Sunday, November 29, 2015

No One is Liberal When It's Their Life

It has been said that "there are no atheists in foxholes". When the bullets and bombs start flying in war those in the middle of it are looking for a higher power to see them through harm's way.

It seems to me that there also exists a corollary aphorism.

There are no liberals when it is your life and security at risk.

If you don't believe it, look no further than the actions of French President Francois Hollande in the aftermath of the horrific ISIS attacks in Paris several weeks ago.

© Matthieu Riegler, CC-BY via Wikimedia Commons

Bear in mind that Hollande is a member of the French Socialist Party. He is a committed liberal socialist.

A key platform that he ran on for the Presidency in 2012 was a promise for the early withdrawal of French combat troops from Afghanistan.

As recently as September 2015 he also spoke out against those European countries that were attempting to limit the number of Middle Eastern migrants into their countries.

"Those who don't share our values, those who don't even want to respect those principles, need to start asking themselves questions about their place in the European Union".

He was right about the values and principles. However, the target of his reprimand seems to have been misplaced as many of the Muslims that now call France home are ones who don't seem to have any interest in assimilating to the values and principles of France and the European Union.

The liberal and progressive Hollande seems to have undergone quite a transformation in the last two weeks.

This is what Hollande said the morning after the attacks.

"We are going to lead a war which will be pitiless."

I guess that stands in contrast to the pitiful effort that President Obama has done in confronting ISIS.

Hollande also quickly ordered a state of emergency and closed France's borders. The first time that had occurred since 1944.

That is quite a change from his views in September, isn't it?

I have written often about The Fourth Turning and the Crisis period that we are now in.

William Strauss and Neil Howe make the point in their book that in the Crisis period we are in, societies turn newly martial as they react to real or imagined outside provocations.

America will become more isolationist than today in its unwillingness to coordinate its affairs with other countries but less isolationist in its insistence that vital national interests not be compromised. The Crisis mood will dim expectations that multilateral diplomacy and expanding global democracy can keep the world out of trouble. Even before any conflicts arise, people will feel less anxiety over the prospect of casualties. Old Unraveling-era strategies (flexibility, stealth, elite expertise, stand-off weaponry, and surgical goals) will be replaced by new Crisis-era strategies (mass, intimidation, universal conscription, frontal assault and total victory) more suitable for a fight for civic survival.

Hollande seems to recognize that the world he thought he lived in no longer exists.

Barack Obama does not yet seem to understand it. Is it going to take something like Paris or the Russian airline being blown up?

If he does not pivot he may take the entire Democrat party down with him as Strauss and Howe also make this point.

History warns that when a Crisis catalyzes, a previously dominant political party (or regime) can find itself directly blamed for perceived "mistakes" that led to the national emergency. 
Key persons associated with it could find themselves defamed, stigmatized, harassed, economically ruined, personally punished---or worse. 

Barack Obama may not be writing the history that he thinks he is.

He calls Republicans "the enemy" but cannot bring himself to utter the words "Radical Islam".

What are we dealing with?

People that throw homosexuals off of buildings.

However, Obama and the liberals portray those who support traditional marriage as the evil ones.

People that believe that women who do not cover their heads with the hijab should be killed according to Sharia law.

And Democrats say that the GOP is waging a "war against women"?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Show Me State?

I have watched the student protests that have unfolded at the University of Missouri and other colleges over the last week with some interest.

45 years ago I was a student at the height of the Vietnam War protests at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I saw first hand the substantial effects that social and crowd psychology played in those protests. It also showed me how important external factors were in these situations.

The spring of 1970 in Ohio was unusually warm ( and some of you think that global warming is a new thing?) leading up to the May 4, 1970 shootings at Kent State University. This caused a lot more students to be outside than normal. After all, it is a lot easier to protest when the weather is nice.  It is also a lot easier to draw a crowd of onlookers who may not be in the core group but end up making the protest look much bigger than it is.

For example, here are the daily high temperatures as reported in Cincinnati, Ohio which is 35 miles from Oxford, Ohio for the last two weeks of April, 1970. Note that there were only two days that the high temperature did not reach 70 degrees during those two weeks. That is very unusual for Ohio in April.

                                                            April      High


In that type of environment, rumors also tend to get easily passed around which further incites the situation.

My experience with the Vietnam War protests was that the core group of students involved in the anti-war movement was very small. They were aided by outside agitators who came on to campus to try to stir things up (another interesting sidenote is that the outside agitators in 1970 on our campus were rumored to be members of the Weather Underground.  Now it is the name of a weather website- see above).

Most of the scale to the protests was provided by curious student onlookers.

I remember one night being in the library when a group of protesting students came by chanting. It was a very warm night and the excitement of what was going on outside on a beautiful spring night beat studying. The library was soon empty and the crowd got bigger as the leaders stated they were going to the President's house to give him their demands.

That crowd had to look intimidating to the President as he came out to his front porch.

Sound familiar?

Soon after the shootings at Kent State occurred reports filtered in that other Ohio state universities like Oho State, Bowling Green, Ohio University were closing. At that point, it seemed to become a "fairness" issue for the protestors. Why do I have to go to class if these other students are getting sent home? "We need to shut this sucker down."

John Filo's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio, a 14-year-old runaway kneeling over the body of Jeffrey Miller minutes after he was shot by the Ohio National Guard (via Wikipedia)

A final night of protest where the main thoroughfare through town was blocked by students was all it took for the administration to send all Miami students home as well. We spent two weeks at home before being called back.

Am I saying that all of this would not have happened if Ohio's spring would have been abnormally cold?

I am not going to go that far but there is little question the protests would have looked far different to the administrators.

The reaction in Ohio was to call out the National Guard to college campuses around the state to restore order which ultimately led to the shootings of four students at Kent State. Two of the students killed were merely walking between classes.

I was an observer of a confrontation between student protestors and the National Guard one night as the students attempted to take over the Navy ROTC building on the Miami campus. (Yes, it was another mild night.) Tear gas was used to disperse the crowd and I got gassed along with everyone else.

Why is all of this relevant today?

History may not repeat but it sure does rhyme.

In 1970 the war was the main issue but many protestors were  focused on women's rights and racism. For example, the list of demands at Ohio State in 1970 included the adoption of courses in women's and black studies. Now you know how those courses got in the curriculum of major universities.

What was the weather like during the week of November in Columbia, Missouri? Daily highs were almost 8 degrees warmer than average.

However, at the University of Missouri the weather was not nearly as important as the fact that about 30 black members of the school's football team tweeted ( you don't "state" anything anymore you just tweet) that they would refuse to play football until the university's president resigned.

This clearly was the action that forced the hand of the administration.

However, what I found interesting is that Missouri's football team is 4-5 on the season. The last two years the team has gone 12-2 and 11-3 and in each year played in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

I could not help but wonder if those players would have taken the same action had their team had a similar record to what they had the last two years.

Would their solidarity with the cause of the other students on campus have trumped their solidarity with their teammates on the way to a possible Southeastern Conference championship?

We will never know but I hope you can better appreciate the dimensions of external factors that shape crowd psychology after reading this post.

45 years later it is also interesting to see how college administrators have reacted to these protests.

In 1970, the National Guard was patrolling Ohio college campuses to break up the protests which ended with tear gas and shootings to break up the protests.

In 2015, the students got the President and Chancellor of the University of Missouri fired because 30 football players said they would not play a game. And a University of Missouri Journalism Professor attempted to actually stop a Journalism student from covering the protests. How weird is that?

I am glad to see we have evolved but it is starting to look like the evolution has gotten a little out of hand.

All this tells me is that "The Show Me State" certainly is not one that should be showing others how to handle these protests.

Isn't there something somewhere between the 1970 and 2015 models that could be used in dealing with these student protests?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Considering Carson

Ben Carson has dominated the national political news cycle in the last week.

He is leading the latest national polls and in the Quinnipiac Poll of November 4, 2015 Carson is beating Hillary Clinton by a 50%-40% margin in a hypothetical general election matchup.

Here are the demographic breakdowns from that poll between Carson and Clinton.

Note that Carson beats Hillary by 55%-35% with men and 45%-44% with women.

He has a 56%-34% margin with white voters (and we keep hearing that this is a racist nation?) and captures 19% of the black vote.

By contrast, Donald Trump loses to Hillary in same poll by 46%-43%. Why?  
Trump only wins white voters by 51%-38%. Where is the white privilege that the students at the University of Missouri are talking about? Perhaps Trump has a new complaint that he can generate PR with? He is being discriminated against by white voters who favor Carson over the The Donald?

Trump loses the women's vote by 20 points to Hillary while Carson is edging Clinton by 1 point.

In addition, Trump, similar to most Republican candidates, draws only 6% of the black vote compared to the 19% that Carson gets this important bloc of voters.

Looking at the polling numbers it is easy to see why Ben Carson is a big potential nightmare to the Democrats and the liberal mainstream media.

Therefore, it is of little surprise that we have seen that Carson's rise in the polls has been accompanied by a barrage of stories trying to take Carson down with questions about his rags to riches story.

There is little question that there is no more dangerous person to the liberal, progressive narrative in America than a successful, conservative African-American Republican.

We saw it with Clarence Thomas.

We saw it with Herman Cain.

We are seeing it again with Ben Carson.

We did not see anything of the sort with Barack Obama.

His college records are still sealed and almost no one who went to school with him at Columbia University even remembers him according to his classmate, Wayne Allyn Root.

I graduated Columbia University in June of 1983. According to Obama not only were we in the same graduating class, we had the same majors, Political Science and Pre-Law.
That would mean we took the same classes. I thought I knew every classmate in Columbia’s Political Science department.
Yet neither I nor anyone I knew ever met, saw, or heard of Obama.
This was reinforced two years ago in 2013 when I attended my Columbia University 30th class reunion.
I asked everyone – “Did you ever see Obama at Columbia?” Not one classmate answered affirmatively.
I simply couldn’t believe no one claimed to have met a classmate, who supposedly was in our class, and who was later to become president of the United States. So, I tracked down Professor Henry Graff, perhaps the most honored professor in Columbia history and Columbia’s Presidential historian. I interviewed Graff that same year for TheBlaze.
Professor Graff never met Obama; heard of him; or saw him.
Professor Graff said it was virtually impossible to graduate Columbia as a Political Science major without attending his history classes. Yet Graff never heard of him. He even studied his old records to verify Obama’s existence at Columbia … and found nothing.
Graff asked other Columbia professors. None remembered Obama ever being in their classes. All of this is on the record from my interview, published in 2013 here at TheBlaze.

Strange? It is to me. However, the media has never seriously tried to get to the bottom of much of Obama's backstory. 

Let me be clear, I have substantial reservations that Ben Carson is prepared to be President of the United States based on what I have observed so far in this campaign. 

He is far behind the curve in his understanding of a number of policy issues. He is undoubtedly a very smart man but, as we have learned over the last seven years, the office of President of the United States is not conducive to on-the-job training. It may not be brain surgery, but it requires skills and knowledge that the good Doctor may not possess right now although that could change over the next year.

I admire what he has accomplished in his life, his values and his commitment to the constitutional principles that he has articulated in his campaign.  

However, let him be vetted on his responses and ideas regarding policy positions and not on biographical details from 40 or 50 years ago. Of course, thus far, it seems that Carson's version of events is holding up rather well despite the scrutiny he has been placed under.

It is indeed ironic that some in the media have called Carson a liar concerning details in his book describing those old events while Hillary Clinton recently was shown to have told her daughter one story about the events at Benghazi while telling the American people (and the families of the Benghazi victims) a completely different story.  How was that played in the media?

Here is an example from the Washington Post's "The Daily 202 Report" headline the day after the hearing where that "contradiction" was exposed.

Eight reasons Hillary Clinton won the Benghazi hearing
Hillary also famously stated for years that she was named for Sir Edmund Hillary after he became the first man to scale Mount Everest.

The only problem with the story was that Sir Edmund was an unknown beekeeper in 1947 when Hillary was born. He did not become world-famous until he ascended Everest in 1953.

Double standard? You decide while we both consider whether Carson can become President.

My prediction is that he will not make it. Climbing Mount Everest was easier for Sir Edmund Hillary than it will be for Carson to go from the operating room to the Oval Office. That is especially true when the entire liberal and news media establishment is doing everything they can to make sure he falls before he gets anywhere close to the Presidency.

Running for President is not easy. That is especially true if it is your first political race. Carson says he is running because he believed he was being called by God to do so. If he wins, there should be no one that doubts the sincerity (or truth) of that statement. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Responsible Ohioans 'Just Say No' To Responsible Ohio

My home state of Ohio voted down a constitutional amendment that would have legalized medicinal and recreational marijuana by a 64%-36% margin yesterday.

The group that put the issue of the ballot, "Responsible Ohio" (talk about a name meant to confuse the voter!) was a group of ten investors who would have owned a monopoly to supply all the pot that would have been sold across the state.

Through October 14, the group had spent over $15 million to get the issue on the ballot and to try to get the amendment passed. It is estimated that the final amount that was spent by the group was close to $20 million. The pro-pot group out-raised the group who opposed the measure by 16 to 1 according to the  last campaign finance report filed November 3.

To say the least, it appears to have been a very poor investment by those who supported "Responsible Ohio".

I was concerned about the vote because there was a very visible ad campaign for the measure and the opposition was almost invisible. The pro-marijuana ads also almost totally focused on some heart-wrenching stories about situations where marijuana might be helpful from a medicinal perspective.

Needless to say, I was pleased with the vote results as I believe the legalization of marijuana would be a very negative step for my state and our society.

I came to have a very negative view of marijuana (as well as other drugs) when I was in college. I saw many fellow students with great talent and potential begin smoking marijuana and inevitably watched as they slid down a path where they lost their motivation, ambition and focus.

It was sad to see and I steered well clear of the temptation to try it and did not generally associate those who did it regularly. Unlike Bill Clinton I do not even have to say that I did it but I did not inhale it.

If you want the best evidence of what I am talking about, click on the link below to view a clip from in Dayton, Ohio which had a discussion on election day morning about the marijuana issue (Issue 3) and try to understand what the marijuana advocate that was on the show is talking about.

Although this gentleman is on the opposite side of the issue from me, this is one of the most painful interviews I have ever witnessed. I truly felt sorry for him. Again, like Bill Clinton, I truly felt this guy's pain.

Watch the entire interview if you can so you can see the contrast between the two advocates. However, if you have limited time, the fun  pain really begins at around 2:20 of the clip.

Does this look like Responsible Ohio?

Do you want to warn your children about what happens to you by smoking marijuana? Have them watch this video.

I should point out that Mr. Keller is an Air Force veteran who should be commended for his service. It is also possible that he had tv stage fright that resulted in his puzzling and perplexing appearance. There may have also been some other reason beyond a drug-riddled mind.

However, from a purely political perspective, if I am a group spending $20 million on an issue why would I let a guy like this represent me on a tv show as a supporter of the issue on election morning? That was hardly a responsible decision.

I am also sensitive to the views of my libertarian friends who look at issues like this and believe that government has no business prohibiting or regulating marijuana use. In a truly libertarian world, I would agree.

However, we do not live in that world. We put a lot of emphasis on individual liberty and rights with little consideration of the consequences and costs when someone exercises those rights to society's detriment.

In my view one of the big problems we have in the country today is our inability to draw the line between rights and freedoms on the one hand and consequences and costs on the other.  Where do individual rights end and where does the the public interest begin?

We have too often ignored the primary principle that people should have to live with the consequences of their own behavior.  You fail to take advantage of the free public education that everyone has access to in this country and can't get a job.  That's ok, we have welfare assistance.  You have a child out of wedlock.  That's ok, we will give you money to pay for the child. You buy a flat screen tv rather than health care insurance.  That's ok, just go to the emergency room and someone else will pay your medical bill.

At the same time each of these actions is spilling over onto other people who were attempting to live their life responsibly without infringing on others. The person who studied and went to school, married, had children and bought healthcare insurance rather than the flat screen tv ends up paying these bills as well as their own.

We have been living in an era over the last generation where individualism has reigned supreme in the United States.  Respect for the individual and their rights has been preeminent over the collective good in most instances.  It has been more about ME than WE.

A good example is the federal court ruling several years ago enjoining Florida from requiring welfare recipients to take a drug test before they can qualify for public assistance.  The court ruled that such a requirement in the Florida law is an "unreasonable search".  Where do these judges come up with this logic?  A similar court decision enjoined the state of Florida from using random drug testing of state employees. Bear in mind that the majority of private sector employees today cannot get a job without submitting to a pre-employment drug test.

How does any of this make sense?  In effect, we know that most of the people in the private sector are clean, drug free and paying taxes.  However, those people are not allowed to even ask whether the people they are supporting have even a chance of getting off welfare at some point in the future. After all, if you can't pass a drug test, you most likely are not going to get a job and get off welfare since it is a condition of pre-employment with the majority of employers.

That is one of the reasons I am not in favor of marijuana legalization. Smoke all you want as long as your actions don't spillover on me. However, don't ask me to pay your bills when you can't keep a job, get fired from your job or can't get a job because you can't pass a drug test.

That is what a Responsible Ohio or any other state would look like.

Thank you to all the Responsible Ohioans who 'just said No' to Responsible Ohio!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Who Will Feel The Bern?

The Democrat Presidential Debate also took place while BeeLine was on hiatus. Since I have written about the GOP debates it only seems fair to provide some perspectives on the Democrats.

I must admit that watching the Democrat Debate seemed at times to be akin to watching a Venezuelan United Socialist Party debate between Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro. It seemed that the entire affair revolved around how much free stuff could be handed out in the next four years.

Bernie Sanders pledged he was for about $1 trillion in new spending per year ranging from paid family leave, universal health care funded by taxpayers and free tuition at state colleges and universities for every student. It worked out to about $41.7 billion of promised spending for every one of the 28 minutes he spoke at the debate.

Of course, Hillary was not going to be outdone by Bernie. She is also for paid family leave, free public college tuition for all as well as making Obamacare fully available to all illegal immigrants.

The Democrats' model for all of this taxpayer-funded social spending largesse are European countries such as Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

This is what Bernie Sanders said in defense of his "Democratic Socialist" views.
"...I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people."
Having just been in Denmark and Norway recently let me provide a little context and perspective on those two countries.

This is a photograph I took during the morning rush hour in Copenhagen.

Morning Rush Hour in Copenhagen

Do you notice the bicycles? Where are the cars? There are well over a million bikes in Copenhagen. It works out to a little more than the population of the entire city.

Finding A Place To Park Your Bike In Copenhagen Can Be Difficult

They are everywhere. Why?

Our driver from the airport driving into Copenhagen explained that there are a lot of bikes in Denmark because the taxes on automobiles are so high.

The tax on top of the purchase price of a car is 180%. He explained that a Volvo costs about $100,000 in Denmark with the taxes included. The tax on gasoline means that putting gas in your car costs about $6/gallon as the tax per gallon is currently $2.95/gallon.

By the way, our driver spoke extraordinarily good English and was clearly well educated. I asked him about his background. He said he was a trained architect but could not find a job in his field since the Great Recession began in 2008. It seems that all of that free education does not necessarily guarantee a job you were educated for in Denmark.

Liberals like to talk about entitlements or government benefits but they don't like to talk about who is going to pay the bills. If they are forced to, the explanation is that the money is always going to come out of the pocket of the "rich" or "Wall Street". That is the familiar refrain of Bernie Sanders or Hillary.

However, how do they pay for all of those government benefits in Denmark and Norway?  The fact is that when the government pays for almost everything, everyone has to pay. You simply cannot tax the rich and get the money you need. Everyone has to pay. And everyone pays a lot!

Most all personal income in Denmark is subject to a flat 8% social security tax that everyone pays. On top of that, everyone is subject to a minimum income tax rate of at least 36% (after a 43,400 DKK ($6,400) personal allowance. On top of that there is a 25% VAT (value-added tax) that is applied to almost every purchase in the country.

It all works out to 49 cents of every dollar of GDP in Denmark goes to taxes in Denmark. That is the highest rate in the world. Sweden's rate is 45.8% and Norway is 43.6%. (Note: The United States tax burden is 26.9%).

This is the model that Bernie Sanders wants us to aspire to?

Bergen, Norway

When Mrs. BeeLine and I were in Norway, a friendly Norwegian overheard us chatting while we were taking a walk. He asked if we were Americans and told us how much he loves the United States.

As we talked he spoke about the nice social services they had in Norway but he also spoke of the high taxes to pay for it all. He mentioned that the taxes were high but most thought they were fair because everyone generally pays the same rate. He stated that they did not use a progressive tax system in Norway. Everyone paid the same percentage with the rich paying more because they earned more not because of a higher tax rate.

I was a little surprised when he told me this and I checked out the facts on Norway's tax system when I got home. Of course, he knew what he was talking about. Most people understand what is coming out of their own pockets.

For example, a flat tax of 28% is applied to all personal ordinary income in Norway after a modest personal allowance deduction. There is also a 25% VAT on almost everything one would purchase (15% on foodstuffs).

However, he also mentioned that he was concerned with the direction he had seen the United States had taken under President Obama. He spoke with some knowledge about the subject as he said he owned a condo in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and visited the U.S. often.

The system works in Norway because people were used to the high level of services and it was generally understood that everyone was paying a fair share of taxes since they used a flat tax system. The system also worked because Norway was a small country with small cities. (Note: Bergen is the 2nd largest city in Norway and has a population of less than 280,000).

People are expected to be accountable and responsible. For the most part there is nowhere for people to hide in Norway who might try to game the system or take advantage of the social services in illicit ways. You received benefits from the government but everyone was also expected to contribute to society.

He stated that the United States is not Norway. You can't have Norway's system without a lot of accountability and responsibility. And you can't pay for all the things that were paid for in Norway without everyone paying. You just can't pile more and more taxes on your rich. It will not work.

This was a Norwegian speaking, not me.

Bernie Sanders spent his honeymoon in the Soviet Union.

Perhaps he should take a second honeymoon to Denmark or Norway.

And when he gets back he might want to start talking straight to the American people on exactly who is going to pay for all of the "government benefits" that he and Hillary are promising.

Only then will people hopefully understand that they are the ones who are going to get "berned" by the progressive, liberal, socialist ideas that are being promoted by the Democrats.

There are no free lunches... even in Denmark and Norway.

I know.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Low Ebb Jeb

I had a hard time determining who I thought the winner of last night's GOP Presidential Debate was. I thought Marco Rubio once again showed that he has the best political skills of any one on the stage. Ted Cruz was also outstanding and last night could prove to be a break-out moment for him. Chris Christie also had a great night and he may have re-energized his flagging campaign as a result. Carly Fiorina turned in another consistent performance. These would be my four definite winners from last night's debate. Between Cruz and Rubio, it is tough to pick one overall winner.

However, it was easy to determine who was the biggest loser of the night---Jeb Bush. Jeb has definitely reached a low ebb.  Before he gets any lower perhaps he should think about getting out.

It makes you wonder how so many wealthy, influential people invested their money in a Bush candidacy?

For the record, I have had doubts about Jeb from the outset.

I wrote this about Bush back in May.
For now the race is mostly about money. And there seems to be a lot of money flowing in. Jeb Bush will bring in the most. I read one report that suggests he might have $100 million banked by the end of this month. However, will Jeb Bush be able to collect votes as easily as he is raising cash? In my view it will not be easy running with the Bush name. He starts the race with more money and also with more baggage that he only has by way of birth. It may not be fair but it's politics. It's never fair.

And followed it up with another observation in July about Jeb.

Interestingly, in a Bush-Clinton race 44% would definitely not vote for Bush and 43% would definitely not vote for Clinton. That is why, despite whatever merits Jeb Bush has as a person or candidate, he is a poor pick to run against Clinton. Hillary is carrying a lot of baggage into the race. Why would I pick someone with an equivalent amount of baggage when I have 15 other candidates that can be marketed with a relatively clean slate with most voters? 

It clearly is not easy running with the Bush name but it is even harder when your former protege stands next to you on the debate stage and you just don't measure up.

I saw a definite "Marco problem" for Bush in my observations immediately after the first debate in August.

It was difficult to pick a clear winner in the main debate (as contrasted to Carly Fiorina in the early debate) but I thought Marco Rubio stood out for his presence and his articulate answers. I also thought that Jeb Bush definitely suffers when he is on the same stage with his protege.

It all came crashing down on Jeb last night when he was standing right next to Rubio on the debate stage and made an ill-considered decision to attack Marco on his voting record in the Senate.

What was most inexplicable about the Bush attack was that Rubio had just done a great job of parrying the charge about his Senate absences from the CNBC moderators  agitators which drew good applause from the audience. However, Bush nevertheless tried to pile on with what was obviously a premeditated attack ("the French work week" line). It made no sense.

Credit: Seattle Times

And it did not end well for Bush. Rubio responded with what I believe is the best response on the debate stage since Lloyd Bentsen smacked down Dan Quayle in the 1992 Vice Presidential debate.

Credit: C-Span

I thought it was interesting to see a few of the comments from Jeb supporters in the aftermath of last night's debate that were reported by Politico.

“Horrible” is how one Florida-based Bush bundler summed up the night. “He got crushed.”

“Marco is a [expletive] Jedi master,” one distraught Florida donor said. “Hopefully these idiots learn not to [expletive] with him anymore. Not necessary.” Of course, how smart are these bundlers and donors if they gave Jeb money?

Of course, how smart are these bundlers and donors if they gave money to Jeb in the first place?

It is not the first time that the establishment placed their money on the wrong horse in a political race.

I still remember 1980 when all of the big establishment money went to John Connally early.

How did that work out?

Connally earned exactly one delegate in the Republican primaries.

The cost---$11 million. That would be about $36 million in today's dollars. That is a lot of money for one delegate.

Who was the anti-establishment candidate who won the GOP nomination that year?

Ronald Reagan.  It is still hard to think that in 1980 Ronald Reagan was the Ted Cruz or Donald Trump of the day.

Who ultimately picked up the establishment mantle in the GOP primaries after Connally faltered?

George H.W. Bush.

It looks like his son may end up looking more like a Connally than a Bush in this race.

Meanwhile, Jeb's protege, Rubio, may soon become the establishment choice squaring off in the end against whoever becomes the anti-establishment candidate (Trump, Carson, Cruz?).

History may not repeat, but it rhymes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Boat, Back and the Budget Man

BeeLine has been on hiatus for the the last seven weeks-planned and unplanned.

The planned hiatus involved a trip to Denmark and a transatlantic cruise from Copenhagen to New York City that took me offline for almost a month. We visited Norway, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia in addition to the voyage across the North Atlantic that was not far off of the path the Titanic took over a century ago.

The unplanned hiatus involved a back injury I sustained on the last day of the voyage when I made a misstep on some stairs. That resulted in about two weeks where I was laying prone most of the time and it is only now that I am able to sit for any extended period of time. Needless to say, blogging is difficult when you are flat on your back.

However, I am finally back on the road to recovery and a lot has happened in the last two months.

Among the big news items...

  • Donald Trump still defying political gravity in the GOP Presidential race.  However, Ben Carson seems to coming on strong of late in recent polls.
  • John Boehner resigning as House Speaker and his heir apparent, Kevin McCarthy, self-imploding on his way to the Speaker's chair.
  • Paul Ryan being "drafted" to run for House Speaker after taking himself out multiple times before. Interestingly, many true conservatives don't think he is conservative enough but consider that Ryan's lifetime American Conservative Union Rating is 90. His score last year was 84. Daniel Webster, who received the initial endorsement of the House Freedom Caucus ( and effectively ended Kevin McCarthy's bid for Speaker) which represents the Tea Party wing of the party, has a lifetime rating of 78.83 and his score last year was 72.  McCarthy's lifetime ACU Rating is 88.63 and he also had a 72 score last year. Based on the ACU Rating, Ryan is more conservative than either of them!
    • I am a big supporter of Paul Ryan and I think he was the only realistic candidate for Speaker. Why? He is the smartest guy the Republicans have in the House. He knows policy and he understands politics. Very few politicians have both skills. He has the needed experience on how the House and Washington work. He is articulate and is the best spokesperson the Republicans have to explain their positions to the American people. He has been a national candidate and is used to the spotlight and the scrutiny with a high profile position. He got his college degree from the same school I did! What more can be said?
    • I have written about Paul Ryan many times before in these pages. Here is an excerpt from a blog I wrote shortly after Mitt Romney selected Ryan to be his running mate in August, 2012.

I believe Paul Ryan is the most consequential person I have seen on the political scene in the last 30 years.  We have not had anyone since Ronald Reagan who has had more influence on the direction of the debate in Washington.  Ryan almost single-handedly put the budget debate and entitlement reform on the front page.  Many have said that you could not broach the subject of entitlement reform in Washington and survive.  Ryan did and he has only not survived, it has gotten him to a place where he and Mitt Romney might actually be able to save the country from its fiscal delinquency.

I have written about Ryan several times in these pages.  The first was a year and a half ago in The Punter and The Quarterback.  I described how I saw Paul Ryan compared to Barack Obama.
To use a football analogy you've got a punter and a quarterback.  The punter runs on the field, kicks the ball quickly and hopes that his teammates make the tackle on the return so he doesn't have to get his uniform dirty.  The quarterback is determined to take his team to victory.  He is not afraid to put everything on the line to do it.   If he has to scramble, he won't be sliding to avoid getting tackled.  He is all in to win. 

The punter-President Barack Obama.  The quarterback-House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan.
Barack Obama was elected as President of the United States because he said he was going to change Washington.  He was going to cut the deficit in half.  He was going to be a leader like none we had ever seen before.  All he has done is punt, punt punt.

Paul Ryan was just a young Congressman from Wisconsin when he came to Washington.  However, he has done nothing but lead, lead, lead.  He not only has shown a mastery of the difficult budget issues of our country but he crafted a concrete plan and path to deal with it.  He not only took on the tough issue of entitlement reform in that proposal but he has been able to get the entire Republican caucus in the House and Senate to support his approach. 

He has persevered even when he has been viciously and unfairly attacked by Democrats.  They have run ads showing him throwing grandma over the cliff.  They have called him every name in the book. 

You will hear it all over the next few days.  He's radical.  He's heartless.  Of course, the Democrats have no plan of their own other than to take the country over the cliff.  President Obama's budget has not even been able to get one Democrat vote in the Senate in the last two years. The Democratic-controlled Senate has not produced a budget for over 3 years. On the other hand, Ryan's budgets have passed the House in each of the last 2 years.

I said this about Ryan in April, 2011 after he released his 2012 Budget proposal.

"Paul Ryan has put a proposal forward that will require the American people to decide what path they want to be on.  A path that can provide a way out of the fiscal mess we are in and the potential to put us on a "path to prosperity" as Ryan calls it.  Or the current road to ruin that we are currently on.  The American people have to decide the future they want.  

The 2012 election just got much more interesting due to Paul Ryan. That is when we will also find out whether Ryan is the man for the times or simply is a man ahead of the times.  No matter which way it goes, I know one thing.  Paul Ryan is A MAN!  We have not seem many like him in Washington in a long time.

I don't agree with Paul Ryan on everything. However, I don't doubt his capabilities, his courage and his commitment to do what is right for this country. That is all I need.

If there is a man for these times, I believe that Paul Ryan is that man.

If you still have doubts, read this blog that I also wrote in 2012 about Paul Ryan and The Fourth Turning.

May the House of Representatives agree with my conclusion about the man tomorrow.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Clinton Before Country

The saga of Hillary Clinton and the use of her personal email to conduct highly sensitive and confidential State Department business gets more troubling every day.

For example, consider this report that was in today's Washington Post regarding the arrangement that Hillary had in paying a Clinton loyalist (also a paid State Department IT staffer) to moonlight on the side to maintain the private email server that the Clintons had installed in their home in Chappaqua, NY.

Hillary Rodham Clinton and her family personally paid a State Department staffer to maintain the private e-mail server she used while heading the agency, according to an official from Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The unusual arrangement helped Clinton retain personal control over the system that she used for her public and private duties and that has emerged as an issue for her campaign. But, according to the campaign official, it also ensured that taxpayer dollars were not spent on a private server that was shared by Clinton, her husband and their daughter as well as aides to the former president.
That State Department staffer, Bryan Pagliano, told a congressional committee this week that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination instead of testifying about the setup.
The private employment of Pagliano provides a new example of the ways that Clinton — who occupied a unique role as a Cabinet secretary who was also a former and potentially future presidential candidate — hired staff to work simultaneously for her in public and private capacities.

However, buried deeper in the story is something that I found even more troubling with regard to the manner in which Hillary assesses issues.

By early 2013, as Clinton was preparing to conclude her time as secretary of state, she was looking to upgrade the system’s security and durability, people briefed on the server have said. The system had crashed for days during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, disrupting her e-mail abilities.

Notice that Hillary only began to consider upgrading the security of her server and email system when she was preparing to conclude her time as secretary of state.

She didn't seem to have the same amount of concern when she was conducting State Department and national security business on her personal server (for over three years previous) as she had when she was only going to be a private citizen (and preparing to run for President of the United States).

As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton chose to ignore the governmental email system and establish her email on a private server completely outside of the control of the federal government.

Why did she do this?

She says it was for her personal convenience but this excuse makes her even look worse. She placed her personal convenience before her duties as Secretary of State? She placed her comfort before her country? She placed her personal interests ahead of national security interests?

The fact is that she appears to have done it solely to avoid any requirement to disclose the contents of her emails under the Federal Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act and to shield herself from any personal embarrassment or risk to her future political career. It was done to circumvent the laws of her country plain and simple. There is no other rational explanation for what she did.

It certainly was not because of any interest or concern about her country and the reporting of The Washington Post adds yet another confirmation that was the case.

In putting her personal interests above the national security interests of our country she also placed the security of every American at risk.

Hillary Clinton's actions should disqualify her from the office of President of the United States.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

There Is A Better Way To Defund Planned Parenthood

" We need to play chess, not checkers."
This is a piece of advice a very smart and astute man used to say to me when we were considering the strategic implications of an issue.

All the pieces in checkers are uniform, they are interchangeable and they move in the same way. They all move at the same pace, and on parallel paths in what is basically a pure frontal assault. In chess, each piece moves in a different way. You have to understand how each piece moves and how it fits into the longer term strategy. Depending on the piece, they move forward, backward, sideways or diagonally to achieve the final goal.

I am reminded of the chess and checkers analogy as the Republicans are talking about legislation to defund Planned Parenthood upon their return to Washington, D.C. next week.

This is the headline and a quote from a recent article from The Hill on the proposed legislation in the House.

House moving toward vote to defund Planned Parenthood

"A bill to defund Planned Parenthood is expected to come up for a vote shortly after lawmakers return from recess, aides said. It would likely take the form of legislation from (GOP Rep. Diane) Black which would block federal funding to Planned Parenthood for one year, although leaders are still weighing their options."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already thrown in the towel in the Senate and said that any thought of defunding Planned Parenthood will have to wait until 2016 with the election of a new President and Congress. It sounds like he may not even bring it up to a vote this year.

"The president’s made it very clear he’s not going to sign any bill that includes defunding of Planned Parenthood, so that’s another issue that awaits a new president, hopefully with a different point of view about Planned Parenthood,” McConnell said.

I have been horrified, as I believe most of those who have seen them have been, at the undercover videos that have recently been released that have shown Planned Parenthood employees and vendors speaking about the sale and use of aborted baby parts.

It would seem to me, irrespective of your view on abortion, that what we have witnessed in these videos with regard to the callous disregard and conduct of Planned Parenthood is well beyond any semblance of humanity and raises real questions about the use of taxpayer dollars to support such an enterprise.

However, playing checkers will not produce a checkmate against Planned Parenthood.

Consider a few facts.

Planned Parenthood's fiscal 2014 report puts the number of abortions it performed at 327, 653.

To put that in perspective, the total number of live births in the United States in 2014 was 3,985, 924 based on the preliminary numbers tabulated by the CDC.  Therefore, the number of abortions performed by Planned Parenthood alone is nearly 10% of total births in the United States.

Planned Parenthood received $528 million in government health services grants and reimbursements last year according to its most recent Annual Report. Most of that is federal money from Medicaid but some of it is state money due to the structure of Medicaid financing. Taxpayer money represents 41% of the Planned Parenthood budget in total.

Why does playing checkers not work in attempting to defund Planned Parenthood?

A couple more facts from the Planned Parenthood Annual Report.

865,721 breast exams and pap tests.

3,577,348 birth control information and services provided.

4,470,597 tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections provided.

These women's health services are the shield that makes it very difficult to consider any frontal attack on Planned Parenthood. Any move to defund Planned Parenthood is too easily cast as an attack on women's health and these popular services.

Planned Parenthood is also very crafty with its use of numbers in that they add up all of the breast exams, birth control advice and STI tests and treatments (I get 9 million services just by adding the numbers above) and then say that abortions are only 3% of what they do!  However, the best estimates that I have seen is that as much as 75% of the government funds it receives are related to abortion services in some way.

Donald Trump has already been savvy enough to back away from early indications that he would support defunding Planned Parenthood.

Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to back off his demands to defund Planned Parenthood. After saying last week it’s worth having Congress shut down the federal government unless Planned Parenthood is stripped of its $528 million in government funding, the Republican presidential candidate changed his tune 

Speaking on CNN’s “New Day” Tuesday morning, Trump said that before defunding Planned Parenthood entirely, he would look at the positive aspects of the organization.

So how would I play chess instead of checkers on the issue of funding Planned Parenthood?

I would start by loudly supporting the work of Planned Parenthood in its important role in supporting women's health and my commitment to maintain full funding for these important services in future years.

However, for each abortion performed by Planned Parenthood it would lose a proportionate amount of government funding in the following year. Simply stated, $528 million divided by 327,653 abortions puts a cost penalty of about $1,600 on Planned Parenthood for each abortion they perform.

Such a plan puts a real incentive on Planned Parenthood to focus on birth control prevention and women's health issues rather than providing abortions with their government funding.

It also removes their shield and the defense of Pro-Choice Democrats who hide behind the same women's health agenda while many of them declare they only want to make abortion safe, legal and rare. Here is their chance to make it rarer.

If Planned Parenthood got out of the abortion business altogether they would have the full $528 million in government funds they currently receive to devote solely to women's health issues. That is a lot of birth control services and STI treatments and tests!

However, if they chose to continue at their current rate of abortions they would lose all funding.

Most importantly, it would be Planned Parenthood's CHOICE.

Isn't that what Planned Parenthood is always lobbying for?

Planned Parenthood can choose to be a very well funded women's health organization or a poorly funded abortion provider. It would be their choice.

Memo to GOP. Please, no checkers. It is time to play chess.

Monday, August 31, 2015

People, Power and Prohibition

Can Donald Trump be elected President of the United States?

Can Bernie Sanders?

Can abortion be outlawed?

Can the 2nd Amendment be repealed?

All of this is possible in the United States of America where the people control the governmental process through their votes.

The people are sovereign in our system.  They possess the supreme or ultimate power to do anything they want.

This seems to be lost on too many people who complain that they have no influence or power. It may seem that way when you are just one vote. However, those votes add up quickly.

Our constitution also insures that change can be made fairly rapidly.

The entire House of Representatives has to stand for a vote every two years. The President every four years and Senators every six years. If you think about it, within four years you can change the entire House, the President and two-thirds of the Senate. With those numbers you can do almost anything you want, including passing a Constitutional Amendment in Congress. You still would need three-fourths of the states to agree but they also do not have terms extending beyond four years.

Why do I bring this up?

I am currently reading the history of the Prohibition movement that resulted in the enactment of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which took effect on January 17, 1920.

It prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors or the importation or exportation into or from the United States for beverage purposes.

It is an amazing story to consider that alcoholic beverages could have been prohibited especially when considering how much these liquid libations were ingrained into the culture and how significant the alcohol, beer and saloon business was to the economy.

A few fun facts from "Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition" by Daniel Okrent that shows just how ingrained intoxicating beverages in the United States.

  • In 1830 American adults were drinking, per capita, seven gallons of pure alcohol per year. That is equal to abut 90 bottles a year for every adult in the nation!

  • In 1875, fully 1/3 of all federal revenues came from taxes on whiskey and beer.

  • The number of saloons in America increased from 100,000 in 1870 to 300,000 in 1900.

  • Beer consumption increased from 36 million gallons in 1850 to 855 million gallons in 1890. Population tripled over this time but beer consumption (driven principally by Irish and German immigrants) went up 24x.

How did it happen?

It started with a handful of women in Hillsboro, Ohio in December, 1873 who started praying, reading the Bible and singing in front of local saloons. This ultimately led to the formation of the Women's Christian Temperance Union in 1874 by a woman named Frances Willard.

The WCTU worked tirelessly at the state legislature and local school board level to require compulsory temperance education laws in schools. By 1901, compulsory temperance education was on the books in every state in the union. It then only took less than one more generation to get to their ultimate goal. Another lesson on how important it is to capture the minds of the young!

The establishment of the Anti-Saloon League in the 1890's (in Oberlin, Ohio) was the final key element in pushing the country to Prohibition. The ASL was the first strong special interest pressure group which had a singular purpose, was backed by over 30,000 churches across the country and was not afraid to use the voting power of its members to influence (and intimidate) the political class. (Do you think the political class wanted to give up the beer and liquor tax revenue?)

The Anti-Saloon League knew that by targeting the margins in every election, that with as little as 10% of the vote, they could control the outcome of many elections.  They took no prisoners. Politicians that did not vote their way soon were quaking in their boots.

For example, in Ohio by 1903, the ASL had targeted 70 sitting legislators of both parties and defeated every one of them as well as the popular Governor of Ohio who had persuaded some legislators to weaken a piece of legislation that the ASL wanted.

You can only be sure of one thing with a politician---they love their job. And you can't do that job if you lose your seat. The people spoke and the politicians listened.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Prohibition lasted until December 5, 1933 when it was repealed with the adoption of the 21st Amendment.

There is no better example of the power of the people.

They took away alcohol and they brought it back.

I don't want anyone to ever tell me that they can't do anything or something can't be done to change our government.

The people have the power.

They just need leadership and the will to use that power.

History teaches us that when we look at Prohibition.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Anchors Around Our Necks

Anchor babies are getting a lot of attention thanks to Donald Trump.

There were an estimated 350,000-400,00 children born in the United States last year to mothers who are illegal immigrants. As a result of the prevailing interpretation of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution each of these children are considered to be United States citizens.

To put that in perspective, that is about 1 out of every 10 births in this country!

Can you imagine anyone who voted for the 14th Amendment in 1866 at the federal or state level thinking that we would be conferring citizenship to this many as a result of this provision?

Birthright citizenship is extremely rare in most countries. In fact, Canada and the United States are the only countries with advanced economies that recognize it.

It is estimated that there are now at least 4 million minor children of illegal immigrants who are U.S. citizens. At least another 1 million children were brought into the country with their parents illegally.

It is a legitimate question to ask whether this policy (law? constitutional provision?) makes any sense today.

The Compounding Costs of Birthright Citiizenship

The costs of this policy are enormous.

Consider just the cost of K-12 education for these children and the burden this is placing on school budgets across the country. With average costs nationally approaching $13,000 per pupil, the illegal immigrant students are adding over $6.5 billion to school costs nationally.

Each anchor baby is also eligible for welfare which is guaranteed to U.S. citizens. As a result, their entire families benefit from our welfare dollars with food stamps, Medicaid, housing assistance and welfare cash assistance.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, 71% of illegal immigrant Hispanic families with children were receiving some form of welfare assistance in 2009. That number was 57% when including all immigrant households. By comparison, only 39% of households headed by native born citizens were receiving any welfare assistance.

It is without question that the birthright citizen policy has proven to be an enormous incentive magnet for illegal immigration. It is a natural human desire to want to provide a better life for your children than what you had growing up. The people who come to the United States are coming to better their own lives but they are also clearly motivated for a better future for their children.

The decision to come to the United States is made even easier when you know that the American taxpayer is going to provide you with the money to help pay for the support of your children.

The longer term effects of this policy are even more insidious.

Due to the fact that you have minor children who are U.S. citizens living in households with parents who are illegal immigrants, those who want to enforce the immigration laws against illegals are called "heartless" because they want to "break up these families".  As a result, each birth further undermines any attempts to fix the problem. We just keep digging ourselves into a deeper and deeper hole.

These U.S.-born children of illegal aliens are also eligible to sponsor the immigration of family members once they come of age. At 18, an “anchor baby” can sponsor an overseas spouse and unmarried children of his own. At full majority age at 21, he can sponsor parents and siblings.

The bottom line is that the anchor baby policy sets in motion compounding effects that create multitudes of adverse impacts that further undermine our laws and any hope for a reasonable and rational immigration policy going forward.

As I have pointed out before, it is not that the United States is not already the most welcoming nation for legal immigrants on the entire planet.

  • Although the United States has less than 5% of the world's population, 20% of all international migrants reside in the United States.

  • 45 million immigrants currently live in the United States. This is 4 times as many who live in any other country in the world.

  • Approximately 1 million immigrants are granted legal permanent residency status in the United States per year. 10.7 million were granted permanent status over the last 10 ten years.

What is most troubling to American voters is the fact that all of this should have been preventable if we had simply enforced current immigration law over the last 30 years.

What Does The 14th Amendment Say?

That brings us to the 14th Amendment. What does it actually say?

Amendment XIV, Section 1, Clause 1:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." (emphasis added)

That seems fairly clear except for the words I underlined above..."and subject to the jurisdiction thereof."

Is a child born in the United States to parents who are illegal immigrants "subject to the jurisdiction of the United States" when those parents are unlawfully present in our country?

This is the crux of the argument that is made by those (Donald Trump included) that believe that the 14th Amendment does not automatically confer birthright citizenship to children of illegal immigrants. At a minimum, they believe that Congress has the right to define what "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" means.  It has already been accepted that this means that children born to foreign diplomats do not gain U.S. birthright citizenship nor do members of certain Indian tribes.

I would further argue that the very actions of the federal government in not enforcing the immigration laws means that illegal immigrants that are here have effectively not been "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States" by the consistent failure of our government to enforce the country's jurisdictional borders.  How can an illegal immigrant be considered to be subject to the jurisdiction of our country if they are here illegally but our government is doing nothing about it?

Trump and Polling

I found it interesting that in the most recent polling data I could find on the issue of birthright citizenship (Rasmussen, April 20, 2015), 54% of the respondents agreed that children of illegal aliens born in the United States should not "automatically become a citizen of the United States" compared to 38% who believed they should.

You can say what you want about Donald Trump but his polling numbers are where they are because he is striking a chord with a large segment of the American electorate. Look no further than those polling numbers on birthright citizenship and this was before Trump elevated the issue in public discussion.

Trump understands that anchor babies are an anchor around our necks if we are to have any chance to fix the immigration system.

We likely cannot (and should not) do anything about the past but we surely should not continue to compound the problem going forward be it by judicial challenge, legislation or constitutional amendment to remove birthright citizenship. I would advise moving forward on all three fronts to cover all the bases.

It is time to remove this anchor from around our necks.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Conventional Wisdom or Conformism?

‘Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.’
                                                                                                        -Albert Einstein

When Dick Fosbury was a sophomore in high school he could not clear 5 feet which was the minimum qualifying jump height for many high school meets.

Fosbury high jumped like everyone else did in his sophomore year using the so-called ''straddle method" where he approached the bar and thrust one leg up and over the bar and ended up with his body straddling over the bar as he attempted to get his trailing leg over as well.

The Straddle Method

By the end of his junior year in high school Fosbury jumped 6'3" to break the school record at his high school. A year later he was runner-up in the Oregon state track and field meet.

How did he improve so rapidly?  He ignored the conventional wisdom and found a better way to clear the bar. His new high jump method became known as the "Fosbury Flop."

This is how Fosbury describes it.

I take off on my right, or outside, foot rather than my left foot. Then I turn my back to the bar, arch my back over the bar and then kick my legs out to clear the bar.” 

The Fosbury Flop

Five years after Fosbury started experimenting with his new method he won the Gold Medal at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

By the next Olympics, 28 of the 40 competitors were using the Fosbury Flop. Today you don't find anyone doing anything else.

You can see the effect that the Fosbury Flop had on the world high jump record.

Fosbury's idea and his independence changed the world of high jumping.


Pete Gogolak was another individual thinker who came up with a better way to placekick a football.
Gogolak was the first college football kicker to kick the football soccer style rather than the straight ahead style that had been in use for decades. Rather than use the toe to kick the ball, Gogolak kicked the ball with the instep of his foot similar to the way he had learned to kick a soccer ball in his native Hungary.

Pete Gogolak kicking at Cornell University
Credit: Cornell University Athletic Communications

The rest is history. Gogolak (as well as his younger brother Charlie) went on to the NFL and changed the way the ball was kicked forever. There are no longer any kickers who toe the ball like Lou "The Toe" Groza did.

I thought of all of this today as I watched Bryson DeChambeau win the U.S.Amateur Golf Championship.


DeChambeau is another individual who has freely labored on his own to find something that works better for him. Bryson plays with irons that are all the same length (37.5"). His wedges are the same length as his 4 iron.

Bryson DeChambeau's irons

Whether uniform length irons will transform golf is yet to be determined but it certainly seems to be working for DeChambeau. Today he became only the 5th player in history to win both the NCAA Individual Championship (Bryson played for SMU) and the U.S.Amateur in the same year.

By the way, the other players that have accomplished that feat have gone on to pretty good careers playing golf.

Jack Nicklaus. Phil Mickelson. TigerWoods. Ryan Moore.

Where would we be if everyone always just conformed to the conventional wisdom?  History shows that we would be way behind where we are today but for the few who see things differently, and most importantly, are not afraid to pursue their ideas despite the inevitable ridicule and reprimands that come with taking a different path.

I started with an Einstein quote and I will end with one as well.

'There are few enough people with sufficient independence to see the weaknesses and follies of their contemporaries and remain themselves untouched by them.'
                                                                                                        -Albert Einstein

Thankfully there are a few who are both independent enough and can remain untouched by those who tell them they have it wrong when they know they are right.

Thank you, Dick Fosbury, Pete Gogolak.......and Bryson DeChambeau...... for showing us the power of your ideas, your independence, your inner strength and the inspiration you provide to all of us that conventional is not always wisdom. At times it is nothing more than conventional conformism.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Where Have All The Good USA Tennis Players Gone?

Can you name the top-ranked men's tennis player in the world that is from the United States?

I could not until today when I attended the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

Suffice it to say that the United States is not producing tennis players like it did when I was younger and we had players like Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jimmy Conners and John McEnroe.

In fact, there has not been an American male ranked #1 in the world since Andy Roddick in 2003.

Consider the number of weeks that Americans were #1 in the ATP rankings over the last forty years and you can see how far the USA has fallen.

Pete Sampras- 286 weeks

Jimmy Conners- 268 weeks

John McEnroe- 170 weeks

Andre Agassi- 101 weeks

Jim Courier-  58 weeks

Where does the best USA male tennis player rank today?  #12.

He is also the only USA male ranked in the top 25.

What has happened to the tennis talent in America?  Did it all of a sudden disappear?

That is undoubtedly not the case.

There is just as much raw talent and talent as there has ever been.

Quite simply, there clearly are not as many kids playing tennis.

And those that are playing are not putting the hours of practice in that kids did in the past.

The rest of the world has also caught up. When I was growing up tennis was dominated by the Americans and the Australians. It is much more of a worldwide game now.

In fact, the top 20 male tennis players in the world come from 14 different countries.

American Serena Williams remains the top ranked female player. However, there is only one other American woman in the Top 20 (Madison Keys #19).

Belinda Bencic (Switzerland) from my courtside seat today
#12 ranked female player in the world

Here is a chart showing the percentage of adolescents who play various sports in the USA.


Football, basketball and baseball have always been the top 3 in male sports but soccer seems to have taken a big chunk out of potential tennis players compared to what we might have seen in the past.

What is the answer to get Americans back on top in tennis?

More kids playing tennis.

And a few of those kids willing to put the thousands of hours of practice in order to be the best.

Or as Todd Martin an American tennis pro and instructor who was at one time ranked #4 in the world told Forbes magazine a couple of years ago about the decline of American tennis.

It’s a skills-intensive game that rewards individuals willing to hit thousands of balls a day. Few kids out there are willing to do that for the decade or so it takes to become elite.

Or as Chris Evert told The Wall Street Journal recently in a nice feature on her upbringing looking back from her 60th year.

The reason I did so well so quickly is that I practiced for hours each day—at night under the lights after school and in the mornings and evenings on weekends. In Florida you could play outdoors year-round, which gave me an edge over those who played only five months of the year.

Talent is vastly overrated. In any endeavor.

If you see a change in the perceived talent level like we are seeing in tennis today in the United States there is an explanation. It can almost always be traced to several missing ingredients.

Passion. Practice. Perspiration. Perseverance.

Give me those four and you will find success almost anywhere you go.

Toil trumps talent. Hard work beats heredity.

Do you want to know the name of the top ranked USA male tennis player?

John Isner.

Credit: Naparazzi via Wikipedia Commons

By the way, Isner is 6'10'' tall.

He chose tennis over basketball?

Smart decision.

It would have probably been even harder to be the 12th best basketball player in the world.