Monthly archives "September 2015"

The Goldilocks Principle

Jay Cost is an intellectually gifted writer for The Weekly Standard and author of A Republic No More: Big Government and the Rise of American Political Corruption.  Marian and I met Mr. Cost on a Caribbean Cruise sponsored by The Standard in December 2011.  As I read Jay and the other writers for the magazine–both young and not so young, I am struck by the talent on the Right and the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the Left.

We see this reflected in the liberal justification of the barbaric Planned Parenthood videos.  The crass coldness of the physicians demonstrates people without a moral compass.  Pope Francis is right about one thing:  Remember the Golden Rule and treat others as you would want to be treated–certainly including the unborn.  The Left applauds the Pope on this but does not live it out.  Mark Twain said man is the only creature that blushes or needs to.  Bill Bennett writes that we have lost our ability to blush.  That is especially true of the Party of Jefferson and FDR.

Both the 9/21 and 9/28 issues of The Weekly Standard contain Cost articles.  The first is titled, “The Art of Donald Trump,” and captures as well as anyone I have read the rise of the billionaire candidate.  Most likely The Donald’s foibles and lack of workable policies will bring him down, but other GOP hopefuls could learn two things from him.  First,  he understands why the American people in both parties are in a sour mood and feel we are on the wrong track, and, as Jay closes his article, “Trump is the only one of the bunch who is having any fun.”

Barack Obama is a dangerous, delusional man who has us on the wrong track at home and abroad.  The American people have that right but somehow too many, especially on the Left, cannot connect this fact with the man who is authoring it.  When times are fearful like these, naturally they rally around a man like Trump who is both wealthy and sure of himself (Donald neither needs nor employs a teleprompter) and who is clearly enjoying the ride.  Carly Fiorina is one of our favorites, but she looked a bit pained in the CNN Debate.  She and the other Republican candidates would benefit from observing Donald Trump and from reading the Jay Cost article.

The second article is “Desperately Seeking Consensus” and asks in the subtitle, “Where is the Republicans’ Goldilocks?” Mr. Cost notes that the nominating process does not lend itself to finding the “just right” bed or porridge that Goldilocks sought.  Rather he likens it to the Survivor tagline–“Outwit, Outlast, Outplay.”   Nominees like McCain and Romney did not have to win a majority of Party support, simply more than the other candidates as they drop out one by one.  In the past with Ike and Nixon the GOP had candidates who captured the center of the Party and the Nation.  The Republicans were more successful at the Goldilocks Principle than the Democrats.

As we noted above, the talent in the political writing pool is among Conservatives.   This is true among the Political Parties as well.  Hillary Clinton is 69, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden are both over 70.  Marco Rubio is a generation younger than any of these three and most of the GOP field are only in their 50’s.  The Democrats have no bench;  The Republicans have riches in reserve.

Hillary Clinton is as big a liar as Bill with none of her husband’s charm.  Bernie Sanders does not believe Europe is Socialist enough; we must show them the way.  Joe Biden is likeable and out to lunch.  In OH in 2012 he said it was great to be in IA.  In VA he said he hoped they could help them win NC again, and he said, “America builds the best cars of the 20th century.  America’s mayor, Rudy Giulani, then said, “We have a Vice President who does not know what state he is traveling  in nor even what century he is living in.”  Former Speaker of the House said trying to make sense of Joe Biden is like debating Bozo the Clown.

While the talent and youth are on the GOP side the nominee needs be someone who can unite the factions to both win the election and then to govern effectively beginning January 20, 2017.   The Party of Ike and Nixon was more homogeneous.  Today the factions include a large number of affluent Northerners moving to the Sunbelt, the white working class moving from the Democrats due to Planned Parenthood and other atrocities, the Christian Right and, most recently the Tea Party.  The Republican Party is more united on broad principles than are the Democrats but there are important geographical, economic and social differences.

The right nominee can defeat what is proving to be a most inept and corrupt candidate in Hillary Clinton.  It is not likely that Joe Biden will be a good deal better for his side.  At a most promising time, let us hope that the GOP nominating process does not cripple our candidate but rather produces a winner who can both unite the Party and govern the nation.  Let’s adopt “The Goldilocks Principle” rather than Survivor.




Ronald Reagan: The Captain Who Calmed the Sea

When we see the roiling of society today largely created by a leader who promised “Hope and Change” and delivered only chaos, it is quite natural to think of real leaders of the past.   This reflection led to my recalling a lengthy column by George Will written on January 9, 1989 as Ronald Reagan was about to pass the baton to his successor, George H.W. Bush.  For the first time in some six decades a President was leaving the White House in the hands of his Party.  I borrow George Will’s title above.

When John Kennedy was assassinated, Eric Sevareid, commentator for CBS News said, “I have a feeling we are in for a string of one term Presidents.”  He was right.  Lyndon Johnson was driven out after one term due to Viet Nam.  Richard Nixon did not finish his second term due to Watergate.  Gerald Ford had 2.5 years after Nixon resigned and Jimmy Carter was defeated by Ronald Reagan after four years as President.  For the first time in 28 years (since Eisenhower’s 8 years in the White House) Ronald Reagan had completed two terms.

And like Eisenhower, Reagan was leaving popular despite Iran-Contra and other things that plague any Presidency.  George Will wrote that one of the reasons he is left standing tall after eight years is because he is standing when so many did not.  Ronald Reagan had gone the distance.  The last time Americans watched a President complete two terms the popular song was “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini” and people were watching the movie Psycho.

Ronald Reagan was not only leaving popular, he was leaving energized despite his 77 years.  Jimmy Carter made the Presidency seem crushing in the sense of Thomas Jefferson’s “splendid misery” without the splendor.  Journalists did not like the fact that Reagan did not allow the Presidency to fill his days–or his nights.  They feel more important when there is great drama unfolding before them as they are participants in it.  Ronald Reagan made it seem a little too easy for some tastes.

In 1966, in part due to campus unrest and a feeling that Democrats and Governor Pat Brown were not in control of the Golden State, Ronald Reagan was elected Governor.  He had two successful terms as leader of the 7th largest economy in the world which CA was at that time.  He made a semi-serious run for the GOP nomination in 1968 when Richard Nixon was the come back kid.  In 1976 former Governor Reagan nearly unseated Jerry Ford for the Republican nomination for President.  It is probably just as well that Jimmy Carter became President as his failed policies and record opened the door for Reagan in 1980.

That year the man and the moment met for two reasons:  hostages in Iran and domestic inflation.  There was a feeling that America had lost control of its own destiny and Ronald Reagan seemed the perfect confident and positive man that could restore America’s greatness.  He had no doubt that the nation could be great again.

As recently as 1960 Democrats had a leader in John F. Kennedy who believed in “American economic growth.”  Most Democrats believed that then;  now seemingly none of the Donkeys are “growth Democrats,”  except “grow Government”.    The leader who cut taxes to stimulate growth before Ronald Reagan was Jack Kennedy.  This was hard for brother, Ted Kennedy, to explain away when Reagan cut taxes just as JFK had done.

President Reagan restored economic dynamism which also helped him end the Cold War and the Evil Empire as economic recovery allowed the rebuilding of the military.  Eventually the Soviets knew they could not keep up and they sued for peace.  Margaret Thatcher rightly said, “Ronald Reagan won the Cold War without firing a shot.”  She is being modest as both she and Pope John Paul II had a real role in supporting this effort.  I have not doubt God raised up three remarkable leaders at the same time for the same purpose.

There are other aspects of Ronald Reagan’s remarkable career.  Campus protesters unwittingly brought to power the most conservative leader since Calvin Coolidge.   President Reagan remembered Coolidge in the White House and had his portrait placed in the Oval Office.  And the oldest man ever elected President brought a youthful look to America and the White House.

Reagan was often laughed at as a “B” actor.  In 1966, Governor Edmund (Pat) Brown and father of current CA Governor Jerry (Moonbeam) Brown, said to a group of school children during the campaign, “I would remind you that it was an actor who shot Abraham Lincoln, and my opponent is an actor.”  Even Democrats blanched at that statement and Reagan said, “I knew then we were going to win and probably win big.”  He did.  When Jimmy Carter celebrated that his opponent was Governor Reagan, Pat Brown called him and said, “Mr. President, don’t underestimate this man.  I made that mistake and he beat me by over 1 million votes.”

President Reagan said toward the end of his two terms that he did not know how anyone could be a successful President without first being an actor.  There is a measure of the theatrical in successful leaders such as Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle of France.  Evil masters like Hitler, Mussolini, and Castro have led by mass intoxication.

Reagan was brilliant in making vivid the bright colors of possibility in a remarkable nation.  When a People catch this vision it becomes very possible to govern successfully.  Few leaders understand this or can bring it to pass.  Jimmy Carter certainly never understood leading a nation by being certain of our being the world example and a People of destiny.  Barack Obama is a comically silly but dangerous figure who wants to apologize for our nation.  In contrast, Jack Kennedy also understood our role as world leader and a People set apart.  There has been no such Democrat since.

It is no accident that Reagan rose to the pinnacle of power at a time when there was a rise of intellectual pessimism as to whether our times of greatness had passed.  Against this negative cynicism came Ronald Reagan who had a soaring sense of our possibilities.  In his Inaugural Address he spoke of his confidence in the People rather than in government.  As he outlined plans for a new day he asked whether all this were possible and answered, “Of course we can do this.  We are Americans!”

There is much more to Ronald Reagan than simply sunny optimism.  He knew great things were possible for our nation, and under his leadership they were delivered.  In what appears to be an uncomplicated man in a big place, there remains a puzzling aspect to his life.  He was a most amiable man yet he was also remote.  He was a friendly man who had few close friends.  There is perhaps only one and he married her.

I believe we have had three truly great Presidents in our history–one each century.  In the 18th it was George Washington; the 19th Abraham Lincoln; and the 20th Ronald Reagan.  George Washington became President by acclimation but Lincoln became Lincoln as President as Reagan became Reagan.  In short, there were doubts about both the latter leaders until they assumed the role.

Was there such a leader for the 21st century on the stage at the CNN Debate on Wednesday, September 16?   We cannot know at this point but I would put forth two names with potential greatness.  The first is Marco Rubio who was given little time by the CNN moderators (in fact, Jake Tapper also gave little time to his two moderator colleagues).  Senator Rubio is probably the most naturally gifted person running;  Hillary Clinton is doubtless the most artless and awkward in either Party with real meanness thrown in as well.

The second is Carly Fiorina who is smooth, smart, savvy and sassy.  I think I would liken her more to the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, than to Ronald Reagan.  This is not simply gender but a woman of remarkable strength who does not care what people think of her and an individual on a course worth sailing and from which she will not detour.  And being similar to the second member of the three giants of the Age of Reagan is no small thing.

Ronald Reagan took control of the Ship of State in stormy seas left him by the hapless Jimmy Carter.  One had the sense from the first day of the Reagan Presidency that there was a competent leader in the Oval Office commensurate with the nobility and possibilities of a nation that could be great once again.  Ronald Reagan was a steadying captain who calmed the passengers, the nation and the sea around them.   I pray each day that God has raised up such a leader once again.  The corollary to that prayer is that We the People have the sense to recognize that man or woman and move heaven and earth to elect them.








Donald, Ben & Carly

I have followed politics since the Truman Administration (I would give a great deal to see a Harry Truman in the White House again) and have not seen a campaign like this one.  It seems as if everything that has been battened down is coming loose.  On the Democrat side the Party that seemed headed for the coronation of a Queen has been shaken by another Clinton scandal except Hillary has none of Bill’s charm or grace.   While he is likable, she is cold and calculating and it shows.   What seemed most unlikely is increasingly possible:  she may not be the nominee.  Blunder machine Biden may be warming up in the bull pen.  For all his gaffes and foibles, he is likable.  George Will has noted that since the end of WWII only once did the more likable candidate not win.  The exception was Richard Nixon in 1968.  I think a case can be made that Jerry Ford was more appealing than Jimmy Carter in 1976 but the point is well taken.

Meanwhile, things are equally upside down among the Republicans.  Jeb Bush, like Hillary, part of a dynasty, is far down in the polls.  The very successful governors in the GOP are also lagging behind as are the U.S. Senators from the Party.   Three outsiders are leading the pack and their combined poll numbers equal over 50 %.  What do Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina have in common?  Each is successful outside Washington D.C. and none have held elective office.

The most politically savvy of the three is Carly, the most bombastic is Donald, and the most reflective and soft spoken is Ben.  Each one is fearless as opposed to Hillary who seems afraid of her own shadow and any misstep.  Thus, she seldom steps out of the safety of her caravan and hand picked crowds.  That is not leadership.  She is being forced to hold some interviews now as her numbers are slipping rapidly but that is not helping as she is such a poor candidate.

In contrast, Carly Fiorina appears to answer questions most anytime and anywhere.  She is the anti-Hillary both in style and confidence.   She is never shrill and she speaks in calming, measured terms even when discussing the most dangerous threats and vexing problems facing the nation today.  Carly is a confident leader and it shows.

Monica Crowley, PhD, former aid to Richard Nixon in his retirement, and current online opinion editor of The Washington Times, interviewed Ms. Fiorina in August.   Dr. Crowley asked her how she would handle ISIS, Putin and rebuild the American economy.  She said Iran needs to know we stand with Israel and that we will have real inspections or we will make it very hard for them to move money around the global financial system.

She said she would stop talking to Vladimir Putin and support our allies in the region who want to stand up to Russia.  That would begin with rebuilding the Sixth Fleet, conduct military exercises in the Baltic States and renew our missile defense system in Poland–a program set by George W. Bush and killed by Barack Obama.

On the American economy, Carly noted that the growth under Ronald Reagan of 6-8 % each month as opposed to 2 % under Obama, which is called the “new normal.”  She rejects this as normal and says we must free small business of the crushing regulations and a tax code so complex that only the large companies can hire accountants and attorneys to unravel the government demands.

On Hillary, Carly says this would be woman to woman and Clinton cannot claim a war on women or talk about being the first woman President.  Instead, she will have to run on her record and that is not a good place for Hillary to be.  And, “I will not be afraid to throw punches at Hillary Clinton.”

Carly Fiorina is a successful, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, who knows how to tune out the noise, to laser-focus on real issues and train her political fire on Ms. Clinton and the Democrats.  She is keeping her eyes on the big prize which can be won by being steady and solid.   Carly Fiorina is both.


On Mountains & Molehills

The phrase, “Making a Mountain out of Molehill,” has been traced back to 1548.  It indicates someone making too much of a situation with response out of proportion to the problem.  We see this especially coming out of the Obama White House.  In his case, the reverse is also true as he makes molehills out of mountains.

We see two examples of the former in one trip to AK.  In a dispute over a literal mountain, Obama takes it upon himself to rename Mount McKinley to Denali, meaning “The Great One.”  There may be merit in this as Denali is a native name of the mighty Mount McKinley and the GOP in AK also supports the change.  But this is a bit like the “Beer Summit” when Obama put himself in the middle of a local law enforcement dispute.  Hard for me to think of Jack Kennedy or Ronald Reagan saying, “The Cambridge Police acted stupidly.  Let’s have a ‘Beer Summit’ at the White House.”

In addition to the name change, the President declared from AK, as he has before in other settings, that Climate Change is the greatest crisis of our time.  Hundreds of sensible scientists including Dr. Gray here at Colorado State University say Climate Change as a crisis is very much in question.  It may not be just a molehill but there is great question as to whether it is a mountain.

Meanwhile, Obama calls a real mountainous threat, ISIS, “the Junior Varsity.”  When campaigning in 2008, Senator Obama said, “Iran is a little country.   They are no threat to us.”  That little country is building a nuclear weapon and developing rockets to deliver same to us and to Israel.  They also have their Arab neighbors very nervous and calling for their own nukes.

Why does Obama do this–major on minors and make minor what is really major?   I believe there are several reasons beginning with the fact that he does not like the country he leads as founded or as he finds it now.  Thus, he apologizes for our land in Cairo, Egypt, starts a foolish reset with Russia, recognizes Cuba with nothing in return and signs a deal with Iran that is dangerous to the West and their Arab neighbors as well.

Second, Barack Obama is a loner as was Richard Nixon.   While there are differences between the two men, (Nixon was smart as a whip and understood foreign policy like no President ever and Obama is ego mad while Nixon was paranoid) neither man likes working with Congress nor do they like detail.  Thus, Obama ignores real threats as too messy and does whatever he can with the stroke of a pen.  This leads to lawlessness in a nation founded on laws rather than the arbitrary and capricious nature of men and women.

Third, Obama like so many from the Left today, believes we the People exist for him to rule.  Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, Harry Reid, et al, believe that they are the ruling class and they are there in D.C., not to serve, but to rule the People.  This is very dangerous and different from the past of just 50 years ago where the average stay in D.C. by legislators was two to three terms.   Today, even in defeat Senators and Congressmen and women, do not leave Washington; rather they stay on as lobbyists.  This helps explain the phenomenon of Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina.  The People are fed up with the Establishment in both Parties and want action to stop the lawlessness and elitism of Congress and the White House.

I contrast this with Jack Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.  The men of P.T. 109 spoke about how they quickly forgot Captain John Kennedy was the son of a billionaire as he was genuinely interested in each of his men.  When President Kennedy toured Cape Canaveral he went over to a man sweeping the floor and engaged him in conversation.  He had a real interest in people from every walk of life.  When Ronald Reagan was shot in March 1981 and recovering in the hospital he spilled some water on the floor.  When a nurse came in and saw the President out of bed and on his knees wiping the floor with a towel, she said, “Please Mr. President.  You must not be out of bed!”   The President said, “I know, but I created the mess and do not want someone else blamed.”

Those are real men talking who did not see humility as weakness and who recognize the value of every human being.  There are respected writers who say Jack Kennedy was a conservative who might be a Republican today.  Ronald Reagan, once a Democrat, said of his becoming a part of the GOP:  “I didn’t leave the Democrats; the Party left me.”

Both Kennedy and Reagan stood up to the Soviets.  Obama cannot even stand up to Putin of Russia.   John McCain says of Russia, “It is a gas station with a country attached.”  But for Barack Obama Mt. McKinley becoming Denali and dubious Climate Change is more important than Russia or ISIS.

I believe we have had three great Presidents in our history:  George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, one each century of our existence as an American Republic.  When Ronald Reagan came into office he had three major goals:  Restore the economy, restore the military and destroy the Evil Empire.  He accomplished all three and, in the process, restored American confidence.  Barack Obama has a shot gun approach with his power never pointed in the right direction.

It is my prayer that we elect a great President in 2016 (or at least a near great in the line of Harry Truman) for their job is going to be harder even than Ronald Reagan faced after Jimmy Carter.  That means that the new leader must be a Republican rather than Steely Eyed Hillary, Socialist Bernie or Blunder Machine Joe.  This needs be a President that can restore America’s confidence by example and who knows the difference between a mountain and a mole hill.

In the words of the poet, Samuel Walter Foss:

Bring me men to match my mountains,

Bring me men to match my plains.

Men with empires in their purpose,

And new visions in their brains.

Bring me men, bring me women like that.  Can you imagine a poet saying bring me men to match my molehills? Unfortunately that is what we have today.  Lord, give us men and women that you raise up to match Your Vision for the People called Americans.  And give, We the People, the vision to recognize them and support them.  Dear Lord, may it be so.