Donald Trump’s Complex Cabinet

Didn’t President Eisenhower warn us about this?

Eisenhower coined the term Military-Industrial Complex in his 1961 farewell address. In 2017, maybe the Military-Industrial Complex will rule America.

President-elect Donald Trump’s most notable Cabinet appointments so far divide about equally into military leaders and captains of industry and finance. Does a general outrank a captain of industry, or vice versa? Continue reading

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Authority And Leadership

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“Don’t give authority to those hungry for authority. Give authority to those hungry to serve.”

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American Politics According To Alice Waters

Alice Waters at JWU: Lecturn

ALICE WATERS  (Photo credit: Andy Ciordia)

Alice Waters, a leading light in the movement for nutritious, organic, and local food, was interviewed in the Washington Post this week. One quote would be a good meditation for all who are concerned about the human condition in America, as we approach the 2014 midterm elections.

“I’m in this very political place right now and feel like we have to collaborate in different ways to make a big impression, to change the way that we are living our lives, which is destroying our health and the planet. I certainly want to feel like I have tried to take care of this planet for the kids of this world. I really have to do something.”

Please focus your attention on the word “collaborate.”

Politicians have oversized egos. Continue reading

Obituary For A “Rich Tyrant”

Please read “Margaret Thatcher’s dead and I want to cry” by Katy Evans-Bush at “Baroque in Hackney.” It might be the most important blog post you’ll read this year.

MARGARET THATCHER. (Photo via Baroque in Hackney)

MARGARET THATCHER. (Photo via Baroque in Hackney)

It’s a moving and honest essay on the death of a “rich tyrant.” It’s also a scathing indictment of a certain type of aristocratic leadership, and of the political and economic systems that empower and protect such leadership.

I believe Ms. Evans-Bush’s analysis is not limited to Margaret Thatcher. Didn’t Ronald Reagan represent the same harsh policies, but with a kinder, smiling face and a charming personality?

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Can A Ship Sail Right Over The Edge Of The Earth?

“The U.S no longer has a well-functioning self-government. . . .  American democracy has been hacked. The United States Congress, the avatar of the democratically elected national legislatures in the modern world, is now incapable of passing laws without permission from the corporate lobbies and other special interests that control their campaign finances.” 

The above quote is from Al Gore’s new book, “The Future.” It makes sobering reading as the U.S. ship of state drifts, apparently rudderless, toward “sequestration.” Is the bridge abandoned? Have the helm and the engine room broken down?

I don’t understand the panic over sequestration, but I am concerned about the ability of U.S. government institutions to function. Continue reading

BP Offshore Oil Disaster Is A Game-Changing Event

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The mile-deep gusher at BP’s offshore oil well in the Gulf of Mexico has ended President Barack Obama’s proposal for new offshore oil drilling, just as surely as the collapse of the stock market, and the housing and credit bubbles, snuffed out President George W. Bush’s plan to invest Social Security funds in the stock market.

In the wake of the BP oil disaster, thousands of people chanting “Drill baby, drill,” would seem surreal.

Thus are presidential policy options narrowed by unpredictable forces.  Leaders deal with the world as it is, not as they wish it to be.

Events not only narrow a president’s choices; events can change the direction of a president’s attention, like a river cutting a new channel. Events can force a president’s hand, as war forces a choice between guns and butter.

It is left to great men to answer the question: “What do we do now?” And then to do it well.

Great men affect history by choosing wisely among limited options. Even more, perhaps, great men affect history by thoroughness of planning and excellence of implementation. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower became great because he thoroughly planned and successfully implemented the invasion of Normandy.

George W. Bush became a bungler because he made the wrong military decision, war in Iraq.  Then he compounded the error by failing to plan and implement the war.

Abraham Lincoln made the right choices, but would he be considered a great president if he had lost the Civil War?

Now President Obama’s policy initiatives at home appear increasingly limited by political and economic realities.  I hope that events do not force the president to turn his attention to war.

— John Hayden