Political Thought – Deep Thoughts on the ‘WHY?’ of the Human Condition

Political Thought

Nixon, My Second LEAST Favorite President

Blind ambition, narcissism, a man grabbed and consumed by power, you name it, Nixon suffered from it.  From early in 1968 where he was behind extending the Vietnam war to make Johnson look bad;

There was no doubt, said Johnson, that Nixon’s campaign team was trying to scupper peace talks aimed at ending the Vietnam War. They were afraid that peace in Vietnam would help Nixon’s Democratic rival, Hubert Humphrey, to clinch the election.

Johnson threatened to go public with his information. The election was just days away.

But Johnson never did go public. He received an emphatic denial from Nixon in person the next day. And perhaps more importantly, Johnson never had the definitive evidence he needed tying Nixon himself to the efforts being made by his campaign team.

A new discovery by historian John Farrell might well be the smoking gun that Johnson needed. It’s published in The New York Times.

The peace process in 1968 was real. The Soviet Union had persuaded North Vietnam to come to the table, the US just needed to deliver South Vietnam. At the beginning of November, both sides made goodwill gestures to prepare for the talks. The Communists stopped shelling cities and halted attacks across the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Vietnam. Johnson ordered a halt to the massive US aerial bombing campaign. “We’ve had 24 hours of relative peace,” he said in that Nov. 2 call to Nixon’s friend, Sen. Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.). “If Nixon keeps the South Vietnamese away from the conference, well, that’s going to be his responsibility. Up to this point, that’s why they’re not there.”

To starting of the EPA, OSHA, enacted price and wage controls and probably the most devastating short term move any President could make was that he took the US off the gold standard and cut a deal to make sure the Petro-Dollar was adopted by all oil producing nations.  Frustrated by a slow economy going into the 1972 elections (the Watergate election), Nixon removed America from the gold standard and forever put the central bankers and the federal reserve in charge of running up the largest deficits in history.  With Kissinger at his side, securing the Dollars place as the primary currency for the trade of oil gave America a 40 year run of prosperity. Prosperity at a cost.  The constant battles and interventions in the middle east are always in the name of protecting American interests….the petrodollar.

“Can you imagine what this man would have been like if somebody would have loved him?” —Henry Kissinger

Here’s one of the biggest decisions made that Nixon made. It was an election year, we were leading into the Watergate scandal and Nixon knew he’s get a temporary bump from leaving the gold standard. Fast forward 40 years and we can see what the fiat money system has morphed into.  My favorite line ‘the many responsible lenders of the International banking community’.

Big Thinkers, Great Political Debators

Mark Steyn is probably one of the best communicators I’ve ever watched. His ability to pull together topics and deliver them in a fun and impactful way is second to none. I find Peggy Noonan’s ability to communicate in writing similar to Steyn’s ability to communicate verbally. They paint a picture with their words. It’s an amazing skill.

William S Buckley – Firing Line

Dig into Firing Line with William S. Buckley, the use of language and the art of DEBATE is absolutely beautiful to watch. To think that Buckley had this platform for so many years tells me how deep society was and how much of a hunger there still is a good and civilized debate.  In an arena where Bill Moyers and Charlie Rose had similar formats,  Buckley was in a class of his own. His ability to go deep and give an opponent a biting backhand with a smile. This particular exchange between Christopher Hitchings and Buckley is legendary.  Jump in about 15 minutes to really geek out.
More classic Buckley – HERE –

The Vidal v Buckley debates are legendary, there is actually a pretty good documentary about their life long dance.

Buckley v Alinsky – HERE. 

His show Firing Line was un-produced and simple. Not cuts, a doorbell meant it was time for a commercial. The show was just Buckley asking pointed questions with thought leaders of the day. Buckley’s interview with Billy Graham in 1969 about the role of Christianity in society and it’s decline is fascinating….especially since these same discussions are happening almost 50 years later.

Two giants dance.


Politics and Business – Rent Seeking and the Decay of Markets

One of my favorite series to learn from is the PBS Frontline. Here’s a great one on the DEBT BOMB (the first chapter in my book), and crony capitalism THE WARNING (the 5th chapter in my book), and LOSING IRAQ and RUMSFELD’s WAR (the 8th chapter in my book on our role as police force for the world) and TOP SECRET AMERICA (the 4th chapter in my book on bureaucracy gone wild). Perhaps the most important Frontline episodes were the inside connection between Wall Street and Washington DC. The players are in and out of Goldman Sachs and the highest levels of government.  The episode, INSIDE THE MELTDOWN is probably the scariest and most troubling episode of them all. It’s troubling because it lays bare how government policy (everyone needs to own a home) and human greed collided and almost took the entire world back to the Great Depression era.  Pay close attention to the role of Moral Hazard.  Suffice to say, Moral Hazard is still an issue and the inflated markets are much much bigger than they were in 2008/2009.

I’m really enjoying the large discussions and topics covered in The Art of Manliness

AoM is a blog about growing up well, aimed at men and their unique challenges and interests. We explore all things manly — from the serious and philosophical to the practical and fun. We seek to uncover how to live with grandpa’s swagger, virtue, and know-how in the present age by wedding the best of the past to the best of the present. The end goal is to create a synergy of tradition and modernity that offers men a way forward and signposts on how to live an excellent, flourishing life.

Ultimately, the Art of Manliness aims to encourage our readers to be better husbands, fathers, brothers, citizens — a new generation of great men..


Here’s a few of my favorite episodes:

Tyler Cowen, one of my favorite economists. The Complacent Class

Honor, Courage and Themos, Plato’s Ideas of Manliness – Angela Hobbs

Make Your Bed Change The World – Navy Seal – Admiral William McCraven  – First saw McCraven at the UT Commencement Address

Ancient Honor – Dr. Barton

What Ancient Greeks and Romans Thought About Manliness – Ted Landen

The Road to Character – David Brooks – I bought the book after this interview.

The Untold Story of Jimmy Stewart in WWII – Robert Matzen – A man at the top of the world …… turns to service. Great story!


Justice: Free To Choose

Highly recommend Harvard’s hugely popular series by Professor Michael Sandel. His lectures are sold out, his ideas behind morality, markets, and choice really make you think. Here’s a sample, I highly recommend if you like what you hear you keep listening to his larger body of work. Here are a few other interesting lectures from Sandel -Lecture on Adam Smith (jump in about 15 min for the free form and Q&A) – HERE – A great sampling of Prof Sandel – HERE  and the lost art of political debate – HERE

Meet Senator Ben Sasse

Thank goodness we have Senators like this elected. Stumbled upon him and want to read his book :

The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis 

He’s sitting is Daniel Patrick Monyihan’s desk. He is a history guy, turn around pro and former President of a University. Born in 1972, a new US Senator from Nebraska and he’s talking about Tocqueville, the meaning of work, and the inability to for leaders to solve the big problems.  He calls out parents for not transmitting work ethic to the kids. He calls American’s in perpetual adolescents because of our tremendous affluence. We’ve forgotten how to grow up. Look at the college experience, student loans and you can see his ideas in reality.


Here’s another deep dive from Sen. Sasse….the topics on work, raising kids and the future are exceptional:


 Freakonomics Radio – Dig In And Think

Freakonomics Radio is one of the more fun and informative franchises (podcast, book, video) that I enjoy listening to. They dig deep into topics that are odd and quirky but put together paint an important picture of the big ideas. They start with a big question and then visit thought leaders and answer that question.  I am particularly intrigued by their new Earth 2.0. The hypothetical question is; ‘What would you do differently if you could reboot society?’

Earth 2.0: What Would Our Economy Look Like?

If we could reboot the planet and create new systems and institutions from scratch, would they be any better than what we’ve blundered our way into through trial and error? This is the first of a series of episodes that we’ll release over several months. Today we start with — what else? — economics. You’ll hear from Nobel laureate Angus Deaton, the poverty-fighting superhero Jeff Sachs; and many others.

Earth 2.0: Is Income Inequality Inevitable?

In pursuit of a more perfect economy, we discuss the future of work; the toxic remnants of colonization; and whether giving everyone a basic income would be genius — or maybe the worst idea ever. Tyler Cowen makes an appearance.

Here’s some of my other favorite episodes – Duckworth and GRIT – HERE and Why is Life So Hard – HERE – Could Resolving This One Problem Solve All Others? – HERE

HERE‘s how I think ex-Presidents should act when out of office.  Want to know why our politics is so divided. It culminated with eight years of THIS sort of rhetoric.  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Since the confirmation hearings of Judge Bork, the tit for tat battles has been ratcheting up in America. Sprinkle in redistricting that makes Congressional seats lifetime jobs, huge money from Unions and Corporations flooding politics, the decay of States Rights, fractured and biased news bubbles and an electorate that will un-elect anyone who tells them ‘no’ and is it any wonder we are at this point in American politics?

Weighing in on the Trump Phenomenon. +

Seven years on the air, covering the play by play of American politics I consider myself more up on current events than most.  I predicted a Romney win in 2012 and predicted a Trump loss in 2016. So much for a career as a political prognosticator. Here’s the most important reason for a Trump presidency…HERE.  What we’ve seen over the past 20 years is an abdication of power by the Congress and a concentration of power in the White House. We’ve witnessed an erosion of States rights and a runaway entitlement system fueling huge deficit spending. Voters ping-pong back and forth looking for the new Hope and Change. We are looking for the next emperor to Make America Great Again.  Sadly the power grabs by the Presidency has gone way beyond the visions of the Founders of America. The one remaining check to an imperial Presidency is the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is the ultimate referee and the Constitution is the playing field. Is the foundation of what our government a living breathing document or should it be taken literally as written over 240 years ago. That decision happens at the Supreme Court. Look no further than the Affordable Care Act decision that compels every American to buy a product. Talk about commerce clause overreach. Roberts had to bend and contort the intent of the Congress and reclassify the bill as a Tax just to keep the law intact.  There will be other Presidents that push for a Patriot Act or attempt to spy on their citizens. There will be more Obama’s and Trumps that get elected by angry mobs. The Supreme Court is our last best hope to call a strike a strike and a ball a ball.

John Cass – Chicago Tribune

Now America is reaping what the elites have sown.

Months and months before the presidential election, I began thinking of Trump not as a cause of American disruption but a symptom of it. And as much as I don’t like quoting myself, here is something from March 2016:

“It’s obvious the American political system is breaking down. It’s been crumbling for some time now, and the establishment elite know it and they’re properly frightened. Donald Trump, the vulgarian at their gates, is a symptom, not a cause. Hillary Clinton and husband Bill are both cause and effect.”

The establishment pushed the wars and free trade and their partners in the corporate-government matrix agreed to the sending off of capital (and jobs) to foreign lands.

For all the talk of partisanship, Democrats and Republicans were the two horns on the head of the goat.

And Trump voters? They were forgotten, left behind, mocked as deplorable.

Would Trump the barbarian have been elected president of the United States even 10 or 20 years ago?

No. He seems determined to prove he is socially unfit for the office. His rude personal style ruffles the feathers of many who see him as a pretender or a huckster. But he’s not dumb.

And neither are the almost 63 million people who voted for him. They’ve long been dismissed as stupid or unlettered or unsophisticated. They’d been written off as pathologically angry by the media that cleave to the establishment and see distrust in government as some kind of mental disorder.

I grew up with these people. They don’t deserve the shaming that comes their way.

They were betrayed. And all they want, really, is meaningful work and to not be told they’re idiotic or hateful simply because they dare support traditional values, and that a nation should shape its culture by controlling its own borders.

They knew Trump was loud, they knew he was vulgar, they knew he was trouble. And they voted for him because they wanted him to make trouble.

They wanted him to punch the Washington elites in the mouth, to kick them and stomp on them as they had been kicked and stomped on. They detest the ruling elites in the modern Versailles so much that they installed a character like Trump.

Fixating on Trump doesn’t really address this.

And you might want to ask yourselves, what happens 10 years from now, with the next Trump, from the right or from the left?

Because things aren’t going back to normal, are they?

Listen to “The Chicago Way” podcast, previewing the 2017 Printer’s Row Lit Fest with Elizabeth Taylor, the Chicago Tribune’s literary editor: http://wgnradio.com/category/wgn-plus/thechicagoway/


The author of Black Swan – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Tales is on Bloomberg trying to explain the Donald Trump phenomenon. It’s worth a listen.