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Picking a candidate to replace President Obama should be easy. Just about anyone would be an improvement if they are a moderate Democrat or a small government Republican. At this point I like Governor Scott Walker and former democratic senator Jim Webb. They, along with some other candidates, share many of my list of what America needs after Obama.

My list is simple:


Use this list to evaluate your candidate and see how they score. In a coming blog I will talk about some individual candidates.

Written by the author of the Jack Brandon thriller/suspense novels and “Insights: Transforming America — Is This What We Fought For?” available now as an e-book, in paperback or hardcover on Amazon.com or BN.com. Another analytical book on the transforming process, “Insights: Stepping Stones to Tyranny,” is now published and available in paperback at $9.95 and on nook and kindle at $3.99. Follow the author on Twitter @factsfictions80. “ISIS,” a new Jack Brandon novel dealing with ISIS in America, will be out in March or early April.








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Pulling the lever at the polling place for your party or candidate is a citizen’s duty. But it doesn’t begin or end there. When you vote for a winning candidate, you own a share of the candidate’s successes and failures. After all, you helped put them in office.

Being president of the United States is the most difficult job in our world. The decisions or lack of decisions the president makes affects the very existence of our nation and the continuation of life on planet Earth. How do you select a man or woman to move into the White House?

It is your responsibility to make an effort to size up the candidates, separate facts from fictions, and understand the difference between your emotional inclinations and the actual observable facts. You may believe your candidate would make a great president  but recognize  your candidate does not have the experience to be a president. You also know no one, no matter how cool or smart, can learn enough after taking office to be a good president. This is not a position for basic leadership nor ‘on the job’ training. Even highly qualified candidates have much to learn. The good ones have had years of management experience, are natural leaders, and realize their limitations require them to surround themselves with very good people who know how to do their jobs.  A good staff makes a good president even better.

The qualification of experience is easy to judge. A candidate either has had years of command experience in management of large organizations with thousands of people or not. They have either learned the importance of keeping their word and know their actions will define them or they don’t know it. They either realize they are not defined by their speeches or they believe their speeches make their presidency a good one.

As a rule, senators and representatives do not acquire leadership or management skills in the performance of their responsibilities. They manage by manipulating individuals and playing one group against the other. These are not the primary skills a president needs. In their world, words are the tools they use, not actions. They are used to saying one thing when later say they meant another. When a candidate uses the words “I” and “my” many times in every speech, you know this person is not a leader and does not understand how to manage large numbers of complicated missions.

In American political life, leaders come from being governors, high-ranking military officers, and captains of industry. You still need to be careful in selecting from these ranks, but at least you know they have had the required management and leadership experience.

One of the things I have learned from life is that no matter what a job requires, people do what they know how to do. If that happens to be giving speeches, fundraising, and playing one group against another, that’s what you get.

Written by the author of the Jack Brandon thriller/mystery novels and “Insights: Transforming America — Is This What We Fought For?” available now as an ebook, in paperback or hardcover on Amazon.com or BN.com. Another analytical book on the transforming process, “Stepping Stones to Tyranny,” will be published before Christmas. Follow the author on Twitter @factsfictions80. 


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Let’s pretend it’s November 10th, 2016. Hopefully the American people elected Republican president. We do not want to hear any “them and us” rhetoric nor anything about “saving the middle class.” We want the government to get out of the way of the middle class so those people can help themselves, as they are fully capable of doing. We do not want to hear any speeches with a class warfare message. No “fair shots” or “leveling the playing field” or “income equality” or excuses for American excellence or military power. Nothing should be delegated to internationalism and no more whining about global warming nor cap and trade.

Here’s what needs and should be on his or her agenda for the first year of his or her presidency to get America back on the right track (or at least off the wrong track that Obama put us on for the past eight years):

— Focus on the economy, and part of that is dealing with Obamacare. Most of it has to be destroyed. The next president should want to make sure all Americans have access to medical care that offers things like no cancellations for pre-existing conditions and allows sons and daughters to remain on their parent’s policies until age 26. People should own their health insurance polices, so they can take them from job to job. The IRS should be removed from the health insurance field and so should HHS. Insurance companies will be allowed to trade across state lines. Tort reform will be part of the plan. States will have most of the responsibilities. Beyond a few necessary functions the national government will have no health insurance management responsibilities. The new health legislation will be series of bills passed and implemented on a step-by-step basis.

–Immigration will be dealt with in the same way. There are enough bipartisan votes to deal with immigration one piece at a time. First the border is fixed so thousands of people crossing the border illegally is stopped without being killed. Better leadership at the top level of border enforcement is a must and a new justice department is part of the fix. We will not deport millions of people who have been here for years nor are we going to break up families. However, those who break our laws, commit crimes, or belong to a violent gang are out of here.

–A new bipartisan tax structure should be ongoing in the first hundred days. The speaker and the majority leader should select a bipartisan committee of senators and representatives who are not from the no-compromise ideologue wings of either party. Spending needs to be put under control and a growth-friendly tax policy is a way to start. The tax policy will include everyone. It is not a healthy economy that has less than half of its citizens paying all the federal income tax load. Cutting out loopholes, phasing out subsidies, allowing U.S. companies to bring wealth home without penalty, abolishing death taxes, and a tax code the average citizen can understand must all be part of tax reform.

–The energy policy will get rid of the regulatory baggage that is killing the energy industry. Some oversight is required, but minimal. At the end of the president’s first term, America can be a significant energy exporter and thousands of well-paying jobs can be created.

–A bill should be introduced that prohibits bailouts of private industries. There is a process for that already and it is called bankruptcy. The Federal Reserve is one area that may need more regulation. It is essentially a system of private banks that function without sufficient oversight.

–Social welfare programs gradually need to be brought into a solid financial status. A number of incremental small changes will have enough bipartisan support to pass without a inter-party battle.

–The education system is broken but it is not the job of the federal government to manage education. That function is left to the states and localities. Charter schools or vouchers to parents will be encouraged.

–The military force needs emergency funding to build up the force level, provide new weaponry, take better care of veterans, and improve the ability now to move and support military power. Strength and peace are linked.The G.I. Bill that provides college tuition linked to years served should be reinstated. Many nations, like Putin’s Russia, respect only strength. No more wimpy rhetoric coming off teleprompters. There is a real war with terrorism going on, so we should call it that.

–Foreign policy should be a function of the people assigned to the Cabinet. It should support democracy everywhere and resist totalitarian governments of all kinds, including those run by extremist clerics. It should be clear that unless Muslim nations accept Israel as a nation, they can not count America as an ally.

–Environmental policies should be based on strong scientific evidence, not on the ideology of bureaucrats.

–A bipartisan group of politicians, industry people, and academics should be called upon to validate or cancel current regulations.

–Judges should be nominated to our national courts who have demonstrated they adhere to Constitutional and existing laws when making decisions.

What do you think?

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The Advisor had been pacing up and down his office for nearly an hour. He was truly troubled. He hadn’t seen the President for two weeks. Even worse, if the President did come down to see him, he had nothing to say to him. He sighed heavily and sat down to drink some coffee and collect his thoughts.

The problem between us is deeply rooted in the President’s ideology and a long series of political successes by following the wishes of the far left. Only now, the President has the power. He is the President of what some still think is the most powerful nation in world history. Any historian can tell you that winning power and exercising power are two very different processes. In the struggle to seize power, you are not expected to solve the kinds of problems all presidents face. Words of inspiration and hope, and promising voters a better world are the tools of the power seeker. It doesn’t matter much if the words are true or not because the end justifies the means. To someone trying to win power, every action is good as long as the end is the seizure of power from your opponents.

The Advisor pulled out his journal and started to write:

To govern in a democracy or a republic, you must please the people by delivering security, economic progress,  social services, and national pride. In a totalitarian government, force and fear are required tools of governing. In democracies, truth is important. In dictatorships, truth doesn’t matter. Mass murder and the abolishment of freedom is the usual formula for controlling the opposition. Our current President doesn’t seem to realize he is now the man-in-charge. He must now solve issues, not just use them to weaken the opposition. Americans want to trust the word of the President. President Obama is still in campaign mode during which he used untruths successfully to defeat political opponents. The constant blaming of others is not presidential. Holding back information that makes the Administration look bad is not presidential. I’m afraid people have lost faith in his word. Once that happens it is nearly impossible to reverse.

How can I advise a President whom the people no longer trust? What should I do for the next three years of his term? The nation is in some peril and President Obama is playing to the tune of “I didn’t know,” and “I will get to the bottom of this.” That might be right because I believe he has reached the bottom. He has used up the blaming of others. He needs to spend more time looking in the mirror. I doubt even his mirror image can trust his word.

All I can do is record my thoughts in the Journal for my successors to read. Truly, I would like to help him but when a President loses the trust of the people, his term is up. I have no idea what he or the nation should do for the next three years. Except for the progressive lemmings in the Senate and the media, there would be calls for impeachment on the grounds that he has committed at least five Watergates. Ben Ghazi and the IRS scandals being the worst. Only he is already being punished — by the sentence of three years of late-night jokes.

The Advisor put down his pen. He took another sip of coffee and reread what he had just written. It hurt him to read “I have no idea what he or the nation should do for the next three years.” He meant it, and it meant trouble for the U.S.

This blog is written by the author of the Jack Brandon novels. The author has 27 years of government service, including two years serving Meeting with President Reagan, Vice President Bush, Deputy National Security Adviser Frank Carlucci and General Colin Powell in the Oval Office.

President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s as an advisor. Considering today’s volatile political situation, you are encouraged to share this on Facebook and to click the “like” button below. Comments and dialogue are welcome.


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One thing you could say for this President is that he knows when he calls, people jump. The Advisor smiled and thought, even me. The office carries real and mystical power. It must be something deep in our human genes from thousands of years of picking leaders by widely varying methods. Once a man is the supreme leader he or she exudes an aura of power. I know who this man is. I know his shortcomings and, still, when he sends word he is coming down, I jump. I even tidy up the meeting room. Glad he never wanted to see my living quarters. Me, one in a long unbroken line of Advisors, am still a citizen and he is my chief.

It was mid-afternoon when the President placed his palm on the old iron door with the fading EIGHT DECADES OF INSIGHTS copper plaque dating back to colonial days. President Obama was only an hour late. No problem; that was his prerogative. He made no apology, just took his seat in the small conversational grouping of furniture and waited until the Advisor poured coffee. The President was addicted to good coffee and cigarettes. The advisor had quit smoking fifty years ago and disliked breathing in second-hand smoke but it was not that often and the man needed to be able to relax. After taking his first drag, President Obama said, “I just had to get away. My staff is trying to kill me by constantly presenting problems they should solve themselves. Take this closing of the Government thing. Hell, I’d like to close the White House, not to tours, but to the idiots who work there.”

The President paused to take another drag and a sip of coffee.

“Yes, I wanted to make the Republicans look bad by causing the citizens some pain and reasons to blame the House Tea Party faction, but to delay paying death benefits to dead soldiers is too stupid to even think about. And then to close an open air memorial to WWII veterans is even worse. Yet I can’t fire anyone because when push comes to shove they will say, ‘I was only carrying out what the President wanted.’ No way. I’m just tired of putting out fires. The bureaucracy is an awesome thing. A huge anthill with all the ants striving to please their queen without a second of thought. They do not even do what is right for the people or the nation. Never enters their heads. They are only guided by the need to protect their little kingdoms. They know they will be here in their little fiefdoms long after I’m gone. Jumping up and down in the Oval Office chanting their age old mantra, ‘Look at me.’

“I swear when I achieve my goal of a one party system overseeing fairness, income distribution and equality for all, I will break the back of the entrenched bureaucracy.”

“Mr. President, even the liberal media is starting to question your failure to lead in finding the solution to problems. Soon they will stumble on the theory that your interests lie in the continued acquisition of power not in the solution of problems. While you’re not resolving issues, you are increasing the power of the Executive Office. The polls show a remarkable drop in your public ratings. Are you concerned about that?”

“Not in the least. I will come out of this so-called budget crisis with what I want. A further weakening of the opposition and the acquisition of more power in the Executive. The Progressives may even pick up more legislative seats in the 2014 elections. If that happens I will be unstoppable.” The President ground out his cigarette with gratification, ignoring the Advisor’s wide eyes. “Thank you for listening to me bitch and moan. It’s good to have a place where I can be myself.” The President smiled and said, “Stick around. I may need another session soon.” The President walked swiftly to the door and left.

The Advisor opened his current journal and began to write. He thought as he was recording, No one will ever believe this. I’m not even sure I can.

This fictional account of a meeting that should happen but doesn’t is by the author of the Brandon novels. The author has 27 years of Government service, including two years serving President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s as an advisor. Considering today’s volatile political situation, you are encouraged to share this on Facebook and to click the “like” button below. Comments and dialogue are welcome.

Meeting with President Reagan, Vice President Bush, Deputy National Security Adviser Frank Carlucci and General Colin Powell in the Oval Office.

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Safe in the Shadows

It had been three weeks since the President had left the Advisor to deal with a crisis. The Advisor was still pondering how to see the world from President Obama’s viewpoint. If he could manage to see the world through the same lens maybe he could be of more help to the President. Three weeks ago the President had sounded enthusiastic about answering some of the same questions The Advisor of 1932 asked President Roosevelt when he, too, was struggling to find common ground. The Roosevelt Journal of 1932 was open on the Advisor’s desk when the phone rang. He picked it up and heard the codeword that meant the President was on his way down. The Advisor rushed to put on a fresh pot of Sumatra Roast and to get out a pack of the President’s favorite cigarettes. He just finished arranging the small conference table when the door swung open and the President stepped in. He crossed to his seat at the table and murmured  to the Advisor, “Everywhere I go there is a table or a seating arrangement with a place preordained for me to sit. At least here I can sit anywhere. Right?”

“Yes, Mr. President, you can sit anywhere. In our lore, this is part of the Oval Office.”

“Except that I can’t bring any guests.”

“Of course you can. I just won’t be here.”

“The last time I was here, you asked  if you could ask me some of the same questions one of your predecessors asked President Roosevelt. If it was okay with FDR it is okay with me. I believe you asked me what I meant by my phrase, ‘transform America.’ Is that right?”

The Advisor nodded and said, “Yes and take your  time. I believe the answer to that question is the foundation of your polices.”

“Yes. It is. But not many of my own staff understand. By transforming America I mean getting this great nation on the right path to benefit all Americans and all the people in the world. I believe we have been following a wrong path for years, displaying our power and our wealth as a license for intervening in the sovereign affairs of other nations. Who do we think we are, gathering far more than our share of wealth and using most of the world’s energy to increase our wealth and power? The right path for this nation is to take  the lead in distributing our national wealth to all the nations of the world and to unilaterally reduce our military strength so all the world can see we no longer have the power to dominate. Our future is to be a responsible member of the United Nations and give up deciding what we should do in our own interests. You see, leading from behind is the promise of the future. It is this soft power we have lacked. America has a deep history of the establishment and failure of utopian societies.

“By really sharing our wealth and equalizing opportunities so no one can control more than their fair share of wealth, we will bring into being the real promise of freedom, not for the individual, but for all the people. One person, one vote, one party is the real promise of democracy. In my time as President, I will do all I can to distribute wealth, first nationally and then internationally. I will, at the same time, redirect our military by reducing its man power and weaponry.

“The only real law is international law applied to both people and nations. Why should an act be criminal in some country and not in others? What is fair about that? It is an honor to  have the United Nations Headquarters in America. I will channel more and more of our wealth and security policies through the UN. The early utopians did not think big enough and did not have the necessary ruthlessness to protect, defend, and spread their philosophy. I do.”

“Mr. President, thank you for explaining  your policy of transformation. I’m now in a better position to give you advice whenever you come down to see me. Like yourself, most Presidents don’t need or want strategic policy advice. In the journals, most have sought tactical advice to further a program in support of their broader policy goals. I would like to talk with you the next time you can come about the obstacles you see in your way to achieving ‘transformation.'”

The President was already standing, crushing his cigarette and remarked, “The lawyer in me enjoys our sessions. No one makes me think the way you do. Now I have to go.”

The Advisor watched the door slowly close and lock. He said aloud, “It’s all in the open now. I must be careful to understand his core beliefs before giving any advice.  Like some of my trail-breaking Advisors of times past, I’m truly frightened.”

By the author of the Jack Brandon novels. The author has 27 years of Government service,

Meeting with President Reagan, Vice President Bush, Deputy National Security Adviser Frank Carlucci and General Colin Powell in the Oval Office.

Meeting with President Reagan, Vice President Bush, Deputy National Security Adviser Frank Carlucci and General Colin Powell in the Oval Office.

including two years serving President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s as an advisor. Considering today’s volatile political situation, you are encouraged to share this on Facebook and to click the “like” button below. Comments and dialogue are welcome and helpful. Find and connect with the author on Goodreads.

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Safe in the Shadows


The Advisor was thinking about how forceful he could be in advising President Obama. The subject for his next visit would be the consequences in foreign policy of leading from behind. The President wasn’t a stupid or a cruel man.   He was just a man who carried an enormous amount of baggage.

Could anyone walk away from the influences he was subject to in his earlier life? the advisor thought. Some he was personally responsible for, others he had no real choice. Parents from far to the left, several years in a Muslim Madrassi teaching Wahhabism. His father, an anti-colonialist Kenyan, whose family had been persecuted by the British Colonialists. For most of his formidable years he was exposed to radical leftist ideologies. Then, the influence of Ivy League progressives, Saul Alinsky and his radical plan for seizing power, Reverend Wright and his hate America sermons, William Ayers and his terrorist viewpoint and to top it off the ruthless and corrupt school of Chicago politics. The President never personally suffered from his associations and ideology. Therefore, he has no understanding of  the consequences of following a revolutionary ideology. It is probably too late now but I must try. I will never knowingly give him bad advice or try to manipulate him. My mission code does not allow it. After all, he was elected twice and could probably win a third term if it were permitted.

The advisor’s musing is interrupted when the flashing red light and soft chiming called him to the phone.

The President arrived a few minutes later at nine o’clock PM. The President strode into the room, greeted the advisor and said, “Let’s get started. I have some extra time and need a cup of your coffee.”

“Mr. President, you look like a man who doesn’t have a care in the world.”

“Today was good day. No one was asking me to do the impossible. Why do my supporters and staff think I should get involved in everything?”

“You are the ‘point of the spear.’ They count on you to give them what they want without understanding that doing nothing is also, at times, a good action plan. There, a perfect opening for my talk. Remember, you told me to pick the topic. So I’m going to talk about the concept of leading from behind. Please interrupt at any time. I’m going to use foreign affairs as a backdrop for my advice.

“You are in the fifth year of your Presidency. That is long enough for you to own America’s position in the world. You will not like some of my statements. But I will assure you, the the facts are correct. My analysis may be faulty because I project it into the future where no one can be absolutely sure they are right. First our main adversary, Russia. They are stronger now than they were before your election. Today their fleet is in the Mediterranean, something that was inconceivable in the last several decades. They have nearly secured a warm water port in the Med, a Russian goal going back to the czars. They failed in Afghanistan to find a corridor to warm water. Russia’s ability to project power has been limited for centuries because they lacked a port with year round operations capability. The Syrian port of Tartous is the payoff for their support to Assad. Sure, they enjoy threatening American and Israeli interests in the Middle East, but Tartous is the real goal.

“To see more clearly the Russian move into the Middle East, imagine a monopoly game where the winner gains areas of influence and the losers, well, lose. You failed to negotiate a status of forces agreement in Iraq where it was in no one’s interest for the U.S. to abandon the country. Certainly sectarian violence would be lessened if we had a seat at the table. Iran could not supply Syria forces through or over Iraq. Iran could not threaten Iraq if we had maintained a presence in Iraq. Iran would have a harder time supplying Hezbollah and using that force to control Lebanon, another possibility for Russia to exploit to acquire a warm water port. Our anti-ballistic missiles on the ground in Iraq could bring more defense against an Iranian attack on Israel or the Sunni Middle East. ‘Leading from Behind’ policies have resulted in our loss of space supremacy, ABM land-based systems, and talks about unilaterally cutting force size and our inventor of ballistic missiles that have kept us from a nuclear war since WWII.  Our loss of influence in Egypt, Libya, Iraq, and Pakistan is not a foreign affairs victory. Leading from behind means you are and will remain behind.

“Leading from behind does not win respect in the world. Your monopoly board does not look good. Putin has no respect for you as leader because he sees you weakening America and, therefore, believes you are not someone he should worry about. Most of the world respects power and distrusts weakness. To world leaders words don’t matter. Words without action are invisible. To start with I advise you to say less and do more. You can project American power without following the old colonial pattern you hate so much.”

The President puts his cup down, grinds out his cigarette.

The Advisor says, “Yes. I have known ever since you sent the bust of Winston Churchill back to England. Your constant concern is for the little nation, the poor people, the Muslim nations over the Colonial West. If you achieve your goal of leveling America and the world, you’ll destroy both and civilization of all will suffer. But that is for another time.”

The President gets up and strides to the door. He looks back as he leaves and says, “You can’t be right.”

The Advisor says, “Goodnight Mr.President,” to the sound of an automatic locking door.

He thought, that went well.


By the author of the Jack Brandon novels.   http://www.factsandfictions.com 

The author has 27 years of Government  service, including two years serving President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s as an advisor. Considering today’s volatile political situation, you are encouraged to pass on this blog or parts of it to your contacts and friends. Comments and dialogue are welcome and helpful.

  • Meeting with President Reagan, Vice President Bush, Deputy National Security Adviser Frank Carlucci and General Colin Powell in the Oval Office.

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