Brains, Heart and Courage

Wednesday morning’s Wall Street Journal crossword puzzle had the following clue: “Cowardly lion’s lack.” As a child, I watched the Wizard of Oz annually on TV followed by recurring nightmares, but it has been many years since I saw it. As I dredged my memory, I remembered the Scarecrow wanting a brain and the Tin Man needing a heart, but it took a few seconds to translate the lion’s desire for courage into the five-letter word, nerve.

I used to regularly read the Wall Street Journal over breakfast. Since they introduced their crossword puzzle in the main section, that gets my attention first. Instead of frustrating and depressing news, my brain gets a work-out. But this clue led me down the path of  replacing the words ‘cowardly lion’ with Republican Congress. Actually, the Republicans need brains, heart and courage, qualities they either lack or hide from sight (conceal: 23 across).

I understand that most politicians of both parties want to ensure their own re-election. Maybe it is even true that overall they will be better for the country than ‘the other guy,’ even if to do so they need to hide, duck (evade: 14 down), weave and bob from tough positions. Some are good people and hard workers who just aren’t articulate; others don’t even realize how enmeshed they are in a corrupting system that confers unhealthy levels of power. Most politicians don’t have what it takes to be truly visionary and wise leaders. But for a party to have not even one person who can stand up and cut through the fog to speak passionately about healthcare in a forceful, caring and intelligent way? That party is an embarrassment.

Perhaps it isn’t a coincidence that the movie Dunkirk is showing now. I haven’t seen it, but World War II is a part of history that is somewhat known to most people. Here is a tragic fact about war. When soldiers in World War II marched off to fight, they knew that they might not come back. The sweethearts, wives and children they left behind might end up filling the resulting void in their lives with someone not as worthy as the soldier who sacrificed his life. Going to war was still the right thing to do. In the bigger picture, it was the only thing to do for the sake of those very sweethearts, wives and children. The survival of their nation was at stake.

Healthcare is a huge issue that cannot be reduced to slogans. The slogans the Obama administration used to push it were often intentional lies such as, “If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too.”  Any reasonable person could see that wouldn’t be the case. That anyone principled or intelligent could vote for a plan that their leader, Nancy Pelosi, said had to be passed before it could be understood is downright mind-boggling.

Most Americans understand that no plan will be perfect. But if each and every politician would vote by placing brains, heart and courage above the desire to be re-elected or to amass money and/or power, we could start down a path to actually improving health-care in this nation. And yes, on this and other pressing issues, while clearly we, thank God, are not at war in a literal sense, I do think national survival is at stake. The two political parties currently represent dramatically different paths for the country. While the establishments of both parties are out of touch with regular Americans, decisions being made today will lead America on a path that embraces the country’s founding ideals or overturns them.

If politicians lose their next election, they still have lives to live (with cushy pensions).  That option is often not available to those who patriotically marched (and continue to march) off to any of our country’s wars. That the Republicans don’t have a Churchill is clear, but surely the Chamberlains should be disgraced.

I apologize for my tone. I know I sound utterly frustrated and quite disgusted with both political parties. I am. At least on this question, most Americans agree.




47 thoughts on “Brains, Heart and Courage”

  1. In the UK socialism/secularism is like cancer eating away at peoples free will, your article and readers comments seem to display the same sentiments for the US .I am heartened to know that God is still in charge.

  2. Barbara Vissers

    Thank you. Very well stated. You are not the only one whose frustration bubbleth over.

  3. Susan,
    I think the operative word here is “establishment” they are so enamored of their own wealth and power that they are afraid to rock the boat for fear it will sink and take them down with it. ” Let’s just hold a few hearings about nothing. Then we won’t have to vote on anything meaningful. Then we can keep on taking our bribes and kick backs. Oh and no we don’t want to upset the enviro freaks and the PC police.
    Like him or not it is really refreshing to have a president who wants to break the mold and get something done for the good of our nation.

    You syndical but loving friend,

  4. Dear Susan,
    I think I’ve already given my opinion on public health care in a previous comment. Now to offer my opinion on politicians. I grew up a Democrat in an all Democratic family, in mostly Democratic state. About the time Bill Clinton was being elected the party published their platform as being pro choice, and pro gay marriage. And is becoming more liberal with each passing day. I and my wife both went to our county registars office and became republicans. I’m not a bible expert, but I’m pretty sure it suggests that all life is given by God and is precious to him. He alone has the right to take from us whether we are one second or one hundred years old. Also he says either in numbers or Deuteronomy that when one man enters man as unto a woman it is an abomination to him and that they should both be put to death. My point is, I did’nt leave Democratic Party – the Party left me.
    It now seem I have jolned a party of do nothing wimps who can’t even get behind their own president. I’m really getting fed up with all of them. Maybe it’s time for true independent and conservative third party.

    God bless you and Rabbi Lapin and God bless Israel,


    1. Brian, we do certainly each have to do what we can. You and your wife took a big step by switching parties and I think that, as flawed a messenger as he is, the vote for Donald Trump was a shot across the bow. I just don’t think that enough in the Establishment have recognized that yet.

  5. There is a temptation to fall into fear and defeat when one spends too much time contemplating politics. But by remembering promises such as “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” (Psalm 37:25 KJV) we can keep our focus on truth. There is a balance each of us must find to be good citizens involved in our communities, while trusting God (not government) to supply our needs.

    1. You are, of course, right, Lena. I said to my husband this morning that with people behaving as they are we are reminded that we have no one to trust but God.

  6. Susan, I share your frustration, and that of the other commenters here, about Congress. That said, I have come to the reluctant and unavoidable conclusion that we, the American public, keep electing such people, so to at least some degree it is our own fault. Many people now are so poorly educated, or so apathetic, or have such a pathetic and shallow grasp of issues, and so they vote accordingly—when they can interrupt themselves from checking their social media accounts, that is, to even think about such things. Earlier this week I saw an article about someone who did an informal survey of college students, asking them what socialism is, how they define it. The answers were so amazingly ignorant and uninformed it was depressing! Also, although these students couldn’t define socialism, most of them thought that socialism is the direction that we should go. I’m sorry to sound so downbeat, but sometimes I think we are near, or even past, the tipping point of redirecting the United States back to its Constitutional design. On the other hand, Mark Twain wrote, “It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.” (“Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar.”)

    1. Mark, we do vote for these people, but at this point the system in itself is a problem. The government pays for schools that do not educate and miseducate, incumbent candidates have a huge taxpayer-paid advantage, etc.

  7. Susan- Another winner! I have been extremely disappointed in the quality of our politicians. It seems that one of our representatives is always involved in a sex scandal or the subject of a corruption investigation or opens their mouth and utters something remarkably stupid.

    Groucho Marx (the only Marx I care about) said: “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” This certainly seems to describe U.S. politics for the past 30 years.

    As for Oblama Care (?): I’m not in favor of government, in essence, subsidizing insurance companies. If it’s not good enough for members of congress, it sure isn’t good enough for me. I shouldn’t be monetarily penalized for something that I’ve never wanted any part of. Yup, I dangled it!

    Take care, Gordy.

  8. Alexander Freylicher

    Maybe it is not lack of courage that prevents at least some of the Republicans from voting for Obamacare replacement. The replacement is worse than Obamacare. It keeps all the populist perks such as forcing the insurance companies to accept people with pre-existing conditions, while relieving the healthy from an obligation to pay for this.
    Why would a healthy person pay for insurance, if he can buy it any time he gets really sick? Instead he would buy much cheaper accident insurance and, if he gets really sick, temporary insurance for the short waiting period imposed by the law.
    Of course, such replacement will fail and the failure will be blamed on Republicans. Why would you want to vote for this?

    1. Alexander, I am not recommending voting for a bad bill, though there are arguments for doing so anyway. But, why is only a bad bill the result of 7 years’ work? There isn’t anyone standing up and give a rousing speech that leads Americans and the Senate after him or her. (That is what candidate Trump did) That is my problem. For years, I have bemoaned the fact that Republicans stop speaking to the American people once they’re elected. Imagine someone getting up and telling the truth and making suggestions in a way that attracts a firestorm that Senators can’t ignore.

  9. My grandfather was 22 years old and a US Marine serving at the US Embassy in North China during WWII. At about 8 AM on 8th Dec 1941, Japanese soldiers surrounded the Marine Barracks (in three locations) and demanded surrender. About 200 Marines with my grandfather soon found themselves imprisoned in Shanghai. That was the beginning of a 45-month ordeal that saw starvation, disease, humiliation, beatings and death.

    One can read more at the North China Marine dot com website about these US Marines. There are also a few books written by survivors. I’ve attended one of their reunions in honor of my grandfather (who was also my legal guardian during my high school years.)

    Having known my grandfather well, I think that he (and my grandmother) would be frustrated and angered by the self-centered (heartless) and cowardly behaviors, and the brainless thinking, in the US Government (all branches) at this time.

    The lack of responsible law-making is appalling, and you’ve stated this truth accurately. I think these politicians, like Pelosi and McCain, manage to get re-elected because of the big money and egos in our elections.

    I was blessed that my grandfather was able to teach me to appreciate the freedom we have in America. I think that it helps me to be a better voter. He also fought in the Korean War, and I’m thankful that he did his duties and served in our military honorably. Not surprisingly, I married a US Marine officer 25 years ago who is also a Veteran of Foreign Wars. 😉

    1. What an amazing heritage your grandfather gave to you and how proud he must be in Heaven when he looks at your family.

      1. Susan, thank you for your reply. I also think your own beloved parents and grandparents must be proud of you and your family when I read your blog (and from my previous involvement with Toward Tradition). I enjoy your personal touches (no doubt, for me, are glimpses of your family’s influence and eternal foundation.) I also like to read what others have to say here, not only are they polite but they write humbly. I appreciate the smart discussions.

  10. Hi Susan:

    My wife and I saw Dunkirk last weekend. We enjoyed it. If you happen to see it in an IMAX theater (as we did), I recommend bringing earplugs. The “shoot ’em up” scenes are extremely loud.

    In reading your Musing this week, I feel your pain. And at the same time I’m reminded of one of my favorite Zig Ziglar quotes: “The healthiest of all human emotions is gratitude.” The gold miner has to dig through tons of dirt to find the gold nugget, but from the miner’s perspective, “there’s gold in them thar hills”!

    For example:

    Trump is president (who’d a thunk it?)
    Trump’s only been in office six months (It took Obama 17 months to pass O-care)
    The Keystone and Dakota pipelines are now under construction
    The American economy is picking up IN SPITE of the “resistance” in Washington D.C.
    Neil Gorsuch is an Associate Justice on the SCOTUS
    Illegal border crossings are down by 70%
    MS-13 and other gangs are being aggressively arrested AND deported
    Ryan Zinke, decorated Navy Seal (retired) is U.S. Secretary of the Interior
    Former TX Gov. Rick Perry is Secretary of Energy
    The GA6 special election last month proved that money can’t buy a congressional seat
    Trump and his Twitter account is “exhibit A” that we’ve entered a new era in American politics
    Old media (including the WSJ) is dying – quickly being out-sized by new media.
    In new media, Americans have found their voice.
    Donald Trump said “I am your voice!” And as the promise-keeper POTUS, he truly is.

    In compiling this list, I’m applying Zig Ziglar’s formula for maintaining an attitude of gratitude. And the above list is not a perspective through rose-colored glasses. It’s reality as I see it. The left needs their special glasses in order to deny these facts, or as liberal turned conservative play-write David Mamet has said: “In order to continue advancing illogical arguments, modern liberals have to pretend not to know things.”

    Admiral Yamamoto was facing the unvarnished truth when he purportedly uttered the following:

    “I fear that all we have done is to awaken the sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

    — Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto,
    Commander Japanese Fleet – December 7th, 1941

    And so it is with the American people, those of us in red states, newly red states, soon to be red states, and even those in blue states, fewer though they may as a percentage of the entire population. We’re filled with a terrible resolve, and we’re channeling it in the right direction – Washington D.C and our State Capitals. The corrupt swamp creatures (Democrat and Republican alike) may not realize it yet, but payday is coming. It may not be next Friday, but it’s coming nonetheless. This genie is not going back in the bottle.

    The late great Mr. Ziglar was also fond of reminding folks that “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” What say we all aim at taking our country back?

    And as Steven K. Bannon reminds us: “If you think they’re going to give you your country back without a fight, you’re sadly mistaken.”

  11. “Most Americans understand that no plan will be perfect.”

    I honestly think the left truly believes in a perfect plan. I remember Thomas Sowell describing the difference between a liberal and conservative is that conservatives know that man is flawed and there has to be certain trade off. Liberals on the other hand, influenced by marxist ideology, actually have convinced themselves that they can have paradise on earth in some socialistic healthcare plan. Unfortunately they don’t read much history and realize that it’s probably the most failed social philosophy in history.

    Thanks Susan for another great musing!

    1. Brian, I wish Republicans would have the guts and articulateness to explain why things can’t be perfect in a human world.

  12. This is a manifestation of the old “Do not let the best be the enemy of the good.” Republicans are caught up in the best defeating action so that we continue to experience the worst. If our politicians had to do things in the real world to survive, then they would know this

    1. Charles, how incredible is it that the Republicans haven’t insisted on a vote to make Congress subject to Obamacare instead of exempted. They make sure that they don’t have to do things in the real world.

  13. Great piece, Susan! I couldn’t agree more. My wife and I now pay $20,000 per year–you read that right–$20,000 per year for our two medical-insurance policies. They each have a $2,000 deductible, which in-and-of itself is ridiculous. Politicians simply don’t have the guts to tell people the truth, “You can’t have something for nothing. The Government cannot continue to give free stuff to everyone who wants it.” Yet the wealth-distribution continues, from those of us who work hard and earn money to those who don’t.

    1. Wow, Chris. It almost sounds like someone’s plan was to bankrupt those who pay for their own insurance and then graciously and generously let you know that there are all sorts of social programs that they will be happy to sign you up for once you’re out of money.

  14. Thank you for the encouragement. I regularly read both your column as well as your husband’s. I am sometimes challenged by the positions you take and your willingness to share them.

    May your lives be blessed

  15. Thank you, Susan, for so eloquently verbalizing the frustration that so many of us feel. I fear that we have gone too far down the path of socialism insofar as healthcare is concerned. When the government increases its involvement in almost any endeavor, the results are inefficient and wasteful, and far from what is really needed. When I was young, people paid for day-to-day health costs out of pocket and insurance was more for catastrophic circumstances. Today, just as with college tuition which is increasingly subsidized, medical costs have skyrocketed because people don’t “shop” for good value. There are some successful business models such as medical co-ops where people can belong to such groups and get good medical care. The idea of allowing insurers to market across state lines can only be a good thing for competition. I long for the day when the government backs away from this and the free market forces can invigorate the entire industry. Sadly, too many people believe that the government should be increasingly involved, to the detriment of all of us. Thanks again for your thoughts today and whenever you post. I always enjoy your well reasoned point of view!

    1. Thank you. I share the worry that we are too far down the road but both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump were a bit of a revolution by the people. Could this be an opportunity?

  16. Susan,
    Though I am a man I have come to love reading “Susan’s Musings”, my spouse Laura enjoys them too. We share a lot in our own thinking with you, though I am loathe to express my feelings about the self-aggrandizing miscreants that often wind up in Congress lest I betray some rather un-praiseworthy language, I think you handled it well for us here. Thanks again!

  17. Yep. Most working Americans will agree, not to include those snowflakes who hibernate in Dad’s basement and troll out withering comments of anti-Trump invective by the thousands, who must never hold down a real job. As for the rest of us, well, I can honestly say anecdotally that the advent of Obamacare caused our monthly premium to increase by 150% and our deductible to soar into the stratosphere. By far more Americans were hurt by this nightmare legislation than were helped. We were forced to terminate decade-long relationships with companies (e.g., insurance) because we no longer could afford their premiums and had to seek elsewhere. ‘Disposable’ or ‘discretionary’ income was no longer an option, so vacations and eating in restaurants fell by the wayside. So your frustration is rampant among us.

    But Rush Limbaugh dropped an interesting if ominous observation the other day, regarding the hidden Deep State. The Republicans, said Limbaugh, balk at complete replacement of the Unaffordable Care Act because they no longer fear We the People. They very much more fear someone else or something else: the machine, the occult power-brokers in The Swamp who with economic clout really steer the US Government. Now this is the stuff of nightmares. Even the New Testament warns of the Dark Principalities that would control our world: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (KJV, Ephesians 6:12). Capitalism is not the enemy: like fire or electricity, it is a mighty force for growth that must be directed and properly applied with good will. Herein lies the black revelation of Karl Marx: in the bitter end Das Kapital, money $$ ₤₤ €€ indeed controls our world, or will once we humans renounce ethical money-making, our souls and spirits of kindness. Upon his deathbed Tolstoy saw a dream wherein the nations had abandoned all spiritual values to chase the richly bedizened whore of pure materialism. How far have we descended this primrose path? With this rhetorical question I descend my soapbox.

    1. Tolstoy is wonderful, isn’t he, James? I enjoyed your comment other than the beginning, James. I’m afraid that trolling out withering comments is a bipartisan activity. Our modes of communication give a platform that brings out dark impulses and encourages lack of thoughtfulness on all sides of the political spectrum.

  18. I couldn’t agree more. You are just expressing (very well I might add) how many of us feel. BTW, Dunkirk was a great movie.

    1. I haven’t seen it, Susan, but I know my husband is eager to do so. There was a wonderful piece – I’m afraid I don’t remember where – about the men who were captured by the Germans and didn’t ferry back to England. Sadly, many were killed and the rest were prisoners for years.

  19. Janis F. McElhaney

    You are absolutely correct in your thinking. The old saying “you can please some of the people some of the time but not all the people all the time” is what is needed with the current law makers. The need to make that very clear to their constituents. Seems like no one wants to use their own earnings to prepare for future problems such as health care.

    1. Janis, I do think that while there is not a “perfect” thing to do, many Senators are less interested in doing the best they can for the people as much as the best they can for themselves.

  20. The frustration is apparent on both sides. Neither side really has either courageous members or leaders with nerve. Sadly that is too apparent at the unbelievable partisanship shown. Americans are the losers. Politicians and lobbyists are the only winners.

    Unfortunately we could all spend hours discussing this and still come to the same conclusion in the end.

    The best to you and yours,


    1. I have stayed away from discussing this, Dale, for the reason you cite, but my frustration bubbleth over this week.

  21. Susan, I just continue to be impressed by your ability to so clearly express yourself in your columns. And I truly appreciate your own courage as you write them. I do admire you, Ma’am. Laurie

    1. Thanks, Laurie. To paraphrase William Buckley, one would think that 100 working Americans with families and friends could craft a better healthcare law than our Senators.

      1. You should write a book or maybe run for some office but someway get your thits and musings to a wider audience

        1. Michael, I am actually dipping my toe into working on a book about women and marriage this summer. I’m afraid that running for office is not on the agenda – and one question we should be asking is whether our system discourages too many good people from running.

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