Ben Carson Is Not Interested in Politics


Ben CarsonBen Carson is not interested in politics. “People ask me,” he says to the assembled crowd at a town hall meeting in Barrington, New Hampshire, “what made you interested in politics after such a wonderful career in medicine?” He pauses slightly. “I’m not interested in politics; I’m interested in saving this country.”

His career in medicine has shown him that health is the most valuable thing we have. If you give someone the choice, “you can have a hundred million dollars, but be a quadriplegic, or you can have perfect health and no money, I think the choice is pretty obvious.” That’s why Carson speaks out against Obamacare. America is an incredible nation, founded by incredible people, to be of the people, for the people, by the people. Government is intended only to facilitate our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, Carson says. Obamacare reverses that by making government the giver of things. If we accept the government’s ruling the most important thing we have — health — then we’ll accept anything.

There’s hope, though, he says. He has a soft voice and his eyes are half-closed as he stands calmly in front of us. One senses that his would be the temperament you want in a surgeon. “Thomas Jefferson predicted this,” he says quietly. “He was a great man. He said eventually the people would become less vigilant and the government would expand to control everything we did. But just before that, people would wake up and take back control. I hope that this is that time. If this is not that, then it’s over.”

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I saw Dr. Benjamin Carson at a rare lunchtime occurrence of the Politics And Eggs series.  (Usually they are breakfasts.)  This time it was at the Bedford Village Inn. He gave a somewhat rambling but otherwise engaging talk.  He began by discussing some of his surgical experiences, trying to relate them to problems our country is facing. […]

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CPPR 490: Standing Up for Barbara Bush’s Organelles


Barbara-BushIn the last ten days, we learned Lindsey Graham is a teenage girl, the Donald thinks rapists should buy us a fence, Mike Huckabee is tapped in to the D.C. pagan scene, Rand Paul is running for sheriff of Pitkin County, Ben Carson just wants to go home, and you never, ever pick “dare” around Chris Christie.  Never.

But what does it all mean?  Let’s find out together. If you need a refresher on where we’ve been, CPPR 500 can be found here. This week’s presidential power rankings …

21. Governor George Pataki

Carly Fiorina in New Hampshire


Carly FiorinaCarly Fiorina has faith in people. Everyone has God-given gifts, she tells those of us gathered at Turbocam’s manufacturing plant in Barrington, New Hampshire. That means everyone in the world has potential. “So why is our nation better?” Here you have a right to fulfill your potential. That right comes from God. She notes that she started her career as a secretary, answering the phones and typing memos. Only in this nation, she says, could she go from being a secretary to the CEO of a major corporation.

She thanks Turbocam for hosting us and for giving her a tour of their facility. Before Fiorina spoke, a representative of the company addressed the crowd briefly (they are a “a global turbomachinery development and manufacturing company that specializes in 5-axis machining of flowpath components”). Turbocam is proud to help the community. “Say we have a product that costs 90 cents to build, and we sell it for $1,” he says. “We’ll give 1 or 2 cents to charity, say to build a new park. But that’s not the only way we improve the community. Of the 90 cents it cost to build that product, 50 cents went to salary. And our employers then spend that in the community.” Their website also highlights the efforts of the company’s founder and CEO, Marian Noronha, to end slavery in Nepal.

Fiorina notes that Turbocam, like HP, started out as a small business. “We’re at a point where the things in this country that give us the opportunity to fulfill our potential are being crushed by government,” she says. “We are destroying more business than we are creating.” And it’s not big businesses that are being destroyed, she says. Big businesses can afford to do business with big government. “That’s called crony capitalism.” There are more than 70,000 pages in the tax code, she says. Small business owners tell her they’re filing their taxes late because they can’t understand the rules, and sometimes their accountants can’t understand the rules. At the same time, the IRS has announced they won’t be answering everyone’s questions because they “don’t have enough money.” Have you ever noticed, she says, that government always needs more money? Why is that? The TSA has a 95 percent failure rate. They want more money. The VA is unable to serve all our veterans. They want more money.

Will the Sixties Live on in 2016?


1968-McCarthySome of what’s been in the news lately shows that the turbulent decade that was the 1960s still has an effect on us — and may yet impact the 2016 election. Which prompted me to post this column over at Here’s what got my attention;

1) The reported death of Burt Shavitz. You may not know the man, buy you’re probably familiar with his product: Burt’s Bees. Mr. Shavitz was a lot of things to a lot of people — former photojournalist in the 1960s, a guy who found a way to convert bee’s wax into personal-care products (lip balm, soap, deodorant, etc.). The best word to describe him just might be — ok, I’m going to say it: a hippie. As the company he co-founded posted on its website: “We remember him as a bearded, free-spirited Maine man, a beekeeper, a wisecracker, a lover of golden retrievers and his land. Above all, he taught us to never lose sight of our relationship with nature.” Right on!

2) The Grateful Dead playing its last show in Chicago this past weekend — a “long, strange trip” that began in San Francisco some 50 years ago and earned the band international acclaim and a cult-like following of “Deadheads.” As The Chicago Sun-Times duly noted: “A whiff of sadness mingled with the odors of marijuana, patchouli and sweat Friday, as thousands of “Deadheads” — many without tickets — gathered for the “Fare Thee Well” tour.” Far out!

When Smart People Do Stupid Things


shutterstock_280247936Thursday afternoon, the Governor of Wisconsin filed paperwork to run for President of the United States. Thursday night – late Thursday night — Wisconsin’s top Republicans inserted a political mass suicide pact into the final draft of the state budget. As the Joint Finance Committee met for the last time before sending the budget to the full legislature, someone slipped a provision into the last final draft that would drastically restrict the state’s open-records law. All drafts, notes, intra-governmental communications (basically everything before the final version of a bill) could be kept confidential, and legislators would have vast privileges to refuse to make their communications public. There actually seems to be a real case for tightening the law, but this was sheer madness with a whiff of Shakespearean tragedy.

If you were trying to look as though you had something to hide, this is what you would do.

The Right and Left exploded in fury and joined in an uncomfortably weird but determined alliance. Democratic legislators denounced the open-records provision and conservative organizations cheered them on. After four years wandering in Wisconsin’s political wilderness, Democrats found themselves perched on the moral high ground and making the most of it.Republicans ran away from it as fast as they could — including some who’d voted for it in committee. Yesterday afternoon, less than 48 hours after it was first introduced, Governor Walker’s office put out a statement from the state’s top political leaders saying the provisions would be removed from the budget.

4 on the Floor for the Fourth


150701120633-calvin-coolidge-nationals-exlarge-169Quietly (which seems appropriate), it’s been a good year for Calvin Coolidge. America’s 30th President is this year’s choice as the White House Historical Association’s annual Christmas ornament. And tonight he gets to take what may or may not be a victory lap when an oversized Coolidge mascot competes at the Washington Nationals’ “running of the presidents” — a fourth-inning dash around the ballpark also featuring the likenesses of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft (if the mascots are done to scale, getting stuck behind Taft would seem like a ticket to defeat).

About Coolidge: he’s also the only American president born on America’s birthday (in 1872, in Vermont’s Plymouth Notch). Which prompted me to write this column for about four aspects of the 4th of July that pertain to Republican presidential hopefuls and and the coming election:

1) Coolidge. In this remarkably bunched-together field of Republicans, which candidate(s) comes closest to “Silent Cal” as an espouser of tax cuts, deregulation, and limited government? Remember, it’s not just Ronald Reagan who championed conservative beliefs in a 20th Century White House. Here’s a Coolidge address to Congress, from December 1923 (his first year in office), to get you thinking . . .

Conservative Mike Flynn Takes on the Establishment


Mike FlynnRemember Aaron Schock? Killer abs, big “Downton Abbey” fan, resigned in disgrace? On Tuesday, voters in Illinois’s 18th District will decide which nominee should finish the remainder of Schock’s term and perhaps represent them going further.

Out of the goodness of their hearts, Republican leadership wanted to make the choice for Illinois voters. They anointed Darin LaHood, current state senator and son of CD18’s former representative, Ray LaHood. Most recently, dad flaunted his conservative cred by serving as President Obama’s Secretary of Transportation and demanding Congress spend, spend, spend on an endless list of pet projects. LaHood Sr. now works as a lobbyist, of course, so it’s understandable that Speaker Boehner, et al., want his son to be another cog in the profitable Beltway machine.

But another Republican lives in the LaHood Family heirloom, a sprawling Central Illinois district that includes Peoria, Springfield, and Quincy. Mike Flynn is a smart, passionate conservative who decided to challenge the well connected scion and present a choice for his fellow small-government Republicans.

Christie Almighty?


ChristieNow that he’s formally a candidate for president, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie enters the race to a decidedly mixed reception. Some are calling it an ego run. Others would have you believe he’s the king of the GOP long-shots (talk about a backhanded compliment). Still others said Dr. Jekyll showed up to announce; how long before Mr. Hyde makes an appearance? Not a compliment whatsoever. Here’s my take on Christie’s entry. Longer post short:

1) It’s a test of what I like to call the George Costanza theory of recent presidential elections — George deciding, in a Seinfeld episode, that doing the opposite of what his instincts told him was the only way to get women, get a job, and get respect. Translated to elections: Bill Clinton was the opposite of George H.W. Bush (distinguished WWII veteran versus Vietnam draft evader). George W. Bush offered a moral fiber that Clinton lacked. And Barack Obama’s rhetorical skills are a far cry from the younger Bush’s interpretation of the English language. The far opposite of Obama in this Republican field? Try a guy who’s abrasive, blunt, confrontational, probably can’t sing, and hasn’t fit in a 42-long suit in years.

Vox Indicts Jeb Bush for Manslaughter


imageJeb Bush has few defenders on the right. Both his family name and a number of ill-advised statements have left him on the outs with much of the Republican base. His defeat in the primaries will be lamented by few outside of a fairly small donor class in the GOP. As eager as I am to see his campaign left in smoking ruins, there are limits to the bounds of legitimate criticism.

As you may have guessed, the left’s best and brightest at Vox know no such boundaries. The world’s foremost explainers of things that require little-to-no explanation have published a piece by one Dylan Matthews that essentially accuses Jeb Bush of manslaughter because he doesn’t give enough money to charity. No, really.

Jeb Bush could be saving dozens of lives every year

Happy Dependence Day


const4In what may well become history’s greatest example of missing the forest for the trees, we Americans have been so busy arguing about current political events and issues — the Supreme Court’s decisions on Obamacare and same-sex marriage, the ongoing negotiations about global trade and Iran’s nuclear program, immigration, taxes, gun ownership, and the Confederate flag — we haven’t noticed that our country has just had a revolution.

If you’re reading this essay, it’s very likely that your side lost.

The key to understanding what’s happened to us lies in grasping that a revolution occurs when a country changes not merely its laws or its leaders, but its operating system.

To Defend Religious Liberty Today


shutterstock_159174965Thomas Jefferson was brilliant and essential, but he has never been my hero among the Founding Fathers. As such, it caught me off guard when I found myself deeply moved at the memorial that honors him in our capital. Even crowded by tourists, it feels a little set apart, a peaceful spot from which one can look out across the Tidal Basin and reflect on this city and nation of ours and on Jefferson’s words on freedom cut into the surrounding walls. Words that were true when first written, though not fully realized in law. Words that are true now, even if the laws should abandon them utterly.

Almighty God hath created the mind free.

Inscribed under the dome is Jefferson’s vow of “eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” He wrote this to Benjamin Rush in 1800, nearly a decade after the ratification of the 1st Amendment designed to protect against such tyranny. Even this master of words knew that — in the end — words on paper could not alone secure liberty. Such is human nature, and such is the power of ideas gone wrong.

Something Comes Back Up the Memory Hole


shutterstock_191505491During a week of depressing news, undoubtedly the most absurd was the decision by Apple, Amazon, and other online retailers to pull games and merchandise that feature the Confederate Battle Flag. If ever there was a moment that appeared to herald the ascendency of the Social Justice Warriors, that appeared to be it.

As it so happens, the fait was not quite accompli. As Reason reports, many of the games and apps are back — unblemished — likely due to outrage from fans and the sheer madness of the decision.

As of this writing, however, Amazon isn’t selling — or allowing the resale of — actual Confederate Battle flags, though you can find other flags that incorporate the design. There are plenty of books available that feature the flag on their covers, for what (very little) that’s worth. And yes, you still have your choice of Che Guevara flags.

America’s First Millennial President


shutterstock_228458590Reading a piece by Bill Kristol over at The Weekly Standard about the Iranian deal — or lack thereof — got me to thinking that President Obama and his administration could be considered the first Millennial Presidency. While it is true that millennial enthusiasm for Obama has waned since 2008, if you look at how Obama has governed — particularly in terms of foreign policy — Obama is acting exactly how Millennials would want elected officials to act. If you haven’t, read this paper published by the Cato Institute by A. Trevor Thrall.  I listened to his presentation of the paper today while doing my yard work and it was rather eye opening.

For starters, Thrall informs us that Millennials are less likely to view the use of the military as a good thing and that they would much rather see the US act within the framework of cooperation with other states. Obama has that box checked, despite launching two air campaigns during his presidency, one in Libya and the other against ISIL. They are also less likely, by large margins, to say that the US is the greatest country in the world. This could indicate, on some level, a sentiment that the US is not worth defending against certain threats.

That leads us to the second important trait of this generation as explained by Thrall. Millennials do not view the threats the US faces the same way as previous generations, mainly the Baby Boomers and Generation X. On all but one strategic threat listed in a survey conducted by the Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs, Millennials lag behind when weighing the seriousness of these threats. The one threat listed where Millennials are in the lead? Global warming. They do not see international terrorism, a nuclear Iran, the rise of China, or Russian territorial gains as big a threat as global warming. Which brings me back to Obama.

End the Inaugural Inanity


1200px-Obamas_dance_at_Neighborhood_Ball_1-20-09_090120-F-9629D-686Ideas need time to gather momentum, and no idea —  no matter how good — works if introduced at the last minute. So if we start talking about this now, it will seem natural in January of 2017. So listen up candidates! I mean, “Mr. President.”

Don’t throw an inaugural ball. Just don’t. Don’t invite musicians to play and jam with on stage. Don’t ask poets to exhort you, or the public to line up and greet you with a parade. Don’t give the press an opportunity to speculate about who will wear which gown or what singer will belt out the national anthem. Take the oath, give your speech, and get to work.

Oh, the howls of cynicism and sneers of “optics”! The gnashing of teeth of the political class! But there are huge payoffs to this approach.

Whitewashing the Democratic Party’s History


FulbrightHere’s what the former president of the United States had to say when he eulogized his mentor, an Arkansas senator:

We come to celebrate and give thanks for the remarkable life of J. William Fulbright, a life that changed our country and our world forever and for the better . . . In the work he did, the words he spoke and the life he lived, Bill Fulbright stood against the 20th century’s most destructive forces and fought to advance its brightest hopes.

So spoke President William J. Clinton in 1995 of a man who was among the 99 Democrats in Congress to sign the “Southern Manifesto” in 1956. (Two Republicans also signed it.) The Southern Manifesto declared the signatories’ opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education  and commitment to segregation forever. Fulbright was also among those who filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That filibuster continued for 83 days.

Scott Walker’s Fight Against Tenure


shutterstock_280248305Just in case you were wondering if he was running for president:

Walker introduced the tenure issue in a budget proposal that included $300 million in cuts over two years and significant restructuring… A GOP-led legislative committee approved the tenure change. It also approved a measure that would modify state law to specify that Regents can terminate faculty when it’s deemed necessary because a program has been discontinued or changed in other ways, not just when a financial emergency exists — the way it’s spelled out under state law. It didn’t give Walker all he wanted, and it reduced the cuts from $300 million to $250 million.

Wisconsin is unusual in that protections for tenured faculty are enshrined in state law. In most jurisdictions, it’s individual universities that make the call on who qualifies for tenure and on what grounds it can be terminated. In simple terms, Walker is just bringing Wisconsin into line with the rest of the country.