Tuesday, November 24, 2015


My thanksgiving is perpetual…                                                                   
For my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.

Henry David Thoreau

Tell you the truth, I’m tempted to skip this year and move directly to Thanksgiving 2016, because by then the presidential election will finally be behind us. But then I realize that I better be careful what I wish for, because if the election were to be held right now it would likely be a contest between Hillary and Donald and who would wish that on the nation?

So, we will suffer through another whole year of insufferable posturing and deception in the hope that some worthy contender may surface from the process. Was this really what our Founding Fathers had in mind when they set up our system of government?

I am thankful but not complacent. I crave for a government that earns the respect of the civilized world by being true to the principles on which this nation was founded, by being willing to share its richness with the less fortunate and persecuted and by accepting the limitations of its reach, power and ambition. I crave for a small but effective government that is not handcuffed by money interests nor held back by extreme polarization and purely partisan considerations. I crave for a government that sees its role more as an enabler than the perpetrator and the ultimate authority. And I crave for courageous leadership in the White House and Congress, guided by what needs to be done rather than by what the campaign donors want them to do.

I give thanks regardless this Thursday. Because life and America have been good to me and I'm grateful for the blessings bestowed upon me. It would feel better though if we had not burdened the coming generations with mounds of debt and allowed our infrastructure to degrade. And it would feel better if the blessings of America were more evenly bestowed upon all of its deserving people so that, as a nation, regardless of creed, color, social status or political conviction, we could all observe Thanksgiving not just as another day off, but as a moment to pause and reflect on how exceptionally privileged it is to live in America and be free.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


The world must be watching in disbelief! Paris burns and America takes another year to debate if one incompetent or another will take over the White House from Barack Obama. It defies logic that while ISIS attacks Russia in the air over Egypt and France in its capital, while Putin moves into Syria and China lays claim to disputed parts of the South China sea, while our national debt is creeping towards the $ 19 trillion mark and inequality of opportunity threatens the very fundament the nation was built on, America is preoccupied with meaningless TV debates between pretenders for the throne that for more than a year will still be occupied by the same guy who has resided there for the last seven years.

As if it is not bad enough that we parade a retirement age retread, a self-avowed socialist, an egomaniacal lunatic and an ultra-right wing neurosurgeon as front runners for their parties’ nomination across our TV screens—for the whole word, friend and foe, to see—we are essentially putting governance of the nation on hold until the elections are behind us and the new king or queen has been crowned. No wonder our nemeses are seeing a window of opportunity also comforted by the knowledge that the American people are tired of getting their military involved in no win situations.

The endlessly protracted process of American presidential elections is one of the worst aspects of a political system that is less and less capable of addressing the nation’s urgent needs and challenges. It puts just about everything on hold. Every politician is campaigning rather than governing and this will not change until we have changed the constitution to give the President only one (extended) term of six or seven years. Because without such constitutional amendment the next president will again only have about two years to govern before he/she goes back in election mode with the rest of the political class. Many voters watch this spectacle with approval: the ones who loudly proclaim that less government is good government. I am an advocate of small government myself, but one that is agile, smart and effective and always at work to make the nation and the world a better place. Not one that is disengaged from serving the people half of the time, while being engaged in fundraising for the next election all of the time.

Paris is burning, the Middle East is blowing up, radical Islam is spreading nearly unopposed and we are watching Hillary Clinton debating Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump ridiculing Ben Carson. Whatever happened to American exceptionalism and leadership?

Our elections are, like our military, by far and many multiples the most expensive in the world. Are we getting our money’s worth? That—of course—is a rhetorical question.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


“If I am fortunate enough to get your vote and you elect me to be the next President of the United States, I will……”

How often have we heard this? And what unrealistic claims have followed this mother of all campaign promises:
·         Forever eradicate racial discrimination in this country
·         Make these illegal immigrants go back to where they came from and stand in line for a chance to enter this country legally
·         Lower your taxes by closing all the loopholes and making sure that everyone pays their fair share of taxes
·         Make China and Russia respect us again for what we are, the leading military and economic force in the world
·         Eliminate the IRS, the department of Education, the Department of Commerce
·         Put an end to the influx of illegal drugs into this country
·         Put up a wall between us and Mexico and I make Mexico pay for it
·         Deal with radical Islam like we have dealt with the Nazi’s, defeat them
·         Grow the economy enough to allow us to lower taxes, begin to pay off our debt and eliminate unemployment for anyone willing and able to work

The Romans already had an expression for this abuse of peoples’ wish to hear what they want to believe: “Mundus vult decipi, decipiatur ergo” which translates into “the world wants to be deceived, so let’s deceive her”.

Presidential candidates should really be judged by the credibility and the feasibility of the promises they make while campaigning and they should be disqualified if they make promises, like the ones cited above, that are either completely unrealistic or outside of the presidential authority. Unfortunately our voting public is immensely gullible and loath to ask the follow-up question “and how are you going to deliver on your promise”?

Don’t we get evidence time and again that Presidents, on their own, can only do so much? Particularly, but not only, when the opposition controls the Congress. That is no afterthought. The framers of the Constitution were as afraid of unbridled power of the President as they were of the tyranny of the unsophisticated and uneducated masses (which is why voting rights were so restricted in the early republic).
Furthermore, in their zeal to get elected, presidential candidates are willing to promise much more than they ever intend to deliver. This is particularly true for today’s Republican candidates for the presidency who will have to appeal to many fringe constituencies just to come out on top in the primary process.

Don’t we also see that it takes two to tango? That the mere fact that the U.S. President may want to project American power and dominance does in no way guarantee that other world leaders and other forces like ISIS or Al Qaeda will step in line. Probably more the contrary, when the U.S. says “A”, countries like China, Russia and Iran are more likely to say “B”. The USA represents four and a half percent of the world population and the question needs to be asked why it should have the aspiration to dominate world affairs.

The phenomenon of false prophets is not new and it is not uniquely American. Through the ages of democracy and all over the world candidates for elective office have been willing to say just about anything that helped them getting elected. Once in office, they have been able to invoke unforeseen external circumstances and an uncooperative opposition to excuse them from not delivering on their promises. 
Or they have just accepted that after their day in the sun they would fade into the background, but be richer and better connected for having made it to the top. But when candidates for the White House make these outrageous and irresponsible representations in this day and age when the whole world is listening in, it takes a different dimension. These are the people that believe that they, better than anyone else, can lead the free world to a better, safer and more predictable future. And the voters will propel one of them into the highest office in the nation and the world. Based on false and undeliverable promises?

Let the voting public be forewarned that electing someone for what he/she promises to deliver, like ‘real change’, is a recipe for later disappointment and a disservice to a nation in need of firm leadership. For the highest office in the nation voters would be well advised to go by a proven and unblemished record, an appealing vision, high credibility, unassailable character, positive attitude and prime age (if a candidate with such profile can be found.)