Join Jim and Greg for a special 9/11 anniversary edition of the podcast. They both share their indelible memories of that horrific day and why it is vital for us to remember the evil perpetrated against us and how the very best of America rose to the occasion. Then they dive into the three martinis of the day, starting with a GOP voter registration surge in Pennsylvania. They also fume as 31 phones connected to the Mueller special counsel team were wiped clean before the Justice Department could examine them. And they react to the Biden campaign spokesman who was outraged that he would be asked if Joe Biden uses a teleprompter during interviews and other events – but never answered the question.
The latest report from the Treasury Department shows a record level of spending for the first nine months of the current fiscal year, and the U.S. is on it’s way to a one trillion dollar deficit by the time the year is through.
According to Treasury, expenditures from October through June totaled nearly $3.356 trillion. Revenues came in at just over $2.6 trillion, leaving the nation with a deficit of more than $747 billion with three more months to go.
One of the nation’s top financial watchdogs says this is a bipartisan problem, noting the deficit was $5.4 trillion when George W. Bush left office. That number jumped to $19.9 trillion when Barack Obama’s presidency ended. Our debt is now headed towards $23 trillion just two-and-a-half years into the Trump administration.
OpentheBooks.com CEO Adam Andrzejewski says the current budget deficit is particularly bad considering the strength of our economy.
“Right now, we’re in a period of great economic expansion. We shouldn’t be running one trillion dollar budget deficits. You run budget deficits during an economic cycle when you slip into recession. You don’t want to run them when you’re in economic growth and expansion,” said Andrzejewski.
Andrzejewski warns Republicans that running against the big government agenda of Democrats is going to be a tougher sell because of their own lack of fiscal discipline.
But with neither party wanting to remove funding for their friends and priorities, is there any room for common ground. Andrzejewski says some ways to trim the fat ought to be obvious.
“The 20 largest federal agencies since 2003, they admit to $1.4 trillion going out the door in improper payments. Just last year, our auditors at OpentheBooks.com found a billion dollars went out the door from these federal agencies to dead people,” said Andrzejewski.
It gets worse. Andrzejewski says another six billion dollars went out in overpayments in student loans and grants and Medicare and Medicaid combined for $80-85 billion in improper payments.
Listen to the full podcast as Andrzejewski lists more wasteful spending projects that are wasting taxpayer dollars and how he encourages citizens to make their representatives pay attention to our soaring deficits and debt.
Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was among those eulogizing former President George Bush Wednesday at Washington National Cathedral. Mulroney discussed Bush’s leadership on the world stage with a special emphasis on how Bush deftly managed the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
“An ominous situation that could have become extremely menacing to world security was instead deftly [channeled] by President Bush into the broad and powerful currents of freedom,” said Mulroney.
Listen to the full story as Mulroney explains what Bush did to guide the end of the Cold War to the best possible conclusion and his relating of how former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl regarded Bush’s role in the re-unification of Germany.
Barbara H. Franklin is mourning the loss of a close friend, but George Bush was not only her friend. He was President of the United States and Franklin’s boss when she served as U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
“I feel a sense of personal loss as well as the loss of a great president and a good man,” said Franklin, who first met Bush in the early 1970’s when he was U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and she served in the Nixon administration.
She felt an instant connection to George and Barbara Bush.
“I was very struck by his quality of character and his attributes. He also was fun and funny and high energy and I was just very admiring of him. Then I met Barbara Bush and I thought she was perfectly wonderful too. We became friends,” said Franklin.
“I feel very privileged and honored to have known both of them for as long as I have,” said Franklin.
And what kind of boss was Bush?
“He could be tough-minded but he was forever gracious and the combination of being tough-minded and courageous when he needed to be, as well as gracious all the time, was a wonderful example for anyone,” said Franklin.
She remembers a phone conversation with President Bush late in 1992. Bush had just lost the election but wanted Franklin to thaw ties with China, since high-level government contact had been severed since the brutal Chinese crackdown in pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
“I must say that went through my mind at the time was, ‘Well, why China, why me, and why now?’ I didn’t verbalize that to him, though, and then he explained that he wanted this relationship restored on a better footing before he left office so that the new administration could continue to engage in a good, bilateral way,” said Franklin.
Bush lost the election in part because of his failure to keep his “no new taxes” pledge and because the economy hit a recession in 1991. Franklin points out that the GDP was back to a robust growth of three to four percent in late 1992, but many Americans could not feel the improvement yet and it cost Bush at the polls.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Franklin’s explanation of Bush’s top economic priorities, why he raised taxes after promising not to, why he was so successful in managing the end of the Cold War, and what she savored most from her friendship with the Bushes in the 25 years since the end of his administration
Ronald Reagan and George Bush waged a fierce battle for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination, but that summer they forged a personal and political alliance that greatly assisted Reagan and eventually led to Bush winning the White House eight years later.
“No president ever had a better vice president, a more loyal vice president, a more hand-working vice president than George Bush,” said former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III, who served as counselor to Reagan in California and Washington before being confirmed to lead the Justice Department in the second Reagan term.
Reagan and Bush battled for the nomination for months before Reagan eventually clinched the delegates needed to win the nomination. Some in the GOP pushed for former President Gerald Ford to be Reagan’s running mate but the negotiations fell through. Reagan then turned to Bush, with one condition.
“Before [Reagan] asked him to serve and announced him as his requested vice presidential candidate, it was made clear by George Bush that he was willing and able to support Ronald Reagan in all his policies and positions that he had taken during the campaign,” said Meese.
That was an adjustment on some issues, including economic policy. During the campaign, Bush had derided Reagan’s supply-side agenda as “voodoo economics.” But Bush came around on that too.
“I had later explained to people that in Detroit at the convention that Mr. Bush had an exorcism,” laughed Meese.
After Reagan and Bush defeated President Jimmy Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale in the general election, Reagan and Bush put their team together. Meese became a counselor to the president as part of the famed “troika” that also included longtime Reagan aide Michael Deaver and Bush confidante James Baker III, who served as Reagan’s chief of staff in the first term.
Meese says Baker and the other former Bush personnel became loyal foot soldiers in the Reagan Revolution.
Crisis struck the Reagan administration in March 1981, when the president was shot and nearly killed by John Hinckley, Jr. As Reagan underwent surgery, Secretary of State Alexander Haig declared himself to be in charge until Bush returned from a trip to Texas.
Meese says Bush’s handling of that moment spoke volumes about his character, including his refusal to fly to the White House in Marine One.
“He said, ‘No, have them land at my official residence up at the Naval Observatory and I’ll come in by car.’ He wanted to be sure that nobody thought he was usurping or trying to take over the position of the president,” said Meese.
He says Bush also showed deference by not engaging in verbal disputes with cabinet officials during meetings but would share his concerns privately with the president.
Bush also assisted Reagan in developing relationships abroad, as the vice president represented the U.S. at many different funerals for leaders around the world. It happened so frequently, that Meese says Bush staffer had a motto of “You die, we fly.”
He also took the lead in more concrete policy areas like combating the influx of drugs into Miami and across our southern border. He also led the administration’s regulatory reform efforts.
Listen to the full podcast for more on those issues and to hear Meese explain why Reagan was confident Bush would be a good running mate and political partner even after a tough primary fight, how they collaborated in fighting the Cold War and more. He also shares his thoughts on Bush’s emotional tribute at Reagan’s funeral.
Daniel Foster of National Review Online and Greg Corombos of Radio America cheer the French people for forcing their government to suspend implementation of new fuel taxes, although their tactics leave a lot to be desired. They also shake their heads as Congress punts any tough spending decisions to Dec. 21 and appears unwilling to do much of anything to rein in spending. And the liberal site Slate draws an avalanche of condemnation for trashing the late Pres. Bush’s service dog, suggesting there should be no sentimental reaction to the dog since Bush only had him since June.
A former top speechwriter of President George H.W. Bush is remembering his former boss as a leader of tremendous honor and achievement over Bush’s four years in the White House, and he’s also shedding light on some of the most memorable moments associated with Mr. Bush.
Curt Smith is author of “George H.W. Bush: Character at the Core.” He says Bush embodied many of the qualities that have been cherished for generations in the United States.
“It’s an astonishing record of longevity and of decency, of honor, of rectitude, of achievement, of patriotism, of all of the attributes that we would like to think of a quintessentially American. That is what I think of when I think of him,” said Smith.
Bush served as a Naval aviator in World War II and survived both a crash and being shot down. After success in the Texas oil industry, Bush served two terms in Congress, and then as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, liaison to China and director of the CIA.
After losing the 1980 Republican presidential nomination to Ronald Reagan, Bush accepted Reagan’s invitation to be his running mate. They carried 44 states in an Electoral College rout of President Jimmy Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale in the general election. Four years later, they were re-elected while winning 49 states.
In 1988, Bush defeated Michael Dukakis to win the White House. Bush carried 40 states and amassed 426 electoral votes.
It was during that transition that Bush met and hired Smith as a speechwriter. They quickly bonded over their shared love for baseball.
“He looked at me that January day in 1989 and said, ‘You know, Curt, I’d rather quote Yogi Berra than Thomas Jefferson,'” recounted Smith.
Smith says the most memorable days of the Bush presidency for him were writing the speeches calling for the removal of Saddam Hussein and his Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
Another moment that sticks with Smith is Bush at Pearl Harbor to commemorate 50 years since the Japanese attack that triggered America’s entry into World War II. Smith says it seemed Bush’s mind instantly went back to his teenage years when the attack happened and he enlisted in the U.S. Navy.
“So even though he was 67, inside, emotionally, he’s 17. It was an exceedingly difficult speech for him to give. At the end, he said, ‘God bless the United States of America’ and then almost whispered the words “the most wondrous land on earth.” He was enormously moved and it enormously moved his audience,” said Smith.
The worst days by far were in the aftermath of Bush losing the 1992 election to Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, due in part to the emergence of H. Ross Perot as an independent candidate.
But Smith says it’s clear why Bush lost.
“Who did us in? We did.We didn’t govern in a conservative enough manner to pacify the people who had voted for us, the conservative wing of the Republican Party and of middle America. That’s how Bush had won 40 states in 1988 over Michael Dukakis. It was as close as America could come to a third Reagan term,” said Smith.
“He lost to a better candidate in Bill Clinton, but I think Clinton was an inferior president to Bush, particularly in foreign policy, particularly in matters of honor and rectitude. I think the record is very clear on that,” said Smith.
Listen to the full podcast to hear more from Smith about working with Bush in the heat of the Gulf War, what went wrong in 1992, and the real reason that Bush took up skydiving as a senior citizen.
President Trump was once a top baseball prospect, the first President Bush was thought to be a Hall of Fame caliber fielder, and Bush may not have become commander-in-chief without critical support from a baseball legend.
These are just some of the nuggets in the new book from former presidential speechwriter and prolific baseball author Curt Smith in his new work, “The Presidents and the Pastime.”
Baseball roots in the U.S. go back to our founding, as colonists played “rounders.” By the 1860’s, President Lincoln was giving federal workers time off to attend games, and in 1910, President William Howard Taft began the long tradition of presidents throwing out the first pitch of the season in or near the nation’s capital.
So what’s behind the connection? Quoting George H.W. Bush, Smith says “baseball has everything.”
“He meant it was an honorable game, an honest game,a game that anyone could play, a game that anyone no matter how small or large nor any color (could play),” said Smith.
“He meant that it was an inherently American game, that it was ours, that we invented it. He meant that it was a game that he had been taught by his father and that he had taught his son, who of course would also become president,” he said.
That son would use baseball in one of the most important moments of American history. Just weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium for a World Series game between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Smith says his writing on that powerful moment might what he’s most proud of in “The Presidents and the Pastime.”
He shared some of it with us.
“He met a roaring ovation as he left the Yankees dugout, red and blue states vanishing. He passed the first base dugout and then moved towards the mound, ready to throw to a catcher behind the plate. Add the fury in every seat, every tear, the emotion overwhelmed.
“Bush wound up and threw a perfect strike to the Yankees’ Jorge Posada, exactly splitting the plate, precisely at the knees, as if he had lovingly placed the ball in the catcher’s glove. The crowd exploded. It’s cry for justice piercing the cool Bronx air.
“Slowly, Bush left the field. Gary Cooper in ‘High Noon,’ a hero now more than he had ever been or ever would be again,” read Smith.
Bush threw a perfect strike with the eyes of the world watching and while wearing a bullet-proof vest. However, the current occupant of the Oval Office was a great ballplayer too. Smith says Donald Trump had the tools to be a major league player, but turned it down in classic Trump style.
“Trump was a terrific prospect. In prep school, he was viewed as ‘can’t miss’ by the Phillies and the Red Sox, both of whom were primed to sign him. The only problem was that Trump didn’t want to sign a contract. The reason was, as he said, ‘I didn’t want baseball money. I wanted big money,'” said Smith.
Smith suspects the elder Bush was the best all-around player among our presidents. As captain of the Yale team, Smith reports that scouts thought Bush had hall of fame skills as a defender. It was the other part of the game where he struggled.
“The problem was that he wasn’t even a good field-no hit player. He was a great field-zero hit player almost. As a result, his chances for the bigs were zero,” said Smith.
Baseball also played a key role in the first President Bush winning the GOP nomination in 1988. After a third place finish in Iowa, Bush had to win in New Hampshire to keep his campaign alive.
Forty-six years earlier, as a young Naval aviator, Bush met Boston Red Sox star Ted Williams, who was training pilots for action in World War II. The two became lifelong friends and when Bush was on the political ropes, Williams stepped up to rally his friend among the New England fans who adored him at Fenway Park.
“Ted Williams, to Bush’s total surprise, flies his own plane from his home in Florida to New Hampshire, shocked Bush, and stumped the next three days with Bush and resurrected Bush’s presidential campaign,” said Smith.
Smith wrote the book in part to highlight the presidents’ love affair with baseball and in part to urge Major League Baseball to make the game more attractive to younger generations by speeding up the game through shorter intervals between pitches, not allowing batters to leave the batter’s box so much, and beefing up the strike zone.
He also urges President Trump to throw out a first pitch, even if the crowd does not receive him well. Smith says it is vital to save and strengthen the American pastime.
“These are serious times. This is a serious topic. Baseball has better wake up and realize that if you lose one generation or two generations, you never get them back,” said Smith.
On Monday, Americans observed a solemn remembrance of the lives lost in the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but retired U.S. Air Force Lt. General Tom McInerney says victory will be tough to achieve unless the U.S. gets serious about specifically identifying the enemy as radical Islam and getting Muslim leaders to publicly condemn the perpetrators.
“We still have not identified the threat’s ideology, that is radical Islam. Until you do that, you can’t defeat the threat,” said McInerney, who rose to the number three position in the U.S. Air Force and also served as vice commander of U.S. Air Forces Europe.
He says President Trump did identity the ideology correctly on the campaign trail but has not been nearly as bold since taking office.
“We do not use the term ‘radical Islam’ very much in this administration. I’m a little disappointed in the Trump administration because the president was using it quite a bit and then has since restricted his use of the term,” said McInerney.
Another reason he can’t call the war a success is the volatile state of the entire Middle East.
“Now you have the Middle East. It’s the most unstable it has ever been in its history, so that’s why I’m not giving us high marks for being successful,” said McInerney.
Another major priority after 9/11 was the state of American intelligence capabilities. Here again, McInerney sees disappointment compared to what was possible.
“They haven’t identified these threats. They haven’t articulated the issues. Our special ops are good at getting high-value targets, so our intelligence people are doing a good job with all of our censors, etc. But we haven’t bundled it in the proper way, so our leaders can properly express the threat and the ideology I talked about earlier,” said McInerney.
So how can the U.S. prosecution of the war become more effective? McInerney says it all starts with prominent Muslims clearly and frequently denouncing terrorism.
“The only people that can really defeat radical Islam are the Muslims themselves. So we need fatwas out of Mecca and Medina. We need Arab leadership to declare those radical Islamists to be unholy warriors and that they will forever live in damnation for attacking the West,” said McInerney.
McInerney says critical mistakes from both George W. Bush and Barack Obama made the fight more difficult. He says Bush’s decision, through Amb. L. Paul Bremer, to disband the Iraqi army after toppling Saddam Hussein was a major error that only teed up experienced fighters to be part of the subsequent insurgency.
He says Obama’s decision to withdraw all U.S. forces in 2011 then created the vacuum that fostered the rise of ISIS.
McInerney says to pursue stability now requires a concerted confrontation of Iran.
“We cannot have the mullahs running wild over there. They’re developing ICBM’s and nuclear weapons covertly. We cannot accept that,” said McInerney.
He calls the Iran nuclear deal another major mistake by the Obama administration and says extensive collaboration with allies in the region will be need to to neutralize Iran.
“We need to take care of Iran, because they are the most destabilizing group in the Middle East. They are driving a lot of this (radical Islam-inspired terrorism),” said McInerney.
McInerney also asserts that 2016 campaign tactics are hampering our ability to work with Russia, which is a key player in any effort to stabilize the region.
“The Russian collusion was always a deceptive move by the Democratic Party to shield the wrongdoings that the Democrats under Obama did, with the unmasking, with a whole host of other things – Hillary Clinton’s emails, which was a violation of the Espionage Act,” said McInerney.
So now our relationship with Russia is tense. If we’re going to solve the problems over there, we need to be working with the Russians. All those things coupled together can bring the stability we need, but we must replace the current Iranian regime,” said McInerney.
Since 9/11, terrorist attacks in the West feature fewer grand, sweeping plots and many are carried out by individuals or small cells. McInerney says our intelligence efforts should be able to sniff out these plots much better because we know where to look for the potential terrorists.
“When you look at the incidents we’ve had in Europe and the United States, it always goes back to the mosques. We have not taken the appropriate actions to infiltrate them and to get rid of the bad ones,” said McInerney.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are encouraged by some of the budget tightening the Trump administration wants to do but are concerned that there seems to be no appetite for entitlement reform. They also wonder why George W. Bush is coming forward to criticize Trump after virtually eight years of silence on the Obama administration. And they have fun with Sen. Tom Udall’s suggestion that the Senate confirm Neil Gorsuch AND Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.