Monthly Archives: January 2016

Campaigns, Candidates, and Character


“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
― Abraham Lincoln

There is much that Lincoln said in his lifetime that we should all carry with us, but this quotation is particularly apt as we enter an election year. I say “enter” because not one single American has yet to cast a single vote for a single candidate for office even though the oracles and surveyors have already decided our fate. It’s Trump. No, it’s Cruz. No, Kasich is coming up on the inside rail in New Hampshire. Gotta be Rubio. Watch Christie. Bush is dead. “Donald Trump basks in growing sense of inevitability,” says Politico. My. My.

I read that crap and think back to what we learned from the experiences of Presidents Guiliani, Tsongas, Gingrich, Santorum, Hillary Clinton, and my favorite, Michele Bachmann. They all led in the polls. They all won key caucuses and primaries. And who remembers that loser Bill Clinton, who limped out of Iowa with less than 3 percent in ‘92? Continue reading

Random Thoughts: On Sean Penn, Media No Nos, and J. Edgar


I’ve decided to enroll in the Sanctuarial University of Experiential Learning (SUEL). This SUEL campus is nestled among the Himalayan Mountains in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, just blocks from the Potala Palace, where the Dalai Lama once had his summer home.

Classes are not held on the campus, of course. If they were the learning wouldn’t be experiential now would it?

The actor Sean Penn first introduced me to experiential learning. He is well advanced in the methodology, already a practitioner of what he calls experiential journalism. Continue reading

Bob Dole’s Last Mission

JAN 21 |  Reprinted from

Few people can rival Bob Dole in his service to America.

In April of 1945, Dole was severely wounded during World War II in the Italian Alps, and lost the use of his right arm. His recovery was long, slow and painful.

His orthopedic doctor was a survivor of the Armenian Genocide (and yes, to my Turkish friends, there was an Armenian Genocide) who dispensed this advice: focus not on what you have lost but what you have left. Continue reading

Trump As the Defender of the Faith

JAN 19 |  Reprinted from

On 17 October 1521, Pope Leo X declared King Henry VIII the Fidei Defensor or Defender of the Faith.

The Pope was more than a bit desperate. Martin Luther had posted his 95 theses on a church door in Wittenberg, Germany and the Catholic Church was in a world of hurt.

Henry was not exactly the poster child for the faithful little Catholic. He was a notorious womanizer and a murderer to boot. He would have his many wives executed once they failed in producing a male heir.

Donald Trump reminds me of Henry. Continue reading

Iowa Matters

JAN 18 | Reprinted from

Why is Iowa important?

Because it is.

Same reason the Kardashians grace the cover of magazines at the supermarket checkout: They’re somebodies because they are.

In two weeks from today, Iowans – some Iowans, will go to someplace in their town or neighborhood, listen to speeches in favor of one candidate for President or another, and cast a vote for their favorite. Continue reading

Bill Buckley: Now More Than Ever

JAN 15 |  Reprinted from

When Ted Cruz attacked Donald Trump for exhibiting New York values, Trump reminded his younger rival that the Big Apple wasn’t all bad and that it indeed has produced some important figures in the conservative movement.

And then he mentioned William F. Buckley.

I have been thinking a lot about Bill Buckley lately and how badly the Republican Party needs his leadership today. Continue reading

Paul Ryan on Face the Nation: Talking Substance?


“I think the country’s on a bad path, a dangerous path. I think we could lose what’s so unique about our country—this American idea the condition of your birth doesn’t determine the outcome of your life.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan on CBS‘ Face the Nation, January 10, 2016

It was an unusual Sunday morning talk show to say the least. Here was House Speaker Paul Ryan in a lengthy interview with Face the Nation host John Dickerson. The two of them, new to their jobs, appeared to be experimenting with a new and revolutionary format in television and politics.

They were talking substance. Continue reading

State of the Union: Not All Should Go To Waste



President Obama’s final State of the Union address, like its six predecessors, will not be remembered for long. Obama is in good company. Most recent Presidents and their spin doctors have tried to make the State of the Union much more than the Constitution intended and usually failed.

As messages go, a good share of President Obama’s  were not believable. He tried in vain, and maybe some desperation, to define international terrorism as a problem, but not a crisis. He tried in vain to preach the gospel of renewed economic vitality to millions of unemployed, underemployed, underpaid American workers, plus another 46 million living in or around the poverty level, plus more millions watching their retirement drift off into a foggy future of unknown depth and direction. The next day the stock market took another deep dive. The most egregious message related to how well we are treating our returning military and veterans. Veterans, in particular, have been badly mistreated at veterans facilities all across the country. Continue reading

State of the Union, 2016 Edition

JAN 12  |  Reprinted from

Donald Trump is leading the Republican polls in Iowa and New Hampshire. Bernie Sanders is leading in the Republican polls in the same states.

You tell me if the State of the Union is strong.

The good news is we live in America and it’s a lot better than living in China or Europe.

At least in America, we are free to achieve our dreams, even if that means sitting on the couch and playing Grand Theft Auto all day. Continue reading

Iowa Caucuses

JAN 7 | Reprinted from

All of the posturing. All of the spinning. All of the punditry. All of the knowing glances among the political pros will mean nothing in about 25 days when the good people of Iowa trudge out, certainly in the cold, and maybe through the snow, to their neighborhood caucuses on February 1.

We will know – or we will think we know – who won on both the Republican and Democratic sides by about 11 PM Central Time. Continue reading

On Mike Oxley

JAN 6  |  Reprinted from

I became Ian Baker Finch when playing golf with Mike Oxley.

To clarify: Ian Baker Finch was the former British Open winner who would later lose his ability to hit a tee shot and would become a famous broadcaster.

Mike Oxley became famous in the financial world for Sarbanes-Oxley, legislation passed after Enron, MCI and a variety of other big companies went belly-up after conducting financial shenanigans. Continue reading

Governing: Past and Future


Another year is in front of us, and with it the ritualistic adoration of resolutions, promises, and agendas.

In politics, promises are king. They rule the  rhetoric, produce prolific, big block headlines, raise expectations, generate motion, and usually, accomplish nothing. It is because they are ritualistic that they survive.

Agendas are similar. They are just something we have to have at the onset of each new day, week, month, year, and millennia.  Continue reading

Saudi v. Iran v. Bahrain v. Israel v. Syria v. Iraq v. Sunnis v. Shiites v. Putin v. Obama

JAN 4 | Reprinted from

Welcome to the first workday of 2016 and maybe the first day of World War III.

The last two World Wars started when a couple of countries got into it and everyone else began to choose sides.

Over the weekend, the Saudi Arabian government executed 47 people including one senior Shiite cleric who had been an outspoken opponent of the Saudi rulers.

The Iranians immediately set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. The Saudis immediately emptied its embassy of diplomats, cut off diplomatic ties, and ordered the Iranian mission out of Riyadh within 48 hours. Continue reading