Billy Graham has died: Speaking the truth to power

February 21, 2018

Billy Graham was “the good Rasputin,” an independent religious figure who whispered into the ears of the powerful but always for the greater good rather than his own personal aggrandizement.  His emergence coincided with the rapid rise of the Evangelical Movement in America and thus his political power.

In 1950, when he met with President Harry Truman, his first president,  he was awkward and indiscreet but by the time he met with President Barrack Obama in 2010, presidents needed the picture with him far more than he needed one with them.

Politicians and Graham had a symbiotic relationship.  Both had parts to play and both sides knew it.

In 1985, I prepared a memo for Vice President George H. W. Bush on how he could build a relationship with Evangelicals. Polling data available at the time showed Billy Graham as the least controversial Evangelical in public life.  The vice president’s son, George W. Bush quizzed me at length about the memo and asked questions about another evangelical leader, Arthur Blessitt.  That summer, Billy Graham was invited to the Bush compound at Kennebunkport, Maine and a friendship developed with the family, including father and son.

Ten years later, when then Texas governor, George W. Bush began to think seriously of running for president he began talking about a spiritual awakening that had been triggered by Billy Graham’s visit to Maine.  As Bush remembered, they had walked the beach together and talked.

As the 2000 election neared, Richard Ostling a religious editor for the Associated Press called me to say that he had interviewed Dr. Graham and the evangelist had no idea of what Governor Bush was talking about.  There was no beach in Kennebunkport, it was all rocks.  And Graham remembered no such conversation.

I called Bush to warn him about the discrepancy.  “Aw, he just probably forgot,” Bush said.

And afterward a apoplectic Arthur Blessitt began publishing a blog saying that he, Blessitt, had actually prayed with George W. Bush to be “born again.”  “Where was this Billy Graham stuff coming from?”

By 2000, Governor George W. Bush was in a tight presidential race with Tennessee Senator Al Gore.  By then Billy Graham and Bush had a clear understanding.  I worked with a young staffer, Brian Jacobs, to help arrange a meeting between Bush and Graham in Jacksonville, Florida.  The meeting took place the day before the election and both men appeared before the media.  “I don’t endorse politicians,” Graham said, “But if I did it would be someone like this man right here.”  How could he deny his own convert?  The next day Bush won Florida by 537 votes and with it the White House.

Billy Graham was not perfect.  When the television scandals hit he was the target of an IRS probe for illegally retained income and an ongoing Knight-Ridder investigation.  When the Watergate tapes were released there he was apparently sympathetic to Richard Nixon’s anti Semitic ramblings.

Most people would be surprised to know that Graham was a hypochondriac who was constantly checking himself into Mayo Clinic.  I received a call from him one day, from his hospital bed, just wanting to talk about politics and the White House.  He sounded very much like he had only days to live.  That was twenty five years ago.

Like all old men, Graham needed assurance that he was still wanted and needed and important.  I called him one day and he appeared piqued.  Reagan had always asked for his input for his speech before the National Prayer Breakfast. But we hadn’t bothered to call.

“I can assure you that the president wants your input,” I said confidently.  “Why he would welcome anything you suggest.”

“Well, if you really think he would want it?”

“I can assure you Dr. Graham, he would be very grateful.”

“Well, I don’t want it to be a bother,” he added sheepishly.

“No, no, we want it, we want it.”

He promptly sent us suggested remarks that had the president recounting stories about “my good friend, Billy Graham.”

President George H. W. Bush did not miss a beat.  He worked every line into his speech, lauding the evangelist and cementing their relationship.

Graham sat humbly, sometimes laughing as if he were hearing the stories for the first time, sometimes red with embarrassment at the praise and always surprised that the president would be so thoughtful to say such things..

Only two people in that ballroom knew that Billy Graham, himself, had written the words.  They both got what they wanted.

One of the most telling moments I had with Dr. Billy Graham came in a private meeting with President G.H.W. Bush and four heads of state.  Within a year, one was deposed, another in jail, another had died.  Bush, himself, would not be re-elected.  But Billy Graham endured.  Many times I have thought back on that meeting.  This was one of Graham’s greatest accomplishments, public figures come and go, somehow he survived them all.

Advertisements

Donald Trump loves this female Judge

February 14, 2017
trump-and-his-sister

President Donald Trump and Judge Maryanne Barry, his sister.

Here’s one judge that Donald Trump loves. Federal Judge, Maryanne Barry, his older sister.

Judge Barry, is a Senior United States Circuit Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She was first appointed to the federal bench during the Reagan administration. The Clinton administration promoted her again.

In 2004, she was presented with a public service award by Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor.

jfk-and-kick

Kick & JFK on the right.

Many presidents have had close relationships with a sister. It is almost eerie. Abraham Lincoln looked to Sarah. Her death broke his heart. John Kennedy was disconsolate when he lost his sister, and best friend, Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy. He vicariously thrilled with her adventures and they shared many secrets together.

 

President Jimmy Carter was close to his sister, Ruth Carter Stapleton.

robin

The George H.W. Bush family.

When George and Barbara Bush called young George, Jr. out of school in Texas, and had him get into the car, to tell him that his sister, Robin had died, he was stunned. He had known that something was wrong. He had begged to play with her at Kennebunkport, Maine that summer but they kept them apart, fearing that young George would be too rough.

Now, weeks later in Texas, told that she had died, he kept repeating, in between sobs, “Why didn’t you tell me, why didn’t you tell me.” He had not been given the chance to say goodbye.

(Read All the Presidents Children.)

Thomas Jefferson’s sister, Martha, was widowed at a young age and spent much of her life at Monticello, running her brother’s estate.

President Rutherford B. Hayes was close to his sister, Fanny. As children, when one got sick, the other one nursed them back to health. Rutherford used to pull his sister around on a sled.

When President Chester Arthur’s wife died, his sister, Molly McElroy, had to step in as first lady, to run the White House and take care of his little girl.

Theodore Roosevelt’s sister, Anna Roosevelt Cowels, “Bamie,” was so talented that Alice Roosevelt once said that she should have been the president.

In the soon to be released book, GAME OF THORNS, you will read about President Donald Trump’s older sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry.  When candidate Trump tangled with Megyn Kelly of Fox News, his big sister was there to reassure him. “Just be yourself.”

When the Access Hollywood tape was released, and all seemed lost, she and others counseled calm.

Journalists and television pundits are quick to point out that no president has ever had a sister serving as a judge. It’s true. But some have been close.

President George Washington’s nephew, Bushrod Washington, served on the Supreme Court.

President Zachary Taylor’s sister in law was the daughter of the famous Supreme Court Justice, John McLean.

President William Henry Harrison’s sister was married to a judge.

President John Tyler’s son in law was a judge. He became one of Tyler’s closest confidantes.

President James Buchanan’s brother was the US Attorney for Western Pennsylvania.

President John F. Kennedy’s brother was appointed Attorney General.

Then there is the big one. President William Howard Taft actually, later, became the tenth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

As you will learn in GAME OF THORNS, Donald Trump is close to his family members, that’s why his mind turned to them on the night he was declared the President –Elect.

“Truly, great people,” Trump told the nation, “I’ve got a great family.”

 


Why George H.W. Bush will be ranked as one of America’s greatest presidents.

December 5, 2016

In a hundred years George H.W. Bush will be ranked among America’s greatest presidents. Maybe in the top five, with Washington, Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and, yes, his predecessor, Ronald Reagan.

It will be said that Lincoln saved the union but Reagan and Bush saved mankind.

ghwb33

George H.W. Bush will be ranked as one of American’s greatest presidents.

Today we worry about what would happen if nuclear weapons fell into the hands of terrorists. In the Reagan – Bush years that had already happened. Both the Soviet and Chinese government’s had nuclear weapons and both sponsored communist regimes that were barbaric.

Pol Pot, who ruled Cambodia practiced the most virulent form of Marxism. He targeted for execution anyone in academia, medicine, the military, government bureaucracies, private business. He marked for execution anyone who wore eye glasses. His thinking was that if they wear eye glasses they can probably read and if they can read we must eliminate them to restart our nation without contamination from the West.

President George H.W. Bush kept one of the escapees from the Cambodian killing fields on his senior White House staff as a reminder of what he was facing down.

Reagan started the process that ended the Cold War but it finally ended on the watch of George H.W. Bush. Reagan called for the Berlin Wall to come down. But it finally happened under the patient, brilliant guidance of George H.W. Bush who not only knew when to act but also understood the value of restraint and who knew when to remain silent.

When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, Bush united the world against the action. When he led the Gulf War, the invasion against Iraq, his allies, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait paid for half of the cost.

Within three months, allied forces defeated Saddam Hussein and drove the Iraqi army out of Kuwait. President George H.W. Bush called an end to the hostilities, and allowed Hussein to remain in power in Baghdad. Bush was heavily criticized for his decision. Others advocated eliminating the Saddam Hussein government altogether, while we had the chance. But Bush, Sr. feared that it would destabilize the region and upset the delicate Sunni-Shiite balance of the Middle East.

It’s not very often in history that we get to see what would have happened if a leader made a different decision but in this case we can. Years later, Bush’s son, President George W. Bush would be confronted with the same choice and he would topple Saddam Hussein.

The region was plunged into chaos, hundreds of thousands lost their lives, millions were uprooted, Christian communities dating their history back to the apostle Thomas were exterminated, wars spread across the Middle East, and the United States, who borrowed the money from world banks to fight their war, was plunged into its  second worst economic crisis in history.

Someday, a hundred years from now, when historians catch up to all of these details, there will be marble statues of George H.W. Bush. And when they pass by parents will tell their children, it is not only what  you do that makes you great, sometimes, it is what you don’t do. It is when you stay calm, or stay silent, or as another president, Theodore Roosevelt, once said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

 

 

 

 


WAR OF WIVES: INSIDE THE TRUMP-CRUZ FIGHT

March 28, 2016

In 1988 I received a call from my boss Lee Atwater. He was the campaign manager for presidential candidate, George H.W. Bush, and he had a strange request. “Hey Wead,” Atwater said, “Get the word out. Kitty Dukakis has the clap.”

Kitty Dukakis was the wife of our Democrat opponent, Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts. She did not have a venereal disease. Spreading the rumor was an Atwater device to force her husband to release his medical records.

It’s an old story that is now told in history books and Atwater made a deathbed apology to the Dukakis family but it came to mind when I saw the Cruz-Trump feud flare out into the open last week. Notwithstanding the television pundits who tell you that this is a new low, attacks on the opponent’s wife and children in the middle of a political campaign are nothing new.

Here’s how the Cruz-Trump feud unfolded.

On March 8, 2016, a Ted Cruz surrogate appeared on the Neil Cavuto Show on the Fox News Channel and took a verbal swing at Melania Trump, wife of Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump. This was the first blow. If anyone knows of anything earlier, please speak up.

“If she becomes the first lady,” the television guest told Cavuto’s audience, “she will be the first one to have posed in the nude, the first one to have been her husband’s third wife and the first one to have been born outside of the United States in 100 years.” Cavuto seemed embarrassed and unimpressed by the comment and quickly passed on to another topic. Surely, Melanie Trump, is not responsible for her husband’s prior marriages.

A week later came the hit from the Cruz Super PAC. The organization Make America Awesome, founded by Liz Mair began circulating a saucy picture of Melania Trump to Mormon voters on Facebook in Utah. The organization made no effort to hide its pro Cruz affiliation. By Monday the activity was picked up by Buzzfeed.

For a time, Donald Trump was uncharacteristically calm. On March 22, the Ted Cruz strategy clearly worked. He won the Utah Caucus with 69% of the vote. Trump who polled just 14% won no delegates.

On March 23, Donald Trump answered back with his own tweet telling Cruz to leave his wife alone or he would “spill the beans on Heidi Cruz.”

Ignoring the earlier taunts by Ted Cruz, the national media came down hard on Donald Trump. Cruz was portrayed as an innocent victim standing up for his wife.

Cruz explained that he could not control an independent PAC and the national media seemed to agree. In fact, while it is illegal for candidates to “coordinate” with independent PAC’s this does not mean that they cannot disavow what they are doing. They can also stop them from using a candidate’s name.

Donald Trump, for example, has sent numerous “cease and desist” letters to shut down Super Pac’s using his name and running negative ads against his rivals. Cruz could have easily done the same.

This “war of the wives” is nothing new in American politics. Wives and children have often been the targets.

In 1828 the Whigs attacked Andrew Jackson’s wife, calling her a bigamist and an adulterer.

Rachel Jackson was a devout Presbyterian who had been kept away from the vicious campaign. After her husband won the election she traveled to Nashville to buy a dress for the inaugural ball. There she found stacks of old newspapers recounting the campaign accusations.

Rachel became ill and was ordered to bed on December 18. She died a few days later and was buried on Christmas Day.

Andrew Jackson looked at her miniature and read from her Bible each evening for the rest of his life.

Many years later, Andrew Jackson’s network of newspapers took revenge. They attacked William Henry Harrison’s family. Harrison was a popular Whig candidate for president.

The attacks were savage. One of his children was falsely accused of embezzlement. Harrison would bury three of his adult sons in the three consecutive years leading up to his election as president.  His wife would be in such grief that she would never set foot in the Washington, D.C.

Harrison would travel back East with some of his widowed daughter-in-law’s and grandchildren to try to make a new life in the White House.

Historians make fun of him for giving a long speech, without a hat, in the freezing weather at his inauguration. Survivor’s guilt? He died thirty days later. His family, abandoned and destitute, made their sad trek back to Indiana and Kentucky where they lived out their lives in poverty.

When you hear the next pundit telling you that politics is meaner today than ever before?  Don’t believe it.  Today’s Cruz-Trump battle with its “war of the wives” is only another chapter in an old story.


Megyn Kelly for president!

January 28, 2016

Dateline January 28, 2016

Megyn Kelly, a former attorney, now Fox News journalist, conducted herself with grace and grit this week. GOP front-runner, Donald Trump, made her the target of his wrath promising he would not participate in the GOP Fox News Debate if she were one of the moderators.  Fox News stuck by her and her performance in tonight’s debate was stellar.  Her questions were provocative, cleverly constructed, persistently delivered and her follow ups were tenacious. She did it all with a smile and a good nature. I have watched every presidential debate since Kennedy and Nixon and served as a shill in practice debates for numerous presidential candidates but I have never seen such a polished and effective performance by a debate moderator as Megyn Kelly tonight.

Megyn Kelly is not the first journalist to become the center of controversy in a presidential race.

George Will had been a favorite of Ronald and Nancy Reagan.  His brilliant analysis and insider information made him a fascinating commentator.  But in 1987 George Will, at the time a pundit on ABC and a columnist for Newsweek, referred to vice president George W. Bush as president Reagan’s “lapdog.” Bush prided himself on his loyalty to Reagan and felt that this was his duty as vice president. Newsweek ran a cover story of George Bush entitled “The Wimp Factor” questioning if the senior Bush would be strong enough to be president.

The bitterness in the Bush family ran deep. In 1988 I accompanied the president’s son, George W. Bush, to Iowa.  On Caucus night we walked into a ballroom where famous pundits, sat on platforms, talking to the nation. No one recognized or acknowledged George W. Bush , who would one day be president himself, but George Will commanded respect, sitting on one of those platforms, pontificating on the results of the Caucus. Young Bush was furious. When we passed under the ABC platform, Bush muttered to me, “Look at George Will sitting up there. Pompous asshole.”

Actually, as president, the father, George H.W. Bush, showed himself to be quite strong, invading Panama to bring Manuel Noriega to justice, invading Iraq to defend the national integrity of Kuwait. Ronald Reagan had called for the Berlin Wall to come down but it happened under president George H.W. Bush.

The Bush family eventually, after a long period of punishment, forgave Newsweek Magazine, they had too. At the time it was too powerful to ignore. But George Will was vulnerable. And they never forgave him.  This was their message to any other journalist who might take them on. For the next eight years Will would be in the deep freeze and the White House would carefully withhold any information that could have helped his career. At the time, I was a senior White House staffer, and the word was out, no one could talk to Mr. Will.

Today, George Will is back, as brilliant and polished and well read as ever. Ironically, he is on television thanks to the Fox News Channel.

It remains to be seen what will happen to Megyn Kelly. If Donald Trump becomes president she may find herself on his blacklist, no White House Christmas party invitations. But if tonight’s debate is any indication, we have only begun to hear from Megyn Kelly. And Donald Trump may have met his match.

I have had the privilege of being interviewed several times by Ms. Kelly.  One of those interviews was characterized by political critics as being harsh or unfair.  One of them ran up 250,000 views. Friends sent me emails asking if I was irritated by the questions. The truth was that the harder her questions the better. I did not resent them. They were expected and fair and exactly the questions that she should have asked. And her nature was pleasant.

Here is that interview, judge for yourself. I see Megyn Kelly as a great journalist and she was on her game tonight justifying her bosses at Fox News.


Clinton takes a dump, Media blames Trump

December 23, 2015

Former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s, ill timed toilet break in front of an audience of 7.8 million television viewers is an excellent metaphor for the 2016 presidential election.  It happened during the ABC Democratic Presidential Debate, December 19, 2015.  Basically, the whole democratic process is now in the toilet.  The national media has determined to give the White House to Hillary Clinton and no scandal, no incompetence and no lack of decorum will dislodge them from their task.

“Sorry,” Clinton said when she came back to the podium.

Of course, the mainstream media is well aware that ridicule can be even more damaging than scandal so their handling of the “Clinton Dump” is instructive. The next day the television networks refused to tell anyone in their audience what had happened. If they hadn’t found out on their own through social media they were out of luck. And it had been the smallest television audience for a debate so far this cycle.  The Democrat National Committee had arranged for that, making sure it happened the week of Christmas, trying to minimize the possibility of any opposition to Clinton.

Yet the story of Clinton’s departure from the stage was so widespread that they couldn’t ignore it either.  The network evening news, with its half hour weather reports, is verging on the cliff of irrelevancy.  It had to say something.  Thus, at the beginning of the next night’s newscasts the major networks led with a story of Donald Trump’s comments on the Clinton toilet break, as well as his comments on other events.  Trump had dismissed the moment as “disgusting.”  The networks attacked Trump’s response, and did so without telling their audiences what had triggered it.  He had done it again, they intoned, for those who could figure out what had happened.  That Donald Trump is just so classless.

In fact, it is the major television networks, now bent on cramming Clinton down our throats who have become classless.  We are talking about a handful of old men, who want to see a woman elected president in their lifetime.  It will be their gift to their wives and daughters.  And while there are many civilized and intelligent Democrat women, whose creation of wealth is less criminal and outrageous than Hillary Clinton, they know that she is the only chance they have to elect a woman in their lifetime and so she will have to do.

Hillary knows this too.  And so, say her critics, she did not shrink from extorting every major international company or government on her way through the experience of Secretary of State. “They will all forget this in a few months,” Bill probably assured her. “Look at me.  The public forgets.  And remember our dinner at Claridges?  Old Mr. so and so and his daughter love you.”

When Paula Jones first made her outrageous accusations against Bill Clinton, she was dismissed by the Clinton entourage – and the national media – as “trailer park trash.”  No one believed Ms. Jones.  Women’s groups ignored her story. The nation dismissed incumbent President George H.W. Bush’s campaign emphasis on character.  Obviously, character doesn’t mean much in American society anymore.

But today, after a decade of Bill Clinton, and stained dresses, and endless stories, we know that Paul Jones was not lying.  She was being crushed by powerful men who control television and politics in America and the pain and abuse and sexual exploitation of a single young woman did not matter.  It could be laughed off. The victims of the Clinton’s must shut up and take their medicine. Laws do not apply.  Ask the Clinton’s White House counsel, Vince Foster, who once said, that in Washington “ruining people is considered sport.” Ask Sally Perdue, who was warned not to talk about her affair with Clinton. “We know you go jogging by yourself, a former Democrat Party official allegedly told her, “and we can’t guarantee what might happen to your pretty little legs.”

It is now clear that Hillary Clinton, who turned $1,000 into $100,000 in 92 transactions in less than a year in the commodities market is going to get a pass to power.  She will not be asked to answer questions about the conflict of interest of the Clinton Foundation.  It now appears she will not have to explain anything to anybody.

Only now we know.  It is not Donald Trump who lacks class.  And it is not Paul Jones who is trailer park trash. It is the Clintons and it is the wealthy, powerful old men who are delivering up America on a platter.  They are asking that once more we put the American dream and the U.S. Constitution in suspension, this time so they can make Hillary Clinton the next president, a birthday gift wrapped in a ribbon, for their indolent daughters.

To put it in Hillary’s own words, “Sorry.”  Or, “At this point, what difference does it make?”

 

 


Inside the government plans to shutdown the direct sales industry: Vemma is only the begining

September 10, 2015

The Arizona direct sales company Vemma was recently hit by the FTC and virtually shut down without a judge, jury or trial.  The income of thousands, including single mothers, housewives, young businessmen, retirees and disable veterans has been instantly blocked by the government agency.  Nobody will be paid, no matter what they have sold or how many years they have worked.

Ominously, among the reasons the FTC gave for its action, are methods that are employed by almost all other Direct Sales companies.  If Vemma is unable to survive, it could spell the end of a vibrant industry that involves 18 million Americans, 74% of them women.  It may be the last loophole allowing an ordinary person the opportunity to earn extraordinary amounts of money.

What is behind this action?

Money.

Shortly after the re-election of Barack Obama a former law enforcement – corporate security specialist called me with some interesting information.  A friend in the Justice Department was asking him for details on Multi Level Marketing companies in Utah.  They were talking names, income, the nature of their compensation plans and any questionable claims about their products.  They would welcome any gossip about lifestyle too.  Mistresses?  Lavish meals?  “Ahh, gonna take out a source of Republican money huh?” my friend joked.

It is no big secret that most entrepreneurs, including the kind who get into MLM’s, tend to be Republicans.  Just as people who believe that government has the solutions for society, tend to get jobs in government.

Rich DeVos, the co-founder of Amway one of the nation’s most successful MLM’s, was a major donors to both the Reagan and Bush presidential campaigns.  Frank VanderSloot, of Melaleuca, was the finance chairman and a $5 million fundraiser for Mitt Romney.

I have been an eyewitness to the political power of these companies and their sprawling networks of independence entrepreneurs.  In 1984, when Ronald Reagan announced his re-election, he did so at an MLM event at the Atlanta Georgia Dome.  Distributors came to the Dome for a weekend of seminars and forfeited the platform to the Reagan Campaign during the afternoon.  In another city at yet another event, I spoke just before Reagan to an audience of 10,000 MLM builders.

During the election campaign of George H.W. Bush I would often get a call from campaign manager, Lee Atwater.  “I need 500 people with signs cheering for Bush outside of Butler aviation in Raleigh Durham.”  Atwater would give me five photo ops with Bush at the foot of the airplane and in return the five MLM leaders would guarantee the crowd as requested.  In 1987, George W. Bush, working his dad’s campaign,  spoke at an MLM event I arranged, helping to funnel distributors into campaign workers.  It is not unlike what the unions do for the Democrats.

I have also been one of the pack who got the message from the top of the network.  In 2008 I was building a network in XanGo when word came down to make a $1,000 donation to Mitt Romney.  I complied.

It was only a matter of time before Obama would shut down this industry, which is a vibrant part of the economy of every other major western nation and flourishes in Russia.

There are many complaints about MLM.  The odds of success are not high, although probably a lot higher than a career in journalism or professional sports or Hollywood or – for that matter – the FTC.  The difference is MLM will take anybody and most other opportunities won’t.

In recent years the culture of MLM has diversified.  Shaklee, for example, the MLM vitamin giant, is owned by a Democrat billionaire who is a friend of Oprah Winfrey.  It will probably be the last one taken down and may even be permitted by the Obama administration to live out its retirement, as long as it remains quiet.

The danger for other MLM’s is the nature of the attack on Vemma.  They have been hit hard on “auto-ship” a policy that has products automatically shipped to a distributor unless he or she opts out in advance.  That, the FTC, contends, makes it a pyramid scheme.  Most former members of the Book of the Month Club or the Literary Guild are familiar with auto-ship.  If you signed up you got a book every month.  You could opt out but if you didn’t you had to pay for the book or send it back.  In our new “victim society” the FTC has determined that this is illegal.

It was also wrong, they say, that Vemma prospected college students.  Universities are now places where beer pong is a sport, abortions are choice, date rape is so rampant that universities refuse to publicly publish the numbers but selling vitamins to your roommate is now a crime.

(Donations to defend the industry should go to the Direct Sellers Defense Fund, Morrie Aaron: maaron@mca-financial.com)