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.


A History of the State of the Union Address

January 8, 2016

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”

(The more things change, the more they stay the same.)

– Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

The State of the Union address began with George Washington.  A quick look at his speech and you can see how history repeats itself.

On January 8, 1790, Washington spoke before Senators and Representatives at Federal Hall in New York City.  In his speech, Washington addressed the most important issues of his day which ironically included immigration and national defense.

“To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace,” he said.

Not much has changed in 225 years.

The Constitution had declared that the president should from time to time report on the State of the Union to Congress. Washington’s address in New York, at the beginning of the New Year, was his interpretation of those words.  The practice continued under John Adams.

The third president, Thomas Jefferson, broke the tradition by submitting his address in writing.  Succeeding presidents would follow this pattern until Woodrow Wilson resurrected the Washington tradition with his address before a joint session of Congress in 1913.

Great moments in State of the Union speeches?

December 2, 1823, President James Monroe enunciated what is now known as “the Monroe Doctrine,” one of America’s most enduring foreign policy positions.  It promised that we would not intervene in European political matters and warned that no European power should colonize or further involve itself in political matters in the Western Hemisphere.

December 1, 1862, only three months after signing the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln published his State of the Union address. He dramatically confronted the moral issue of slavery.

“We — even we here — hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.”

January 6, 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had already delivered his most famous speech, referring to the attack on Pearl Harbor as, “a day which shall live in infamy,” yet his State of the Union address, which followed a month later, was more deeply philosophical and gave the nation purpose as it faced the long road of war ahead.

Some of the more notable goofs?

December 2, 1913. Woodrow Wilson proved that presidents are not prescient. “The country, I am thankful to say, is at peace with all the world, and many happy manifestations multiply about us of a growing cordiality and sense of community of interest among the nations, foreshadowing an age of settled peace and good will.” A few months later the world was plunged into the slaughter of the First World War.

January 25, 2011.  President George W. Bush, anxious to justify a war against Iraq, announced alleged secret information that later proved false.  “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

The future of State of the Union addresses.

The State of the Union address has lost much of its original meaning.  It has evolved from a report to Congress into a public relations stunt.  Nothing illustrates this more than President Obama’s “facts” from his last address.

“Over the past five years,” the president declared, “our businesses have created more than 11 million new jobs.”

What was left for the rest of us to unscramble was that he was counting jobs from February, 2010, a low point that was actually reached deep into his own term as president.  Also carefully avoided by choice of words was the fact that the federal and state governments had cut 500,000 jobs during the same period.  Thus it was not total jobs but only jobs that “businesses” had created.

Originally, the State of the Union reflected the state of mind or our chief executive.  But today a president is much too busy to actually write his own speech.  In an age of specialization one cannot be a great politician and a great wordsmith at the same time.

I offer that observation advisedly for I have not only been a student of presidential history, I have sometimes had a front row seat, having served on senior staff in the White House.

A State of the Union speech begins with a president sitting down with speechwriters and outlining what he wants. It is eventually shopped all over the White House where it is parsed and edited based on foreign policy issues, legal issues, intergovernmental issues, legislative issues, coalitions needs.  What will the Chinese think?  What will the Washington Post say?

Like all traditions in history, this one is organic and changing. And yet one only need to read the first address by George Washington to see how much is still the same.


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)

 


Why Jeb Bush is Running For President? Is it really for George P.?

February 8, 2015

Okay, let’s get this out of the way. You don’t really believe that the American people are going to elect three out of the last five presidents from the same immediate family do you?  Ain’t gonna happen.  The American people are in a somnolent trance right now.  It hasn’t registered.

Yes, it’s true that there might have been three presidents from the Adams family. (See how Charles Francis Adams might have been elected president.)  But that stretched out over 100 years.

      So if it is an impossible task why is Jeb Bush running?  Ahhh.  I’m glad you asked.
      Here are six reasons why Jeb Bush is entering the fray.
      1.) He just might win. Maybe he only has a 1-500 chance but would you throw away a lottery ticket with such odds?  He has name recognition, money out the kazoo and the American people are a fickle, unpredictable lot. He could win the GOP nomination and Hillary could slip on a banana peel.
      2.) The polls say he is a factor.  Some polls even have him leading among Republican voters. It is irresponsible for him to ignore those numbers.  He probably entertains that Platonic idea, “If you refuse to lead you are destined to be led by someone worse than yourself.”
      3.) The Republican field is crowded with candidates which means he can consolidate his considerable experience, name recognition, money and contacts to win against a divided field.  And if Bush isn’t the favorite, those factors alone might be enough to beat anybody else.
      4.) Ironically, Hillary Clinton is his best opponent in a general election.  She may be his only chance to win and that may be why he jumped in.  Why wait and have as your opponent some new, sexy face in 2020 and be labelled the old establishment guy with Washington connections?  If he faces Hillary Clinton now, it will be a choice between two old, establishment “guys” with Washington connections and Hillary won’t be able to play the dynasty card against him.
      5.) He can do anything else he was going to do better by running for president anyway.
      Does he want to raise money for an NGO?  Promote a cause?  Change the Republican Party? Champion an issue? Promote an agenda? Be on a slew of board of directors and get paid for it? Get a job as president of a university? Be the next NFL Commissioner? Start a company with billionaire investors? Be a television commentator or have his own show?  Write a book people will read? He can do any and all of those things better if he runs for president than if he doesn’t.
      Maybe, like Charles Francis Adams or Robert Todd Lincoln, he wants to be a cabinet member in the next administration?  Every debate will be a chance to audition for the next president.  Hey, even Hillary Clinton may want him in her cabinet to unite the country.  Like JFK and Barack Obama, who appointed Republicans in their administrations.
      And finally there is this, the big reason…..
      6.) By running now he can clean up the Bush image to prepare the way for his son.
      In case you haven’t noticed, George P. Bush, Jeb’s son, is on his way to the position of Texas Land Commissioner.  It’s a stepping stone to the governor’s mansion.
      George P. has been groomed for a long time.  In 1987 I co-authored a book with George H.W. Bush and while it was dedicated to wife, Barbara, then Vice President Bush insisted that it open with one of his famous letters to his grandson George P.
.
      Imagine? A governor from Texas, who just happens to be Hispanic, with name recognition and the most powerful fundraising machine in modern politics?  Look out.
      But there is one big problem and that is the Bush brand has been severely damaged.  America’s last impression of a Bush president was one who led us into a questionable war with Iraq, under what many argue was false pretenses, with borrowed money, which led to the second worst financial depression in American history.  Not to mention, the ongoing residual effects of that war which has led to mayhem across Asia, Africa and the Middle East, with the wholesale slaughter of Christians.
      If Jeb Bush runs for president he will come off as a reasonable, kind, bright man with strong principles.  He will have plenty of Souljah moments, such as immigration, where he resists the Republican brand.  One would think that this will almost certainly lose him the nomination but if he does all of this with grace and humility he resets the brand and George P. can start fresh.  Besides it might actually work.  Americans like a leader, even if they disagree with him.  He has nothing to lose.  And he just might win.  Though probably not.  And therein lies another plus.  The national media always fawns over a Republican that they know can’t actually win.  It makes them look bi-partisan.  All the better for George P. Bush and the future.
      If this is what is going on – and it is surely a factor – then Jeb Bush may be one of the most selfless men in the famous Bush family.  He stood aside for his father.  He stood aside for his brother.  And now, by running for president, he may just be doing the same thing for his son.
      See this CNN interview: Bush Family Dynasty: The long range plan that is now years in the making.


George H.W. Bush: The Nicest President in American History

January 2, 2015

Having worked for the man I can tell you that George H.W. Bush is no pushover.  When Manuel Noriega rattled his swords and waged his drug war against the USA, Bush descended on Panama like a thunderstorm, without warning, bringing the villain back in chains.  When Saddam Hussein invaded his neighbor, Bush organized the entire world against him.  It was an unprecedented moment. “This shall not stand,” Bush said.  And it didn’t.  Bush, not Reagan, was the man who stood watch over the collapse of the Soviet Union.  And many forget that the Berlin Wall came down when he was in the White House. Even so, what endures from those who know him personally and from those who have studied the presidency, is that George H.W. Bush may be the nicest man to ever sit in the Oval Office.

Presidents, like all leaders, are often known for their ruthlessness.  “A great Prime Minister,” Gladstone once mused, “must be a good butcher.” Bush, not Theodore Roosevelt, was the president who walked softly and carried a big stick.

Presidential power within a family sometimes reaches tragic proportions. Accustomed to fawning subordinates at work, the presidents often expect the family to likewise cater to their egos at home.  John Quincy Adams, our sixth president, told his namesake and son, John Adams II, that he would not attend his Harvard graduation unless the boy worked his way into the top five graduating students.  When the son prevailed the father moved the goal posts.  If the boy was not number one, he said, he still wouldn’t come.  The son, John Adams II, got drunk and was expelled from Harvard.

Abraham Lincoln had a mean, stubborn streak that left him estranged from both his father and his first born son.  He refused to attend his father’s funeral.  Lincoln oversaw the massive slaughter of a generation of young men.  More Americans died in the Civil War than in all other modern wars combined.

Theodore Roosevelt invaded Columbia and invented Panama.  It was an illegal, arguably immoral war, but it got us the Panama Canal.  Roosevelt once said, “Every generation of young manhood should experience a war.”  It Hitler were to say such a thing we would rightly rebuke it.  Theodore Roosevelt only makes us chuckle.

Franklin D. Roosevelt interned thousands of Japanese families living in the USA during World War Two.  And he too could be quite tough on his own family.  When son, Jimmy Roosevelt, complained to his mother that he could never talk to his father she suggested he get an appointment. “That’s what I do,” she said.

Lyndon Johnson could be cruel to staffers and rivals alike, even physically intimidating them. Richard Nixon had his blacklist.  New audiotapes show John Kennedy viciously excoriating subordinates.

Sexual abuse seems to be a rite of passage for men of power.  Again, FDR comes to mind. Missy LeHand faithfully served him for years, living with him alone when he was forgotten, even crawling in the mud on the beaches of Florida with him as he tried to affect a quack homeopathic cure for his polio. Some of the president’s sons remember her, wearing a nightgown, sitting on his lap, in the private quarters of the White House.  But when she, herself, had a stroke and developed a paralysis, he threw her out and took a new “friend.”  John Kennedy’s sexual abuse of staff and friends has become legendary.

Sadly, there is no better understanding of the leadership skill of George H.W. Bush than a comparison of the two Gulf Wars.  George H.W. Bush defeated Saddam Hussein but left him in place.  His son, Bush the younger, conquered Iraq and stayed until both Saddam Hussein and his two sons were killed.

In the first Gulf War many people often asked, “Why didn’t the president finish it off?  Why didn’t he take Baghdad?”  It is not very often that we can see what would have happened if things had been done differently.  But now we can.  If Bush, Sr. had taken complete control of Iraq and deposed or killed Saddam Hussein, the whole Sunni-Shia balance of power in the Middle East would have collapsed.  The region would have erupted into bloodshed. Terrorism would have proliferated.  Radical Islam would have toppled established governments.  Christian communities, who trace their lineage back to the time of the Apostles would have been butchered, their centuries old churches burnt to the ground.   We know it would have happened because it is exactly what happened when his son, President George W. Bush, decided to give it a try.

Now, we know the genius and the patient calculation of George H. W. Bush and the gifts he brought to the presidency.  He is nice.  But it has a purpose.


When presidents go on vacation

August 16, 2014

Having written about presidents and worked for presidents I can tell you that there are some misconceptions about presidential vacations.  Some things happen like the rest of us.  Some things don’t.

First there is the idea that the president is the boss and can take off when he wants.  Actually, he is at the mercy of other people just as we all are.  For example, he must co-ordinate with the legislative calendar on Capitol Hill.  If he is not in Washington to help lobby his own bills in congress both his legislation and his presidency will suffer.

Likewise, the timing and planning behind visits from foreign Heads of State are calculated well in advance.  If the president cancels a visit in favor of a sudden vacation with the kids to Disney World he can ruin a relationship or trigger an international crisis.  And if the president insists on taking a scheduled vacation when the rest of the world is falling apart he risks a political uproar.

In 1983, when the Soviets shot down a civilian Korean Airlines, Reagan cut short his time at the ranch in California and flew back to the Oval Office to address the nation.

Some people get upset if the president isn’t in the Oval Office with his sleeves rolled up.  But actually the work of a president is making decisions and that process does not stop, not for Eisenhower on the Golf Course, Kennedy at the beach, or Obama on a bicycle.

Woodrow Wilson, who had been the president of Princeton University, and brought an academic mindset to Oval Office decision making, was scandalized by the pace.  He told his wife and daughters that he didn’t have time to think, that he couldn’t even take a walk before making a decision.

The Oval Office was only built in 1909, which means that most presidents never worked there at all.  And today’s West Wing Oval Office was built in 1934 by President Franklin Roosevelt.  Many presidents, such as Richard Nixon, only used it for ceremonial purposes.  He did his real work in a more expansive office in the Old Executive Office Building which is adjacent to the White House mansion.

Some presidents, like George W. Bush, were not paper shufflers.  They got much of their work done through conversations and that could take place anywhere. The staff had to turn it all into paper. When presidents travel their communications network travels with them, as well as a miniature White House staff.

You will hear a lot of people talk about how Air Force One has ushered in a new era of the traveling president.  Not really. American presidents began extensive travel with trains.  At their peak presidential trains crisscrossed the continent and were a virtual traveling White House.  At one time each cabinet member had his own available train.

Presidents have always been criticized for taking time off, beginning with George Washington who often visited Mt. Vernon.  President Obama recently took a lot of hits for taking a vacation in the midst of world crisis but former presidents of both political parties won’t criticize one of their own for getting some rest. “I don’t agree with your politics,” Richard Nixon said to John F. Kennedy, after the latter won the 1960 election, “But I will never criticize you for taking a vacation.”

Perhaps the biggest misconception about presidents is how well informed they are, and how their morning intelligence briefing keeps them in the loop, even while on vacation.

It depends on the president, of course, but almost all of them become isolated in office.  It is the nature of power.  A memo sent to the president is stamped “The President Has Seen” and becomes an official document of government that will one day be seen by the world.  And so staffers who once told their boss everything are reluctant to send information that others will one day see and judge out of context.

While it’s true that because of their security briefings presidents have information that the rest of us don’t have, even on vacation, the fact is that we sometimes have information that they don’t have!  It is a story as old as the Emperor’s Clothes and it is strikingly seen in George W. Bush’s slow response to Hurricane Katrina and the unfolding tragedy in New Orleans. While the whole nation watched as mothers and children were trapped in 90 degree heat on rooftops without water, food or toilets, and an obvious major health crisis was in the making, the president was at his ranch and not to be disturbed. It was a costly mistake.

Having worked on senior staff at the White House I was often astounded and surprised at what the president knew and what he didn’t know.  There just isn’t time for anyone to know everything.


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.