Will Mike Huckabee Run For President in 2016?

March 3, 2014

Short answer?  Nobody knows at this stage.  Not even former Governor Mike Huckabee.  Well, maybe he knows at some unconscious level.

Yes, he is going through the motions.  He is visiting with supporters in Iowa, where he leads the field in the latest poll.  And he has made trips to South Carolina.  He will be back to both places for events again this Spring.  He has mended fences with Paul Pressler and the conservative crowd of leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention.  Their support of Fred Tompson in South Carolina, arguably, cost Huckabee the GOP nomination in 2008.  Yes, he has been connecting with evangelical leaders for the last six years, leaders he ignored last time around.  But that is all work he has to do to keep the option open.  It doesn’t mean he will run.

Republicans are famous for sending “the next man in,” that is, selecting the candidate who has earned his turn.  Nixon,
Ford, Reagan, Bush, Dole, McCain all benefited from that imagination deprived process.  And many would say that Huckabee is the next man on the list.  But the world “it is a changin.”  Not many see Hukabee beating Hillary Clinton and the national media in a 2016 fall election showdown.

In the race for the GOP nomination, Huckabee will have FOX NEWS as a friend.  They may not fall all over him like they did Giuliani and Christie but at least they won’t actively try to destroy him.  Some at FOX will probably now tilt to Paul Ryan but Huckabee will get his moments in the sun.

Huckabee’s problem has always been money.  Organically, the former governor of Arkansas  will be able to raise more money on the stump this time, because he is a television celebrity.  He won’t need Chuck Norris to tag along.  People will pluck down $1,000 for a picture with just him alone, the FOX NEWS star.

But there will still be a gap.  Evangelicals give to World Vision, Convoy of Hope, their local church and not much is left over for political candidates.  Specifically he needs a big donor, someone who will chuck in a few million to a Huckabee super pak.  Without it he is dead in the water.  Rand Paul will have it.  So will Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan.  To look at it another way, Governor Huckabee is only ONE person away from making a strong run at the GOP nomination.  He just needs one.  But that one must be a multi-millionaire.

It may be a temptation for someone to take.  History is full of things that turned out differently.  Hillary Clinton is not guaranteed the White House.  Just ask President Dewey, or President Muskie, or President Hart.  Anything can happen. And Huckabee would be there to pick up the pieces and his billionaire would be at the pinnacle with him, like Raymond Tusk.

He needs for Sarah Palin to stay out of the race.  She might get to thinking that a run would be a good career move.  Like Rick Perry, she may want to get into the debates to win back some intellectual respect.  Her involvement would suck a lot of air out of a Huckabee presidential campaign.

Then there is Karl Rove.  He and his powerful pak will be watching.  Ready to take out Huckabee if he gets too close.

Perhaps the best evidence of Huckabee’s chances are two numbers.  The presidential preference polls, which have him as the GOP leader.  And the bathroom scales.

If the numbers continue to climb in the GOP polls he will have to run.  It is a case of “good stewardship.”  A Southerner, raised with the Protestant work ethic cannot let such a moment pass without taking action.  

But if the numbers continue to climb on the bathroom scale his subconscious may be saying, “Don’t do this to me Mike.  You are rich and famous already and you won’t win.”  

This latter process can be easy for all of us to track.  Just keep Googling for the latest pictures.  If the Governor starts getting trim in spite of all that good food and the difficulty in exercising when you are living on the road, well, his subconscious might be saying, “Get with it Mike.  We’re going to do this things with or without you.”

Mike Huckabee can run but he can’t hide.


Chris Christie must now pay the butcher’s bill

February 15, 2014

“I am no bully,” said Governor Chris Christie at his January 9, 2014 press conference.  And then he proceeded to pummel to death his best friends and closest political advisers.  Now some of those advisers are coming back to haunt him.

Christie insisted that he knew nothing about the hardball, political pay back machinations of his own office which led to the shut down of traffic at Fort Lee.  It was allegedly payback to a mayor who had not supported Christie for re-election.  It tied up traffic coming out of New York City for a day.

The governor claimed that his staff was to blame.  They had  lied to him, he said, and what they had done reeked of “abject stupidity.”

Christie said he had immediately fired his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, and was ordering his two time campaign manager, Bill Stepien, to withdraw his nomination to lead the New Jersey Republican Party.

Christie went out of his way to distance himself from another aide who had long been considered a high school friend, David Wildstein.  “David and I were not friends in high school,” Christie lectured the press. “We were not even acquaintances in high school. We didn’t travel in the same circles in high school. You know, I was the class president and athlete. I don’t know what David was doing during that period of time.”

Richard Nixon had lost his presidency by trying to defend the Watergate burglars.  “We have to help them,” he said, even though he had not ordered the break-in at the Democrat National Headquarters.   It was the effort to get money to the burglars families that eventually implicated the White House in the scandal.  And when the cover-up extended to the highest levels and Nixon was forced to fire his top aides, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, he told that nation, “I feel like I have lost my left and right arms.”  

Said Nixon, “They were two of the finest public servants it has been my privilege to know.”

Later, when Sir David Frost interviewed Richard Nixon he asked why the president hadn’t blamed his staff for their mistakes and fired them and kept out of the scandal from the beginning.

Nixon quoted the British Prime Minister William Gladstone who said that the first requirement for a prime minister was to be a good butcher.  Nixon answered ruefully, “I was a poor butcher.”

Not Chris Christie.  Promoted by pundits on the Fox News Channel as their new Catholic candidate (ala Rudolph Giuliani in 2008) Christie had no problem immediately excising his arms, legs, hands, or anything else that might come in the way of more power.   And he did so decisively.

Haldeman and Ehrlichman may or may not have been two of the finest public servants in American history but Christie’s appointees were “stupid” and “liars” who needed to be put down immediately.  This was one Watergate lesson Chris Christie had taken to heart.

No one stopped to ask why Christie had surrounded himself with “stupid liars” as his closest aides.  The Fox pundits, unperturbed, insisted that the incident was only a temporary setback for their man.

Anyone with experience working for a president or a governor knows that they are not ignorant of what goes on around them although they carefully nurture this idea to avoid blame for the things they can’t fix.  Former Governor Sarah Palin pointed this out.

Information is currency, it has value.  It is like finding a shoe box with hundred dollar bills that are disappearing before your eyes, you spend them as quickly as you can, while they still have value.  If you have information, any information, you get it to the president or governor immediately.

Picture the young staffer bringing in some requested paperwork.

“So what were they talking about at lunch, kid?” The governor asks.  “Why couldn’t they have the meeting here and what was so hush, hush?”

“You don’t want to know, governor, its some political payback thing and you need deniability.”

The governor smiles.  “Okay, what is it kid?”

And the young staffer coughs it up immediately.

“Huh,” the governor grunts, acting dumb, apparently engrossed in a memo.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” And the kid, if he should ever surface, would have to tell the grand jury that he can’t really say if the governor understood or not.

Usually, such a scenario is much too subtle.  Consider Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who talked openly about selling a vacant U.S. Senate seat.  But then, four of the last seven governors of Illinois have been convicted and imprisoned.

Now it turns out that David Wildstein, the Chrsitie appointee who ran the lane closing scandal is talking.  In a letter through his attorney he said that “evidence exists . . . tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the Governor stated publicly.”

Now we will see how Gladstone’s axiom really works.  Can a man cut off his arms and legs and still survive?  Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  And how are all of those arms and legs supposed to feel about what has happened?  Now, it’s time for Governor Chris Christie to pay the butchers bill.


Regina Noriega and “the era of women.”

January 30, 2014

Listening to the audio version of Ayn Rand’s classic bestseller, Atlas Shrugged, I was reminded of Regina Noriega.  She is the most recent sensation in a growing list of outstanding women in the field of direct sales.

This was the one field that men seemed to have to themselves, Mary Kay Ash being the anomaly.   Increasingly, in politics, journalism, education and business, women are doing the work.  Hillary Clinton appears on this week’s TIME magazine cover crushing a little man beneath her heel.  By the way, the new editor of TIME is Nancy Gibbs, a new star in her own right.  More and more, men are increasingly being seen as having only one exclusive function, namely, protecting women from other men.

Regina Noriega has built a career creating brands and, well, networking, building genuine relationships with people in the field of direct sales and network marketing.

Regina’s tenacity, drive, vibrancy and ability to be a leader is known and greatly admired in the industry. Everyone that’s worked with her on any level knows her standards are high to the level of perfectionism and that she expects everyone around her to operate on the same level. Mediocrity in any form is not an option.

Again, to use the Atlas Shrugged metaphor, she’s never taken the easy road.  Rather than ride the train, she thrives on building tracks and at the same time she’s comfortable swimming against the rip tide and can turn from defense to offense on a dime. Strategic is a word that describes her leadership skills.

Having spent 40 years as an amateur historian of the whole network marketing industry I’ve watched her face many professional challenges and tackle them with leadership skills that display not only strength but grace and courage. Her negotiation skills and work ethic is famous.  And always, she practices the golden rule.  (No, not that one, the real one.)

She’s usually the only woman, and minority woman at that, seated in the boardroom. She’s highly respected for her strategic mind and treats all around her with complete frankness, always thinking about the goals of a team above everything else. She talks hard and direct but always makes everyone feel like they are always in it together. She makes you want to drive yourself hard not only for yourself but for her. The best thing about her is that she is passionate about  helping people first and joining people in their personal development journeys.

I’m not sure where she is headed.  Will she take the route other woman business stars have taken and enter public life?  Will she be another Meg Whitman?  As a corporate executive she is legend.  So there is always that. And she is one of the rare corporate animals in network marketing who would thrive in the field.  Not many in that category.  It would be fun to watch for woman are increasingly proving the misogynist, American, MLM old fogies that they can build groups bigger and better than they.  Look at Natasha Yena in the Ukraine.

Which brings us back to the dilemma I first posed.  What does this all mean for men?  What will we do?  Fight wars you say.  But that work is increasingly falling on the shoulders of mechanical drones.  We may soon see women sitting before computer consoles in America and Asia, duking it out through surrogate metal hardware on the ground.  Yes, for that we may need little boys too, Ender Wiggins, who have quick eye hand coordination but even then we don’t need men.

In the  celebrated, famous, Greek democracy of antiquity, women could not vote.  They could not own property.  Their word was not accepted in a court of law.  They were not even counted in a government census.  Today, at least outside the Islamic world, they are emerging as a dominate force.  Their activism has changed education.  Their votes have changed world governments.  And they are in the process of changing business as well.  They are all over the ballrooms of Davos.  Oh yes, I forgot to mention banking and finance.  There is Janet Yellen, the new chairman of the Federal Reserve.

So here come  Regina Noriega, the bright new face in direct sales.  We should not be surprised.  She is yet another star in an ever expanding galaxy of women high achievers.


Duke Snider on steroids

January 26, 2014

It’s the end of baseball as we know it.  Stick a fork in it.  This month’s drama with Alex Rodriguez only underscores the futility of trying to make it work the way it once did.  If some use more drug enhancements and others less and still others none, and we only find out later in bits and pieces, then it has become more a game of deception and less a physical contest or a team sport.

       Old baseball, real baseball was a game of statistics.  Duke Snider could never have been on steroids.  In five consecutive years, averaging 500 or more at bats each year, he hit 42, 40, 42, 43 and 40 home runs respectively.  He was a left handed hitter in a lineup of right handed power that included Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella, Carl Furillo, and Jackie Robinson.  The Brooklyn Dodgers always batted Snider third in the lineup to make sure he got the most at bats possible for a power hitter.
       By the time the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and finally built their stadium in Chavez Ravine they had become a pitching baseball team.  At one time they fielded a pitching rotation of five twenty game winners in a starting lineup, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Tommy Johns, Claude Osteen and Don Sutton.
       Their lead home run hitter in 1966 was Ron Fairly who hit only 14.  I saw one of those rare events at Wrigley Field in Chicago.  Later that year, in the same park, I saw Sandy Koufax and Dick Ellsworth pitch nine innings of shutout ball.  Both men were lifted in the ninth inning and neither one got credit for the win.
       The large expanses of Chavez Ravine purposely allowed plenty of room behind the plate to catch pop ups.  Even the powerful Frank Howard, who was biologically engineered to hit home runs, only managed one big year with 31.  Later, when he got was traded to the Washington Senators and a friendlier ball park he would hit forty or more home runs three years in a row.
       After Duke Snider won the National League home run crown in 1956, it would take 98 years for another Dodger to do it again, when Adrian Beltre would hit 48 but by then the modern age of steroid in sports was upon us.  Beltre would hit only 19 home runs the next year and in sixteen seasons he would never hit 40 or more home runs again.
       In 2000 a talented Dodger outfielder named Shawn Green hit 24 home runs in 610 at bats.  The next year he hit 49 in 619 at bats.  It set all Dodger records.  It blew Duke Snider, who as a left hander in a power hitting right handed lineup in the tiny Ebbets Field where the right field grandstands were only 257 feet away, out of the water.  For one golden year, inexplicably, he accomplished what no other Dodger had done since their beginning in 1884.  No one looked at Green’s spectacular year too closely.  We didn’t want to know.  But it’s hard to talk about Shawn Green and Duke Snider in the same sentence.  Baseball statistics are now meaningless.  And baseball without statistics, well, it is not the same game.
       The game has changed.  No one had to wonder if Ron Fairly was on steroids.
        It’s not just the players that are on steroids.  It’s the game itself.  And it is driven by the fans.  I thought this steroid age would spell the end of baseball.  The crowds would stay home, the television audiences would diminish, but it hasn’t.  It has evolved into some new kind of creature. You don’t have to wait for hours to see the home run or even the triple play. The waiting is all done for you and the finished product is shown in brief, exciting snippets, the whole day of events in the major leagues reduced to one half hour segments of video augmented by commentary and commercials.
       Baseball has become like genetically altered food.  It still looks and tastes the same, even better, but there is something creepy about eating chicken that comes to restaurant in tubes of pink dough looking substances or eating corn that isn’t corn and eating ice cream that is.
       Most young boys no longer play the game, unless electronically.  But the ones who do are well trained and groomed to perfection in little leagues, graduating upward.  In some respects they are better, more polished players than the kids who fought their way up from the sandlots and the back yard games of earlier generations.  It is still fun. But it is not a game.  It is a career track. And the people who become the stars cheat to get there.
       So what do they get?  For a time, if they are really good at cheating, they get money, a few years of adulation.  Then comes condemnation and in some cases an early death.  What do we get? Like fast food, we get fast home runs.  We don’t have to wait.  Baseball is no longer the nation’s favorite pastime. It has become something different.

Mandela and George H.W. Bush – The forgotten story

December 12, 2013

In 1990, only days after his release from a South African prison, Nelson Mandela was a hero to blacks worldwide but a question mark for many statesmen and world leaders.  Would he use his newfound popularity to take power and revenge?

One American president broke the ice and made his opinion clear.  In 1990, Mandela was invited to the White House where the president of the United States  stood by Mandela’s side on a stage on the South Lawn.  Who was that president?

George H. W. Bush.

Only Bush, a Republican could give such a meaningful endorsement and so quickly.   He had served as the vice president to Ronald Reagan who had visited the apartheid nation of South Africa as a private citizen and had many friends there.  Indeed, Bush spent his life championing Black causes from the Civil Rights Act of 1968 to major contributions to the Negro College Fund.

“We don’t do it for political reasons,” Barbara Bush once told me, we were sitting next to each other at a charity event, “the media will never give us credit.  We do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

Likewise, George H. W. Bush was the first president to invite in openly gay activists to White House events.  The national news narrative would have us all believe that these things happened on Bill Clinton’s watch.  But hey, let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good narrative.  Such is the state of journalism these days.

One would get the impression from watching the news coverage of the past week, including the funeral and memorial services for Nelson Mandela, that the American president who first championed the South African leader was Bill Clinton.

All networks were alive with interviews with Clinton.  They were good friends, Clinton and Mandela.  Or so we were told.  Clinton warmly revealed that Mandela had told him that he had forgiven his accusers and that, he, Bill Clinton had to do the same.  Of course, the implication could not be missed.  The accusers were equally evil and Mandela and Clinton were equally victims.

This narrative was so strong and so deliberately force fed to the American public that one of the major news networks virtually copied the interview with Clinton that their rival network had shown the previous night.  It must have gagged veteran journalists to see their national news show reduced to copying a story but most of us have long ago resigned ourselves to the fact that television news has become the personal plaything of TV executives and it is increasingly obvious that they have decided Hillary Clinton should be the next president.

Of course, there are differences between Mandela’s accusers and Clinton’s.  Mandela had to forgive racists who were wrong about him and who told lies.  Bill Clinton had to forgive young ladies who were victims of his misogynist advances, who were right about him, and who told the truth.

It was one thing for Clinton, a Democrat who courted and depended on Black votes, to reach out to Nelson Mandela in 1994, when the controversy had passed and Mandela was the president of South Africa.  And at a time when Clinton  needed the association.  It was something else for a Republican, who knew he would never get credit for it or even be remembered for it, to do it because it was right to do.

As a newborn follower of the Liberty Movement I have become a fierce critic of our monetary system and its exploitation of the masses, especially the poor.  All, it seems, for the sake of an oligarchy who needs to see its net worth – Wall Street portfolio rise with inflation.   It remains to be seen when and how the Bush administration had a role to play in all of that.  And yet, I can’t help but feel that in time, when the full story of George H. W. Bush and his record will be known, he will be seen as the leader I knew and for whom I worked.

George H. W. Bush ended  the Cold War, brought China into the world marketplace and briefly united the world for a single cause, a feat that Metternich would envy.  And so too, his improbable record on Civil Rights will be seen accurately for what it is without the bias lens of myopic journalists who cannot be bothered by facts.  And when it is seen, Bush Senior will emerge from the fog of history as a leader who acted with courage and with wisdom when it was risky to do so.


Did the Mafia Kill Kennedy?

November 16, 2013

 

Probably not.  But we will have to wait another generation to know for certain because political forces even to this day prevent any objective discussion.

As we approach the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, controversy still surrounds the work of the Warren Commission, the official government investigation into the tragedy.   I have interviewed some of the members of the Commission, including former President Gerald Ford, whom my wife and I have hosted in our own home on two occasions.

While there is still debate about whether or not there was a conspiracy behind the assassination, there can now be little doubt that there was indeed a “conspiracy” behind the Warren Commission’s inadequate report.  Upon his assassination, Kennedy, as in the case of Abraham Lincoln before him, was instantly declared a saint and no politician, investigator, judge or media mogul would risk revealing anything that might appear otherwise. 

The result was that any loose ends that brought out into the open the Kennedy family’s ties to the Mafia or the President’s dalliances with other women or the government’s repeated attempts to assassinate Cuban Premier, Fidel Castro, could not be pursued.  It may be that Kennedy was indeed  killed by an emotionally disturbed, lone gunman, with a “lucky” shot but unfortunately, thanks to an impotent media and compromised investigators, we may never know.

In the next few columns I will offer my best arguments for the most popular theories about this tragic event, including the lone gunman theory.  I start with the so called Mafia Conspiracy.

During the presidential primary season, JFK’s father, Joe Kennedy, had called on old Mafia connections that had helped him in earlier, nefarious business dealings.  He asked for their influence in the West Virginia presidential primary.  Mafia violence, through the Miner’s unions, helped  his son beat Minnesota Senator, Hubert Humphrey, and go on to win the Democratic nomination.  

During the general election of 1960 the Mafia went to work again, this time in Illinois where ballot boxes from Republican precincts were “lost” and ballot boxes from Democratic precincts were stuffed.  It helped Kennedy narrowly beat Nixon in this key state and thus win the White House by a razor margin.

When the President’s brother and newly appointed Attorney General, Robert Kennedy, began to aggressively prosecute those same Mafia leaders there was outrage and  feelings of betrayal.  Led by Chicago boss Sam Giancana, leaders of the underworld began discussing how to kill the president and his brother.

At the time of the assassination the public was not told of the ties between the Kennedy family and leaders of the American mafia. Nor were they shown FBI transcripts of top mafia leaders threatening to kill the president and his brother. Today, all of this is accepted history and the narrative appears in Pulitzer Prize winning books. The FBI transcripts are public.

According to CBS News, “The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in 1979 that it was likely Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy.”

 The gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, who had lived in Russia and had a Russian wife, also had an uncle with ties to the Mafia.  Oswald stayed with him in New Orleans shortly before the assassination.

Finally, there is much support for the once dismissed story of Judith Campbell Exner who claimed to have had an affair with the president, even as she was the girlfriend to Chicago mobster Sam Giancana.  Ms. Exner claimed that she relayed messages and even money from the government to the Mafia for purposes of funding an assassination attempt of communist, Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro.

Her story, at first dismissed by critics has been buttressed by extensive corroborating evidence, including FBI wiretap transcripts, diaries, travel logs, and released government documents  showing her regular visits to the White House.

Finally, only days after the Kennedy assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald was gunned down on live television by nightclub owner, Jack Ruby.  Taking out the hit man before he can talk is a classic Mafia tactic.

David Belin, counsel to the Warren Commission, scoffed at this notion.  “Of course, common sense would dictate otherwise; as a practical matter, so-called Mafia ‘hit men’ do not chose an area where they are surrounded by the police and immediately apprehended.”

Actually, the most famous Mafia hits do indeed happen in public.  Ask Carmine Galante, Albert Anastasia, Crazy Joe Gallo, “Big Paul” Castelllano, John Gotti and many others.  They were all killed in restaurants, barbershops or on the streets of Manhattan.

In 1971, Joe Colombo was shot at the podium of an Italian Unity Day rally.  He survived.  His assailant was wrestled to the ground whereupon another man stepped forward and shot him dead.  Police were all over the event but could not stop it.

Contrary to the “common sense” of the Warren Commission, the purpose of a Mafia public hit is to scare everyone else into silence.

Start reading about Joe Kennedy and his president son and the Mafia in The Raising of a President on Kindle now.


A Government Shutdown but Aid to Egypt Must Go On!

October 6, 2013

The national television media has made it pretty clear where they stand on the government shutdown.  By reviewing the stories they choose to cover and the stories they repress one can get a feel for the atmosphere inside the executive boardrooms.  We are told that the shutdown penalizes the Center for Disease Control, which has lost critical funding and then we meet an attractive, tearful young cancer patient who may die as a result.  What we are not told is that the ongoing, corrupt relationship with big American corporations and the national news media continues. One can understand this best by reviewing our ongoing, uninterrupted foreign aid to Egypt, which as we all now know, does not go to Egypt at all but rather, to corporate America.

In 2011, breathless television correspondents stood among the thousands in Tahrir Square in Cairo reporting that the Arab Spring had finally come to Egypt.  Freedom was in the air.  At last there would be democracy here.  After all, we had driven our own country into its second worst depression in history and killed thousands of people to bring “freedom” to Iraq.  (Hopefully, the freedom in Egypt would be a tad better, since the freedom in Iraq resulted in the massacre of Christians and the end to a 2,000 year old Christian community which traced its heritage to the apostle Thomas.)

One thing the experts all agreed upon.  The billions of dollars in foreign aid to Egypt, which had been ongoing since 1979, must surely continue now.  The terrible dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, which had begun in 1961 was finally coming to an end.  With real democracy in the wind, this was not the time to withdraw.

Wait a minute.  If Mubarak was a terrible dictator and freedom was only then coming to Egypt why had we been giving him billions and billions of dollars to stay in power?

Well, he made peace with Israel and the aid was his pay off.   And we’ve got to stay on the right side of history!

Huh?  Okay.  That seems contradictory.  I may have some more questions about that one, continue.

So with the freedom to vote the Egyptians elected Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood as their new president.

Once again, the experts all agreed.  The billions of dollars in foreign aid to Egypt must surely continue.  This was democracy.  It was why our sons died in the war in Iraq.  American journalism nodded and yawned.

But soon under Morsi the people of Egypt began to burn churches and kill the worshipers of the ancient Coptic Christian community.  Christians were tortured in a Cairo mosque.  These Christians traced their heritage back to the apostle Mark.

In 2013, tens of thousands of Egyptians descended on Tahrir Square once again, this time to protest their own duly elected president.  The breathless American television correspondents were back excitedly reporting on yet another rebirth of freedom.  Isn’t it thrilling?  And the military people now serving as caretakers of the government were promising new elections.  This time they won’t let Morsi participate.  He was bad for Christians.  Bad for gays.

And yet again, the one thing the experts all agreed upon.  The billions of dollars in foreign aid to Egypt must surely continue.  Egypt had ousted Mohammed Morsi and had promised new elections.

This ridiculous narrative had finally reached the limits of credulity.  Last week the Obama administration said it might suspend the remaining aide, which is a pittance of the total.

What’s going on?

The answer is that most of the money passes to Egypt and then back to American where corporations who get the money use some of it to make contributions to senators and congressmen though their respective lobbies and through related companies who advertise on national television.  The money doesn’t really go to Egypt.  It goes to your neighbor.  It is the old game of redistribution of wealth.

Who gains?

American companies who manufacture tanks and other weapons that Egypt has not used in our lifetime.  Some goes to “security” consultants in our country but even much of the humanitarian and economic aid comes back to us.  For example, one program brings Egyptian teachers and hospital administrators to the USA where they are housed, fed, trained and work on American soil.  The universities, hospitals and institutions which get the money and free labor, lobby the congress and White House to keep this valuable “aid to Egypt” going.

The Egyptians masses could rape an American television correspondent, in public, in Tahrir Square and American foreign aid to Egypt would still continue.  And they did.  And it does.

So now we are facing a government shutdown.  They will surely stop this nonsense right?

Wrong?

The Obama administration, like Bush before him, determines that foreign aid is “security related” and thus exempted from the shutdown.  So close the parks, let the cancer victims die, but please, oh please, do not touch our “foreign aid to Egypt.”

Postscript:  Three days after this blog post, the Obama administration announced it is considering ending some parts of aid to Egypt and would have an announcement in the coming days.  Here is a link to the story.  Administration considers partial stop of some Egyptian aid.  Is this an extraordinary coincidence?  Or is this “the little blog who could?”  Anyway, one could apply the same logic to aid to Pakistan or any number of places.  The point is we are only being shown the stories that support the direction that the benefiting corporations want us to go.  “Screw the truth, screw journalism, and screw the people.  All power to the corporate hogs who eat at the public trough.”  American corruption has become as endemic as the Soviet Union at its height or India at its worst.


Syria – What would Reagan do?

September 2, 2013

“The president does not have the authority, under the Constitution, to unilaterally authorize a military attack, unless there is a direct threat against this nation.”

- Senator Barack Obama, 2007

 

The word is that the regime of Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons against its own people.  Reportedly 1,500 have died, including 400 children.   It is a heinous crime.  Some are calling for America to invade Syria and put down this regime.  So I pose this question.  What would Ronald Reagan do?

The answer?

Absolutely nothing.  At least for now.  For eight years Ronald Reagan tolerated a tyrant far more malevolent than Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

If we prove that Assad did indeed use chemical weapons then the whole world should condemn this act and such condemnation will likely, eventually, lead to action.   Syria’s wealthy Arab neighbors, such as Saudi Arabia, who arm themselves with our latest jets and weapons may have a moral obligation to respond.  But don’t hold your breath.  Americans like to do these things.  And the rest of the world is smart enough to let us shed our blood to keep things in order.

The fact is that the atrocities of the Assad regime cannot compare to the reign of Cambodian leader, Pol Pot, who may have killed as many as 3 million of his own people during the Carter-Reagan years and he was never brought to justice, nor was it seen as America’s responsibility to do so.

The Pol Pot regime practiced true genocide against helpless civilians.  Marked for execution were Cambodian doctors, nurses, teachers, journalists, college graduates and people who could read, including children.  Even people who wore eye glasses were marked for execution.  It was rationalized that if they wore eye glasses they could probably read.  Pol Pot wanted his regime to start over again without any taint of the past.

I personally appealed to both presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan for help.   Carter, who had made human rights a major part of his foreign policy agenda, told me that Pol Pot had driven all of the fork lifts into the sea.  There was no means of unloading aid at the ports.  Hundreds of thousands of Cambodians were starving to death.  At a dinner with the Reagan’s in their home in Pacific Palisades I described images from a recent trip I had taken to the  Cambodia border and Ronald Reagan appeared heart broken.  Meanwhile, in Cambodia, the bleached bones of the dead piled up.   It was called “the killing fields.”

Pol Pot led the Kymer Rouge from 1963 to 1998.  They took over in Cambodia in 1979.   I met some of the survivors who fled the country and entertained the Cambodian Prince, son of Norodom Sihanouk, in my home during this ongoing massacre.  Pol Pot was eventually placed under house arrest by his own people.   He died in 1998.  At no time throughout the Carter-Reagan years was there any substantial political movement calling for military action against Pol Pot nor were any public figures calling for the capture and trial of the worse tyrant since Hitler.

Why?

Because our founding fathers never envisioned that we would rule the world.  Nor does the  U.S. Constitution make provision for that futile and arrogant exercise.

Because there were and still are many evil regimes doing evil things to its people and America could not rid itself of evil within its own borders, let alone throughout the whole world.  What kind of justice would now take out Syria but leave North Korea standing?

Because the U.S. president did not have the authority to go to war without the  nation’s duly elected representatives debating and then making such a declaration.  Even Franklin D. Roosevelt, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, needed the U. S. Congress to make a declaration of war.

Because corporations did not yet have the powerful lobbies in place to make sure their companies got the contracts and profited from such wars and in return gave part of the money back to the politicians who supported it.

Because the corporations who owned the national media were not yet subsidiaries of other corporations who profited from such wars and were financed by banks that gave them preferential interest rates on loans, nor were they yet fully compromised by corporate advertisers who were beneficiaries of the same system.  In other words, some measure of journalism, real journalism, still existed in the Carter-Reagan years.

So why is it likely that America will now take action against Syria?  Cruise missile attack perhaps?  Drones?  What has changed?  Why should America be installing governments all over the Middle East with unintended blowback such as governments that kill their own Christian citizens?

Since 9-11 some parts of the American form of constitutional government have been weakened or abandoned altogether.  This in the name of security.  Some departments and agencies of the Federal Government operate without laws, with only a self imposed sense of ethics limited by their interpretation of popular will which is in turn influenced by a compliant, uncritical media.

The presidency is now a virtual dictatorship limited only by fifty unelected men and women who run the television industry.   This is not the creation of Barack Obama, the process has been ongoing for years and took a great leap forward with George W. Bush and 9-11.  It is the price we paid for security.  It is a process dictated by events as well as the unquenchable thirst for power.

The president’s personal reputation is on the line since he warned Syria not to use chemical weapons.  He said that this represented a line they could not cross.  Now, given his personality, and the need to uphold his personal honor, he will likely use the newly won dictatorial powers of the American presidency to take action.

We have come a long way from the ideal of Thomas Jefferson who dealt with the Barbary Pirates, the Islamic terrorists of his day. Thomas Jefferson once said, “The more you use your power, the less you have.”  American may wake up soon to find itself very weak indeed.  Strong with weaponry but abandoned by a world who has grown tired of our arrogant rule.


Barbara Bush wants Hillary Clinton to run for president.

August 27, 2013

Barbara Bush, not the former First Lady, but the daughter of former president, George W. Bush, has said that Hillary Clinton is “unbelievably accomplished” and hopes she will run for president in 2016.  It’s about as close to an endorsement as a Bush could give a Clinton and surely qualifies as news.  Former First Lady and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is a member of the Democrat Party.  Barbara’s father and grandfather were former presidents and both are Republican.  Her uncle, former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, is also a Republican and a possible candidate for president in 2016.

If Ms. Bush eventually endorses Secretary Clinton, it would not be the first time that a son or daughter of a president supported a candidate of the opposing political party.  Ron Reagan, Jr. and his sister Patti Davis, both offspring of Republican president Ronald Reagan, are openly Democrats.  Mr. Reagan addressed the Democrat National Convention in 2004

Democrat president, Franklin Roosevelt, had sons, who supported candidates and causes other than his own.   John Aspinwall Roosevelt, the youngest in the family, complained openly about the New Deal and became a high profile Republican.  He endorsed Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan for president.  In 1954, when FDR, Jr. ran for governor of New York, his brother, John endorsed his Republican opponent.  Meanwhile,  Jimmy Roosevelt, the eldest of FDR’s sons, led “Democrats for Nixon in 1972.”  FDR’s son, Elliott,  worked for FDR’s lifelong enemy, William Randolph Hearst.  When his father announced he would run for an unprecedented third term as president, Elliott told friends it should be unconstitutional.

Political and cultural differences between the generations is nothing new in political dynasties nor should it be surprising to the rest of us.  Each member of a family seeks a separate identity and that is often found in differing political views.  Helen Taft Manning, daughter of conservative, Republican president, William Howard Taft, was one of the most effective leaders of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and openly Democrat on many issues.   Barbara Bush is an advocate of Marriage Equality and other gay issues and has “partnered” with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and Michelle Obama’s “let’s Move” campaign.

Children of presidents have often played a role in helping a candidate get elected and govern.  Robert Tyler, son of the tenth president, John Tyler, helped promote the career of Pennsylvania congressman, James Buchanan, who became the fifteenth president.  James Garfield, son and namesake of the twentieth president helped Theodore Roosevelt win the presidency.  His younger brother, Harry Garfield, helped elect Woodrow Wilson.  Both of the Garfield sons became cabinet officers with distinguished careers.  In all three cases the Presidents’ children not only offered a powerful endorsement, they had inside knowledge and experience that was crucial to the success of the candidates.

Help from  a presidents’ son or daughter is not always rewarded.  After he won the White House, James Buchanan shunted aside Robert Tyler whose presence was a reminder of his early political struggles in Pennsylvania.  Tyler moved to Alabama, became a newspaper publisher and passed from the public eye with dignity never complaining about the thankless role he had played and the president’s shabby treatment.

Caroline Kennedy nearly suffered the same fate.  Her endorsement of Illinois Senator Barack Obama came at a crucial time in his race with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.  Kennedy, a political and social icon, gave Obama cache when he needed it most.  But the Obama White House staff chaffed at the idea they owed their election to Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the slain president, and derailed attempts to reward her.  If Barack Obama had not been re-elected in 2012, the Kennedy endorsement would have gone down in history as one of the greatest unpaid political debts in modern campaign history.  But Obama won re-election, some measure of sanity returned to the Obama White House and Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the 35th president was nominated Ambassador to Japan.

It remains to be seen if Barbara Bush will formally endorse Hillary Clinton for president.  Most Bush watchers doubt it will happen until her uncle Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, officially declares his non candidacy.  If not, this statement is probably even better for Clinton, at least from a political standpoint.  It adds to the idea of Clinton’s broadening support without tying her to a president who is unpopular with her base.  It is the ultimate irony.  Having been sunk by one presidential daughter, a Kennedy, she now finds herself buoyed  by another, a Bush.


Jean-Luc Perrois “Talent finds a way”

August 22, 2013

Jean-Luc Perrois celebrates his birthday today and I wanted to get a little of his remarkable story on the record.  Perrois, my French brother in law, is a successful husband, father and businessman who lives in a beautiful chalet, high in the Alps overlooking Geneva, Switzerland.   The house is actually on the French side of the border but from its vantage point one can see Mount Blanc on one side and Lake Geneva with its Jet d’Eau on the other.  At night the sight of Geneva, lit up along the black lake, snaking its way through the Swiss mountains, is truly spectacular.  The Perrois also have apartments in Romania, where they visit the family of Jean-Luc’s wife, Delia.

As a youth, not many would have predicted such success for Jean-Luc.  He opted out of high school, working as a carpenter’s apprentice, specializing in door frames, working with wood and then aluminum and glass which would end up being one of the small factors that would direct his later career.  At some point, early in this process, Jean-Luc started classes with the Compagnons du Tour de France, an organization of craftsmen that dates back to the Middle Ages.  Even this work didn’t last.  The recession hit,  Jean-Luc had no employment and so went back to school, this time finishing his high school education and getting a vocational degree in construction.  It was here that his natural gift for mathematics and accounting came together and his work product caught the attention of professors and colleagues.

When the 1992 Olympics was announced for Albertville, France, Jean-Luc, and many others of his profession, were swept up into the process.  Perrois’ quick calculations allowed builders to anticipate the costs of construction.  He soon emerged as a top appraiser.  Others bids came in low or high, Jean-Luc’s numbers, no matter how far off they seemed at the time, always turned out to be uncannily accurate.  The proof was in the numbers.

In the post Olympic construction world of Geneva, Switzerland, Jean-Luc emerged as a nascent phenomenon in his profession.  Architects brought him their dreams of glass, aluminum, steel and marble and Jean-Luc could spit back reliable numbers for what it would all cost.  All around him men and women rose and fell in the corporate hierarchy.  Companies opened and closed and merged.  Boards of directors were elected and dismissed.   Jean-Luc remained.  He was too valuable.   Art could be debated, style could change, but who could argue with the numbers?

In 1993, Jean-Luc married Delia Sechel, a Romanian artist whose tapestries, oils and crafts appear in books and exhibitions across Europe.  They have one son, Luca Perrois.  Jean-Luc is currently working as an Associate and as the director of constructions metalliques for Revaz SA.

In the end, Jean-Luc Perrois’ gift made a place for him.  The artists could dream and create their visions on paper.  They needed him to tell them what it would cost and how it could be done.


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