Current Events and the Psychology of Politics


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My core issues are national security, law and order (including border security and enforcing immigration law), fiscal responsibility, providing reliable constituent service, and uncompromising opposition to political extremism or fanaticism.

Click on the links below for platform statements on each of these core issues. For more detailed information, consult the monthly archives of the more than 1,000 blog posts compiled since July 2008.

Constituent Concerns

National Security

Law Enforcement

Illegal Influx (“Immigration”)



Without advocating same-sex marriage and irrespective of any moral objections against it, people who believe in equality under the law as a fundamental principle cannot reasonable deny that this principle ought to extend to same-sex couples; gays and lesbians should not have to face discrimination based on their sexual orientation and same-sex relationships ought to be protected under the law.

Under the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution — part of the Fourteenth Amendment — people who disagree on the fundamental nature of marriage can nonetheless agree that gays and lesbians should receive essential rights and protections such as hospital visitation, adoption rights, and health and death benefits.

Conservatives promote personal responsibility, family values, commitment and stability, personal liberty, and limited government and recognize that freedom means freedom for everyone. The Constitutional conservative position is that those values include the freedom to enter into relationships of your choosing and the freedom to live without inordinate interference from the regulatory force of government.

More immediately, however, in practical terms, the issue on the ballot for Minnesota voters in November 2012 is not whether the legal definition of marriage should be changed; the question at issue is whether Minnesota’s existing legal ban on same-sex marriage should be enshrined in the state Constitution.

The vote in November is not to legalize same-sex marriage.

One does not have to be an advocate for same-sex marriage, or without moral objections to same-sex marriage, to oppose the constitutional amendment on grounds of principle — that principle being the foundational American value that it’s freedom that should be enshrined in the Constitution, not further government restrictions on civil liberties.



I’m not a partisan, an ideologue, or a political extremist. That enables me to be responsive to the concerns of all reasonable people — Republican, Democrat, and independent alike.

In the 2010 election cycle, a thousand congressional candidates across the nation — few of whom have any special expertise — are campaigning almost exclusively on the economy. Yet, while we’re mired in legitimate economic concerns, looming threats to our national security are building over the horizon: the prospective collapse of the Iraqi government after the 2011 U.S. withdrawal; the increasing influence in Iraq of a prospectively nuclear-armed Iran; the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and nuclear-armed Pakistan; and the regrouping of al-Qaida to mount coordinated attacks on the United States — including Mumbai-style swarm attacks, Beslan-style school massacres, and other low-intensity, low-casualty (but panic-inducing) acts of terror with the potential to inflict serious damage on the U.S. economy.

Platform details: Political Courage Test at Project Vote Smart.

The national debt remains out of control, in excess of $13 trillion, or more than $40,000 for every U.S. citizen (more than $120,000 debt per U.S. taxpayer).

Click here to see a more detailed national debt clock in real time.



The Obama ‘Spending Spree’

On May 15, 2012, in a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney accused Barack Obama of lighting a “prairie fire” of spending and said Obama “added almost as much debt as all the prior presidents combined.” TPM (May 23, 2012) examines the claim.

A dominant theme of the national political discourse has been the crushing spending spree the U.S. has ostensibly embarked on during the Obama presidency. That argument, ignited by Republicans and picked up by many elite opinion makers, has infused the national dialogue and shaped the public debate in nearly every major budget battle of the last thee years.

But the numbers tell a different story.

The fact that the national debt has risen from $10.6 trillion to $15.6 trillion under Obama’s watch makes for easy partisan attacks. But the vast bulk of the increase was caused by a combination of revenue losses due to the 2008-09 economic downturn as well as Bush-era tax cuts and automatic increases in safety-net spending that were already written into law.

Obama’s policies, including the much-criticized stimulus package, have caused the slowest increase in federal spending of any president in almost 60 nears, according to data compiled by the financial news service MarketWatch. …

Full report


Related report

The big surge in federal spending happened in fiscal 2009, before Obama took office. Since then, spending growth has been relatively flat. (Graphic by MarketWatch)

Obama spending binge never happened (MarketWatch / Wall Street Journal, May 22, 2012) — Of all the falsehoods told about President Barack Obama, the biggest whopper is the one about his reckless spending spree. As would-be president Mitt Romney tells it: “I will lead us out of this debt and spending inferno.” Almost everyone believes that Obama has presided over a massive increase in federal spending, an “inferno” of spending that threatens our jobs, our businesses and our children’s future. Even Democrats seem to think it’s true. But it didn’t happen. … federal spending is rising at the slowest pace since Dwight Eisenhower brought the Korean War to an end in the 1950s. … Full story


A Bipartisan Solution to the U.S. Budget Crisis in 3 Days

The Esquire Commission to Balance the Federal Budget: Sen. Gary Hart, Sen. Bill Bradley, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell (moderator), Sen. Bob Packwood, and Sen. John Danforth. (Photo by Chris Eckert / Esquire magazine)

Oct. 21, 2010 — Esquire magazine convened a bipartisan panel of former senators, comprised 0f Bill Bradley (D), Gary Hart (D), John Danforth (R), and Bob Packwood (R) to balance the federal budget by 2020. Along with facilitator Lawrence O’Donnell, the four veteran legislators toiled for three days in August, hammering out solutions to one of the biggest problems facing our nation. Despite their political differences, the panel not only managed to balanced the  budget, they added a surplus of $12 billion and reformed and preserved Social Security — all while maintaining current tax rates for a decade.

Read the full report in Esquire magazine.

Budget crisis solved in 3 days (MSNBC “The Last Word,” Oct. 21, 2010) — Esquire magazine came up with the idea, and asked a bipartisan panel of experienced legislators to figure out how to balance the federal budget. (14:36)

Esquire budget experiment (MSNBC “The Last Word,” Oct. 21, 2010) — Senators Bill Bradley, John Danforth, and Gary Hart join MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell to discuss the Esquire Commission to Balance the Federal Budget. (07:35)


National Debt Clock Runs Out of Numbers

Image: National Debt Clock
In a sign of the times, the National Debt Clock, shown on Oct. 9, 2008 in New York, has run out of digits. The “1” has been moved left to the space once occupied solely by the digital dollar sign. A non-digital, improvised dollar sign has been pasted next to the “1.” (Photo credit: Bebeto Matthews / AP file)

October 12, 2008

NEW YORK — A watched clock never moves — unless it’s the National Debt Clock.

In fact, the digital counter has been moving so much that it recently ran out of digits to display the ballooning figure: $10,150,603,734,720, or roughly $10.2 trillion, as of Saturday afternoon.

The clock was put up by the late real estate mogul Seymour Durst in 1989 when the U.S. government’s debt was a mere $2.7 trillion, and was even turned off during the 1990s when the debt decreased.

It will be replaced in 2009 with a new clock, said Jordan Barowitz, a spokesman for the Durst Organization. The new clock will be able to track debt up to a quadrillion dollars, which is a “1” followed by 15 zeros.

In the meantime, the “1” from “$10.2” has been moved left to the LCD square once occupied solely by the digital dollar sign. A non-digital, improvised dollar sign has been pasted next to the “1.”

The current clock had enough digits to measure the amount of money owed by the U.S. government until debt recently hit $10 trillion. Since then, more eyes have been on the fixture near touristy Times Square.

When Nancy Gurzo spotted the sign one recent afternoon, she came to a halt. …

“It’s a shame,” the 60-year-old Manasquan, N.J., restaurant manager said, anger and disbelief in her face. “It’s an absolute outrage. It may be the end of the United States as we know it today. We haven’t seen the worst of it. Everybody should stop and look at this clock. It affects all of us. I’m worried.” …

Svet Stauber paused in front of the sign and held his camera up to snap a picture.

“It’s symbolic,” Stauber, a 40-year-old pilot from Switzerland, said of the counter’s lack of space. “It’s a very big symbol. It’s a complete failure of the system. It’s the most powerful country in the world with a conservative government for the last eight years, and it’s running the biggest debt ever.” …

Kary Perez, an 18-year-old freshman at Rutgers University, said, “I think it’s sad how bad we’ve fallen as a nation,” as she watched the clock, which features images of $1 bills in the background.

Below the amount of the national debt on the clock is another row of figures: “YOUR Family share.” As of Saturday afternoon, the $86,023 fit properly into the respective LCD squares.