SOTU:  it takes ‘five pillars’ to ‘do big things’

RANCHO SANTA FE, CA., January 26, 2011 – In an effort to “blend” the Democratic and Republican wings of Congress, President Obama delivered a “bland” State of the Union address last night.  His inspirational motto was, “We do big things,” which probably won’t remind anyone of how Kennedy, Reagan, or Clinton could turn a phrase.  In fairness, he was in a tough position:  he needed to create hope in a downtrodden economy.  The President cheered us on saying, “We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.”   He offered “five pillars” of hope:  innovation, education, infrastructure, deficit reduction, and government reform.  Was the President offering a “common sense” approach to fixing the economy, or was he just launching his re-election campaign?  The Czar would like to know.


The President offered all sorts of platitudes to American ingenuity.  “America still has the largest, most prosperous economy in the world.  No workers are more productive than ours.  No country has more successful companies, or grants more patents to inventors and entrepreneurs.”  Then, he stated that the “world has changed” and our otherwise resilient, hard-working citizens “feel like the rules have been changed in the middle of the game … (that) revolutions in technology have transformed the way (they) live, work and do business.”   Apparently, this happened behind our backs because he mentioned that “nations like China and India realized that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world.”

Just when I was getting ready to blame this on the Bush Administration, President Obama said, “Thirty years ago, we couldn’t know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution.”   Oh, my!  Do you realize what this means?  It’s not President Bush’s fault at all … it’s Al Gore’s!  After all, he invented the Internet and he’s incredibly good at warning us about the future.  From a Democratic perspective, this is really an inconvenient truth!  However, we can rebound from this political faux pas if we just apply common sense.  Each of us can recover our market losses if we just invest in mass refrigeration technologies that can reverse Global Warming.

The President also said, “Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation. But because it’s not always profitable for companies to invest in basic research, throughout history our government has provided cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the support that they need.”  That must be why the Department of Energy has been so successful in achieving its original objective:  to free our country from its dependence upon foreign oil.  It also explains why the cost of pharmaceuticals has plummeted under the guidance of the FDA.  Okay … bad examples!  Let’s move on.


Again, let’s begin with platitudes.  The President proclaimed, “We are home to the world’s best colleges and universities, where more students come to study than any other place on Earth.”   Apparently, comparing our educational system favorably to those of nations like China and India, he said, “It’s why our students don’t just memorize equations, but answer questions like ‘What do you think of that idea?  What would you change about the world? What do you want to be when you grow up?’”  Then, he added, “as many as a quarter of our students aren’t even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations. America has fallen to 9th in the proportion of young people with a college degree.”  Let’s see:  we have “the world’s best colleges and universities” but 25 percent of our young adults “aren’t even finishing high school … (and) the quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations.”  That might explain why “our students don’t just memorize equations.”   It’s probably because they can’t.  One common-sense solution that I think we should pursue to improve our educational system is to study the one used in Indonesia.  If all of our children could read a Teleprompter like President Obama, our test scores would rise precipitously.

The President helped us gain an additional perspective of what it will take to improve the educational process in America.  Hillary was wrong; “it’s family that first instills the love of learning in a child” … not a Village.  “When a child walks into a classroom, it should be a place of high expectations and high performance.”  I guess that’s the death knell of the current approach that’s in vogue under which everybody passes and gets a trophy.  The President also spoke about a new competition that will help in this regard that’s called, “Race to the Top.”  Even though it may sound like a new term for Affirmative Action, it really isn’t.  It just applies common sense and leverages “best practices.”

While the President didn’t mention how unions might contribute to the improvement, he did cite South Korea’s respect for its teachers and said, “We want to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones.”  That should go over well with the teacher’s unions, which have always been strong proponents of meritocracies over tenure-driven positions.

President Obama even wove immigration into the issue by noting that the children of “undocumented workers … can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation.”  I think there’s a common-sense solution hidden in that statement.  Let’s create border signage that says, “Only scientists, entrepreneurs, and other brilliant people are allowed to enter illegally beyond this point.”  Problem solved!


“Our infrastructure used to be the best – but our lead has slipped. South Korean homes now have greater internet access than we do. Countries in Europe and Russia invest more in their roads and railways than we do. China is building faster trains and newer airports,” the President said.  We seem to be consistently falling behind China and South Korea.  Maybe we should encourage their citizens to illegally immigrate to the United States.  Continuing with that thought:  when the President stated, “America is the nation that built the transcontinental railroad” I seem to recall that we had the assistance of a lot of “undocumented” Chinese workers in the laying of track.  He may be onto something.

Then, the President got specific.  “We will put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges.  We will make sure this is fully paid for, attract private investment, and pick projects based on what’s best for the economy, not politicians.”  I’ve got an idea.  Why don’t we revert to the Clintonian concept of eliminating welfare entitlements?  Why don’t we train able-bodied people who currently receive federal assistance to do these jobs?  That would seem to be common sense.

Advancing the discussion to more contemporary pursuits, President Obama suggested that “within the next five years” we could provide “high-speed wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans.”  Given that our Nation’s illiteracy currently stands at about 15 percent, we can only hope that the graphics will be worth the investment.  The President did note that this would also allow “a patient (to) have face-to-face video chats with her doctor,” which is a good thing since that might be the only way we’ll get to see our doctors in the future.

The President also explored “our generation’s Sputnik moment.”   No, he wasn’t suggesting that we put a monkey into orbit, but rather that we “invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology – an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.”   He promised that “with more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.”  Of course, that could bring down the entire electrical grid, but it’s just rhetoric anyway.   In the end, all of this can be accomplished by “asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies.”  I’d add that we can probably eliminate the Department of Energy and its $25 billion budget.  How’s that for common sense?


Speaking of “investing,” the CBO announced today that it’s projecting a $1.5 trillion deficit for our country (a new record by orders of magnitude).  The President is sensitive to this issue.  He proposed that we “freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years” because “this would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade.”  Let’s see:  we would be freezing it at its highest historical level.  That certainly sounds like a good idea.

The President pointed out that our country has “one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world” that needs to be reduced to stimulate growth.  He said, “When we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them.”   Then, with respect to income tax, he stated that we need to “get rid of the loopholes.”   For a moment, I thought he might have switched Parties until he added, “We simply cannot afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans.”  At that point, I felt like order had been restored.

I liked the President’s comments about having “to make sure we aren’t buried under a mountain of debt” and that “we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in.”  He pointed out that he had already “frozen the salaries of hardworking federal employees for the next two years.”   While there’s an obvious oxymoron in the statement, the concept is worth praising.

President Obama talked about cutting tens of billions of dollars from the Department of Defense as well as in other areas of the budget with the caveat:  “Let’s make sure that we’re not doing it on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens.”  A little campaigning never hurts.

The President acknowledged the bipartisan Fiscal Commission he created last year and said, “Their conclusion is that the only way to tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending wherever we find it – in domestic spending, defense spending, health care spending, and spending through tax breaks and loopholes.”  He added, “I don’t agree with all their proposals, but they made important progress.”   Given our current economic condition, it would have been interesting to learn about the proposals with which he disagreed.  I particularly liked the line:  “If we make the hard choices now to rein in our deficits, we can make the investments we need to win the future.”  It gave me a better understanding of his “We do big things” mantra; he must have meant big spending, big deficits, and big government.


The most deafening applause was withheld until President Obama spoke about government reform; I say deafening because I don’t recall hearing much of it.  The President confided, “We’re selling acres of federal office space that hasn’t been used in years, and we will cut through red tape to get rid of more. But we need to think bigger.  In the coming months, my administration will develop a proposal to merge, consolidate, and reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves the goal of a more competitive America.”  I guess that means the 159 new agencies that Congress created in the Health Care Reform Bill will probably go away.  I also hope he officially gets rid of the rest of the czars because I find them to be annoying.

The President received at least one faint clap when he said, “if a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.”  Of course, President Clinton is believed to have advised President Obama that “it depends on what the definition of earmarks is.”  Still, I liked his common sense concepts of a “government that’s open and competent … a government that lives within its means … (and) an economy that’s driven by new skills and ideas.”   I wish him luck.

One of the President’s opening comments summed things up:  “At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else.”  That’s probably why he appointed Jeff Immelt, GE’s CEO, as the Chair of his Economic Advisory Board.  Mr. Immelt has cut about 21,000 jobs and now employs about 53 percent of his company’s workforce overseas, so he understands the issues.

I found the following comments to be interesting.  “We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back (the stock market used to be “bad”) … corporate profits are up (corporate profits used to be “bad”) … (and) thanks to the tax cuts we passed, Americans’ paychecks are a little bigger today (tax cuts used to be “bad” as well).”  There was a definite centrist flair to the President’s speech last night.

This may have been a State of the Union address, but rest assured, the 2012 campaign has officially begun.  I’m just trying to figure out whether President Obama will be running as a Demoblican or a Republicrat so he can effectively straddle the issues.  As for the “five pillars” … let me be clear (as the President might say) … they bear no relationship to the Five Pillars of Islam.  It was only an unfortunate coincidence.


T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.


This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, The Common Sense Czar, in the Communities Section of The Washington Times.

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If the State of the Union was more like reality TV

RANCHO SANTA FE, CA., January 23, 2011 – Tuesday night, Senators, Congressmen, Supreme Court Justices, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a few guests (usually invited to be used as emotional props) will join President Obama for his third State of the Union address.  The format is predictable and boring.  Everyone will dutifully rise and applaud wildly at the President’s entrance.  He will make his way down the aisle at an interminably slow pace that would embarrass a lame tortoise, shaking hands with everyone within reach and pretending to like even his most ardent opponents.  Upon being introduced, he will approach the podium to another thunderous round of applause that will last for an absurdly long time.  Then, the President will deliver his carefully scripted, politically-driven State of the Union address; glancing between Teleprompters as if he were watching a tennis match.  While we will be spared the spectacle of Nancy Pelosi doing her impression of a trained seal when the President even clears his throat, he will still receive a standing ovation from his Democratic colleagues for almost every point he makes.  Even the Republicans will occasionally be forced to join in the celebration although they’ll do their best to try to look disgusted the rest of the time.  When it’s all over, pundits from both sides will provide us with their translation of what the President just said … as if he had been speaking in a foreign language we didn’t understand.  If the government didn’t control the FCC, these speeches would never be aired.  What if we reshaped the State of the Union to reflect the flair of reality TV and let the audience participate in some way?  Maybe people would actually watch the address instead of changing channels to see Snooki getting arrested.

For starters, let’s eliminate Teleprompters and the use of notes.  Contestants on American Idol don’t get to use a monitor or sheet music.  If they forget the words, that’s part of the fun!  Republicans and Democrats could wear tribal buffs just like on Survivor.  Best of all:  Maury Povich could hook the President up to a lie detector to make sure he was telling the truth.  In the end, the audience could call an 800 number or text a code to cast their votes for their favorite issue, and the government would be compelled to fix the top two.  Oh sure, there wouldn’t be any way of screening people to determine whether they were legitimate citizens who were of voting age, but it doesn’t appear that we do that in our regular elections.

We could also eliminate the useless pomp-and-circumstance at the beginning as well as all of the needless displays of sycophantic support.  We could sell the time we saved to advertisers and use the proceeds to help reduce the national debt (think Super Bowl-type revenue).  So without further adieu, I think the show would go like this.

[Stage direction]  Opening scene and music:  fade from black to a close-up of the President with a medley of Hail to the Chief and The Star-Spangled Banner.  Hold the camera on the President as he asks the audience to join him in saying The Pledge of Allegiance (use a cue card to remind him to place his hand over his heart).  Fade to a close-up of the United States flag as the audience joins in The Pledge.  Pull back to a long shot that shows the audience as The Pledge concludes.  Return to a close-up of the President (pre-wired to Maury’s lie detector).

The President begins:

“Hi, everybody.  Wow!  A lot of you are new.  We really took a shellacking back in November.  Like any Administration, we’ve had some highs and lows.  It’s a lot tougher being President than I thought.  In the future, I wouldn’t encourage anyone to attempt on-the-job training like I did.  I probably underestimated how hard it would be to actually deliver everything I promised when I was just trying to get elected.  I also didn’t think that so many people would remember my promises and hold me to them.

“I guess I blew the transparency thing by not producing my birth certificate as soon as it was requested.  Had I known what a pain in the neck those birthers would be, I’d have just given a copy of my records to the press.  It would have saved a ton of time and money, and it might have even saved a few Congressional seats for my Party.

“The bipartisan thing went south as well.  I thought Nancy was going to ‘drain the swamp,’ but instead, she refilled it … and Harry did the same thing in the Senate.  Thanks, guys!  Your closed-door sessions and incomprehensible legislative bills all reflected negatively on me.  Now, I’ve got to spend the next two years campaigning for re-election rather than just one of them.  How am I supposed to have any meaningful time left to be the Leader of the Free World?

“One promise we did keep was the one about accountability.  We held the Republicans accountable for everything.  While I singled out President Bush, the rest of you got a lot of mileage out of the ‘Party of No’ theme.  Then, the Tea Party picked up steam (no pun intended) and we started to hold them accountable, too!  It’s a good thing because I’m starting to get some pushback for blaming Bush, and people are starting to realize that our Party was in control of the House and Senate when a lot of the legislation was passed that contributed to our economic collapse.

“And don’t even bring up the closing of Guantanamo.  After winning the Nobel Peace Prize in my first 12 days in office, I was feeling a little full of myself when I committed to close Gitmo by the start of the next year.  Of course, I had about three or four target dates for passing Health Care Reform as well.”   [At this point, the President covers his microphone and asks me if it’s still okay to use the word “target” in that sense.  I assure him that it’s okay, and he continues.]

“I had my staff put together a piece called PROMISES KEPT The First Two Years in Office and had it blasted out via e-mail under Vice President Biden’s signature.  I didn’t want it to look like I was tooting my own horn.

“It starts with one last shot at blaming the Bush Administration although that ship has probably sailed.  It mentions that I inherited two wars, an economy in freefall, record deficits, and a health care system in crisis but that we’ve made an incredible amount of progress over the past two years and laid a new foundation for growth while building an economy that works for all Americans.  [Red lights begin to flash and a siren goes off to remind the President that he’s hooked to a lie detector.  When he regains his composure, he continues.]

“PROMISES KEPT cites The Recovery Act as being the ‘largest infrastructure investment since President Eisenhower, the largest educational investment since President Johnson, and the largest clean-energy bill ever.’  We say that it’s created or saved as many as 3.7 million jobs [the lights and sirens barely start before the President nervously adds] … since no one can either prove or disprove that.  [The lights and sirens immediately stop.]

“Then, it highlights Wall Street Reform.  In that area, we gave broader, somewhat undefined regulatory power to agencies that oversee Wall Street in an attempt to stop Wall Street’s ‘shadowy’ practices.  Of course, these are the same agencies that had audited Bernie Madoff for years without detecting that anything was wrong, but we felt that rewarding them with more power might build their confidence.  We would have addressed the Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac problems that contributed so substantially to the economic meltdown, but their home offices weren’t on Wall Street [the lights and sirens begin to go off, but the President quickly adds] … and their supporters are part of our constituency.

“My Administration deserves credit for reducing taxes for 95 percent of working families under The Recovery Act, preventing a middle-class tax increase that no one was pursuing, and extending unemployment benefits to those who didn’t benefit from one of the 3.7 million jobs we supposedly created or saved.  We’re not sure that most middle-class Americans really feel like they benefited from The Recovery Act, but they’ll just have to take our word for it.  I think we did do some good when it comes to Credit Card Reform as well … although again, I don’t think it really changed anyone’s life in a noticeable way.

“In the area of Clean Energy Reform, we set new standards for emissions and fuel efficiency and wrote a lot of rebate checks for thermopane windows and golf carts.  It’s the other type of ‘Gulf’ that hampered our energy initiative.  We floundered so much with the BP oil spill that it took away our ability to keep bringing up Katrina.  That was a huge political loss for us. 

“Then we stepped in and saved America’s automobile industry.  [As the lights and sirens go off, the President says] … Okay, enough with the lights and sirens.  I get it!  We threw a lot of taxpayer money at General Motors and Chrysler only to delay their bankruptcies.  Then, we ripped off the secured debt holders and turned over a large portion of ownership to the unions that delivered money and votes to our campaigns.

“Let me be clear.  We did do some good things when it comes to Health Care Reform.  [The President instinctively flinches, but the lights and sirens remain off as the President becomes more comfortable in managing the format.]  Based on the way we passed it, it probably should have been called the Proctology Exam Act.  I know that there’s enough pork in the bill to spackle your arteries and that we should have addressed tort reform, but I really do believe that eliminating exclusions for pre-existing conditions and closing the donut hole for seniors were good for the people.

“I also think that ending our combat mission in Iraq was good as well.  While we never found weapons of mass destruction over there, I really can’t find fault with deposing a dictator who had killed hundreds of thousands of his own citizens.  But it’s time they run their own country.  If they blow it again, I don’t think we should be so quick to bail them out.”

“We passed the new Strategic Arms and Reduction Treaty (START) because we could.  We just leveraged the Republican’s one-dimensional focus on renewing the Bush tax cuts.  Supporting us on START was more than a fair trade from their perspective, and it gave us something we could claim as a political victory … and after November, my Administration needed a win.  The reality is that the Russians gave up a bunch of obsolete equipment, and we damaged ourselves and our allies by sacrificing elements of our missile defense capabilities.  But as I said, we needed to improve our numbers in the polls.

“Our strategies in Afghanistan and Pakistan aren’t working, so I’m not going to pretend they are.  We’re throwing a lot of taxpayer money into a political abyss.  I’m really not sure what to do.  If I call for a withdrawal on a specific date, I’ll look more naïve than Christine O’Donnell in a campaign ad.  If I step up our investment in troops and money, I’d have a greater chance of reelection in 2012 running as a Republican.  Frankly, I’m open to suggestions.

“Well, they’re telling me I’ve got to rap this up.  I’ll just say we’ve done some good things when it comes to student loans and educational benefits for GIs.  We politicized the repeal of ‘Don’t ask, Don’t tell’ so we could take credit for it even though it had been ruled ‘unconstitutional’ before we passed the legislation.  Other than that, we continued to neglect those who serve in the military.  But we did pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help women challenge unfair pay practices, and that was a good thing.

All in all … it’s been a learning experience.  I’d probably get a lot more done in the next two years if I wasn’t going to be so busy running for re-election, but that’s how things are in politics.   Anyway, thanks for your support and I hope you’ll support our show’s sponsor as well:  GE … they bring good things to hype.”

[Stage direction] Voice over with trailer at the bottom of the screen:  “Call 1-800-BAD-IDEA or text SOTU and then press 1 for Close Guantanamo, 2 for The Recovery Act, 3 for Wall Street Reform, 4 for Tax Cuts, 5 for Credit Card Reform, 6 for Clean Energy, 7 for Rebuilding the Automobile Industry, 8 for Educational Investment, 9 for ‘Don’t ask, Don’t tell,’ and 10 for Fair Pay … followed by the pound sign.”

Note to readers before you comment:  the article was about the State of the Union address.  It just so happens that the current President is a Democrat.  If it offends you, just substitute the name “Bush” for “Obama” and switch the words “Democrat” and “Republican” before you critique the premise.


T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.


This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, The Common Sense Czar, in the Communities Section of The Washington Times.

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Health Care Reform is a bitter pill to swallow

RANCHO SANTA FE, CA., January 20, 2011 – In case you haven’t heard, the cornerstone accomplishment of the Democratically-controlled 111th Congress, colloquially known as the Health Care Reform Bill, was repealed by the Republican-controlled 112th Congress.  The Republicans are claiming victory.  The Democrats are trivializing the vote as “political grandstanding.”  However it is ultimately resolved, I hope that health care reform in the United States provides ample coverage for mental disorders because the Democrats and Republicans are driving me crazy, and their recent behavior suggests that they may need the coverage more than me.

Let’s look at the “scorecard.”  Health Care Reform was passed by the House of Representatives last March by a vote of 219-212.  Thirty-four Democrats voted against it.  Less than a year later, only three of those 34 Democrats voted to repeal the bill.  Of course, 21 members of that original group didn’t get to vote this time because they were “pursuing other interests” at the behest of the electorate.  Bottom line:  three of the original 34 dissidents voted to repeal.  The reason I mention this is because I fully expect the Administration to hail this as an example of “bipartisan support.”  After all, that’s how Olympia Snowe’s crossover vote was portrayed when the Senate passed the original bill last year.

While the initial passage of the bill was close, the repeal was not:  245-189.  Of course, all of this is meaningless unless Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Hu’s not a dictator (oops, Freudian slip) … who’s not a dictator … allows there to be a debate on the Senate floor.  Even if it passes the Senate, it could still be vetoed by the dictator … I mean … the President!  So, in the words of Shakespeare, is this just “Much Ado About Nothing?”  I think not.

The entire exercise has been a lesson in mass mental illness.  I’m not suggesting that our politicians are insane … just that they are deeply disturbed.  As Dr. Carl G. Jung said, “Mental illness and insanity are a matter of degrees.”  Since I’m a Czar, I’ll ordain a new classification of disease of which Jung would be proud:  “Political Schizophrenia.”  Think about it:  schizophrenia is generally defined to be a mental disorder that makes it difficult to tell the difference between real and unreal experiences, to think logically, to have normal emotional responses, and to behave normally in social situations.  Does that not reflect what is happening among our politicians?  Let’s look at a few examples.

The 111th Congress, which was to be driven by transparent, bipartisan accountability, created the original bill behind closed doors with only one Party participating in the process.  Then, Speaker Pelosi proudly proclaimed, “… we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”   That could actually take years since the bill encompassed more than 2,700 pages and created 159 new federal agencies (or as I point out in The National Platform of Common Sense, more than 140 agencies than FDR required for The New Deal).  “Political schizophrenia” anyone?

Then, we have the clinical narcissism exhibited by both Parties in the naming of their bills.  The Democrats named H.R. 3200 “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.”  Insurance costs have already risen in the marketplace, and the taxpayers are on the hook for a minimum of $940 billion under the “best case” scenario.  Does that strike you as “affordable?”  Don’t forget:  you’ll be fined if you don’t participate.  Does that sound like you have a “choice?”  So, we can pretty much write off the Democratic title as self-indulgent … but what about the Republican legislation?

H.R. 2 is named “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.”  Now, there’s a non-adversarial title if I’ve ever heard one.  How can the original bill be “job-killing” when it creates 159 new, useless agencies?  Those agencies alone will create hundreds of thousands of new, bureaucratic jobs … maybe even millions.  We might even reach full employment if the original bill were allowed to be executed.

Speaking of “executed,” should the Republicans really be using the term “killing” in any context given recent events?  Their inflammatory rhetoric has been called into question over the past few weeks, so they might be well-advised to “dial it back” a little.  Besides, you have a number of Democrats who are apparently willing to take up the slack.  In his impassioned statement on the House floor, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) said, “They don’t like the truth so they summarily dismiss it.  They say it’s a government takeover of healthcare.  A big lie just like Goebbels (Nazi Germany’s Minister of Propaganda).  You say it enough and you repeat the lie, repeat the lie, repeat the lie until eventually people believe it.  Like blood libel, that’s the same kind of thing.  The Germans said enough about the Jews and people believed it, and you have the Holocaust.  You tell a lie over and over again.”  Afterwards, in an interview with John King of CNN, Rep. Cohen denied comparing the Republicans to the Nazis.  Unfortunately for him, John King applied “common sense” to the comments and rejected Cohen’s implausible denial.

Then, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) stated that the repeal would result in “killing Americans.”  Of course, she repeated this over and over again in interviews even though she could offer no specific proof of her statement.  In retrospect, maybe this is the type of statement to which Rep. Cohen was referring.

I’m not trying to pick on the Democrats.  It’s “put-up-or-shut-up” time for the Republicans.  Let’s pretend for a minute that the repeal is successful.  The Republican Party better work with the Democrats in a bipartisan way to craft a more intelligent and equitable solution to health care reform because our Nation needs it.

  • Should it require 159 new agencies?  No!
  • Should it permit exemptions and carve-outs for special interest groups like unions and trial attorneys as were in the original bill?  No!
  • Should it infringe on individual liberties and mandate coverage in contravention of the Constitution?  No!
  • Should Congressional Members know what’s in it before they vote this time?  Yes!

So, let me simplify this for our political leaders:

  • We the People want to maintain or improve the quality of our health care;
  • We the People want to have greater access to healthcare services;
  • We the People want to have manageable healthcare costs.

As Czar, I proclaim that any new legislation should provide for the transportability of insurance coverage (between jobs); it should provide coverage for those who have pre-existing conditions (via high-risk pools); and it should permit competition across State lines to help drive down the costs.

As a former litigating attorney, I can confidently say that it should include (and perhaps start with) tort reform.  As a proponent of the Constitution, I decree that it should also apply equally … to citizens … rather than to pander to political spheres of influence.  In short, it should incorporate “common sense.”

I could be wrong, but I believe that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was specifically alluding to me yesterday when he said, “We should repeal this law and focus on ‘common sense’ steps that actually lower costs and encourage private sector job creation.”  In that regard, let’s begin by stamping out “political schizophrenia” and working toward a reformation of our Nation’s healthcare system in a way that addresses the needs of We the People.  I’m the Common Sense Czar, and I approve of this message!


T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.


This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, The Common Sense Czar, in the Communities Section of The Washington Times.

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Non-existentialist Obama wants to know who is Hu?

RANCHO SANTA FE, CA., January 17, 2011 – President Obama and President Hu will “chow down” (no pun intended) at a State Dinner this week in honor of the Chinese President.  This is a significant event on several levels; all of which merit the attention of the Common Sense Czar.

First:  Who’s Hu?  While the question might engender the thought of a reference publication that acknowledges individuals who have achieved some level of preeminent performance, it is really meant to delve into the background of President Obama’s special guest.  Like Obama, Hu is President of his country.  Like Obama, his term is going to expire in 2012.  Like Obama, he may find himself unemployed at the end of his term.

Next:  Who merits a State Dinner?  Pardon me, I meant to say, Hu merits a State Dinner … at least according to President Obama.  The reason this is such a big deal is that President Hu has visited our country in the past.  He dropped by the White House in 2006 while “W” was still in office.  President Bush treated him to lunch.  Strangely enough, for a President who was often accused of being insensitive to what was going on in the world, President Bush refused to honor President Hu with a State Dinner because of China’s abysmal record with respect to human rights.  Yet President Obama, who is acclaimed for his sensitivity, has chosen to elevate President Hu’s stature by granting him the honor of a State Dinner.

To make the contrast even greater, President Bush … perhaps flashing a perverse sense of Texas humor … had Korean food served for lunch (which is something that I might have done).  I’m not sure if the entrée was presented in a North/South plating garnished with a swirl of 38 parallel lines of different sauces, but you have to appreciate the irony.

Conversely, President Obama has commissioned a special chef to prepare the State Dinner.  Now, I would have thought that the White House chef would have been skilled enough to prepare the meal, particularly in these difficult economic times, but I suppose President Obama has his reasons.  Besides, it’s just taxpayer money.  However, there is speculation that he is pushing the envelope of diplomacy in an attempt to secure more concessions from President Hu.  By paying more homage to Hu, President Obama may be able to “win him over.”  Who knows … or should I say, Hu knows what might happen if President Obama “drops his pen” and appears to bow?

The State Dinner is going to create another “first” for our country.  Here’s a hint:  it has nothing to do with the Salahis actually being invited to attend even though there’s a rumor that Vice President Biden said he’d like to sit next to Michaele.  In reality, this will be the first time a President of the United States has ever honored a Head of State who is currently holding a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in prison.  In the past, this might have been considered to be an absolute scandal, but in today’s world it’s just “business as usual” (i.e., do whatever you have to do to “seal the deal”).  Besides, President Obama would probably be quick to point out that the Nobel Peace Prize isn’t what it used to be.

So, for all of this “sucking up,” what can we expect to achieve?  Here’s how the Czar sees it all “playing out.”

For starters, President Obama won’t have to fly to China to apologize for our country’s behavior.  He’s making the President of China fly here.  Secondly, the meeting will provide numerous opportunities for the Presidents to pose together and act as if each cares about what the other one thinks.  Third:  President Obama will get to be “presidential.”  He’ll pontificate about the importance of human rights.  This must be done with great care to avoid coming across as “arrogant.”  Otherwise, he’ll have to hop on Air Force One and fly somewhere to apologize for it.

All kidding aside:  I do expect some concessions to be made with regard to human rights.  While Liu Xiaobo won’t be a surprise guest at the State Dinner, President Hu will pretend that the human rights issue is important to his regime.  He may even throw in a political prisoner or two (perhaps Xue Feng, the U.S. citizen who was convicted last year possibly just to be used for such a purpose).  Think of it as Hu’s way of “getting the tip” for the State Dinner.

President Obama will also press for China to embrace greater civil liberties.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton alluded to such last week when she said, “America will continue to speak out and press China when it censors bloggers and imprisons activists, when religious believers, particularly those in unregistered groups, are denied full freedom of worship, when lawyers and legal advocates are sent to prison simply for representing clients who challenge the government’s positions.”  In a magnanimous gesture, President Obama will offer to introduce President Hu to Julian Assange to help with the high-tech side of the equation.

The parties will also reach an accord that will further improve business relationships.  We’ll lobby for the right to expand our corporate presence in China to capitalize upon its economic growth, and we will demand that our companies be allowed to compete on an equal basis.  China will concede this request because of our superior diplomacy … and because they need U.S. companies to manufacture products in China that can be marked up and resold in the United States.  This is critical for China since it needs an ever-increasing supply of capital to loan back to the United States to prop up our economy … since all of our jobs are going overseas.

And finally … the United States will ask China for its support in bringing a lasting peace to the Korean region.  After much debate, China will capitulate and offer to join in the Six-Party talks … you know, the ones that North Korea has been demanding.  In the U.S., this will be positioned to look like a major coup on our part.  In China, it will look like we got hoodwinked.

Who could ask for anything more?  You certainly weren’t expecting “Change You Can Believe In” were you?  In the end, the food at the State Dinner will be fabulous, the photo ops will flow like wine, Presidents Obama and Hu will toast each other on multiple occasions, and nothing will really be accomplished.


T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.


This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, The Common Sense Czar, in the Communities Section of The Washington Times.

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The Czar says, ‘The Left isn’t right and the Right is wrong’

RANCHO SANTA FE, CA., January 13, 2011 – Have you been listening to politicians and pundits on the Left and the Right cast verbal stones at each other over the recent tragedy in Tucson?  While their focus has temporarily shifted, the competitive nature of their discourse has not.  Liberals have been proactive in their attacks and have insisted that they’re “right” (which I find to be linguistically entertaining).  Conservatives have been reacting in a defensive manner, which only leaves them with the arguments that are left (no pun intended).  We would all be laughing if the result wasn’t so pathetic.  That means it’s time for The Common Sense Czar to intervene to head our Nation in a more positive direction.

When I wrote the books The Left isn’t Right and The Right is Wrong, it was to expose how far the Democratic and Republican Parties had drifted from the ideals upon which this country was established.  Their National Platforms, which are the basis of the books, concentrate on attracting money and votes rather than upon our Nation’s founding principles.  The past few days have underlined the problem and given the titles a far broader application because, clearly, the Left isn’t right and the Right is wrong in how they’ve chosen to use the heartbreaking event that occurred in Tucson.

The Left launched an immediate attack upon the Right.  It blamed the incident upon the Right’s inflammatory rhetoric and emphasized the Tea Party’s culpability in an attempt to discredit those who have broken ranks with the major Parties.  In addition, it took the unprecedented action of isolating an individual, Sarah Palin, and suggesting that she personally be held responsible for the acts of the irrational gunman.

Correspondingly, rather than considering the core premise (i.e., that inflammatory rhetoric might contribute to negative acts), the Right launched a counter-offensive based upon the proposition that freedom of speech was at stake, that the actions of the shooter were singularly attributable to him, and that the Left’s attacks were politically motivated (okay, I’ll concede the last point).

So, at the risk of injecting common sense into a political argument, let’s examine the logic of both Parties.  First, let’s assume that the Left’s hypothesis is correct:  that inflammatory language can “inflame” emotions, which in turn can potentially impact behavior.  Can the Right live with that assumption?  What would happen if the Right were to tone down its rhetoric?  Would it violate free speech?  No!  We have the freedom to communicate with each other in a civil manner as well as an uncivil one.  The assumption only encourages the Right to choose the civil alternative.  Now, I’ll be the first to admit that it won’t be as entertaining … or misleading, but why not give it a try?  This is a “pro-choice” alternative that even the Right should support.

At this point, the Left can stop cheering.  Instead, it needs to pull its head out of the sand and surrender its state of denial.  I’m talking about the dream world in which it lives; the one in which its pundits pretend that only the Right participates in inflammatory rhetoric.  Please!  You can’t have drunk that much Kool-Aid.  If you don’t drop the façade of self-righteousness, President Obama will have to spend the next two years traveling around our own country apologizing for your arrogance.

So, here’s The Czar’s edict:

Rush, Sean, Glenn, et al., admit that the Left might have a point … that inflammatory language might have a negative impact and “inflame” emotions.  Surely, you are educated enough to frame your arguments without caustic words and militarist metaphors.  Try it!  You might even find that you’ll attract more educated moderates to your position.

Keith, Chris, Rachel, et al., stop living on Fantasy Island and acknowledge your contribution to the problem.  Admitting that you have a problem is always the first step to recovery.  If you don’t, you’ll only continue to embarrass yourselves.

And Sarah … I can appreciate your disorientation.  You have been subjected to uniquely vicious, personal attacks that are unconscionable in a civil society.  However, rather than go into hiding for a few days only to deliver an ill-conceived, taped message, consider accepting responsibility for an error in judgment, state that you will modify your approach, and demonstrate true leadership if you consider that to be an important trait with respect to your future political aspirations.  You don’t need a Teleprompter … or, at least, you shouldn’t.

If both sides will just take The Czar’s advice, we can begin building a political process that is based upon principled thought rather than stereotyped condemnation.  If they don’t, please be advised that The Common Sense Czar is considering a new felony category:  Aggravated Intellectual Assault.  If you are found guilty, you will be summarily voted out of office (or dropped from the media), and you will never be allowed to run for public office (or broadcast) again.  I don’t have any more time to waste on this issue.  I have the Nation’s business to conduct, a State of the Union speech to write, and an economic crisis to resolve.


T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.


This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, The Common Sense Czar, in the Communities Section of The Washington Times.

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Classless Warfare: Politically Exploiting Tragedy

RANCHO SANTA FE, CA., January 11, 2011 –  Let the finger-pointing begin between the Left and the Right, the fans of Olbermann, Matthews, and Maddow and the fans of Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck, and the political devotees of Rahm Emanuel’s infamous quote, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”  Vultures may have a bad reputation, but no one can pick a carcass clean like a biased politician.  Over the past several days, Conservatives and Liberals alike have tried to exploit our Nation’s most recent tragedy for their own gain.  Whether it’s meant to sway votes, pump up ratings, or just lash out at the other side, I sure wish it would stop.

In a way, Rahm Emanuel may have had it right:  “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”  What if that were to be interpreted in a positive sense rather than in a negative one?  What if we were to take a hard look at ourselves and reevaluate the tenor of our discourse?  Perhaps we could realign our thinking, put aside our differences, and begin to work toward our “general welfare” as we are guided to do by the Constitution.  Then, President Obama might not feel so compelled to travel around the world to apologize for our behavior.  The reduction in his carbon footprint alone might justify the effort.

I am saddened by the personal and accusatory nature of the attacks that have been flying between the factions.  A friend of mine humorously speculated that Sarah Palin might next be named “a person of interest” in the Lindbergh kidnapping.  I assured him that she had a solid alibi as she was bow-hunting Kodiak bear in southwestern Alaska with Dick Cheney when the kidnapping took place … which, I suppose, shifts the suspicion back to “W.”  Did Sarah Palin exercise a profound error in judgment in using hunting metaphors on her website and in her stump speeches?  Absolutely!  Was she directly responsible for anything that transpired in Tucson?  Absolutely not!  Neither was anyone else … with the exception of the shooter.

The Tea Party has been another popular “target” of the Democratic Party. They’re all gun-toting vigilantes who want to kill us you know!  From the way they’re portrayed, you’d think that Tea Party members regularly march down the street playing their fifes and drums and loading their muskets.  Have you ever been to one of their rallies?  I have.  I’ve attended Democratic and Republican rallies as well, and you’d be hard-pressed to tell the players without a scorecard.  Frankly, I’ve been more scared at “peace” rallies where the crowds have been more disruptive and prone to vandalism and civil disobedience.  Are there some “fringe” elements within the Tea Party that create a negative image for the rest of its members?  Certainly!  Are there some “fringe” elements within the Democratic and Republican Parties that embarrass their members as well?  Definitely!

I’m a little surprised the Republicans haven’t attacked the Tea Party as well to divert some attention away from themselves.  They apparently either need the Tea Party’s votes or they’re just so used to fighting with the Democrats that they can’t break the habit.

Network news personalities (and I use the term “news” loosely) have also been busy marking their territories … substituting each other for trees.  I follow all of the major news networks and their respective interpretations of each day’s events.  I often visit their online articles to peruse the “comments” sections.  Do you remember John Gray’s book, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus?  Well, you should read the comment sections of a few Liberal and Conservative news sites.  Mars and Venus are way too close together to serve as an analogy for the extremists you’ll find there.  We’re talking about separate solar systems.  How two people can look at the exact same facts and reach such utterly different conclusions is beyond me.  Then again, who said that the facts had anything to do with their opinions?  In many cases, they reaffirm what H.G. Bohn always asserted:  “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”  Given the number of entries that a few of the “regulars” seem to find time to offer, I can only surmise that unemployment is a contributing factor … but at least the devil’s workshop seems to be well-staffed.

Public servants have also gotten into the fray.  I felt sorry for Sheriff Dupnik (D) when Megan Kelly of Fox News aggressively questioned his motive for raising the issue of political rhetoric during the crime investigation briefing he conducted immediately after the Tucson shooting.  I actually thought his premise was a sound one, and if his choice of forums was a bit unconventional, it could be overlooked in light of the fact that he had just lost two personal friends in the incident.  Then, as if to actually pursue a “fair and balanced” presentation of the Sheriff’s position, Fox News had Geraldo Rivera interview him Sunday evening.  To the obvious chagrin of Mr. Rivera, Sheriff Dupnik launched an attack on the Republican Party.  The left-leaning commentator quickly gave the Sheriff the opportunity to recant, which the Sheriff refused to do.  Geraldo hasn’t looked this flustered since he broke into Al Capone’s safe.  It was an interesting study in self-destruction since the Sheriff’s initial plea was to curb mean-spirited, politically biased rhetoric.  Undoubtedly, we can expect some “spin doctor” to suggest that Dupnik was just trying to demonstrate how ignorant one appears when one misrepresents the truth in the name of either Party.  In the interim … my apologies to Megan Kelly.

I’m a little disappointed that America’s Crazy Lunatic Unit hasn’t weighed in on the subject (I may be wrong about the acronym).  The ACLU usually jumps at the chance to go after the Second Amendment, and this past weekend’s tragedy certainly surfaces some legitimate concerns.  There’s also the First Amendment issue:  people and the press should be free to say whatever they want; you just have to ignore the well-established exceptions such as “fighting words” or “inciting to riot” … not to mention defamation.  I can only assume that the ACLU’s absence is predicated upon its preoccupation with other aspects of the First Amendment that create a more immediate and significant threat to our Nation … like the cross on Mt. Soledad in San Diego that was erected in 1954.  You never know when a cross like that could surreptitiously establish a religion.  What would we do if “Thou shall not kill” became more universally adopted?  I think they should just tear the cross down and build a mosque.

However, all is not lost.  There have been attempts to honor the victims by using the tragedy to reduce the divisiveness that permeates today’s political discourse.  Keith Olbermann did a special segment that challenged the news media to admit to its failings, apologize for any past advocation of violence (expressed or implied), and promise to be more measured in its tone going forward.  While he apologized for at least one instance in which he was involved, his words would have had more meaning had he not spent so many of them upbraiding the Tea Party, the Republicans, and his major network competitors (such as equating Glenn Beck to the shooter).

Speaking of Mr. Beck, his website carried a picture of him on Monday with the caption, “We must stand together against all violence.”  Good words!  Unfortunately, the website’s random picture generator simultaneously showed a picture of Beck with a gun in his hand in the adjacent column.  Why he even has such a picture in the rotation is an excellent question.

Other “shock jocks” on the Left have seized the opportunity to blame the Right, and “shock jocks” on the Right have vigorously counter-attacked the politicization of the issue by the Left.  The good news is that I will no longer have to explain the titles of two of my books, The Left isn’t Right and The Right is Wrong.  Their meanings should be obvious going forward.

Thankfully, a number of people have made sincere statements that call for a more thoughtful use of the gift of free speech; one that recognizes that we have the freedom to choose to communicate in a manner that has the potential to unite the Nation as opposed to divide it.  Fox News CEO, Roger Ailes provided a succinct example within the media arena when he said, “I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually.  You don’t have to do it with bombast.  I hope the other side does that (as well).”  A number of politicians from both sides of the aisle responded similarly.  I was most struck by the words of Democratic Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II (MO), who serves as the new Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.  In an interview with CNN, Rep. Cleaver said, “We can’t blame talk radio or anyone else.  We are the band, the president is the orchestra director and we can’t blame people for picking up a bad tune.  We’ve got to stand up and declare that the 112th Congress has a clean slate.  Whether it’s defiled or not is up to each member of Congress.”  That’s known as taking responsibility for one’s own actions.  Rep. Cleaver, thank you for throwing down the gauntlet.

A defining moment will occur Wednesday evening, January 12th at a memorial service being held in the McKale Center at the University of Arizona.  President Obama will be speaking at “Together We Thrive: Tucson and America,” and it is my sincere hope that he will step up as a leader and deliver a message, devoid of any partisan innuendo, that honors the six individuals who lost their lives in the Tucson tragedy and that inspires all of us to begin to build a better tomorrow for America.


T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.


This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, The Common Sense Czar, in the Communities Section of The Washington Times.

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Rep. Giffords, Fed. Judge Rolls among 19 shot: Why?

RANCHO SANTA FE, CA., January 8, 2011 – Representative Gabrielle Giffords, U.S. District Court Judge John Rolls, and 17 other people, including a 9-year-old child, were shot today at a community outreach event the Congresswoman was holding for her constituents at a Safeway store in Tucson, Arizona.  The senselessness of this act speaks for itself, and it is an indictment of the dangerous direction in which our Nation has been heading.  While I normally explore political issues with my tongue firmly implanted in my cheek, this is a time for somber reflection rather than satire.

Six of the 19 shooting victims have already died.  I can only pray that the obituaries of others will not be added to the list.  I do not believe in honoring the type of selfish, worthless individuals who commit such horrific acts by sharing their names, ages, or backgrounds.  In a civilized society, they do not even merit a keystroke.  However, I do feel compelled to comment upon a disease from which our country is suffering; a disease whose symptoms include unfounded beliefs that are driven by vitriolic political statements designed to enflame passionate commitment to one ideology or another.  The desired, and too often successful result is a blind acceptance of a particular Party’s point of view and a self-imposed deafness to the reasoned positions offered by the “opposition.”  Enough!

Our formal and informal political Parties function as marionettes; pulling the emotional strings of the puppets who respond and cast votes without thoughtful consideration.  When was the last time you read either of the major Parties’ national platforms, which purportedly list their commitments?  If you are like most individuals, the answer is “never.”  In fact, that is why I wrote The Left isn’t Right and The Right is Wrong, which contain the actual texts of both Parties’ national platforms.  I simply use satire as an antidote to the disease caused by political prejudice because humor can seduce individuals to consume content they might otherwise find to be impalatable.  So, why is that important?

We live in an increasingly polarized political world in which zealots routinely “talk past” one another.  Conservatives have nothing good to say about Liberals, and Liberals have nothing good to say about Conservatives.  They counterbalance the absence of positive engagement with a propensity for vicious attacks.  To add to the impasse, “political correctness” has become one of the most effective weapons known to mankind.  It is used to shut down intellectual debate; wielded by those whose passion to be “right” exceeds any obligation to be ethically honest and factually correct.  “Political correctness” can be loaded without facts, aimed without reason, and fired without conscience.

It doesn’t take an intellectual giant to call someone a racist or bigot; nor does it take one to suggest that the “other” Party is the reincarnation of Satan.  The mere innuendo sways the masses, and political strategists recognize this and use it to “pull the strings” of an unsuspecting public.

Howard Stern is often characterized as a “shock jock,” but I find the vituperative pronouncements of biased political pundits to be far more “shocking” than the puerile humor of Mr. Stern.  More importantly:  Howard Stern’s musings rarely (if ever) incite violence.  I truly believe that the ranting of the real “shock jocks” among media personalities and certain “win at all costs” politicians has spread the disease of intolerance to far too many members of our society, and today we witnessed a manifestation of what happens when intolerance is elevated to hatred.

I do not mean to accuse those who fanatically support one Party over another of being responsible for today’s tragedy.  It was the irrational act of a single individual.  However, I do believe it is time to consider whether our actions have fostered a negative environment in a contributory way.

I follow every Party’s position and follow the broadcasts, articles, blogs, and posts from the far Left … to the far Right.  It is the nature of my profession.  I find an unfortunately high percentage of what I watch, hear, or read to be emotionally charged, factually inaccurate, and deeply disturbing.  The next time you are tempted to ignore what the opposing Party has to say, to shout someone down or deride them by calling them names, or to insinuate something that you cannot prove, consider tempering your response.  Try a modification of the Rotarian Four-Way Test:

  • Is it the truth?
  • Is it fair to all concerned?
  • Will it build goodwill and a better country?
  • Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Most of today’s political rhetoric can’t even pass the first test.  As Eldridge Cleaver said when he paraphrased an old African proverb, “You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem.”

A Congresswoman was critically wounded today.  A federal judge and a minimum of five other individuals were murdered.  Among those who died was a little 9-year-old girl, Christina Taylor Green, who had recently been elected to student council.  Her neighbor took her to Representative Giffords’ “meet-and-greet” because she thought Christina would enjoy it.  How many tragedies must we endure before we stop the irresponsible, inflammatory comments and actions that threaten our President, Senators, Congressmen, Judges, and other civil servants as well as our citizens-at-large … and our innocent children?


T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.


This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, The Common Sense Czar, in the Communities Section of The Washington Times.

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Glib Press Secretary Gibbs to step down

RANCO SANTA FE, CA., January 5, 2011 – Our Nation is in mourning over the announcement that Robert Lane Gibbs will be stepping down as Press Secretary next month … or at least those of us who deal in humor are.  Press Secretary “Glib” (as I like to refer to him) has provided a great service to the United States.  He has been a compassionate defender of the President, a vital interpreter for the Vice President, and a constant source of material for those of us who like to poke fun at politics.

Who can forget his uncomfortable moments trying to reframe inappropriate comments by others?  I will certainly miss Press Secretary Gibb’s explanations, which typically began with “What I think he/she was trying to say …”   His well-meaning “clarifications” have provided fodder for countless satirical rants.  He will indeed be missed.

There really isn’t any “thanks” associated with the job of Press Secretary.  Any individual who holds the position is precluded from expressing his or her own thoughts, and Robert Gibbs was no exception.  During World War II, there was a popular phrase:  “Loose lips sink ships.”  Today, particularly given the speed of communication, they can sink political careers.  Press Secretary Gibbs often had to step into the fray after verbal shots had already been fired.  Given the Vice President’s propensity for premature verbal ejaculation, Gibbs had to know that he had his work cut out for him when he accepted the job.

Personally, I thought Robert’s “deer-in-the-headlights” demeanor was somewhat endearing.  You almost had to feel sorry for him when he fumbled issues on the goal line.  There were many times I wish he could have accepted a penalty and replayed the down.  I apologize for the football metaphors, but they seem to fit.  Besides, this is the season of Bowls and playoff games.

I speculated that the end was near for Press Secretary Gibbs this past summer when he violated the trust of his position by telling the truth.  Perhaps it was the constant pressure that was being exerted by the BP oil spill that weakened his will, but in any event, he began to contradict information pertaining to meetings and conversations that had allegedly taken place and to even suggest that the Administration’s handling of the crisis may have left something to be desired.  Then, he capped off an unprecedented flirtation with the truth by suggesting that the Democrats might actually lose control of the House of Representatives in the November election.  Luckily, Speaker Pelosi brought sanity back into the debate by admonishing Robert for his foolishness and reassuring America that the Democrats would retain control of the House.  I knew that it was time to put away my fears with regard to that issue when Vice President Biden echoed the Speaker’s sentiments.

From my perspective, Press Secretary Gibbs was never the same.  The false sense of bravado required by the position seemingly had left him.  He appeared more “normal” to me; almost comfortable with the fact that he had faced the truth and even spoken it.  It was inevitable that he would step down.

His reign will go down in history.  Robert Gibbs could speak of the campaign promises of “bipartisanship, transparency and accountability” with a straight face; he could support blaming the Bush Administration for almost everything that had occurred since man first walked erect; and he could call Republicans “The Party of No” with the best of them (with the possible exception of Nancy Pelosi).  His cavalier dismissal of legitimate questions; his disingenuous smile; his non-apologetic apologies for the Vice President’s gaffes … all made for great theatre.  He even drove experienced, elderly journalists to their breaking point.  He was the perfect political Press Secretary until he surrendered to the truth.

Perhaps it’s in one’s DNA; a genetic defect that weakens even the strongest among us.  “The truth shall set you free” has been at the root of many a politician’s collapse.  I have even seen such weakness creeping into the President’s political veneer.  In a November 4, 2010, interview with Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes, the President stated, “Well you know, that’s one of the dangers of assuming power. And you know, when you’re campaigning, I think you’re liberated to say things without thinking about, Okay, how am I gonna actually practically implement this.”   Whoa!  That’s starting to get a little bit too “real” for a President.

In any event, I’ll miss Robert Gibbs.  It was easy to write political satire with Press Secretary “Glib” around.  He almost wrote it for you.  I can only hope that his successor will embrace the historical demands of the job and feed us a steady diet of rhetoric and platitudes that will make us feel at home again.  I want to thank Robert and wish him well, and may he leave the traditional gift to his successor:  a flak jacket.


T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.


This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, The Common Sense Czar, in the Communities Section of The Washington Times.

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Congress Discovers the Constitution!

RANCHO SANTA FE, CA., January 5, 2011 – The Majority Leadership of the 112th Congress is “going where no Congress has gone before” by reading the actual Constitution and all of its Amendments into the Congressional Record.  It obviously has taken a page from my book, The National Platform of Common Sense (page 61 to be exact).  You see, if you serve in Congress, you have to take the following oath:

“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

The ACLU need not be concerned as I’m sure that devout atheists will be allowed to “affirm” that they will “support and defend the Constitution of the United States” rather than being forced to “swear” to God or invoke His help.  Of course, that will all occur after Congress is brought to session with its opening prayer.  I guess you can say, “Amen,” for that tradition.

Common sense tells us that if our Congressmen are going to swear (or affirm) to uphold the Constitution, they should at least be familiar with it.  In The National Platform of Common Sense, I call for them to be tested on it.  Can you imagine what a political catastrophe that would be?

Yet, many political pundits are assailing the reading of the Constitution as political grandstanding.  Ezra Klein, a staff writer for The Washington Post and an MSNBC Contributor, recently portrayed the reading as “a gimmick” and stated, “The issue with the Constitution is that the text is confusing because it was written more than 100 years ago and what people believe it says differs from person to person and differs depending upon what they want to get done.”  Perhaps Mr. Klein and the other naysayers are correct.  They are, after all, objective journalists.

The Constitution is actually over 223 years old, so the issue of archaic language may present an even greater obstacle than Mr. Klein suggests.  Let’s see:  “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”  Hmmmm … other than the spelling of “defence,” the language appears to be reasonably clear.

Maybe it’s the language in Article I to which he was referring.  “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”  No, that seems clear as well.

How about Article II?  “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice-President chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows …”  Actually, that seems to be unambiguous as well.  It must be Article III that’s confusing!

Article III begins:  “The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.”   Now, I’m confused.  I seem to be able to understand Article III as well, and as I look through the rest of the Constitution, I don’t see any particular problems.

If it’s not the age of the Constitution and our perceived inability to understand it that emasculates its power, what can it be?  I think Mr. Klein put his finger on the real culprit when he said, “what people believe it says … differs depending upon what they want to get done.”  He’s absolutely right … or should I say “left” (I don’t want to offend anyone).  The problem with the Constitution isn’t what it says; the problem is how people interpret it “depending upon what they want to get done.”  I rather doubt that this is what the Framers had in mind.

This is where human frailty and the “Seven Deadly Sins” enter into the equation:  Pride; Greed; Envy; Anger; Lust; Gluttony; and Sloth.  If you choose to filter the Constitution through the prism of these “sins” to support your own selfish interests, it’s easy to see how the Constitution might lose its relevance.  It would appear that many of our career politicians have elevated this to an art form.

However, Speaker-designate Boehner is proposing a new rule that will require Congressional Members to submit a statement that defines the constitutional basis for any bill they wish to introduce.  The political heretic even wants bills that come from the Senate to be reviewed in this same regard by the Chairman of the House Committee of Jurisdiction.  What’s he trying to do … get everyone to honor their oath?  Let’s call for his impeachment or, at least, his censure!  So what if he hasn’t even cheated on his taxes?  If he had, he’d probably be a member of the Cabinet.  The man is a menace to the political process as we know it!

To resolve this issue once and for all, I obviously must step into the fray.  With the power vested in me as The Common Sense Czar, I do hereby ordain that from this day forward the Constitution shall be read into the record on the first day of each new Congress and that it shall remain the law of the land.  And when The National Platform of Common Sense is fully adopted, prepare to hear the phrase, “Now, take out a piece of paper … we’re going to have a little test.”


T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.


This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, The Common Sense Czar, in the Communities Section of The Washington Times

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