Columns

For a full collection of Lanny’s columns, visit LannyDavisNews.com

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Memo to Ty Cobb: The “Lanny Davis” Model Starts With the Topby Lanny Davis 7.16.17

I read some weeks ago that “White House sources” described the need for “a Lanny Davis” or to follow the “Lanny Davis model” to do crisis management for Donald Trump.

It was nice to be a noun (better than a verb or adjective), but that isn’t quite accurate: I was the voice of a group of people in the Clinton White House who developed a proactive strategy to get all the facts out, good and bad, quickly and proactively to reporters about nasty campaign finance stories coming out of shoddy vetting practices by the fundraisers at the Democratic National Committee.

The author of our proactive strategy now referred to as a noun in the Trump White House was then White House Press Secretary Michael McCurry. But that strategy could never have been executed successfully without the backing of President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton. They backed me when critics inside and outside the White House would sometimes ask me, after I had helped a reporter get all the facts, to write a nasty story: “Whose side are you on?”

My answer: “The side of getting this story over with.”

For full op-ed, click here.
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Liberals Can’t Rally for Free Press While Ignoring Privacy Rights 7.3.17

“It is the unwarranted invasion of individual privacy which is reprehended, and to be, so far as possible, prevented…. There are persons who may reasonable claim as a right, protection from the notoriety entailed by being made the victims of journalistic enterprise….”
— Samuel D. Warren, Louis D. Brandeis, December 15, 1890, Harvard Law Review

It is Fourth of July time. It is time to remember two of the most important constitutional protections that we need to worry about now more than ever: The First Amendment protection of the free press and the right to privacy, two issues that seem to, but actually do not, conflict with one another.

The excerpt from the law review article above was written 127 years ago by Professors Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis Brandeis (the latter became one of the great Supreme Court justices). It provided the intellectual foundation for the “right to privacy” protection that, 75 years later, the U.S. Supreme Court found existed in our constitution implicitly but not explicitly.

In 1965, the U.S. Supreme Court in Griswold v. Connecticut struck down the state’s anti-contraception law on the grounds it violated the implicit “right to privacy” that was part of the “penumbra” of the due process and individual liberty rights contained in the 14th Amendment. Eight years later, in 1973, the constitutional right to privacy was cemented in the landmark case, Roe v. Wade, striking down a Texas law outlawing virtually all abortions, which the court found by a 7-2 vote infringed on the right of women to choose.

For full op-ed, click here.
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The FBI’s Loss 5.31.17

Former Connecticut Senator Joseph I. Lieberman has been my friend for more than 40 years, going back to the days when we changed diapers together when our now oldest children were newborns. He is the godfather of my oldest son. That is my full disclosure. But this column is about facts, facts, facts as to why Joe Lieberman’s withdrawal from consideration as FBI director is a shame.

I understand the senator withdrew because he saw the appearance of a conflict since he currently serves as Senior Counsel to the law firm in which one of the top attorneys, Marc Kasowitz, is representing and advising President Trump.

But there are also reports on the Internet grapevine that there was opposition to Lieberman among progressive Democrats who were unhappy with some of Lieberman’s past positions. And some senators and others have raised questions about Lieberman’s qualifications i.e., that a “politician” shouldn’t be FBI director. (This is somewhat ironic since most senators did not object to Rep. Mike Pompeo becoming head of the CIA or former Sen. Dan Coates becoming Director of National Intelligence.)

For full op-ed, click here.
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Ellison For DNC Chair 2.16.17

The race for chair of the Democratic National Committee is an important one. This is especially so when Democrats are the party in opposition to a Republican president, and especially when that president is Donald Trump, and thus there may need to be an almost daily public response or rebuttal from an effective national Democratic Party leader. The DNC chair will usually be one of the media’s first go-to Democratic leaders to challenge President Trump — especially the all-important Sunday morning interview shows that can dominate headlines for the rest of the week.

So, when I saw that Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison had been endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and most of the major leaders of organized labor, I decided to take a closer look at his candidacy for chair of the DNC. I knew he had supported Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Democratic primaries over my preferred candidate and friend, Hillary Clinton. I also knew he worked hard for Hillary, along with Sanders, in the general election throughout the country.

So, I took the time to study his positions on the issues and talked to him on the phone for some time over Christmas break 2016. I liked what I saw and heard.

First, I was impressed by his victory in his 2016 congressional campaign. He won by a decisive 69 percent-22 percent margin, while Trump won 45 percent of the presidential vote in that same race. That means Ellison, as a progressive Democrat, showed he had appeal to more than one-out-of-four voters in his district who also voted for Trump.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Farewell, President Obama: Your Legacy as one of the Best Presidents is Secure 1.19.17

Historians usually look to various factors when they rate U.S. presidents.

The consensus top tier-rated, Mt. Rushmore-type recognition as nation’s top-ranked presidents by historians, in a class by themselves, are usually, Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, and both Roosevelts (FDR and TR). My analysis is that each of them are included in everyone’s top tier list because they satisfy three-out-of-four or all four of these historical facts: 1) unique circumstances making a major impact on the nation’s history (e.g., Washington and Jefferson as framers and setting important precedents for the presidency for future generations); 2) successfully addressing one or more major national crises (Lincoln/the Civil War and FDR/the Great Depression and World War II); 3) having significant positive impacts on economic/social changes or in foreign policy; and 4) enhancing the powers and effectiveness of the presidency and the future of their political parties.

In the second tier of presidential ranks, per most historians, those who satisfy several of these criteria, could include James Monroe, James Polk, William McKinley, Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton.

Reagan deserves special recognition for his impact on strengthening the Republican Party, the credibility of conservative government, and a determined foreign policy that led, even indirectly, to the unraveling of the Soviet Union. Bill Clinton is surely there because of he delivered one of the most successful economic performances of any president, in inheriting a $300 billion budget deficit and a weak economy and departing after two terms with 23 million new jobs gained while balancing the budget and leaving a budget surplus (working with a Republican Congress to do the latter) – justifiably leaving him with a 65 percent approval public rating, a record for a second-term president.

For full op-ed, click here.
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What the Democrats can Learn From J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy” 12.14.16

I decided to read J.D. Vance’s book, “Hillbilly Elegy,” a few days after the November presidential election.

I was still in a state of shock and grief over Hillary Clinton’s loss. Clinton received almost 3 million votes more than Donald Trump. She would be president had there been a switch from Trump to Clinton of approximately one-half of one percent of the vote in the three previously “blue” states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

So I thought “Hillbilly Elegy” would help me find answers as to why white working class voters abandoned Clinton for the billionaire Trump by such large margins even though Trump’s positions and conduct – such as opposition to a higher minimum wage, support for tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy, and having his branded products made in China for lower wages — were incontrovertibly contrary to the economic interests of these same working families who voted for him.

The brilliance of J.D. Vance’s honest memoir is that he offers no easy answers. To the contrary. For example, far from denouncing trade and supporting Trump’s protectionist trade policies, he writes: “Manufacturing in America was a tough business in the post-globalization world. If companies [facing foreign competition] … were going to survive, they would have to retool.”

For full op-ed, click here.
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The True Purple Moment: Time to Pass the International Religious Freedom Act…Now 12.5.16

Congress has an opportunity to enact important legislation — an updated version of the International Religious Freedom Act. This is not only necessary to permit broader protection for religious freedoms around the world; it presents a golden opportunity, in this season of political polarization, for a bipartisan purple moment by the U.S. Congress.

Some brief background is in order.

The updated version, an amendment to the 1998 Act, is named after retired House member and human rights champion Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.). It was unanimously approved by the House on May 16 and is now waiting Senate approval.

The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (D-N.J.), one of the U.S. Congress’s most famous human rights champions, and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), another human rights crusader and one of the most progressive Democrats in the party. Also strongly supporting the bill is another well-known human rights and progressive leader in the House, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who gave an eloquent statement in support of the bill on the floor of the House.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Comey Likely Cost Clinton the Election – and Giuliani Could Face Criminal Investigation 11.16.16

We all know that on Oct. 28, ten days before the election, FBI Director James Comey wrote a public letter to congress suggesting Hillary Clinton was still under FBI investigation for emails. All her momentum after she won the last presidential debate on Oct. 19 was lost. Instead, the media was filled with false charges by Mr. Trump and Rudy Giuliani that Comey’s letter proved that Clinton was a criminal.

Comey’s Nov. 4 letter, when he took it all back, came too late. In fact, it only made matters worse. For the last four days through Election Day, Messrs. Trump and Giuliani and other Republican congressional leaders recklessly ignored Comey’s finding in his last letter and continued to accuse Clinton of being a criminal.

On Nov. 8, Trump won the election with 306 electoral votes (including Michigan) to 232 (including New Hampshire). But Hillary Clinton won the popular vote that current estimates say will be by a margin of almost 2 million voters after all votes are counted. Indeed, her total number of votes exceeding 61 million will mean she is the fourth or third largest vote getter as a presidential candidate in U.S. history.

Clinton lost 46 electoral votes to Trump by razor-thin margins in three traditionally Democratic Midwestern states: Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes) by 1.2%, or 68,000 votes; Michigan (16 electoral votes) by three-tenths of one percent, or 13,000 votes; and Wisconsin (10 electoral votes) by one percent, or 27,000 votes.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Why Dems Lost the Rust Belt 11.10.16

Dear Purple Nation readers and friends:

A young colleague in our public affairs / media strategy firm, Trident DMG, Drew Halunen, is from rural Minnesota.

After last Tuesday’s sad outcome in the presidential election and in some U.S. Senate races, I asked Drew how Trump could have defeated Hillary Clinton so badly in so many small towns and working class communities across the country, especially in such Rust Belt states as Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania — communities similar to his home town in Minnesota.

Had Hillary Clinton won these three historically “Blue” states (which few, if any, of us supporting Hillary thought we would lose, at least not until the last few days before November 8 when the polls tightened in all three states), she would be president-elect today.

Never did we imagine that Trump would win all three — because of an outpouring of votes in mostly rural, white working class communities.

For full op-ed, click here.
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The Issue With Comey’s Statement is Trump Campaign Hypocrisy 11.7.16

A redundancy is two words side by side that mean the same thing.

The two words “Trump” and “hypocrite” amount to a redundancy.

We’ve seen GOP nominee Donald Trump’s hypocrisy during his entire campaign — as most of his Republican opponents pointed out repeatedly during the GOP primaries.

On Sunday, we witnessed one of the more egregious examples of Trump’s hypocrisy, as well as among his top surrogates, after FBI Director James Comey reconfirmed his July 6, 2016 statement that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton committed no crime regarding the handling of her emails and use of a private server while secretary of State.

But when Comey sent his letter on Oct. 28 to eight Republican committee chairs stating that he was looking into emails on another computer without knowing whether any contained new Hillary Clinton emails, Trump immediately jumped to the conclusion that the Comey letter showed Clinton was guilty of a crime regarding her emails, immediately praising Comey.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Worry About Clinton’s Early Voting Numbers Ignores Ground Game 11.5.16

There has been a lot of media and pundit commentary in the last several weeks suggesting that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton may face difficulty in the presidential race because African-Americans are voting in lower percentages in early voting tabulations than they did in 2008 and 2012 when Barack Obama was on the ballot.

While the reports vary, the states most frequently mentioned as having lower African-American turnout for early voting are Florida and North Carolina.

It’s amazing to me how obviously misleading and wrong this analysis is — that is, how it ignores at least two political realities that those of us who have been involved in ground operations of presidential campaigns over the years can readily understand. (I have been so involved one way or another with such operations in every presidential campaign since 1968. I know what you’re thinking: Get a life, Davis.)

Reality No. 1 is that — duh — Obama as the nation’s first African-American major party nominee in 2008, and first African-American president in 2012, would more likely energize African-American “soft” voters than Clinton.

For full op-ed, click here.
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The Final Argument for Hillary Clinton, Based on 3 Indisputable Facts 11.3.16

There are three simple facts about Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy that are not disputable — even by supporters of Donald Trump. There are undisputed facts about Trump as well — that he has used bigoted words about Mexicans, questioned the integrity of a federal judge because of his Mexican heritage, mocked a disabled reporter, used misogynistic words while bragging on tape about conduct that is the functional equivalent of criminal sexual assault and recommended the spread of nuclear weapons — but these are for another column.

First, Hillary Clinton has spent her life involved in public service and has a public record and voting record that is progressive.

I first met Hillary at Yale when I was in my third year at Yale Law School in September 1969, and she was an incoming first-year student. I was standing in line to register for classes, and I turned around and saw her right behind me. I recognized her from her photo in a national news magazine that I had seen the night before about a highly regarded speech she had given at her Wellesley College commencement the previous June. I introduced myself and asked her whether there was any advice I could offer her about Yale Law School — what courses to take, what professors were best, how to read cases and study, etc. Her response: “You could help me — where is the nearest legal services clinic that I could volunteer for?”

For full op-ed, click here.
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Comey’s Actions Improper, Irresponsible and Possibly Illegal 10.29.16

The following are undisputed facts about what FBI director James Comey did on Friday afternoon in a letter to Congressional Republican leaders just less than two weeks before Election Day:

1. Comey’s letter stated, in his own words, that he did not know whether any of the newly discovered emails were “significant” in connection with Hillary Clinton. He did not know anything. That is what he wrote.

2. He wrote the letter without having seen any of these emails. He also didn’t write that any of his investigators have seen any of the emails, read them or deliberated on their legal significance.

3. Despite the absence of any known facts mentioned in the letter (i.e., this controversy is all — all — speculation about any improper emails sent to Hillary Clinton’s private server), Comey’s letter led Donald Trump to compare what Clinton has done to Watergate — a proven criminal conspiracy and obstruction of justice by President Richard Nixon.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Time for Clinton Supporters to be Tolerant and Believe in “Stronger Together” 10.24.16

This column is tough to write. I know that, out of context, I might be accused of wanting to pull punches on GOP nominee Donald Trump and on many of his extreme, hateful supporters.

The opposite is the case. Two points about Trump and some of his most extreme supporters cannot be denied.

First are Trump’s own words, which have conveyed racial, religious and sexist bigotry. He described Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “criminals” and a federal judge as untrustworthy because his parents were of Mexican heritage. Even Republican Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.) described Trump’s comments about the judge as “the textbook definition of a racist comment.”

The words Trump has used about women, including what he said on the “Access Hollywood” tape, show disrespect and worse — including descriptions of his own past actions that constitute criminal sexual assault. Those words cannot be excused as “locker-room talk.” Decent men don’t talk like that in locker rooms or anywhere else.

Second are the words and actions of many of Trump’s most extreme supporters at rallies and online in vicious blog posts and tweets. These hateful Trump extremists’ comments reflect the same bigoted words used by their candidate. From violent attacks at rallies to cries of “lock her up” at rallies egged on by Trump himself, these extremist Trump supporters are frightening and there is nothing wrong with describing them for who and what they are: haters and bigots. I still believe they are fortunately still a small minority on the fringes of our politics.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Sticking to her Convictions: Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street Speeches 10.17.16

That great sucking sound you heard after the release by WikiLeaks of excerpts of some Hillary Clinton speeches to Wall Street is the deflation of the partisan hype that preceded them.

Despite all the hopeful GOP predictions, the excerpts do nothing to show that Clinton was influenced in her stand on financial issues by fees she received from making these speeches.

Let’s look at three examples of public positions Hillary Clinton has taken during the presidential campaign that are tough on Wall Street and contrary to the economic interests of those who paid her speaking fees:

For full op-ed, click here.
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Clinton a Clear Winner, with or Without Sound 9.29.16

The most famous game-changing debate in U.S. history is well-known: On Sept. 26, 1960, Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kennedy clearly bested the incumbent vice president, Richard Nixon, but only among those who were able to compare the two visually on TV. Among radio listeners, at least as the anecdotal evidence that has become historical consensus goes, Nixon won on substantive points.

The results after Monday night’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were different: There can be little doubt that Clinton soundly defeated Trump in the debate — both in substance and visually — and by “defeated,” I mean moved more voters in her direction than Trump moved in his direction.

According to the respected Public Policy Polling (PPP), with a national sample of viewers, Clinton bested Trump 51 percent to 40 percent.

The internal data showed that Clinton won among key voter groups and on issues that should determine the November election results. More than three out of five young voters thought the Democratic nominee won, compared to one out of four who favored Trump’s performance. Almost half of younger voters said the debate made them more likely to vote for Clinton, whereas more said they were less likely to vote for Trump (39 percent) than more likely (23 percent). Women saw Clinton as the winner, 54 percent to 36 percent, and so did African-Americans and Latinos, by a whopping 6-1 margin (77 percent to 13 percent). Even among white voters, which most polls show heavily favor the Republican contender, there was a dead heat between Clinton and Trump — a result that must concern even the most partisan Trump spinners.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Crisis of the Week: Samsung and the Exploding Phone Batteries 9.12.16

This is a weekly commentary by external experts.

Samsung Electronics Co. finds itself in the crisis arena after halting sales and announcing a world-wide recall of millions of its Galaxy Note 7 phones following reports from customers their batteries were exploding while they recharged their devices. The company’s stock took a hit after regulators in the U.S. and EU told passengers not to use the devices during flights. The company and the the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission then said customers should just turn the phones off and stop using them.

The company issued a statement on Sept. 2 saying it took the actions it did after 35 reports of battery fires were reported around the world. The company said it launched the recall and stopped sales “because safety is an absolute priority at Samsung.” It put out a separate releasewith details on how the recall would work in the U.S., offering a $25 gift card or bill credit “as a gesture of appreciation.” The company that made the batteries used in the recalled Samsung devices, Samsung SDI Co., a Samsung affiliate, has yet to comment.

The crisis experts look at how well Samsung is responding.

Adam W. Goldberg and Lanny J. Davis, co-founders, Davis Goldberg & Galper law firm and public relations firm Trident DMG: “This is a tale of two halves–one that gets it mostly right and one that gets it flat-out wrong. Samsung Electronics’s statements tell you what happened, why it happened, what it means for you and what it’s doing to help you. Samsung SDI buries its head, tells us nothing and just hopes we move on.

For full op-ed, click here.
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The Media’s Undisputed Bias Against Hillary Clinton 9.7.16

Just imagine if Hillary Clinton were in the following scenario:

Picture that she caused her family foundation to make an illegal $25,000 donation to a political campaign — expressly barred by law — to the campaign of a Democratic Florida attorney general. And that the AG, who was investigating Clinton for consumer fraud, dropped the investigation shortly after receiving the illegal $25,000 donation from the Clinton Foundation, and then endorsed Clinton’s presidential candidacy and was given a special spot speaking to the Democratic National Convention. And that finally, thanks to a watchdog group in Washington, Clinton was forced to admit that her foundation had made an illegal political contribution and had (1) falsely stated to the IRS that no such political donation had been made and (2) falsely told the IRS that the donation had gone to two other charities, obscuring the fact it had illegally gone to the AG’s political committee.

Can you imagine the inevitable reaction? The breathless journalism, the sensational front-page headlines, the 24/7 cable station “breaking news” reports and the hysterical ranting by virulent alt-right websites? And then there would be Republican demands for appointment of an independent counsel, congressional committee investigations, subpoenas for documents, testimony by Clinton and demands from Florida Republicans for the impeachment and ouster of the Florida attorney general?

Is there any doubt — any at all — that Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, would have been all over the media accusing Clinton of “pay for play,” leading cheers at a campaign rally to “lock her up?”

For full op-ed, click here.
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Don’t let the Clinton Foundation Become a Casualty of Politics 8.30.16

There are some serious people whom I respect, including some editorial writers and pundits, who have called for shutting down the Clinton Foundation if Hillary Clinton is elected president, even if Bill Clinton resigns from leadership, as he has promised to do.

Their reasoning, however, is based on an entirely subject perspective: They see an “appearance” of conflict of interest.

But not one of them — not one reporter who has breathlessly written about foundation donors attending meetings or lunches at the State Department — has cited a single fact showing that Hillary Clinton as secretary of State ever made a decision or influenced others on policy matters because of a foundation donation.

Of course there are also less serious, highly partisan individuals who have called for the Clinton Foundation to shut down. Many of them are Republican members of Congress who regularly meet with big donors to their political committees, and their staffs regularly set up meetings in Washington for them. Of course many Democrats do the same.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Will Trump Inadvertently Make us a Bipartisan Nation? 8.8.16

America has great divisions, exemplified by the red states and blue states on presidential election maps.

But ironically, thanks to Republican nominee Donald Trump’s willingness to insult and offend virtually everyone, there appears to be a growing chance that an unprecedented number of Republicans will decide to support Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for president.

Here are three issues/reasons why.

First, Clinton and most Republicans reject Trump’s willingness to add as much as $30 trillion to the national debt, according to experts who have analyzed his tax and other proposals. They are repulsed by his boasts of being the “king of debt” and concerned about his statement that he wouldn’t mind if America defaulted on its debt.

Second, Clinton and most Republicans oppose Trump’s plan to retreat from our NATO allies, essentially a form of the “America First” isolationism that preceded World War II. There is bipartisan dismay at Trump’s praise of the leadership of Russian President Vladimir Putin and shock at his ignorance.

For full op-ed, click here.
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An op ed piece that MUST be read – an insight into Donald Trump’s lack of basic humanity 8.3.16

Dear friend:

I often send you my “purple nation” column about politics. But today, I am sending you a brief message urging you to read an op ed column published in today’s (August 3) New York Times. Please open the link below this introductory comment to the Times’ editorial page where this piece appears. And then to send it out widely to all your friends by email and text, and if you use social media such as Twitter of Facebook, to circulate it widely.

The column is written by Mr. Ted Gup, a professor of journalism in Emerson College. Mr. Gup’s piece will tell you more than anything I have read to date why Donald Trump should never be the next president of the United States.

To me, it nails down and documents the absence of “basic humanity” of Donald Trump – the minimum that should be required for any president of this great country.

What do I mean by “basic humanity?” I don’t know if I can define that term. It’s kind of like the definition of the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, when the Supreme Court was struggling to define “obscenity” as outside of the protections of the First Amendment. Justice Stewart wrote that he couldn’t really define “obscenity,” but “I know it when I see it.”

For full op-ed, click here.
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Bill Clinton Talks About the Real Hillary vs. the False “Cartoon” 7.28.16

Day Two – Democratic Convention Diary

On Tuesday night, President Clinton seemed to want to accomplish two things: First, to describe the real Hillary Clinton as a human being vs. the cartoon character, created in large part by hateful partisans and repeated endlessly and uncritically by the media; and second, to prove, through facts not rhetoric, that Hillary Clinton is a change agent – and has always been during the almost 45 years since they first met, and will continue to be as our next president. And second, President Clinton used facts to prove that Hillary Clinton throughout her adult life has been a “change agent” – and will continue to be as president.

President Clinton and the Hillary campaign are now focused on what we all know is the 20% of the electorate that can still be called “persuadable” – leaning to Trump or Clinton still open to learning facts and information that will change their current negative personal perception of Hillary Clinton. Think of a football field. This election is now down to persuading those who politically live between the two 40 yard lines at mid-field.

Bill Clinton spoke to them Tuesday night. His story about his early personal impressions of Hillary Clinton and all the way to the present time 46 years confirms what all of us who are her long-time friends have known for a long time: The greatest personal characteristic in her life has been her commitment to public service and to help others who are less well off than she.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Convention Shows Dems are Unified, to Dismay of Trump and Media 7.26.16

This is the second installment in a daily series chronicling contributor Lanny Davis’s experience at the Democratic National Convention as a Maryland delegation member of the Convention Credentials Committee. Read the first installment here.

Sorry, Donald Trump, and all the hyped-up talking heads on cable media: The “controversy” and “division” among Democrats and former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) you predicted and talked about all weekend and most of Monday just didn’t happen last night.

To the contrary.

Here is a more apt word as to what happened: pffft.

That is the sucking sound of the air escaping from the over-hype balloon of “controversy” that led to the piling-on storyline all day on Monday on all the cable channels and in major print media: That the Democrats are deeply divided and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) email controversy would continue to embitter Sanders supporters throughout the convention.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Darkness vs. Light, “I” vs. “We” 7.25.16

Philadelphia, July 23 –

Arrived in Philadelphia about noon on Sunday at a meeting of the Convention Credentials Committee, of which I am a member. And it took about 5 minutes to pick up the general buzz, two questions I heard over and over again as we discussed the Republican convention and Trump’s acceptance speech.

“Are things as bad as Trump says they are? And if they are, did he offer any solutions?”

I think the core themes of the coming presidential campaign – and the coming Democratic Convention – are established by these two questions. And their answers, we expect, will be provided by Hillary Clinton and Senator Timothy Kaine, our “presumptive” presidential and vice presidential nominees.

For full op-ed, click here.
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“Extreme Carelessness” Not Supported by the Undisputed Facts 7.15.16

Hillary Clinton has acknowledged, with the wisdom of hindsight, that she made a mistake in using one device for sending personal and business emails rather than using two when she was secretary of State, and in sending all of her emails to a private server.

I respect and agree with FBI Director James Comey’s conclusion, speaking on behalf of a unanimous team of FBI professionals, investigators and expert technologists, that there was no criminal conduct. Almost all of the former prosecutors and experts with whom I have consulted agree with that conclusion, including a former inspector general of the National Security Agency.

So Republicans were left with the awkward position of calling a congressional hearing to attack an FBI director who was appointed by a Republican president, George W. Bush, to serve as a top prosecutor in New York and subsequently as deputy attorney general. And Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s standard-bearer? Surprise! He attacked the integrity of Comey and his entire team, declaring their investigation as “rigged” — similar to his racist attack on a federal judge’s integrity due to the judge’s heritage.

For full op-ed, click here.
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The Real Hillary Clinton 7.12.16

All of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton‘s longtime friends share the same question, the same mystery, whenever we read about the number of people in America who “hate” her or who label her using various horrible expressions. It is this: How can they be so far off in understanding who she is, what she is all about and most important, her true personality and character traits?

I first met Hillary Rodham, as she was then known, in 1969 when I was a third-year senior at Yale Law School and she was a first-year freshman. We stood in line to register for classes — she was standing right behind me — and I recognized her as the Wellesley College student who had given a commencement speech to the class of 1969 that had impressed me greatly when I read the full text in a national news magazine. When I asked her if she was the Hillary Rodham who had given that great speech, she smiled and said yes, and we struck up a conversation. I asked her if she needed any advice about what classes to take, what teachers she should try to take classes with, and how to approach studying for classes and reading cases during her first semester at a law school with a pretty challenging academic environment.

She thanked me, but said, no, that wasn’t necessary. But she did want to know where the nearest legal services clinic was.

“What?” I asked, somewhat shocked. “You won’t have time in your first semester at Yale Law to volunteer to help those can’t afford an attorney with various legal problems.” She smiled again, thanked me for the warning, and persisted in asking me where the nearest legal services clinic was. I told her I would find out and let her know.

For full op-ed, click here.
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The Clinton – Lynch Conversation: All Innuendo, No Facts 7.5.16

Here we go again.

The U.S. attorney general, Loretta Lynch, on Friday stated flat out, without qualification, that she would accept the recommendations of the FBI and not overrule it concerning whether any laws were possibly violated in Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server to store her personal and official emails.

That is a fact.

The innuendo is that Lynch is lying – because she was visited on her airplane for 30 minutes by former President Bill Clinton, who discussed personal and social matters and never touched upon, in any way, the FBI emails investigation.

Is anyone actually accusing Loretta Lynch of lying? Not yet, at least in the media.

But the partisan Republicans and some members of the media don’t have the guts to use the word “lying” in making that accusation. The innuendo is that even though no one disputes that President Clinton in his brief visit never once mentioned the email investigation – here comes the pure innuendo – “well, you know, Bill Clinton can schmooze very well,” and the message he intended to send and that Lynch received is “Go easy on Hillary.”

For full op-ed, click here.
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Time for Another Democratic Presidential Nomination Rules Commission 6.28.16

Senator Bernie Sanders certainly can’t seriously complain that there was anything “rigged” about the Democratic nomination – delegate selection procedures. Clinton won by a margin of almost 4 million popular votes and a substantial majority of all elected pledged delegates in the primaries and caucuses and in DC.

Sanders and many of his supporters appear to want to change the rules at the July Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. I believe that is the wrong place to enact new rules governing the 2020 process. Instead, we should follow past precedent and the convention should endorse the appointment of a broad-based “reform commission,” composed of grassroots Democrats and party and elected officials to evaluate and recommend future rules changes.

For example, in 1982, the party reform commission headed by then Democratic Governor James Hunt of North Carolina recommended the establishment of unpledged “super delegates,” comprised of all Democratic governors, members of congress, and DNC members and other party notables. Those recommendations were adopted by the Democratic National Committee and thus began the use of super delegates beginning at the 1984 convention and since.

I was a member of the Democratic National Committee in 1982 and voted in favor of establishing super delegates. My major reason was recognizing that our national convention needed more governors and members of congress as delegates at the national convention, since they represent hundreds of thousands, even millions, of diverse voters. But I also favored, as did most other DNC members, limiting their numbers. At the 2016 convention, Super delegates presently constitute only 15 percent of the total number of delegates at the 2016 convention. And at no convention since they were established in 1982 have most super delegates failed to support the candidate with the highest popular vote and majority of elected pledged delegates; and at none did they provide the margin of difference.

For full op-ed, click here.
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The Other 2016 Election – and why the U.S. Should Care 6.24.16

While we in Washington are fixated on the upcoming presidential election, another critical election has just begun: the race for the United Nations secretary-general.

Given that the U.S. is currently the largest funder of the U.N., providing 22 percent of the organization’s budget, this election deserves our attention. The U.N. secretary-general has real power and is uniquely positioned to introduce much-needed reforms to the U.N. system. The outcome of this election will undoubtedly matter a great deal for U.S. engagement in multilateral diplomacy in the coming years, and so it is crucial that we be actively engaged in this process.

The U.N. has been responsible for major achievements over the course of the last 70 years: it advanced human rights worldwide through the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948; it led the global effort to eradicate smallpox, declaring the disease’s extinction in 1980; and each year, it feeds some 100 million people in the most challenging of circumstances.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Where’s Paul Ryan’s “Declaration of Conscience” on Trump? 6.16.16

Throughout American history, there are pivotal moments where a leader of one of the two major parties rises up to put conscience and moral principles over party loyalty.

One such moment for the Republican Party occurred on June 1, 1950.

Maine Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, the only woman in the U.S.
Senate and a conservative Republican, took the floor of the U.S. Senate four months after Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy (R-Wis.) accused the State Department of harboring communists in an infamous speech given in Wheeling, W.Va.

Although McCarthy was a friend, Smith denounced him and his reckless attacks and smears — the first Republican brave enough to do so. At the end of her speech, she introduced her famous “Declaration of Conscience” resolution, co-sponsored by six other GOP senators. In her speech, she repudiated McCarthy by saying: “I don’t like the way the Senate has been made a rendezvous for vilification, for selfish political gain at the sacrifice of individual reputations and national unity.” http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/content/smith-conscience-speech.html

For full op-ed, click here.
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The E-Mails Issue — Five Undisputed Facts 6.1.16

With all the hours of punditry and tens of thousands of words written about Hillary Clinton’s emails by the political press corps, it is amazing that the whole episode can be boiled down to five undisputed facts.

First, the former secretary of State did nothing illegal by having a private email system. The department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) pointed to “policies” that were violated but cited no laws that were violated, and said these policies were inconsistently applied and need to be further clarified in the future.

Second, Clinton was not trying to hide her use of her private own email address. In fact, 90 percent of all the emails she sent went to State Department employees with a state.gov email address, which she thought — mistakenly — would be automatically preserved on the department’s email server. How could she be seeking to hide her use of a private email address if she sent her private email to so many people at State?

Third, no email received or sent by Clinton was labeled at any level of classification. Multiple references in the media and in the rightwing blogosphere to Clinton emails containing “classified” information all refer to post-facto opinions — what could be accurately called classification by hindsight. State Department experts disagreed with many of those opinions.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Has Trump Been Caught in Another Lie? 5.12.16

Why hasn’t the national press and every cable show interviewer asked Donald Trump the following question: “What happened to the $6 million you claimed to have raised for veterans instead of debating your fellow Republicans?”

Can I ask everyone reading this column to call any reporter covering the presidential campaign and your favorite cable channel and insist that he answer, as opposed to the usual evasion and filibuster he’s been able to get away with?

Is everyone’s memory that short? Or is it that Trump is allowed to avoid answering questions while takes up all the time changing the subject?

For full op-ed, click here.
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Two Cheers for Bernie Sanders (not three yet…) 5.5.16

Bernie Sanders has earned two cheers for the presidential campaign he has run. But the third one isn’t there yet.

I am hoping that the question is when, not whether, he will earn that third cheer, by focusing on the issues as he promised he would and not saying anything that might be used by Donald Trump in the general election campaign.

The first cheer for Sanders is because at critical moments in his campaign he stuck to the issues the American people care about and refused to engage in personal attacks on Hillary Clinton, opposite from the vile anonymous Internet posters who call themselves “Bernie bros.” One of the senator’s Iowa campaign leaders publicly repudiated these disgusting haters, cowards who hide behind anonymity. Sanders himself should be more explicit in denouncing them. https://www.buzzfeed.com/evanmcsan/the-bernie-bros?utm_term=.jvj9VyDG5#.bcXmEJzLd

For full op-ed, click here.
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Sanders and Trump are Wrong: The System Isn’t Rigged 4.20.16

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have at least one thing in common.

Trump reacted to his losses to GOP primary rival Ted Cruz in Colorado and Wyoming by saying: “I’m not a fan of Bernie Sanders, but it’s a rigged system. The Republican system is a rigged system.” http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/

And on Sunday, Sanders told “Face the Nation” that the Democratic nominating process was “stacked” against him, and has told others it is “undemocratic.” He complains about the existence of “superdelegates” — the Democratic state and federal elected officials and party officials who get to go to the July convention unpledged. And he complains that non-Democrats (not just “Independents” but Republicans as well) are not allowed to vote in some Democratic primaries. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/face-the-nation-transcripts-april-10-2016-sanders-priebus-fauci/

For full op-ed, click here.
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The Bernie Sanders Double Standard 4.14.16

Last week, Bernie Sanders decided to focus his message ahead of New York’s upcoming primary on the assertion that Hillary Clinton was not qualified to be president.

Eight years as first lady and an active participant in former President Clinton’s policy-making. Eight years — twice-elected — as a U.S. senator from New York. Four years as secretary of State.

Seriously, Sen. Sanders?

As Clinton herself said recently, she has been accused of a lot of nasty things in her political career, but one of them is not “unqualified to be president.”

For full op-ed, click here.
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Clinton Leads Sanders by 2.5 Million Votes – So Who is More Popular 4.4.16

Tomorrow is the Wisconsin Democratic primary, which most polls show that Bernie Sanders will win. The Vermont senator and his campaign leaders have been all over the media in the last several weeks calling on Hillary Clinton–committed superdelegates to switch to Sanders. Their argument: Sanders is the more popular candidate and thus such a switch would be consistent with “small d” democratic principles.

Sanders is making this argument because he has done the math and knows that this is his most realistic way to capture the Democratic nomination.

So far, in the 35 primaries and caucuses prior to Wisconsin, Clinton has won a total of 1,712 delegates (1,243 elected pledged delegates, 469 superdelegates), while Sanders has 1,011 delegates (980 pledged, 31 superdelegates). Thus, before Wisconsin votes, Clinton leads by 701 delegates. According to a story on Sunday by the Associated Press, this means “Sanders must win about 67 percent of the remaining delegates and uncommitted superdelegates … through June to be able to clinch the Democratic nomination.”

This is made even more difficult by the nature of the remaining 22 contests.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Democrats: Don’t Stoop to Trump’s Level 3.17.16

When I read about the Chicago protesters last week cheering after Donald Trump canceled his campaign rally as a result of their efforts, I knew a lot of anti-Trump Democrats were also happy. But my first reaction? “Ouch.”

As these protests against Trump inevitably continue, I believe those of us who are progressives and are offended by the GOP front-runner’s bigoted and hateful language should worry about conduct that ends up thwarting First Amendment rights — his as well as that of his audiences. I especially fear that attempts to disrupt or shut down Trump’s rallies could end up achieving the near impossible: making Trump look sympathetic.

There is no doubt that Trump has often condoned, even encouraged, the violence exhibited by some of the thugs who attend his rallies. Just this past Sunday, on “Meet the Press,” he actually defended the sucker punch thrown by one of his supporters to the face of a protester who was being escorted out of the rally. He said that he might pay for the puncher’s legal fees, recalling fondly the days when a protester would be “carried out on a stretcher” and saying he’d “like to punch him in the face.” Just recently he urged his supporters to raise their right hands and “solemnly swear” to vote for him. When people made the inevitable comparison to Hitler’s “Sieg Heil” salute, he said that was “ridiculous” and it was all in “fun.”

For full op-ed, click here.
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Clinton-Sanders: A New Majority Coalition 3.10.16

After Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) narrow victory in Michigan Tuesday, preceded by vigorous debates and competition, it might appear that Sanders and Hillary Clinton are about to begin a more divisive campaign for the presidency in the coming months.

I beg to differ.

I expect, instead, a campaign, while intense and competitive, that will result in a historic political realignment in America, with a united Democratic Party in a position to create a new majority coalition for years to come.

These two Democratic candidates have more in common than meets the eye. I submit that Clinton and Sanders agree on the following five core principles that collectively represent a new ideological hybrid, one that polling data prove constitute a majority of today’s voters in both parties.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Hillary Clinton: Breaking Barriers, Bringing Us Together 3.3.16

On Saturday night in South Carolina, after she had defeated Bernie Sanders by a margin of more than 47 points, winning in every county, white and black, Hillary Clinton gave a speech that she stated upfront was addressed to the nation. On Tuesday night, she won seven out of the 11 voting Super Tuesday states, most by double-digit margins, gaining at least 486 more delegates.

The most important reason for her political successes: Clinton’s simple message — true to herself and her many years in public service — has resonated with the population of voters that represents the diversity of our country.

She articulated the message clearly and concisely both on Saturday night in Columbia, S.C., and Tuesday night in Miami: “In America, when we stand together, there is no barrier too big to break … because together we can break down all the barriers holding our families and our country back.”

For full op-ed, click here.
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Look at the Facts, Not Innuendo 2.12.16

I have no problem with presidential candidates who received speaking fees disclosing transcripts of their speeches — as long as it applies to everyone in that situation.

What I do have a problem with is the insinuation by Sen. Bernie Sanders and the USA TODAY Editorial Board that when then-Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton took donations from members of Wall Street firms, that made them suspect as to their willingness to “stand up to Wall Street.”

The innuendo is that accepting such fees or donations will influence or even cause recipients to change their positions on issues to placate the donors.

During a recent debate, Sen. Sanders was not willing to make that charge directly when challenged to do so by Secretary Clinton but relied, as he always does, on innuendo.

There is a reason for that: The facts contradict it.

For full op-ed, click here.
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What “Revolution”, Senator Sanders? A Republican One? 2.10.16

I write this column on the morning of the New Hampshire primary. I expect Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) to win the Democratic primary, probably by a substantial double-digit margin. Anything less would upset predictions made by virtually every single poll and pundit.

As I have said repeatedly during my TV interviews, I like Sanders; I like his progressive views, I like and respect him personally. But I must ask, respectfully: What revolution would occur if Sanders, a self-declared “democratic socialist” who calls for socialized medicine, higher taxes and a government takeover of — well — virtually everything, is actually the Democratic nominee? To answer that question, let’s look at history first.

In 1968, other progressives and I worked for anti-Vietnam War candidate Sen. Eugene McCarthy (D-Minn.) in New Hampshire and refused to work for the eventual Democratic nominee, progressive Democratic Gov. Hubert Humphrey (Minn.). The result: Richard Nixon’s election as president.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Five Questions that Senator Sanders Owes It to Democratic Party Progressives to Answer…Tonight or Soon 1.25.16

As we wait for tonight’s Democratic town hall debate in Iowa, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) owes it to all progressive Democrats, including himself and his enthusiastic supporters, to answer the following three questions posed by fellow progressives:

1. Progressive New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, often a Hillary Clinton critic, described Clinton’s anti-big bank and Wall Street regulatory plan as tougher than yours. Would you explain why you disagree with Krugman — and at least acknowledge that he regards Clinton’s Wall Street program as effective and comprehensive?

2. You have continued to criticize Clinton for taking donations from Wall Street donors. Would you criticize President Obama for doing the same thing?

3. Do you acknowledge that Clinton — even while taking donations and speaking fees from Wall Street executives — has taken positions and votes that are 100 percent contrary to their interests and their public positions, such as eliminating the “carried interest” loophole that allows hedge-fund billionaires to pay reduced taxes relative to ordinary Americans, supporting the Dodd-Frank Act and other tougher regulations on financial institutions, as well as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?

For full op-ed, click here.
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Whose Message is More Effective Among Dems – Hillary or Bernie? No Doubt: Hillary 1.17.16

Question: Does Bernie Sanders have a “better message” vs. Hillary Clinton?

Major media and certain Democrats who love Sanders say “yes,” and have been saying so for a long time. What is the evidence from the latest public opinion surveys?

The opposite. Clinton has a far more effective and popular message among Democratic voters.

Today’s headline, Sunday, January 17: “Hillary Clinton Widens Lead Over Bernie Sanders:”

Though race is tight in Iowa and New Hampshire, new poll suggests strong advantage in later primaries.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Thank You, Mr. Trump, — Keep Attacking the Clintons 1.1.16

So I can just imagine Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s inner voice giving him advice in his usual fact-free zone — the same voice that told him he “watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down” — though we now know there was no such scene.

None.

“I have a great idea,” the same voice must have told him. “You mocked Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly for menstruation, Republican candidate Carly Fiorina for her face, Hillary Clinton for taking too long to go to the restroom, your poll numbers among most women are down and heading even further down — so now, you need to launch personal attacks on President Bill Clinton as a way of convincing women voters not to vote for his wife, Hillary Clinton.”

Really?

Here are four facts The Donald seems to have ignored:

For full op-ed, click here.
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The Right Way and the Wrong Way to Defeat ISIS 11.24.15

SEXTUS: You can break a man’s skull. You can arrest him. You can throw him into a dungeon. But how do you fight an idea?
MESSALA: Sextus, you ask how to fight an idea. Well, I’ll tell you how … with another idea!
— From the movie “Ben Hur,” 1959

There are two ways to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS): One is to defeat it militarily — but that will never be sufficient. We and the rest of the civilized world must also win the battle of ideas.

On the military front, former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton laid out a comprehensive and detailed approach in a speech last week before the Council on Foreign Relations, and she made the international goal clear: “not to deter or contain … but to defeat and destroy ISIS … actually taking back more territory.”She emphasized that the fight must be led by Iraqi Sunnis and Kurds. “If we have learned anything from 15 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan,” she said, “it’s that local people and nations have to secure their own communities.”

For full op-ed, click here.
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Finding the Balance Between Privacy and Security in the Age of ISIS 11.20.15

With the murderous and frightful terrorist attacks in Paris just last week, once again we are reminded of the need for law enforcement and our international intelligence agencies to have the ability to anticipate and prevent terrorist attacks and to protect us.

We in Washington, D.C., feel special fear this week after the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) specifically declared our nation’s capital as their next target.

The question remains: Can we allow our national and international intelligence agencies and law enforcement officials to use all the tools to intercept and be able to anticipate terrorist attacks, as they have done in the past, without violating our fundamental privacy rights and civil liberties?

My answer is yes — and it has been since I was appointed to and served in 2006 and 2007 on the first Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, created in the aftermath of 9/11 and the deaths of 3,000 Wall Street workers and first responders in the Twin Towers.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Voters Deserve Real Debates, Not “Gotcha” Questions 11.5.15

A unique moment for this writer: I agree with the Republican presidential candidates.

At least, I agree with their complaints about most of the questions that the moderators of the primary debates seem obsessed with, too often concerned about a political “gotcha” moment rather than asking about issues and solutions that people care about.

Of course, I can’t resist tweaking the Republican candidates who complain about their questions versus what they describe as “softball” questions directed to the Democrats during their debate. Here are just a few of the questions that CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked the Democratic candidates during their first debate.

“Will you say anything to get elected?” (Hillary Clinton)

“You supported the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. You honeymooned in the Soviet Union. And just this weekend, you said you’re not a capitalist. Doesn’t that ad write itself?” (Bernie Sanders)

For full op-ed, click here.
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Three Questions Benghazi Reporters Should Ask Clinton – and Why They Probably Won’t 10.21.15

South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy’s Special Committee on Benghazi has been now thoroughly outed — not by Democrats but by his fellow Republicans.

First House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) bragged that Gowdy’s committee had succeeded in bringing down Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers in her bid for the White House. Then New York House Republican Richard Hanna confirmed the same partisan purpose of Gowdy’s committee: “This may not be politically correct,” he said during a radio interview last week, “but I think there is a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people and get an individual, Hillary Clinton.

Gowdy, however, continues to deny the undeniable. He insists that he and his fellow Republicans on the committee — Reps. Susan Brooks (Ind.), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Mike Pompeo (Kan.), Martha Roby, (Ala.) Peter Roskham (Ill.) and Lynn Westmoreland (Ga.) — are focused only on the facts about the 2012 attack and why and how to avoid such a tragedy in the future, and that they have no anti-Clinton political agenda.

For full op-ed, click here.
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The Real Winner in Las Vegas Tuesday Night was the Democratic Party — In Stark Contrast to the GOP 10.14.15

There are a lot of ways to contrast the Democratic debate with the Republican debates, but one thing I believe would get agreement across the spectrum – voters Red States and Blue States, liberals and conservatives: Democrats avoided personal attacks and insults and debated the issues; Republicans have spent much more time during their debates attacking each other, with the vitriol and bile of Donald Trump leading the race to the bottom.

Tuesday night, we saw Democrats debating such issues as what to do about creating jobs, reducing income disparity, dealing with global warming, trade agreements that don’t protect U.S. workers sufficiently, immigration reform that offers a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers, student debt and affordable higher education and, perhaps most vigorously of all due to its immediate relevance in light of more gun violence, gun control and the need to stand up to the NRA, which continues to oppose even Brady-bill type of background checks.

There are differences of opinion among Democrats on many of these issues, but the differences are relatively minor compared to what we know are the positions of Republicans on many of these issues – that is, to the extent we know given the frequency of personal attacks vs. serious discussions of solutions to America’s most pressing problems.

In short, while I believe, along with (apparently) most of the media, Hillary Clinton did the best during the evening (I am a biased pro-Clinton enthusiast and long time friend), I actually believe who “won” the debate is far less important at this early stage than the fact that the real winner was the Democratic Party – in contrast to the Republican Party, whose brand has been further soiled by vitriol and personal attack politics that has alienated so many Americans of all political stripes.

For full story, click here.
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Recent Poll on Dem Race Needs More Upfront Disclosure 9.29.15

This weekend’s NBC-Wall Street Journal poll has been widely reported all over Sunday’s news media and on the Internet: Hillary Clinton now leads Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) by only 42 percent to 35 percent in the race for the Democratic nomination.

At the very end of the press release, it is revealed that the poll is based on 256 Democratic primary voters nationwide, which is a margin of error of plus/minus 6 percentage points.

Is that a responsible polling sample, with such a large margin of error?

In fact, the margin of error of plus/minus 6 percentage points means the results could be either that Clinton leads by 48 percent to 29 percent (plus 19 percentage points) or that Sanders leads 41 percent to 36 percent (plus 5 percentage points). Statistically, either result could be true, according to the poll’s own data. That is a fact.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Nationals Park: The One Purple Place in Washington 9.18.15

“Ray, people will come. … And they’ll watch the game, and it’ll be as if they’d dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. … The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.” —Terence Mann, “Field of Dreams”

We know about the political polarization that is the unhappy culture of Washington, D.C. Blue state Democrats vs. red state Republicans, conservatives vs. liberals, right vs. left — on and on, insults and personal attacks. It is ugly and part of our common experience inside the Beltway.

But there is one place where all of this vitriol and divisiveness seems to disappear and become unimportant.

What brings us all together is our love of a baseball team, our Washington Nationals, and our love of baseball, as the character Terence Mann so eloquently described in my all-time favorite movie, “Field of Dreams.”

For full op-ed, click here.
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Hats Off to Sanders in Iowa Poll, But Clinton Has Good News, Too 9.1.15

Let’s start with hats off to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — written by someone who is a longtime friend and strong supporter of Hillary Clinton — for the strong showing in The Des Moines Register’s most recent poll. The senator is now within 7 percentage points (37 percent to 30 percent) among Iowa caucus-goers as of the middle of August, a gain of 6 percentage points since the last Des Moines Register poll, and a drop of 13 percentage points by former Secretary of State Clinton since June.

Vice President Biden, who is reportedly considering running, still remains in third place with 14 percent, 16 points behind Sanders and 23 points behind Clinton.

Sanders deserves credit from all Democrats not only for his effective message — consistent with Clinton’s — that we need a new president who can change the current economic system that is rigged for the super-wealthy and against the everyday American; but also because he has steadfastly refused the media’s efforts to draw him into the email controversy or into personal attacks on the secretary. He focuses on the issues and says he respects and likes Clinton. (I know the feeling is mutual).

As to Clinton, there is no doubt that some of the 13 point reduction in her prior Democratic support in the June poll is a result of the mistake she says she made in not using two devices rather than one in mixing personal and official business emails while secretary of State.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Clinton Still Leads Dems and GOP Candidates, Despite Onslaught 8.25.15

You would never know it by reading the mainstream media or watching this morning’s or Sunday’s cable news hosts and talking heads doing their usual negativity pile-on about Hillary Clinton’s alleged troubles due to emails and a possible entry in the race, due to those alleged troubles, by Vice President Biden.

But current polling data show that former Secretary of State Clinton has substantial favorable ratings among Democrats and leads every GOP presidential candidate. So why have the media ignored these data expressing voter choices that are favorable to Clinton and focused only on the “distrust” and “unfavorables” data? Is there some impetus to prove that the “scandal” regarding emails is as serious as the media and the Republicans are trying to make it?

Here are the facts on Clinton’s continued popularity among Democrats and strength in the general election vs. all Republican candidates:

For full op-ed, click here.
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Clinton and Bush – A Teaching Moment for America 7.30.15

At about the same time Donald Trump was surging to the top of Republican presidential polls — after calling illegal immigrants from Mexico rapists and challenging John McCain’s heroism because he was shot down and imprisoned — Time magazine’s cover showed former President Bill Clinton, progressive Democrat, and former President George W. Bush, conservative Republican, half-smiling.

And when you read the compelling interview with the two inside, you know what they are smiling about.

They know, by their friendship and the response they get from people across the country, that they have proven that the politics of civility is still possible and that it is what most Americans want.

“I do believe that people yearn to see us both argue and agree,” Clinton said. “And they know in their gut, they gotta know, that all these conflicts just for the sake of conflict are bad for America and not good for the world.”

For full op-ed, click here.
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Yes on the Iran Deal – by an Eyelash 7.23.15

If there were any realistic alternative to having no nuclear deal with Iran — an alternative that seemed more likely to prevent or substantially delay Iran’s development of a nuclear bomb — I would oppose the Obama administration’s deal without any doubt.

But I’m still yet to be persuaded by those who contend that no deal is better than this deal.

I am concerned about serious deficiencies in the agreement. The two that worry me most are, first, the lack of what we were promised to be a system of inspections without advance warning, “anytime, anywhere.” Instead, the agreement provides for a 24-day notice period before any inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency would be allowed to enter Iranian premises.

Last Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry said on TV interviews that “traces of uranium, traces of any kind of fissile material are traceable and are very, very hard to get rid of.” I note his expression: “very, very hard.” Note he did not use the word “impossible.” Moreover, he never answered the question: Why would the Iranians insist on such a 24-day notice period — why would they need any notice period — if they intended to comply with all restrictions? The only answer, to me, is to leave open the possibility of secret non-compliance.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Why is the Media Picking Sides on Polling? 7.16.15

On June 25, the results of two polls of likely New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary voters were published by their sponsors: CNN-WMUR and Bloomberg/Saint Anselm College. The polls were conducted during the same time period(the prior week), with a similar total sample of Democratic likely voters (about 400) and the same approximate margin of error (plus or minus 5 percentage points).

The CNN poll showed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) by 8 percentage points, 43 percent to 35 percent — i.e., within the margin of error.

The Bloomberg poll had Clinton leading by 32 percentage points — 56 percent to 24 percent — way beyond the margin of error.
You might guess that the results would have received comparable attention from the mainstream media.

Guess again.

The media attention to the CNN poll — in print, on the Internet, among talking heads on cable and broadcast TV — was overwhelming; the Bloomberg poll results were virtually ignored and always downplayed.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Have They Lost All Sense of Shame? 6.25.15

On June 9, 1954, Republican Sen. Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin, chairman of a House subcommittee investigating communism in government, was confronted by attorney Joseph Welch during nationally televised hearings. McCarthy had carried on his anti-communism innuendo campaign through congressional investigations for several years. Now, before a national audience, he attacked a young legal associate of Welch as a member of a communist “front” organization when he was at law school.

In what will go down in history as the moment of McCarthy’s undoing, Welch reacted with outrage to this attack on his associate. “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

The Senate censured McCarthy six months later and his career was over.

So I ask a similar question of Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, and the other five Republicans on the panel: Reps. Susan Brooks (Ind), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Martha Roby (Ala.), Peter Roskam (Ill.) and Lynn Westmoreland (Ga.).

Have you lost all sense of shame?

For full op-ed, click here.
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Hillary Clinton: Then and Now, 6.18.15

As I watched Hillary Clinton deliver her formal announcement speech last Saturday at Roosevelt Island in New York City, I went through kind of a time warp. What year is this?

I remembered the first time I met her: It was in September of 1969, when she was an incoming freshman at Yale Law School and I was in my third and final year. As I watched the former secretary of State speaking, I was reminded again that, despite the passage of almost 46 years, she really hasn’t changed very much at all.

I thought about our many conversations during that year in law school about the state of the country as the decade that was the 1960s was closing. I sensed that this was a very different kind of person. Clinton seemed to be able to look beyond all of the travails that so many of us felt regarding our future and our nation: assassinations, urban violence, the Vietnam War, the sense of a society and culture unraveling. She always spoke of doing some kind of public service when she left law school. She spoke often about vulnerable children who needed early education and sometimes legal protection from abuse and neglect. And I recall her remarking how in 1964 she had been a “Goldwater girl” and that by the end of the decade she saw that government needed to level the playing field to give everyone an equal opportunity.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Hillary Clinton and the Frenzy of the Media, 6.5.15

“Mobs of reporters and cameramen and other Big Timers were out there wearing bush jackets with leather straps running this way and that and knocking back their Pepsi-Colas and Nehis and yelling to each other and mainly just milling about, crazy with the excitement of being on the scene, bawling for news of the anguished soul of Louise Shepard. They wanted a moan, a tear, some twisted features, a few inside words from friends, any goddamned thing. They were getting desperate. Give us a sign! Give us anything! Give us the diaper-service man! The diaper-service man comes down the street with his big plastic bags, smoking a cigar to provide an aromatic screen for his daily task — and they’re all over him and his steamy bag. Maybe he knows the Shepards! Maybe he knows Louise! Maybe he’s been in there! Maybe he knows the layout of chez Shepard! He locks himself in the front seat, choking on cigar smoke, and they’re banging on his panel truck. ‘Let us in! We want to see!’ They’re on their knees. They’re slithering in the ooze. They’re interviewing the dog, the cat, the rhododendrons. …These incredible maniacs were all out there tearing up the lawn and yearning for their pieces of Louise’s emotional wreckage.”

—Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff (1979), describing the media scrum at the home of Louise Shepard, wife of Alan Shepard, America’s first astronaut, who had just returned safely from a sub-orbital flight in space.

Has anything changed?

For full op-ed, click here.
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Privacy Protection and Security: We Can Have Both, 5.21.15

We are again facing the fallacy of the false choice. Those who are concerned about protecting the privacy rights of Americans (including this writer) should not have to choose between protection of those rights and avoiding another 9/11 terrorist attack.

The National Security Agency went too far when it established a program to collect the bulk metadata of all telephone calls made by Americans, on the thin reed that such collection was “relevant,” as that word was used in Section 215 of the Patriot Act, to finding and preventing terrorist acts in the U.S. But a recent 97-page decision by the New York-based 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, applauded by privacy advocates, actually was a narrow legal decision based on statutory construction. The court found that when Congress passed the act that explicitly allowed collection of “relevant” telephone records information of U.S. citizens, the word “relevant” was not intended to mean all records, regardless of whether there was a specific investigation of a possible call from a suspected foreign terrorist or someone affiliated with a terrorist organization.

For full op-ed, click here.
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The Great Purple Issue of Criminal Justice Reform, 5.8.15

What do Hillary Clinton, Rand Paul, Cory Booker, Tim Scott, Elijah Cummings, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Van Jones, John Kasich, Bob Goodlatte, Koch Industries and the Tea Party-aligned group FreedomWorks have in common?

They all agree on the need for fundamental reforms to the nation’s criminal justice system, with a focus on reducing the prison population of minorities, especially among young people of color in the inner city imprisoned at a young age for victimless crimes.

On Wednesday of last week, Clinton spoke at Columbia University in the wake of the horrible tragedy that was the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. It was described by Jonathan Allen of Vox as “one of the most important speeches of her career.”

For full op-ed, click here.
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Everyone Deserves Due Process – Even Politicians, 4.22.15

It is a felony for a prosecutor or law enforcement official with knowledge of a grand jury’s investigation to disclose to newspapers that an individual is about to be indicted by that grand jury. It is also a fundamental violation of due process. It taints the jury pool. It prejudices the individual’s rights.

Yet on March 6, 2015, and repeatedly, that is exactly what happened, and the victim was Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). On the same day, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and CBS News all reported being told that the U.S. government was “preparing” to or would “likely” file criminal charges of bribery and corruption against the senator. (The Times actually reported that such charges “would” be filed against him.) On the same day, ABC News attributed this report to a “federal official familiar with the case,” and The Washington Post attributed the same report to a “U.S. official.”

It is disappointing that the Justice Department has not announced an investigation to determine the identity of this or these “federal officials” or “U.S. officials.” I don’t recall any public expression of outrage by the DOJ at these possible illegal leaks. Why?

For full op-ed, click here.
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The Big Idea of the GOP Field for 2016, 4.15.15

So what do the many current and pending Republican presidential candidates have to say to the country about why they should be president in these challenging times at home and abroad?

I must say, there is one thing that impresses me so far: Their remarkable unity about one Big Idea.

Have they told us how they would provide for healthcare for millions of uninsured everyday Americans in the U.S.? Or guarantee that those with pre-existing conditions won’t lose their health insurance and face bankruptcy in case of serious illness? No.

For full op-ed, click here.
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On Hillary Clinton E-mails: Facts not Innuendo, 3.10.15

Is there a double standard applied to the Clintons but not to Gov. Bush or Secretary Powell? What else is new?

There’s a rule in mathematics that also should apply to charges often made against the Clintons: No matter how high the number, if you multiply it by zero, it is zero.

Thus, as to the e-mails “controversy,” let’s agree on the facts, because innuendo and partisan attacks are the mathematical equivalent of “zero.”

Fact: Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail account when she was secretary of State was lawful. The law restricting such private accounts by public officials was changed in 2014.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Williams Deserves Benefit of the Doubt: Opposing View, 2.13.15

NBC certainly had its legitimate business reasons to try to stop the PR hemorrhage by suspending Brian Williams for six months just one week after the story broke. But that struck me as a rush to judgment — with a suspension too long and a financial penalty too high ($5 million, one-half his annual salary) if the mistake was an innocent one.

As so many others have done, I don’t jump so quickly to the conclusion that Williams lied. I need more evidence to prove that was intentional.

In fact, there is substantial memory research that supports Williams’ version of an innocent mistake. For example, memory researcher Lawrence Patihis of the University of California-Irvine recently told the New Republic about a study he conducted in which participants were told there was video footage of Flight 93 crashing in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001. One out of five said they had seen the crash. In fact, no such footage exists. “We should take care before assuming deliberate deception,” Patihis said.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Brian Williams — Lie or Real Mistake?, 2.12.15

The issue for me regarding the Brian Williams controversy is whether he made a mistake or intentionally misled people by making a claim he knew was false, i.e., lied. To conclude that a mistake is actually a lie requires a lot of proof. Otherwise, if there is a possible explanation of an honest memory mistake, I give the person the benefit of the doubt.

Williams said that in 2003, he was in a helicopter forced down by enemy fire — a mistaken recollection, as he told Stars and Stripes on Feb. 4. He said that the mistake was a result of “constant viewing” of video showing him inspecting the impact area of the helicopters downed in the incident and “the fog of memory over 12 years made me conflate the two, and I apologize.”

For full op-ed, click here.
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An Earlier Start for the Presidential Race? Really?, 2.9.15

Many political pundits and Republicans are hyperventilating about the news that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may actually wait a while longer before making up her mind whether to run for president of the United States.

How could she delay? How dare she? If you do a Web search on the words “Hillary Clinton” and “waiting too long” you will get millions of hits (whatever that means).

For the media, this is a crisis of major proportions. If Clinton continues to wait for months and months to decide, just imagine all the loss of expense-account-paid campaign trips, front-page column inches, breathless “just breaking” cable news 24/7 reports, all the “gotcha” moments. Imagine the media’s impatience to write the stories with headlines already written, waiting to be published when and if she announces: “Hillary’s rusty,” “More Hillary gaffes,” “Boring Hillary front-runner campaign” and — the one we know is coming, must be coming, not whether but when — “Hillary Clinton wins by less than expected — campaign in disarray.”

For full op-ed, click here.
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Bush 41 and the Credit He is Due, 1.26.15

Former President George W. Bush’s biography of his father, 41: A Portrait of My Father, reminds us of the many significant accomplishments of our 41st president, George H.W. Bush, during his one term, from 1989 to 1993. These were accomplishments that many of us missed at the time, such as the fact that the economy grew in the last four quarters of 1992, including more than 5 percent in the last quarter during the election based on the famous line from Bill Clinton’s campaign, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

The fact that we missed them could be the son’s most important insight in this highly readable and loving narrative of his dad’s remarkable life and under-appreciated presidency.

To me, the most important — and perhaps least generally recognized — is Bush 41’s role in the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Raise Taxes Even Higher to Cut Debt, 1.21.15

President Obama’s State of the Union Address was faithful to the core values of progressive government for which the Democratic Party has long stood — expecting the wealthier taxpayers to finance programs needed by the middle class and the poor. But it failed to address the rising and unsustainable national debt. The only answer is to raise taxes even more on wealthier Americans to pay down the debt.

The president’s proposals Tuesday night would provide needed help to a middle class left behind for years as upper-income Americans prospered. It provided middle-class tax credits on education, child care and retirement benefits, financed by modest tax increases on America’s wealthiest. For example, his proposed 4.2 percentage point increase on capital gains brings that tax back to where it was under President Reagan.

But we can’t afford to ignore our rising national debt, which is about $18 trillion — up from $10.6 trillion when Obama took office. By the time the president leaves office, the national debt will likely pass $20 trillion, meaning it will still pass the total value of all goods and services produced by Americans each year. We need new taxes on the wealthy, with the revenue mandated by Congress to go only to a “Debt Repayment Trust Fund.” Only a supermajority (say 75%) of both chambers could divert it for other purposes. Of course, future congresses could try to change that requirement, but it would be politically difficult until the debt has been substantially reduced.

For full op-ed, click here.
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The Media’s Rush To Judgment on Roger Goodell, 1.15.15

The tendency to rush to judgment in the media, based more on suppositions than facts, is now unfortunately common not only on the Internet and in the blogosphere but in the mainstream media.

Here’s a recent example: In July 2014, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell imposed a two-game suspension on Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice after he was seen on video dragging his then-fiancee and now-wife Janay Palmer out of an Atlantic City casino elevator. Rice was subsequently arrested and charged with assault by local police. Goodell was universally criticized for that two-game penalty as being much too light.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Misuse of Courts – There Must Be A Better Way, 1.10.15

Under current U.S. legal precedent, parties filing suit and their attorneys have virtually absolute immunity for any false charges made in court filings. And making matters worse, once the public court filings have been made, the media have virtual immunity to report them as “allegations” — a word often ignored when the headline is explosive and scandalous.

Once someone is subject to a headline — say, that he or she is a “child molester” or guilty of “sexual abuse” — the misinformation echo-chamber of Internet search engines can make the charges a lifelong perception, with tens of thousands of “hits” sometimes in minutes or hours, and too many people perceiving truth just because of multiple repetitions on the Internet. And attempts to correct or rebut are usually ineffective.

Take a notorious example of the dangers of reckless and false charges aired in the courts — this one a criminal case. Some years ago, a physical education teacher in Northern Virginia was falsely accused by a young girl and her accomplice of molestation. He was labeled a child molester in headlines. But a jury acquitted him after just 47 minutes of deliberation. Jurors said they were outraged by the lack of evidence, with one weeping in sympathy during closing arguments. Yet his life will never be the same — he lost his job and had to move his family, and a Web search still associates his name with child molestation.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Department Of Education’s ‘Gainful Employment’ Rule: An Excessive And Ideologically-Driven Regulation, 1.9.15

Suppose a Republican administration’s Department of Education enforced a regulation that cut off federal student loans only for those students who attend colleges that predominantly serve lower income, minority and working class families. Can you imagine the cries of outrage that would be heard from liberal members of the Congress? Class discrimination? Hard-hearted conservatives targeting the most vulnerable students in our society?

So, how and why did this happen in a progressive Democratic administration—one whose policies I have supported over the last six years? To put it another way, is there a better example of excessive and ideologically-driven regulation by liberal government, fact-free and producing the opposite consequences of what is usually the goal of liberalism: protecting the underserved and providing them greater economic and educational opportunities?

For full op-ed, click here.
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Mario Cuomo’s peacemaker purple shade: Column, 1.7.15

The former N.Y. governor transcended partisan divides, yet kept true to progressive roots

New York’s three-term Governor Mario Cuomo is remembered by my fellow liberal Democrats as a hero. We can never forget his inspiring words at the 1984 Democratic National Convention, describing America as a “tale of two cities,” with the rich in a different place than the poor and the middle-class — not the utopian “city on the hill” as described by Ronald Reagan. Government, Cuomo told the country on the occasion of his 1983 inauguration speech, had the moral responsibility to provide “shelter for the homeless, work for the idle, care for the elderly and infirm, and hope for the destitute.”

But people who see Governor Cuomo as a one-dimensional, contentious ideologue are missing the big picture, by a lot. When I heard he had passed away on Thursday, New Year’s Day 2015, I remembered my own experience with Mario Cuomo, also involving former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, an experience I will never forget.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Clinton and Warren – Facts, not Labels, 12.16.14

As a supporter of Hillary Clinton for president if she runs, I don’t mind the efforts of some Democrats to urge Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to change her mind and run for president. I admire Warren, especially her recent effort to strip the “cromnibus” budget bill of a rollback of Dodd-Frank. On the other hand, she is now being described in the Senate by some Republicans as the “Ted Cruz of the Democratic Party.” A major progressive Democratic House member who supported Barack Obama in 2008 expressed the same concern over the weekend on a liberal-oriented cable network. Unfair, and not good.

The fact is, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren and most Democrats are more united on the basic issues than I can recall in a long time. They have all focused on the plight of the squeezed middle class and working families stuck in wage stagnation, their children burdened by substantial student loan debts while the income disparity between the super wealthy and the rest of America grows every year with no end in sight.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Why I Am Ready for Hillary, 12.11.14

Last week, on Dec. 4, I helped organize a Ready for Hillary fundraiser in Montgomery County, Md., in the immediate suburbs of Washington, D.C. The organization, an independent grassroots committee, has been at work for the past year gathering millions of names and small donations in support of Hillary Rodham Clinton for president — that is, just in case she decides to run in 2016.

When I began working on this event, I was not sure many prominent statewide or local elected officials would be willing to sign up on the invitation as members of the host committee, especially because the outgoing Maryland governor, Martin O’Malley, has made it apparent that he is running for president.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Poor communication in Ferguson only made things worse, 12.4.14

No matter how effective the communications skills of the key players in the Michael Brown tragedy, bitterness and anger by the African-American community across the country (shared by many whites as well) would have resulted when the decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson was announced.

Still the Ferguson prosecutor, police chief and mayor made things worse by their failure to communicate more effectively with the community and the public.

The prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, failed to address at the post-decision press conference what crisis managers would call the “elephant in the room” question: Why did he question Wilson more like a sympathetic defense attorney during direct testimony than a prosecutor cross-examining the target of a grand jury investigation?

For full op-ed, click here.
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Should Rep. Gowdy question Rep. Rogers on Benghazi?, 11.26.14

Last Friday, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence committee, issued a unanimous report addressing all the major issues on Benghazi. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R.-S.C.) heads a special committee to investigate Benghazi. Naturally, the question arises: What is left to investigate?

Here is my suggestion to Gowdy: Why not call Rogers, a fellow conservative Republican, to testify as the first witness?

Here is my imagined line of questioning for Gowdy if and when he calls his Republican colleague, Rogers, as an expert witness. (All quotations from Rogers come from the House Intelligence Committee report; those “answers” by Rogers without quotes are my own judgments, based on the report as well as my impression of Rogers’s record for decency and fairness).

For full op-ed, click here.
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At Least One Crisis Manager Thinks Tiger Woods Was Right to Respond to Dan Jenkins, 11.25.14

When Tiger Woods joined the litany of celebrity athletes with a byline and an honorific in Derek Jeter’s new online publishing venture the Player’s Tribune last week, he used the direct-to-fans platform in a novel way: to fire back at a critic. Woods responded to an imaginary interview with him by veteran writer Dan Jenkins in the latest Golf Digest, calling the parody “a grudge-fueled piece of character assassination.”

While the fast-growing genre of first-person jock media is loaded with self-promotion, sentimentality, and peeks at the strangeness of fame, Tiger used it for anger. The instant response—at least among journalists, whose sympathies in the matter are obviously tilted—was that he’d made a mistake:

For full op-ed, click here.
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No Labels is exactly what America needs, 11.20.14

An organization called No Labels, first established in 2010, has managed a political miracle: getting committed liberals and conservatives to come together to find common ground while maintaining their principles.

One idea advanced by the group passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Obama in February 2013. It was called the No Budget, No Pay Act, based on a simple principle that research showed was supported by 90 percent of the American people: If Congress didn’t pass a timely budget resolution in 2013, members’ pay would halt and would not resume until it did. Congress did pass a budget resolution in March 2013, so lawmakers were able to continue being paid.

This was a one-time law that was not renewed for 2014 or thereafter. But for a new organization committed to bipartisan actions by Congress, it was at least a start, perhaps to be replicated in 2015.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Correcting the Falsehoods about For-Profit Colleges, 11.13.14

There is some disagreement among pundits as to why the Democrats got so badly whupped on Nov. 4 in races for the U.S. Senate and Congress, and in the statehouses. There is one thing, though, on which there appears to be agreement among conservatives and many liberals: Voters are tired of government policies that are driven by ideology, not facts, leading to partisan food fights and Washington gridlock rather than solutions.

Take the example of the widespread use of false and misleading data by critics of “for-profit” colleges when measuring their performance as compared with publicly subsidized community colleges. When I represented a coalition of career colleges several years ago (and I currently represent the sector today), I was always mystified as to why these distortions were so widely accepted and repeated in the media.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Lessons for Democrats: It’s Time to Remember Who We Are, 11.6.14

We Democrats lost the U.S. Senate on Tuesday night for many reasons. But I believe the most important reason is that we ran away from who we are and what we stand for.

Too many of our candidates and our party leaders thought we could win by telling voters how bad and nasty the Republicans were, without saying what we Democrats were for.

Ever since Bill Clinton’s campaign and election in 1992, we Democrats have been willing to redefine our approach to problems. We recognized that the time for big government was over, that government was not the answer to all problems, and indeed, the private sector was the key engine for economic growth and jobs. But while Clinton ran and governed as a “New Democrat,” that did not mean he believed this country needed two Republican parties. To the contrary.

For full op-ed, click here.
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To Republicans — Watch out for Traps After the Midterms, 10.29.14

Most pundits are predicting a Republican take-over of the U.S. Senate next Tuesday. I am ready to go on record against the conventional wisdom: I predict Democrats will surprise the pundits on election night and hold the Senate, if only by a 50-50 margin, with Vice President Biden breaking the tie.

My slight-underdog picks of the night: Mark Pryor and Michelle Nunn, because their message of decency and bipartisanship are perfectly aligned with what voters want not only in their states of Arkansas and Georgia, respectively, but across the nation.

However, if Republicans win the Senate, I respectfully suggest they avoid premature celebration, for there are three traps looming for them if they misread the election results.

For full op-ed, click here.
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Ron Klain as Ebola Czar: The Right Person for the Right Job at the Right Time, 10.20.14

So does anyone doubt that if President Obama had appointed a medical expert to become the Ebola “czar” to manage the Ebola virus crisis, many Republicans would have criticized him for not appointing someone with experience in crisis management, media and political communications? Or if the president had appointed someone with those media/political skills, they would have criticized him for not appointing a medical expert?

Get the drift? Ron Klain, whom I have known for over 20 years, is the right choice at the right time to bring order, management, discipline, media and political communications skills to helping the American people understand what is happening and not happening and why. My guess is Klain’s approach will be, to reframe the familiar expression, “it’s about communicating, stupid”; and/or “it’s about winning trust, stupid.”

For full op-ed, click here.

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Holder one of history’s great Justice leaders, 10.1.14

How to assess Eric Holder’s record and legacy as attorney general?

Let’s start with what should be an obvious proposition: Holder’s policies and approach to the job were consistent with the person who appointed him — Barack Obama. Lest Republicans forget, Obama was elected and reelected to the presidency by large margins in 2008 and 2012.

For full op-ed, click here.

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In Defense of Roger Goodell, 9.16.14

Is there any way to … well … defend Roger Goodell? Well, yes.

When everyone is piling on, it’s time to take a breath and say: We need more facts, less reliance on media reports based on anonymous sources and over-heated pundits who are too ready to rush to judgment.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Thoughts on Ferguson: What I know and don’t know, 8.27.14

The one thing I know is that I don’t know what it it’s like to be a young black man who is confronted by a white police officer pointing a gun.

I don’t know the fear, the humiliation, the rage that a young black man must feel when this happens, especially when he doesn’t believe he has done anything wrong.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Democrats must denounce the Rick Perry indictment, and the rush to judgment culture, 8.18.14

We saw it happen again and again in the 1990s, after multiple Cabinet secretaries in the Clinton administration were “investigated” by “independent counsels” — and every one of them resulted in no conviction, despite the rush to judgment and the media’s use of the word “scandals” when an “investigation” is worth even less than an “indictment” as evidence of actual wrongdoing.

We Democrats also pride ourselves on our liberalism and commitment to due process and the presumption of innocence embedded in the U.S. Constitution. That is why my father taught me that Sen. Joe McCarthy’s (R-Wis.) use of innuendo and accusation to destroy reputations without a fair trial or any due process was contrary to all our liberal principles.

For full op-ed, click here.

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The cure for punditry hyperventilation on Hillary Clinton — Try the facts, 8.13.14

I have read a slew of comments by pundits, columnists and self-described “progressive” organizations criticizing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her comments in The Atlantic to reporter Jeffrey Goldberg about (a) her disagreement with President Obama on the issue of early aid to moderate opposition elements in Syria to the Assad regime; and (b) her comment that “don’t do stupid stuff” does not a foreign policy make.

It’s one thing for writers on the liberal side of the spectrum, or organizations that describe themselves that way, to disagree with Clinton on her point of view and debate the facts and differing opinions based on those facts, on substantive or policy grounds. But that is not what happened. Instead, what we have seen is a series of ad hominem attacks, mostly going to Clinton’s real “motives” or the use of labels — labels like “hawkish” or “anti-interventionist” — devoid of facts and, as Shakespeare once wrote, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

For full op-ed, click here.

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War and peace at Camp Equinunk — Lessons for Congress, 8.6.14

As public approval of the U.S. Congress continues to dip to ever-lower levels, it is worth examining the cultural phenomenon of something called the Color War at traditional sleep-away summer camps, and what it can teach members of Congress in today’s polarized environment.

I have written before about the summer camp I went to in my youth, Camp Equinunk, located about 50 miles to the northeast of Scranton in Wayne County, Pa. I was a counselor there in the 1960s, and my oldest son and daughter were campers and counselors in the 1980s. (My daughter went to the co-owned girl’s camp across the lake, Camp Blue Ridge.) Now, my two younger sons and two grandsons are campers there.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Americans want a dealmaker, not an ideologue, 7.30.14

When it comes to judging someone’s political ideology, many people and pundits end up arguing about labels and characterizations rather than the facts and the objective record. For example, I recall recently reading about someone who attended a Ready for Hillary meeting in Iowa who declared his concern about Hillary Clinton being a “corporatist.” A few recent articles refer to Clinton as a “centrist” or not a genuine “populist,” words meaning different things to different people.

Fortunately, polling data show that most people make their judgments based on facts, not labels. So here are the facts concerning Clinton’s positions on the issues.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Journalists must report on Isreali self-restraint, 7.24.14

I am writing this column on Monday night. I am sick to my stomach after seeing a network TV newscast of a young Palestinian girl lying paralyzed in a hospital in Gaza, the victim of Israeli bombs. I see other children in the hospital. My eyes are tearful. I feel pain in my chest. I finally have to turn away from watching.

I have long believed in the rights of Palestinians to have their own independent, sovereign state, ever since I was a young boy. My father and I stopped discussing the subject because he was so adamant in distrusting the Palestinians and could not imagine they would honor any peace agreement.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Lessons from LeBron — How the GOP can use crisis management, 7.16.14

LeBron James’s surprise announcement last Friday that he planned to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers from the Miami Heat offers important lessons for effective crisis management. Indeed, the most important lesson might be applicable to House Republicans as they plan new hearings on Benghazi this fall.

The first and most important is to admit a mistake yourself — and take responsibility.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ shows who she is, 7.9.14

The reviews are in on Hard Choices, Hillary Clinton’s history of her four-year tenure as U.S. secretary of State. They are almost all positive. Her book sales are strong — No. 1 on The New York Times best sellers list for three weeks in a row.

What is missing from most of the reviews is what the book reveals about Clinton the person. I can speak to that, having known her since I was a senior and she was a freshman at Yale Law School when we first met in the fall of 1969.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Jeb Bush: A Formidable Candidate, 6.25.14

If there is any issue that stumps liberals and conservatives alike, it is what to do about the crisis in public education in our high schools, especially in urban neighborhoods. If the now-famous campaign theme “It’s the economy, stupid” worked in 1992, then in 2016, the related slogan could be “it’s about education, stupid.”

Data show a correlation between graduation rates in high schools and colleges, and job and economic opportunities. For example, Labor Department data show the unemployment rate drops as education level increases, starting with 12.4 percent with less than a high school diploma, 8.3 percent among those with high school degrees and 4.5 percent for those with a college degree. Regarding educational achievement and future wages, the correlation is equally clear: A typical worker with at least a four-year college degree earns about $50,000/year, compared with the median income of $30,000/year among those with a two-year degree and about $18,500/year for those with no more than a high school diploma.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Jeb Bush: A Formidable Candidate, 6.18.14

OK, OK. To the Bush family, and particularly to former two-term Florida Gov. Jeb Bush: don’t worry. Let me start, upfront, by saying: I would never vote for Jeb Bush for president. He is way too conservative for me.

Now that that’s over with, I think Bush is a really good guy — a good person, good father, good husband, good brother (to my Yale College friend, two-term President George W. Bush) and good son to his great, great dad, former President George H.W. Bush.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Clinton – NPR Interview on Gay Marriage – the Facts, 6.16.14

My opinion: Hillary Clinton’s responses to Terry Gross in her NPR interview on the issue of gay marriage were not the subjective terms used by reporters, such as “testy,” “contentious” and “annoyed,” but — equally subjective — firm and polite. (Another opinion, having listened to the interview several times: Had it been a man, the words “testy” and “annoyed” would not have been used.)

While subjective impressions can reasonably differ, the facts and words in the interview speak for themselves.
Here are the relevant excerpts from the interview — I have highlighted key words in the Qs and As.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Hillary’s Sense of Humor, 6.9.14

I can remember the first time I heard Hillary Rodham (her name back then, in 1969, when we first met at Yale Law School) laugh. There was a bunch of guys and Hillary in the law school lounge: I forget the joke, but all of a sudden we heard this great laugh — you only describe it by using the expression “belly laugh” — and we all started laughing harder, realizing that we were egged on by Hillary’s deep and utterly joyful laughter.

One of the most telling moments during the 2008 presidential campaign was when Hillary laughed with the same hearty laugh during one of the presidential debates, evoking my fond memories of law school days. Yet the next day, I saw — in disbelief — nasty journalists actually calling her laugh a “cackle.” I was so angry. It was obvious to me, and probably most women, that no male candidate would be said to “cackle” when he laughed.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Innuendo vs. facts on Benghazi, 5.7.14

So now the House Republican leadership has announced still another investigation of the tragedy of Benghazi. My crisis management mantra about the truth is: “tell it early, tell it all, tell it yourself.” But the Republicans’ mantra seems to be, “tell innuendo early, often, and over and over again,” as if by repetition you can convert fact-free innuendo into the truth. You can’t.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, within days of the attack on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, appointed an independent Accountability Review Board (ARB) to investigate thoroughly why the tragedy occurred and how to avoid such security lapses in the future. The ARB was led by former Republican administration official Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen. The board made more than 60 recommendations to Clinton, concluding that there were “systemic failures” at the State Department. She immediately accepted responsibility and she accepted all of the board’s recommendations. She has said recently that the deadly attack was her “greatest regret” in her service as secretary of State.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Dems must stand by O-Care, 4.30.14

If I were a Democrat running for Congress in 2014 who supported the Affordable Care Act, known as “ObamaCare,” I would be running a campaign explaining why I am proud of my vote. And I would challenge my GOP opponent to answer five questions:

First, without ObamaCare, what would you do about people who lose their health insurance because they have lost their jobs and can’t get health insurance because they have a pre-existing condition?

For full op-ed, click here.

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Smart power for the 21st century, 4.10.14

By the turn of the 21st century, it was clear that a new approach to the use of American power to protect our national interests and values was necessary.

At the risk of some over-simplification, by the end of former President George W. Bush’s second term, essentially two lines of thinking had emerged. On the right was a preference for the use of “hard power” — the use of military force and intervention to protect U.S. interests. On the left was a growing bias against military intervention of any kind and in favor of “soft power” — economic aid and incentives on human rights and democracy. And recently, we have seen the libertarian right, led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), appearing almost always to oppose both hard military power and soft power of foreign aid and economic development.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Life With My 16-year-old Son, 4.3.14

I have been writing this column called “Purple Nation” since the summer of 2008. My purpose was to write about issues and politics that focused on facts, not ideology, and that offered opportunities for mixed “Red State – Blue State,” or “Purple,” analysis and solutions.

I’ve written hundreds of columns since then — many of them about serious political and substantive topics. But of all the columns I ever wrote, none received more positive comments that spread on the Internet like a virus, it seemed, than the one I wrote in December 2008, titled “Life With My 10-Year-Old Son.” Clearly I had struck a chord that transcended politics and ideology — everyone who had children seemed to identify with something in that column.

For full op-ed, click here.

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The presumption-of-guilt culture, 3.12.14

The Washington Post’s five-column headline on Tuesday was: “Prosecutors: Vincent Gray Knew.”

Note that the word “allege” is not in the headline.

The top federal prosecutor, D.C. U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., is quoted at a press conference as asserting the fact — before trial — that District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray knew about “businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson’s conspiracy to pump more than $600,000 in illegal donations into the campaign.”

For full op-ed, click here.

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Lessons from a former White House legend, 2.26.14

Mike McCurry, who served as press secretary to former President Clinton, was featured in a news profile over the weekend, about him becoming a teacher in religion and politics at Wesley Theological Seminary in Northwest Washington as he earns his degree there.

Some people might have been surprised by this turn toward faith and to teaching, but I wasn’t.

I served with McCurry at the White House from December 1996 to February 1998. During those 14 months, I also came to know him as a teacher, not only about how to handle the press but about always relying on basic values of decency and respect for others.

For full op-ed, click here.

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What is a liberal?, 2.13.14

“It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”

These words of the late Minnesota Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey have always best defined for me what it means to be a liberal Democrat. I still believe them to govern my political philosophy.

The key is belief in government not as the problem but as the needed counterpoint to over-concentrated power — to level the playing field, as progressive presidents from Teddy Roosevelt to Franklin Delano Roosevelt to John Kennedy to Bill Clinton would say, for equal opportunity, individual responsibility and social justice for the average American.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Here we go again on Hillary, 2.5.14

It seems the pundits and polls in our town and on cable TV looking to fill the time can’t get over the apparently irresistible temptation to blame Hillary Clinton for … well, just about everything.

Recent press reports quoted anonymous Democrats expressing concerns that Clinton is making the “same mistakes” as she allegedly did in her 2008 presidential campaign.

Imagine she is the — dare I use the expression? — “the front-runner” in all the polls, among Democrats for the nomination, among all voters for the general election.

For full op-ed, click here.

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From, Clinton, and the power of ideas, 1.6.14

A lot of people credit Al From and the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) with making a significant contribution to saving the Democratic Party from virtual political extinction at the end of the 1980s — at least in competing for the presidency. From reminds us in his recently published memoir, The New Democrats and the Return to Power, that in the 1980, 1984 and 1988 presidential elections, “the Republican [presidential] candidate won … 54.1% of the popular vote and nearly 90% of the Electoral College votes.”

And it was in that context, in the mid-1980s, that From, then a senior staffer for a powerful House Democrat Rep. Gillis Long, went to liberal and moderate members of Congress with the idea for a new think tank — the Democratic Leadership Council — to come up with new, post-FDR, post-New Deal ideas.

For full op-ed, click here.

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‘Women’s rights are human rights’ — 20 years later, 12.4.13

Almost 20 years ago, in September 1995, America’s first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, took the podium at the fourth annual United Nations Women’s Conference in Beijing.

A prominent Chinese pro-democracy dissident had been arrested. Many in the U.S. government and broader diplomatic community opposed the first lady going to China at such a time. First ladies, they argued, were not supposed to call out and challenge a foreign government as a guest on its soil. It just isn’t done. It just isn’t diplomatic. It just isn’t … well, what first ladies are supposed to do.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Obamacare flak seems familiar, 11.20.13

The first argument used against the legislation was ideological. Conservative opponents called it socialistic because it allowed government to force individual Americans to take money from their own funds to pay for the benefits of other Americans who are less well off and can’t afford to pay themselves. This violates the principles of individual liberty and the free market to allocate wealth, conservatives argued. But liberals opted for collective responsibility enforced by the central federal government for the greater, common good.

Another aspect of the legislation that caused division was a split on interpreting the U.S. Constitution. Conservatives argued that the U.S. Congress does not have explicit power in the Constitution to force individuals to do something they do not want to do to help someone else. This power, unless explicitly “enumerated” in the Constitution, they argued, was “reserved” to the states under the 10th Amendment.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Crisis Management and Obamacare, 11.13.13

As a supporter of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “ObamaCare,” I want the problems to be fixed and for the program to succeed. After all, we are the only Western democracy that does not provide some form of national health insurance or guaranteed access to healthcare to all citizens.

But the failure of the federal and state websites’ marketplaces or “exchanges” to be entirely operable by Oct. 1, as well as the increasing number of individuals who have lost their health insurance or are getting hit by unexpected substantial increases in premiums, has created a political crisis for the president and Democrats seeking reelection to Congress in the 2014 elections.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Don’t underestimate Ted Cruz, 10.23.13

How many liberal pundits, bloggers and commentators have attacked first-term Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in personal terms of contempt and ridicule? Almost all.

There can be little doubt that the GOP congressional strategy of holding up approval of the budget and causing a government shutdown in return for repeal of ObamaCare was ill-founded. Forgive me, let me use a better word: It was stupid. On Tuesday The Washington Post/ABC poll found that 80 percent of the national sample opposed the shutdown, including 2 out of 3 Republicans or GOP-leaning independents and even a majority who support the Tea Party movement. And 53 percent of all respondents blame the GOP for the shutdown, versus 29 percent who blame President Obama.

For full op-ed, click here.

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A fair shot at the facts? More like a cheap shot., 10.10.13

Dana Milbank, in his Oct. 8 Washington Forum column, “Tackling the offensive,” criticized me for arguing that the Washington Redskins’ 80-year-old name should not be changed, that the team’s fans don’t intend the team name to be racially disparaging and that the 2004 Annenberg Institute Poll showed that, in a large, national sample of Native Americans, nine out of 10 were not offended by the team name “Washington Redskins.”

Mr. Milbank also stated that I “represent[ed] Third World dictators,” omitting that my contract with the government of Equatorial Guinea, filed with the U.S. Justice Department, stated that my purpose was to help implement a “comprehensive program” of “political, legal, and economic reform.”

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, said in a public August 2010 letter to the president of Equatorial Guinea that he was “encouraged and impressed” by a speech the president gave at a Global Media Forum in South Africa. I drafted virtually all of that speech, and Archbishop Tutu thanked me for it at the forum.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Lanny Davis: Why Lawyers are Best at Crisis Management

The first rule of Crisis Management is to get all the facts – and then be ready to correct media misinformation that hurts a company’s reputation and could possible adversely affect the legal outcomes inside a courtroom or before a regulatory agency.

I preferred to engage in debate with my fellow lawyers on how to get facts out proactively without significant legal risks. When I worked at the White House as a Special Counsel to President Clinton, the then White House Press Secretary, Michael McCurry, would repeatedly warn me when I was on my way to a meeting of White House lawyers: “Davis, don’t leave the room full of all these lawyers without your blood being left on the floor!” “That’s easy for you to say, McCurry,” I would ritualistically respond. “That’s my blood you are talking about.”

For full op-ed, click here.

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Lessons from Clinton’s ‘third way’, 9.25.13

Polls show that most Americans will blame House Republicans — not President Obama or congressional Democrats — if Speaker John Boehner and his Tea Party-driven caucus continue to insist that the president either defund ObamaCare or shut down the federal government.

However, before Democrats celebrate prematurely, they should recognize a potential trap that former President Clinton was able to avoid after the two government shutdowns in late 1995 and early 1996. Clinton refused to go along with demands for substantial budget cuts by the Newt Gingrich-led Republican Congress, leading to the two shutdowns. And he came out way ahead politically and was reelected in 1996 by a substantial margin.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Obama’s profile in courage, 8.21.13

In my view, Barack Obama’s speech on Syria yesterday was the high point of his presidency. Ultimately it could cement his place in history the way President Kennedy’s courage and resolve during the Cuban missile crisis did for him.

Public opinion was against Obama on a limited military strike to hold brutal murderer and dictator Bashar Assad accountable for his regime’s use of deathly sarin gas on his own people. The Senate and the House, both Democrats and Republicans, appeared ready to reject his request for authorization for the strike.

For full op-ed, click here.

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The anti-Clinton media — here we go again, 8.21.13

Not everyone is as apparently obsessed with writing vitriol about the Clintons as Maureen Dowd, the New York Times’s op-ed columnist. For example, last Saturday, Dowd compared the Clintons to the self-destructive cartoon character Wile E. Coyote. Her first example of “little explosions” for which she holds the Clintons responsible — I am not making this up — is the tragic and painful experience of Huma Abedin, caused by the conduct of her husband, New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, whom she loves and forgives. Go figure.

At least it can be said that Ms. Dowd writes opinion on the Op Ed page of the Times. But that cannot be said about the two news reporters, Nicholas Confessore and Amy Chozick, who wrote a 2,839-word front-page article on Sunday, Aug. 13, with the headline that there was “unease” at the Clinton Foundation. Those reporters are supposed to write confirmed facts to support their headline and core conclusions. They did not.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Obama should back Gillibrand, 7.25.13

Some things that happen in Washington, D.C., have come to be expected, such as hyperpartisanship in the Congress along sharp “red” vs. “blue” lines.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) has assembled a remarkable bipartisan coalition of senators to support her modest proposal, the Military Justice Improvement Act, which would guarantee that decisions whether to investigate and prosecute allegations of unwelcome sexual contact within the military would be made outside of the chain of command where the alleged assault occurred.

Currently, such decisions are made by the superior officers in the chain of command directly above the alleged victim.

For full op-ed, click here.

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DC’s Purple Field of DreamsHuffington Post, 7.18.13

Thomas Jefferson said at his first inauguration in March of 1801: “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists.”

Two hundred twelve years and a few months later, there is only one place in “This Town” where we are all red states and we are all blue states.

I am walking down the final block approaching this place, and I am wearing red — a red shirt with the name Strasburg on the back and a red hat with a curly “W” on the front. And I love that color. Red all around me.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Gay marriage is no purple issueThe Hill, 7.10.13

“To officiate a union that is expressly not for the same godly purpose of procreation and to call such a relationship ‘sanctified’ is unacceptable to a sound mind.” — N. Michael Nunn, a member of Sinai Temple, Los Angeles, in a letter to fellow Persian Jews and congregants opposing gay marriage ceremonies at the temple

These shameful words could have come from Ayatollah Khomeini, the extremist religious fundamentalist from whose theocratic tyranny Nunn’s Persian forebears apparently fled at the time of the overthrow of the Shah.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Hillary Clinton’s Interconnected Ideas: Part II, Huffington Post, 6.26.13

Last week I wrote in this space about Hillary Clinton’s June 13 speech at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting in Chicago, describing her ability to place the issue of opportunities for women and girls in a broader context than women’s rights — showing its relevance to prosperity for all, men included.

She did the same with respect to the other two issues she spoke to in her speech — early childhood education development and job-creating economic development — indeed, treating them as virtually one and the same. Once again, she relied on compelling facts:

In the U.S., only 50 percent of our children receive any early childhood education, much of it the wealthier half, compared to China’s goal of providing three years of early learning for 70 percent by 2020.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Hillary Clinton’s Interconnected Ideas: Part I, Huffington Post, 6.19.13

It shouldn’t surprise anyone who has known Hillary Clinton for a while and followed her career in public service to know that she is driven by ideas to bring change that improves people’s lives and, just as important, that she sees an interconnected big picture among her ideas to solve major problems when many others see disconnected dots.

At the opening of the “Clinton Global Initiative America” meeting in Chicago on June 13, Hillary Clinton, in her first major address as a private citizen since her four years serving as secretary of state and eight years as a United States senator, set out three apparently distinct issues of importance to all Americans: 1) early childhood development, 2) opportunities for women and girls, and 3) economic development that creates jobs.

But Mrs. Clinton saw them as “interdependent and interconnected” — just as she described the issues around the globe during her travels to more than 100 countries in her four years as one of the nation’s most effective Secretaries of State. She coined the phrase “smart power,” and not surprisingly, applied the same ability to make connections and common approaches to “all the problems that we face, from climate change to financial contagion, to nuclear proliferation” — “too complex and cross-cutting for any one government, or indeed, for governments to solve alone.”

For full op-ed, click here.

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Protection from terrorism and intrusion on privacy rights — we can, we must have both, The Hill, 6.7.13

The famous conservative Republican lawyer and former solicitor general under President George W. Bush, Ted Olson, and I sat next to each other while we watched in real time the activity of the most highly classified and secret antiterrorist program being conducted by the United States: the “Terrorist Surveillance Program,” or TSP as it became known after it was first disclosed by The New York Times in December 2005.

There we were, in the bowels of the National Security Agency (NSA), guarded by security personnel, sworn to secrecy at the highest level of classified status in the U.S. government. I felt great trepidation. I worried that I would be witnessing a gross violation of civil liberties and the inherent constitutional right of every American to be protected from government eavesdropping and intrusion on privacy rights.

We were there because we were members of a five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board appointed personally by President George W. Bush after an extended period of background checks and reviews by intelligence agencies and the FBI. The board was created on the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission and enacted by congress as part of the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Freedom of the press v. national security – A tough balance, Fox News, 5.30.13

I have known and been a friend of Attorney General Eric Holder for many years. He is a progressive Democrat who believes in First Amendment values and especially vigorous freedom for investigative reporters to publish the facts. So I give the Attorney General a heavy presumption of good faith and trying to make the best judgment at the time.

I also know, as widely reported, that now, with the wisdom of hindsight, he is willing to express regrets about the approach used in subpoenaing telephone records of certain reporters in the course of a serious national security leak investigation, especially the ill-advised decision to name Fox investigative reporter as a criminal “co-conspirator.”

By the way, the words Holder testified to in front of the Judiciary Committee were, as far as I can tell, accurate — there was never an intent to bring criminal charges against (or “prosecute,” as he said) Fox’s James Rosen. That is a fact. And that is what he said. Naming Rosen as a co-conspirator, however ill-advised, was for the purpose of establishing him as a fact witness, not to prosecute him.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Obama’s three crises — the good and bad news, Fox News, 5.21.13

The good news for the White House is that despite the Benghazi, IRS, and AP subpoena perfect storm of crises within a week, President Obama’s job approval ratings are up.

The bad news is that because of the violation of the fundamental crisis management rule about getting the truth out – “tell it early, tell it all, tell it yourself” – the White House inflicted avoidable damage on itself that might give the Republicans an opportunity to do political damage in the future.

For example, on Benghazi, the “talking points” used by Ambassador Rice, once all 12 versions were finally published, proved that it as the CIA, not the White House, the originated the phrase to describe the assault on the post that resulted in the deaths of four Americans – i.e., that the attacks on the post were “spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.”

For full op-ed, click here.

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White House counsel should resign if she knew about IRS abuses, The Hill, 5.16.13

I’ve been told today by several reporters that President Obama’s White House counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler, knew for several days — perhaps weeks —that some Internal Revenue Service officials were engaging in political targeting of conservative groups, and that she did not tell the president as soon as she knew even partial reports about the story.

With all due respect to someone who has impeccable legal credentials, if she did have such foreknowledge and didn’t inform the president immediately, I respectfully suggest Ms. Ruemmler is in the wrong job and that she should resign.

For full op-ed, click here.

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The purple Michael Smerconish on POTUS , The Hill, 5.1.13

I recall very well the first time I was on the Michael Smerconish radio talk show on WPHT in Philadelphia. He was doing a nationally syndicated talk show carried by 70 stations across the U.S. He was also a well-read and respected columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

I recall very well the first time I was on the Michael Smerconish radio talk show on WPHT in Philadelphia. He was doing a nationally syndicated talk show carried by 70 stations across the U.S. He was also a well-read and respected columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Revisiting a former president, The Hill, 4.23.13

Thursday, April 25, on the Southern Methodist University campus in Austin, Texas, four living presidents — Jimmy Carter, No. 39; George H.W. Bush, No. 41; Bill Clinton, No. 42, and Barack Obama, No. 44 — will honor one of their colleagues, George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States, at the dedication of his presidential library.

So I take this occasion to remind my fellow liberal Democrats, many of whom continue to attack Bush in harsh and personal terms, of three things about him that I don’t think they understand or appreciate.

For full op-ed, click here.

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A wrong ‘purple moment’ for Obama, Boehner, The Hill, 3.20.13

I have been writing this “Purple Nation” column for a long time, waiting for the “purple moment” when President Obama and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) would agree on an important position on the budget and deficits. Little did I know that when it finally happened, I would be disappointed, to say the least.

“We don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt,” President Obama told ABC’s “Good Morning America” host George Stephanopoulos, in an interview that aired March 13. “In fact, in the next 10 years, it’s gonna be in a sustainable place.”

For full op-ed, click here.

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Obama’s path for Mideast peace, The Hill, 2.27.13

There are many pro-Israel Americans, including members of the American Jewish community, who believe that the best strategy for bringing Israel and the Palestinians to the peace table is for President Obama to try to appear neutral or even lean toward the Palestinian/Arab world viewpoint, pushing Israel to the peace table and in the negotiating process.

But the truth is, history supports exactly the opposite. History proves that the stronger an American president is in being uncompromising in supporting Israel’s security, the more likely Israel is to take risks for peace. Thus, in 2004-05, with President George W. Bush acting staunchly and unambiguously pro-Israel, Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally withdrew Israeli military forces from Gaza, despite the continued presence in Gaza of the terrorist organization Hamas, publicly dedicated to killing civilians and children in the cause of the destruction of Israel.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Carnival’s crisis mismanagement — Déjà vu all over again, The Hill, 2.20.13

When will they ever learn?

As obvious as are the fundamental rules of effective crisis management, time-tested over the ages, it is amazing how often the same mistakes are made by politicians and companies in the midst of a crisis.

In politics, the most famous case of crisis mismanagement is Watergate; summed up by Nixon presidential assistant John Ehrlichman’s famous wrong-headed strategy that he called the “modified limited hangout,” a little bit of truth dribbled out, but not all of it.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Hagel: Time to confirm and move on, The Hill, 2.14.13

Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) deserves thanks. He managed to go so far over the top in showing poor taste in his shameful questioning of former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) during this week’s Armed Services Committee hearing on Hagel’s nomination as Defense secretary that he managed to assure that Hagel will be confirmed, as he should be.

Cruz challenged Hagel’s loyalty and even patriotism — not directly of course, but by innuendo — in demanding that Hagel disclose whether any foreign government directly or indirectly paid him to make a speech. Even Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who opposes Hagel’s confirmation on intellectually honest grounds based on serious differences of opinions on Iraq and the troop surge, was offended by Cruz’s demagoguery, and came to Hagel’s defense. McCain reminded the Texas freshman that Hagel served in battle in Vietnam and won medals for heroism.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Ridge and Davis: Stand up for Simpson-Bowles, USA Today, 2.8.13

We have heard the president and leaders of both parties talk about the need for a “balanced approach” in addressing our nation’s unsustainable and unconscionable $16 trillion national debt. Now the president has a chance during his State of the Union Address, scheduled at his request on Feb. 12, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, to state specifically what he means.

We hope the president says and does the following as the nation watches on television:

“Members of Congress: I have invited here tonight, as guests of honor, two great public servants, Republican Alan Simpson, former United States senator from Wyoming, and Democrat Erskine Bowles, President Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff.

Tom Ridge was the first secretary of Homeland Security and is a former governor of Pennsylvania. Lanny Davis was special counsel to President Clinton and is a partner with former RNC chairman Michael Steele at Purple Nation Solutions.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Opinion: ‘Conscious Capitalism’: A business primer for doing well — and doing good, too, The Hill, 1.29.13

Once in a while, a book about business theory and philosophy transcends the usual audience that reads “how to” business books — with lessons to be learned by everyone, business people and consumers alike. Such a book is Conscious Capitalism, recently published by the Harvard Business Review Press.

The two co-authors are John Mackey, co-CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods Market, a Nasdaq-listed public company based in Austin, Texas, which has become one of the most successful and premier supermarket chains and brands in the world; and Dr. Rajendra (Raj) Sisodia, professor of marketing at Bentley University, who in 2006 wrote, along with two other management specialists, Firms of Endearment, identifying 35 such firms, including Whole Foods, that have been successful as businesses and followed progressive, socially responsible policies.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Opinion: Kerry, Hagel — Vietnam’s lessons and legacies, The Hill, 1.17.13

By nominating Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) as secretary of State and former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) as secretary of Defense, Barack Obama is the first president — and maybe the last — to have Vietnam War veterans as the two top members of his national-security team.

In many ways, these two men could not be more different in background and political philosophy. Kerry is a Yale graduate from Massachusetts with a consistent liberal voting record. Hagel’s consistent conservative record was frequently to the right even of President George W. Bush — for example, he voted against Bush’s No Child Left Behind education reform law and his Medicare prescription drug bill.

For full op-ed, click here.

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Opinion: Hagel must address ‘Jewish lobby’ comment, The Hill, 1.7.13

I believe a president — Republican or Democrat — almost always deserves to have the Cabinet that he wishes, with the bar very, very high to oppose his choice. Thus, there should be heavy presumption that President Obama’s reported nominee for secretary of Defense, former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, should be confirmed by the Senate.

Whether senators agree or disagree with Hagel’s past positions — on the Iraq war (against), declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a “terrorist organization” (against), engaging with Iran in negotiations more aggressively (for), engaging with Hamas in seeking a peace agreement in the Middle East (for) — these positions are known to the president, and he still has decided to nominate Hagel for the post.

For full op-ed, click here

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Opinion: Farewell to Secretary Clinton — public servant and friend, The Hill, 12.19.12

The fact that she may be the most popular secretary of State in U.S. history is no surprise. All the qualities that made her so successful are familiar to those of us who have known her for a long time: always working hard, sensitive to others, smart, sees the big picture, great people skills.

Memories … September 1969. I first met Hillary Rodham when I was a third-year student at Yale Law School, registering for classes, and she was behind me in line. I recognized her, since I had recently seen her photo in a national magazine story about her valedictorian speech at Wellesley College about the legacy of the 1960s. Within five minutes she had asked me where the nearest legal clinic for the poor was in New Haven. Five minutes later I had made up my mind. One day she would be the first female president of the United States, or at the least a United States senator. Almost everyone who knew her back then had the same first reaction.

For full op-ed, click here

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Opinion: Fiscal cliff could cause political revolution, The Hill, 12.5.12

There is no doubt that there will be serious, adverse consequences to ordinary Americans if, on Jan. 1, 2013, the nation goes over the “fiscal cliff” — meaning, on that day, $1.2 trillion in cuts in federal domestic and defense spending over the next eight years will begin, combined with immediate substantial tax increases and less money in paychecks for all taxpayers, especially hurting the middle class, as the Bush tax cuts are rescinded.

Any Democrat who thinks there is a tactical advantage to going over the cliff is probably someone who isn’t about to lose a job or remain out of a job and whose family is suffering.

For full op-ed, click here

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Opinion: In defense of Norquist and his right to be wrong, The Hill, 11.28.12

I strongly disagree with Grover Norquist and his anti-tax pledge. But I believe his views are sincere. And I condemn those who substitute personal attacks on Norquist for factual arguments to prove him wrong.

First, I don’t get why my fellow Democrats and liberals blame Norquist for the “pledge” — rather than those who sign the pledge.

Last time I looked, no one forced 285 members of Congress at gunpoint to sign the pledge prior to the November elections — 238 of 242 House Republicans and 41 out of 47 Senate Republicans. They freely signed a commitment to oppose increases in marginal income tax rates for individuals and businesses and to oppose net reductions or eliminations of deductions and credits without a matching reduced tax rate.

For full op-ed, click here

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Opinion: Post-election day advice to President Obama: Three phone calls, The Hill, 11.7.12

My advice to President Obama in the next several days: Make three phone calls, for starters — as soon as you and your team finish celebrating, with justification, having run a great victory. These three calls should be made to conservative Republican senators who I know, from personal experience, care more about the best interests of the nation and who care more about solving problems than about winning ideological wars or passing someone else’s litmus tests for purity.

They are Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Orrin Hatch (Utah).

For full op-ed, click here

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Opinion: My prediction: Why Obama will — and should — win on Tuesday, The Hill, 11.2.12

I believe President Obama, based on all the evidence and my own gut instinct, which I will explain below, will win a narrow victory on Tuesday to serve a second term.

My best guess is the popular vote margin will be 50.5 percent to 49. The electoral vote margin will likely be 281 for Obama and 257 for Romney. I am picking battleground states for Obama to include Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Hampshire. For Romney I am predicting he will win battleground states Virginia, North Carolina and Colorado.

There are three clear reasons — positive for President Obama and, conversely, negative for Romney — that explain and justify the president’s reelection.

For full op-ed, click here

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Opinion: The Obama second term — doing the Clintonian pivot, The Hill, 10.26.12

Last week on the ABC Sunday morning news program “This Week,” Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, was asked about what to expect in an Obama second term if he is reelected on Nov. 6.

Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, mentioned President Clinton and his policies twice in his answer — the last time stating, explicitly, “Barack Obama has built policies on the same premises that President Clinton had, investing in America and strengthening America’s foundation, its people, and its economic bedrock.”

For full op-ed, click here

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Opinion: Advice to President Obama for Tuesday night’s debate, The Hill, 10.15.12

Dear Mr. President: I disagree with most of the advice you have been getting regarding what you should do in Tuesday night’s debate, as I do with the analysis from the same critics from my fellow liberals in the Democratic Party regarding your performance in the first debate on Oct. 3, two weeks ago.

You were criticized, overly harshly, in my view, by liberals in the party’s base because you didn’t attack Gov. Romney enough — for example, didn’t raise his record at Bain Capital or his “47 percent” gaffe. You are advised to come out “swinging” Tuesday night, aggressive on the attack, as if this is a boxing match rather than a presidential election at a crucial moment in American history.

For full op-ed, click here

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Opinion: The first debate — the only way for a ‘game-change’ moment, The Hill, 10.3.12

I predict that nothing that happens tonight at the first debate is likely fundamentally to change the status quo: a tight election with President Obama likely to win.

But one issue could be a fundamental game-changer — or bring this country together on one paramount moral issue if both candidates agree — a real purple moment.

My game-changer — if EITHER candidate turns to the other and says:

For full op-ed, click here

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Opinion: Obama-Clinton center rejoined, The Hill, 9.19.12

The irony is too overwhelming to resist. After Bill Clinton’s speech on Sept. 5, the same pundits on the left who were critical of Bill Clinton’s “centrism” and “triangulation” in the 1990s and through the Obama primary campaign were gushing about Clinton on national TV. And many of the same conservative pundits who were critical of Clinton and supported the partisan impeachment process were also singing his praises after the speech.

Yes, the left and the right finally appeared to agree on at least one thing: They liked Bill Clinton. On July 22, 2010, I wrote a “Purple Nation” column in this space, titled “The Clinton-Obama progressive center: Returning to the winning formula.” On Feb. 1, 2012, I wrote a “Purple Nation” column titled, “Get ready for the Obama-Reagan-Clinton pivot.” On Wednesday and Thursday nights in the Clinton and Obama convention speeches, that happened.

For full op-ed, click here

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Campaign Civility IS Possible: Show the candidates you’re fed up with negative politics, AARP Bulletin, 9.5.12

by: Michael Steele and Lanny Davis

The very headline suggests we have an uphill battle convincing most people that civility and etiquette are still possible in American presidential campaigns — since we felt obliged to highlight the word “is.” Most people believe just the opposite, that incivility and negativity are the rule and can’t be changed.

As public affairs consultants now working together, we have a unique vantage point for this election year.

For full op-ed, click here

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Opinion: The two Clinton legacies that Obama should continue,The Hill, 9.4.12

There are many legacies of the Bill Clinton presidency, but two should influence President Obama most of all as he hits the reset button Thursday night to begin his general-election campaign.

The first is the legacy of fiscal responsibility — appealing to those voters who consider themselves conservative on debt and deficit issues.

For full article, click here

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Opinion: Obama’s best argument for reelection,The Hill, 8.29.12

(This column was preceded yesterday by one presenting Mitt Romney’s best arguments for winning the presidency in 2012. The author supports Barack Obama for reelection.)

First and foremost, President Obama must return to the themes of his 2008 presidential campaign and his 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote speech that so inspired Americans from all walks of life, and from all across the political spectrum.

For full article, click here

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Opinion: Romney’s best argument to win in 2012,The Hill, 8.28.12

(This is the first of two columns pre-GOP and -Democratic conventions. This will present the best arguments Romney can make for Americans to elect him over President Obama. The next column will present President Obama’s best arguments. The writer supports President Obama’s reelection.)

During his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney should present three arguments for why he should be elected over President Obama.

For full article, click here

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Aurora reminds us to raise campaign tone,The Hill, 7.25.12

Early Friday morning in Aurora, Colo., we were reminded that there remains in the world the existence of pure, sociopathic evil — an inhuman monster who celebrates death and has no sensations from a beating heart of feelings, empathy or anything other than the glorification of death.

For full article, click here

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Romney’s taxes: Tell it early, tell it all, tell it yourself,The Hill, 7.18.12

Yes, Gov. Romney — that subtitle to my memoir concerning the rules we learned the hard way at the Clinton White House in 1996-98 about getting the truth out yourself proactively, even if it is a bad-news story, applies to you and the issue of your tax returns.

For full article, click here

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Polls, Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics,The Hill, 7.11.12

Throughout the world of political reporters and pundits, the blogosphere and social media — left, right and center — the conventional wisdom was impressive: Obama’s negative ads on Bain Capital and outsourcing were working in the 12 battleground states where they were exclusively running.

For full article, click here

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Column: Why Dems should not gloat over health care ruling,USA Today, 7.2.12

A couple of weeks ago, it was reported that GOP House Speaker John Boehner, confident that the Affordable Care Act would be held unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, put the word out to Republicans to avoid gloating, telling colleagues, Don’t spike the ball. Now that the top court has upheld the legality of the health care law, my advice to Democrats is the same.

For full article, click here

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Use the facts, don’t stretch the truth,The Hill, 6.27.12

There is a cynical view of American voters that they don’t care about the truth — that they can be bamboozled into being persuaded by negative ads. “Negative ads work,” is the trite expression that gets an almost unanimous nod of the head, even among those who hate them.

For full article, click here

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Romney remains in the far right corner on immigration,The Hill, 6.20.12

OK, Gov. Romney — regarding your refusal to endorse President Obama’s executive order on immigration relief for illegal high school graduates — I have a bunch of questions for you.

For full article, click here

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Memo to Obama, Mitt: Nix Negativity, Politico, 6.19.12

Monday, we announced that we would be working together in a new company focused on bipartisan solutions in Washington. The reaction on the Internet on the left and right has been — surprise! — personal attacks, bile, blatant false accusations.

For full article, click here

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Behind the Dems’ debate, The Hill, 6.13.12

Make no mistake: The debate within the Democratic Party is an important one, but it’s about tactics and strategy, not about support for the president and his policies.

For full article, click here

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The Politics of Fear vs. the Politics of Hope, The Hill, 5.30.12

Within 24 hours over the holiday weekend, Democrats could read two starkly different messaging strategies for President Obama’s reelection campaign.
On Monday, May 28, Memorial Day, John Heilemann’s New York magazine article was headlined: “For Obama & Co., this time it’s all about fear.”

For full article, click here

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Cory Booker Got it Right, The Hill, 5.23.12

The attacks on Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker (D) by the more vitriolic liberal commentators for what he said about Bain Capital on this past Sunday’s “Meet the Press” are just as indefensible as the Republican Party’s cynical and dishonest attempt to exploit and distort what the mayor actually said during the program.

For full article, click here

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Mixed signals on Gay Marriage, The Hill, 5.16.12

Last week, I believe President Obama got it right when he told ABC’s Robin Roberts, “for me personally … I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

For full article, click here

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Obama and the Polls – Half-Full or Half-Empty?, The Hill, 5.10.12

Virtually every poll in the last two weeks — Gallup, Democracy Corps, USA Today, Rasmussen, New York Times/CBS — shows that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are in a dead heat nationally as well as in the nine battleground states.

For full article, click here

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Holder, Fast and Furious, and the Double Standard, The Hill, 5.4.12

Attorney General Eric Holder has been the subject of vicious partisan personal attacks on his integrity over the failed “gun walking” operation, “Fast and Furious.” The hypocrisy of the double standard by congressional Republicans is obvious.

For full article, click here

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My Chuck Colson lesson, The Hill, 4.25.12

Sometime in 1973, I first heard the name Charles Colson from my father at the dinner table. My dad, who always told me he “hated” President Nixon, told me that night that he also “hated” a man named Charles Colson, who had the title “special counsel to the president.” He told me about a sign on Colson’s wall in the White House: “When you’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.”

For full article, click here

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They’re both right (and wrong) on Buffett Rule, The Hill, 4.18.12

One of my favorite scenes from the classic musical comedy “Fiddler on the Roof” is when the lovable lead character in the Russian Jewish village of Anatevka, Tevye, is trying to referee an argument between two men.

For full article, click here

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Shapiro’s ‘The Last Great Senate’ a must-read , The Hill, 4.16.12

For anyone interested in understanding why one of the great institutions of democratic government in the world — the United States Senate — has  become so dysfunctional and paralyzed by partisanship, Ira Shapiro’s  recently published book The Last Great Senate: Courage and Statesmanship in Times of Crisis (Public Affairs, New York 2012), should be mandatory reading — not only by pundits and political science classes, but by every member of  today’s Senate.

For full article, click here

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Wyden-Ryan plan deserves a look, The Hill, 3.21.12

Among the most hypocritical aspects of certain purist Democrats who call themselves liberals is their willingness to attack any Democrat who veers even slightly from liberal orthodoxy.

For full article, click here

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Rush’s right to despicable speech, The Hill, 3.7.12

As someone who has been personally attacked by Rush Limbaugh many times, I yield to no one in my strong disagreement with Limbaugh on virtually everything. I consider his opinions too often hateful, inaccurate and despicable. That is my opinion.

For full article, click here

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Your move, 
Mr. President, The Hill, 3.2.12

Let’s face it — Republicans believe in tax reform if it means reducing taxes on the wealthy. Democrats believe in tax reform if it means increasing taxes on the wealthy.

For full article, click here

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The PBS Clinton series’ lack of proportionality, The Hill, 2.22.12

To watch four hours of the so-called documentary on the eight years of the Clinton presidency gave me the sensation of a report about a glass of water that is 75 percent full and 25 percent empty. The PBS presentation, I am guessing, spent 75 percent of the four hours reporting on 25 percent of the story, i.e., the issue of “scandal” in the Clinton presidency, omitting the substance and policy achievements of the Clinton presidency, i.e., issues that affected the lives of most Americans and that they care about most.

For full article, click here

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Inside Romney’s spin room, The Hill, 2.8.12

“So now we have a problem, Governor,” said Gov. Romney’s mythical Spinmeister. “What problem? We just won the Florida primary and the Nevada caucuses, and we destroyed Gingrich with tens of millions of dollars of ads attacking his character — so what’s the problem?” the governor might have responded.

For full article, click here

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Get Ready for the Obama Reagan-Clinton Pivot, The Hill, 2.1.12

The Republicans are making a big mistake by assuming they can successfully depict Barack Obama as an out-of-the-mainstream leftist. They are making it easier for him to move to the center, where he actually has been for most of his years in politics.

For full article, click here

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Morning in America again, The Hill, 1.25.12

President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night framed the issues in a way that polls show commands a majority of the American people’s support.

For full article, click here

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Romney’s ‘dog on a car roof’ story won’t go away, The Hill, 1.12.12

It might be unseemly to bring this up just as Mitt Romney celebrates his win in New Hampshire on Tuesday night and seems to be a strong  front-runner for the GOP nomination. But the story of his putting his  dog in a carrier on his car roof for a 12-hour family trip is spreading  again on the Internet and disturbs me the more I learn about it.

For full article, click here

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Look for the Romney hemorrhage starting Wednesday morning, The Hill, 1.3.12
It doesn’t matter if Mitt Romney wins the Iowa caucuses tonight or not.  He is about to experience a severe political hemorrhage over his refusal to disclose his tax returns.  

For full article, click here

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Indecent blogosphere: If the truth matters, why not retract and apologize when you get it wrong?, The Hill, 12.19.11
What happens when you are wrongly accused in a posting on the Internet  and you call to correct the false or misleading assertion?

This happened to me on Dec. 8 — not the first time — on a post on a  website associated with the liberal Democratic organization the Center  for American Progress (CAP) — an organization I strongly support and  whose leader, John Podesta, is a close friend of mine of over 40 years.

For full article, click here

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Obama opts for the third way, The Hill, 12.7.11
President Obama’s “Renewed Nationalism” speech on Tuesday sets important themes for his 2012 campaign and offers him a chance to win back the vital center of American politics. His focus on fairness, income inequality and the plight of the middle class is his best chance to overcome what is, at best, a disappointing record on the key issues of the economy and the hemorrhaging national debt.

For full article, click here

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Obama and the supercommittee — the time to lead is now, The Hill, 11.16.11
President Obama looks better for reelection today than any Republican could have possibly imagined as recently as six months ago. Recent polling shows him ahead of all Republican candidates in the pivotal swing state of Ohio, and he leads or is in a dead heat in the national polls against every GOP candidate, including Mitt Romney — this despite his low grades on handling the economy and the continued unemployment rate of 9 percent.

For full article, click here

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If Herman Cain called me for advice, The Hill, 11.2.11
A hypothetical conversation: “Hello, Mr. Davis, this is Herman Cain. People tell me you combine the practice of law with crisis communications — I could use your help.”

For full article, click here

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With Romney racing to the bottom, odds favor Obama to win in 2012, The Hill, 10.26.11
Even before the first Republican debate, I have consistently stated in TV and print interviews that Mitt Romney would be the strongest Republican candidate against President Obama.

For full article, click here

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Charter schools — the  smart answer to public education, The Hill, 10.19.11
In the 1960s, the late New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (D) used conservative, market-based, competitive forces to renew and create new jobs in the inner-city wasteland of the minority neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn. A cynical New York City reporter (a redundant expression) was heard to mutter, as he heard Kennedy’s pro-market, pro-business ideas to help the poor, “You sound like Barry Goldwater.” Legend has it that Kennedy responded: “Maybe, but I know that I mean it.”

For full article, click here

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Let’s get the facts straight on Holder, The Hill, 10.12.11
If ever there were an example of hyper-partisanship, the recent personal attacks challenging the honesty and competence of Attorney General Eric Holder regarding the ATF’s errors in its “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking program should be Exhibit A.

For full article, click here

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Grover Norquist — standing on principle, The Hill, 10.5.11
I like and respect Grover Norquist. Despite the many matters on which I disagree with him, I respect his consistent, deeply held belief in limited government, which leads him to oppose higher taxes as an enforcement mechanism.

For full article, click here

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Obama, New York’s 9th and the mystery of the Jewish voter, The Hill, 9.21.11
It is a mystery: Why do so many Jewish Americans wherever I go express grave concerns about President Obama’s commitment to the Jewish state of Israel?

For full article, click here

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Howard Schultz’s Challenge — Is 
Anybody Listening?, The Hill, 9.14.11
It was the summer before the presidential year to come, more than seven months before the New Hampshire primary. All of the Republican presidential candidate’s top campaign staff had quit; he was virtually out of money. All the pundit class declared him politically dead, mocking his campaign.

For full article, click here

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Obama, be a Sharp-Elbowed Centrist, USA Today, 8.17.2011
The time is now:  Barack Obama needs to demonstrate a new style of leadership.

The president is a basketball player. He knows that sharp elbows can hurt people when they are swung. But they also open up scoring opportunities.

America faces two major problems that have shaken the country’s confidence: debt and high unemployment. To lead on both issues, Obama needs to emulate two presidents from opposite parties who provided needed leadership by sometimes throwing an elbow or two at their own political bases.

For full article, click here

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Rep. Connie Mack’s penny plan for spending cuts worth another look, The Hill, 8.4.11
Now that the national debt-ceiling deal is done — and liberals like me are unhappy and conservatives, deservedly, have more to cheer about — Thanksgiving 2011 will be about more than good turkey. This is the deadline for the so-called “super” congressional committee of six Democrats and six Republicans from the House and Senate to cut at least $1.2 trillion in the projected budget deficit for the next 10 years.

For full article, click here

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Obama, Boehner and ‘Rashoman’, The Hill, 7.27.11
A famous 1950 Japanese movie, “Rashomon,” describes a murder from the perspectives of four main characters who were involved in it — including the medium speaking for the murdered man. All four versions differ as to who is the real murderer. The director was asked by the actors: Who was the real murderer? The director’s response: We don’t know, because each person was telling the truth as he or she perceived it.

For full article, click here

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‘Let them eat peas’, The Hill, 7.13.11
The headline in the left-hand lead of The New York Times on Tuesday read: “Obama Grasping Centrist Banner in Debt Impasse.”

Wait a minute. Isn’t this the same president the Republican Tea Partiers decried as “socialist”?

For full article, click here

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Bill Clinton offers path on economy, The Hill, 7.6.11
Read the June 27 Newsweek cover story, with a smiling Bill Clinton filling the cover, and the headline “14 Ways to Save America’s Jobs,” and you will be reminded why and how Clinton began his first term as president with a $300 billion deficit and a stagnant economy emerging from a recession, and ended after two terms with a trillion-dollar-plus surplus and 23 million new jobs, not to mention a 65 percent job approval rating.

For full article, click here

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America can’t afford breach with Pakistan, The Hill, 6.29.11
For several years in the late 1990s, I worked for the government of Pakistan, mostly when the late Benazir Bhutto, an inspiring small-“d” democrat and charismatic populist leader, was prime minister of Pakistan. I made lots of Pakistani friends, in Pakistan and among the large Pakistani-American community here.

For full article, click here

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Obama and Libya – sometimes political is better than legal, The Hill, 6.22.11
A remarkable purple moment has occurred regarding the president’s legal decision to define “hostilities” as not having taken place in the U.S. operations in Libya, and thus declaring that there was no need to seek congressional authorization under the War Powers Act.

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Don’t count Newt Gingrich out so fast, The Hill, 6.15.11
It was the summer before the presidential year to come, more than seven months before the New Hampshire primary. All of the Republican presidential candidate’s top campaign staff had quit; he was virtually out of money. All the pundit class declared him politically dead, mocking his campaign.

For full article, click here

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Prosecuting Edwards, The Hill, 6.8.11
At first blush, the decision to indict former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) for conspiracy to accept illegal campaign contributions, given the facts and circumstances, seems like a stretch, to say the least.

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No Delay on Medicare, The Hill, 6.1.11
As a liberal Democrat, I was happy with the results of the New York 26th congressional district special election, in which Democrat Kathy Hochul defeated Republican Jane Corwin by emphasizing her opposition to Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget proposal and her Republican opponent’s support of that plan.

For full article, click here

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