The Thinking Person’s Candidate

Many years ago a good friend shared with me his thoughts regarding television. He said it would be the downfall of our culture. At the time, I thought his opinion dire and extreme. But after observing this pre-election cycle and, most recently, the final Republican primary debate last night, I think he was ahead of his time and spot on.


Television, followed by the explosion of the internet and related technologies, has been vehicles for the death of our culture and the dumbing down of our citizens. I use the word “citizen” loosely.

Citizen is defined as “a native or naturalized member of a state or nation who owes allegiance to its government and is entitled to its protection.”(emphasis added). It is, in fact, allegiance to government that we have abdicated and I think it has a lot to do with a slow, but systematic, intention to enslave our minds and imbue us with feelings of hopelessness and disempowerment.

It’s really seductive to be told what you think without actually having to actually do the heavy lifting to educate yourself in how to think. Television and the internet, particularly social media, have been highly effective tools for manipulating and conditioning our minds as to what is desirable, and even necessary, to live satisfying and successful lives. The irony, of course, is that the things and lifestyle we have been conditioned to believe are necessary and valuable are, in fact, superfluous, vacuous and unfulfilling at best… and stress inducing at worst.

So, in a culture addicted to media-driven group think and feelings of powerlessness, the natural end product is a media-bred personality exhibiting a penchant for the unbridled use of power for the sole purpose of winning.

Enter Donald Trump. He is entertaining, media savvy, brash, electric, oblivious to the facts, scripted in his own disarming way, ignorant of history and the Constitution, and, all about power and winning at any cost.  He is not a leader. He is a bully. He is the consummate candidate for a dumbed-down, enslaved culture.

While I was taken with Marco Rubio’s fierce offensive against Trump last night during the Republican primary debate, I was even more taken with the less fierce, but more powerful presentation by Ted Cruz.  Rubio had the one liners and sharp retorts to Trump’s habitual name calling and personal attacks (against anyone who dares challenge him); but Cruz had the facts and the law on his side with each and every exchange he had with Trump.

I don’t know about you but in November 2016, if I had to choose a Larry David (think Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm) scripted star to appear in a new sitcom I’d want the delivery and wit of Marco Rubio or the sheer brashness and laughable behavior of Donald  Trump. But in November 2016, I’ll be choosing a President of the United Sates and that requires a very different set of criteria.

I want a President who keeps his calm, curbs his sarcasm, knows the Constitution, has a set of inviolable principles, thinks rationally, decides comprehensively, and through his behavior communicates that he respects both the populace and the office he serves.

And so I am back to what my friend said many years ago about television. We have before us a choice by which we seal our fate as 1) either the remnant of the Constitutional Republic that was the cornerstone of our founding or 2) the latest entry into the graveyard of history where rests countless attempts to rule humankind through either Socialism (Hilary Clinton) or dictatorship (Donald Trump).

I firmly believe that Donald Trump is the natural and dangerous end product of a century of deliberate enslavement. I also firmly believe that Ted Cruz is the thinking person’s candidate. The illusion of power or individual freedom? Abdicate thought or think for yourself?

Vote Super Tuesday and again November 2016. Vote consciously. Vote as if your future depends upon it…because it does.


An American Woman Serving in the Military

Context is everything. So is perspective. The same set of facts within a different context, or from a different perspective, can lead to an opposite conclusion. Such is the case with women in the military. My co-blogger, Steve Clark, has written a factually accurate and passionately felt post regarding the pending inclusion of women in combat within the U.S. military. As a former Marine and member of a family that has seen its share of men go off to war on behalf of their country he sets forth a compelling argument why he opposes the decision and why he intends to never see his daughters in combat.


I, on the other hand, just today hugged my daughter goodbye at the airport in Austin, Texas as she ended a five-week visit home. Home for us is where I live yet my daughter is a Commander in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).  She is currently serving in a combat Search and Rescue Unit as an out-of-country volunteer. She began as an American citizen but, as a result of her service, now has both U.S. and Israeli citizenship. She carries two passports.

I agree with everything Steve wrote in his post. Within the context of U.S. politics and U.S. military history, we have too often sent young men to die to satisfy the recklessness and excesses of politicians who never see combat while reaping the luxuries and financial rewards that so often accompany the buildup and execution of war.

So why am I so proud of my daughter? Why do I bid her goodbye with both a mother’s tears of anxiety for her safety as well as an indescribable parental pride?


We are American Jews. Israel, twenty-four miles wide at its widest point, has been a nation under relentless siege for its entire existence. For 68 years, the tiny nation has never known peace or its citizens the luxury of personal safety. Israel does not have an offensive military agenda. It does not seek to nation build. It aspires to no conquest. It seeks only to live in peace on a sliver of land granted to it following the nightmare known as the Holocaust when the world turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to attempts at a systematic and barbaric genocide aimed at annihilating an entire people because of their faith.

After my daughter graduated high school in New Jersey she spent a gap year in Israel. I was not opposed to her taking a year off prior to college but I made it clear she had to volunteer someplace in the world to give that year meaning.  She chose a nine month program in Israel designed for exactly such a purpose. When she returned home to begin her freshman year, she informed me that she “had a plan.” She was going finish her freshman year then volunteer for a combat unit in the IDF. She would then finish college after her service.

I was shocked and deeply concerned but felt I had a year to either talk her out of it or witness her enthusiasm waning. Neither occurred. As I observed the commitment to her decision deepen as her freshman year progressed, I realized she was responding to an inner calling that I had no right to impede. She is now two years and two months into her three year commitment.

Yes, I lost a lot of sleep during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza last summer. Yes, I often worry about her well-being. Yes, I often wish she was not so readily in harm’s way. (It was her base outside of Gaza last year where several terrorists emerged from the Mediterranean in scuba gear intending to kill soldiers only to themselves be killed before they could kill).

But in a world of young people who have no sense of history or purpose, who live vicarious lives on the internet, who indulge themselves when not being indulged by their parents, who turn to drugs and pornography to escape reality, who think friendship is how many people “friend” them on Facebook…I take pride in the fact that my daughter has purpose. I take particular pride in the fact that she is helping keep safe a nation and a people that desire only to live and let live.

When I visited my daughter last year in Jerusalem where she lives when off base, I was truly amazed by the love and pride expressed to her everywhere we went by Israeli citizens. When I would introduce her and say “this is my daughter” the response was invariably “here… she is everyone’s daughter.” Volunteers who have died in service to the IDF have had funerals attended by thousands of Israelis who never met them yet walk hours to the grave site to pay tribute. Young men as well as young women have died in such service.

When you walk the streets of Israel, a common sight is young female soldiers in shorts having lunch or even sunbathing on the beach in bikinis with an M-16 or M-4 slung over their shoulder. (IDF soldiers are subject to incarceration if their weapon is stolen or lost and so they  never part with it unless staying in a private residence and, even then, it must be broken down and its parts stored in multiple locations within the home). No one wants to see a woman go to war. Not as Steve eloquently laid out in his post, not any Israeli, and certainly not this mother. But when it’s a matter of existence, not politics or nation building, then everyone, regardless of gender, who can serve…should serve.

If that service is an inner calling then ultimately, and more importantly, it’s a matter of heart not gender.


Women: Its Time To Sign Up For The Draft

As society continues to push the notion of  equality between the sexes, the feminist finally got their wish granted with our armed forces opening up all combat positions to women. Until now, all males age eighteen and older must register for the selective service, the precursor to the draft.  However, with women now eligible for combat positions, I anticipate that they too will have to register in the near future upon turning eighteen.

women in combat

Given the United States penchant for war, along with our global commitments, there is a continual demand for more bodies. This establishes the need for more soldiers; hence, the decision to open our armed services to women.  I believe the general public does not fully comprehend the ramifications of this policy.  Only when we begin to see women maimed and killed on the battlefield will the public finally understand the end to which the feminist movement has led us.

Only a small percentage of the population (about 1%) has ever served in the military so most people have no idea what it entails. They see the commercials and news reports and think they understand military life. They don’t.  Any veteran who has ever served in harm’s way will tell you that real evil exits in the world.

A lot of people navigate the world in deliberate ignorance of the evil that surrounds them. Veterans know it’s out there because they have seen it . . . and shot it in the face. They believe in the adage that ‘the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing’ because they’ve seen it happen. They are willing to go to great lengths to make sure that evil can’t touch something that they love.

In the sake of gender equality, the U.S government is willing to sacrifice our teenage girls to the horrors of war. Our daughters, sisters and future mothers and wives are going to be sacrificed at the alter of gender equality.

My daughters, all five of them, will never serve.

I am a former Marine. I was an Infantry officer and fought in the first Gulf War. My father was a Marine Officer and was stationed in Okinawa as a Tank commander prior to the Vietnam War.  My uncle was a Marine who served in Korea. I can say with full confidence, the Clark family has done its part in serving its country

Now older and wiser and and a father of five girls, I would never ever want them to join the military or, for that matter, the Marines. War is a brutal business and the U.S continually pounds the drum looking for more conflict.  While we have not fought a battle on our homeland in over one hundred years, we none-the-less export our young people to foreign lands and ask them to do the politician’s bidding.

During the oath of office, all Marines are sworn to uphold the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic. But just look at our southern border. We have no troops there. We are not protecting our borders from enemies intent on crossing them to do harm. We have a small contingent of border agents with a massive border as illegals continue to flood into the country. We have no way effective means of vetting friend or foe, as the invasion continues.

A safe border is clearly a national security issue and one that our military is equipped to meet and enforce yet we aren’t allowing them to do their job. Instead, we have elected to have massive military bases in Germany and Korea to protect their borders but not our own.  Let’s not forget that those bases were built for wars that ended sixty years ago.

If you go to any foreign country and ask the generals how they would defend their country, they will explain how to defend the terrain, the key choke points, as well as the easiest places to defend. They can do so because that is how they have been trained: to protect their country. Now, go ask any U.S general how they would defend this nation from an enemy invasion and I guarantee you they would have no idea because it is not mentioned or taught in any of the three branches of the service. But ask them, how they would invade Russia, Iran, Iraq, etc.. and they will have a  plan to do so. That is what we do and how we train our military: to attack not defend. The whole notion is so absurd and irresponsible that were it not so disastrous it would be comedic. Under the guise of gender equality we are going to export our female citizens to attack other countries.

The fact is that the U.S engages in wars with no hope of winning or justification for so doing.  Personally I do not trust the leadership in Washington to know how to fight or protect the troops once engaged in combat.  Just look at the rules of engagement that our troops are burdened with and the countless limbs and lives that have been lost because of them.  General McCrystal, U.S.Commander in Afghanistan, had a minor mutiny on his hands when we he explained the rules of engagement to his troops (as detailed in the book The Operators).

Additionally, we have a real disconnect between the leaders in Washington and the military. Bill Clinton actively evaded the draft but had no problem sending other people’s children off to war. The fantastic film Black Hawk Down will give you a good idea of the sacrifices made by the troops he sent to do battle. George Bush and Dick Cheney led us into Iraq and Afghanistan, yet both found ways to avoid going to Vietnam.  I find it totally inappropriate that our leaders spend time golfing and vacationing while our troops are at war. President Obama has been the worst of the bunch. To his credit, George W. Bush actually quit playing golf once the Iraq war began.

While the law mandating registration for females has not yet been changed, it seems inevitable that it will be.  For some reason, there has been very little coverage  and therefore, little or no outrage.  Part of me thinks that people are not connecting the dots. The depth of our government sickness continues to show no limits. It is an unspeakable disgrace that our country would be prepared to send young girls off to fight. Pondering this latest intention by our government has lead me to the point where I have lost all faith in our leaders and those who serve their administrations at every level. Military leaders know this plan to be absurd. The Marine Corps has gone on record saying it thinks this plan is insane and have yet to find one female able to complete the Marine Corps Infantry Officer program. The Navy has been integrating women onto their ships for years with disastrous results.  It is common knowledge within the Navy the integration of men and women on ships has resulted in an untold and under-reported number of pregnancies. It is not uncommon for war ships to make continuous stops to send back impregnated women to the States for treatment.  Aside from the pregnancies, yet more children will end up being born to single mothers; the economically and socially most disadvantaged demographic.

The old adage of “women and children first” was a siren song to protect our most valuable assets in times of emergency or war. Yet we stand on the precipice of sending that treasure not only into battle but also on the front lines of combat.  They will be sent not to protect our freedoms but to attack our latest enemy.

The feminists and their ilk who promote this nonsense will never be on the front lines. Neither will the privileged political class. Do you really think the Clinton or Obama daughters will ever join the military? It will be my daughters and your daughters who take up those battles and whose lives will be forever and irrevocably altered.  My daughters are not feminists and have not asked for this reality. But it will be them who will be told to pay the price.

This time, the Clark family will not be going.


The Real Fear About Donald Trump

With the primary elections in full gear, we have seen a full blown assault by the left and right against one man: Donald Trump. The government complex is becoming fearful that the American public is waking up. The powers that have been are worried what a Trump presidency would mean for them.


Donald Trump, if true to his word, would get rid of the leviathan government that now exists. What he represents is the death of entrenched power for both political parties.

Many Conservative voters seem to be cheering his rise in the polls; but it was only a few years ago that his views were more aligned with Democrats. He was pro-abortion, pro-socialized healthcare and pro-eminent domain.  Since then, he seems to have undergone a transformation… moving from left to right on the political spectrum Normally, Conservatives would not warm up to such a candidate, but many are embracing him as a savior for the Republican party. Or maybe Trump has had an awakening to the monstrosity that government has become and knows if something is not done quickly, the country is surely doomed. Other Conservative voters wonder if this has been a true transformation or, rather, a political ploy by Trump to garner votes.

The reality is that there has been a groundswell of  anger against Obama over the last eight years. One only needs to look at the last two midterm elections to see that many Americans had become unhappy with the direction in which the country is headed. The two midterm elections in 2010 and 2014 gave a large number of party seats to the Conservative movement. The 2014 election being one of the most decisive wins for the party.  As is stands today, the Democrat Party has the least number of representatives since the Civil War.

Yet, nothing has changed. The Republican Party, for whatever reason, has not provided any meaningful opposition to this Administration;  thus, the rise of Donald Trump.

Part of the problem over the last fifty years has been the explosive growth of the size and scope of government. Oddly enough, it was a former U.S. President who began to warn the people about one aspect of the problem.  In the 1950’s, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of the rise of the military industrial complex. Given the amount of business interests that are served by war, combined with government’s penchant for war and nation building, the combination has resulted in countless military conflicts and wars, resulting in the wars that have ransacked the public coffers.

Since President Eisenhower left office (leaving those prescient comments) the U.S. has been involved in Vietnam, Cambodia, Lebanon, Panama, Grenada, Liberia, Somalia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Just think about the amount of supplies, infrastructure and money required to fund all these operations. Its easy to see the tremendous amounts of money to be made by people and companies involved in sustaining conflict.  Currently, we have 294 U.S. embassies  throughout the world. Each embassy is equipped with a detachment of U.S Marines. We have massive military bases in Germany, Japan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Korea just to name a few.  We have aircraft carriers and battleships  that continually roam the sea lanes throughout the world. The tab is enormous! With a 19 trillion dollar deficit, it is logical to conclude that this type of global presence is unsustainable. But until that day comes, remember all those individuals and companies making a ton of money funding these misadventures. So while its is safe to assume that most Americans are opposed to war, with so many people benefiting economically more conflicts are bound to emerge.

In the 1990’s it was Michael Savage who began to warn us of the government media complex. I understand that the media is not directly involved in the size of government; but without the scrutiny of media’s watchful eye government has gotten bigger.  Savage warned his listeners that the relationship between the two entities’ interests were becoming too closely aligned and that media had, in the process,  abdicated its proper role as a watchdog.  Remember, it was a small obscure website at the time, and not the mainstream media, that broke the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal. Newsweek, at the time a major news magazine, knew about the story weeks before hand but decided not to publish the story  (As a side note Newsweek no longer publishes its physical magazine but has its online presence as “The Daily Beast”).

As the government became more adept at controlling the media, the government began controlling and selling access to it as well. The Clinton Administration was the first to figure this out. It started renting out the Lincoln bedroom to the highest bidder as a way to raise funds. With the press under control they became easier to manipulate. The relationship now between government and media is more symbiotic in nature, with both parties partaking of a revolving door where employment is concerned.or jobs.  Look at this small sample of people who have worked for the media and the government:

  • Diane Sawyer worked for Richard Nixon then worked as the top reporter for CBS and ABC.
  • George Stephanopulos use to work in the Clinton Administration, is a Democrat operative and now works for ABC.
  • The late Tony Snow was a Fox contributor and then worked for the Bush administration.
  • Brian Steel from CNBC, who recently organized the much maligned Republican debate, worked for years in the Clinton Administration.
  • Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, is an NBC journalist.
  • Monica Crowley, a former Nixon assistant, now works as a Fox News contributor.

In the last year alone the facade of objective news has been cracked.  ABC News was called to task for being less than truthful when reporting the scandals at The Clinton Foundation. George Stephanopulos, a top reporter, also  made financial contributions to the Foundation yet failed to disclose this fact when reporting news stories about the Clintons.  CNBC was roundly criticized for the treatment of the Republican candidates for the debate. It should have been no no shock as one of the coordinators of the debate, Brian Steel, had worked for years in the Clinton Administration.

There is no check on the government. Media is in bed with government and together they cut deals that benefit one another. Ratings and access are more important and so the public is not privy to the full picture where political reporting is concerned. The only loser is the American public.

This incestuous relationship is not limited to the media. Wall Street has now become another area where the government has extended its presence.  In this case, it was Wall Street that sought out the government largess. Top officials at the large, private banks and government regularly trade jobs…going back and forth from the public to private sectors padding their resumes and making millions as the go.  Wall Street veterans will pay to gain government access on issues such as taxation, regulation, and trade.  Inside information on matters pertaining to these areas are highly valued by Wall Street and can turn into millions of dollars in profit. In addition, finance professionals will enter the government to build up a contact list of high placed government and foreign officials. They then monetize those contacts once they return to Wall Street.

As much as the government-media complex continues to tell us things are improving, the American people know it isn’t so. The real fear is that electing an outsider, someone not beholden to the insiders, will cause the whole charade to come tumbling down.

If the media wasn’t so focused on tearing down Trump and actually did their job investigating and reporting the underlying causes of American voter frustration and rage, Trump would not be so popular. The reason why Trump is so popular is because he is a reaction to the Obama Administration and the media types who continue to sell us on the narrative that things are going great.

In the early 1990’s Rush Limbaugh and Conservative media took off because their voices had not been heard for a very long time. Trump is taping into the renewed surfacing of that same frustration and the very real monstrosity of government growth.

Greater than the fear the American public has for the future of this country is the fear by government, media and Wall Street that the gravy train is grinding to a halt.  An outsider like Trump (or someone like Cruz who refuses to get on board the train) is their greatest nightmare come true.



The Oscars and Race

I introduced my kids to ice skating when my two oldest daughters were three and four. We would go every Saturday morning down to the Chelsea Piers Skating Rink and get our fill for the day. Eventually, they grew to love the sport and skated competitively for many years


In order to get proficient in the sport, and then excel at it, required years and years of continual practice. The commitment was enormous, the training both difficult and time consuming. By the time they were seven years old they were training four times a week between ice skating, choreography and strength coaching just to be able to enter the arena and compete with their peers.

They were both good but my oldest daughter was exceptional. Exceptional in the sense that her talent was apparent to anyone who saw her skate. I was approached many times by coaches asking if they could train her. On one particular occasion, one of the top coaches from Russia was visiting to teach a seminar. He immediately took note of her talent. By the second day, my daughter had become his favorite demonstrator and was being used to show the other skaters the proper way to execute certain moves. Even though many of the skaters in the group were far senior to her in age and experience, she simply had more natural talent.

Given her talent and unquestioned ability, I anticipated that she would win most of her competitions, but this was not the case. Her winning percentage was at 50% even though, to the naked eye, she looked like the best skater on the ice.

The reason for this is that the sport is decided by the judges. There is no absolute objective truth in which to measure the winners versus the losers. An ice skating competition usually lasts only two minutes per competitor in which a skater performs a routine set to music. During that two minutes a skater is evaluated for only a handful of moves…such as how they landed a jump or if the skater used their edges properly on a turn.

Over time, she became so frustrated with her results that she ended up leaving the sport even though she had world class talent. One of her  longtime coaches, Christine, who had competed in two Olympics and placed in the top ten twice, understood her frustration. You see even though Christine was a top skater in the world, she would never be able to place any higher. She skated for a small country that would never achieve scores higher than the skaters from larger countries such as France, U.S., Canada and Russia. It was part of how the game was played. The sport was subjective. Judges preferred skaters from the biggest skating powerhouses which made it virtually impossible for skaters from smaller countries to crack higher than the top 10. When I asked my daughter if she felt slighted in any way, she said no. In the end, people skate because they love to and not for the trophies given.

Sporting events like ice skating are therefore always hard to evaluate with laser-like precision. This is the case with other sporting events as well, such as gymnastics and diving.  But this problem is not limited to the sporting world. The art world is much the same. The art forms of painting, drawing, film and T.V are all judged by a subjective standard.  Art critics can simultaneously love and hate a particular work depending on who the artist is. Nobody complains because we all inherently know that the work of art is being evaluated by a critic with a certain point of view.

In film, especially with the Oscars,  voter bias has always been a known factor. Big action films and comedies always fair poorly at the Oscars. Its a total outlier if either of these genres can even snag a nomination. Nobody seems to complain because filmmakers know the bias exists. The phenomenal comedy “Groundhog Day”, now considered one of the 100 greatest movies of all time, didn’t garner even a single nomination. The lead actor, Bill Murray, and the director, Harold Ramis, are highly regarded for their comedic and storytelling abilities. They, too, did not complain.

The very public groaning over this years Oscar nominations is that two acclaimed films, “Straight Outta Compton” and “Concussion” both star black actors; yet. they received no nominations. Activists and many artists claim that these works, as well as others, prove that the Oscars nominating Committee is racist. But given the Oscars penchant for voting for certain types of movies, it seemed to me par for the course.  As it is every year, there are great works and talents not recognized for their accomplishments regardless of their race.

After the backlash subsidies, I fear the Oscar voters will cave. I  believe going forward, the Academy of Arts and Sciences that oversees the nominations  will now have to look for a Black artist to nominate every year… lest they be called racists. Taking this logic to its zenith,  Latinos, Transgender, Indians, Native Americans, and Catholics, etc.. will protest as well until all the minorities are represented by nominations at the detriment of true artistic ability.

We already have groups and organizations that have artistic awards broken down by race. For example, the B.E.T  has its own channel where they nominate only Blacks. The A.L.M.A, awards only Latinos. We are getting to a point where we will no longer have any inclusive award shows, but rather awards divided by gender, religion, race and culture lest no one be offended.

Which leads me back to “subject evaluations” in art. There are no right answers only points of view in subjective mediums. What seems lost in the discussion is that the true meaning we get from creating anything is gained in the process and the creation.  If we allow ourselves to need validation from something or someone else, we are give our power over to it or them. The Black activists protesting the Oscars are no longer content with the work, the money or the fame.  They want the nomination that Oscar voters can give them and, by so wanting, abdicate their power in the process.

No man can validate or redeem  another. Only we can do that for ourselves. What the Oscar nominating Committee does not realize is that even if every award went to a Black artist it would still not satiate the protesters. What the Black activists are asking for is something the Oscar voters can’t give: validation.



Cruz and Trump (et al) After Iowa

It’s going to be a long political season. It would be under ordinary circumstances but this particular season is anything but ordinary. We have become a media addicted-celebrity watching-reality TV culture… and Donald Trump is the personification of that fact. But before I wander too far down that road, I’d like to take a quick look at the field of candidates in both parties. In full disclosure, I’m a former Democrat who is a currently registered Independent leaning significantly to the right.  So you are free to take whatever I say within that context.

CruzTrumpOn the Democrat side of the equation, I can dismiss both Sanders and Clinton with one word: Socialist. Many, particularly the youth, are enamored with Socialism. Ask any of its supporters and they are hard pressed to define it…they just think free stuff and blaming the rich sounds good, as do promises to make someone pay for their own lack of success, wealth, or college tuition. I heard a great definition of Socialism the other day: “Socialism: about an hour and a half from Communism.”

On the Republican side, the analysis needs to be more on a case by case basis.

After Iowa, its Ted Cruz first. I like him. I don’t think he’s perfect, but I like him. Why? Because he’s got a proven record of battling the powers that be on behalf of our First Amendment rights ( well as for justice, even when it’s been politically unpopular to do so ( Both links are worth taking the time to read if you really care about a candidate’s qualifications for President. Is he a bit too preachy and scripture quoting for me at times? Yes. But I’d rather have a man or woman in the most powerful job in the world who is certain they ultimately answer to a higher power than someone who says they have never done anything for which they need to seek forgiveness.

The perfect segue to number two in Iowa: Donald Trump.

I understand the attraction. He isn’t constrained by political correctness nor is he beholden to the Republican leadership (although he has been a “player” in the crony capitalism of both parties forever). He speaks his mind. He has verbally tackled some hot button issues of grave importance to the electorate. But as I watch him each and every time, I think of P.T. Barnum, that American showman and businessman remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and for founding the Barnum and Bailey Circus. In particular, I watch Trump and I think of that quote Barnum is famous for: “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Trump is more than a tough negotiator. He’s an emotionally stunted bully who seeks revenge and the total destruction of anyone who gets in his way. The last thing we need is someone who ratchets up the hate factor…or an “us against them” mentality. Yes, the free world has real enemies. But Trump makes everyone who disagrees with him the enemy. Isn’t that exactly what Barack Obama has done…only with more finesse and less visible vengeance? Trump’s going to sue Ted Cruz for beating him in Iowa? Really? And in case you didn’t know, the stories about Trump’s lawyer of choice give meaning and truth to every shark lawyer joke ever told.

Number three? Marco Rubio. Strong on defense. He gets ISIS and Putin. I like that. He’s not so much my guy on the border, although I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt that times are different now than when he sponsored the Gang of Eight and amnesty, so changing his policy approach could be a legitimate occurrence. It’s a little disheartening that he has a habit of saying just enough truth about an opponent peppered with just enough un-truth to cast doubt where there should be none. It’s a sleazy tactic and he loses me every time he does it…most notably with Cruz. He’s a brilliant orator and debater who sometimes seems robotic to me. I’m just sayin’.

Truth is a quality never lacking in Iowa’s number four: Ben Carson. He’s an admirable man and a brilliant one too. I don’t aspire to the notion that he lacks experience for a crisis. His answer in the last debate should have silenced those doubters. (“I’ve had more 3a.m. wake-up calls with emergencies and the need to put a competent team together than everyone else on this stage put together!”). My concern is that he lacks the savvy to deal with the crooks and liars that are the leadership and the rank and file in both parties. We just gone through one “on the job training President.” I’m not up for another one. I hope whoever wins the Republican nomination and the Presidency utilizes the talents and character of this exceptional man.

Number five, Rand Paul has chosen to end his campaign. I think he had a connection problem with the voters, although his policies (other than foreign) are dead on for fixing the economy and big government encroachment. His is a voice sorely missed and, hopefully, heeded by future powers that be.

So, there it is. My take on 2016 as of this moment. We’ve got a ways to go yet. Too much, in fact. We will be inundated with ads and media coverage and yes, even blogs (oops!) until we are ready to scream for it all to stop. And stop it will on November 8, 2016. That’s the day that really matters.

We need leadership. Not compromise or deal making. Leadership. If you think we’ve had gridlock for the past eight years you haven’t been paying attention or you’ve bought the media spin. Obama got almost everything he wanted from both parties because we had too many deals and not enough principled leadership.

We need a principled, humble, intelligent, courageous leader with an iron core who understands that the Office of the President of the United States isn’t “Let’s Make A Deal” or “The Kardashians… but a stewardship bestowed upon him by We The People both obligated and constrained by the powers set forth in the Constitution.

That’s why I like Ted Cruz.