Marco Rubio: A Demographic on Steroids

May 14, 2015

Senator Marco Rubio spoke for the Council on Foreign Relations yesterday, staking out his position as the GOP super hawk, announcing that he would not be afraid to go to war.  Presumably, he will have to compete with Senator Lindsey Graham for that role.  And they both will have to find a suitable target.

Recent polls show him climbing.  A Quinnipiac Poll has him tied with Rand Paul for second place in Iowa, behind Scott Walker.  And a recent Bloomberg poll has him second only to Rand Paul in New Hampshire.

He is a fascinating candidate popular with the media.  I call him a “demographic on steroids.”

First, he is Hispanic and that is the wave of the future for this country.

Second, he is from Florida, a key battleground, must win, state for any Republican.

Third, he is a Roman Catholic, with an LDS heritage, who regularly attends a Baptist church.  Believe me, that is a highly evolved creature perfectly fitted for a modern, GOP primary process in an age of the Fox News Channel.

And finally, although he is young, he is the insider, big business, Wall Street, money alternative to Jeb Bush.  In fact, Rubio’s people are right now telling donors that a dollar given to Jeb Bush is a dollar given to Hillary Clinton since Bush will never win a head to head contest with her.  The national media and major corporations will never allow three of the last five presidents to come from the same immediate family.  Bush, we are told, is only insurance in case Hillary slips.

These above are the four major positives of a Marco Rubio candidacy.  But he has one major negative.

Marco Rubio, like most of the other candidates in this race, has no raison d’etre.  There is no purpose in his candidacy other than naked ambition.  For too many candidates in this race it is all about them and not the voter.  Hillary Clinton says, “Vote for me I am a woman.”  Marco Rubio says, “Vote for me I am Hispanic.”  Even Scott Walker’s argument says nothing about what he would do.  Walker says, “Vote for me I am a governor.  I know how to be an administrator.”  It is meant to contrast the ineptitude of the current president.

But being a governor is a pretty empty argument.  Jimmy Carter was a governor.  If you know how to run things well and you take the country in the wrong direction you will only get us there quicker.  The missing piece is the direction.  Where are you taking us?  Why should we vote for you?

This may be why Senator Rand Paul is now leading these early swing state and battleground state polls.  He is a fount of ideas.  Young people have a reason to vote for him.  African Americans have a reason to vote for him.  Born again Christians have a reason to vote for him.  Waitresses have a reason to vote for him.  He doesn’t just raise the defense budget, he shows how he will do it while balancing the budget.

Marco Rubio needs a popular purpose to his campaign, something more than protecting insiders who are gaming the system, something with appeal to the masses.  Their are signs that he is trying to develop that.  He is using the word “conservative” a lot these days but an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations  is not the best place to make that argument.  As a candidate, he will have to come up with at least one cut in spending to justify the label.  Something he hasn’t yet been able to do.  Watch for him to distinguish himself in the debates.  Not with flash but by avoiding  self mutilation.  And see how his money helps him survive the early crush of negative ads.

Finally Marco Rubio must convince Jeb Bush to drop out of the race and quickly.  Otherwise he is locked into a huge battle in Florida.  The GOP is not likely to nominate a candidate to contest Hillary Clinton if he can’t carry his own home state in a GOP primary.   The same goes for Jeb Bush.  The two will be locked into a death struggle in Florida, like the Russo-German front in World War Two.   This drains money away from Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.  They could conceivably win some of those contests and still lose Florida and get knocked out.

But then, last month Jeb Bush was beating Marco Rubio.

Most bets are that Marco Rubio will not go away early.  If he doesn’t win himself he will likely be asked onto the ticket by the winner.  Either way, Marco Rubio will be around for a long time.


David and Goliath

April 23, 2015

I first gave this speech in 1968.  Only I called it David and the Princess because that is it’s more appropriate title.  In 1975 I delivered it to 10,000 people at Dexter Yager’s great Free Enterprise Day in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Almost five million copies of that cassette tape or CD sold around the world in 30 language or more.  I was invited to share it to Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, 15,000 Muslims in Jakarta, an open air event of 40,000 – mostly Hindus – in Bombay, 50,000 at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow and more than 300 other cities in stadiums and coliseums on six continents.

Now, with the release of Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller on David and Goliath I thought it appropriate to bring it out of moth balls.  The truths are eternal.  And my take is still unique and unassailable.  Not a day goes by that someone in the world doesn’t email me about it.  I have been urged to monetize it but would rather make it easily available to a new generation of young dreamers.  Here you go.

 


Some Chibok Girls Celebrate Freedom, Light Candles for Lost Sisters

April 14, 2015
     Today is the first anniversary of the Boko Haram terrorist abduction and enslavement of hundreds of teenage school girls from Chibok, Nigeria.  The terrorists took the girls from a State run boarding school, driving them off  into the forests.  Several of the girls escaped.  Their names are changed to protect their identity but their harrowing stories are told in this BBC report.  One of them hid in the compound when the raid took placed, two of them jumped from speeding trucks racing away from the scene of the attack and two of them escaped from the Boko Haram terrorist camp making their way back to civilization through dangerous, terrorist held, territory.
     Today, the girls are students at Canyonville Christian Academy in Canyonville, Oregon where they continue to pursue their educations.
     Last night students, representing thirty countries, lit 219 candles at the school in Canyonville, Oregon.  The candles represented Chibok girls still missing

     The following letter, composed by students and teachers, will be read aloud at today’s special ceremony.
chibok girls
     “To the girls still held captive. You may think that you are forgotten. But you are mistaken.  We have never stopped thinking of you, never stopped praying for you and never stopped loving you.  You are not alone.  You are not forgotten.  And one day the whole world will celebrate your freedom.  Someday people everywhere will say of any lost and hopeless cause, don’t give up, be brave, remember the Chibok girls?  Remember how they finally came home?  We will be waiting for you with open arms.  You are not alone.  You are not alone.”
     Tonight, the Empire State Building will be lit up in special colors to honor the Chibok girls.  For those wishing to help the girls donations can be made to the Chibok Girls’ Scholarship Fund.

 

 

 


The difference between Rand Paul and Ted Cruz

March 25, 2015

So what’s the difference between presidential candidates Rand Paul and Ted Cruz?

Ted Cruz is running against Barack Obama.  Rand Paul is running against Hillary Clinton.  One represents the past.  The other represents the future.

Both men are U.S. Senators running for president in 2016.  Rand Paul is from Kentucky, Ted Cruz is from Texas. (Rand Paul is expected to announce on April 7, 2015.)

Both men are conservatives whose careers were launched during the rise of the Tea Party.  Both are born again Christians. And both signed the controversial Senate letter supporting Israel.  So if they have the same base of support, what’s the difference?

Rand Paul excites that base and motivates them to action.  Ted Cruz has all but given up on that base and is focusing exclusively and only on born again Christians.  He is betting that he will take that vote, and only that vote, and win it all.  It is a high stakes gamble that counts on driving out of the way born again Christians such as Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio and yes even Rand Paul.

Bottom line, Rand Paul can win a national election.  Ted Cruz cannot.  Early polling bears that out.  Polls can be fickle and don’t always reflect reality this far in advance but most polls show only Rand Paul close to Hillary Clinton in any of the battleground states.  Not Bush, Christie, Rubio, Perry, Huckabee and not Cruz.

There is more bad news. Ted Cruz, like Rand Paul, once championed the cause of the growing Libertarian wing of the GOP, taking on the corruption of the free enterprise system with its corporate welfare and calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve.  Now Libertarians charge that after arriving in the U.S. Senate Ted Cruz sold out fast and cheaply.  It seems that his wife was hired by Goldman Sachs.  It is the banking firm that has become the poster child for insider, establishment, power. Goldman Sachs was the major donor to both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in the last election.

The day after announcing for president, Ted Cruz openly attacked Goldman Sachs and said his wife would take a leave of absence from her job to help on his campaign but the damage was done.  Whatever hope Ted Cruz had to lead the Libertarian Wing of the Republican Party is now dead.  “Mrs. Cruz,” a Libertarian leader told me, “Is the Claire Underwood of this campaign cycle.”  She will leave behind Hillary Clinton’s son-in-law who works for the same Goldman Sachs firm.

Meanwhile, the Ted Cruz announcement brought fierce reaction from Hispanics who see the Senator as having betrayed his own roots.  “His family got their freedom,” said one Hispanic evangelical leader, “Now they want everybody else to do it strictly by the book.”

Rand Paul has real, organic support from the young, from Hispanics from African Americans and from Liberal Democrats.  The latter care about civil liberties.  African Americans care about Rand Paul’s criminal justice reform.  Many Hispanics who support Paul care about insiders gaming the system and the loss of the American dream for the new American.  Under both Democrat and Republican presidents the poor continue to get poorer and the rich richer.  The young now see “free markets” as “fixed” by advantages created by powerful lobbies.  The young care about a free Internet and Rand Paul has become the guardian of the Internet.

The Ted Cruz presidential launch at Liberty University last Monday may have been a metaphor for the coming campaign.  Cruz, who cannot attract the crowds of a Rand Paul, choose the only forum that could guarantee a large audience, a university convocation with mandatory student attendance.  Nevertheless, sitting very visibly behind the Senator, in their red shirts declaring, “Stand with Rand”, were quietly defiant students.  They were not rude like the Libertarians one sometimes sees online.  They represent the new Christian Liberty Movement. This week RandPac will mail out thousands of their videos with Senator Rand Paul’s born again testimony.

The Cruz machine was careful to point to spectacular fund raising after his event.  It was a calculated attempt to shore up a very real weakness.  “Evangelical only” candidates cannot raise money.  Ask Mike Huckabee.  Christian leaders will give verbal support but they need their people’s money for their own projects.  Sorry.  Meanwhile, Rand Paul with his diverse, motivated base will have money and a ground game.

The message is clear for Ted Cruz.  His path is fatally blocked by those young people in the red shirts standing before him.  They can be made to hear him speak but they will get to vote the way they want.

Here is the video produced by the American Liberty Association, going out this week.


Looking for Randy Smith

March 16, 2015

I have watched with envy over the last decade as friends and family find each other on the internet.  Sometimes the odds are long and the distances in time and geography are daunting but the stories keep coming and they are heartwarming and compelling.  But what can you do when your boyhood friend is named Randy Smith?  Can you find him?  Fat chance.

His name, to be exact is Randall David Smith and we went to Fall Creek Grade School, Indianapolis, Indiana together.  In fact, we first teamed up on the playground at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, where classes were conducted as they built our new, state of the art, grade school at Fall Creek.  (Since torn down.)  Smith and I discovered that together we could neutralize the class bully, but it took us both, coordinated, and it took near perfect timing.

Smith liked the New York Yankees, and particularly, Mickey Mantle.  I liked the Brooklyn Dodgers and particularly, Roy Campanella.  The Dodgers and the Yankees battled it out in those days.  It’s a wonder our friendship survived.  Come to think of it, that may be why I can’t find him.

For a time we had common teachers.  Mrs. Whitmire. (Bad.)  Mrs. Bowman. (Very Good.)  And I think we may have shared Ms. Georgia McGuffey too. (Good.)  Delver Cardner was the somber principal but the assistant principal, Mr. Stoner, was a bundle of ideas and clearly stole the show.

Randy had a sister named Judy.  I had three brothers, Jim, Bill and Tim.  Mrs. Smith was the splitting image of Harriet, as in “Ozzie and Harriet.”  In this case, Ozzie, or Mr. Harry Smith, worked as the manager of the shoe department at the L.S. Ayers department store in downtown Indianapolis.  He wore a suit and tie to work every day.  They lived on Emerson Street and attended the Presbyterian Church just down the road.

I began my lifelong fascination with the Civil War at Randy’s house, where I would study the big picture books his father had collected.  And we laid on the carpet in front of the TV set, with our heads propped up by our elbows, as the GOP had their annual convention in 1956, renominating Dwight David Eisenhower and Richard Milhous Nixon.  Randy and I had lots of “I Like Ike” buttons which we could pin to our shoes and click like tap dancers in the marble halls of Fall Creek Grade School.

Randy played the trumpet much better than I played the clarinet.  And as we grew older he picked up golf.  The last time I saw him was in Indianapolis, where he had graduated from North Central High School.  I had moved onto South Bend.  Later, I was told that he had graduated from college, passed the LSAT, the Indiana State Bar and had become a lawyer in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

My own son, now a partner at the Foulston and Siefkin law firm in Wichita, once tried to find Randall David Smith for me but that brings up the big stumbling block.  Smith.  Finding a Smith, whose surnames are Randall David and who is, or was, a lawyer, who plays the trumpet and golf and likes Mickey Mantle is not so easy.  The Internet is great if you are trying to find  Janice Worsler or Cameron Modair.  But Randy Smith?  That awaits another technology.

I have passed the hours closely studying images on Facebook and facial expressions or voices on Youtube, imagining how he must look now that he is old like me.  Gray? Bald? In an age of such tasty food he must definitely be heavy.  And, of course, the thought has crossed my mind that he may not be here at all.  That would explain my fruitless search.  If so, just for the record, let me say, there was once a Randy Smith, who lived in Indianapolis, Indiana.  And we were best friends, at least for a time.  He was a gentleman, an excellent student and the best friend a guy could have.  He became a lawyer and there the trail grows cold.  But if his youth was any indication, he saved a lot of people a lot of heartache and he had a grateful clientele to show for it.


Benjamin Netanyahu’s Dark Prophesy

March 3, 2015

There have been more than 100 speeches by heads of state before joint sessions of congress.  But none like the one today by Israeli President, Benjamin Netanyahu.  Doug Wead talks about the speech and compares it to other moments in history.  Wead says Netanyahu’s  warnings about “an Iran with all the nuclear weapons it want in ten years” is a sobering prophesy that deserves discussion.


The Difference between Rand Paul and Ron Paul

February 25, 2015
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      Rand Paul is the U.S. Senator from Kentucky who is favored by many to win the 2016 Republican nomination for president.  He appeals to a broad range of constituents from the Tea Party to Evangelical Christians, African Americans, Gays, Independents and Democrats concerned about Civil Liberties.  He has picked up the Civil Rights torch and now leads the most active effort to reform criminal justice.  His father, Ron Paul, was a U.S. Congressman from Texas, who ran for president three times.
      Here’s how they differ.
      The father, congressman, Ron Paul, is a classic Libertarian.
      The son, Senator, Rand Paul, is a practical Libertarian.
      The father believes in the personal freedom of the individual.  The son recognizes that there are times when the needs of the wider community must be considered. For example, the father would allow local communities to decide for themselves about legalizing marijuana. The son agrees but openly favors laws against marijuana – for the greater good.
      In foreign policy there is a big difference.  Both men believe that the nation should not go to war without congressional approval.  They both believe it is a mistake for Congress to forfeit war making powers to the president alone.  Both men believe that the United States should not assume the role of policeman of the world.  But the difference is in degrees.  And it is huge.  The father, Ron Paul, would prefer that American stay out of everybody else’s business.  For example, he does not see Iran as a threat to American security.  In an ideal world, Senator Rand Paul would agree but in a world of terrorism and nuclear weapons he sees genuine danger.
      Rand Paul sees Israel as one of America’s most important allies.
      The best example of a Rand Paul foreign policy would be that of former President Ronald Reagan.  For Reagan, the security of the United States was the paramount concern and thus his focus was on the Soviet Union and the threat it posed.  Reagan’s wars were always proxy wars against the Soviets.  For example, Reagan did not go after Cambodian leader, Pol Pot, the man who killed half of his own people in a nationwide genocide.  Reagan did not go after Idi Amin, who had slaughtered hundreds of thousands in Africa and had just been driven from office when Reagan arrived in the White House.  Both of these despotic leaders, left untouched by Reagan, were far more evil than Saddam Hussein.
      When Reagan stuck his toe in the Middle East in 1982 and it resulted in the death of 241 marines, he withdrew our forces.  He decided that it was not in America’s security interest to be involved in the intractable problems of the Middle East.  How wise that seems in retrospect.
      Likewise, Senator Rand Paul has refused to support the endless calls for international adventures from his colleagues in the Senate. And yet, when the ISIS threat emerged Paul had razor sharp focus.  He was the first public figure to call for a declaration of war.  He saw ISIS as a threat to America’s national security.
      Both men, father and son, would like to see Foreign Aid reformed. Both men believe that the process has become corrupted. The father, Ron Paul, would eliminate it immediately. “Why should we borrow money from China and give it to Pakistan?” he asks.
      Likewise, Senator Rand Paul would move to end the corruption in Foreign Aid, where money really comes back to American lobbyists and their interests, but would see even that process of reform as an ongoing process.  He would start by ending aid to countries that allow the killing of Christians simply because of their religion. Or persecute women.  He would end aid that is going to terrorists groups that target Americans and Jews, such as Palestinian aid now being passed through to the terrorist group Hamas.
      Perhaps the most striking issue associated with Senator Paul has been his call for reform in criminal justice. He favors strict incarceration of violent criminals but is appalled by the unfair application of the law which allows for young African Americans to be disproportionately sentenced for the same drug related crimes as white youth.  Rand Paul sees this as unjust.
      Then there is the Federal Reserve and the study by UC Berkeley where the rich continue to get richer and the poor get poorer.  He would like to see us return to free markets, away from corporate competition to game the system by upping their government subsidies and upping their money supply from the FED.  Let in more of the natural forces of supply and demand.  Let the 99% have a chance to play.
      Finally, there is style.  The father was a great provocateur and a born teacher.  The son is a superb politician, a natural pleaser.
      Here is a CBS report on the Rand Paul balancing act.

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