Is Obama too big too fail? Why is he acting so strangely?

July 26, 2014

President Barack Obama’s shameless fundraising tours in the midst of a world in chaos have brought immediate comparisons to Ronald Reagan.   Led by his erstwhile advisers, such as Michael Deaver, who understood imagery, Reagan would have been back in the Oval Office, looking presidential and sounding like the statesman he was.  Reagan would likely have brought his government together, State Department, NSA, Pentegon, CIA and taken an assessment of how it could all impact on American economy and lives.  He would likely have given a national address, reassuring the nation and signalling the world how we expect civilized people to act.

On the surface, Obama’s actions are incomprehensible.  There is no explanation.  Obama appears transcendent, not responsible for his own administration and uncaring about the world around him.

It has been the Obama style from the beginning. The economic crisis was the fault of the previous administration.  When his own stimulus program could not produce one of the one million jobs he promised, it was replaced with more of the same and  blame on congress for failing to immediately enact more of what wasn’t working.

The president declared that he had no responsibility for the IRS which was blatantly being used for political purposes, he had nothing to do with the failed Healthcare website and nothing to do with the Veteran’s Administration which was corrupt on his watch. Whatever happened to Harry Truman and his Oval Office motto, “the buck stops here?”

It was not just that the president was not in charge of anything, or seemed to know anything, or should be blamed for anything, it was also when we found out differently he didn’t apologize.  When we learned, for example, that the $678 million , no bid, Healthcare website was awarded to Michelle Obama’s buddy from Princeton, the White House ignored it all.  When a news agency asked about it they were charged with racism.  When the president’s hand picked political lieutenant at the IRS claimed she had lost her emails the president defended her.

Sometimes, these juxtapositions can get downright comical.  Recently, General Motors was fined millions of dollars by the Justice Department for faulty ignition issues when, in fact, at that time, the company was owned and being run by the U.S. government.  Should the Justice Department fine itself?  When Obama ran for re-election he bragged about saving the auto industry?  But he has no responsibility for the company he bought.   The President is too big to fail.

On closer examination, Obama’s recent actions make sense.  He is angling for his post presidential role.  He will either be the Secretary General of the United Nations or else he will be some NGO equivalent.  Thus, he spent the week campaigning for the Democrat Party and ultimately Hillary Clinton whom he will need as an ally if he is to realize his ambition.  Nor would he want to poke the Russians more than necessary.

And the Federal Aviation Administration’s sudden cancellation of all flights to Tel Aviv?  At a cost to Israel of millions of dollars?  At first we were told that the president didn’t get involved in such things.  And given the fact that the president isn’t responsible for the economy, the IRS, his own Healthcare namesake and the Veterans Administration, to name a few departments, then one could almost believe it.    What does he do with all that free time?  But if he is now on track for his post presidency then it makes perfect sense.  The U.N. votes solidly against Israel, with only American on her side.  Obama will need to have some more of these anti-Israel moments to shore up his support from the African and Arab nations who dominate the the U.N. and will dictate the reach of any international role.

There was an awkward scene on CNN last week.  Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg snapped at Wolf Blitzer.  The CNN reporter had asked if the FAA decision represented policy.  Given Obama’s anti Israel record it was a reasonable question.  And it had just been raised by a U.S. Senator.  A testy Bloomberg was outraged at Wolf Blitzer for daring to ask such a thing.  It was another shameful moment.  Bloomberg has taken a lot of heat for his slavish support of Obama, in spite of his record toward Israel.

The irony was that Bloomberg’s very appearance was proof of the politics of the policy. If Tel Aviv was safe, and Bloomberg could fly there, then why was it ordered closed to all American airlines?  And if it wasn’t safe, why was it opened up again after the American people reacted to the FAA’ decision with outrage?

Oh, by the way, as someone who once worked in the White House, I can tell you that no one at the FAA would make such an unprecedented and politically charged decision without the okay of the president of the United States.  Sorry.

It all points to this very likely scenario.  We will have Barrack Obama on the world stage for a very, very long time to come.

 

Below was a controversial “what would Reagan do” moment during the Egyptian crisis and the Arab spring.  On this segment, several years ago, I voiced a lonely position that turned out to be prophetic.


It’s the end of America as we know it

July 2, 2014

Happy Fourth of July. It’s the end of America as we know it.  And by the way, its the end of baseball, motherhood and apple pie as well.  Baseball has morphed from a game of statistics into a reality show with players always in search of a better and less detectable steroid.  And don’t get me going on apple pie.  Which usually isn’t.  We are edging closer to Soylent Green every day.

The changes for motherhood and women and race are major advances in civilization but the rest is a mixed bag.

What is becoming of America  should give us pause.  We are in what I call a “post Constitutional drift” and it worries me that we so easily, without debate, are confidently moving away from our foundations.

There have been two provocations for this. The first was the attack on 9-11.  President George W. Bush seized unprecedented power for the executive branch of government.

The second has been our Great Recession.  The last time we had the Great Depression it sparked the rise of Hitler and Stalin and World War Two.  You cannot have that much wealth taken from that many people without sociopolitical repercussions.  But it also gave the world FDR and Churchill.  As a student of history I wondered what cataclysmic changes our Great Recession would birth.   And lo and behold, the biggest change was us.  President Barack Obama seized on economic events to assert government involvement on a breathtaking scale. Even former socialist countries in Europe were aghast.  Welfare was increased to the masses while corporate welfare was even more lavish.  The result?  The rich got richer and the poor got poorer at an astounding rate.

In Bush we had our moment of nationalism, in Obama, socialism.  Unless we can recapture the ideals of our American Constitution quickly we are destined to experience our own American version of National Socialism.

We wage preemptive wars, torture our captives and monitor our own citizens on a massive scale.  Our government agencies are accountable to no one and openly defy, even lie to Congress.  Consider this, only a few years ago a president could not get a wire tap without a judge.  Now he can kill you.

In 1946 we joined an international tribunal which indicted Nazi war criminals.  One of the four counts was defined as “war of aggression.”  Our prosecutor, Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, made an eloquent case against what is now American policy, the immorality of a so-called “preemptive war.”

Jackson’s opening statement at Nuremberg should be required reading for television pundits.  He pointed to the June 30, 1934 Blood Purge as the turning point in German justice.  Without formal charges or a trial Hitler ordered the execution of Nazi Brown shirts, (terrorists) who were suspected of planning a counter revolution.  “In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people,” Hitler later reported to the Reichstag and the nation, “And thereby I became the Supreme judge.”  The decision was applauded in Germany as a move back toward moderation but Jackson asserts that it was this abandonment of Germany’s own constitution that began its descent into lawlessness.

Barack Obama’s decision to kill American citizen, Anwar al-Awaki, is instructive.  Al-Awaki was a one man Islamic propaganda machine.  His online sermons of hatred inspired terrorism.  In Nuremberg, only one top Nazi propagandist was in the docket.  He was Hans Fritzsche, a popular Nazi radio voice.  But as repugnant as his words had been, the American, Soviet, British and French judges acquitted him.  How can you hang a  man for free speech no matter how repugnant?

Months after the al-Awaki death, his sixteen year old son, an American citizen born in Denver, Colorado, with no ties to radical Islam, went to Yemen in search of his father’s body.  He was likewise killed by an American drone.  We call it a mistake.

Throughout our history we have condemned torture.  The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments.”  Our motion pictures and culture have shown the barbarism of our enemies.  The Japanese and the Germans tortured, so did the North Koreans and later the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese.  Who can forget Michael Cimino’s gut wrenching scenes from Deer Hunter?

Now, in the new post constitutional America, we too, torture.  For legal purposes we do “a little sidestep” in the tradition of Charles Durning in The Last Little Whore House in Texas.  We torture outside the United States and thus our Justice Department contends we are not violating the Constitution.

It isn’t too late. There are about fifty men and women in this country who run the television industry.  They are far more powerful than members of the Federal Reserve, or elected officials, such as members of congress.  They and their television companies have the power to open up a debate on all of this.  If not, we are in the process of losing the great American experiment without even a chance to say goodbye.  It’s the end of America as we know it.

 


Not another Clinton – Bush election? Please!

April 10, 2014

Get ready, we may indeed see another Clinton – Bush election.  This time, Hillary Clinton, former First Lady and former Secretary of State pitted against Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida.  It’s like being Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day.  Ever get the feeling you’ve been here before?

Both candidates have something to prove.  Clinton wants to scrub her husband’s impeachment off the books and this would do it.  In a hundred years when some ten year old boy scans through the list and sees that Bill Clinton was impeached but his wife was elected president shortly thereafter he will make the ready conclusion, “The impeachment must have been political or else the country would never have turned so quickly to his wife.”  And Jeb Bush is running to prove, well, that not all Bushes should be judged by the last one.

How did it come to this?  There are three dynamics at work.

1.) Political dynasties are active in both parties simultaneously.

Normally, one can count on the opposition to raise a fuss.  If there was a Democrat dynasty the Republicans would howl.  If there was a Republican dynasty the Democrats would be outraged.  But now two have appeared at the same time.  No Democrat will raise the issue of corruption and attack the idea of the Bush family dynasty and risk alienating the powerful Clinton’s.  And no Republican will attack the Clinton’s and risk alienating the Bushes?  Even if the latter prove weak and Jeb Bush fails to show well in the primaries, the GOP nominee will have to have that powerful, fundraising machine supportive in the general election.

Now, in a very rare moment of history, the two dynasties have cancelled each other out.  As a result? There are dynasties gone wild. The electric fence is down and the cows are roaming all over.  The Cuomo’s, the Paul’s, the Kennedy’s, the Carter’s don’t get me started.

2.) Journalism is dead.

Normally, one can count on a vigorous Fourth Estate.  No less than Joseph Pulitzer railed against the idea of Robert Todd Lincoln running for president.  Throughout American history the media has been vigilant.  Attempts at family dynasties were always shot down.  This was America, not a monarchy.  After the Revolutionary War, when George Washington was presented a massive family genealogy by the English government he rejected it, pointing out that in these United States success or failure was determined by the choices of the individual not the bloodline.

This is not the Philippines.  This is not Indonesia.  This is not Panama, where fifteen families rule the country.

But in case you haven’t noticed, journalism is dead.  If a reporter can’t even pronounce Sevastopol what hope do we have that they are telling us anything accurate about Russia and the Ukraine?  We now live behind our own iron curtain.  News has become entertainment and the Clinton’s, Bushes, Kennedy’s all sell well.  Don’t expect any help from the media.

3.) Obama has failed.

Finally there is Barack Obama.  His election has been a great historic milestone but by just about any measure, including his own, his presidency is ending in disaster.  For example, the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer at a rate that would make an Eastern establishment Republican blush.  The Nixon administration spied on its enemies but the Obama administration spies on its friends too and on its own political allies in the U.S. Senate.  Having tried an “outsider” like Obama, the American electorate is now more likely to turn to an “insider,” a Bush or a Clinton.  Better to have someone who doesn’t have to learn on the job.

While a Clinton – Bush rematch might just happen, almost any historian will warn that the idea of multiple presidencies in the same family is a recipe for abuse and disaster.  Having been in power and then spending time out of power, a family can muse about what might have been.  Who was loyal and who was not?  What should be done if given another chance?  How could the office have been better monetized?  Who should have been an Ambassador?  Whose corporate jet would be better appreciated and useful, added to the fleet of corporate jets loaned out to a former president?  What government contracts could legitimately go to whom and why?  How can the next family power contender be groomed?

America, already beginning to experience the corruption of a Third World nation, doesn’t need to grease the skids to fall any deeper into the abyss.  Clinton – Bush?  It may happen.  But if it does, expect America’s post constitutional drift to gain full sail.  The abuses won’t be pretty.


Why Rand Paul can beat Hillary Clinton

March 9, 2014

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky may be the only Republican who can beat Hillary Clinton for president in 2016.

Paul decisively won last Saturday’s CPAC straw poll with 31%, his neo-Libertarian sidekick, Senator Ted Cruz, was second at 11%.  Jeb Bush and the Karl Rove faction of the party registered 1%.  According to a recent column in The Washington Post, Rand Paul is now leading the Republican field.  This is showing up in some recent presidential preference polls. It is puzzling to many political pundits.
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Polls don’t usually mean much this early in an election cycle. It’s usually all about name recognition. Former Secretary of State and former First Lady, Hillary Clinton obviously leads among Democrats, with Vice President Joe Biden trailing far behind.  In the GOP contest, former Governor and FOX television star, Mike Huckabee polls well, so does former governor Jeb Bush and so does former vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin.  All the other candidates who ran for president last time register small numbers too.  But why Rand Paul?
Yes, his father, former congressman, Ron Paul, ran for president three times but in a career that spanned a whole generation he never led the GOP in a national poll. 

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Part of the reason lies in the fact that, if he wins the nomination, Senator Rand Paul will be the first nominee since Ronald Reagan to lead a political Movement.  In this case, the “Constitutional Movement”, which includes conservatives, libertarians and others across the whole left to right spectrum. In fact, it represents more than a movement it represents a new political re-alignment, the first of its kind in several generations.  
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During most of our lifetime the debate was about the role of government in the lives of the people.  Liberals wanted a “liberal” use of government involvement, conservatives wanted a “conservative” use of government, relying more on free markets.  But the point of reference was always the role of government in meeting peoples needs, it was in relation to that point that one was liberal or conservative.
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The U.S. Constitution was a factor, but mostly over the issue of the Second Amendment and in understanding the politics of the Cold War where conservatives were actually more liberal about spending for defense and liberals more conservative.  Conservatives said providing a common national defense is Constitutional. Liberals said all of this military spending was robbing the poor of this country and hurting our own people.
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Liberals accused conservatives about not caring for the poor.  Conservatives accused liberals about being soft on communism and flirting with national destruction.
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In the past, candidates were touted as liberal or conservative but only Reagan and Goldwater were considered to be actual leaders of an ideological Movement.  Liberal Movement leaders?  FDR?  Later, Adlai Stevenson?  Hubert Humphrey?  Maybe?  But not really.  All were successful politicians and thus too involved in the process to have the ideological purity of a movement leader.
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Today the old liberal – conservative argument is almost obsolete.  The end of the Cold War has been a big factor.  There is no life and death struggle about left and right.  We have settled on a range of responsibilities that government should be able to assume and are now quibbling over details. “You said I could keep my own doctor, you’re a liar.”
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Foreign observers can hardly tell a difference between Republicans and Democrats.  It is the Red team versus the Blue team, not really much of contest over ideas. Just a contest over power between two societies. Oh, it is passionate, like all internecine conflicts. And the public is emotionally invested, like they are with their favorite college football team. They may shed real tears or not eat for days if their side loses.
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A good illustration of how irrelevant the philosophical argument has become was the recent presidency of George W. Bush.  In his last year in office, facing a worldwide depression, this Republican president nationalized American banks.  It took Socialist President Francois Mitterrand to do that in France.  And yet we call George W. Bush a “conservative Republican.” Meanwhile, liberal Democrats build no statues to him and conservatives still defend him.  It’s two teams with bitter past histories.  Liberals never applaud conservatives when they do something liberal, such as George  H.W. Bush extending the first White House invitations to Gay activists.  And conservatives never applaud a liberal, like John Kennedy or Bill Clinton, for doing something conservative, like balancing the budget
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The Constitutional Movement represents a new realignment of the political landscape.  It includes a variety of voters from the left to the right and everything in between.
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The argument is less about liberal and conservative and more about getting back to the Constitution. It is about ending corruption.  The special deals.  It is less about left and right or even, up and down, the rich and the poor, and more about in and out. Insiders are seen to be gaming the system, taxes, Wall Street, the regulatory agencies, banking.  There is great cynicism about this and even despair.  It’s as if only suckers depend on a free marketplace.  The American dream is over.
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It is not lost on many that the rich got richer and the poor got poorer on a massive scale under Barack Obama.
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While many poor people and certainly all people of color celebrate the rise of Obama, now that he is passing, some on the left are wanting to get serious about doing what they thought a person of such humble origins would do, namely, reform the system. Stop the looting.  End the cycle of corruption.
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Hillary – as a woman – represents a dynamic cultural moment and that will be hard to resist.  The media will be transfixed by the idea of a woman following an African American into the White House.  But no one seriously believes that this woman, who in 1979 miraculously turned a $1,000 commodities investment into $100,000 within ten months, is going to do anything about reversing the corrupt system that has clogged our economic arteries. She can only win a Red-Blue contest.  It will only be an argument about who gets the power and which insiders get the taxpayers’ money.
If 2016 become a contest of significant ideas on how to end the corruption Rand Paul will win.  He is the only candidate who has any.
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(Clip from 2012, when Rand Paul was stopped by the TSA.)


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.


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.


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.


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


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