Author Archives: J. Allan Wolf

About J. Allan Wolf

J. Allan Wolf is a writer, a physician (OK, retired), a nerdy ham radio operator, and a bad guitarist. (The groupie thing just hasn't worked out very well.) Read his two books, Spacebraid and Other Tales of a Dystopian Universe (very science fiction-y) and Zendoscopy (very, very funny but also serious in places and explicit -- don't read it if you're a prude). If you buy my books (print or e-book format at, and elsewhere) I won't have to go without lunches or clean underwear. So, thanks in advance.

A Few Words about a Supreme

The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on 13 February came unexpectedly. Far be it for me to speak ill of the departed but, having said that, I fully expect there to be many critical opinions voiced regarding his philosophy and tenure, and I suppose that mine will be counted among them.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Justice Scalia was a “bad man”. I just think that despite his purported brilliance, he was a Constitutional Neanderthal. After all, this is a guy who reveled in his view of the Constitution as a “dead” rather than a “living” document, a severely myopic view that supported the assumed perfection of the 18th Century society and minds that created our core document. Scalia refused to face the simple reality that time brings change and, with it, the need to adapt to evolving mores, priorities, and advances in knowledge. The Founding Fathers may have been brilliant and perceptive within the context of their era and, in some respects, beyond it, but we are now well over two hundred years farther along, and American society, not to mention the world in general, has grown more complex, sophisticated, and dangerous. Justice Scalia wished to preserve the nascent state of America despite overwhelming evidence that we simply are not the country that we were at our founding..

Scalia’s domineering personality, sarcastic wit on the bench, and reactionary philosophy combined over the three decades of his service on the Supreme Court to wreak havoc on established and evolving law. Bush v. Gore, Citizens United, a blow against voting rights for minorities…in his votes in these and other cases he as well as his conservative brethren vomited their contempt in large, discrete chunks for any semblance of social equality and fairness. Out of step with his time, he helped to fuel the fires of intolerance and made a travesty of those values and privileges that most Americans, and certainly most minorities, accept as the core of what makes America America.

I believe that the long historical view of Scalia will be that he had a markedly negative but fortunately transient, dramatic impact on the legal and social environment of the country, and that ultimately his efforts failed. He will be seen as a man out of his time attempting to use his position to reinstate an imagined era he felt was better than the one in which he lived. It will be broadly recognized that, paradoxically, his strict constructionist views actually favored far less freedom rather than more. As it is with other conservatives, Scalia was a man who believed that freedom was paramount as long as it didn’t conflict with his own biases. In an era in which the conservatives who supported him rail against activist judges, Scalia was one of the worst.

And so, I will not miss Justice Scalia, but I understand why Republicans, even before rigor mortis set in, trumpeted their desire to stonewall any – any — replacement nomination that will be made by President Obama. All of which leads me to believe that we truly need a Democrat as our next President, because another angry, reactionary, sarcastic, ultra-conservative driven by a right wing political agenda (don’t forget Bush v. Gore) is the last person this country needs on the Supreme Court. It’s critical to recognize that the country is speeding headlong towards a minority majority population, and radically conservative political views are ultimately doomed, no matter what happens in the short term. The fear, however, is that a lot of bad stuff can happen in the short term. History tells us that, at some point, events simply cross a line, and people rise up, unwilling to take it anymore. If Republicans don’t allow that uprising to take place at the ballot box, they may forever regret their unswerving support for the Second Amendment. Their behavior in the wake of Justice Scalia’s death suggests, however, that they don’t yet understand what they are risking. I’d like to think they’ll come to their senses, but based upon the recent behavior and pronouncements of those seeking the Republican presidential nomination, my hopes aren’t high.

Whither Obamacare?

Most readers of this blog are unaware that I am a retired physician. In 1977, after finishing my specialty training in ob/gyn and a fellowship in family planning and the treatment of sexual dysfunction, I entered the private practice of medicine. Eight years later, I left private practice to become the gynecologist for the student health service of a large university. From there, I went on to take control of a troubled clinic near Los Angeles International Airport, my predecessor having been summarily fired for moral and ethical indiscretions. Moving on from this clinic, I subsequently pursued a career path that led me to chair the ob/gyn department for a large managed health care plan, progress to become Executive Vice President of Medical Affairs for an HMO/PPO organization, and move to two other organizations before landing in my final job with a major health plan and insurer for which I spent the last fifteen years of my career. In this latter job, I was primarily focused on the management of quality of care in our physician, hospital, and ancillary provider networks. I relate all this to make the point that I’ve seen health care from just about every possible angle during the course of my professional life, and it has afforded me significant perspective on where we’ve been and where we ought to head.

This blog piece cannot hope to address the entire problem of the health care mess we face in the U.S. Simply stated, U.S. health care costs exceed by a large margin those of other western European countries and our outcomes (infant mortality, for example) lag woefully behind those same countries. The often stated (by Republicans, at least) mantra that we have the best health care in the world is, simply, not true, and it’s a national disgrace.

The Affordable Care Act (aka, the ACA or Obamacare) was implemented in the attempt to address some of the myriad issues confronting our health care environment. Note that I’m not calling it our “system” here because, in reality, we don’t have one. What we do have is a patchwork of medical care models that operate inefficiently and make almost no one happy.

The only viable permanent solution to the problem is universal health care coverage, a model into which many with vested interests will have to be dragged kicking and screaming. How might such a model work?

First, it would be sort of like Medicare for everyone. A baseline safety net would be established so that everyone would be covered for essential services. Yes, it would be a government program, but we know that Medicare works and works well. This would get the private insurance companies and their confusing plethora of care plans out of the business of providing basic health care. We would allow them, however, to sell supplementary policies for people who could and would want coverage for additional types of services including, just for example, certain plastic surgical procedures and advanced reproductive technologies. We could also use private insurance companies as the fiscal intermediaries for our model. Competition between companies to provide this service would incentivize efficiency and help to hold administrative costs down. Coverage guidelines would be centrally set, as they are for Medicare, and without the current, nonsensical variation we have now based upon company whim and, largely, state legislation.

Unfortunately, President Obama threw in the towel during the partisan and special interest haggling that went on as he fought for the ACA. The process, however, ended up producing a program that has had beneficial effects for many who now have coverage they formerly lacked. Admittedly, it has hurt a few and, worse, not succeeded in providing care for some people at all.

Democratic nomination seeker Bernie Sanders is militantly vocal about wanting universal health care but, unfortunately, although I agree with his sentiments on the matter, he’s a bull in a china shop and probably not electable. Even if he were to be elected, he probably could not create the revolution he seeks, as Congress will not be coerced. The better bet, although it would be slower to play out, is Hillary Clinton’s approach. She advocates incrementally improving on the ACA. Admittedly, this is not as exciting as a revolution, but it’s far more likely to take us in the desired direction. Furthermore, this is the only approach with any prospect of long term success.

Finally, if a Republican wins in November, it’s unlikely that he (not she — Fiorina has no chance) will be able to fulfill the oft-repeated pledge to kill the ACA. Some 17 million people now have insurance that they didn’t have before and, among other benefits, pre-existing conditions are now not allowed as coverage exclusions. In general people are happy with their coverage under the ACA, and killing it would be disastrous for Republicans. Would, say, a Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio really take all this away with nothing else to offer and risk incurring widespread public wrath? Unlikely.

So, although this discussion has been brief, it does point to a direction for the future with respect to health care. Bernie is too militantly cranky and the Republican Congress is not likely to respond in any functional way to him. If we want to straighten out what’s wrong, we have to support Hillary. She’s the only one who both makes sense and has an approach that might work.

BUT, having said all this, I will also say that health care isn’t the only issue of importance in the process of selecting a Democratic Party candidate. Hillary Clinton carries some real baggage with her: Her vote in support of enabling George W. Bush to invade Iraq, her e-mail kerfuffle, and her lack of ability to rally the support of younger voters and, in particular, that of younger women, are major concerns. Bernie Sanders, also not without his own baggage, nevertheless has drawn remarkable support from younger voters, but he does not have the same level of support that Clinton has from voters of color. Sanders is saying things that positively need to be said, if a bit too bombastically. His blow-things-up rhetoric is unlikely to play well with Congress, and he really should bury his repeated statement that he’s a democratic socialist. It’s not a problem for many that he is one, but his flaunting of the label is most assuredly hurting him among many voters whose support he’ll need if he’s to win in a general election.

The bottom line is that both Sanders and Clinton are on the correct side of the issues and, despite their individual drawbacks, either would be far better than the reactionary Republican opposition. But if health care is your main concern, Clinton definitely has the edge over Sanders as the person who is most likely to take us in the direction we need to move.

Where Are The Sales?

I just received the annual report from WordPress with the 2015 statistics for Over the course of the past year, the blog was viewed in 71 countries around the world, a fact that both surprises and delights me. So, as 2015 ends and 2016 begins (I’m writing this on New Year’s Eve), I want to thank everyone for their support and interest in my ramblings and rantings.

Having expressed my thanks, I still want to ask a question to which I probably won’t get an answer. With so many readers in so many countries, how come I sold so few of my two books in 2015?

Zendoscopy is the sometimes hilarious, sometimes wrenching story of Sherman, a somewhat square peg of a kid coming of age in the round hole of his 1950s and ‘60s Southern California world. The book has received excellent reviews (check them out on, and I’ve done book signings and taken ads during the year. Yet, still, very few sales. If you haven’t read (bought!) the book, please consider doing so as we enter 2016. And if you like it, please write a review on or any other online site that accepts reviews. And tell your friends about it, too!

Spacebraid and Other Tales of a Dystopian Universe , my other book, was published back in 2004. It, too received favorable reviews but has sold many copies. It’s a collection of science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories written over a period of years when, in my former (I’m retired) career as a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist, I needed to kill time in the hospital waiting for women in labor to deliver their babies. It’s a fun read if you’re into those genres, and I hope you’ll consider getting a copy in the year to come.

Both books are available in hardcover and e-book formats, so take your choice. You’ll find the hardcover (trade paperback) versions of each on any of many online sites, and the e-book on I recommend buying from and posting reviews there. Of course, if you live in Southern California and buy the hardcopy version, I’d be glad to autograph it for you.

Finally, the not-quite-a-sequel to Zendoscopy should be ready sometime in 2016. Several of the characters from Zendoscopy appear in the new book, but the story is totally new. If you’d like to find out more about Effie Mae, Larry, Saltzman, and Consuela, you’ll certainly want to pick up the new book when it arrives. I’ll be announcing its title a little later in 2016, so keep watching the blog or check me out on Facebook.

In the meantime, have a safe, happy, and healthy new year, and let’s all hope that in 2016 we’ll begin to see a more peaceful and tolerant world. And that goes for the behavior in Congress, as well!

Curmudgeonly Holiday Cheer

If you’re like me, you always feel a little ambivalent as the holiday season gets into full swing. And not without good reason, I would humbly suggest. And in the interest of perhaps making some of you understand that you’re not alone, I hereby offer a list of some of the things that annoy the hell out of me every year:

  • Christmas wreaths on car noses. Highly stupid.
  • Reindeer antlers affixed to the sides of cars. Almost as stupid as the wreaths.
  • Endless, and I do mean endless, e-mails from retailers, often including multiple missives from the same vendor in a single day. Eddie Bauer and, go f*** yourselves.
  • Holiday music on the radio, everywhere on the radio. Rum pum pum pum.
  • People who are actually offended when wished “happy holidays”, and who see such well-intentioned good will as an act of war on Christmas. Conversely, those who automatically wish me a merry Christmas or happy Hanukkah, presuming to know my religious leanings (and generally getting them wrong). For the record, I’m a Festivus kind of guy.
  • Which reminds me, what war on Christmas? Everywhere I turn, I’m bombarded by Christmas. The only war on Christmas I see every day at this time of year is the one being waged at its spirit by avaricious businesses.
  • “Black Friday” sales that start weeks before Black Friday and, as I write this, are still going on, albeit now being called by other names, such as “pre- Christmas” sales. What does buying a new mattress have to do with Christmas?
  • The same automobile commercials repeated over and over again, usually within bare minutes of one another.
  • Inconsiderate, reckless driving by people too harried, distracted, inebriated, and/or just plain irritated to be paying attention to the road, other drivers, and pedestrians.
  • Those Salvation Army bell ringers who feel it incumbent upon them to voice cheery good wishes in hope of attracting my attention and a contribution. You want a contribution, don’t confront me like a street beggar.

And now, for the things that don’t annoy me during the holidays:

  • People who refuse to patronize stores that stay open on days when employees should be free to spend time with their families.
  • Car manufacturers that don’t bombard the airwaves and cable with repeated ads with annoying music and, all too often, jolly Santas driving their vehicles.
  • People who do wish me to have “happy holidays”.
  • People who remain attentive and courteous behind the wheel, despite the awful provocations of those who don’t.
  • Salvation Army bell ringers who keep their mouths shut as I walk into the local Ralph’s.
  • Anyone, and I mean anyone, who wishes me a Festive Festivus.

Happy holidays, everyone!!!

Preaching to the Converted

Regular readers of this blog are pretty well onto my politics and so are probably expecting me to get into regular rants against what has become of the Republican mindset and, specifically, the ignorant and bigoted blather coming from the nomination seekers as they each try to outdo one another in their rush to the lunatic right. Well, I hate to disappoint, but I’m not going to do it, at least right now. Why? Because those who’ve read the 89 prior blog entries on are pretty much the converted. People who might perhaps gain some perspective from the liberal (educated?) view of things aren’t my readers, and my simply blowing off steam to those who already agree with me seems a waste of my time at the keyboard. Oh, I’m sure that despite this I’ll have more to say as we go through the primary season, but I’m going to try not to be the creator of a weekly harangue, even if venting my frustrations is somewhat therapeutic for me. So ‘nuff said for now.

It’s the holiday season once again, and Decembers seem to come and go at a furious pace as I get older. As always at this time of year, it’s time for the wife and me to catch up on all the recent movies we’ve missed, to visit with some friends, to eat (and eat and eat), and to wonder over why, in the words of the famous philosopher, Rodney King, we can’t all get along.

As I’ve often said in my postings, I’m not religious. I was raised in a secular environment (although my mother was a wishful agnostic who did send me to Sunday school for awhile – it didn’t “take”) and classify myself as a secular humanist. Perhaps because of this, religious intolerance and racism simply failed to resonate at any level with me. And so, instead of talking about the horror that just transpired in San Bernardino – incomprehensible in and of itself – I’d like to take the rest of this week’s entry to address what’s happened since the mass terror attack.

And what has happened? On one hand, there has been much caution urged by saner voices, pleas not to generalize feelings about the two terrorists responsible for the massacre to the Muslim community as a whole, the majority of whose members are as appalled as the rest of us and who, in addition, are coping with feelings of guilt and shame over what they see as a perversion of their beliefs. On the other hand, however, are a motley crew of gun supporters, Republican politicians who offered nothing but an exhortation for us all to pray (and in some cases, most notably that of Donald Trump, have suggested barring any further immigration by Muslims), and radical right religious bigots who, predictably, are venomous in their expressions of hatred toward all Muslims.

Those who express their hostility toward Islam – primarily right wing Christians – seem conveniently to forget that Christians’ behavior over time has often been as lacking in virtue as what we are seeing now. Just to name one example, the Inquisition wasn’t exactly a shining moment in the history of Catholicism. And are white supremacist Christians any more admirable than Islamic fundamentalist terrorists? Those filled with anti-Islamic hate tend to forget that most mass shootings and assassinations in the U.S. have been committed by white male Christians. I’m no Bible scholar, but it does seem that some have forgotten the injunction about not casting the first stone.

I’m not religious, and some would say that I therefore am not qualified to give those who are among the faithful any advice. Still, I would ask those of all faiths (and of none), to look deeply and honestly within themselves, to look at history, and to consider that those who committed the recent San Bernardino shootings constitute a lunatic fringe and not the larger body of Muslims in the U.S. who actually deserve tolerance and support in what has become a very painful time for them.

So, I’ll end by wishing happy holidays to all, and my hope for progress toward peace in the new year.

A Book Signing Disappointment

On Saturday, 11/21, I did a book signing at my local branch library. To say it was a disappointment would be an understatement. More like a minor disaster. But let me begin at the beginning.

The local library has for several years held a local authors fair, always in the fall. I’ve never been able to participate due to schedule conflicts but, this year, it looked like I’d be available. So, in July I paid my $20 registration fee and provided the requisite two copies of the book that they’d make available in the library, and sat back to wait for the November event.

Several weeks prior to the event, the library staff member who was responsible for organizing the event sent out by distribution e-mail advertising the event and listing the participating authors. My name was missing as, I later learned, was at least that of one other author. I e-mailed the staffer, who apologized but sent out no revised list. After a couple of weeks, I sent another e-mail but still saw no revised list. Finally, I sent a third e-mail, after which I learned that she had, in fact, made the correction but only on the library’s website. No distribution e-mail ever went out.

As the time for the event approached, no local publicity appeared, and on the day of the event there was no prominent signage at the library. Desk staff did not direct library visitors to the “Community Room” where the event was being held. In the room, itself, staff at first said that table assignments for the authors would be forthcoming. Then they said to sit wherever we wanted.

The signing was to begin at 10 AM. At that time, the only people there were the authors. Undaunted, the event organizer got up and gave a welcome speech addressed to the authors and to the attendees.

Over the three hours of the signing, there was minimal foot traffic – how could it have been otherwise with no publicity, no effective signage, and no attempts by staff to direct traffic to the room? I sold one book. Someone else sold three. Of the fifty participating authors, many sold none.

The event ended at 1 PM. No one from the library was present to thank the authors. We all just packed up and left.

And that, dear friends, is how not to run a book signing. I compare it to how a signing that I did at Vroman’s the big bookstore in Pasadena, ran a signing I attended. Well advertised. Four authors, not fifty. Each of us given time in front of an audience to speak and/or read from our book, followed by the four of us as a panel to answer questions. And then? Yes, the signing. Now, that’s how to do it.

As a self-published, little known author, it’s a tough enough row to hoe to get noticed. In this case my local library’s intentions were admirable, but the execution was execrable. Well, maybe next year…

Paris: Where to from Here?

The civilized world has been seized with revulsion over the recent slaughter in Paris, and there has been no shortage of pundits pontificating upon the motivations of the human monsters who planned and executed the attack. At the risk of offering just another opinion among the many, I am going to be arrogant enough to offer my own take on the situation.

First, I am struck by the political correctness that I have seen, the bending over backwards not to blame Islam as a whole for the events, and by the Democratic nomination seekers in particular not to call the perpetrators radical Islamists. Instead, they’ve simply referred to them as “jihadists”.

The specific, trigger motivations of the attackers probably span a spectrum, but the core of it all clearly and indisputably is religion. Let me be clear, however, that I do not single out Islam as the only cause of such behavior. Far from it, in fact. Consider the holy warfare of the Crusades, the self-righteous persecution of Jews by Christians during the Inquisition, and the Christian bigotry of the Ku Klux Klan, not to mention the increasingly bigoted and incipiently dangerous pronouncements of some on the religious right, who would create an American theocracy. This time, however, it is radical Islamism, and to soft pedal it in the interest of political correctness is to avoid confronting the larger issue of behavior committed in the name of religion, in general.

Lest anyone get the wrong idea, let me state clearly that I am not indiscriminately anti-Muslim. What I am, however, is adamantly against radical religious behavior regardless of its sect of origin. Thus, in the present case, radical Islam has become the justification for ISIS and Al Qaeda and their regional offshoots to commit aggression and atrocities on levels that demand both condemnation and active countermeasures. To see rape as a holy rite, to commit widespread and indiscriminate murder, and to glorify ignorance and bigotry is an obscene throwback to the dark ages warranting no sanctuary the modern world.

There are those in our country who now would have the U.S. engage much more actively in another hot war in the Middle East. If the lesson of Vietnam taught us nothing about involvement where we do not belong, however, then the Iraq war certainly should have. It most definitely has led us to the mess we’re seeing now, namely, a war unwinnable by us against committed forces fighting on their own ground. The answer, then, must come from nations in the region, with technical and material support from us. After all, we did lay the groundwork for the current chaos, and so have a degree of responsibility now for helping to end it. But we must not impose the clear provocation of placing American combat troops in the region, which will only make things worse.

What happened in Paris was barbaric and only the latest warning to humanity about the evils which can be justified by repressive, dogmatic, fundamentalist religion and the poverty, ignorance and bigotry it fosters. Our response, however, needs to be thought through carefully. Both political correctness and wholesale reactive and aggressive actions have no place in determining where we go from here, so let’s all take a deep breath and think this through, carefully and responsibly.

Upcoming Zendoscopy Signing

On Saturday, 11/21 from 10 AM to 1 PM , I will be participating in a local authors’ fair at the Peninsula Center branch of the Palos Verdes Library, located at 701 Silver Spur Road, Rolling Hills Estates (main entrance located on Deep Valley Drive).

I will be signing my book, Zendoscopy, so if you don’t have a copy and can stop by, please do so. I’d love to sign a copy for you! Even if you already do have a copy, bring it and I’ll sign it for you.

Here’s the full text of the book’s review by B. Case, a top 500 reviewer for

5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, warm, and wonderful, December 26, 2014

“Zendoscopy,” by J. Allan Wolf, is a fictional memoir that tries to be both emotionally honest and delightfully hilarious. It succeeds admirably at both. I haven’t enjoyed a work quite like this since I read David Niven’s autobiography, “Moon’s a Balloon” some 42 years ago. That bestseller captured the essence of the famous English actor’s sparkling personality mostly through a collection of outlandish (but narrowly true-to-life) tales. It’s the same with this book. It’s the personality of author that shines through loud and clear out of the pure joy of the reading experience.

“Zendoscopy” defies categorization. I called it a fictional memoir because it reminded me of Niven’s autobiography. But I could just have easily have said that it was a character study, a coming-of-age-novel, or a collection of linked stories. Whatever it is, in summary, it covers the early life of a geeky, insecure, and bright young man named Sherman Alt. The stories start with his birth in a hospital where a plumber’s plunge serves a vital role. It ends with Alt as a medical doctor with a wife, a home, and a major plumbing problem. In between are many stories that help describe what it was like to grow up in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. The stories cover a broad range from serious to slapstick. It’s a work full of wry humor, ironic circumstances, and somewhat exaggerated tales. Many of the stories have to do with the main character’s adventures and misadventures with the opposite sex.

On a serious note, the book covers the journey of one man toward self-acceptance and the deep psychological reward of a validated life. It’s impressive the way the author pulls off this serious theme from a book that is mostly light and brilliantly funny.

Wolf’s prose is rich and polished. He keeps his readers engaged by focusing almost entirely on action and dialog rather than weighing down any particular piece with too much descriptive prose. Most of his character development takes place through authentic action and dialog. As a result, these secondary characters flash to life off the page.

As for the meaning of the unusual title, “Zendoscopy,” trust that there’s a gratifying explanation at the end of the last story. And, yes, it’s tied together with further revelations about the honorable, rational, and world-loving character of Sherman Alt.

Naturally, the perfect audience for this book would be other bright, geeky men who grew up in the same time period (i.e., Baby Boomers in their mid-60s). But I am sure the many universal themes in this book can resonate nicely with a much broader range of readers. As far as humorous anecdotal story collections go, this book gets an easy five stars in my rating scheme. It’s brilliantly written and had me smiling almost constantly and laughing out loud a number of times.”

   So, plan to attend if you can. If you can’t, you can still get hard copy from or the e-book format for Kindle. The book is also available from multiple other online sellers.

Debate Follies

Did you watch the recent Republican presidential debate? Yes? No? Well, I did, and I sure came away with some definite impressions.

First, let me get the matter of the questioners’ conduct out of the way. Let’s just say that they won’t be getting any awards for brilliance: “What is your biggest weakness?” This is a question worth asking? What was the expectation? That each of the participants would admit to being an idiot? The answers, such as they were, were no more intelligent than the question. While things didn’t get much worse than that, they certainly didn’t get a lot better.

Still, the real issue is what we heard from the nomination seekers. Let’s start with Jeb Bush.

Bush, in the face of falling poll numbers and correspondingly falling contributions, decided it would be a good idea to attack fellow Floridian Marco Rubio. It was a mistake from which he never recovered, as Rubio’s response demolished him. Already lackluster, Bush did nothing during the debate to make himself attractive as the party’s nominee.

Carly Fiorina didn’t so much as flame out as, well, not flame in. Her problem is that she was an awful CEO at Hewlett-Packard, presiding over the disastrous acquisition by HP of Compaq and watching HP stock tank as a result. No matter what she says, she obviously couldn’t manage HP effectively, and as a result can’t convince people that she can manage the country.

Ben Carson? Wake me when he wakes up. I swear, listening to him is better than Ambien. If, however, you do listen to him, what you’ll learn is that a) he’s a religious nut and b) he knows nothing about taxation, budgeting, or how he’d work with Congress.

Donald Trump wasn’t even very entertaining. Maybe he was depressed over the fact that Carson leads him in several polls. Or maybe he was just tired. Or maybe he’s so far out of his league in terms of knowledge of how to govern that he simply couldn’t say anything substantive.

John Kasich was more animated than in his prior debate exposure, but every sentence out of his mouth seemed to start with, “In my state of Ohio,” a repetitive mantra that ultimately was boring. John, we know you take credit for everything good about Ohio, but how the hell will you do it all for the country?

Ted Cruz, who all the political pundits say is a great debater, seems to be great only at not answering the questions he’s asked. One may give him credit for his diatribe against the media, but it’s old hat. All Republicans complain about the media, the War on Christmas, welfare cheats, Planned Parenthood… So, Ted, tell us something we haven’t heard from the Tea Party. Do you really want this whiny guy to occupy the White House? And given his background, analogous to that of President Obama, why aren’t other Republicans asking for his birth certificate?

It’s hard to know where to begin with Mike Huckabee. Personable, articulate, and somewhere out there beyond left field. Just listen to what he says. You want to live in a Christian theocracy? He’s your guy. Well, unless you want to be even more fundamental with Carson.

Chris Christie comes across like a charging, belligerent bull. He’s the steamroller in the competition, attempting to roll over the issues with aggrieved bombast. Yes, just what we need in the federal government today: more bombast.

Rand Paul often says things that seem to make a lot of sense. Then he veers into the ditch saying stuff that makes no sense at all. He didn’t say much of anything to stand out from the crowd during the debate.

Marco Rubio, came across as the most capable and presidential of the participants. Not, you understand, that I would support him. No, I’m still a card-carrying, ACLU and Planned Parenthood supporting, unreconstructed liberal, and proud of it. But Rubio, in fact, behaved well, was articulate, and didn’t come across as a nut case.

Mostly, the nomination seekers all laid out grandiose plans that ignore the fact that the Presidency isn’t a monarchy. If you believe that any of them can singlehandedly make the changes they’re proposing without a peep from Congress – even a Republican Congress – I’d like a few of whatever pills you’re swallowing. My advice: don’t dive into the rabbit hole with any of these guys.