Skip to content

Bad France

April 24, 2018

Former Vice President Dan Quayle, boning up on leadership, came to admire Napoleon. We sometimes forget the destructive force of the French Revolution, the utopian ideas of the philosophes that so entranced intellectuals in the West that were carried into Europe by the invading French armies by Napoleon.

At least Dan Quayle read about great “leaders.” President Trump’s reading ability is limited and what he remembers about France and the United States is wrapped in Independence Day oratory that extolled the French during our War of Independence and the victory at Yorktown made possible by the French Navy that blocked the British fleet under Cornwallis from escaping.

That was 1781, but we forget the Terror of the French Revolution and execution of Louis XVI in 1793, Napoleon’s capture of the Revolutionary government of France, such as it was, and the Napoleonic wars that disrupted Europe in the 19th century. But, especially, we forget the corruption of the intellectual culture of America by revolutionary ideologies.

With that “bad France” we have nothing in common.

President Macron of France knows that and is aware that President Trump hasn’t a clue. So this French politician will attempt to “con” one of the great con artists of American history. We’ll have to wait until President Macron is wished “Bon voyage” to find out whether the France of 1793 or 1781 dominates.

Growth of the Welfare State

April 23, 2018

Growth of the Welfare State was once a concern of conservative Republicans. A topic that will surely be discussed by the President of France and President Donald Trump will be the burden of welfare.  President Macron of France, unlike President Trump, is engaged in regaining control of government spending.  In the United States, only former Sen. Bob Kerry (D-NE) has consistently protested the expansion of the welfare state. This issue will not go away and perhaps President Macron can give President Trump a “head’s up.”

 

 

 

 

Barbara Bush, RIP

April 21, 2018

Politics is a hard and tough business and requires exceptional skills, insight and luck. The best gift of Lady Luck is money and the Bush family had that in sufficient supply to pursue business and political interests.

Watching the news coverage of the funeral for Barbara Bush brings all of that to light and heightens the contrast between Bush 41 and Bush 43 and Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. These two are seated in the same aisle at the Episcopal Cathedral in Houston where Mrs. Bush’s funeral was held.

The first “Gothic” cathedral hearkens back to the 12th century at Cluny and represented changes from “Old Europe” to what we call the “Middle Ages.”  Many of these magnificent buildings house the Anglican Christian faithful, some of whom are traditional families quite different from those who went to tent meetings and still meet in non-descript Baptist churches.

Once when driving four hundred miles across Virginia from Norfolk to Abington, I visited Liberty University. The money that went into Liberty University wasn’t put into fancy buildings. Jerry Fallwell had more important things on his mind. One hundred years from now it may be different, but not then–nor now.

Barbara Bush was symbolic of an old, elegant, order that we’ll not see again. May she Rest in Peace.

Making Pittsburgh’s Airport Safe & Smart

April 20, 2018

On Monday, February 12, the Trump Administration proposed the sale of Dulles and Reagan airports. Heads of major corporations–with loud voices heard in Washington–travel via New York airports to Chicago, Los Angeles and other major cities. But, La Guardia and JFK airports are a disgrace.

Those airports are not alone.

Midway terminal in Chicago is located in a slum, LAX has an improvement plan that is larger than the budgets of some small nations, and Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) was never widened for large jets in use today. Arriving passengers at PHL spend more time waiting for “slots” where airplanes may park than they do in the air. And passengers wanting to check-in must wait in lines that are sometimes a mile long.

Twenty-two years ago, Republican Allegheny County Commissioner, Larry Dunn, successfully gained control of Allegheny County government after sixty years of uninterrupted Democratic Party control of the County and began to change how County government was managed.

A graduate of Duquesne University, and a minority commissioner on the Allegheny County Board of Commissioners, Larry Dunn is a post W.W. II generation Pittsburgher in a city with so many streets named after World War II battles that one wag asked if that War was fought in Pittsburgh.

Larry Dunn, literally “a new man” like the “New Man” that Tom Payne believed his times called for, brought new ideas, professional expertise, knowledge of government and a commitment to free enterprise economics to a dormant, ineffective, Allegheny County government.

I had just returned from development of privatization projects in Eastern Europe and was invited by Commissioner Dunn to bring my understanding of privatization to privatization of County government services. In addition to serving on a commission reviewing Allegheny County Community College (I recommended that it be privatized), I traveled with Commissioner Dunn to Washington, DC where he met with Sen. Arlen Specter and the House Transportation Committee chairman, Bud Shuster.

From those two meetings came passage of historic legislation permitting five municipalities from across the United States to privatize their airports–without being required to reimburse the Federal Government funding they had received throughout years of operation.

With legislation clearing the way for sale of the County’s civil aviation airport in West Mifflin, and a successful bidding process underway, the other two Commissioners suddenly wanted nothing to do with the sale of the airport.  They rejected the agreement the County had negotiated with a California aviation corporation that was planning to move their headquarters, and jobs, to Pittsburgh.

Preparing for legislation to privatize County Airport, 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 a Teterboro official, did they get that approved? His answer: “This is Jersey!”

That’s not the way it works in most other States, nor Allegheny County. Management of American airports is conducted by “Authorities” composed of local worthies who relish free airport parking, but turn their back on privatization. For that reason, it is not unusual to find escalators or walkways in American airports that are not working, workmen who disrupt passenger movement–in the middle of the day—and jacked up prices for water, coffee and hot dogs! All that is representative of how federal, state and local government agencies are managed and the reason that U.S. airports remain third class facilities and a laughingstock.

That is not the case with Pittsburgh International Airport Authority where Christina Cassotis, is CEO of the authority governing PIT. Ms. Cassotis has, according to a report in today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, doubled the number of destinations serviced by PIT and  has attracted new airlines and more flights, in part backed by millions of dollars in incentives. She has also signed an agreement with Carnegie Mellon University to transform PIT into a technologically “smart” airport.

That may be the plan, but much depends on post-9/11 security procedures that limit access to passenger areas of terminals. Few, if any airports, have adjusted by placing baggage security in areas outside airport terminals thus making airport terminals themselves targets of terrorists.

If the goal is to secure air travel from terrorism, it makes sense to use off-site terminals independent  of airports themselves. In other words, a goal should be to secure passenger boarding,  takeoff areas and travel in the air before landing by separating baggage security from passenger travel.

PIT’s terminal was built in 1992 and was a mall cum airport facility managed by a private British company where high end shops, restaurants and services were offered to travelers and non-travelers alike–at off airport prices. Then came 9/11, restrictions on access to airports, and USAir’s merger with American Airlines and departure from PIT.

Homeland Security regulations impede ease of travel by restricting access to passenger departure areas to ticketed passengers, and few airports have designed ways to ease moving passenger baggage from passengers to security personnel. In my home airport, after completing ticketing, I am required to carry my baggage to security personnel–a distance  of about 20 feet. No “moving walkway” services passengers in the area servicing Southwest and some other airlines. At most airports, long steel tables are in place where passengers lift their own baggage, remove their shoes, belts and place wallets, cell phones, coins and pens into tubs.

There has got to be a better way, and that may require separating the process of boarding from baggage security by moving baggage security into areas separated from the main terminal. In the case of PIT, that would require building another terminal cum mall and securing access to the main terminal for ticketed passengers only. That would make PIT not only “smart,” but safe.

 

 

 

 

Future of the GOP–Three Views

April 17, 2018

Conservative Republicans are of three minds about the GOP:

The Optimist

There is lots of decay — moral, muscular, and otherwise — in and around the party, but there is nothing new about that.  A Reagan moment is a Brigadoon phenomenon;  it mysteriously appears once every hundred years or so and a few very great things happen; and, then, the country coasts for decades on the strength of that spiritual energy while the craven and the ignorant carry on with business as usual.  The most important features of our permanent  political system are Mr. Madison’s checks and balances and our Anglo-Saxon habit of taking the rule of law seriously. There is much deep doo-doo affecting American politics, but, as Ronald Reagan’s favorite joke had it, there must be a pony in there somewhere.

The Enthusiast

Donald Trump rescued the conservative movement from its capture by the Establishment – especially corporate America which is overtly and explicitly pro-business but protectionist and, essentially, hostile to freedom of enterprise. Had Trump not prevailed in the GOP primary, any other GOP nominee would have lost, and Clinton would now by finishing the job Obama started, effectively destroying freedom in America. Instead, freedom is rising.

A Realist

The “Two Party” system inaugurated in 1800 when Vice President Thomas Jefferson of the Democratic-Republican Party defeated incumbent President John Adams of the Federalist Party will be subject to realignment. There are signs that the United States will experience a multi-party system:

When realignment occurs, our Two Party system will feature four parties:

  1. The “New“ Democrats—aligned with Neoconservatives and some Trump working class Democrats. Look for Bill Kristol and Neoconservatives to take the lead.
  2. Progressive Democrats–pursuing gender, racial and immigrant voters.
  3. A traditional GOP aligned with East Coast internationalists, Chamber of Commerce businesses, some Neoconservatives and Liberal Republicans who think fondly of Nelson Rockefeller and G. W. H. Bush.
  4. A new National Conservative Party

 

 

 

 

 

War Drums

April 11, 2018

The sound of War Drums can be heard in Washington, DC signaling a need to attack the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

The Assad government–or Russian military forces operating in Syria–used chemical weapons to attack a hospital in a rebel held city.

President Trump has expressed concern because the use of chemical weapons is a “red line” that required a U.S. response in April 2017 in the form of launch of cruise missiles against a Syrian airbase.

Why that triggered a military response by a President who pledged not to engage in the imperial warfare practices of former Presidential Administration is cause for concern.

There are a number of aspects to this current development that should be noticed:

1) Calls for response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons on its own people come to the day that that John Bolton took formal command of the office of the National Security advisor.

2) Ambassador Bolton is a man who should not be permitted to play with firecrackers, not to mention cruise missiles, so we wait in horror for what this advocate of imperial warfare will recommend to a President besieged by a raid on the office and residences of his personal attorney by his own Justice Department.

3) The Assad government is, or is close to being, a surrogate of Russia. Assad has loyalties only to himself, but with no allies in the world except for the rogue Russian government of Vladimir Putin, President Assad must do the bidding of Russia.

4)  American messianism demands that the nation to do what is right, not what is in the national interest of the United States. Thus, Sen. Chris Coons (D-CT) is calling for a military response to make things right. No doubt Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and little Marco Rubio (R-FL) will repeat the demands of MSNBC’s favorite U.S. Senator.

That is the setting in which this counter to the War Drums should be heard:

It is not in the national interest to respond to the immoral actions of other nations. Though the use of chemical weapons are deplorable and sanctioned by international agreements, they should concern the United States only when they are directed at American forces.

The strategy of Russia’s Vladmir Putin is the problem, not the Syrian government.

We should ask what the United States should do to counter the foreign policy of Russia? That is the question that should occupy the minds of John Bolton and President Trump. The absence of a strategy directed at aggressive moves by Russia has raised concerns that the President has been compromised by Soviet intelligence. If true, the President needs to “come clean” and move immediately to state what policies he recommends for responding to Russia and other countries that present challenges to the national interest.

Bombing Syria is not one of those policies.

The Next Conservative Leader?

April 10, 2018

In a country as large as the United States, why place a question mark after the phrase, “The next conservative leader”?

What constitutes “Conservative” is  commitment to national security,  commitment to free enterprise and commitment to limited government. If there is no argument about these “Big Three” commitments, why has no “leader” arisen who symbolizes all three principles?

That is what once was called the “$64,000 Question.” Back when that phrase first entered the American vocabulary in 1955, the United States was getting used to its  peacetime obligations as “the” world power. The President of the United States was a proven war hero, former Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, his opponent in the 1952 presidential nomination contest, Sen. Robert Taft (R-Ohio) longtime leader of Republican conservatives was dead. It would be close to thirty years before a new leader came forward and successfully waged a campaign for President of the United States.

Ronald Reagan left office in 1989–again, close to 30 years ago–and we await another conservative Republican like Ronald Reagan.

Why the delay?

American politics and culture have changed. Disruptions caused by the anti-Vietnam War movement led to emasculation of American college curricula. “Cafeteria style” education became the rule and for more than 40 years, American college  students have not been required to study the history of Western civilization, American government and history, economics, religion, nor what is required to sustain a self-governing Republic.

When Ronald Reagan attended Eureka College, Keynesian economics had not been created and we must assume that even though Ronald Reagan was a “C” student, he earned a degree in economics when it represented the classical liberalism of Adam Smith and David Ricardo.

Today, if you study Economics in most colleges, you’ll be taught the “demand” side of economics, not about “Supply-side Economics.”  If you are an aspiring conservative leader, in order to learn about tax cuts and limited government, you better not study Economics or Political Science in College.

And where will you learn that the national interest should govern American foreign and national security policy?

Moreover, why would you even consider a career in elective politics? The First Amendment protects the media, now dominated by “journalists” who are what we used to call “anti-American.”  Oh, I know they aren’t communists or agents of  a foreign power, but today’s journalists represent the ideology of the professors who dominate “the Left University.” University of Missouri communication professor, Melissa Click, is an example of what you’ll learn in Departments of Communication.

A teenage indiscretion or brush with the law will be dragged up when you surface as an aspiring conservative politician. Your ex-wife will be encouraged to tell why she divorced you, and God help you if you cheated on your wife or were arrested for DUI.

In other words, unless you are hardened by adversity or are callous and don’t care that your reputation will be shaped by enemies, you will not seek public office. And you may not even study American history, economics or American foreign policy. After all, what has that got to do with being a responsible citizen?

So, under those circumstances, do we really need to ask, “Where is that conservative leader who will wear the shoes of Bob Taft or Ronald Reagan?”