Thursday, December 6, 2012


Back when he was a Senator, Barack Obama charged that the periodic need to raise the federal debt limit was evidence of a lack of leadership.

Lots of folks, myself included, saw that speech as a contradiction.

Seemed like a President who favored multi billion dollar bailouts and stimuluses wasn’t too worried about going over the debt ceiling.

Yesterday, we got a peek at the President’s thinking.

He quoted an old friend of mine, former Michigan Governor John Engler who is currently the head of the Business Roundtable.

John is – always was – an arch conservative, and incidentally, a graduate of the Thomas Cooley Law School.

The President quoted John as saying that the only function of the debt ceiling is to ruin the nation’s credit rating when we ignore it or raise it.

Lo and behold, the President wants the Congress to get out of the debt ceiling business.

He wants them to give him a blank check. No ceiling. No limit.

He wants them to say, “Mr. President, you won the election, the people want you to run the country. Spend whatever you need to satisfy your mandate.”

Gotta say, that takes a lot of chutzpah.

Which is not to say that most people don’t agree with him. The President, taking a leaf from Franklin Roosevelt’s book, is out on the stump, campaigning for his side of the debate.

No sense talking to Boehner on the telephone when you can make speeches in Virginia or Detroit. Boehner can read them in the newspaper, or hear them on the radio or the TV.

The fact is that there is nothing in the federal Constitution which establishes a debt ceiling.

Article 1, Section 8 says this:

The Congress shall have power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common defence and general Welfare of the United States.

Article 1 also says that the Congress has the power to borrow money on the credit of the United States and to coin money and regulate its value.

But there is nothing that says how much Congress can borrow or how much it can coin.

So what is the limit?

Seems pretty obvious that Congress can spend as much as it wants, borrow as much as people are willing to lend, and coin as much as people are interested in having.

That may seem like a lot of power, but remember, the United States of America is a Republic. The Congress represents the people. And the people can do whatever they choose to do.

The real issue in America today is not the national debt or the annual deficit.

The real issue is who decides how much the nation spends and how much it borrows.

Unhappily, the Congress has, for almost a hundred years, been passing its spending and borrowing power down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.

A bloated Executive Department with open ended appropriations from a Congress unwilling or unable to decide how to spend the people’s money, simply runs in the red year after year, expecting that next year there will be even more money on the table.

The President wants to raise the taxes on the rich. I wonder how much the taxes would have to be raised to balance the budget. Not ten years from now, but next year, 2013.

Might just start a revolution.

Monday, November 19, 2012


We’re going to miss Tom 3 and little Collin, the fourth generation Brennan man child, who will be in Missouri with Meghan’s family on Thursday.

And Jenny Radelet. She’ll stay California tending to her new job in radio.

But the rest will be here in Harbor Springs. Breathing the crisp North Michigan air. Catching up. Remembering.

Remembering the year Dad rented a bus and drove all around Lansing. To the hey ride. To play touch football. Out to dinner. Wherever.

Remembering the house on Park Lake Road and the magical Pookie room at the bottom of the back stairs, where little cousins became logo architects and lifelong friends.

Remembering the poster in the stairwell that said everything they needed to know about life they learned in kindergarten.

They’ll be here on Wednesday. Thirty-four places at the turkey table.

Our six children, none of them children any more. Seventeen grandchildren, two great grandchildren, assorted in laws and a gentleman friend of Katie’s whose metal will surely be tested by our raucous crowd.

The election, thank God, is over.

Heated debate will give way to a few benign zingers.

A time for healing in America has come and our clan will rejoice in it.

We’re all Catholics – some more American than Roman – sharing a common denominator of faith that undergirds a kaleidoscope of liturgical preferences. But time and living have pushed us all in different directions.

I shake my head in wonderment at the diversity of higher education that will be represented at dinner. Polly and I met at the University of Detroit, both living at home, riding the bus or streetcar to school.

But the next two generations fanned out across the land. Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, Dayton, Colgate, Boston College, Holy Cross, Marquette, Michigan State and the University of Michigan, Wake Forest, Georgia, DePaul, Illinois, Northwestern, Detroit, Williams, Columbia, Washington and Lee, and the Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few.

Whatever the divergence of experience and loyalties may be, there will be one point of certain agreement.

Our family has been blessed. Blessed beyond expectations. Beyond statistical probability. Beyond the fondest hopes and dreams Polly and I shared at the altar sixty-one years go.

And so we will give thanks. Not just for health and home, for the laughter and the love, for the handshakes and the hugs.

But also for the incomparable good fortune to be citizens of the United States of America.

Sometimes we forget to do that. There’s so much about our beloved country that needs fixing, so much that is out of sync with the vision of the founders.

When George Washington established the Thanksgiving tradition, he declared that “it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”

Abraham Lincoln urged his fellow citizens “to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

The incumbent President has been careful to keep his proclamations more secular in tone. Still he has acknowledged the need to thank God, if only by way of quoting Washington and Lincoln.

So maybe we should thank God that we Americans are still encouraged to thank God.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


In 1962 and 1963, the Supreme Court of the United States decided three cases which declared prayer and bible reading in public schools to be a violation of the First Amendment ban on the establishment of religion by the government.
You might wonder why it took 173 years from the adoption of the Constitution before somebody complained about prayer and bible reading in the public schools.
You might even suspect that maybe, just maybe, the people who wrote and voted to ratify the federal constitution didn’t think they were outlawing prayer and bible reading in public schools.
Matter of fact, the Continental Congress in 1787 passed the Northwest Ordinance, which said, among other things that “religion, morality and knowledge, being necessary for good government and the happiness of mankind, schools, and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
Folks took those words to heart, back then.
In 1859 Massachusetts law required that the ten commandments be recited in every classroom every morning, and that Bible passages be read aloud.
On March 7 of that year, a teacher at the Eliot School in Boston, Miss Sophia Shephard, called on ten year old Thomas Whall to recite the Ten Commandments.
Young Thomas was a Catholic boy. He refused to recite the King James version of the Commandments.
The next Monday, Miss Shephard called on Thomas again.
He said he was ready to recite the Ten Commandments as written in the Vulgate, or Catholic version of the Bible, but she said that was unacceptable, and called the Principal.
The Principal beat Thomas’s hand with a stick for 30 minutes until it was cut and bleeding, but the kid wouldn’t give in.
Finally, the Principal told all the boys who wouldn’t recite the King James version of the Commandments to leave the school.
One hundred boys walked out.
The next day three hundred more boys left.
And thus began Saint Mary’s Institute, later named for Father Bernadine Wiget, who organized a school for the recalcitrant Catholic boys.
By the middle of the nineteenth century, the Catholic Bishops had ordered every parish in America to establish a school.
In 1875 President Ulysses Grant called for a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the use of public money for “sectarian” schools.
Dubbed the “Blaine Amendment,” it passed the House of Representatives but never got out of the United States Senate.
A number of states have put Blaine Amendments in their constitutions. While they outlaw giving public funds to sectarian schools, they do not prohibit sectarian education in public schools.
So here’s my question: what will the Supreme Court say when someone sues the Dearborn public schools for teaching the wisdom of the Noble Quran as expounded by the President of the United States?
My point is this: schools function “in loco parentis.” That means they act in the place of the parents.
Public school teachers should be able to teach whatever the community wants them to teach.
Neither the Congress nor the Federal Courts have any authority to dictate what can or cannot be taught in a public school any more than they can dictate what can and cannot be taught to children in their homes.
The curriculum of a public school is for the school board to decide, as provided by state law.
People buy houses where they like the schools. If you don’t like what they teach your kids, you can complain to the school board, vote them out, or move.
Or send your kids to the Catholic school.
It’s the American way.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


By the time we all get to bed tonight – or more likely tomorrow morning – we will have heard a lot about the Electoral College.
First of all, there’s no such thing.
“Electoral College” is simply a convenient nickname for the body of electors who choose the President and Vice President of the United States.
Under the federal Constitution, the President isn’t elected by the people. He or she is elected by a group of delegates chosen by the people.
Each state gets to choose as many electors as it does members of Congress.
So every state has at least three electors. Two for its Senators, and at least one for its Congressman.
Of course, the bigger states have lots of Congressmen, so they have lots of electors.
These electors are supposed to get together and decide who will be the President. At least that’s what the Constitution says.
It doesn’t exactly work out that way.
The electors themselves are elected by the people. Right from the beginning of our nation, candidates for electors ran around telling everybody who they would vote for as President, so the idea that these electors are all pledged to somebody is a pretty solid tradition.
In 200 years, there have only been about one or two unfaithful electors who went back on their pledge.
Of course, if somebody wins the Presidential election, then dies before Christmas, the electors will have some real work to do.
There have been many efforts to change the system. The Constitution requires a candidate to receive a majority of the electoral votes.
So, if Ross Perot or Ralph Nader get enough votes to keep either major party from winning a majority, the electors will stalemate and the decision will go the House of Representatives.
The electoral system can frustrate the popular will. Benjamin Harrison in 1888 and George Bush in 2000 both lost the popular vote but won the election.
From the earliest times, the states have required their electors to vote for the candidate who gets the most votes in the state. The winner-take-all custom is not required by the U.S. Constitution.
In fact two states allot electors otherwise. Maine and Nebraska each elect two electors statewide and one from each Congressional district.
There is currently a movement afoot to persuade state legislatures to agree that their electors should vote for the candidate who wins the national popular vote.
It’s called the Fair Vote organization. Their strategy is to get states with a total of 270 electoral votes to agree that their electors will vote for the national popular vote winner, no matter how their own state goes.
This is an interesting approach since it can be accomplished with far less support that would be required for a constitutional amendment.
The Fair Vote people make some very good arguments. They show that more than 90 percent of Presidential campaign effort goes into about 16 so called pivotal, battleground or ‘swing’ states.
If you are a Republican in New York or a Democrat in Texas, forget about voting for President. You have nothing to say about it.
Over 80 percent of the American people think the President should be popularly elected.
I thought Mitt Romney would have been very wise to announce in Tampa that he would not accept the Presidency unless he received a majority of the popular vote.
Would have made it an interesting race.

Monday, November 5, 2012


But for the empty refrigerator or the bedspread and decorative pillows piled on a chair in the corner of the bedroom, you couldn’t tell that the plaee is occupied by just one 83 year old man.

I sleep on my side of the bed, leaving her pillows where they are. Where they belong.

The ritual is the same each sunny Florida day. Stretch out in the Jacuzzi. Swim ten laps. Dress and suit up for golf. And don’t forget the sun block.

She’ll call a couple of times. Or I will. Whachadoon?

We share a laugh or a bit of news.

Or click glasses to toast somebody, a nightly ritual even when we are 1,200 miles apart.

I came South ostensibly to check on the place, get the lanai furniture out of the garage, make sure everything still works.

And just incidentally to play a little golf.

Three weeks is the longest we have been apart in sixty-one years.

She wouldn’t come with me. The kids are coming for Thanksgiving. She has to get ready.

And she loves Autumn in the North. The first snow. Quiet days by the fire side with a good book or an old movie on TV. Bridge with friends. Charity work.

And the ubiquitous computer. Emails and texting to children, grandchildren, and old friends. Browsing, and the occasional game of spider solitaire.

She loves to cook, makes beautiful meals, even when eating alone.

I go to Subway. Or Beef O’Brady’s.

I’ll be back in Michigan a week before the turkey day. I’ll pitch in to help get the house ready to host 35 assorted children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, in laws, and even a boy friend.

They are already trash talking about the Harbor Springs 5K Turkey Trot and the Black Friday, nine hole, ear muff and snow boots golf classic.

I miss my sweet Pauline. Even wrote her a note to tuck away with the stack of long forgotten letters buried in the wicker chest downstairs.

I took her Dad out for dinner to ask for her hand in marriage in the summer of 1950. He told me she is a good worker and gave me his blessing.

We picked out the diamond ring on October 7th that year. Four days later she called me at midnight to say that her father had died in her arms.

Death was a stranger to me. Not to her. Before she was a woman, she had lost two brothers and her mother in separate traumatic tragedies.

Now she was alone. I promised her that when we got married, she would never be alone again.

We skipped three days of class at the University of Detroit to honeymoon at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago. It was torn down long ago, but the memories abide.

She wanted six children. I did my part. For sixteen years we alternated between having babies and campaigning for public office.

I called the house. No answer. Called her cell phone. No answer. Called her friend and learned that she went to the club for some social event.

I worry.

Some day one of us will go and one will stay behind. We’re both tough enough, I suppose. And there’s all that family.

But still, you can’t blame a guy for choking up a little.

Especially if he happens to be all alone.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I have been saying for some time now that if Barack Obama is re-elected, there will be a serious effort in the next four years to repeal the 22nd Amendment.

When I say it to my golfing buddies, the usual reaction is to ask what the 22nd Amendment is.

They know what the First Amendment is, and they certainly know what the second amendment provides.

But number twenty-two? Tell me again.

It’s the amendment that says a President can only be elected to two terms.

Oh yeah. Are you saying Obama would run again in 2016?

Well, he’ll only be 55 years old. And he’ll only be 59 in 2020. And 63 in 2024. By then the cute little kids who learned in kindergarten to sing, “Barack-Hussein-Obama-uh-uh-uh,” will be old enough to vote for him.

OMG! Repeal the 22nd Amendment? That couldn’t happen, could it?

Well, let’s see. The 22nd Amendment was proposed in 1947 by the first Republican Congress to be elected in almost 20 years. It took four years to garner 36 states to be ratified.

The Republicans were in favor of it because they were still seething over Franklin Roosevelt’s third and fourth elections. It never would have been ratified at all, if it were not for the Dixiecrats who were mad at Harry Truman over his stand on civil rights.

Google “No More Second Term Blues” in the New York Times. You’ll find an article by a couple of Williams College Professors who are all in favor of repeal.

Their argument? They tell us that second term Presidents are just lame ducks. Nobody listens to them. And they don’t listen to anybody. Since they can’t run again, they don’t care what the people think or want.

They say second term Presidencies are more apt to be stained by scandal. Unconcerned about re-election, Presidents don’t run a tight ship, the Williams Professors argue, and they cite Watergate and the Iran Contra affair as examples.

And lots of people claim that the 22nd Amendment is undemocratic. They insist that it deprives the People of the right to elect the one person they really want in the White House. The person with the most experience. The person they know and trust. Their beloved leader.

It’s hard to ague with majority rule. That’s what most people think democracy is all about,

But majority rule has its limitations, and that’s what constitutions are for. The majority may want to lynch somebody, but the Constitutions says, “No, you can’t.” The majority may want to silence a protester, but the Constitution says, “No.”

Our Constitution is designed to provide checks and balances; to temper the human desire to exercise unlimited power.

An incumbent President has an enormous advantage in an election. Air Force One is only part of it. Media exposure is exhaustive and free. A virtual army of dependent federal employees hustle and bustle to please the White House.

The President has access to unlimited information and resources, which a challenger would have to find and pay for. Not to mention the ability to raise money from people who want something from Uncle Sam.

The Founders knew that Power corrupts. They adopted a Bill of Rights to protect the people from arbitrary government.

The Twenty-Second Amendment protects us from Monarchy. From Dictatorship. In the United States we obey the rule of law, not the law of a ruler.

The Twenty-Second Amendment is a good thing. We ought to keep it.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Next week the American people and the world will witness an historic debate.

The issue can be stated in different ways.

How do you wage war on terror?

What do you do about religious murder?

No doubt during the Obama vs Romney rematch, there will be much said about the President’s speech in the Rose Garden on September 12.

Did he call the Benghazi attack terrorism or didn’t he?

Oddly enough, I think that if you were to ask both candidates why the Benghazi consulate was attacked, they would agree that the attackers were radical Islamists who hate the United States and everything it stands for.

They hate the United States because it tolerates ridicule of their prophet. Because it tolerates what the Quran brands as sin. Female immodesty. Consumption of alcohol and drugs. Homosexuality. Abortion. Gambling.

Because we are infidels. Because we are Christian. Because our religious teaching tells us to love the sinner, no matter how much we hate the sin.

After 9/11/2001, President Bush took great care to insist that Americans love and respect our Muslim brothers and sisters.

He saw what any thinking person would see, what President Obama sees, and surely what Governor Romney sees as well. A rising public animosity toward Islam.

So how do we keep the war on terror from becoming a religious crusade?

The answer is very simple. You treat Islamic terrorists exactly the same way you treat misguided Christians who murder abortionists.

By bringing them to justice. By punishing them to the full extent established by the law. By demonstrating that no amount of misdirected righteousness excuses or mitigates the killing of a human being.

Here’s where next week’s debate will get interesting. Exactly how do you do that? How do you punish terrorists?

Are there different rules for domestic and foreign terrorism?

If the terrorist kills 13 people at Fort Hood, in Texas, on American soil, do you dink around for years without even bringing him to trial because he won’t shave off his beard?

But if you find him in Pakistan or Yemen, do you just bump him off with a cadre of Navy Seals or take him out with a remote controlled drone?

If our mystical and faceless ‘intelligence community’ decides that it has identified the killers of Ambassador Stevens, do we send a detachment of CIA agents to Libya with orders to waste them?

In his Rose Garden remarks, the President said;

And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.

And he also said:

We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to do things. Either we administer justice according to the rule of law, or we extract revenge in the manner of the Mafia.

If our Ambassador to Canada were assassinated, we would expect his killer to be prosecuted by the Canadian authorities or extradited to the United States.

If any nation refuses or neglects to protect our diplomats and our embassies, they are not our friends, and should be treated as such.

The President repeatedly urges us to ‘make no mistake.’

He should heed his own advice.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I hate sloppy work. Especially when I am the perpetrator.

The other day put up a blog. Misspelled ‘Libya’ in the title. Misspelled my own name twice in the email.

Worst of all, I published the blog without first running it by my severest critic. The missus, God bless her, said she didn’t like it. All over the place, she said.

Couldn’t figure out what I was trying to say.

So, in the spirit of dogged perseverance, I’ll try again.

I began with this quote from the President’s speech in Cairo on June 4, 2009:

I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.

I was trying to connect the dots. I was trying to make a point about President Obama’s foreign policy that would help explain the inexplicable.

Why did the White House cling to the ‘offensive video’ explanation of the attack on our embassy in Benghazi despite the proven fact that they knew there was no spontaneous demonstration?

They had to know it was an organized terrorist attack. Still, they sent U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice out to do the Sunday morning TV talk shows four days after the event.

Her mission: keep insisting that the slaughter in Benghazi was an offshoot of the demonstrations in Cairo, a natural reaction to a scurrilous video.

Our President is a Christian. I take him at his word. He joined Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s church when he was in Chicago working with inner city churches to organize the neighborhoods.

His mother and maternal grandparents were not church going folk. He idolized his father, who was a Muslim. He has spoken often about his knowledge of and respect for, the Islamic faith and traditions.

His speech in Cairo described a Utopian dream. A world in which every nation was at peace with every other nation, where historic feuds and conflicting cultures would be smothered in an atmosphere of good will and understanding.

I think he expects Muslims to see him as their friend, their champion in a hostile world of Christianity.

And I think he really believes that his presence in the White House will keep the peace in the Middle East.

Unhappily, the world is messy and life is more complicated than can be untangled in a single speech.

The President is at pains to declare that the vast majority of Muslims are good people. They don’t riot. They don’t kill.

But good people don’t like their homeland to be invaded by foreigners. Which might explain why the Afghans we have trained and equipped to corral Al-Qaeda have started shooting our soldiers.

Good people don’t like to see their religion mocked and desecrated by negative stereotypes. And when the promise to “fight negative stereotypes” is no more effective than the promise to close Guantanamo, good people are unhappy.

I don’t think that the Nation of Islam feels any more kindly toward the Pax Americana today than it did when President Obama took the oath of office.

His claim that the killing of Osama Ben Laden was anything other than a symbolic victory rings hollow.

His promise to send more billions to finance social programs in the Middle East is no more effective in placating ancient hostilities than was the tribute our nation paid to the Barbary pirates before Thomas Jefferson sent the United States navy into the Mediterranean.

Neville Chamberlain proved the folly of appeasement three quarters of a century ago. Ronald Reagan proved that peace is better preserved through strength and determination.

Nations which permit their people to invade our embassies and kill our diplomats are not friendly. We should treat them as such.

Friday, October 12, 2012


This blog is for my dear friends and beloved relatives who will be voting for the reelection of the incumbent President of the United States.
First of all, progress in human society is like walking. Putting one foot ahead of the other. Shifting the balance from left to right, right to left.
Saint Thomas Aquinas called it ‘the common good.’ The Constitution of the United States calls it the general welfare. The Pope calls it social justice.
And some conservatives call it redistribution of the wealth.
It is the panoply of causes that need support. It is that vast array of things we spend money on which conscience and sound public policy require. The poor. The sick. The elderly. Kids. Schools. Universities. Hospitals. Libraries. The environment. Drug and alcohol abuse rehabilitation. Science. Religion. Research. The Arts. The list goes on and on.
Some voices on the left have decried the fact that Mitt Romney has not made all of his income tax returns public. That complaint has been central to a narrative that defines him as a greedy, self-centered capitalist, who writes off 47 percent of the American people because they don’t pay income taxes.
I think that most fair minded people would assume that the numbers on Romney’s recent tax returns probably reflect the numbers on his tax returns generally.
That said, here’s what we know: last year he made 13.7 million dollars. He paid 1.94 million in federal income tax. He donated 4 million dollars to charities.
The word ‘charity ‘comes from the Latin for ‘love.’
It means giving freely and generously because we care. It means giving out of a sense of social responsibility. It means answering the conscience-bound call for social justice.
Charity is the personal response to the call of the common good. It is how we share what we have with less fortunate neighbors. It is how we contribute to the general welfare.
So why don’t we add up income taxes and charitable contributions to determine somebody’s ‘social justice quotient’ ?
I submit that in 2011, Mitt Romney’s contribution to the common good, his participation in promoting the general welfare, amounted to 43% of his total income.
That doesn’t really sound like a greedy capitalist.
But it does make us focus on an underlying difference in political thought.
Is the common good the exclusive province of government, and particularly, the federal government?
Do a free people retain a prerogative to decide for themselves how to promote the general welfare?
Or have we relinquished our sense of social justice and the fulfillment of our responsibilities to each other to a distant, monolithic bureaucracy?
An important factor in our charitable giving is always an assessment of efficiency.
How much of our money actually gets to the people and causes we are trying to help?
When administrative costs and fund raising expenses dwarf the bottom line that reaches the needy, we stop giving.
The federal government has the same responsibility to shore up confidence in the taxpayers as the United Way has to convince the public of its efficiency.
How much energy does the Department of Energy generate?
How much education does the Department of Education deliver?
Is the taxpayer getting a bang for his buck? Are food stamps better than meals on wheels? What services are so critical to the common good that we keep providing them even if it means borrowing from China to do it?
These might be good questions for a Presidential debate.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


She fixed a beautiful meal. Shish kabob.

Colorful. Bold. Imaginative. And delicious. Surprisingly delicious. Chicken, oranges, pears, and veggies. Cooked on the grill. And tender green beans.

It began with a good white wine. Enough for a glass and a little more. She toasted Pine Valley and my upcoming golf trip.

I lit the candles.

It was a perfect evening. One of those times when two eighty-three year old lovers can laugh and call up the memories of days and nights long ago, when the flame was bright and the future danced before our eyes, beckoning us to dream, to hope, to believe that there would be still better tomorrows.

Dessert was a Weight Watchers ice cream bar. Chocolate and vanilla on a stick. Just the right touch of self indulgence to finish off a perfect evening.

I should have left the room right then.

I should have come down here to my man cave and written a blog. Or played spider solitaire for a couple of hours until it was time to go to bed.

But no. Not me. Not that night.

I had to go into the pantry and get the chocolate chip cookies.I had to go to the fridg and get another bottle of wine.

If one is good, two is better. If some is good, more is better. Right?


Pretty soon conversation turned into discussion. Discussion became debate. Debate became argument. And Pop! There goes the moment. In the echo of a word, a phrase, a thoughtless unnecessary comment, the mood crumples like an unwatered flower.

Roses become dandelions. The music stops.

Once again, I have initiated a three day snit. Once again, I have stupidly, thoughtlessly invited a period of hostile silence, clipped answers, averted eyes, pursed lips and touchless days and nights.

It’s 5:47 AM. I’ve been awake since three.

Tossing and turning, I compose a letter. How many letters in 61 years? How many tears? How many unhappy hours have I caused her? How many sleepless nights?

You can’t get them back, those ugly moments. You can’t brush them off, make them disappear. You did what you did. You said what you said. It’s done. It’s there. Another wart. Another wound.

Young people and not-so-young people ask me, “What is the secret of a happy marriage?”

I don’t honestly know. Polly says it’s being friends. Best friends. Her test is, “Would you say that to your best friend?” “Would you treat your best friend that way?”

I dunno. Maybe I would.

Maybe I do hurt friends and family in a thousand thoughtless ways. In what I do and say. In what I don’t do and don’t say.

Happily, my darling wife has a bottomless reservoir of tolerance and forgiveness which always prefers happiness over unhappiness.

Other folks don’t always tell you. They just clam up, disengage or disappear.

All I know is that Catholic guilt works for me. A lifetime of saying “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” has a way of easing the aftermath of hurt feelings.

It’s the best I can do.

Monday, September 24, 2012


The enclosed check is the largest donation I have ever made to any political candidate.

I want you to win the election.

I want you to win because I think that the present administration is taking the United States of America down a path which Alexis de Tocqueville so eloquently described 200 years ago.

He said, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”

You must remind the American people that we are not a democracy, we are a republic.

We are not 300 million people ruled by a single government in Washington D.C.; we are fifty sovereign republics united under a constitution which gives only limited, necessary powers to those who conduct the affairs of our national union.

You were the Governor of Massachusetts. Remind the American people that every state has its own history, its own economy, its own weather, its own people and its own politics.

De Tocqueville told us that there are two things democracies find hard to do: start wars and end them.

Remind us that our constitution was made to provide for the common defense, not to police the world, nor export western style democracy.

Tell it like it is: we can afford to maintain the strongest military force on the planet for our defense, but we cannot afford to underwrite the military occupation of hostile nations all around the world.

Have the courage and integrity to tell the American people that you will bring the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan on your first day in office.

Have the courage to tell the American people that we need to reform our Congress; amend the constitution to prohibit omnibus bills, require that every bill address only one subject, require members to read what they vote for.

Governor, everyone keeps saying that this is the most important election in our lifetime.

It is not so important just because you are a more skilled and experienced executive than your opponent.

This election is important because we are inching down the road to become a one party nation, ruled by a political establishment with a collectivist mindset, abetted by a concupiscent media which coddles its heroes and impales dissenters with ridicule and scorn.

It the name of national security, your opponent assumes the power of life and death, maintains a Presidential kill list, authorizes indefinite detention of suspected troublemakers, and tolerates wholesale violations of the Bill of Rights.

You have to say so.

You have to tell us that when you take the oath of office to support and defend the constitution, you mean the constitution as it was written and ratified by the people, not some unwritten constitution that is supposed to have evolved because nobody objected.

This will be the most important election of our lifetime only if you make it a contest between a Republic and a Democracy.

A contest between freedom and collectivism.

De Tocqueville wrote: “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”

Ronald Reagan fought for Christianity against Godless collectivism.

So should you, Governor, so must you.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I’m no fan of Rachel Maddow, though I admit to being sometimes titillated by her acerbic wit.

Recently however, she took a step to distinguish herself from the drooling disciples of Democrat despotism, and prove that she is, indeed, a principled constitutional liberal.

The occasion was a speech by the Chief Executive on Constitution Day, September 17th, in the hallowed halls of the National Archives within sight of the document written by our founders in 1787.

Take a minute to listen to what she says:

Here is what the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution says:

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

I would think that Guantanamo Bay would be a “place subject to their jurisdiction” wouldn’t you?

So we’ve got all these ‘detainees’ at Gitmo.

Bush didn’t know what to do with them. Obama doesn’t know what to do with them.

The apologists of the status quo talk about ‘prisoners of war’ as though criminals who plot the murder of American citizens are somehow to be raised to the dignity of civilized enemies fighting for King and country.

Federal District Judge William Young got it exactly right when he sentenced Richard Reid. Here’s what he said:

Now, let me explain this to you. We are not afraid of you or any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is too much war talk here and I say that to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this court, we deal with individuals as individuals and care for individuals as individuals. As human beings, we reach out for justice.

You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier, gives you far too much stature. Whether the officers of government do it or your attorney does it, or if you think you are a soldier. You are not----- you are a terrorist. And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not meet with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.

So war talk is way out of line in this court. You are a big fellow. But you are not that big. You're no warrior. I've known warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal that is guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense, State Trooper Santiago had it right when you first were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and the TV crews were, and he said: 'You're no big deal.'

You are no big deal.

“Detainees.” I’d like to know who came up with that wimpy word. It sounds like you got stuck in a traffic jam.

I suppose that Nidal Hasan, who killed twelve people in Texas is now just another ‘detainee’. He has been a guest of the army brass for over three years.

If all these ‘detainees’ have committed crimes, then let’s get them convicted and punished.

The trials don’t have to be in New York, but the jury sure as Hell should be twelve good and true citizens of the Big Apple.

Try them at Gitmo, try them in Nebraska, try them on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

But if they are guilty, lets say so and treat them as criminals.

Monday, September 10, 2012


The guy’s name is Schiff. He’s a radio talk show host. I take it he’s a conservative, or at least a Republican.

Anyway, he went to North Carolina to get some footage of the Democratic National Convention. The result is on You Tube.

Microphone in hand, Schiff stops people entering the convention hall.

“Would you support a platform that would favor a ban on corporate profits?”
“Oh, yes.”
“Of course.”
“I could actually support that.”
“I favor corporate losses.”
“Obviously something I would be for.”
“At least a cap on profits.”
“And a cap on CEO salaries.”

Admittedly, Schiff pandered to the idea of supporting the ban. He painted a picture of corporate big wigs gouging consumers and lining their pockets with generous bonuses, and blamed it on corporate profits.

His tongue-in-cheek harangue against corporate wealth earned him unexpected kudos.

With a smile of appreciation and admiration, one delegate told Schiff, “You happen to be one of the smartest people I’ve met since I have been down here.”

Almost at the same time the Schiff You Tube interviews landed in my email, someone sent me an article by Deroy Murdock in the New York Post, entitled “Look Who Parks Their Cash At Bain.”

The article lists Bain Capital clients who have entrusted Mitt Romney’s firm with 1.56 Billion dollars to invest on their behalf.

Here are the beneficiaries of “corporate profits:”

Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, $2.2 million.
Indiana Public Retirement System, $39.3 million.
Iowa Public Employees Retirement System, $177.1 million.
Maryland State Retirement and Pension System, $117.5 million.
Public Employees Retirement System of Nevada, $20.3 million.
State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio, $767.3 million.
Pennsylvania State Emplyees Retirement System, $231.5 million.
Employees Retirement System of Rhode Island, $25million.
San Diego County Employees Retirement Association, $23.5 million.
Teacher Retirement System of Texas, $122.5 million.
Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System, $15 million.

In addition, Bain has managed endowments for such educational institutions as Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Purdue, and the universities of California, Michigan, Virginia and Washington.

Couple of days ago, Polly and I saw the movie “2016, Obama’s America.”

I was left with the uneasy feeling that our President has a very third world concept of political leadership.

Everybody talks about the President of the United States as being the most powerful man on the planet. In the minds of simple folk, who think that corporations are greedy conglomerations of wealth, the man who occupies that office is empowered to bestow financial security, health and happiness on all his constituents.

They will be heard on November 6.

And so will the rest of us.

Monday, September 3, 2012


It has become fashionable to label as a right wing fanatic anyone who does not approve of abortions in cases of rape or incest.

The Hippocratic Oath, taken by physicians since the fifth century, forbade abortive medications without exceptions.

I have not found any state criminal abortion law which excluded rape or incest.

The land mark case of Roe v Wade, by which the Supreme Court of the United States gave physicians carte blanche authority to perform abortions, said nothing about rape or incest.

But the ‘rape or incest’ issue has entered the abortion debate for a very real reason.

Those who favor legal abortions insist that theirs is the majority opinion in the United States.

They see it as an issue which will help re-elect the President.

In truth, there is no majority opinion about abortion.

If the question is whether abortion should be allowed as a means of gender selection, the public will say ‘No.’

If the question is whether abortion should be allowed to save the life of the mother, the public will say, ‘Yes.’

If the question is whether abortion should be allowed as a means of placating an angry boyfriend or husband, or avoiding parental discipline or disapproval the public will say, ‘Maybe.’

The point here is that public opinion is visceral.

Public opinion supported the guillotine during the French Revolution as it has occasioned countless other atrocities throughout human history.

Which is why we have a constitution. And a Bill of Rights. And the rule of law.

And trial by a jury of one’s peers.

John Dethmers, an old timer who was a colleague of mine on the Michigan Supreme Court, often remarked that the first issue in every murder trial is “should the deceased have went?”

It was his folksy way of saying that jurors bring a certain gut sense of right and wrong to their task.

But a jury is not a mob.

They are required to sit still and listen to testimony, arguments by the lawyers, instructions by the judge.

Admittedly there are many examples of juries being swayed by passion and prejudice and despite the best efforts of trial and appellate judges, miscarriages of justice occur.

“Life,” as my son, the Professor, tells me, “is messy.”

But it seems to me that the noblest instincts of the human race are to rise above the mess, to temper the process of visceral decision making by clinging to proven principles and reach always for the unreachable perfection of truth and justice.

Which is why I cannot shake off the conviction that the destruction of an innocent human life to avoid embarrassment, expense, inconvenience, or discomfort is just plain wrong.

And to allow it is bad public policy.

The first child conceived in a petri dish was born in 1978. I have no doubt that the plastic placenta is not so far off.

In a day when human beings are manufactured without the discomfort of gestation or the pain of childbirth, what will become of the words, “all men are created equal and they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Will children be chattels? Will they have owners rather than parents?

Or will they belong to the government?

Sunday, August 19, 2012


August 20 was to be the trial date. Finally. Three years after Nidal Hasan gunned down thirteen people at Fort Hood, he was supposed to be brought before the bar of justice.

But he didn’t shave, so Col. Gregory Gross, the military judge presiding on the case did what he did back in June, the last time Hasan showed up with a beard.

Held him in contempt and fined him $1,000.

Not too much of an economic burden, since Hasan is still receiving his full military pay.

Now the August 20th trial date is off. Indefinitely.

Hasan is appealing Judge Gross’s “shave the beard” order. So, of course, there will be no trial until the appellate process creeps to some conclusion about the damn beard.

Back in November of 2009, Hilary Hylton, a staff writer for Time Magazine wrote an article headlined, “How the Military Will Try Nidal Hasan.”

Ms. Hylton predicted, “Justice is likely to be speedy. The Uniform Code of Military Justice has no provision for bail, and the prosecution is required to bring the case to trial in 120 days.”

She quoted Scott Silliman, a retired military lawyer and head of the Duke University Law School’s Center on Ethics and National Security, saying that the reason the code requires prompt prosecution is to screen the process from undue influence.

“The military is a hierarchical society,” says Silliman, who insists that there must be a way to prevent the brass from interfering with the prosecution. And “brass” includes the Commander in Chief.

Of course, there’s a catch. There always is.

The 120 days can be extended whenever the Judge grants a delay.

Enter Col. Gregory Gross.

Hasan was brought before Judge Gross in June, 2012. Three years after the crime. That was just to find out whether the defendant pleads guilty or not guilty. Of course, he’s charged with a capital offense, and under military law, he isn’t allowed to plead guilty.

So it would seem there wasn’t a lot to talk about in June.

But the defendant showed up with a beard. Against Army regulations.

Judge Gross, being a stern, uncompromising, defender of the Code of Military Justice, gave Hasan two months to shave his face.

And when he came back two months later, still unshaven, the mean old judge postponed his trial altogether.

Giving the defendant’s lawyers time enough to rush to the Military Court of Appeals and ask those higher ups for permission to keep the beard.

I’m sorry folks. I was a trial judge in Detroit some years ago. We had plenty of lawyers capable of jacking the court around interminably to avoid doomsday.

When you get counsel acting that way it’s time to hitch up your drawers and bang the gavel. It was time for Col. Gross to say, “Counsel, your client will be fined one thousand dollars for every day he appears here unshaven. A plea of Not Guilty will be entered on all counts. Now the bailiff will summon the jury panel and lets get started.”

Meanwhile, Time magazine and Hillary Hylton aren’t bothering to talk to Leila Hunt Willingham, whose brother, Jason Dean “J.D.” Hunt was among those killed on November 5, 2009.

"I stopped holding my breath a long time ago as far as expecting to get any closure regarding the trial," says Ms. Willingham.

What else is there to say? The system was supposed to prevent interference from the higher ups.

Is everyone waiting for a signal from the Commander in Chief?

I’d like to hear Governor Romney say that he will order the trial on the day after Inauguration.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I recently received an email “revealing” the “truth” about Barack Obama’s Social Security number.

According to this account, Obama has a Social Security number which starts with 04, and that would mean that it was issued to somebody in Connecticut.

Since Obama never lived in Connecticut, the theory goes that his number was not duly issued in the regular course, but was in fact stolen somehow.

The email goes on to say that Obama’s grandmother worked in the Probate Court in Hawaii, where a man from Connecticut died without collecting Social Security benefits.

So the email claims that she stole the number and gave it to Obama.

Snopes debunks the whole tale, pointing out that the French born immigrant, whose number Obama supposedly stole, one Jean Paul Ludwig, died in 1981, long after Obama’s number was issued. And besides, he had a different number.

Wait a minute, says my old high school pal, do you really believe Snopes? They’re a bunch of liberals financed by George Soros. says otherwise. Snopes is owned and operated by David and Barbara Mikkleson. Barbara is a Canadian citizen, David a registered Independent who was a registered Republican in 2000. Their site is financed by advertising.

OK. So Snopes is legit.

Still, they don’t have all the answers, and not being an official government agency, they probably can’t see all the records.

Snopes says that Obama’s Social Security number is 042-68-4425. I don’t know how they found out his number. I certainly hope they can’t find mine.

Anyhow, Snopes says that the 042 means that when Obama applied for a Social Security number he asked that his card be sent to an address with the 06814 area code.

That’s in Dansbury, Connecticut.

Was Barack Obama then living in Dansbury Connecticut?

Snopes doesn’t think so.

In fact, Snopes says that the President’s Connecticut Social Security number is “something of a curiosity.” Then Snopes tells us that Obama lived at an address in Hawaii with the zip code 96814.

06814 versus 96814?

Well, the zero and the nine are right next to each other on the typewriter. Could be a typo.

Could be. Maybe it was. Probably was.

Still, the man is the President of the United States. Someplace in the bowels of the federal government’s archives, there has to be a record of the address to which Barack Obama’s first Social Security card was mailed.

Wouldn’t you think?

I have no doubt that if a Hawaiian branch office of the Social Security Administration mailed a letter with a Hawaiian street address and a Hawaiian city in a Hawaiian branch of the U.S. Post Office, that the Hawaiian postal clerk would assume that the 06814 zip code was a mistake and he would route the letter to the Hawaiian address.

Conjecture? Yes. Theory? Admittedly. But it shouldn’t be.

Frankly, I’m a little weary of the whole Barack Hussein Obama fairy tale. The President and his campaign managers seem to revel in the narrative of mystery that surrounds him.

Birth records, academic records, travel records, everything is secret. They love it. They love the speculation, the intrigue.

They love to keep the birthers digging. Maybe they hope the diggers will discover that there were angels singing, “Peace on Earth …”

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I should be upstairs watching the golf tournament. Tomorrow, I’ll wish I had been. All the guys will be talking about it and I won’t even know who won.

But here I am at the computer, Googling for a fare thee well, and all because someone took the trouble to post a detailed comment on my last blog.

So here’s what I found out:

NIST stands for National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Founded in 1901, NIST is a non-regulatory federal agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce. NIST's mission is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.

The agency operates in two locations: Gaithersburg, Md., (a 578-acre campus) and Boulder, Colo., (a 208-acre campus). NIST employs about 2,900 scientists, engineers, technicians, and support and administrative personnel..

NIST has an annual budget of nearly a billion dollars.

Derek Israel, the correspondent who commented on my blog, insisted that a final report determined that WTC 7 collapsed because of fire. Period. No mystery, nothing strange or questionable.

So I dug up the report. It came from NIST. Here were its goals:

•Investigate the building construction, the materials used, and the technical conditions that contributed to the outcome of the disaster;
•To serve as the basis for:
o Improvements in the way buildings are designed, constructed, maintained and used
o Improved tools and guidance for industry safety officials
o Recommended revisions to current codes, standards, and practices, and,
o Improved Public Safety.

And here were the Specific Objectives:
1.Determine why and how WTC1 and WTC2 collapsed following the initial impact of the aircraft and why and how WTC7 collapsed.
2.Determine why the injuries were so high or low depending on the location, including all technical aspects of fire protection, occupant behavior, evacuation and emergency response
3.Determine what procedures and practices were used in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of WTC1, WTC2 and WTC7, and,
4.Identify, as specifically as possible, areas of current building and fire codes, standards and practices that warrant revision.

Pardon me, but I find all that stuff bureaucratic gooble de goop. “How and Why the building collapsed?” Not “Did it collapse or did it implode?”

They found no evidence of a blast, and no reason to suspect that a blast occurred.

Still, the Executive Summary of their report starts with this:

“This was the first known instance of the total collapse of a tall building due to fire. The fires in WTC7 were quite different from the fires in 1 and 2. WTC7 was not doused in jet fuel. Large areas of floors were not ignited simultaneously. The fires were similar to those in several tall buildings where the automatic sprinklers failed. Those other buildings did not collapse, while WTC7 succumbed to its fires.”

Finally, the Executive Summary concludes:

“However, the reader should keep in mind that the building and the records kept within it were destroyed and the remains of all the WTC buildings were disposed of before Congressional action and funding was available for this investigation to begin. As a result, there are some facts that could not be discerned, and thus are uncertainties in this accounting.”

Not mysteries, folks. Just “uncertainties.”


American fascination with mystery is boundless.

Whether it is Harry Houdini’s remarkable tricks of legerdemain, the claimed sightings of UFO’s, the Kennedy assassination, an alleged complicity of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the attack on Pearl Harbor, or the ‘real truth’ about Mitt Romney’s income taxes or Barack Obama’s academic record, we seem to have an insatiable appetite for juicy narratives based on speculation and inference.

I’m sort of a common sense, practical kind of guy. Time spent in the judiciary has steeled me against snap judgments, and infused a benign skepticism into my skull.

I try not to jump to conclusions, especially when we’re speaking off the reservation about something mechanical, electronic, technical, scientific or just plain hokus pokus.

And there’s a theory in the law that public officials are presumed, at the outset at least, to do their jobs.

Whatever the faults of the Warren Report, I tend to believe that Chief Justice Warren and his colleagues gave it their best shot and honestly believed their conclusions were accurate.

So, I suppose, should the folks who authored the so called 9-11 Report be given a nod that they did the best they could.


Still, I get this email from a friend who insists that I visit:

And so I did. He also sent me some links to video taken on 9-11 in which the building known as WTC 7 is shown imploding into its own footprint.

You’ve seen implosion footage I’m sure. When they brought down Kerns or the J.L. Hudson Company building. Those are big events for the gawking public.

A whole building falling right down into its own basement. BOOM. Just like that.

WTC 7 was a 47 story steel and concrete office building. It was a part of the World Trade Center complex, located about 300 feet from the twin towers.

It was not hit by an airplane.

Tenants in WTC 7 included offices of the Department of Defense, the Secret Service and the CIA as well as other government agencies.

The South Tower collapsed just before 10 AM. The North Tower went down at 10:28 AM.

There were scattered fires in WTC 7 caused by the intense heat and falling debri from the Towers. New York firefighters were in the building, trying to contain them and evacuating all civilians.

Mayor Giuliani had a crisis office on the 23rd floor of the building, but he had set up his operations down on the street, closer to the Towers. If he had any staff in WTC 7, they were evacuated.

At 4:20 PM all firefighters were called out of the building. It was being reported that building 7 was in danger of collapse. Fire department leaders established a safety perimeter around the building and kept everyone away from it.

By 5:30 PM there was no one in the building. At that moment, more than seven hours after the Towers had collapsed, WTC 7 came down.

It came down in 6.6 seconds, just six tenths of a second longer than an object would take to free fall from the 47th story.

In the demolition industry, it would have been a perfectly executed implosion.

Experts tell us that to do a thing like that would take weeks of preparation. It’s not the kind of event that can be orchestrated in six or seven hours of panic.

Conspiracy theories abound. I don’t subscribe to them. I like to think there is a perfectly logical explanation.

But it does seem a little curious that the so called Nine Eleven Commission, which was supposed to tell us what the heck happened that day never even mentioned WTC 7.

Perhaps it was, as they say, unrelated collateral damage.

But still….

Saturday, August 11, 2012


There’s a slang expression in the military, R&R, shorthand for “Rest and Recuperation.”

During the Korean War, it often meant 15 days in Japan. A rejuvenating get away from the 24 hour a day, 7 days a week stress of battle. A little time to take a deep breath, think about the mission, and get back to basics.

I couldn’t help but wonder if the Republicans realize what they will offer to the American people this autumn.

R&R. Romney and Ryan.

Time to get back on track. Time to take a hard look at the big picture. Time to get ready to return to the battlefield of democracy, the day to day grind of making our unique federal republic work the way the Founders intended.

Paul Ryan is a lot of things that Mitt Romney is not.

Young. A federal office holder. A Washington insider, if you will. Clearly conservative. Catholic. Pro Life. Midwestern.

But I don’t think Ryan was chosen to give Balance to the Republican ticket.

I think the choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate tells us something very important about Mitt Romney.

He knows how to choose people. He knows how to build a team. His focus is not just to win the election. He is preparing to govern the nation.

The debate over President Obama’s insistence that “you didn’t build it” is missing a very subtle distinction, which gets lost in the shouting and the sound bites.

Of course Henry Ford built Ford Motors, and Bill Gates built Microsoft and Steve Jobs built Apple. But how did they do it?

They built a team.

The genius of good leadership is the capacity to build a team. To surround yourself with good people. People who share the dream. People who believe in the mission. People who bring innovation, discernment, commitment, and courage to the table.

More than anything else, that’s what Mitt Romney will bring to the Oval Office.

In picking Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has demonstrated that he believes in America.

He believes in an America that isn’t afraid of hard choices.

He believes in an America that will do whatever is necessary to protect and preserve our heritage of liberty.

He believes in an America that can and will overcome the bitterness and pain of partisan bickering; an America that can survive the divisiveness of campaign name calling. Of lies. Of denunciation and demonization.

Paul Ryan is a class act. He slings no mud. Hates nobody. Disagrees without being disagreeable. He’s what they call a policy wonk. A guy who reads every word and debates the real issues. Ryan won’t be a political hatchet man, like some VP candidates in the past.

But he will bring a lot of substance to the Republican ticket.

The next 86 days will be a cacophony of political debate. Lies and rumors will cackle all over the Internet. Mountains of money will be spent trying to capture the attention and the support of American voters.

Whoever wins will have the unenviable task of reuniting the nation.

Abraham Lincoln said it best:
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


He’s no kin of mine, not really. He’s my son’s nephew. My grandson’s cousin.

Chris Monroe is in the army. Over in Afghanistan. He’s a bright young man and a wonderful writer. And heart. Chris has plenty of heart in every sense of that word.

He writes a blog for the folks back home. Take a minute right now to read a couple of them:

I never had the burden – or the privilege – of military service. Too young for WWII, married with a dependent family during Korea, and over the hill when Viet Nam was the theater of battle.

It’s hard for me to understand and appreciate the courage, the commitment and the discipline that are demanded of the young people who serve in our armed forces today.

Like many Americans, I tend to think of war in political terms.

Good wars, bad wars. Smart wars, dumb wars. Undeclared wars and wars against ephemeral things like terrorism that don’t wear uniforms or abide by civilized traditions of warfare.

Tennyson captured the soldier’s creed in his immortal poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade.”

“Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do or die.”

I suppose that’s the way it must be. In order to function amidst the mayhem, to do your job in the face of slaughter you must either be very sure that what you are doing must be done, or else very immune from asking any questions.

But someday they will come home. And some day the 25 year olds will be 35 and 45 and 55.

And they will remember, as Chris Monroe will remember, comrades who didn’t come back, or came home mutilated. Comrades who were like family on a distant battlefield.

Will they ask questions then?

What exactly was it they were trying to do in that Godforsaken place?

What was the President thinking? What did Congress want to accomplish?

Why did we go there? Why did we stay there?

Was it to punish the people who destroyed the World Trade Center and attacked the Pentagon?

Was it to liberate Afghan women and make sure their girls got an education?

Was it to establish a democratic government there? One that would be friendly toward the United States?

Was it to interdict the opium traffic? Or to protect sources of Middle Eastern oil?

Was it all about religion? Or money?

It is trite to say that we live in a dangerous world. Not every tsunami is caused by an earthquake. Slaughter in a Colorado movie theater is as senseless, unpredictable and inevitable as madness and sin.

We cannot prevent a recurrence of 9-11 by watering down the constitutional rights of the American people or invading foreign countries and setting up agreeable governments.

There is no guarantee that people liberated from tyrannical leaders will not install another government equally unfriendly to the United States.

Our constitution was written, among other things, to provide for the common defense. There is nothing in the preamble about manifest destiny. Nothing about going on offense.

It gives the power to declare war to the representatives of the people. To the Congress, not to the President.

Perhaps, some day when Chris Monroe and his comrades have come home, there will be a time for civilized dialog in America. A time to reason why, before we send more young men and women into harm’s way to do or die.

I certainly hope so.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Back in 1969, when I was Chief Justice of Michigan, there had been a scandal involving a judge who wasn’t paying his income taxes. In fact, he hadn’t even filed tax returns for a number of years.

Very embarrassing. As the state’s highest ranking judicial officer, I thought it my duty to set a good example and try to restore some of the court’s good name.

So I filed my tax returns in the County Clerk’s office for public inspection.

The net result was a brief story in the newspapers under a headline that said something like “Brennan Tax Returns Are Boring.”

No other judge followed my example, and that was the end of the noble experiment. I did, however, continue to file my returns publicly as long as I was on the bench.

I got to reflecting on those days in light of the current controversy about Mitt Romney’s tax returns. The Democrats and even some Republicans want Romney to publish all of his tax returns, not just the last couple of years.

I’m not so sure. For one thing, the Romney tax returns are not like mine. They certainly aren’t boring, at least not in the sense that mine are. Mitt Romney is a wealthy and successful businessman. His tax returns run into the hundreds of pages, and doubtlessly contain thousands of details about his business activities.

That, of course, is why his political opponents want them made public. They hope to find a treasure of juicy facts and figures that will bolster the narrative about Romney being a heartless business tycoon.

The Republicans have perhaps a different reason for joining the chorus.

They may feel that refusal to publish the returns could create a suspicion that the tax returns might show something illegal, shady or questionable.

I doubt that. The IRS is part of the executive branch of the federal government. That’s the branch which answers to the President of the United States.

Does anyone doubt that Mitt Romney’s tax returns have been meticulously audited by the IRS for any possible flaws, mistakes, or omissions?

Does anyone doubt that if there were any plausible legal criticism of Mitt Romney’s tax returns, it would already have been known by the White House and leaked to the press?

No sir, the whole thing is political. It’s all a matter of trying to paint a candidate for President as someone who isn’t forthcoming to the American people.

That goes both ways. Here is what I would advise Mitt Romney to do:

If and when he is nominated by the GOP in Tampa, his campaign should tender a box of documents for public release, including tax returns, birth certificate, baptismal records, school transcripts from elementary through University, all passports, copies of all applications for employment, scholarships, or grants, social security records, bar examination records, Bar admission, discipline and resignation records, driver’s license records, draft board and military records and medical records.

To be opened when, as and if his opponent tenders exactly the same records for public inspection.

I sent a similar note to a good liberal friend. He responded by calling me a ‘birther.’

‘Birther.’ That’s a pejorative term for people who question the President’s qualification as a natural born citizen of the United States. It’s supposed to suggest that a person is unreasonably obsessed, maybe a little goofy.

That’s what you do in politics these days. You don’t debate issues, philosophies and ideas. You call names.

Maybe we should just label those who want to see Mitt Romney’s tax returns “taxees.” With a sneer and a giggle.

Then we could put all the birthers and the taxees in a room, lock the door and leave them to decide what the American people need to know about Presidential candidates.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


It’s kind of heady stuff when your very accomplished, professional author daughter calls and asks for your opinion.

It got me thinking.

Maybeth was writing her column for the Washington Times about the latest “Story” book by Annie Leonard. She’s the author of “The Story of Stuff,” a staple in elementary school curricula, which demonizes capitalism.

This one is “The Story of Change.” It advocates a government mandated “new economy” which would put an end to free markets and free enterprise.

Leonard argues that “the purpose of an economic system is to organize human activities in ways that support healthy and resilient human communities and ecosystems for both present and future generations”

Marybeth wanted to know how I would define America’s economic system.

Big order. I gave her a short version about freedom, and she took it from there.

Still, it got me to thinking.

Wikipedia defines Economics as “the social science that analyzes the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.” I would add the words “by human beings.” Economics is all about people.

The Declaration of Independence asserts that human beings are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Our Constitution does not mandate an economic system. It is a system of government created by free people for a free people. It assumes that our economic system, to the extent that we have a system at all, is nothing more than the sum total of our individual pursuits of happiness.

The problem with studying economics is that analyzing what people do generally leads to predicting what people will do, which leads to organizing what people do, which leads to telling them what to do.

Everybody wants to control human behavior. Parents, teachers, advertisers, churches, bosses, homeowners associations, city, state and federal governments, the Federal Reserve, the United Nations and God Almighty.

Only God has got it right. He tells us what we ought to do, but then He lets us do whatever we choose to do. It’s called free will. By making us live with the consequences of our choices, He teaches us how to live.

Dwight Eisenhower had a great way of saying it. “We must act in our enlightened self interest.”

That means pursuing happiness according to our own vision, our own ideas, our own personal goals and ambitions, and our own best judgment, then taking the lumps that come with failure and reaping the harvest that comes with success.

Only California has a constitution which asserts that its residents have the right of pursuing and obtaining happiness. That kind of utopian optimism is probably the result of too much sunshine.

Still, the search for collective happiness through collective action is a temptation which fires up a lot of people these days.

The Prophet in Chief of collectivism is the President of the United States. He reminds us that every Horatio Alger had to walk on the public road, get mail from the Post Office, and save his money in a bank protected by the FDIC.

True enough. But the vast majority of people who walk on the public roads, get their mail from the Post Office and put money in an FDIC protected bank don’t start businesses, don’t employ other people, don’t make significant personal contributions to the economies of their state and the nation.

Mitt Romney did.

Mitt Romney knows that the economy of a free people cannot be managed.

Mitt Romney knows that the best economic system is one that is founded on the natural desire of people to pursue their own happiness, one that rewards success and penalizes failure, where every person has the right fairly and legitimately to acquire and accumulate private property and to determine the objects of their own benefaction.

So the issue in November is clear, and it will determine the fate of the nation.

Friday, July 13, 2012


One hour and fifty-six minutes. That’s all it takes to understand what’s happening to our country and how to fix it.

You haven’t the time, you say? Too busy with tweets and twitters? Getting carpel tunnel syndrome just deleting all the news, views and boos that fill your email inbox every day?

So was I until this came along. It’s a documentary about money. Historical, factual, thoughtful and extremely rational.

I suppose one reason I was so impressed with Bill Still’s wonderful video is that he says some things I have believed in my gut for a long time.

Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution gives the Congress the power to borrow money, to coin money and to regulate the value thereof.

I never could figure out why it would ever be necessary to borrow money if you have the power to coin money.

Thomas Jefferson said that if there was one amendment to the constitution that he could write it would be that the United States government is prohibited from borrowing money.

The national debt is now over 15 trillion dollars. We borrow more money to pay the interest on the national debt. Then, we borrow money to run the government.

Makes no sense.

We mint coins and we issue them. We pay no interest on the coins we issue. Why should we pay interest on paper money? We print the bills and sell them to the Fed for pennies on the dollar. Then we borrow it back, pay interest on the face value and give the money we borrowed away. Or spend it.

Makes no sense.

They tell us that the more we borrow, the more money there is in circulation. The ten dollar bill in your wallet says that it is a Federal Reserve note. A note is nothing but an I.O.U. And if you take your note to the Federal Reserve and tell them you have come to collect on the I.O.U., what will they give you? Two fives, ten ones, maybe. More notes. More I.O.U.s.

Makes no sense.

Ron Paul crusades against the Federal Reserve. He wants them audited. He wants them abolished. Like many conservatives, Paul favors returning to the gold standard. The Wizard of Oz video argues that the gold standard is an invitation to manipulation by those who accumulate gold.

In finance, the golden rule is: he who has the gold makes the rules. That’s what has happened in the past.

But the argument against fiat money is also supported by history. If there is no limit to the amount of money that can be printed except the will power of public officials, those officials will sooner or later give in to the temptation to turn the crank enthusiastically until the currency isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

There is a third way. The constitution which empowers our government to coin money should also empower it to issue certificates of legal tender – greenbacks, if you will – in an amount not to exceed a certain multiple of the population as determined by the most recent census.

Money is, after all, just a medium of exchange. The more people there are, the more money is needed. Increasing the money supply to serve a larger population is not inflationary.

The constitution should prohibit borrowing for any purpose, but when Congress declares war, it should be able to increase the greenback ceiling, temporarily.

I’m sure there is much more to be said about this by people more knowledgeable about finance than I, but I submit that the time has come for all concerned citizens to discuss, debate and decide what must be done before we experience the modern version of Greek tragedy.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Couldn't sleep in this morning, as my mind kept rolling over your email.

Lord Acton's famous 1885 quote, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" was not the first such observation. William Pitt made a similar statement to the English House of Lords in 1770.

The Founders of our nation who met in Philadelphia were equally aware of the evils of political corruption.

And they knew that the sin of greed is not unique to the rich and powerful. To be sure, Wall Street is greedy, but so is Main Street. History proves that democracies carry the seeds of their own destruction. When people believe they can vote themselves comfort and security, their collective decisions will bankrupt the government.

Our founders knew that no democracy in history had survived more than 200 years. They didn't trust democracy and they didn't intend to create a democracy.

When the constitution was written, a lady asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of government we were to have, and he replied. " A Republic, Madam. If you can keep it."

Article IV, Section 4 of the US Constitution says that the United States shall guarantee that every state shall have a republican form of government.

What is the difference between a democracy and a republic?

In a democracy, the people rule. There are no restraints on the majority. Public opinion is the law.

In a republic, the people are ruled by their elected representatives.

In both cases, the people make the constitution which is the blueprint for government. In theory, constitutions are made by the "whole people" and not just a majority. Some constitutions are created by force, in which case the winning side presumes to speak for the whole people. Others, like our federal constitution, are created by super majority plebiscites.

One problem with a democracy is the attitude that "if the people made the constitution, the people can change it or simply ignore it." In a republic, the officials are sworn to uphold the constitution, which only the people can change.

The United States of America is a unique nation in that it is a federal republic consisting of fifty separate and sovereign state republics. I know of no other modern nation which is so constituted.

The first person to label the United States as a democracy was Woodrow Wilson, who lead us into the first World War "to make the world safe for democracy."

We call ourselves a democracy to be distinguished from totalitarian regimes where dictators come to power and remain in power by force.

More accurately, we are a "democratic republic" that is, a nation wherein the people have agreed to be governed by popularly elected officials who are constrained by a popularly adopted constitution.

I share your concern about the corrupting effects of large amounts of money in politics. The numbers you cite are mind numbing, to be sure. But they are largely the result of the growth of our population.

When a Congressman represents 700,000 people, he or she has to spend a lot of money to be reelected. And so does the candidate who seeks to defeat him or her.

Communication at that level is expensive. TV, mass mail, staffing, expert campaign design and advice all cost money. To suggest that you can cut the cost by forbidding donations or spending is a fool's errand.

And the worst thing to do is to provide public funding for political campaigns. Public funding laws are written by incumbent politicians. Why would anyone think that such laws would not favor incumbent politicians?

Mandatory voting laws are also an illusory benefit. Just watch Jay Leno interview the man in the street and you can see the level of public sophistication about our government. Mandatory voting laws are another reelection guarantee for incumbents. Witness the 99% turnouts in countries ruled by dictators. People who go to the polls at the point of a bayonet are most likely to vote for the guy with the gun.

Enough for now, Harold.



Tuesday, June 26, 2012


This morning a statue of Judge Thomas M. Cooley was unveiled and dedicated on the Lansing campus of the Thomas Cooley Law School. I was asked to say a few words, and this is what I said:

Forty years ago, the Michigan department of corporations told me that I couldn’t use the name “State College of Law.”

My old law professor, Stanley Beattie, suggested the name Thomas M. Cooley. It made sense for a lot of reasons. Cooley was a lawyer, a Judge, a scholar, an author, a teacher, a philosopher.

What's more important, he was a patriot who understood the genius of the federal republic known as the United States of America.

His is a legacy of thought. A legacy of principle. A legacy of truth.

Thomas Cooley taught us the simple, undeniable fact that the words of a written constitution mean what they say and say what they mean.

Cooley taught us that constitutional law does not evolve like the common law. He said that any judge who allows public opinion to influence his interpretation of the constitution is guilty of reckless disregard of official oath and public duty.

Cooley’s voice clearly condemns the notion, taught at so many law schools today, that the Supreme Court of the United States is somehow empowered to decide when the culture supercedes the constitution.

If the statue we dedicate here today could speak, it would certainly tell us that the people who ratified the fourteenth amendment in the middle of the nineteenth century never intended to legalize sodomy or abortion.

That’s not what they meant. That’s not what they said.

Cooley taught that ours is a government of laws and not of men; that authority is something different from raw power; that words have meaning and that meaning matters.

This law school was founded to teach practical scholarship in the law, to prepare men and women to serve as ministers of justice in their communities. We never aspired to imitate the Harvard Law School where International Law is a required course, but constitutional law is an elective.

We let other law schools prepare their graduates to be social engineers. We wanted our people to be lawyers. Real lawyers. Practical, ethical counselors and advocates. Men and women who would grace our profession and bring to other occupations and enterprises a thorough understanding of the American legal system.

That we dedicate this statue amidst the cacophony of a national election year is especially significant.

The strong face of this strong American should remind us that liberty and law are inseparable and that the campuses of this law school enshrine the fondest hopes of every new generation of students.

True leadership is not found in sound bites and political commercials. It is not confined to hash marks and tweets.

True leadership is the ability to inspire people. To teach, To encourage. To capture our imaginations and prompt us to look up, to reach up, to be better than we are.

Not all leaders are on television.

Some of them are dead. Like Thomas M. Cooley.

But they still can lead. Just as Judge Cooley does, and will continue to do here at the law school which bears his name.

Cooley spoke in long sentences and elegant phrases. Unfortunately, too many of us haven’t the patience to read and appreciate his words.

He gave a speech at the dedication of the lecture hall at the University of Michigan Law School on Thursday, October 1, 1863. It was in the midst of the Civil War.

He said something that day which ought to be pounded into the talking heads that cackle on Fox News and MSNBC.

“In the life of nations,” said the Judge, “conservatism and progress must be found to go hand in hand… for better or worse, the world is ever changing…if we would truly conserve what is good in the present, we must do so by relieving it of what is bad.”

Laws can become outdated. Changes have to be made, Cooley insisted. But he warned us that if skilled hands refuse to do the work, we can expect people who do not understand or appreciate our heritage of law and freedom to saddle our nation with wrong headed ideas and unworkable schemes.

In the words of Thomas Cooley, they will “cut and hew in their ignorance until the beautiful fabric which has required ages to build and perfect may be utterly defaced by vandal hands.”

Which prompts me to conclude with a public service announcement.

For several years, I have been organizing a convention on the Internet to propose amendments to the federal constitution. It is open to any registered voter in the United States. It’s free.

You don’t have to be a constitutional law expert. What we want is a critical mass of common sense to vet every proposal.

We now have over 300 delegates from 46 states. We need more. Lots more, if our work is to be taken seriously.

And there is much work to be done. If the uproar over the Health Care case doesn’t prove again how badly we need a non partisan system of judicial selection in the Supreme Court, I don’t know what it will take to arouse the American people.

If an approval rate of less than ten percent doesn’t prove that reform of the United States Congress should be high on our national agenda, I have to wonder how our citizens can ever expect to be fairly represented in the nation’s capital.

And if three generations of an imperial presidency and seven or eight undeclared wars all around the world are not enough to make us wonder whether our nation is really an exception to the bloody narrative of human history, I have to ask what will?

Convention USA needs lawyers, law students and law faculty. We need intelligent, spirited dialog and debate. Look us up at

Thomas McIntyre Cooley stands here with his hand extended. He’s reaching out to all of us. He wants to give us a hand. I say let’s take it.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Back in the 1990’s, a professor at Michigan State University named Harold Spaeth got a grant from the National Science Foundation to conduct a study of the United States Supreme Court.

Specifically, he was to construct a data base with all known – and presumably relevant – information about the justices.

What emerged was a mountain of information, most of which is insignificant, about the justices, the cases, the process of decision making, and the minutia of appellate procedure.

What did come out of Professor Spaeth’s studies, and what gave him stature as a predictor of Supreme Court decisions, was the rather simple and unremarkable fact that Justices of the court tend to vote in accordance with the interests and agenda of the President who put them on the court.


There’s loyalty in politics? Appointees appreciate being appointed? Justices selected for their philosophy tend to vote what they believe?

Surprise, surprise.

Having served time on the bench, I seem to be expected to know how the Supreme Court will rule on the Obamacare statute. In all honesty, I haven’t the foggiest idea.

I have never read the briefs, nor heard the oral arguments. The legal theories of the parties are complex and riddled with conflicting precedents. What the Justices will say to each other in their draft opinions and inter office memoranda is anybody’s guess.

Of course, the Harold Spaeth formula for predicting court outcomes is easy. Five of the nine Justices were appointed by Republican Presidents, four by Democrat Presidents.

Ipso facto the decision will be 5 to 4 against Obamacare.

No doubt that’s what Spaeth’s data base would tell us. But there is another factor at work, one which is much harder to compute.

Whatever the political disposition of the Justices, they have one overriding motivation which cannot easily be assessed or predicted. They all love the Supreme Court of the United States. For each of them, service on the Court is the defining achievement of their lives.

Whatever denigrates the Court, diminishes them. Whatever stains the reputation of the Court, impairs their personal legacies.

None of them want the United States Supreme Court to be vilified from the left or the right as an assembly of political hacks. They are five Harvard graduates, three Yale graduates and one hybrid who attended Harvard then transferred to Columbia.

They are highly educated, very smart men and women. They like to think that their decisions are founded in logic, history, science, and experience. Each of them would feel insulted if a newspaper editorial dismissed their opinion as a mere knee jerk aye or nay dictated from Party headquarters.

So they will be looking for a tertium quid, a third thing, a compromise, if you will, by which they can achieve a result they can live with, but not a ruling that will be seen as a political gesture.

Pretty tough assignment. Especially when fevers are running so high on both sides of the aisle.

What bothers me is this: somebody has the make the call. Either the health care law complies with the Constitution or it doesn’t. Congress isn’t the last word. The President isn’t the last word. It’s a call that must be made by the Supreme Court.

When the heat is turned up to the max, as it is with Obamacare, the very institution of the Supreme Court begins to creak at the seams. Just as it did with Bush v Gore. Just as it did with Roe v Wade. Just as it did with Citizens United.

The problem is that we do not have a non partisan supreme court. The problem is that we do not have a method of judicial selection at the highest level which gives the institution of the Court some insulation against the conclusion that it is merely an arm of one or the other of the political parties.

My solution?

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Two and a half years ago, Nidal Hasan murdered thirteen people in cold blood at Fort Hood Texas. He shot 29 others, who fortunately didn’t die. Hasan himself was shot and captured on the spot.

Yesterday, Hasan showed up in court for a scheduled pre-trial hearing. What was on the docket? A bunch of pre-trial motions designed to delay Hasan's day of judgment.

What happened? MSNBC tells us in 379 words:

The judge in the trial of Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan delayed pre-trial motions Friday when he ruled the defendant to be in violation of the Army's grooming standards.

Hasan showed up for the half-day administrative hearing sporting a beard, which the military prosecutors said was a violation of Army regulation 670-1 and court-martial rule 804(4)(1). Judge Col. Gregory Gross then went on record saying that Hasan's beard was a disruption to the proceedings.

"It is a disruption. The judge felt it was," Fort Hood media officer Chris Haug told "He's in violation of the Army's dress and grooming standrds,” Army regulation 670-1 dictates the appearance of Army uniforms, while court-martial rule 804(4)(1) states the accused shall be attired in dress or uniform as prescribed by a military judge.

"He's an active-duty soldier and should be in full uniform and clean shaven. That's what all active-duty soldiers are supposed to do," Haug said. It was the first time Hasan has shown up in court with a beard. According to Army rules, all males must be clean shaven when in uniform or civilian clothes while on duty.

The defense indicated it would file a request for exception to the policy for religious accommodation for Hasan, an American-born Muslim, to the Department of the Army. There was no indication how long it would take for a decision to be made on such a request.

The pre-trial motions will resume when Hasan adheres to the Army regulation or when a closed-circuit feed can be set up for him to observe the trial from a different location, the military said. A location has not been determined should the closed-circuit option be needed. The motions scheduled for Friday included a request for further continuance, resolution of discovery matters and whether the accused should receive the services of an expert neurologist at government expense. It was unclear when the motions would be addressed.

Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. If convicted, he could face life without parole or the death penalty. Eight soldiers and five civilians were killed in the Nov. 5, 2009, attack on the Army base in Texas. Hasan was wounded and paralyzed from the chest down before being captured.

Now the defense has another reason for delay. They will make a motion to let Hasan wear a beard to court. That should take a couple of months to be heard and decided. If they lose that motion, the prosecution will make him watch the trial on closed circuit television, which, of course, will create another objection and appeal by the defense.

Where’s the media? Where’s the outrage? Relatives of the thirteen victims wait in excruciating silence for justice to done. For someone to care. For someone to investigate. At least to ask a few obvious questions.

I Googled New York Times and Nidal Hasan. What came up was a story on July 21, 2011 about the Senate investigation of the Fort Hood massacre. It said the army knew Hasan was an Islamic extremist, but did nothing to prevent his rampage.

Oh, yes. And another story in February of this year. A sympathetic human interest story about how Hasan’s cousin’s law practice was hurt by the bad publicity.

Maybe the Fort Hood victims should contact Trayvon Martin’s press agent.