My Interview With Richard Baehr

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Richard Baehr, the co-founder and political director of a website called “American Thinker.” As the name suggests, he prefers a civilized and cerebral approach to solving serious problems that America faces. From health care to foreign policy to the upcoming U.S. Elections, Mr. Baehr offers deep analysis backed by solid research.

Mr. Baehr also lectures around the country, speaking to audiences about the challenges we face, and how we can meet them.

I recommend people check out the American Thinker if they wish to learn more about issues, and discuss them in a sobering, dignified manner.

With that, below is the transcript of my interview with Richard Baehr.


1) You, Larry Sabato and Michael Barone are all very respected political analysts. What are your projections for the 2008 elections for President and Congress, and what factors could alter those projections?

It’s nice to be placed in the same company with Michael Barone, a giant in the field. Democrats will hold the Senate, and pick up seats in Virginia, New Hampshire and New Mexico (if Tom Udall runs). Colorado and Louisiana are tossups. Net, Democrats will pick up 2 to 5 seats. Minnesota is also close. Democrats will retain the House with the almost exact majority they do today (1/3 chance). About 1/3 chance GOP will pick up 5 or so seats, and 1/3 chance they will lose another 5 seats. .In other words, the democrats will retain the House too. Rudy Giuliani will beat Hillary Clinton in a very tight race. . John McCain would also beat her, and more easily, but he will not get nominated. Romney may be nominated, but probably will not be elected if he is. One of the allowable bigotries left in America is against Mormons. If Obama is nominated (25% chance) he would lose to Rudy, or McCain, and it would be a tossup with Romney. Thompson is going nowhere. If the economy falls into recession, there is a big run on the dollar, real estate prices fall further, and oil goes to $125-150, then the democrats’ chances to win the Presidency are greatly bolstered. There is maybe 1/3 chance of this happening. If there is a military action against Iran, the chance of an economic debacle is greater, especially a significant oil price rise.

2) A large segment of our society seems to have an irrational fear of anyone deemed “religious.” Do you feel this is true, and how do you balance your deep commitment to your faith with the fact that some Americans may unfairly consider all expressions of religion to be equated with zealotry and intolerance?

I think the militant secularists (e.g Chris Hitchens) are not that large in numbers, but are well positioned in influential areas–academia and the media, so their voices have outsized impact. Religious families are having more children then secular families. I am not worried that militant secularists will have a baby boom. They are too selfish in many cases for that. Many well educated secular folks look down on religious believers, as they do for those in the military. In part, this is because these people (religious and military) are foreign to them, since they live in a cocoon of similar thinking friends and family, who do not worship or have family members serve in the military.

3) What can ordinary citizens do, besides donating money and voting for republican candidates, to help win the War on Terror? What obligations do we have, and how can we help?

Write, as you and I do. Learn to be a public speaker. Look for opportunities to talk to and convert co-workers, friends and family.

4) It is one thing to ask people to have faith in God. It is much tougher to ask people to have faith in Government. What does our government do right, and what does it need to do better, so people can start believing in their government again?

The US military is a terrific fighting force–technologically sophisticated, well trained, and with high morale. It is also more integrated in its leadership and ranks than any other sector of American society. Certain programs such as Social Security and Medicare have enabled the elderly to have far more security in their now extended later years of life. There is high satisfaction with both programs, particularly Medicare. Many states and cities are well run in various areas–the New York City police are an example. Wisconsin had a very good welfare to work program.

5) Between teachers unions wielding power and mandatory standards being fought at every turn, should we all home school our kids and declare public schooling a lost cause?

More Americans now live in suburbs than in cities or rural areas. Many suburban school systems are quite good, particularly at the high school level (this is more likely in high income areas of course). Elementary schools have been very dumbed down, however, and become value neutral except for environmentalism. Teachers unions have had a more negative impact on elementary and middle schools than high schools. Home schooling is a growing option, with much more solid infrastructure to support parental efforts. Of course, private or religious schools are also an option. There is now a record enrollment at Jewish day schools for instance.

6) With regards to foreign policy, what have we done right, and what have we gotten wrong, in the last 8 years, and what steps can be take to improve the situations that require improvement?

The elephant in the room is whether the Iraq invasion was a mistake. I am not sure. There are about 4,000 dead, 25,000 wounded, and hundreds of billions in expenditures. Has it made us safer? Tough one to answer yes at this moment. The war to depose Saddam went great. He was a bad, dangerous guy. The surge is working. Yet, there were about 4 years where things went badly. US soldiers are a poor choice for a police force. They either need to be on the offensive, or get out (for the most part). When we succeed in a military mission, local forces need to be in place to start replacing our combat troops. The Afghan operation has been a success for the most part. US relations with Japan and India are very good. President Bush has done the right thing with regards to Israel–allow Israel to make the decisions and fight its battles. We have not been addicted to engagement (until the latest Annapolis attempt which will surely fail). Relations have significantly improved with France and Germany with their new leaders. We are rapidly entering into an economic dependency relationship with non-allied nations–China and oil producers who hold our huge dollar piles due to trade imbalances. This situation needs to be reversed. It will be painful I think for our economy while adjustment occurs. We will become relatively less rich as the dollar shrinks in value.

7) Your expertise is health care. What are your credentials in the health care field, what are we doing right, what have we gotten wrong, and what would make things better, or even more importantly, make matters worse?

I have been a management consultant in the health care field for 33 years. I have served as an advisor mainly to hospitals, on planning and financial matters. The big problem in health care is inflation, not access. In fact, there is far too much health care delivered, though it is mal-distributed to some extent. The HSA program was a good initiative– consumers need to think about their health care expenditures and not assume insurance makes it a free good. As insurers squeeze providers on price, providers respond by doing more. Consumers always want more health care. Some of the volume growth reflects defensive medicine practiced by providers to avoid litigation. This is a particular problem in the last year of a patient’s life. Insurers need to be allowed to create multi-state pools. I would consider guaranteed issue, or states filling in for those with pre-existing conditions that make them uninsurable. I know personally about this!

8.) Our country is incredibly polarized. You want to raise the level of discourse, eschewing the politics of personal destruction. Outside of another 9/11, is it even possible to unite Americans? What common goals and values do we share?

This is a big problem. The Clinton years were polarizing , as have been the Bush years. As to the latter, the Florida recount battle and the Iraq war are major reasons. Our country does not have enough Liebermans or McCains in leadership roles. The media likes food fights, and seems not to care if we win wars in which we are engaged. I am not optimistic on this front.. I think another 9/11 will not generate as much national unity as the first 9/11. I do not see a lot of value sharing. Belief in God, don’t burn the flag, do not discriminate against ethnic, racial or religious groups. Not much more than that.

9) The American dollar seems to be in free fall. Should government get involved, and is this even a problem at all? If so, what needs to be done?

See # 6 above. I think it is a big problem. Developing ANWAR is a trillion plus dollar hole filler on our foreign debt. It is insane not to be doing this. We have a consumer driven economy , and increasingly we are buying foreign made goods. The $700 billion annual trade deficits cannot continue indefinitely. Greater energy conservation, and more domestic supply helps. If the dollar keeps shrinking in value, eventually our work force will be cheaper than a lot of others.

10) Who are your three favorite American political leaders of all time?

Abe Lincoln, George Washington, third is a tie between Ronald Reagan and Scoop Jackson.

11) Who are your three favorite world political leaders of all time?

Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, David Ben Gurion.

12) The Supreme Court will be taking up two cases that go to the heart of the Second Amendment. Where do you stand on the Second Amendment, and are gun control laws by definition unconstitutional?

I think second amendment rights include personal gun ownership. I am pretty certain the Court will confirm this.

13) What would be the main qualities and criteria you would look for with regards to Supreme Court justices? Could they disagree with you on major issues, and still be qualified?

I want very smart justices, who really know the history of the Court and the issues that have come before it (Roberts is a good example of this). I prefer judicial moderates–those who do not seek to change society through the courts, but view it as the least dangerous branch, hence, modest in its intentions. I think justices who are concerned with original founder intent or legislator intent will be more likely to behave this way.

14) What is your main goal with regards to your website, American Thinker? What is your main goal when lecturing audiences around the country?

As for, our goal is to provide thoughtful, serious discussion on a variety of public issues, and build support for our missions abroad, for the security of Israel, and for a domestic policy agenda that reflects conservative approaches to solving problems. When I lecture, I want to inform and provide my audience with arguments that they can use. I also want people to enjoy the talk, even if the subject matter is serious, so I try to be entertaining to the extent I can be.

15) Do you support the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive action? Do you feel that it may be necessary to take pre-emptive action against Iran?

I think pre-emptive action needs to be an option, but not used very often. My concern is that Iran might be a better situation for it than Iraq was, and the problems in Iraq, post-invasion , may limit our options (make us more gun-shy) with Iran.

16) What Americans call 9/11, Israel refers to as every day life. Israel is then asked to show restraint. What is your view on Israel taking pre-emptive action, including a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities if necessary? What about with regards to the disputed territories such as Gaza? What about against Damascus, who funds Hezbollah?

Israel will act against Iran, if the US does not, and if sanctions fail to make them change course, as I suspect they will fail. I am pretty sure of it. An Iran with nuclear weapons is an existential threat–they might use them preemptively. I think Israel will be forced to retake Gaza, or at least move the IDF back in certain areas to stop smuggling and rocket fire. I think Israel prefers to leave Syria alone. Israel should not surrender the Golan, and that is the price for a cold peace with Syria. War is probably not necessary, and would be costly, given Syrian WMD stocks and missiles. Iran is the real problem. Syria is a compliant satellite.

17) Is Iranian President Armageddonijad a terrorist? If so, should candidates publicly propose banning him from any functions not directly related to the U.N.? Can and should the U.S. Government prohibit such people from visiting American universities, and should universities face sanctions or pressure for hosting such people?

He is a terrorist, and his country is violating the UN charter by threatening another country with extinction. The US should move to have Iran expelled from the UN for this. It won’t happen, but would be embarrassing for Iran to have to defend themselves. Ahmadinejad should not be invited to colleges. Free speech does not mean a college forsakes judgment in whom they invite. At the same time they ban ROTC, and make life difficult for military recruiters.

18) Attempts to partially privatize social security have been met with hysteria about throwing old people on the street and leaving them to die. Do you favor any privatization of social security? If not, why not? If so, how can candidates you recruit and the party in general frame it in terms that do not frighten seniors?

I think privatization will have to be an add-on program, rather than a replacement, except perhaps for the very young, who do not fear losing a benefit they think they will likely never see anyway. Fixing social security is relatively easy, and takes only a few modest changes in retirement age, and annual inflation rate. Both parties are afraid to address it.

19) Medicare is a ticking time bomb, and when the baby boomers retire, the problem will explode. Politicians are scared to touch the issue because nobody likes being fired. Can the party work with the AARP? Given their favoritism of democrats, is working with them even a good idea? Can they be taken on if necessary, and can politicians be motivated to put the national interest above their own self interest?

See #7 above, Medicare and Medicaid are ticking time bombs. Private insurance inflation rates are making American business less competitive. This is a huge problem.

20) Without delving into your personal life, what would you want Americans to know about Richard Baehr the person? 100 years from now, what would you want people to remember about you, and what would you hope the history books say about you?

I do not expect the history books say anything about me or that anybody will remember anything about me. If I write a great American novel, maybe. But that won’t happen. That said, I have tried to be a decent person, raise my kids with good values, care for my family, and work for the things in which I believe. I have always tried in my professional life to be serious about serving my clients with the skills and effort I can bring to an assignment.


I would like to again thank Richard Baehr for his time, and for his ability to convey passion in a classy manner. He speaks to his audiences, not at them. He has convictions, but is a believer in reasonable discussion. He has already made the world a better place by offering solutions to complex problems in a manner that those who agree with him can understand, and those that disagree with him can respect.


12 Responses to “My Interview With Richard Baehr”

  1. Too much worry about Ahmadinejad. He’s not very powerful and he’s not very popular at home. The mullahs run Iran and their history in power shows that they are more realistic and pragmatic than American and Israeli paranoid pundits would have one believe. There is a historical ambivilance in Iran when it comes to Israel. They, like Saddam’s Iraq, do play the “Israel” card for the consumption of the Arab Street, and they are alleged to be funding some bad actors in the Israel/Palestine arena. But all this is pretty understandable – this is a nation acting in it’s self-interest. Iran does want to be a major player in regional affairs, and that’s understandable as well. But I do not see them as an existensial threat to anyone – including Israel. I believe this is militaristic, Rightwing fear-mongering.

    As for privatization of SS, I find the argument strangely ironic, coming from the right, that is. Forcing money into the “Free Market” is about as anti-capitistic an idea as one could have. People choose to invest, and that’s fine. But when you force, or coerce, or incentivize mass public investments in the private sector, you open up a Pandora’s Box of fraud, risk, and corruption. Privatizing SS seems to me to about the dumbest thing I’m ever heard from the Right. If you want to try to do away with it – like you do almost every other gov’t program with the exception of the military (by far the most wasteful of all programs – another irony) – then try to do that. Be honest. But don’t mix the Free Markets with the Public Commons. It’s just begging for trouble.

    As for fixing SS – removing the payroll cap, at least with some sort of reverse progressivity, would fix the problem forever, and that goes for Medicare as well. This is not about problems with the programs in any way. They work great and everyone knows it. This is about greed and the very rich.

    Mr. Baehr seems like a reasonable fellow, though. Thanks for the interview, guys!


  2. micky2 says:

    Went through this once already Jersey, but you must ( like the rest of the moonbats) think if you say it over and over again it will become truth.

    But you still insist on saying that Americans are so stupid we think Amadingdong is our only problem, we all know he’s a puppet.
    I kicked your butt on this, but its a manth and a half later and you repeat yourself again.

    Jersey McJones said,
    October 19, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    “Micky Ahmedloonyjad has about as much real power in Iran as you do. Letr’s get real here.

    JMJ said;
    Nov. 27/07
    But I do not see them as an existensial threat to anyone – including Israel. I believe this is militaristic, Rightwing fear-mongering.

    To which I said;
    micky2 said,
    October 19, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    Both anon and jersey dont get it.

    It doesnt matter if donald duck is the president of Iran, or if he is popular or not.
    I am well awre of the recent student protests and the countries younger population not being too crazy about him.
    Both of you need to realize that no matter who is the mouth piece the message is the same. Mahmoud is simply a vocal extention and spokesman for the clerics and the ayatollahs. It is also not the president who is behind the proliferation of Iranian nukes, it is the clerics and the Ayatollahs who are operating the purse strings for the project.
    It is the clerics and the Ayatollas who give marching orders to the Qods and national gaurdsman that are infiltrating Iraq.
    I’m not as disconnected as you would care to believe.

    So please already , drop it and lets get back to the fact that Iran is a terrorist state and has been supplying weapons and operatives to perform terrorist acts on Iraqis and American soldiers.

    Iranian personnel have established safe houses throughout southern Iraq. They monitor the movement of coalition forces, tend weapons caches, facilitate cross-border travel of clerics, smuggle munitions into Iraq and recruit individuals as intelligence sources. Presumably, Tehran has recruited networks within U.S. military bases and civilian compounds that could be activated on short notice. Iran is also believed by regional intelligence agencies to have armed and trained as many as 40,000 Iraqis to prevent an unlikely rollback of Shiite control.

    Petraeus’ broadside wasn’t an isolated incident. In recent weeks, the military command in Baghdad has stepped up its offensive — both public and tactical — against Iranian-backed “special groups militias” south of Baghdad, which have led to dozens being killed or captured. The military has also emphasized any seizure of “Iranian-made” weapons, such as mortars, IEDs and hand grenades, no matter how small the cache.

    The Iranians being captured in Iraq are not wearing any uniform identifying them as anything other than iraqi citizens,
    This is one of terrorists main defenses. They are not bound by ant international law that requires a combatent to display his alegiance.
    This is fact.
    We have a number of Iranian operatives in custody that were caught on the field wearing civilian attire and shooting at or planning attacks on Iraqis or Americans.
    Including one of their Generals whos name escapes me right now

    The U.S. State Department considers the MEK a terrorist organization — meaning no American can deal with it; U.S. banks must freeze its assets; and any American giving support to its members is committing a crime.

    Call it fear mongering all you want.
    The threat is still proven and real.

  3. Jersey McJones says:

    I’ve heard all this before, Micky. Iran is no bed of roses, of course, but they are not an existential threat to Israel, let alone America. I’ve read a lot of good literature on the subject, and on the whole the realistic conclusion for me is that Iran can be handled without war or even serious threats of war. Look, military diplomacy has it’s place, and so does other forms of relations. But the isolate/threaten approach has not worked, will not work, it not working, and really never has worked pretty much anywhere in the Middle East ever. It’s just a matter of knowing history and keeping a realistic perspective and understanding if the interests and actions of nations. Iran knows that if it destroyed Israel it in turn would be destroyed. There’s a “MAD” factor here and it isn’t the comic-bookish caricature of Ahmadinejad.


  4. Eric, this is a great blog. How to link for a technological idiot like myself is very hard. Show me and do it. BTW, great interview with the guy from the”American Thinker”. The real debate above should now center on the inane peace process put forward by the Prez and Condi. It is just absurd and will never give peace to Israel. The
    Arab jihadists will simply tear them apart and break any agreeement. Anyhow, go to my blog and say hi. KGK, Glenn Koons

  5. Oh eric, email me at the address. The other is my pastoral one and I am retiring at the end of Dec. Thanks, Glenn

  6. micky2 says:

    JMJ said;
    “Iran does want to be a major player in regional affairs, and that’s understandable as well. But I do not see them as an existensial threat to anyone”

    What you’ve heard all before are facts jersey, not beliefs. Like yours.
    Of course you and Barak would probably like to sit down with them.
    which by the way has never worked either.

    The whole crux of the matter here is not what you think or think wont work.
    You are delusional if you think they are not a threat.
    You cant apply the right tactics when you cant even identify a turd when you see one.
    You say its not a bed of roses.

    You say they dont want to be a major player ?
    You’re dreaming Jersey, dreaming.

    Heres what your own Bill Richardson has to say about that;
    We need to be absolutely clear that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, and we need to be absolutely credible when we say what we will do about it if the Iranians continue to disregard the will of the international community. The clear message must be this: develop nukes and you will face devastating global sanctions.

    “Centrality of the Iran Problem”

    There are at least six major reasons why Iran is strategically significant. These are: (1) its nuclear ambitions; (2) its importance to stability in Iraq; (3) its support for extreme Arab factions – such as Hezbollah and Hamas – who themselves are obstacles to stability in Lebanon and to the Palestinian-Israeli peace process; (4) its status as a major oil and gas producer; (5) its importance to the flow of oil through the Straits of Hormuz; and (6) its role as leader of the world’s Islamic Shia population.

    Now, I dont agree with Bill Richardson, I think we should kick they’re hinds from here to kingdom come. But even Richardson is mentioning crippling sanctions and more that you say wont and hasnt worked.
    And if you know history as you proudly brag, you would know that these tactics have worked well plenty of times. ( N.Korea ring a bell?)

    You’re the perfect lib . You always know what we shouldnt do, but never what we should.

  7. Jersey McJones says:


    “What you’ve heard all before are facts jersey, not beliefs. Like yours.”

    No. I’ve seen the facts, they are damning every which way you look, and most of them are not pretty. That’s why all this is an issue. It’s all public info. Iran is a conundrum. I got it. I’m not stupid. It’s how we deal with problems that bothers me. It seems we’re just looking for trouble. There’s nothing worse than a big dude with a big crowd, all of them drunk, stomping into the bar looking for trouble. We’re the big, stupid drunk. It’s time to start relating like the smart guy at the bar who walks out, during the “big guy” fight, with the good-looking lady.

    “You are delusional if you think they are not a threat.”

    I live in the greatest nation on Earth. I do not live in fear of religious idiots from the Middle East.

    “You say they dont want to be a major player ?”

    No. I said they do. Every large nation-state does.

    “We need to be absolutely clear that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable,…”

    I know. Richardson is right – to a point. Iran should be dissuaded from joining the nuclear club. But as far as the future of thr region is concerned, eventually a country like Iran is bound to catch up with the technologies of their neighbors. And a country can have nuclear power without nuclear weapons. Iran, as far as most GOP and Dem pols thought for many years, would be a great experiment in that. Otherwise, Richardson is just playing the fear card as usual. He’s not my favorite pol, but he is my favorite among the top 5 of the Dems.


  8. micky2 says:

    First jersey says this;
    “Iran does want to be a major player in regional affairs,”

    And when its pointed out that hes wrong he thinks he can BS us all and say this;
    “No. I said they do. Every large nation-state does.”

    And then JMJ says this’
    Richardson is just playing the fear card as usual. He’s not my favorite pol, but he is my favorite among the top 5 of the Dems.

    So , hes one of the top five in your mind , but when he doesnt bend over hes wrong.
    Why would he be playing the fear card if everything a simple uninformed citizen says is true ?
    Even the weakest dem candidate gets it , but you dont.

    JMJ said;
    “I live in the greatest nation on Earth. I do not live in fear of religious idiots from the Middle East.”

    Total insanity, absolute pacifist.
    Any rational human would have some fear after being attacked numerous times by the same thing.
    But yet you fear a global “catstrophie” the likes of a nuclear holocaust, based on carbon emissions that cant be proven.

    Wooooooooweeeeee. Have another one !

  9. Jersey McJones says:


    What the heck is this?

    First jersey says this;
    “Iran does want to be a major player in regional affairs,”

    And when its pointed out that hes wrong he thinks he can BS us all and say this;
    “No. I said they do. Every large nation-state does.”

    I SAID THEY WANT TO BE A REGIONAL POWER, %$#&^%#$@!!!!! Clean your glasses, man!

    And then JMJ says this’
    Richardson is just playing the fear card as usual. He’s not my favorite pol, but he is my favorite among the top 5 of the Dems.

    So , hes one of the top five in your mind , but when he doesnt bend over hes wrong.
    Why would he be playing the fear card if everything a simple uninformed citizen says is true ?

    What??? You just blatantly took me out of context by leaving out the word “oterwise”!

    I can’t debate with you when you get like this Micky. It’s sleazy. That’s enough for this post.


  10. Tom Autry says:


    Thank you for the interview post. I was unaware of the Richard’s site, “American Thinker”. I plan to visit it soon and often. He sounds like an “American”.
    It has always been my belief that the American voter is utimately responsible for the “State of the Nation”. Too many “voters” devote too little time and effort in the selection of our leaders. Too many “voters” don’t care and don’t pay much attention to to what is going on in the world. If people would just listen and watch information sources other than the MSM perhaps they would make better decisions. It is terrifing that about 50% of the American People buy into the crap they are being fed.

    Watonga, OK

  11. micky2 says:

    JMJ wrote’
    “But I do not see them as an existensial threat to anyone ”

    With this logic just about any and every thought of yours that follows will be irrational And quite frankly, fresh out of La La land.

    JMJ said;
    SAID THEY WANT TO BE A REGIONAL POWER, %$#&^%#$@!!!!! Clean your glasses, man!

    I might be wrong, but I cant find anywhere on this thread that you said they wanted to be a regional power. No where ! I dont wear or need glasses.

    You said;
    ” this is a nation acting in it’s self-interest.”” Iran does want to be a major player in regional affairs, “” and that’s understandable as well.

    And if you want to talk about%$#&^%#$@!!!!! Then tell me what kinda dumb analogy this was.
    “There’s nothing worse than a big dude with a big crowd, all of them drunk, stomping into the bar looking for trouble. We’re the big, stupid drunk. ”

    Iran is the one just yesterday feeding the riots coming out of Hamas, Hezbolla, just over the peace talks in Annapolis. Not to mention they are threatening Israel on a daily basis and sending ammunitions and suicide bombers into Iraq. They were actually at the center of these talks yesterday, even though they were not present for OBVIOUS reasons.

    So while you would like to turns this around somehow and make look as if I took you out of context and close the debate with that chicken lib logic, its only evident that you just like to come out and go Bla Bla Bla without really having it together.
    You just want to argue the evident even when its staring you in the face because its the right that has to deal with all this crap and not the left. If Hillary or Obama or some demorcrat were in charge and doing the same thing right now you would be kissing their footprints.
    If a meteorite was 10 minutes from hitting earth and a conservative said a meteorite is gonna hit us , you would say ” Ahh BS! ”
    If a liberal said a meteorite was going to hit us, you would try to sell me an umbrella.

    Otherwise what Jersey ?

    You like to tell everyone what a great American you are, Quite frankly , in my opinion, I pray for anyone falls victim to your warped interpretations of our country and the world around us.

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