Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Do some Republicans eat their own?

Friday, November 30th, 20`2
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


According to a number of Republican presidential wannabes, the outcome of the presidential election was a fiasco, a major disaster for the GOP.  And the excuses keep pouring in.  Romney had no vision.  The campaign ignored segments of the population.  There was no Hispanic strategy.  Romney had an insufficient commitment on social issues.  As the rats jumped ship, political ingrates who were all over Romney when they thought he would win, turned 180 degrees when he lost and took pot shots at the entire Romney campaign.

Romney foreign policy adviser Dan Senor put it this way. "It's stunning, the Friday night before the election, we were in Cincinnati for this huge rally ... tens of thousands of people, you could feel the energy, a hundred top-tier Romney surrogates were at the event. I’m backstage with some of them, I won’t mention their names, but they’re talking about Romney like he’s Reagan. ‘His debate performances were the best performances of any Republican nominee in presidential history. He’s iconic.’ ”

Senor felt some of these high profile GOP supporters were talking about Romney because they believed he was going to win in four or five days. “In fact, some of them were already talking to our transition (team) to position themselves for a Romney cabinet," Senor said on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe" “I won't say who they are. They know who they are. They were on television, it was unbelievable, it was five, six days later, absolutely eviscerating him.”

So just how bad a candidate was Mitt Romney? Probably as good or better than the GOP has been able to produce since Ronald Reagan.  He was a highly successful businessman, a capable Governor of Massachusetts, had performed significant volunteer work for his church and for the country running the Winter Olympics, and he was supported by an appealing family.

Romney went through a grueling primary season being challenged by a number of bizarre, off the wall candidates who were all over the map on social issues.  But he survived, and then took on the daunting task of challenging a sitting president, who had amassed a huge campaign war chest and was rested for the general election fight.

As the head of his party, Romney had to project a vision that gave voters hope for a significantly improved economic climate. As was to be expected opposition to this vision came from the Democrats, but surprisingly, equal opposition came from within his own party.  Rather than talking about jobs, and economic growth, Romney was continually broadsided by Republicans over what adults could, or could not do in their bedrooms, and why it was good politics to demonize Hispanic immigrants.  Members of his own party kept shooting him in the foot.
Despite having to pull the weight of elements in his own party that were in disarray, he still stayed competitive going into the first debate.  His strong performance allowed him to coast above squabbling party factions, challenge the voters to look at just the two candidates, side by side, and judge each on his own words.  The Romney campaign soared, and the candidate’s poll numbers took a major jump.  Romney had the momentum, and the Democrats were worried.  At this point, it appeared that Romney could win this thing.

Obama campaign manager David Axelrod acknowledged after the election that the campaign had continuing worries about the issue of the President’s failure to work across the aisle with Republicans.  Certainly it was true that the GOP were being obstructionists to any joint party cooperation.  But Obama, by all accounts, had failed to make any concerted effort to reach out, himself.  Many Democrats were puzzled that it was a year and a half after he had taken office before Obama met one on one with either House Speaker Boehner or Senate Minority Leader McConnell.  Romney racked up points by talking about working across party lines to solve problems.  Many undecided voters were impressed by this.

Then Sandy came along and struck with even greater force than had been predicted.  And just as the Romney campaign was on the rise, both campaigns called a halt in deference to those whose lives were devastated by the Hurricane.  What an opening for the President.  A godsend.  He quit being a partisan campaigner on the defensive, and asserted the mantle of Commander in Chief.  Overnight, Obama was able to look and act presidential as he called out the federal hurricane response team and toured the damaged communities along the east coast. As one Romney operative told me, “It just sucked all the air out of our momentum.  We could only stand by as Obama became more presidential in taking on the recovery effort.”

Many undecided voters, who were concerned about Obama’s ability to work with Republicans were moved by photos and press reports of New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Cristie both embracing and heaping praise on the President.  In the eyes of many undecided voters, Obama had become the guy in charge who could work with the other side.  Romney could only stand by and watch.

Pollsters tell us that voters who profess to be undecided in the waning weeks of the campaign will generally end up supporting the challenger.  Such voters have watched the incumbent for four years, and if such voters are still undecided just prior to the election, all they want is an affirmation that the new guy is competent and able to do the job.  As a general rule, 70% of undecideds go for the challenger.  But not this time.  Obama’s strong presence in the hurricane recovery effort changed the equation.  This time around, more than 70% of those who were late making up their minds voted for Obama.

So it was not just voters along the east coast who appreciated the President’s efforts.  Undecideds coast to coast watched and were influenced by Obama’s response.  And they rewarded him for it.
Mitt Romney was a good candidate for the GOP from the beginning and ran an excellent campaign.  He just got done in by Sandy and certainly wasn’t helped by Republican dissidents.  There are a number of competent candidates for the GOP in 2016.  A Ryan-Rubio ticket will get the base stirring early.  Jeb Bush is a possibility.  The list is long.  But Republican opportunists do a disservice to their own party by throwing rocks at a guy who gave it his best shot and came within a hair of being the new president.


“You don’t have to fool all of the people all of the time; you just have to fool enough to get elected.”
                                  Gerald Berzan

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Who Really Did the General In?


Thursday, November 15th, 2012
Washington, D.C.


It’s soap opera at its best.  Far better than any soap on TV.  The storyline: A romantic fling involving one of America’s most decorated and popular generals.  And it has all the elements of the most titillating TV dramas. A shirtless FBI agent, secret emails, and a cat fight over the affections of the guy who runs America’s spy network, and he happens to be married to the “Good Wife.” Can it get any juicer than this?  But is it truth or fiction that the nation’s security has been put at risk over these “dangerous liaisons?”

General David Petraeus is the former U.S. commander of our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he headed up the CIA, or did, until he resigned on November 9, after being outted by the FBI.  By all accounts, Petraeus has been an outstanding military leader, praised by both Republicans and Democrats in Washington.  But then there are all these women.  Certainly, he didn’t do the CIA or his country proud with all these antics.  But was it the responsibility, or even the legitimate right of the FBI to bring Petraeus down?  Because that’s exactly what they did.

The story of what happened is complicated, and is yet to fully unfold.  What we do know is that the General was engaged in flirtatious communications via a non-military related private email account with a woman with whom he had an extramarital affair.  There is no indication of compromises of national security.  There have been no public displays or actions embarrassing to the CIA or the military.

It appears that the FBI learned of the General’s outside activities from one of their own -- a rogue agent who apparently was smitten with one of the women involved with Petraeus.  A cursory investigation was undertaken, but according to all reports, the FBI quickly determined that there was no breach of national security.  So the question becomes, what were their motives for continuing to delve into the personal, non-security threatening emails at issue?  Why would the FBI continue to invade the privacy of individuals after they determined that there was no crime, no laws broken, and no security breach?

The Wall Street Journal determined that: “New details about how the Federal Bureau of Investigation handled the case suggest that even as the bureau delved into Mr. Petraeus's personal life, the agency had to address conduct by its own agent -- who allegedly sent shirtless photos of himself to a woman involved in the case...”  So much for an unbiased investigation.

This apparently was not a quick or short-term investigation.  Numerous FBI agents spent months delving into this supposed emailgate.  America is living in an age of terror. We’re in rapidly intensifying cyber wars with Iran and China. Terrorists threaten our lives at home and abroad.  In these perilous times, should chasing melodrama even be on the agenda of the country’s top investigative agency?

So the FBI authorized their cyber unit to invade private email accounts to launch a major investigation over an affair.  The FBI determined early on that there was no security breach and that no classified documents had been sent by Petraeus.

It’s no secret that there’s no love lost between the FBI and the CIA.  These two agencies often work at cross-purposes and seem to despise each other.  One wonders if the FBI would have been so aggressive in their investigation if their own director was the focus of the emails.

The FBI continued the investigation in spite of the fact that there is a right for private citizens to communicate freely and privately regarding personal thoughts and activities without fear of breach by the government (or anyone else), and that the government has no right to breach unless there is just cause, and in that case, a warrant is required to do so. There was no just cause, so no warrant could have been obtained from a judge to dig into these email accounts.  Nevertheless, in apparent defiance of the law, the wall of protection was breeched by the FBI in an effort to bring down the director of the CIA. 

Where were the checks and balances?  Where were the superiors up the FBI chain of command who should have said:  “Enough is enough.  Your investigation found two consenting adults involved in a relationship.  You went on a fishing expedition based on some rumors, and it’s time to quit fishing. Box it up gang!  This is nobody’s business but David Patraeus’s wife.  It’s not the business of the FBI.

This investigation has taken on yet another dimension in that one of the women involved with Petraeus has also shared extensive emails with United States Marine Corps four-star general, John R. Allen, presently the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and recently nominated by the president to head the NATO Allied Command.  Allen would seem to have a different problem.  Over several months, Allen and the lady in question exchanged thousands of emails.  Reportedly, Allen sent her some 40,000 emails.  That averages out to 42 emails a day.  This is not the businessof the FBI, but certainly it is the business of the Department of Defense.  How can this General run a war in Afghanistan when he can’t seem to leave his computer?  Here it’s not a question of breaking the law, but of having the available time to focus on doing his job.  This General’s career is, and should be, on a short stick.

This FBI produced drama centered on General Petraeus goes way beyond the General’s private behavior.  The heart of the matter is not the tabloid stories about the women involved.  The real story is the FBI’s cavalier attitude towards the civil liberties of all Americans.  The nation’s top law enforcement agency seems to regularly disregard the constitution and the laws that protect the privacy of all of us.  Illegal search and seizure, unauthorized wire tapping, falsifying documents, and withholding exculpatory evidence seems to have become part of the FBI’s stock and trade.

The FBI response to these accusations is that what they do is essential for the protection of the greater population, that a few questionable tactics are necessary to protect the country as a whole.  And if a little liberty has to be sacrificed for the safety of all – well, that only makes sense.  But Americans know better.  Ben Franklin had something to say about this 200 years ago.  And his admonition is as important today as it was then.

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."  Right on Ben.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Who Had Mitt Romney's Back?

He should have listened to me on the radio!

Friday, November 8th, 2012
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Mitt Romney took the stage Tuesday night to concede that he had lost his race for president.  He came on stage alone, with no family in teary-eyed support.  He stood with manliness and grace, and said all the right things.  He had called the President and wished him well. He told the crowd that he gave it his all.  “We left everything on the field, and gave it our best.”  It was his finest hour.

But where was this Mitt Romney throughout the presidential campaign?  When his campaign began, his message was simple. “I’m a businessman.  I know how to create jobs. I’ve done it in the private sector and I can do it for America.” His rhetoric resonated with millions of Americans, and he surged into an early lead in the polls.  He was an outsider, who had been successful in the private sector, and with the economy in turmoil, he offered hope for a better way.  His message was simple, concise, and hit home to many who were suffering financially.

But then he failed to learn an important lesson. Football teams that win in November develop a set game plan in spring training.  They don’t change it.  In an effort to pander to the far right during the early primaries, Romney got off message. His campaign became cold and cynical.  His focus was almost entirely on being against the president, rather than being for just about anything.

He jumped on the auto bailouts saying the funds injected into the auto industry were unnecessary, and that GM should just go bankrupt.  This looked contradictory and two-faced when he chose Ryan as his vice president, who had voted for the auto bailouts.  This ended up costing him Ohio and Wisconsin.  He left his winning issue and waded into political quicksand by posturing on Medicare, Social Security, foreign policy and way too many social issues.

In 1992, the Ragin’ Cajun, James Carville, kept Bill Clinton focused on one issue with, “It’s the economy, stupid.”  For Mitt Romney, THE Issue should have been job creation, more job creation… and nothing more.

I met Mitt Romney in New York last spring when he had all but sewed up the Republican nomination.  He looked you directly in the eye, had a firm handshake and warm smile, and just looked presidential.  When he found out I was from Louisiana, he rattled off a list of Louisiana friends we had in common, commented about my home state’s good food and great restaurants, and you would have thought he was raised down here in the Bayou State.  Then the talk turned to the campaign.  And it was all about jobs.

But then his Republican competitors and the far right wing of the party boxed Romney in. He became saddled with the baggage of social issues.  He was running with a crowd that looked backward and campaigned on fear.  Fear of change.  Fear of immigrants.  Fear of gays.  Fear of the future.  To have any chance of getting the nomination, Romney had to “go with the flow.”  There’s an old adage in politics that even a well-meaning politician votes their conscience 90% of the time, and their politics 10% of the time, so that they can be there to vote their conscience 90% of the time. For Romney during the primaries, it was more like 60/40.

Paul Ryan ended up being a poor choice for vice president.  His plans were really not all that radical, but he had not built a bipartisan consensus of support.  His economic message scared many voters, particularly his idea to privatize social security and scale back on Medicare.  He was out on the limb alone, and he frightened many older voters in swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida.  Ryan couldn’t even carry his own home state of Wisconsin.  He became dead weight.

Romney lost big.  And Republicans should not be surprised.  The GOP has become more and more the party of old white guys.  Across the board, Obama surged in non-white, male categories. He received 93% of black voters, 71% of Latinos, won young voters by 34%, unmarried women by 67% and carried women overall by 55/44%.  Republicans were watching “Madmen,” while Democrats were tuned to “Modern Family.”

If Republicans were not able to get even 40% of the vote in California, the state that gave birth to the political future of Ronald Reagan, then they are not going to be the party of the future. The GOP has now lost 5 of the last 6 elections with the popular vote.  The base has to be dramatically enlarged, particularly in the Hispanic community, if Republicans hope to stay competitive nationally.  The fastest growing dynamic in numerous states, including Georgia and my home state of Louisiana, is Hispanic. Texas is projected to have a Hispanic majority by the year 2030.

The President still has a hatful of problems. Second terms do not often bode well for incumbents.  There were stumbles by LBJ, (Viet Nam) Richard Nixon (Watergate), and Ronald Reagan (Iran Contra).  But for now, he’s the winner. His party had his back.  They supplied the base on which his victory was built.

Mitt Romney wasn’t as fortunate.  The infrastructure of the GOP was crumbling when he finally got the nomination.  The hundreds as of millions of campaign fund dollars made little difference.  All he had to be was a job creator.  But his party betrayed him and pushed him away from a winning strategy.  He is a good guy and could have been president.  But nobody had his back.


“I wish we lived in a place more like the America of yesteryear that only exists in the brains of us Republicans.”
Ned Flanders

Peace and Justice.

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Voting a Labor of Love!

Thursday, November 1st, 2012
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


People are early voting in record numbers all over America.  Here in my home state of Louisiana, election participation is up 25% over the presidential election just four years ago.  This means long lines on Election Day, and in most states, a long ballot to consider.  So I figured I would beat the crowd and absentee vote early.  It became a real labor of my civic responsibility.  The line wound around the local early voting location, with a wait of an hour and a half. 

Now I know that my vote for president is irrelevant.  Louisiana is a red state, which means the Romney ticket is a lead cinch to carry the state.  Forget California, the big Apple, and for the matter the whole south. It’s all about Ohio.   The Buckeye state has become the Epicenter of the Political World. We are all irrelevant unless you happen to live in Ashtabula, Coshocton or Macedonia.  States like mine get visited during a presidential election only if we qualify as a campaign ATM machine.  But still, I’m standing in line.

And by the way, what’s all this red state-blue state thing?  I thought red was a designated color for communism?  You know.  Reds!  The Soviet Union!  And that Democratic “blue?”  The Bible says it’s a symbol of wealth and corruption.  Check out Proverbs.  Now the corruption I can understand.  But I thought it was the Republicans who are the rich guys!

You see, it all comes down to the Electoral College, that archaic system put in place by our forefathers, when it took several weeks by horseback just to get to Washington. Each state was, with few exceptions, similar in size, strongly independent and demanding equal say in the ways of the nation’s capitol.  But here is how undemocratic the system has become.   When it comes time to pick a president, each state’s voice is determined by its congressional make up.  Every state has a guarantee of three electoral votes, including one for each of the two U.S. Senators.  And that throws the one man-one vote principal completely out of whack.

As my friend, columnist Mark Shields points out: ”This means that Wyoming, which in the most recent U.S. Census had 568,300 residents, has three electoral votes, and California, with 37,341,989 residents (which awards it 53 House members), has 55 electoral votes. As Bill Clinton might suggest, look at the arithmetic: Wyoming gets one electoral vote for every 189,493 residents, while it takes 678,945 Californians to get a single electoral vote. This is indefensible.

If you are following the numerous polls that are coming out daily, Mitt Romney seems to be slightly ahead nationally with the popular vote.  But the President seems to have the edge in four or five swing states, including Ohio.  This leads to the disturbing possibility that Romney will carry the day in acquiring a majority of voters across the nation, but Obama could be re-elected by garnering an Electoral College majority.  Déjà vu Bush-Gore?  This time around it would be the Republicans who would go absolutely bonkers, just like the Democrats did in 2000.  And both for good reason.

So the line continues to move forward, and I check out some of my fellow about to be voters.  That older lady with face lift and the Skecher Shape-Ups?  Definitely a Romneyite.  How about the guy right in front of me wearing Birkenstocks and a t-shirt that says: “Save the defenseless spotted owl?”  Obama had him wrapped up from the beginning.

On the wall, a little closer up, there is a stop sign that says: “No political activity within 300 yards of this polling location.”  I came up with this idea to place such a sign at all polling locations back when I was Secretary of State and Louisiana’s chief elections officer in 1982.  Oh, yes, I did add:  “Ordered by James H. Brown-Secretary of State.”  I thought it looked pretty good until, when it was time to run for re-election, my opponents hollered that I was the one who was doing the politicking.  Oh, well!

I finally arrived at the voting booth, gave my name, showed my photo ID (no big deal), and then asked the lady polling commissioner if she had any doughnuts?  You see, back in the days when I was running for office, I always delivered boxes of doughnuts to each polling location.  The voting commissioners loved it, and I’m sure they would occasionally volunteer a suggestion as to whom to vote for when a quizzical voter wandered in.  And there were always extra doughnuts for voters who asked.  This time, (30 years later) the lady looked at me like I was nuts.

I entered my voting booth along with the lady commissioner who inserted a little plastic card into my computerized machine.  She must have figured I was too stupid to stick it in myself.  I made my choices, and like many voters, guessed at voting for a few candidates and propositions where I hadn’t a clue of how, or for whom to vote.  But I finished.  I had done my civic duty.

But I felt a bit let down.  Is that all there is?  Maybe it was the candidates.  Obama campaigned defending the past, and Romney flip-flopped all over the place.  Both parties seemed at constant political war.  Many almost insurmountable problems, facing our country were barely touched on by either party during the campaign. The President never did tell us what his agenda would be in the next four years.  Romney’s idea of a $5 trillion tax cut without reducing revenue just wasn’t believable. Immigration?  Hardly a word by either side so as to not raise a ruckus with Hispanic voters.  No talk of climate change, despite the weather chaos in the past few days.

Whoever wins on election day, here’s hoping the winner will immediately set out a workable agenda of specific goals for America in the coming four years.  If not, here’s the encouraging news.  It’s only some 1465 days until the next election.


Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at