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Educating for World Leadership

May 24, 2017

President Ronald Reagan’s first major international meeting in June 1982 at the 8th G7 Summit  held in Versailles, France revealed that the President was ignorant of world affairs, foreign policy and international politics. Fortunately, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher intervened to protect that President from embarrassment and a strong and important relationship between Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan was the result.

Unfortunately, American politicians who succeed to high office know very little about the world beyond our borders. Few private sector occupations prepare Americans for international relations and the wonks who study foreign policy at university do not aspire to elective office.

It is unfortunate, therefore, that there is no program that prepares aspiring politicians for world leadership. All American politics is local and a politician who lets it be known that he is interested in foreign policy and international politics is likely to lose elective office. Seats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee or the House Foreign Affairs Committee are usually assigned to Members of Congress from safe districts or hold secure Senate seats.

How then can we better prepare the nation for world leadership?

Military service tends to give opportunity to foreign travel, as do some executive positions in major corporations. But, survival in those positions usually requires strong ties at HQ or the Home Office, and many are those who are terminated because “out of sight out of mind.”

During the Reagan Administration a group of conservatives were appointed to what was then called USICA, formerly known as USIA that now resides at the Department of State in the office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

Unfortunately, Reagan’s appointee to head USICA, Charles Z. Wick, terminated their employment and the Reagan Administration’s contribution of a cohort of knowledgeable, conservative, foreign policy experts was a big fat “zero.”

Can we plan the development of a corps of international experts, politically astute and philosophically sound, to guide Republican Presidents through the minefields of foreign diplomacy?

 

Little Known Teterboro Airport

May 15, 2017

A Learjet crashed at Teterboro airport today killing two pilots. Few know or remember that Teterboro airport is a municipal civil aviation airport that was sold to a private company.

Privatization of airports has been blocked by the Federal Aviation Agency and, after 9/11, the future of privatized airports is quite dim. So, why and how did this airport escape the clutches of federal government regulators?

Several years ago, I made an effort to find out when I assisted the County of Allegheny in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to privatize some of its government services. A college friend, Larry Dunn, had been elected Chairman of the County Board of Commissioners–the first Republican to control county government in sixty years. Commissioner Dunn had run for office on the pledge that he would privatize the county’s civil aviation airport, or resign.

When we realized that there were regulations making that sale impossible, Commissioner Dunn went to Washington, DC and initiated legislation that would permit the privatization of ten airports. I looked into how many U.S. airports had been privatized and found that only Teterboro had successfully freed itself from government control. “Why and how,” I asked.  The answer: this is Jersey!

“Best” and “Worst” Presidents

May 13, 2017

Quinnipiac University  in Hamden, Connecticut, is host to the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. Compare the “best” Presidents with the “worst.”

Best president since World War II:

  1. Ronald Reagan (30%)
  2. Barack Obama (29%)
  3. John F. Kennedy (12%)
  4. Bill Clinton (9%)
  5. Dwight Eisenhower (tie) (3%)
  6. George W. Bush (tie) (3%)
  7. Harry Truman (tie) (2%)
  8. Lyndon B. Johnson (tie) (2%)
  9. Jimmy Carter (tie) (2%)
  10. George H.W. Bush (tie) (2%)
  11. Richard Nixon (<1%)
  12. Gerald R. Ford (<1%)

Worst president since World War II:

  1. Richard Nixon (24%)
  2. Barack Obama (23%)
  3. George W. Bush (22%)
  4. Jimmy Carter (10%)
  5. Ronald Reagan (5%)
  6. Bill Clinton (4%)
  7. Lyndon B. Johnson (3%)
  8. George H.W. Bush (2%)
  9. Gerald R. Ford (1%)
  10. Harry S. Truman (tie) (<1%)
  11. Dwight Eisenhower (tie) (<1%)
  12. John F. Kennedy (tie) (<1%)

Can this country be saved?

May 13, 2017

I’ve begun research on a new book.  The working title is “Can this country be saved.”  I am attempting to outline what our problems as a political community are and why there is a consensus that America’s civil society is in crisis.

There are four books that I’ll examine closely at the start of my research on this topic.

Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (1835).

Francis Graham Wilson, Order and Legitimacy (1967)

James Pinkerton, What Comes Next (1993)

James Piereson, Shattered Consensus (2015)

Professor Wilson did not promote his scholarship and has been long forgotten. But half a century ago this erudite philosopher examined the condition of American civil society and explored how 19th century Spanish philosophers addressed problems that were quite similar.

Spain? It will be interesting to see what Professor Wilson discovered.

Kentucky Oaks/Derby Picks

May 4, 2017

My handicapping of Thoroughbred horses begins with pedigree, then race results and style.

Here are my Picks for the Kentucky Oaks and Derby, May 5 and 6, 2017:

Kentucky Oaks: 10/1/6

FIRST

  1. Miss Sky Warrior, Paco Lopez/ Kelly Breen 9-2   Giant’s Causeqay/Conquistado Cielo, Great race Davona Dale, March 4  4 preps all first place

SECOND/THIRD

  1. Ever So Clever, Luis Contreras/ Steve Asmussen 20-1  Medaglia D’Oro/ElPrado (Closer) Last raced April 14

SECOND/THIRD

  1. Vexatious, Kent Desormeaux/ Neil Drysdale 20-1  Giant’s Causeway/Rahy

Kentucky Derby: 3/16/8 or 12

FIRST

3. Fast and Accurate (1st at Turfway)–Michael Maker

SECOND

16.  Tapwrit (Closer,  1st Tampa Bay Derby) Todd Pletcher

SECOND/THIRD

8.  Hence (Closer,   1st in Sunland Derby)  Steve Assmussen

12.  Sonneteer (Closer, 2nd in Rebel) Desormeaux

 

The West: Current and Future Prospects

April 27, 2017

American Academy of Distance Learning conducts seminars and offers distance learning courses on subjects of interest to American citizens about American history, economics and the civilization of the West. We do that because so much has been forgotten as  a consequence of the politicization of American higher education that has occurred since the civil disturbances of 1968.

But, even before then, “Progressives”–at the beginning of the 20th century–began to argue that economic interests of the Founders of the Constitution were hidden from scrutiny by a philosophy of limited government and federalism. Economic reality, not philosophy, was the key to understanding the Constitution of the United States. The concept of a “changing Constitution” was advocated in light of the argument that the Constitution originated in economic interests, not political philosophy.

During the Great Depression, the traditions of Classical liberalism that could be traced as far back as Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and focused on individual liberty, free market economics and Constitutional limits on the federal government began to be replaced.  A more accurate description of what happened to Classicial liberalism is that it was” wiped out” and quickly replaced by socialist and Keynesian economic principles focused on government intervention in the economic life of the American nation.

Thirty-five years later, those radical changes, occasioned by a worldwide economic depression that destabilized American politics, were followed by civil disturbances in the 1960s and the 1970s.  Ours readers who lived during those times may have seen some of that on TV when the Democrat National Convention was held in Chicago in 1968. Riots in the streets of Chicago shocked the nation and set in motion forces that destroyed the New Deal coalition of the Democrats. The American two Party system prevailed, but what those parties represented changed dramatically.

For at least fifty years, therefore, high school and college educated Americans have not been required to study the principles of limited government from the perspective of long traditions rooted in Madison’s Notes on the Federal Convention.  Economics that had long explored how markets work and the role of entrepreneurs in what was called the free enterprise system was now focused on Keynesian economics and the history of Western civilization was dropped from the curriculum of almost every college and university.

This proposal for renewed examination of Western civilization is founded on the belief that now may be the time to seriously consider why we have experienced a decline of commitment to the West in civil society at large–and its consequences.

This decline is evident throughout Western Europe where the Judaeo-Christian tradition is no longer the foundation of civil society. And in Australia, the late Paul Ramsay, founder of Ramsay Healthcare, thought the loss of knowledge of Western civilization was so grave that he bequeathed the sum of three billion dollars to remedy the loss of courses on Western civilization in the curricula of Australian universities by establishing a fund to promote Western civilization studies.

American Academy of Distance Learning conducted a one hour seminar on this subject on November 22, 2016 in an event co-hosted by the Family Research Council that was televised by C-SPAN. That event attracted enormous numbers of visitors who replayed the Webcast of the seminar and led us to believe that this is a topic of great interest to ordinary citizens who are concerned about the moral condition of American society, a general decline of civilization and culture, and the deleterious contribution of American education to that decline.

What is the true condition of Western civilization in the United States and Canada, and in East, Central and Western Europe? What is the West? and how does Western culture affect personal and community life in our time?

What are the forces contributing to the West’s decline, and can Europe as an identifiable culture and civilization survive if “the West” continues to lose influence? What are the consequences for that for the United States and Canada?

Budgeted to include Webcast services, this seminar will reach an international audience who access the presentations of these six scholars.

Dr. Peter Wood, president, National Association of Scholars

Dr. Aurelian Craiutu, Professor of Political Science, University of Indiana

Dr. Grant Haver, Chairman, Philosophy Department, Trinity Western University

Dr. Richard Bishirjian, president, American Academy of Distance Learning

Dr. Barry Cooper, Professor, Department of Political Science, Calgary University

Getting Close to the Bottom

April 13, 2017

I’m certain that “the bottom” of the current condition of civil society is not anything we ever want to experience, but we’re getting very close–maybe another five years and we’ll be in very deep doo doo.

I want to get a better sense of where we’re going, so I’m going to take a break from daily posts in order to finish a novel, and I have two serious books I need to read. One is by Jim Pinkerton titled What Comes Next and the other is by James Piereson titled Shattered Consensus. My interest in reading these two books was occasioned by my post on April 1 titled “A Grim View of America’s Prospects.”

The election of Donald Trump revealed a “leadership gap” in a GOP weakened by the destruction of the GOP brand by President George W. Bush. Until new leadership arises, the crisis in civil society will deepen. Why is civil society in crisis and will the United States survive the Presidency of Donald Trump?

While trying to find some answers to those questions, I’m going to hit the road giving presentations to groups interested in the coming death of American higher education. In two recent meetings, I learned a lot about people’s concerns and hopes. I hope to learn more.

Until I get through those two heavy tomes, I’ll be on an extended Easter Break from Facebook.  But, I’ll be reading your posts and enjoying life as your report it.

Happy Easter!