Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Colombia's Victory

My latest @ Opportunity Lives: Colombia's Victory, America's Moral Success

Daesh Leader's Death

Saturday, August 20, 2016

JM's Funeral

Today was John McLaughlin's funeral service. It was beautiful. 
Pat Buchanan and John Roberts offer wonderful eulogies from 1h7m50s.
Image result for john mclaughlin group

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

An Apology

I screwed up today. In my National Review article (read here) on working for John McLaughlin (JM), I was self-absorbed and to some degree self-aggrandizing. Here are the two issues.

First, as I infer in the article, I emailed John McLaughlin via in April 2014. The 4th of April 2014, to be precise. But I did not hear anything from JM until John Roberts, John McLaughlin's longtime senior producer, reached out to me and kindly advised me to apply for the Tony Blankley fellowship at the Steamboat Institute. JM did indeed invite me to participate in the first show in late July 2014 as I note in the article, but as I think more carefully and with previously absent humility, it was very likely under John Roberts's (JR) advice that he did so. Failing to note that JM invited me - without accounting for JR's advice - was a serious omission. And one that I sincerely regret.

Second, in my National Review article, and in regards to my producer work for JM, I write ''The producing involved writing introductions to each issue for every show.'' While I had some role in every issue - at least on the day of production (Friday) - and wrote the significant majority of issues for each show, two of JM's senior producers, John Roberts and Alice Dunscomb (in 2014) also wrote issues. Not explicitly clarifying that team effort was the consequence of my effort to give a personal take on John McLaughlin. But it was also arrogant and representative of un-serious self-scrutiny. I should have written ''The producing involve writing introductions to most issues for every show. I consulted with JM's senior producers John Roberts and Alice Dunscomb (in 2014) in these efforts, and benefited from their tutelage.''

Regardless, the key issue here is a serious one. The McLaughlin Group has always been a team enterprise with a unique sense of companionship. That's why I referenced our Director, Shelly Schwartz, and his crew in the NR article. But I failed to give enough credit to John Roberts and to Alice. It was an omission born of oversight and arrogance, but not malice. Still, it was a serious oversight and I regret it very much. And I regret my mistake not simply for professional reasons. That leads to the personal side of this concern.

When I applied for the Tony Blankley fellowship in 2014, I did so with the support of JR. Let me be clear, without JR, I would be a nobody. That fellowship - and the connections, support (including monetary), camaraderie that it brought, were instrumental in my ability to continue working as a journalist. Without that fellowship, I would likely be working as a waiter. Nothing wrong with that. But waitering is not my dream, writing in assertion of conservatism is. But JR and his wife, Elizabeth, have been more than mentors to me. They have been friends. Friends who took me and my mother to a Mexican restaurant at the end of the 2014 Steamboat Institute summit. And friends who have guided (and argued... trade!) with me in order to help me develop. I let them down today. And I regret it deeply. I also - in equal measure - regret my arrogance in failing to look in the mirror before I wrote my article on JM.

If there is one positive in all this, it is this. Today's failure, like my positive formative experience in joining the McLaughlin Group, has been exceptionally formative. Going forwards, I will judge myself more harshly in what I write. When I retire/die, I want my legacy to be one of integrity and honesty. That's what Tony Blankley would want. That's what John McLaughlin would want. And that's what I want.

Mid East

John McLaughlin

My latest @ National Review: John McLaughlin, Behind the Scenes
National Review Online

4 Missing Journalists

My latest @ Opportunity Lives: 4 Journalists America is Missing this Election

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

My video thoughts

Bye Bye, John

My close friend and defining mentor,  Dr. John McLaughlin, passed away peacefully this morning. He is now in heaven with his beloved pet dog, Oliver. It is hard for me to express how much John meant to me, but in the days ahead I will try to do so. Professionally, by employing me as a panelist and producer on his show for two years, he gave me huge exposure and development as a journalist. At a personal level, he was a wonderful advisor and one of my closest friends. Our conversations were frequently humorous, often serious, and occasionally profanity-laden (when he didn't like one of my scripts!!). I will miss him greatly. Below are some of my time-linked exchanges with Dr. McLaughlin - in chronological order - that I most enjoyed.

August 1st 2014 - 6m0s - ''Do you enjoy all this happy talk?''. JM's first question on my first appearance on the show.

November 14th 2014 - 13m02s - ''Rogan is Right, Bye! Bye!''. A simple sentence, but it meant a lot to me.

June 12th 2015 - 5m18s - John tests me on Jeb Bush's visit to Estonia. I love his insistence in trying to catch me out, but also being proud of me for getting the answer right!

June 12th 2015 show - 11m46s - In another Jesuit teaching endeavor in the same show, John tests me on my knowledge of Russian geography. He jokes that I get my atlas out every night!

July 4th 2015 show - 6m51s - I tease John about listening in to his conversations. His laugh is great.

October 23rd 2015 show - 18m21s -  During a discussion on U.S.-Canadian relations, John teases me about my visits to Canada. I was visiting an ex-girlfriend! I love this clip because it shows JM's teasing sense of humor. Eleanor tries to talk about the issue and he presses home on his teasing!

November 13th 2015 show - 7m10s - John teases me about my green socks. My dress sense - or lack thereof - was a frequent off camera point of conversation between us.

November 13th 2015 show - 26m11s - John offers an exceptionally kind tribute to my grandfather. This showed how much John cared for me and my family.

March 4th 2016 show - 19m39s - Teasing John about his test questions and efforts to throw panelists off balance. His smirk and rebuttal are priceless.

April 15th 2016 - 26m23s - I tease John on his reluctance to make a forced prediction. We then joke about Jesuit teaching. The back and forth here is quite funny.

April 22nd 2016 show - 3m02s - John tests me on my knowledge of Afghanistan. Quite a lot of viewers felt he was being rude to me here, but I loved it. It epitomized the nature of our relationship.

August 12th 2016 show - 11m54s - This clip doesn't involve Dr. M. But in allowing me to introduce Pat Buchanan to an issue on his show, and then to debate aggressively on equal footing with Pat, it illustrates just how important John will always be to my career.

August 12th 2016 show - 27m07s - Sending our best to John at the end of the most recent show. I was told John was touched by this. That comforts me. Bye Bye, John.

Black Lives

Sunday, August 14, 2016

McLaughlin Group

As I noted in my Saturday post, Dr. McLaughlin is ill. Here's a photo we sent to him after Friday's taping. The crew and cast, in mutual dedication to our boss. One cameraman, Reggie, is missing (he took the photo!).


Saturday, August 13, 2016

The McLaughlin Group - August 13th - CBS-NY + PBS Nationwide

Note. This week - and for the first time in 34 years - our beloved host, Dr. John McLaughlin was unable to moderate the show. He is unwell. Nevertheless, his immense courage is evidenced by the voice audios that he provided for issues 2 and 3. Dr. M wanted us to do the show because he cares deeply about our fans. We hope he will return soon. Until then, he is foremost in our thoughts.

My time linked comments:

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Amazing Uselessness of Spirit Airlines

It is unusual that I write a blog post complaining about a company. But in this case, my responsibility to my brother and to my country is clear. Spirit Airlines is a scourge on American society. Contemplate this recent adventure into absurdity.

On Friday, my brother, Andrew, was flying with Spirit Airlines from Boston to Baltimore. He was doing so in order to visit myself and my other brother. Unfortunately, his flight was delayed for 6 hours. Yet the way in which Spirit responded to that delay is why I'm complaining. Because over the 6 hours, Spirit constantly changed the delay time, offered three different excuses (weather, crew changeovers, and mechanical issues) and made no offer of compensation beyond $50 of coupons for their own airline. And today, exactly the same thing is happening on his return flight (NK414). The delay board keeps changing and now stands at just over 4 hours. And get this. The attendant at the Spirit desk doesn't even know the reason for the delay. To be sure, the delay may be weather related, but Spirit doesn't even care to let its customers know. Regardless, it means my brother will miss his train from Boston to his final destination. I will have to pay to put him up in a hotel.

But perhaps this disgusting service is no surprise. After all, with further research I've learned that Spirit is renowned for its astonishingly poor customer service and its impressive ability to offer creative, always changing excuses for its own incompetence. I am confident it does so in order to evade compensating passengers for its failures.

It needn't be this way. Contrast Spirit Airlines with Porter Airlines, a cheap flight focused Canadian airliner offering North American travel. I've traveled with Porter a few times, and while the airline has occasionally screwed up in terms of delays etc. its customer service representatives are polite and responsive. Additionally, the airline provides a lounge - and free drinks/snacks - at its Toronto City Airport. In these efforts, Porter balances cheap flights with good customer service. And that speaks to a broader truth about cheap airlines: offering cheap tickets and also maintaining aircraft, crews, and representatives is not easy. But it is possible. Variable costs in fuel are hard to predict, and for that reason Airlines must maximize profits when oil prices are low. But there is no excuse for pathetic customer service. Oh and note this... Spirit CEO Robert Fornaro holds a Masters from Harvard in City Planning. He clearly needs a refresher course.