Friday, July 22, 2011

Avoiding McCain II

If, like me, you’re praying for the 2012 Presidential Election to result in Barack Obama being a One-Term President, the good news is that the most recent Gallup Poll shows that the "Republican Candidate" (generic) leads Obama 47% to 39%. The bad news is that when you fill in “generic” with any name from the current field of candidates, polls indicate that Obama holds the lead over (or, at least, is tied with) each of these candidates.

Thankfully, for now, most Republicans seem to be trying to cleave to Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment … “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” … so their relentless knit-picking of each candidate who comes along seems to have waned. Perhaps that is due to the fact that they recognize what has even been acknowledged by one writer at the Huffington Post – i.e. “The least qualified Republican candidate, stands head and shoulders above the qualificat­ions of the incompeten­t guy we now have in the White House.” Just the same, an aire of unease seems to remain amongst the GOP faithful. I believe the source of this anxiety is what I call “The Fear of McCain II.”

“McCain II” is my metaphor for a repeat of what happened with the 2008 Republican Presidential Nomination. Though I will always honor John McCain as a true American hero, I don’t believe he was the best candidate the GOP could have put forward as their 2008 Presidential Nominee. But, like many, I voted for McCain in the General Election, not because he was “my guy” but because he was my preference over Obama.

In order to deal with the angst of loyal Republicans due to the possibility of “McCain II”, it only makes sense to develop a strategy to avoid that. Logically, the first step in this development process is to consider how “McCain I” happened. My view is that, in general, this was the result of the GOP doing “business as usual”, from the time candidates started emeging up through the 2008 RNC in St.Paul, MN. By contrast, the Democrat Party and the Obama Campaign recognized that the 2008 political landscape called for anything but “business as usual”. Their “audacious” approach handed the GOP a huge defeat in that year. That, of course, was discouraging for the GOP faithful. What’s more discouraging is that, so far, the Republican Party seems to be taking the same “business as usual” approach in the current political season. For evidence of this, you only need to look as far as the “top candidate” in the current field of Republican presidential hopefuls.

Mitt Romney is, presently, the clear leader amongst the “top candidates.” According to a new Washington Post-ABC News Poll, “Romney also runs ahead of the pack on three crucial attributes: leadership, experience and, perhaps most important, who can beat the president next year.” However, a related report in the Washington Post goes on to say, “Romney’s support is tepid, particularly among the party’s most energized constituency — the strong supporters of the tea party movement.” My belief is that the primary reason that “Romney’s support is tepid” is a fear of “McCain II.” Frankly, I would vote for Romney for President in the 2012 General Election, but it would only be because he would be my preference over Obama, not because he’s “my guy.” Obviously, for me, having this happen would add up to “McCain II.” Fortunately, though Romney is the current “front runner”, there are several other Republican “top candidates” to consider.

Though unannounced, Sarah Palin remains a “top candidate.” The Washington Post report I mentioned also provides a good thumbnail sketch on the outlook for her prospective candidacy. It notes:

“Sarah Palin’s lingering power to shake up the race if she decides to run.” … “the hold that Palin still has on segments of the party faithful despite some long-standing liabilities and deep skepticism among many voters about her qualifications.” … “Palin tops the list as the most empathetic figure. She runs almost even with Romney on the question of who best reflects the party’s core values and on who is most compatible with people on the issues.”

Texas Governor Rick Perry has also been expressing a growing interest in a possible candidacy. Here again, the Washington Post article I mentioned offers a good synopsis of this “top candidate”:

“As the longtime governor of a big state that has produced more jobs than any other state in the country, Perry is seen by some Republicans as a potentially serious threat to Romney. But he is far from a dominant figure in the assessment of rank-and-file Republicans. He attracts the support of 8 percent, with or without Palin in the race, and he is in single digits on all six attributes as well.”

And, as cited earlier, there are numerous other Republican candidates, the least of whom, in the words of the Huffington Post author, have credentials that are “head and shoulders above the qualificat­ions of the incompeten­t guy we now have in the White House.” Although I’m not going to attempt to provide a summary for the candidacy status of each of these individuals, there is another “top candidate” I want to draw attention to in this regard. It’s the candidate mentioned at the outset of this article … the "Republican Candidate" (generic) who, according to the recent Gallup Poll, leads Obama 47% to 39%. Of course, successful campaigning on the part of one of the candidates I’ve named up to now could lead to that person inheriting the poll-leadership of the “generic candidate”. Mostly, though, the present poll-leadership of the “generic candidate” implies that party faithful are hoping there are one or more superior candidates out there who, for now, have chosen not to join in the race.

So, how does this all fit together and what does it tell us about how to avoid “McCain II?” My belief is that all this clearly indicates the necessity for the Republican Party to proactively get behind a candidate now, instead of taking a “business as usual” approach.” One way of doing this is for the party, as an example, to identify the reasons why “Romney’s support is tepid” and if this is a result of perceptions that can honestly be corrected, to work with the candidate to correct them and give him the party’s full support. Of course, this approach could also be applied to Palin’s “long-standing liabilities and deep skepticism among many voters about her qualifications” and with the view of Perry as being “far from a dominant figure in the assessment of rank-and-file Republicans”. If the GOP was to take this approach with all of it’s “top candidates”, an added benefit could be encouraging some of those superior candidates, who have chosen not to be in the race at present, to get in.

I recognize that the idea of the RNC selecting a candidate for the party’s full support at this stage of the game is very naïve and not very practical. But it is just that … an idea ... a suggestion for something different and better than “business as usual.” Without a different and better approach, we’re almost certain to get “McCain II.” So, Republican National Committee, you folks are the professionals to whom we’ve entrusted our party. If you don’t like this idea, please tell us what you have in mind that’s different and better. I don’t care how dissimilar what you have in mind is from the idea I’ve presented. All I care about is that it’s not “business as usual” and please, that it doesn’t give us “McCain II.”


From Mark Mahan via Facebook

Submitted by Gary Wiram on Fri, 2011-07-22 19:27.


+-I'm with you Gary- we need a good, strong Republican candidate to run. Not because we need a Republican in office, but because we need an excellent choice. I'm hoping that the GOP can find the right person.

From funwithknives

Submitted by Gary Wiram on Fri, 2011-07-22 19:44.


+-is apparent here . At least to this Naif. Leave this decision to Fall Convention, 2012 and little time remains for preparations. BHO has the advantage if we allow it.Example: Point/counter-point is coming and Unification is only logical, for concentration of every resource.

“Time ,Waits for NoOne,and It Won’t, Wait for Me…”(or WE)

McCain II

Submitted by Mike Frome (not verified) on Mon, 2011-07-25 07:59.


+-Gary, I largely agree with what you've written here. I've referred to it as "pulling a Dino" - a GOP candidate put forth using the "politics as usual" paradigm...and there are far too many first-time conservative activists who view the GOP very skeptically on the national level especially, vis-a-vis fiscal policy.

think that some of the names with lesser recognition can truly shine on their own merit, if they are not placed in the shade of the Name Brand by the party.

I also personally know several people who have expressed that they will refuse to vote if the choice presented by the system is, in their perception, one branch of "the Left" vs. another. I can empathize with that view, although I believe the stakes are far too high.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Josephine – Right Addition for the Vancouver City Council

This past Friday evening, I attended a campaign kickoff for a candidate who, if you live in the City of Vancouver, deserves your most serious consideration … Josephine Wentzel, Candidate for Vancouver City Council (Position 4).

The Event

The kickoff was exceptionally well done and very well attended. Although Vancouver has been Josephine’s home for close to twenty years, she was born and raised in Guam, thus the theme for the events cuisine was “A Taste of Guam.” I have to say that I thought the food was great, especially the potato salad, prepared personally by the candidate.

The event was held at The Academy, a facility originally opened in 1874, as a girl’s boarding school. Dr. Ricky Lee Jackson served as the Emcee for the evening and he provided the musical entertainment. Of course the music had a patriotic theme, including one of my favorites, The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Several elected officials and other candidates were among the attendees. This included 17th District Representative Paul Harris, who endorses Josephine’s candidacy. He, also, spoke on her behalf at the kickoff.

Some Basics on Josephine

Of course, since Josephine’s Life Priorities seem to be in line with mine – i.e. Faith, Family and Community; I find that appealing. She is boldly Christian and she made that clear in her Kickoff Speech. Since the attendees included her Husband, her children and her grandchildren; the commitment to family (and their commitment to her) was obvious.

Josephine’s commitment to serving her community is what led to her present candidacy. Her political stance is unwaveringly Conservative and naturally, I like that too. She is a long time citizen activist and community volunteer. Recently, she has had significant visibility as Co-Chair for the PAC, the organization aimed at assuring our community doesn’t get saddled with the $10 Billion boondoggle being driven by the tyrannical demeanor of our present City Council. Beyond this, Josephine’s history in community service has included:

- Court appointed Special Advocate

- Advocate for children with learning disabilities

- Trauma intervention prevention volunteer

- Naval Hospital Candy Striper (Vietnam War Era)

- Red Cross volunteer

- Keynote speaker for legal immigration

- Homeless shelter volunteer

- Sunday School Superintendent

- Worker for free adoptions in Washington State.

- Law Enforcement Officer in Guam

Josephine on the Issues

Josephine’s stance regarding the CRC Light Rail Crossing Project has been pretty clear. We can rely on her to work tirelessly to assure that this, the largest public works undertaking in the history of our community, only goes forward as endorsed by the whole community. Of course, there are countless other issues that a City Council-Member must address. The key elements of Josephine’s candidacy define her approach in addressing these matters. These elements are:

Citizen Empowerment – Here, Josephine says, “I want to strengthen the dialogue between citizens and policymakers to foster positive changes in the community.”

Transparency – Josephine’s view on this is, “Negotiations with our tax dollars behind closed doors need to stop.”

Better Business Environment – Josephine presently works as Public Relations Director for US Digital. Her business background positions her to speak to this much more meaningfully than many career politicians who can only address this academically. Her common sense approach here is, “When businesses thrive, jobs abound.”

For me, the most meaningful comment from Josephine’s Kickoff Speech was one of her “off-the-cuff” comments. She said, “Vancouver City needs Honest Representation.” That is precisely what I’m looking for!

The Acid Test

What a politician says and what they do are, disappointingly, often not the same. I’m pleased to say that, in less than 24 hours of her kickoff event, Josephine put her words on “Honest Representation” into action for me. I have an issue that I don’t see as being worthy of being a campaign issue but it’s one that I want to be supported on in fully developing it’s solution and getting it considered by the City Council. Of course, this isn’t the sort of thing to take up a candidate’s time with at a public event but I did mention it to Josephine, saying, “You may not even agree with my position on this issue but I’d appreciate discussing it and working on it with you.” The day after her kickoff, while I was driving from my chiropractor to pick up some burgers to take home for lunch, Josephine phoned me to learn what my issue was and to start discussing it with me. A candidate who says what they mean and who means what they say?! That is also what I’m looking for!

My Closing Comment

One final thing that came out of my “personal issue” related phone call with Josephine that I want to mention. When it comes to elected officials, we agreed that it’s legitimate for compensation to go with an elected position and that it’s OK for a candidate to see a position as part of their political career but that isn’t the job. The job is serving the community. With Josephine Wentzel, I believe you’ll get a person working her hardest to do her level-best to give us Honest Representation in getting that job done. Please check her out at and give her your most serious consideration.

Comment via email from Fred Mostoller

Submitted by Gary Wiram on Sun, 2011-07-17 19:04.


+-Go for it, Josephine ! I sent another message to a friend saying:

Josephine is running for Vancouver City Council. I highly recommend her. You can get an intro on Gary's latest blog. Pass the word !

Friday, July 15, 2011

Kayaking Up the Waialua - An Essential Skill for a Healthy Marriage

A Good Example of the Need

We have quite a few home improvement projects on our "to do" list this summer. Since handyman skills didn't come to me naturally, we often hire the applicable talent for this sort of work. However, several of the items on this summer's list involved landscaping and they seemed to mostly require brute strength so I decided to take them on myself.

Of course, my Wife, Ruth and I agreed to a landscaping game plan before I dove in. One of the main landscaping projects was to use red rock to replace the areas of bark chips that make up a significant portion of the ground cover in our front yard. Additionally, to address some issues that have been developing with two of the three mature Ash trees presently within the bark chip covered areas; we planned to set all three apart with decorative rings, replacing the bark chips with organic compost amended with organic fertilizer.

As I said before, this seemed like a project that required more brute strength than skill. Equipped with a 1/2 ton pickup borrowed from one friend and a wheelbarrow borrowed from another friend, I thought I could complete the job in a couple of days. About three days into the work, I found myself in our front yard continuing to rake and shovel away at four or five layers of bark chips ... I actually ended up removing about six cubic yards. Meanwhile, for those three days, a cubic yard of red rock had been sitting in the bed of the borrowed pickup, parked in front of our house. Unfortunately, there was no place to put the red rock until I finished with the bark chips removal. Also unfortunately, with the pickup full of red rock, I had no way of hauling away the bark chips. Based on my original plan, I thought the volume of bark chips would be low enough that I could dispose of them via one or two of the city's semi-weekly yard debris pick-ups. This meant that I needed to find a place to store the bark chips until I did have the ability to haul them away ... in other words, I got to move the 6 cubic yards of bark chips twice! And even more unfortunately, removing the multiple layers of bark chips was exposing the upper half of major roots of the Ash trees we were striving to save. This meant that I would need to put down about a cubic yard of compost around the trees before putting down the red rock. But, due to the fact that the borrowed pickup was still filled with red rock, I had no way of hauling in the needed compost.

All this meant that, as I continued working away in our front yard, I was wishing I hadn't started this project and that I had a magic wand that would allow me to return our front yard to its beginning state. At that point, my thinking was that our front yard might actually end up looking worse, not better and that I could end up killing the trees we were striving to save. Since Ruth sensed my exasperation, on a regular basis, she was coming to me with "just one more idea meant to help." When she came to me with what (in my mind) was about the "dozenth" of these ideas, she reacted to this resulting in a negative change in my countenance by saying, "Never mind." I responded by saying, "No, I want to hear your suggestion but I want you to know that it would have been most helpful for me to hear these ideas when we were setting the game plan for this project. At this point, they're tending to just add to my frustration." As I said this, I realized, "We're having another 'Kayaking Up the Waialua' experience.”

The "Kayaking Up the Waialua" Experience

Of course, in order for you to understand where this fits in, I need to tell you about our experience "Kayaking Up the Waialua." This came along with our getting to join in Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa - Married Couples Fellowship's inaugural Kauai Retreat. Of course, this was something we had planned for well in advance and that we looked forward to for months.

Fittingly, the first day of this week-long retreat was our Anniversary. So, that evening, we got cleaned up and dressed up (Aloha style) to go out for our Anniversary dinner. Our dinner reservation, based on a recommendation, was at Café Hanalei at the Princeville Hotel, on Kauai’s North shore, at sunset. It turned out to be a magnificent recommendation. I’ve been blessed that I’ve seen some pretty fancy hotels, from Hong Kong to Europe. None of them compare to the architecture of the Princeville Hotel’s lobby. The Café Hanalei overlooks Hanalei Bay – the Hanalei that Peter, Paul and Mary were inspired by for “Puff the Magic Dragon”. The view is spectacular. The Café Hanalei is a bit pricey but it’s one of those superb restaurants where the food makes it seem well worth the price. At the end of the meal, the restaurant brought out a dessert we had not ordered. I can’t describe it but it was wonderful and the plate it was served on said, “Happy Anniversary”, in chocolate. Afterwards, we waddled to our car and drove back to our resort for a good night’s rest.

The main reason for me filling you in on that Anniversary dinner was because it was so dramatically different from the following day's experience, "Kayaking Up the Waialua." The day started with the two of us going out on the beach to watch the sunrise. Afterwards, we went to a continental breakfast provided by the company the church used to book the trip. We left the breakfast at 9 a.m., so that we could meet the Married Couples Fellowship group on the beach for our first time of praise, worship and Bible study. It was wonderful to get together for praise, worship and Bible study in the midst of such a beautiful part of God’s creation. However, that first time on the beach together was a bit abbreviated because a majority of the couples had signed up for a kayaking trip up the Waialua River. That’s where our challenges started.

Before going on, I need to tell you a little about the sun and me. Suffice it to say, I'm an extremely white guy. When I was a kid, my Mom would make me wear a tee shirt when I went swimming and I’d get sunburned through the shirt. So, that means coating myself thoroughly with sun block before spending any significant time in the Hawaiian sun. You should, also, know that both Ruth and I left home with sinus colds so that was our first bit of discomfort that day. And, we had been up since 3 or 4 in the morning, due to the three-hour time difference between Hawaii and California. Additionally, less than a week before our trip, I’d taken a fall while roller blading and I was suffering from some pain in the left part of my chest and back. I think it was a bruised or cracked rib. Even without all these afflictions, we knew the paddling would be strenuous for us, particularly since we hadn't been doing much in terms of upper-body exercise. However, Ruth thought we’d be able to pull up to a bank to rest, have a drink and a snack whenever we got a little tired. Otherwise, we thought we’d be able to enjoy the beauty, take some pictures and end up visiting Waialua Falls and the Fern Grotto. Here’s what really happened:

During the worship on the beach, I realized I’d been too liberal with applying sun block to my face because it was getting in my eyes and nearly blinding me. As soon as worship was over, we went to our room so I could use some eye drops. Fortunately, that helped, though it took most of the next hour for my bloodshot eyes to stop smarting. Then we drove to the kayak rental place to learn that we had to load the kayak and equipment on our rental car, drive to the river, assemble the kayak, get it and us into the river and do the trip without any further assistance. We, also, learned that we hadn’t dressed properly. Although we had swimsuits and aqua socks with us, we thought that shorts and tennis shoes would be proper dress for the trip we had in mind. We were wrong. By 10:30 a.m., we were in the river, wet up to our butts, hot and sweaty, covered with sun block, eyes smarting and heads aching. If that sounds like fun, there were no banks to pull up to due to heavy foliage along the banks; there was no opportunity for picture taking due to the need to constantly row against the current and the fact that all you could see was the water and the heavy foliage along the banks. The need to constantly row really tested our upper-body strength, aggravated my chest pain and gave us both blisters in the fleshy area between thumb and forefinger. The need for teamwork to keep going straight and to not turn over also provided some interesting testing. I'm pleased to say that we seemed to pass that testing, in as much as, unlike several others, our kayak remained upright. We eventually came to a fork, with one way going to the falls and the other going to the grotto. Since people coming the other way warned us not to try to go to the falls due to strong currents, we took the fork to the grotto. Actually, we went past the grotto because it wasn’t marked well but we did make our way back to a place where you could tie up and with a lot of effort, get out of the kayak. We then hiked up a muddy hill to see the Fern Grotto, being visited by group after group of Japanese tourists who had come by tour boat. While doing this, we drank a soda and scarfed down a couple of pieces of fried chicken we’d gotten at a Safeway the night before. It was hard for me to believe that this fried chicken was from the same species as the macadamia nut crusted chicken I’d had the previous night at the Café Hanalei. By the way, there are lots of chickens running around loose on Kauai, as a result of Filipino immigrants bringing in fighting cocks. It’s kind of disconcerting to be eating fried chicken with live chickens running around you. You sort of feel like they’re cheering on the bugs that are biting you. The return trip was pretty much a mirror image of the initial leg except that we were going against the wind instead of going against the current. The one thing I did enjoy seeing on the return trip was schools of mullet jumping over waves. However, the waves were from the wake of huge tour boats (carrying those Japanese tourists) that nearly swamped us. It was between 2:30 and 3:00 p.m. when we got out of the river so the whole adventure had lasted about five hours with about four hours of it being in the river. On the way back to the hotel, Ruth and I agreed that we wanted to do nothing but sit still for awhile before getting cleaned up.

Ongoing Application

No doubt, there were several points during our "Kayaking Up the Waialua" experience when we were having wishes similar to the one I had three days into our recent landscaping project - i.e. wishing I hadn't started this project and that I had a magic wand that would allow me to return our front yard to it's beginning state. But, we survived our "Kayaking Up the Waialua" experience and at Bible study the next morning, we began to have more appreciation for our experience, realizing that everyone had a challenging experience and that it had strengthened our relationships, as a result.

The lessons learned from our "Kayaking Up the Waialua" experience have served us well over the years. Even when you're doing your very best to carry out the game plan you put together as a couple, often life just doesn't go the way you expect. As I noted in the story about our "Kayaking Up the Waialua" experience, "The need for teamwork to keep going straight and to not turn over also provided some interesting testing. I'm pleased to say that we seemed to pass that testing, in as much as, unlike several others, our kayak remained upright." We passed that test because our commitment to each other is to stick together, caring for and depending on each other, regardless of how real life plays out versus our game plan. And that applies even when it's very challenging to do so. A good example here is when, in an attempt to help keep us "going straight and to not turn over" in our kayak, one of us decided to provide some uniformity to our rowing through the cadence of calling out "Right, right. Left, left." but, unfortunately, the cadence being called out was the opposite of the side that person was actually rowing on. Another good example here is when one of us senses exasperation on the part of the other and offers "just one more idea meant to help" but that well-intentioned effort isn’t received gladly. In the first case, we still ended up with a very entertaining story to share about the treasured memory of a trip to Kauai. And, in the second instance, we ended up with the attractive appearance of our front yard causing neighbors to stop by and ask if we were getting ready to sell our home. Moreover, through the lessons learned from our "Kayaking Up the Waialua" experience, as well as from other lessons the Lord has equipped us with to strengthen our relationship, we've been blessed with a marriage that is far richer than we ever imagined.