Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Nancy Pelosi gets a life

In 1987, the Congresswoman in the Northern California District where Nancy Pelosi lived, Rep. Sala Burton, died of cancer. Before she died, Sala asked Nancy to consider running for her congressional seat when it became vacant.

At the time, the youngest of Nancy’s five children was a senior in high school. Nancy decided she had to ask her youngest daughter for permission to make the run. Her daughter’s response was, “Mother, get a life.”

Nancy got the message. She ran and won the first of seventeen winning races for congress. In her thirty one year congressional career she has been a force for liberalism and peace on every major issue or legislative initiative that has come before the congress. She’s served on the Appropriations and Intelligence Committees and occupied virtually all the leadership positions in the House plus four years as the only woman Speaker of the House in our history.

Of the 10,947 individuals who have served in the House of Representatives since the founding of our country it would be hard to name five members who have had a greater impact on their time than Nancy has had on hers. Plus, it’s not over for Nancy, not by a long shot.

On November 28, 2018 Democratic members of the House of Representatives will caucus to select their leadership team. The conventional wisdom holds that Nancy Pelosi will be the choice of an overwhelming majority of Democratic Members to be the next Speaker of the House. That’s the conventional wisdom. I’m a Nancy Pelosi fan so I hope the conventional wisdom will prove to be true. Continue Reading…..

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Everything is Coming Apart

Everything is coming apart.There’s no place to hide. We depend upon each others sanity. We drive down a two lane road betting the car coming towards us is not being driven by a homicidal/suicidal maniac. We live in a state of mutual dependency.

We assume our leaders have a modicum of good will and sanity so we can watch football and go to the gym. We assume civilization will run itself like a perpetual motion machine. Not so. Never has. Never will. One person’s passivity provides another person with more space at the political table to dominate and manipulate. “The love of money (and power) is the root of all evil.” The rapaciousness of the very rich and very powerful must be checked by the idealism energy and tenacity of the many.

Might doesn’t always make right. Sometimes right magnifies might. Huh? Read it again it makes sense. Ask John Lewis and the surviving family members of Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney.

The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are not going to save us. Franklin’s response to the question about what the constitutional convention had produced is instructive…”A republic if you can keep it.” Can you dig it? It doesn’t run itself. We run it by our engagement…Or others run it because of the vacuum left by our disengagement. Shaw had it right. ” Democracy is a device that ensures that we are not governed any better than we deserve.” the corollary is that the people who outwork us get the government they deserve.

It’s on us. It always has been. We don’t chose our time or place to live but we chose how to respond to the challenges of that time and place. Kant said an enlightened person is a person with the courage to have his or her own opinion. If you don’t have an opinion, get one. Courage, same drill. Continue Reading…….

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Liars, Creeps Suck-Ups and Saudis

We’re being governed by liars, creeps, and suck-ups. What other words would you use to describe Jared Kushner, John Bolton, Giggling Mike Pompeo, Chuckling Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Donald (He Denies It) Trump, and the behavior of the Trump Administration in the aftermath of the gruesome murder and dismemberment of an American Resident inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul?

Who sits at the top of this suck-up chain of command? A name no so-called liberal dares to mention, Sheldon Adelson. He is, by far, the most powerful private citizen in both the United States and Israel. Say that out loud and some jerk like Bret Stephens at the Times will charge you with “dealing in anti-semitic tropes.”

Liberals are cowed. Unfortunately, that’s their default state. They’ve got no problem gang tackling Kavanaugh, waxing outraged at comparative nobodies like the Mercers and the Kochs or some dopey evangelical with a bird nest hairdo who gets caught on a recording talking weird with his mistress. Rachel will work that for weeks.

Where the hell did the Saudis get the idea that they could kill and dismember an American Resident in the Saudi Consulate in a NATO State, Turkey? Reflect on that please. Turkey is a tried and true friend of the Untied States. They fought and died with us in Afghanistan after we were hit by individual Saudi citizens under the direction of Saudi Osama bin Laden. Continue Reading……..

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: I Know I’m not the only one

Posted on October 9, 2018
I know I’m not the only one who likes and has supported Barack Obama and ended up supporting Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation as a Justice of the Supreme Court.

How could that be you ask. Easy. In politics, hate (or dislike) is a far stronger motivator than love (or like). That’s not my bright idea, it’s the observation of a couple of very savvy political operators, Kevin Phillips and Ed Rendell.

Phillips was a strategist in Richard Nixon’s 1968 successful Presidential run. He helped develop and implement Nixon’s southern strategy. According to Phillips, “the secret to politics is understanding who hates who.” Ed Rendell, a two term Governor of Pennsylvania and Chairman of the Democratic National Committee has said, “In politics hate is a far stronger motivator than love.”

Applying Phillips ideas, say you’re running in a part of the country that is suspicious of the New York Times, the Faculty at Harvard, and Wall Street. The strategy would be to tie your opponent to those so-called “enemies of the people” and tell the world you believe they represent the essence of evil. In case you haven’t noticed, Trump is pretty good at implementing the strategy. And, by the way, none of us is immune from being pulled in one direction or another by what we literally can’t stand. Talk to the people in those three PA counties that gave Hillary less than 20% of the vote. Obama never got blitzed like that anywhere. He even got the votes of people who “knew” he was a Muslim, born in Kenya. Continue Reading……..

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: I Don’t Believe Dr. Ford

Posted on September 24, 2018

Why should I believe her? I haven’t met her. I haven’t seen and heard her describe what she claims happened to her and respond to questions about the details of that event. In fact, none of the the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, with the exception of Sen. Diane Feinstein, have met her.

So, she starts out entitled to as much respect and credibility as any human being one encounters for the first time. But, in Dr. Ford’s case, she has revealed herself to us incrementally, by what she has done. She has demonstrated that she is clever and strategic and calculating. Clever to the point of sneaky.

When President Trump announced he was nominating Kavanaugh to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, Dr. Ford started the process of telling her story…anonymously. How is what Dr. Ford did with her anonymous campaign any different than writing on a restroom wall “Judge Kavanaugh tried to rape me”?

Isn’t there something wrong, on its face, with leveling a charge against someone without putting your name on it? If you’re having trouble with the question, you shouldn’t. It stinks. It reveals the character of the person making the charge. It puts their character in question.

For 60 days, Dr. Ford got her story out, anonymously, and allowed the hearings to come and go. With her story fully in the the public domain and the firestorm raging at fever pitch she reveals her identity, hires three (!) lawyers and public relations folks, raises serious money on Go Fund Me and says she’ll testify if her conditions are met. Continue Reading……

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Kavanaugh?

You know him, the guy with the “punch me” face, yellow teeth, and negative charisma. Remember the Rodney Dangerfield line…I told my dentist my teeth were yellow, he said I should wear a brown tie.

Kavanaugh could go down. But, as Dan Rather would say, “don’t bet the double-wide.”

I really didn’t care one way or another during the hearings. I was sort of rooting for the Ds with Corey Booker doing his thing and the other Ds tepidly supporting him and Chairman Grassley talking to Booker like the very sound of Booker’s voice was exacerbating Grassley’s anal itch and causing him to break out in hives.

Then, enter Dr. Ford. She’s 50 years old and claims she was assaulted by Judge Kavanaugh when she was 15 and Kavanaugh was 17. Even though she’s been dribbling her story out for several weeks in contacts with Representative Eshoo of CA and Senator Diane Feinstein, also of CA, she has insisted on anonymity until four days ago, after hearings on Kavanaugh had concluded. Now, she wants to set conditions that must be satisfied before she will testify before the Committee.

What’s up with that?

We’re not talking about a scared poorly educated teenager here, Dr. Ford is a PhD from a wealthy family. Did she think she could anonymously dribble her story out after hearings had been concluded and that would be that? Did she think she would not have to face cross examination on her own credibility as Kavanaugh had? And now that her identity is known, where did she get the idea that she could set preconditions for the committee to meet before testifying? Continue Reading…….

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Serena and Bannon: Unite the Aggrieved

Posted on September 12, 2018

A Serena Williams tennis match in New York City brings out the aggrieved…those deeply sensitive, politically correct, and permanently pissed individuals ready, willing, and eager to get even for offenses real and imagined from time immemorial. They wait, expectantly, for a signal from Serena for something (anything) to happen that is not totally respectful of Serena’s womanhood, motherhood, and all around personhood so they can join with her to bring down their collective wrath on the disrespecting party…often a hapless male official who is doing his job but has had the bad luck of being on duty when Serena is in danger of losing a tennis match.

If Serena doesn’t win, somebody has to pay.

The braying mob was in full froth last Saturday Night. It wasn’t pretty. Serena lost in the Finals of the US Open and made a big stink. The “offending” umpire was strict but correct at every stage of the proceedings. Serena wasn’t having it. Shaking her finger at the umpire saying…”you will never work a match of mine for the rest of your life.” Implied message: “You are nothing; I am Women’s Sports; you do not exist.” The Sports Commentariat was cowed. The Serena Approved “position” required commentators to compliment Serena for showing “Class” in defeat. Most complied.

The question is: Are you going to believe Serena or your lying eyes?

Phew, got through that. Let’s relax and talk about Mr. Mellow, Steve Bannon. Bannon can’t catch a break. Unlike Serena, Bannon can’t bring the wrath of the aggrieved down on anybody. He has, however, united them in their contempt for him. Bannon has been run off the reservation of polite company by those who are blessed with “correct think.” Why? Because he exists. Reasons aren’t necessary. The man looks like an unmade bed…or as one of the less charitable commenters said, “like a plague ship.” Continue Reading………..

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Hit Him in the Base

Posted on August 14, 2018
You want to beat Trump? Hit him in the base.

But in a nice way. Sort of like how Reagan beat Carter and Kennedy beat Nixon and Obama beat Romney. Cheerful, with a bit of self deprecating humor, not angry. More mensch not momzer. (Harry Truman was a mensch, Rick Santorum a momzer).

What we need, right now, is for someone to go out into Trump Country and take it to him. Go to where he goes. Speak before he gets there and after he leaves. Stalk him. Rebut him. Correct him. Kid with him. Make it fun. Turn it into a debate. Bring a band. Make it a show. Follow the advice of my old friend Sheldon Adelson (who I haven’t met) “do something different and success will follow you like a shadow.”

By the way, I like Sheldon Adelson and Steve Bannon and Nancy Pelosi and Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama. I don’t like sappy suck ups like Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton and John Bolton and Mike Pompeo. Oh, yeah, and I like Pat Buchanan and I don’t like Rachel Maddow and I like Babara Boxer and I can’t abide Joey (Jo-Jo) Lieberman and I think Steve Kornacki is great and a damn sight better than many of the MSNBC hosts that have their own shows and he doesn’t. I also like Malcolm Nance, Bob Costa and Ian Bremmer . I’m even starting to like Jennifer Rubin, but that took a while, a really long while. But, I digress…

We need a happy warrior. A fearless warrior. Doesn’t have to be a Democrat or a politician. It has to be someone known and respected. Could be retired military, business, academia or it could be a politician. The key qualification is that the person has to view Trump’s continued presence as President of the United States as an ongoing insult that has to be checked in the short term by, at a minimum, flipping control of the House of Representatives. Continue Reading…..

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Foreign Relations in the Age of Trump

Posted on July 26, 2018
One of my mother’s favorite expressions, invariably addressed to me, was “make yourself useful as well as ornamental.” Another helpful bromide, this one of uncertain provenance, is “tell your own story or someone else will tell it for you.” Practical advice for individuals, businesses and governments.

How does this relate to Trump as an actor on the world stage with foreign countries? You know I’m going to get to Israel and Jews, right? Of course. It’s what I do.

If you’re interested in how public policy is made in the United States and how the conventional wisdom becomes the conventional wisdom, the American Jewish Community is not the only game in town but it is, by far, the most effective game in town. They tell their story (and sometimes your story) constantly. They make themselves not only useful but essential.

At a bare minimum we can say that, in terms of foreign relations advocacy, Israel and the American Jewish community are playing three dimensional speed chess while the rest of the world is still reading the instructions for slow motion special ed tic-tac-toe.

Don’t laugh…it’s true.

Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is costly and deadly.

In the field of foreign affairs, let’s look at who has found favor in the Age of Trump and who hasn’t.

ISRAEL. Nobody has received better treatment from the Trump Administration than Israel. Trump never talks about a two state solution or criticizes Israel for additional or expanded settlements in the Occupied Territories …which always impressed me as two parties agreeing to share a pizza while the stronger party eats most of it. The US Embassy has been moved to Jerusalem and Trump gives carte blanche on Israel’s execution, from a safe distance, of demonstrators at the wall separating Israel from Gaza. Unlike our NATO allies, Israel has never fought and died with us and they are regularly the largest annual recipient of US AID, receiving $250 billion, inflation adjusted, since their founding which makes them the largest recipient of US Aid ever.

EUROPE. From Trump, Europe and Canada get the shaft. Continue Reading……

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: What’s the Problem?

Posted on June 19, 2018

Is it not enough outrage or not enough responsibility? Or both?

The answer is both.

Benjamin Franklin pointed us in the right direction on September 17, 1787. The Constitutional Convention had just concluded its work. A citizen called out to Franklin as he was exiting the hall

…”what have you given us Dr. Franklin?” Franklin’s response, “a Republic, if you can keep it.”

What Franklin was saying to his questioner is that the Constitution is the beginning of the American experiment, not the end. If the people who hold power act in such a way that is, far and away, contrary to established American values and our sense of right and wrong it is the duty of the populace to become outraged and take responsibility for what they find to be outrageous and, in so doing, change it or end it.

It all comes down to whether you think it’s your country, as much as anybody else’s, and if you do, whether you’re willing to miss a gym workout or yoga class (or, in my case, a Martini) to actually do something about it. Continue Reading……..