Friday, November 23, 2012

I am now blogging on American politics almost exclusively at through December 31, 2012.

Starting on January 1, 2013, I will be blogging at

Starting on January 1, 2014, I will be blogging at

Starting on January 1, 2015, I will be blogging at
Starting on January 1, 2016, I will be blogging at .

God Bless America!

Mary Claire Kendall

Source: Wikipedia on American Revolution.  "John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence, showing the five-man committee in charge of drafting the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776 as it presents its work to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

$1.2 trillion here, $1.2 trillion there …

Obama shows no inclination toward relinquishing his overspending ways

Illustration: Obama spending by John Camejo for The Washington Times 

By Mary Claire Kendall
The Washington Times

Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Here we go again. Last week, President Obama asked Congress for a $1.2 trillion increase in the debt ceiling - this $1.2 trillion to cover the government's bills in 2012. This just after he apparently wastes the taxpayer money to fly his dog from Hawaii to Washington to go Christmas shopping with him.The idea when the debt-ceiling-increase agreement was struck last summer was that in exchange, spending restraint would follow.
Flying your dog from Hawaii to the District is not an example of spending restraint.
In last summer's "agreement," the debt ceiling would automatically go up in three stages, unless Republicans passed a "resolution of disapproval," within 15 days. But no one will even be around to disapprove since the Congress won't be back in session until Tuesday, Jan. 17.
At any rate, an ensuing fight would occur just in time for the 2012 election, providing a fresh opportunity for Mr. Obama, who increasingly sounds like a demagogue-in-chief, to cast Republicans as protectors of the rich; he the fearless defender of the middle class.
Since Mr. Obama has put Social Security in the red, given his payroll tax endless holiday, he could once again hold old people hostage, as he did last summer, by saying unless Congress passes the debt ceiling, they will not get their Social Security checks.
He wouldn't be exactly lying. Last year, the payroll tax holiday drained $105 billion more from Social Security than it took in - the first deficit in its 75-year history - representing one-tenth of the debt-ceiling increase he is now requesting.
That Mr. Obama is simultaneously portraying himself as a defender of the middle class represents historic hubris - at least for the leader of the Free World.
If, perchance, you do think the rich alone will pay for this $1.2 trillion increase, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.
But Mr. Obama shamelessly demagogues the issue, saying re-elect me so, once and for all, we can get the wealthy to pay their fair share.
I wish that it were so easy. But, economic growth is all about having the right incentives and raising taxes doesn't do the job - not by a mile. So after his election, more government would be prescribed since the economy still won't be healing itself - all the rosy predictions for 2012 notwithstanding. With deficits growing, yet more taxes - paid by "the wealthy," of course - would be needed, by which point the definition of "wealthy" would be absurdly low. Before we know it, we would have morphed into Europe at the very time Europe is prescribing austerity and trying to be more like America when we were still the "shining city on the hill."
So, what's the solution?
Enjoy your vacation, Republicans, and give Mr. Obama his debt-ceiling increase. Election Day will help balance the books.
For those who fear a recovering economy will keep Mr. Obama and his profligate ways in the White House four more years, I have another bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.
Mary Claire Kendall, a Washington-based writer, served in the Department of Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush.
© Copyright 2012 The Washington Times, LLC. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Mitt Romney Beats Barack Obama — If Republicans Are Smart

When it comes to former Governor Mitt Romney and his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Republicans remind me of children who criticize their parents for the smallest flaw, missing the obvious bigger picture — parents make possible many benefits, starting with life. In Romney’s case, this, of course, refers to giving Republicans political life — getting back in the White House to get America back on track.

So, which Republican candidate has the best chance of beating Barack Obama?

That would be Romney.

He’s been beating Obama in the general election matchup polls [1] since April — he’s the only one. Even as Newt Gingrich surges in the Republican presidential primary polls, he lags in this key indicator [2]. Plus, as the recent USA Today/Gallup poll revealed, President Obama trails Mitt Romney in 12 swing states by 5 points (43% to 48%) among registered voters.

Why is this so?

It’s simple: Romney, with his business and government background, will do a better job than Obama on the economy — by a mile. And most Americans know it.

When “Believe in America, [3]” Romney’s first New Hampshire ad, came out November 21, the media narrowly focused on the “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose” line. (Never mind that it’s obvious Obama wasn’t saying that about himself.  But it does apply to Obama now — which, of course, was the whole point! ) In so doing, the media totally overlooked Romney’s passionate message about the economy. To wit:
  • “I’m going to do something to government. I call it the smaller, simpler, smarter approach to government — getting rid of programs, turning programs back to states and finally making government itself more efficient.”
  • “I’m going to get rid of Obamacare. It’s killing jobs and it’s keeping our kids from having the bright prospects they deserve.”
  • “We have a moral responsibility not to spend more than we take in.
  • “I’ll make sure that America is a job creating machine like it has been in the past.”
  • “It’s high time to bring those principles of fiscal responsibility to Washington, D.C.”
Inspiring stuff!  After I saw it, I thought: Imagine Mitt Romney under the hood of the U.S. economic machine, working to fix it come January 2013.  Next, imagine Barack Obama these last nearly three years looking under the hood, rolling his eyes, joking about what the heck he’s supposed to do, then slamming the hood down, wiping the oil off his hands, and saying, “That should do the trick.” Meanwhile, the machine continues to sputter. Now, who would you rather have fixing the U.S. economic machine?

Furthermore, Romney has a strong character, as the PARADE [4]cover story reminds us.

Now, if the Republican goal is to nominate the most conservative candidate possible, maybe Romney is not your man. But we did that in 1964 with Barry Goldwater. That didn’t turn out so well, did it?

Remember: The goal is booting Obama out of the White House, not aiding and abetting Obama, who, himself, is trying to knock Romney out of the race with numerous negative ads. Give Obama credit for one thing. He can read polls.

Republicans, if they’re smart, will do likewise — focusing on the bigger picture: amnesiac Obama, wrapping himself in landslide Teddy’s “SquareDeal” mantle, [5] belying his Carter-like record and sagging polls, juxtaposed with Romney’s genuine TR-like leadership aimed squarely at the middle class.

Mitt Romney is just the man our country needs these next four years as we traverse troubled waters — thanks to the mess Obama is leaving.

Posted By Mary Claire Kendall On December 15, 2011 @ 12:00 am In economy,Elections 2012,Politics,US News | 90 comments
Article printed from PJ Media:
URL to article:
URLs in this post:
[1] matchup polls:
[2] key indicator:
[3] Believe in America,:
[4] PARADE :
[5] “Square Deal” mantle,:

Copyright © 2011 Pajamas Media. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Journey to Liberty and Forgiveness

National Catholic Register

BY Mary Claire Kendall
Life's coincidences are amazing and sometimes eerie.

On 9/11/01, I ended up stranded in New York. It was one of my rare visits. 
I traveled to the city late on Sept. 10, staying until Sept. 14. I will never forget those days — e.g., late the next day, when the wind shifted, suddenly the putrid smell wafting up from Ground Zero enveloped the Midtown Manhattan condo where I was staying. 
Two months later, when I quickly organized a return visit, the only available hotel was near the intersection of the symbolically powerful Liberty and Broadway, at Ground Zero, the air still thick with sickening chemicals, as workers with masks continued the clean-up. 
During my November visit, that video of Osama bin Laden mimicking the planes crashing into the Twin Towers was released and aired incessantly.

  A makeshift memorial at the corner of Liberty & Broadway,
as close as one could get to Ground Zero, November 9, 2001.
Credit: Mary Claire Kendall 

Nearly 10 years later, while visiting the city again — a frequently canceled trip, months in planning — I awoke to news of bin Laden's demise. 
During that stay, Pope John Paul II was beatified on May 1 in St. Peter's Square as Navy Seals were making final preparations to helicopter into Abbottabad, Pakistan, 65 miles outside of Islamabad, to take out the terrorist mastermind. It was a grotesque, bloody scene we can only imagine. He had taken out the Twin Towers and with them more than 2,500 souls — a total of 2,998 on 9/11. Now he got his eye-for-eye, tooth-for-tooth just deserts.
At 10:30pm, when the Seals took off, it was 8pm in Rome, where faithful were praying before John Paul II's exhumed casket; in Washington, it was 2pm. White House officials huddled in "The War Room," whose 50th anniversary was May 13.
At the beatification ceremony for John Paul II, the French nun whose Parkinson's was cured through John Paul's intercession carried a silver reliquary holding a vial of the Pope's blood to the altar — the blood that flowed from John Paul II in that very square, nearly 30 years earlier, when Turkish hitman Mehmet Ali Agca gunned him down on May 13, 1981, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. 
It was only because the Pope had leaned over to bless a little girl's Our Lady of Fatima medal just as the would-be assassin pulled the trigger that the bullet narrowly missed his heart. 
Exactly a year later, the Pope made a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal to thank her for saving his life, bringing her a crown encased with jewels and his attacker's bullet. (Our Lady of Fatima is said to have told the three shepherd children she appeared to in Fatima in 1917, "There are no coincidences.")
Following the shooting, Pope John Paul II asked people "to pray for my brother [Agca] ... whom I have sincerely forgiven." In December 1983, he visited Agca in prison, meeting and speaking with him privately. The Pope also developed a rapport with Agca's family, meeting his mother in 1987 and his brother a decade later.
Although Agca had expressed disdain for John Paul II, mistakenly considering him "the incarnation of all that is capitalism," he too developed a warm friendship with the Pope and, in early February 2005, as the John Paul was dying, wrote to wish him well. 
Two years later, Agca wrote a letter saying he had renounced his Muslim faith and converted to Catholicism on May 13, 2007. "I would wish to return to Rome," he wrote, "to pray at the tomb of John Paul II to express my filial appreciation for his forgiveness."
At St. Patrick's Cathedral on May 1, 2011, Cardinal Edward Egan, archbishop emeritus of New York, emphasized the Pope's powerful example of forgiveness as the only path to peace. 
It's hard to think about forgiveness 10 years after 9/11. The events of that day are just too horrific. 
Yet out of that tragedy and brutal loss of life came a flowering of spirituality — of which forgiveness is the foundation. 
When I spoke with Father Peter Gnanashekar of Our Lady of Victory Church, which is close to Ground Zero, on Nov. 9, 2001, he reflected on this spiritual renewal, while recounting the events surrounding the terrorist attack.
On the morning of Sept. 11, at 8:47am, he said, "Time seemed to stand still."
While assisting at Mass, he heard a "big sound." Soon a man, covered in debris, rushed in to report the horrific news, followed by someone reporting a man covered in blood had dragged himself to the church seeking last rites. Father Andrew Cieszkowksi immediately administered the sacrament to this man, who had been struck by flying debris. He was Ground Zero's first visible victim. 
Others, going out to see the scene with their own eyes, came back in utter disbelief.
Spurred on by the mayhem, Father Peter recalled how everyone began to pray fervently "in front of the tabernacle and Blessed Mother's statue," and then, "spontaneously, to pray aloud." 
As the dust came pouring in, people started taking altar cloths to cover themselves, holding tight through the final 10:30am tower collapse. 
Then, as the debris in the church cleared, everyone — in a state of shock — began going to confession. Believing their demise was imminent, they asked Father Peter to hurry with the absolution. 
Every Wednesday since Sept. 11, Our Lady of Victory held an hour of prayer to help people cope with the grief and to provide mental and spiritual solace. The purpose, Father Peter said, was "to share, to heal, (and) to grow as we try to face this one with faith." 
This Sept. 11, let's continue "to face this one with faith." That such great suffering can bring that silver lining — enabling us to discern and embrace the wisdom of Pope John Paul II's central message of forgiveness — is a great consolation.
Mary Claire Kendall is a Washington-based journalist and screenwriter.

Copyright © 2011 Circle Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

For companion piece, "Journey to Liberty and Broadway," giving more details about the 2001  journey, see

Monday, September 5, 2011

Post Office Tipping Point: Romney to the Rescue?

By Mary Claire Kendall

Madonna of the Trail outside Bethesda Post Office, 
which was closed in 2012

The mess President Obama has gotten our nation into has reached a clearly definable tipping point: The United States Post Office will just disappear in December if something is not done and fast to put it on a solid financial footing.

The agency is so low on cash, reports the New York Times, that it can’t make a $5.5 billion payment due this month. It has never been so precipitously close to collapse.  (I knew something was radically wrong when I couldn’t find a mailbox in downtown DC to save myself!)

While Republican presidential candidate Governor Rick Perry of Texas subtly hints he will be “Superman” coming to America’s rescue, what we need, in this instance, is former Governor (and front runner) Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, “Turnaround Artist”—his skill documented in his book about how he rescued the Salt Lake City Olympics—to design a plan for saving the Post Office. 
Gary Cooper Commemorative Stamp
From the Legends of Hollywood series
Copyright: 2008 USPS. 

Romney could bring the kind of creativity and business savvy needed to breathe new life back into the Post Office that he brought to creating Staples while at Bain & Company, as one of the founding partners—where he took struggling businesses and turned them around.  Perhaps he could devise a public-private partnership that would streamline the service for greater efficiency and cost savings and maximize profits from its iconic stamp collection celebrating American life—famous writers, artists, scientists, stars, statesmen, educators, et alia.  For instance, the Post Office’s marketing tool of stamps featuring notable African Americans—a sterile list from 2004—is wholly inadequate, and properly conceived and executed could reap huge financial rewards.

Edward Hopper Commemorative Stamp
Copyright: USPS 2009. 

It’s just a question of applying good old American know-how in a focused, determined, effective way.

Such a gesture would touch the hearts of every American, who cherishes their community post offices—replete with memories from childhood, standing in line, securely clutching their mother's hand, into adulthood, hopefully clutching that job application—and would be a big boost to his presidential campaign.

It would also be worthy of that iconic Madonna of the Trail standing in front of the Post Office in Bethesda, Maryland—just outside of Washington, D.C.—representing resolute determination and steadfastness in the face of great odds—precisely what’s needed to meet this and every other daunting challenge facing America.

The Madonna is one of twelve monuments commissioned by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution that dot the National Old Trails Road, extending from Maryland to California—roughly the trail the candidates will follow in 2012, a trail now littered with reminders of American decline under almost three years of Obama’s wanting “leadership.”  Also known as the Oceans-to-Oceans Highway, this 2,448 mile long highway began in New York City, traversed Baltimore and Bethesda, eventually wending its way through the southwest, along what became the famed Route 66 highway, and finally ending at the shores of the Pacific in California

All twelve monuments were dedicated in 1928, and now, 83 years later, are presiding over a crumbling America, of which the Post Office’s decline is a clear and startling example. 

The Post Office survived the telephone, the telegraph but may not survive the Internet and Obama, who ironically marshaled the power of the Internet to win—resulting, it seems clearer day by excruciating day, in America losing big. 

But, hope—and help you can believe in—is on the way in the form of competency, experience and heart such as Romney possesses.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Heck of a Job, Obama!

By Mary Claire Kendall

As we mark the 6th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, it's increasingly clear, the really big storm headed our way is economic... 

It's the lull before the storm—the perfect storm. No, not another Irene or, even worse, Katrina.

The really nasty storm that awaits us is economic.

As everyone focused on Irene, our growth rate for the second quarter weighed in at a paltry 1%—revised downward from the reported 1.3% at the end of July.

People crowd Wall Street after the Stock Market Crash of 1929.
Credit: The Authentic History Center, Michael Barnes.
The stock market’s gyrations—reminiscent of the volatility preceding “The Crash of 1929,” compared then to Coney Island’s “Cyclone” roller coaster—is reflecting fear over our seriously ill economy, still laden down with massive debt and corruption that favors “too big to fail” institutions, whose misdeeds during the 2008 financial meltdown have been rewarded with more favoritism at the little guy’s expense.

Before President Obama escaped to Martha’s Vineyard—instead of a more humble location where he could have listened to and felt Americans’ pain—the market was down 635 points, up 430 points, (then came S&P’s downgrade), down 520 points, up 423 points, and down 419 points—in just two weeks.

Obama’s plummeting polls, in turn, are reflecting dissatisfaction with his anemic response to the anemic economy.

But, now, we’re assured, he started developing that jobs plan on lush Martha’s Vineyard, which he’ll unveil early September. What about January 2009? Why not then, when it was job one? What? He needs golfing on Martha’s Vineyard to get creative? Thus, all we got was that boondoggle trillion dollar stimulus we were assured was needed to keep the unemployment rate, now 9.1%, below 8%?

Meanwhile, Americans are battening down the hatches to try to weather this perfect storm barreling our way from Europe, collapsing under the weight of its own dismal growth and debt-laden consequences, making growth less likely and the vicious cycle prefiguring global economic collapse—in the absence of leadership—more likely.

Leadership, you say? Yes, leadership! The absence of which Ruth Marcus was one of the first to broach six months ago in her “Obama’s Where’s Waldo Presidency?” piece, noting, “On the biggest issues, the president is often hard to find.”

Everyone was aghast. But, she was only stating the obvious. By now, it’s a steady drumbeat, with Mort Zuckerman recently writing about Obama’s “competency crisis” in the Wall Street Journal.

Admittedly, to some, the need for Obama leadership is still a foreign concept. As Jonathan Capehart mused on “Morning Joe”—also on Friday, August 26—what can the president do to create jobs?

It all calls to mind the Saturday Night Live spoof of the 2008 Hillary-Obama debates. Whereas she was treated to boxing gloves, Obama was asked, Are you comfortable and do you need another pillow?

It’s confounding that in the midst of incalculable suffering, given Obama’s apparent cluelessness over how to nurse the ailing economy back to health—the unemployment rate among 16-24 year-olds, April-July, alone, was 51.2%, highest since 1948, when that statistic began being calculated—that anyone would give Obama a mulligan.

Notwithstanding, I would say, no, Obama can do nothing to create jobs—unless he transforms himself and does what great presidents do, namely: inspire the nation with a driving dream; eliminate job-choking regulation; lower job-killing taxes; support community banks that lend money to small businesses that create most jobs, instead of big banks courtesy zero percent interest rates, that, the Fed just announced, will be maintained through 2013—the same community banks that, because they know how to make responsible mortgage loans, hold the key to cleaning up the mortgage mess; reform health care the smart way by putting patients first instead of bureaucrats—government and insurance—and getting the incentives right.

But, this would require, well greatness, and really and truly falling in love with America.

And, that might be too much for a president who only inspires coddling.

Postscript: On Friday, September 2, the Labor Department reported zero jobs were created in August—such a dismal number not seen since 1945!  

Monday, August 8, 2011

China Global Cyberattack?

by Mary Claire Kendall

William "Wild Bill" Donavan
on the cover of Life Magazine

Washington, DC, August 7, 2011The Department of Defense (DOD) is now treating cyberspace as an "operational domain."

As Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn explained on "Charlie Rose" last October, it's a whole new command—CYBERCON—focused on preparing for "emerging cyber threats." The new "Cyber Strategy," as Deputy Defense Secretary Lynn outlined, holds that:
...our posture in cyberspace must mirror the posture we assume to provide security for our nation overall. Namely, our first goal is to prevent war. We do this in part by preparing for it...
This presupposes we have an enemy threatening us with cyber warfare.

Is China a purveyor of such threats?

It's hard to know. But, the recent McAfee report released in conjunction with the Black Hat and Defcon conferences in Las Vegas at which security experts and hackers meet to discuss the growing threat of cyber intrusions, should give pause to those tasked with defending our nation against such attacks.

The 14-page report all but accuses China of launching a five-year hacking operation aimed at a diverse array of over 70 organizations—including the US government, particularly its national security apparatus; UN Secretariat in Geneva; and US Olympic Committee—using malicious software from a single computer server to troll for sensitive data, as reported in The Daily Telegraph.

If true—a big if—China is not so much a "strategic competitor," in former President George W. Bush's words, as an "unscrupulous competitor," as Dmitri Alperovitch, McAfee vice president for threat research, described the perpetrator of this massive hacking scheme—robbing us of "economic advantage and national secrets."

"This," he added, "is the biggest transfer of wealth in terms of intellectual property in history."

Others say, not so fast. It's easy to mask cyber crimes in someone else's guise. However, the fact that USOC was hacked before the 2008 Olympic Games China hosted, heightens suspicion.

In the days when Reagan officials were referring to the Soviet Union as "the evil empire," China was considered "the threat," along the lines discussed in The China Threat by national security journalist Bill Gertz.

The worry then was that China's espionage was siphoning off nuclear secrets.

Upping the ante, Rear Admiral David L. Philman recently called China "a smart and learning enemy" in a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. However we describe it—and whoever the source—the end game is to try and deal America a fatal blow.

We may be closer than we realize.

As Gertz reported vis-à-vis Kevin Freeman's 2009 unclassified report, Economic Warfare: Risks and Responses: "Chinese military officials publicly have suggested using economic warfare against the U.S.," which principally involves cyber attacks to take advantage of our economic vulnerabilities."  

"The new battle space," says Freeman, "is the economy. We spend hundreds of billions of dollars on weapons systems each year. But a relatively small amount of money focused against our financial markets through leveraged derivatives or cyber efforts can result in trillions of dollars in losses. And, the perpetrators can remain undiscovered."

Freeman believes a coordinated plan of attack is currently underway.

As this author wrote on April 29, in "America's Fiscal High Noon":
Right now, it's 1941 all over again… We're just months away from another Pearl Harbor — potentially — and all we hear from President Barack Obama and company, as Governor Haley Barbour (R-MS) puts it, is "happy talk." ...According to... Freeman, what's referred to as "Bear Raid II" — phase III of an economic terrorist attack against the United States — is poised to fatally hit the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. dollar, causing the collapse of America's economy.
With DOD on the case, working synergistically with General David H. Petraeus, new Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), replacing Leon Panetta, new DOD Secretary—we have a fighting chance of avoiding such a calamity.

But, it will take a well-coordinated effort involving many more entities, perhaps akin to that William "Wild Bill" Donovan, Major General, US Army (Ret.) undertook at FDR's request, prior to Pearl Harbor, as Coordinator of Information, starting in July 1941—COI, morphing into the Office of Strategic Services, which later became the CIA—to mount the kind of effort needed to head cyber attacks off at the pass, and at their source—whatever that might be.

Originally published in AND Magazine on August 6, 2011.