short history of FDR, a closer look at the Court Packing Scheme, and Party Divisions in the U.S. House going back to 1789. Also an extremely rare VIDEO Mullfoto and a Catchy Caption of the Day.