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.


Surviving a Turp

August 21, 2013

A TURP is the acronym for a Trans-Urethral Resection of the Prostate.  The prostate is a small, walnut sized organ that plays a key role in the reproductive process.  The problem is that the prostate, like the human ear and human nose keeps growing with age.   Half of all American men over age fifty and 80% of those over age 80, experience enlarged prostate.

Here’s what it means.  An enlarged prostate constricts the urethra, the narrow passageway that allows urine to be emptied from the bladder.  It means more “potty breaks” which in itself is only an inconvenience if there is a lavatory nearby.  But it can eventually impair health.  That’s why we see all of those Joe Theisman commercials on television.  For one thing it can mess with your sleep which in turn can affect other things.  And secondly, while the prostate grows very slowly and there is no need to rush into a procedure, the urethra can eventually become totally blocked and one would be forced to have an operation to open it up anyway.

I travel a lot internationally and can report that waking up in the middle of the night in Singapore, when it is only the afternoon back home, can make it harder to get back to sleep and sleep deprivation translates into a lower immune system and increased odds of a virus, flu and infection.

My struggle with BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) or enlarged prostate, has been ongoing since my late thirties.  The question was, do I gamble that I will die before I need such an operation?  Or should I take care of it now rather than risk such an operation in my 80′s when it might be necessary anyway and could result in a heart attack on the operating table?

I lost a brother at 46 of a brain aneurysm and another at age 47 of a heart attack.  I am now 67 and am being treated for heart disease.  Taking the stairs can be a chore.  I was agnostic about nutritional solutions for BPH until desperation forced me to try saw palmetto.  It worked.  Nocturnal bathroom breaks were reduced from five to two but only when i could guarantee a regular routine of meals and sleep and a double the recommended dosage of saw palmetto.

Having just lost 20 pounds on an Isagenix diet and deciding that my heart disease and my BPH would only become more chronic with time, I decided to do the TURP now.  Yes, it is uncomfortable, yes there was some risk but there was also some risk in delay.  The advantage could be my first uninterrupted 8 hour sleep in 40 years.  That had to be worth something for my health.

Here is my list for surviving a TURP.

1.) Get ready.  I Googled everything and learned what I could.  There are even videos of the operation itself.  I made repeated visits to my cardiologist to make sure I was  as fit as possible.  This involved walking the dog 3 miles a day and a diet of Isagenix, vegan, non dairy shakes .  I visited Merdod Ghaffouri,  my cardiologist, and had a stress test EKG.  My last bloodwork showed my cholesterol had bottomed out at 120.  It was the lowest ever measured in my life and a far cry from the 324 registered at age 35.

2.) Get the best doctor for the procedure.  I chose Dr. Ali Sajadi.  He came with great recommendations from other doctors.  Ghaffouri said, “I know him, he will not recommend a procedure unless it is absolutely necessary.”  Those words are golden among doctors.  Sajadi was young but experienced.  You can’t beat that combination.   You want someone who knows the latest and if you are going to get a TURP you want someone who has done so many he can do it in his sleep.  This is key.   The surgery itself involves carving out a larger channel for the urethra, making it easier for the bladder to empty.  But the process of cutting away at prostate tissue and enlarging that channel involves inflammation, possible infection, bleeding and other complications. Don’t be shy, don’t be afraid to back out.  Your choice of doctor is crucial to what happens next.

3.) I had full anesthetic and was knocked out last Thursday at noon.   By 1 PM the operation was done.

4.) The purge.  Groggy and drugged, I was wheeled into a waiting hospital room where for me, the real work began.  With a tube inserted all the way up into my bladder, a saline solution was pumped through my system for 24 hours.  The nurse had to empty a bucket of my blood and urine every 90 minutes.  This was incredibly uncomfortable and I watched the clock on the wall as it slowly crawled its way into the evening and throughout the night.  There was no turning back now.  My father had experienced his first heart attack at age 48 after a long weekend without sleep.  So I tried to get get some rest but it was way too uncomfortable for sleep, not painful, but uncomfortable.  I managed only 30 minutes of shut eye.

5.) By morning the color of the urine in my bucket had turned from a deep red wine to a pink lemonade and the doctor pronounced himself satisfied.  The tube was withdrawn and I was sent home.  This was my goal from the beginning, to get that tube out before leaving the hospital.  I stated as much to Sajadi at the beginning.  I had read about patients lugging that tube and a bladder bag home for days.  My wife’s nurse friends had tales to tell.  But Sajadi understood what I wanted and while it could not be guaranteed he knew how it could likely be achieved and sought to make it work.

At home there was no pain, no bladder spasms, no irritation.  Not even Tylenol was needed.  The next morning my wife and I walked the dog for a mile and a half.  I had to force myself to take it easy.  It will be one week tomorrow and my sleep is already deep and restful.  My urinary stream is back.  From what I read it will take my body several weeks to adjust to this procedure and for me to fully heal and get back to normal.  No, I take that back.  I will not be getting back to normal, I will be turning back the clock 30 years to something long missed, something that was normal at age 35 but will now be empowering.

Bottom line?  Much time and pain can be saved by having a good plan.  Make sure you need it.  Make sure you get a good doctor.  Make sure you take time to rest.


Jim Dornan – Amway Legend – passes

August 7, 2013

Jim Dornan, arguably the most successful networker in history, passed away at 2 PM yesterday.  He had been battling cancer for months.

For more than twenty years Dornan built and ran the largest, most cohesive network of its kind in the world.  He attracted crowds of 100,000 filling soccer stadiums and auditoriums in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.  As an Amway distributor, product sales topped a billion dollars in multiple markets.  But it was his own “educational system” that created hundreds, if not thousands, of millionaires worldwide.

In the late 1980′s, as Amway began to go international, other networking leaders, principally, Dexter Yager and Bill Britt, shunned foreign markets, even, for a time, teaching leaders that there was no money in them.  Since most income was then made off of the sale of tapes and the running of functions, the American leaders had less leverage and control in markets where their conservative, Evangelical culture was not understood and where they could not even speak the language.

Ken Pittman, a North Carolina former American serviceman was one of the first to step into this vacuum, building a large organization in Germany in the 1970′s.  Tim Foli was even more successful, building large groups in Latin America a decade later.  But what Dornan did towered over any other entrepreneur or company.

Network 21, originally founded as an alliance of 21 Dornan diamonds and soon named after the coming century, was founded in 1991.  The core of the group was formed out of an Amway organization that Dornan purchases from John and Gil Nuyten of Sydney, Australia.  The Nuyten’s were one of the fastest qualifying diamonds in Amway history.  They sold their group to Dornan and left as Christian missionaries to Israel.

I was immediately hired to speak and train for Dornan and sent to Australia to get things rolling.  I would be a speaker on the Network 21 circuit throughout the world for two decades.

More than any other figure of our generation, Jim Dornan, transformed the networking business.

1.) In an industry that was misogynist, where women were trophies, he made his wife an equal business partner.  Nancy Dornan became an outstanding spokesperson for their business.  Onstage she often stole the show from her husband.  And Jim, his ego secure in his own talents, was openly delighted by it.

The result was that women networkers were empowered worldwide and soon built legendary businesses of their own.  Beginning with Glenda Leonard and Angie Ross in Australia and then Enika Farkas of Hungary and Natasha Yena of the Ukraine.  Yena now leads one of the largest such organizations in the world.

2.) Dornan, who was trained as an engineer, recognized the need of an equitable compensation plan in his system, rather than the favoritism based on relationships that marked most other arrangements.  While he was unable to make it work in all markets and with all groups within N21, it became the goal and is now the ideal for all new systems.

3.) Dornan finally hit upon a method to take networking worldwide.  He recognized that only people with the same language and culture could find a way to relate to others of their own ethnicity.  And Dornan learned that it would take at least three couples, working together for a year, not two couples and not one.  It was a formula born out of time and error and it worked.  He saw Network 21 spread around the globe.

First it began in the ethnic communities of Sydney.   James Vaghy emerged and joined two others in taking the business to  Hungary.  Robert Angkassa, Paul and Linda Argus, S. R. Kristiawan have built huge groups in Indonesia.

When people insisted that networking educational systems would not work in Sweden, a modern socialist state, Dornan patiently subsidized the operation for two years and soon had leaders such as Matt Holmberg, speaking to audiences of 10,000.

Dornan’s European groups grew after a merger with Hans and Eva Nusshold of Vienna, Austria.  The Nusshold’s were longtime networkers who had worked with Max Schwarz.  They provided early leadership and direction.

Mitch and Deidre Sala emerged as two of the greatest Networkers in the world.

4.) Dornan, more than any other modern networker, made it socially acceptable to build such a business.  In a culture that was at times openly anti-educational and proud of it Jim Dornan was  a college graduate who offered cogent analysis on how and why networks grew or failed.  In a culture of unbuttoned shirts and garrulous gold neck chains Jim Dornan was a country club member, comfortable in a Brioni suit.  In a culture of greed, he was a major donor to charities.

Jim and Nancy Dornan’s business was inspired by a baby born with spina bifada.  The Dornan’s were educated, Purdue University graduates, with successful incomes.  But here was a crisis that only money, big money could solve.  They knew the challenges and struggles of network marketing but it had one feature that Jim’s lucrative engineering career could not match.  It had no ceiling on the income they could generate. If they were to give their baby a chance at life, they would need more than insurance or even a lucrative income could supply.

Jim Dornan has many achievements.  He co-authored a book on leadership with John Maxwell.  He was a great philanthropist.  Network 21 is the largest corporate donor to World Vision and other charities.  When we hosted a Charity Awards event, the Dornans were always front and center.  When I worked in the White House I brought Jim Dornan into the Oval Office to meet with the president.

But in the final analysis, his greatest achievement may have been that as a husband and a father.  He and his wife, Nancy, have three children, Eric, Heather and David.   Jim and Nancy built the world’s largest network, inspired by their love of a baby, born with a handicap, but fighting for its life.  That was long ago.  And from that love came hundreds of new millionaires and thousands of dreams come true.  That little baby survived its early battles for life and grew into manhood, helping others with his same handicap find hope for themselves and their futures. He will be there to mourn his father, the networking legend, when he is lowered into the earth this week.

(Note: For some corrections and added details please read the comments of David Steadman below.)


									

The Ten Most Dramatic July 4th’s in American History

July 2, 2013

The Top Ten Most Dramatic July 4ths in American History.

There are many dramatic days in the history of our Fourth of July.  Two American presidents were born on that day, Ulysses S. Grant and Calvin Coolidge.  George Steinbrenner, Geraldo Rivera and Malia Obama are just a few of the many public figures who celebrate their birthdays on July 4th.  It was on this day in 1939 that Lou Gerhig appeared at Yankee Stadium and gave his retirement speech, calling himself “the luckiest man on earth.”  And on this day in 2004, the cornerstone was laid for the Freedom Tower in New York City, a building that would rise from the ashes of the World Trade Center.

Here, in chronological order, are ten of the most dramatic July 4ths in American history.

1.) 1776:  The Second Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence.

2.) 1802: U.S. Military Academy opens at West Point.

3.) 1826: Thomas Jefferson, the third American president, and John Adams, the second president, both die. American songwriter Stephen Foster is born.

4.) 1831: President James Monroe dies.  Samuel Francis Smith writes “My Country Tis of Thee” for July 4th festivities.

5.) 1863: The Union armies win the battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania and the Battle of Vicksburg in Mississippi.  Both victories are crucial.  It is the turning point of the Civil War.

6.) 1876: News of the Battle of the Little Big Horn reaches New York City.  It is learned that George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry were massacred by Sitting Bull and the Sioux Indians on June 25.  The nation goes into shock as the news from the remote battlefield finally reaches civilization.  It is the 9-11 of its generation.

7.) 1881: President James Garfield hovers between life and death after being shot twice on July 2.  He would die in September.  His vice president Chester Arthur would become president.

8.) 1886: The Statue of Liberty is given to the United States by the nation of France.

9.) 1946: The U.S. grants independence to the Philippines.  America reaffirms to the world that it is not an empire but respects the independence of nations.

10.) 1997: US Pathfinder space probe lands on the planet Mars.

 


July 4th Trivia for the 2013 celebration

July 1, 2013

Which three presidents died on the Fourth of July?
John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe.  Adams, the second president, and Jefferson, the third president, both died on the same day in 1826, Monroe died in 1831. (Thanks to David Gurowsky for catching a typo on the dates.)

What other presidents died close to the 4th of July?
On July 4, 1850, President Zachary Taylor attended ceremonies for the Washington Memorial and returned to the White House for a bowl of cherries and milk. He became sick to his stomach that night and died five days later. On July 2, 1881, President James Garfield was shot. He died several months later.

How many people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th?
Only two.

When was the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence?
It was July 8, 1776.  The Liberty Bell rang out from Independence Hall to summon the crowd.

On what date did most of the signers actually sign the doc?
August 2, 1776.

Who was the oldest signatory?
Benjamin Franklin. He was 70.

Who was the youngest?
Edward Rutledge.  He was 26 years old.  Rutledge owned 50 slaves. He later became governor of South Carolina.

Name the State that had the most delegates sign?
Pennsylvania.  There were nine. 

Who was the last signatory of the Declaration of Independence?

Thomas McKean, January, 1777. He was at one time the president of the continental congress, later became a governor of Pa.

When did Abraham Lincoln give his 1863, July fourth address?
On July 7, 1863. On July 4, citizens in Washington were celebrating what appeared to be a victory at Gettysburg and wanted Lincoln to give a speech but he would only issue a short proclamation. He was waiting to get a complete report and for further news out west, where General Grant was laying siege to Vicksburg. He later found out that Vicksburg had fallen on July 4th. Lincoln gave his speech three days late.

What other countries celebrate the 4th of July?
Denmark, Norway, Sweden and England.

In what year did July 4 become a paid legal federal holiday?
It became an unpaid federal holiday in 1870. And a lot of trivia sites say that it became a paid holiday in 1941 but it was actually passed by congress in 1938.

How did Nathan’s, Fourth of July, Hot Dog contest begin?
It started out as a dispute among four immigrants over who was the most patriotic. And so, that explains why this country is overweight. We are patriotic?

What American President was famous for playing golf every Fourth of July?
Dwight D. Eisenhower.

What modern First Lady wore a bejeweled American Flag in her lapel on every Fourth of July? Pat Nixon, Jackie Kennedy, Hillary Clinton or Betty Ford?
Jackie Kennedy. And the jewelry actually sells on e-bay.


Our new Weapon of Mass Destruction

June 24, 2013

No wonder the Obama administration is in a tizzy over Edward Snowden. It turns out that the NSA spying operation offered the USA a weapon of mass destruction that no one else in the world has ever had.

It is bigger than the atomic bomb. The A bomb can destroy 100,000 people, or even millions of people at a time but it does so indiscriminately. The NSA spying operation can destroy anybody, anywhere in the world and do so surgically.

Keep in mind. American government officials are telling us that the NSA recorded everything we have said or written online or by phone and it has all been kept. Imagine how this information can be used to destroy or promote spies, diplomats, businessmen, heads of state? Black hat operations can destroy a career by revealing crimes or despicable behavior or just revealing secrets. White hat operations can protect a target from the conspiracy of co-workers or bosses. The US government can virtually co-opt anybody, anywhere in the world. What politician, what head of state, dare risk defiance? And for every one who resists the manipulation or blackmail, there will be five colleagues who will jump at the chance to have immunity or favor with a friend who has such a powerful weapon.

Now imagine that someone has pieces of that secret, on a thumb drive, and lands in Moscow. Is he safe? Are the Russians going to let him go? Or are they going to want that atomic bomb for themselves? Does Putin allow America to have such options and not he, himself?

How long have we had this weapon? Did we use it against Julian Assange, who was hit with scandal right after he published our embarrassing government documents? Have we already toppled governments with it? Has it been leaked to private companies? Non profit companies? Is that what representative Maxine Waters was talking about months ago with Roland Martin? Obama’s great weapon? The political game changer?

“A data base that no one has ever seen before in life.” Was it why the IRS was so frightened of nonprofit applications who used the word “Constitution”? Is someone seeking a monopoly on this new weapon?


Edward Snowden, American hero

June 24, 2013

Is Edward Snowden a Benedict Arnold or a Paul Revere?

According to the US government Snowden is a spy.

That is the official word from Attorney General Eric Holder who is accusing him of espionage.  He is not a hero, we are now being told.  He is not a whistleblower?  He has not done a service to the American people?

How did this happen?  How and why did the national news media change its coverage on a dime, in a single day last week, leaving its television audiences laughing aloud at the audacious about face.  All week Snowden was a hero, exposing the unconstitutional NSA surveillance and in one moment he suddenly morphs into a traitor.

Isn’t this  the same Eric Holder who told a federal judge that James Rosen of Fox  News was “an aider, abettor and / or co-conspirator” in espionage?

Oh that? Old news. Holder was exaggerating to get a warrant.  it was a white lie.  All is forgiven.  The Fox is back in the pen.  But don’t try that at home.

Meanwhile, now that Edward Snowden has sacrificed his life for freedom of speech and our right to privacy, the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution,  the  national media is falling all over themselves to prove their loyalty to the all powerful government, lining  up against their latest target.

Snowden is a fake.  He is not our friend.  “He did this for attention,” says  Michelle Cottle of the Daily Beast, during a CNN appearance.  Thanks Michelle, brilliant.  The NSA can now stop transcribing your phone conversations.   Well done.  You’re safe.  The First Amendment can go to hell.

The media seems to believe that Snowden should wait patiently to be picked up by the US government, that he is wrong to run.  That he should trust the people who he knows have been lying to the American public about surveillance and who allow torture as long as the people doing the torturing are Americans and don’t wear black or have scary music in the background.  That would be too close to the Nazis.

It is clear that Snowden did not expect to be on the run.  Did  he really think he could escape from a government who has everyone’s emails and phone conversations stored away?  Did he think that any corporation or ambassador or head of state or government in the world would stand before such a power?  This is the new atomic bomb and America has it.  No one else.  We rule the world.  Or perhaps, I should say that Barack Obama and his successor rules the world.

Poor Edward Snowden.  Running to Hong Kong and then Moscow will only help the government paint him as a bad guy, a traitor to America.  He imagined that people in American really believed in the Constitution or in a government of laws.  He thought we would care about the fact that our government leaders lie to congress and the media.  He imagined that we still have a free press, who can write and say what they believe, without direction from corporate owners who, like druggies in the inner city, now depend totally on government subsidies and easy FED loans to sustain their empires.

So two questions remain.  Isn’t the government taking a risk that by running Snowden to ground they will only make him a hero?

There ia a simple answer to that one.  It doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter what any of us say.  They have the new WMD.  They don’t need to control everybody.  There are plenty who will fall all over themselves to get in their good graces and say and do whatever they think the government wants, just to avoid the inconvenience of an IRS audit or a criminal investigation based on their emails and phone calls.  So the government will risk Edward Snowden’s martyrdom.

Why? Because the government has even more secrets to hide.  It fears another Snowden among its 4.2 million top secret cleared employees.  They have to make his life so miserable that no one else will dare speak up.

And finally, one last thing remains to be known.  If Edward Snowden is a spy, not a whistleblower, then for whom has he been spying?  Russia?  China? North Korea?  Islamic Fundamentalists?

No.  He has been spying for us, the American people.  He is our spy.  He is the first American spy to be prosecuted by an American government.  They will get him.  And he will be locked away and after the furor dies down, he may even tortured by our American government.  He is like a Buddhist monk in Vietnam in the 1960′s setting himself ablaze, signaling to the world that something is wrong here.  He is a Paul Revere with an alarming message, “The government is coming, the government is coming.”

Sent from my iPad


NSA tapes reveal White House sex scandal

June 19, 2013

So what are we to make of the NSA data gathering?  Is it okay for the government to snoop on us?  Does it keep us safer?  And what juicy secrets have they now found from a previous White House administration?

The government says, “Yes, the program is a necessary evil.  It will help us catch terrorists.”

But then, this is the same government who denied they were snooping on us in the first place.

Senator Wyden, ” Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

CIA Director Clapper answered, “No, sir.”

If they lied about what they were doing, at the risk of perjury, why should we believe them now?  When any answer could be very subjective?

And if spying on more than a hundred million phone calls and emails couldn’t help the NSA detect that one of its own employees was about to leak its secret snooping operation, how can we expect then to efficiently find terrorists?

As Ronald Reagan often said, “Remember, these are the same people who run the post office?”

What about the competence of a government that employs 4.2 million persons with security clearances while 43% of the American people believe we should be cutting back on programs that threaten privacy and only 20% think we should be doing more to fight terrorism, even at the expense of privacy?  Isn’t that a disaster waiting to happen?  If the leaker wasn’t Edward Snowden wouldn’t it have been someone else?

In an exchange between CNN’s Erin Burnett and former FBI counter-terrorism agent Tim Clemente, we are told that the content of all our phone calls is being recorded and stored, even if it is not audited.

Now we learn that “the National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls.”

Then there is this from the chief technology officer at the CIA. “We fundamentally try to collect everything and hang onto it forever.”

Only days after the NSA story broke we learned that there is tracking of emails in real time.

The terrorists are not idiots.  If they hide behind civilians from drone attacks, why wouldn’t they hide behind civilians in the cyber war?  Implicating innocent others by false flag emails and phone calls?

Then there is the question, what will the government do with all of this information?  And what should it do?  Hunt for terrorists?  Find Edward Snowden? Purge its own “top secret clearance” list?

What about solving murders?  Locating abducted teenagers caught up in the sex slave traffic?

Most agree that it shouldn’t be used to go after “Joe the plumber?”  Remember him?  The average citizen from the 2008 election?  Surely not.  We shouldn’t go after the parish priest for sex abuse without first clearing the Bishops and the Cardinals.   What hypocrisy to prosecute or punish the little guy and ignore the sins of the powerful?

So let’s start at the top.  Think of all the problems we can solve?  We now have phone calls, letters and emails to show any link between the  IRS offices in Cincinnati to the White House. Why not reconstruct what happened?  We could exonerate or implicate the president and others?

First order of business? Have transcribers compose the massive conversations of the rulers of our country.  The Supreme Court, the Senate, the Justice Department, starting with the Attorney General, the Cabinet and the President.  Even past presidents.  No one should be in a position to pass judgment if they, themselves, are guilty of crimes.

There is the new scandal in the State Department, where their own whistleblower, Aurelia Fedenisn. is being intimidated for reporting sex crimes with minors, even an Ambassador involved.

Are there big shots accessing child pornography sites?  Why leave that task to Chris Hansen of NBC’s Dateline?  First let’s clear the people at the top.

Let us suppose that a presidential aide calls a friend of the president about a donor who wants to give a million dollars in soft money to a campaign?  And the aide tells him that the presidential candidate wants that million dollars in soft money to go to the NRA or some Catholic voter registration program.  And let’s suppose that the presidential aide is getting indirect kickbacks from the Catholic voter registration program?   And let’s suppose that the presidential candidate affirms his desire in later conversations.  It’s illegal right?

And let us suppose that the presidential candidate, worried about his crime, makes calls to destroy the career of the witness, let’s say he talks to a major network president and gets him banned from TV appearances which dramatically impacts his income.  Shouldn’t we know those kind of things first, before we go after  Joe the plumber?

And after clearing the top government officials, shouldn’t we clear the media too?  How hypocritical for them to hold the subjects of their reports to a higher standard.  Let’s know their own habits and words and crimes and biases?  We hear what they say in public, influencing millions, what do they say behind close doors?

How many stories are out there?  Waiting to be told?  And now we have the evidence to find them all.  Now we can apply equal justice.  If we persecuted Bill Clinton for his infidelity, now we can learn about the marital affairs of other more beloved presidents who weren’t so unlucky.  They had no Linda Tripp recordings but perhaps the NSA can fill the gap.

Shouldn’t someone know what the NSA knows?  Couldn’t the agency use its information to blackmail its superiors?  What about the Freedom of Information Act?  Doesn’t a US Senator, a Federal Judge, a President, have the right to know what conversations the NSA has and what is in them?  Things taken out of context can be dangerous.

If the existence of this program can be leaked to the public by a concerned citizen, when can the demographics of the program be leaked to a political campaign?  Has it already happened?  When can the details or content be leaked to companies or employers?  Wouldn’t you want to run a check before hiring?  Would you want to hire a  baby sitter who talks dirty on the phone?  Or an accountant who does  a Google search on how to embezzle money without being caught?  Or a chauffeur who is an alcoholic?

Cardinal Richelieu supposedly once wrote, “Give me six lines written by any man and I can have hung as a criminal”  Imagine what he could have done with the NSA?  He could have killed France.

Can you see the nightmare?  The injustice?  The conflict?  Can you see why the Founding Fathers wrote the Fourth Amendment?

Welcome to America, in its post constitutional drift.  When you start to violate your own Constitution, step by step, you become a nation without laws, where the ends justify the means.  It is survival of the fittest.  The powerful rule and will take from you what they want.

You can be sure of one thing.  The massive information collected by the NSA will not be used to hurt the rich or powerful.  Don’t hold your breath to learn what really happens in the lives of the people at the top.  They will continue their crimes and the flow of riches from the weak to the powerful will continue uninterrupted.

But Joe the plumber?  You, my friend, are in big trouble.

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(If you want to learn more about Rand Paul’s Fourth Amendment Restoration Act S.1121 click here.)


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