The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

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(See Part II)

History has given us our share of great speakers.  Pericles and Winston Churchill come to mind.  By almost nobody’s evaluation does Ms. Hillary Clinton make the list.  Well, we all have different gifts – and oratory, sadly, is not one of Ms. Clinton’s strong suits.  So being the fair person I am, I thought that it would save the delegates in Philadelphia and the viewing audience the experience of an extended period of her cacophony and  would offer her a ready-made speech which not only is short and to the point, but might help diffuse the moniker that Donald Trump has applied to her.

But before you see the speech, let me give you some background on Ms. Clinton.

As some of you may know, she started out as a Republican.  But the ethics that party officially endorsed proved to be too much of a hurdle and Ms. Clinton felt there would be greener pastures – fields of lettuce – in the other party.

As a newly minted Democrat, Ms. Clinton served on the commission that investigated the Watergate intrusion which ultimately brought down President Richard M. Nixon.  This proved to be a pivotal moment in Ms. Clinton’s political development because from it she learned that when you have power you can get away with almost anything – as long as you don’t get caught doing it – a lesson that Nixon learned the hard way.

Like Clinton, controversy dogged President Nixon throughout his political life.  Like Clinton, a large number of Americans either distrusted or disliked Nixon.  You be the judge of whether or not either of them deserves or deserved that opprobrium.

But in a karmic moment, I thought I would offer you one of President Nixon’s more famous speeches – which I believe that Ms. Clinton should appropriate and plagiarize in its entirety.  And it is mercifully brief.

Of course, the only problem with giving this speech is that she is a crook.  But that’s a small matter – and what difference does it really make now.

 

(Background:  Revolving spot lights and victorious loud music.  Trump enters to thunderous applause from the crowd).

He speaks:

Dear friends, fellow Republicans, fellow Americans:

This election is not about me.  This election is about you and your children and your grandchildren and it is about the greatest country that has ever been known on planet Earth in times ancient or modern. Our 240 year history as the guiding light based on rock solid principles of justice and freedom is now at risk because some of us have acquiesced to convenience and self-interest rather than truth and selflessness.  This election is, in fact, a time for deciding.  And what we have to decide is crystal clear.  Do we want to make America Great Again, not only for the benefit of our own citizens but for people who yearn for freedom and safety around the globe – or are we willing to sink into mediocrity putting both ourselves and others on the planet at risk and jeopardy?

Let me be honest – something you will hear infrequently from my prospective opponent, Ms. Clinton.  I never sought this office.  I never had political aspirations.  I loved doing what I have done all my life – building buildings and helping others by employing them.  But I decided to enter this fray for one reason and for one reason only.  The only way in which I was able to accomplish what I did was because I lived in a country which recognized and rewarded people who were willing to take a chance and to build something where there was nothing there before.  I lived in a country which allowed people to prosper based not on some assumed privilege of genetics but because they took the time, sweated the tears and refused to give up until the finished product was brought to fruition for all to marvel at.  I was only able to do what I did because I lived in the United States of America. And because of an accident of my birthplace I am both grateful and humbled.

Now over the course of the next few months, you may expect to hear the continuing drumbeat of the largely liberal media, lambasting me for this statement or that, for everything they consider a faux pas or a violation of their sacred rules of political correctness.  I will be portrayed as little more than a blow hard and a showman.  Well, I view this as a great departure from the status quo of , “Too much talk and not enough action” which is customarily what we hear from our elected officials.  And beause I am going to be honest to myself, a quality that may be sorely lacking in my opponent, I don’t anticipate changing.  But these charges reflect on style and are, at most, cosmetic.  They are distractions to which we will all be subjected because they divert from the real and only important issue, that being, who has the best interest of the country and its people rather than personal ambition and self-aggrandizement at heart?

We should expect that I will be unfavorably compared to my prospective opponent, Ms. Clinton for lacking in “experience.”  It is certainly an undeniable truth that I have never held elected office, let alone the most important one to which any American could aspire whereas Ms. Clinton has been a United States Senator and Secretary of State.  She certainly has more public service experience than I do.  But what has her experience done that has been to the benefit of the United States of America or its citizens?  To speak of experience without speaking of the results that experience has brought with it is as foolish as to extoll the extraordinary experience of a bank robber who has pulled off twenty successful heists.

Let me be clear that what I lack in political insight, I more than make up for, if I may say, in common sense and good judgment.  It doesn’t take a bureaucrat to realize that keeping, sending and receiving classified information on an illicit, non-secure personal server jeopardizes the people of this country and our remaining allies throughout the world.  That is something I would never do.  Furthermore, I would never lie, obfuscate, or evade with legalistic answers having done it should I ever have taken leave of my senses and actually committed those felonies.

Early in life, I realized that I was blessed to be a bit brighter than your average bear.  But as smart as I might have thought I was, I realized there are always people who are a little bit smarter – at least in some particular field of expertise.  If I have any genius at all, it is in admitting that there are people who know more than I on this subject or that.  And the true trick of becoming successful is in identifying those people and building a team with them as the keystones, relying on them for their exceptional insights and keen understanding of the area in which they are uniquely qualified.  The Trump/Pence team will do exactly that – and the result will be that we will again find our path that will lead to Making America Great Again.

But this can only occur if something happens on November 8, 2016 and the American people elect us to office.  And it would be foolish for me not to admit that this is an uphill battle.  Some political pundits have called this an election between whites and minorities.  Perhaps there is some truth in that – perhaps not.  But let’s take a moment to examine that issue.

First, to those American citizens who are of Hispanic background.  We thank you for your contributions to the American melting pot, for the cultural enrichments you have brought to the United States and for your diligence and strong work ethic.  You bided your time and waited with the longing shared by all immigrants to come to a land where the most you could achieve was how high you set your sights and how hard you were willing to work to achieve your goals.  You looked to find a new home, free of government oppression in a country where you could and should deserve the protection of the law just as every other citizen, irrespective of race, religion or national origin.  You came to America – the only country on earth that gladly welcomes one million newcomers a year.

But the safety and security that you sought is now threatened, not only for you but for every other American.  Porous borders which ask nothing of a person’s background have brought with them an onslaught of people, some of whom have dubious backgrounds and potentially dangerous futures.  I affirm my earliest comments in this campaign, to strengthen our borders, to deport those who break our laws and who are here illegally not for the security of just a particular segment of the American people but for all Americans, including our Hispanic friends and citizens.

To our black citizens – well, you may be the hardest nut to crack not only for me but for any Republican presidential candidate. For decades you have voted to elect Democrats to local, state and national office with a ninety to ninety-five percent solidarity – as though Democrats were the great emancipators and not Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president. The question is not how the Republican or Democrat parties view your lives.  It is how YOU view your lives.

Chicago, now becoming the murder capital of the country, has been run by Democrats since 1931- eighty-five years; Baltimore has been run by Democrats since 1967 – forty-nine years; Detroit has been run by Democrats since 1962 – fifty-four years; Philadelphia has been run by Democrats since 1952 – sixty-four years.  So to the black citizens in these and other American cities, I would ask these questions:

“Have the Democrats served your interests – or have they merely used you as a tool to elect themselves and serve their own?”

“Should your children have the same right to attend the schools of their choice, not some inner city institution where they will receive an inferior education just as Hillary Clinton was able to choose for her daughter – or are you willing to accept the status quo and settle for inferior education and inferior opportunity for your kids?”

“Are you content to live in overcrowded, run down public housing in neighborhoods where the gangs, rather than civil law, rule the streets or would you like to live in a community where going to the corner grocery store doesn’t involve risking your life?”

To our black friends and citizens, overwhelmingly a bastion for the Democrats, perhaps now is the time to rethink your options.  Because if nothing has changed in your neighborhoods for decades – in fact has gotten worse – why would you think that electing Hillary Clinton is going to do anything other than pound the final nail in your coffins?

The Republican party and I welcome all those black Americans into our cause who believe that life means more than just surviving.  It should mean having the opportunity for all people of dignity and conscience who want to do better for themselves and their children to be able to act on that opportunity.

If Governor Pence and I are found worthy of your vote and we are elected to the highest offices in the land, I give you my solemn word that you will have that chance – something that has been denied you for decades.

In closing, let me take a moment not only to thank my family for their support and patience during the amazingly difficult ordeal of the primary – but most especially, to thank the millions of voters who saw something in my candidacy and offered their enthusiastic support at the ballot boxes through out the land.  I cannot sufficiently express my heartfelt gratitude.  I am humbled by your confidence.

But this is only the beginning of an even more challenging climb that will culminate with the general election.  I do know that if the good men and women of this country see what is at stake and are willing to take a chance on a political outsider who has nothing but the interest of the country and it’s people at heart, than we will set ourselves firmly on the path and be prepared for the journey to Make America Great Again.

 

 

 

Dorm life at the University of Chicago included endless reading lists, study groups and a twelve times a week food contract in the building’s cafeteria.  As one of my fellow students whose epicurean background was similar to mine put it, “They should put out a contract on whoever had the gall to call this food.”  Fortunately, we all got to enjoy a respite from this gastronomic abuse.  It was called Sunday and the cafeteria was mercifully closed.

This, of course, forced us students to fend for ourselves for sustenance.  As I was the organist for the Episcopal Church services on campus at Bond Chapel, Father Pyle and his wife had established a Sunday supper program for us poor waifs who had nowhere else to turn.  I wished that the program were a nightly event as I would greatly have preferred the fare at Brent House to that in my dorm’s cafeteria.

Hyde Park had only one establishment that could be referred to as a “supermarket”.  At the time I moved into the neighborhood it had been operating for over thirty years, having been founded during the Great Depression in 1932.  It was called the Hyde Park Cooperative Society.  But the “Co-op” as it was generally called was two miles from my dorm, far too long a journey on foot to buy a piece of fruit during the depths of winter.  So until I moved out of the dorms in my fourth year I was constrained to buy provisions from the two small mom and pop stores that were within reasonable walking distance.

My fourth year in college brought with it two major developments.  The first was that I paid for driving lessons and set to inflict myself on the general automotive community by purchasing my uncle’s two year old Dodge Monaco.   I also moved to the east side of Hyde Park and was only a few blocks from the Co-op which was the anchor tenant in Hyde Park’s largest shopping center – though by comparison to today’s mega centers it was really quite small.

Now that I was freed from the bondage of a dorm food contract, I naturally turned to the Co-op as my preferred choice for grocery shopping.  I walked into the store for the first time and wanted to find out how to become a member – it was, after all, a co-operative society.  I went downstairs to the membership department, picked up a brochure and couldn’t help but notice the photo montage that was on the walls showing the growth of the store from its original founding when four people got together and decided that they could help out people in the neighborhood if they banded together, bought food in quantity and passed along the savings to their customers.  In other words, the original founding motivation was based on a social philosophy – and the implementation of that happened to take form as a grocery store.  This philosophy continued to permeate the Co-op when I joined.

Now I must admit that I might not have been imbued with the same desire to help out the poor and downtrodden – but I was motivated to purchase a share because for ten dollars, I was going to receive a five percent return on my small investment while the banks were only offering four percent and I was promised a rebate on my annual purchases based on the store’s profitability.  Sounded like a decent deal to me.  I unfortunately made the small indiscretion as I signed up to refer to myself as a shareholder in the Co-op.  After all, I was purchasing a share so that seemed like normal terminology.  The person who accepted my ten dollars and signed me up explained that I was not a shareholder – but a member in the Co-op.  Well, shiver me timbers, apparently political correctness was floating around even back in the late ’60’s.

As I came to find out when my first year of membership had passed and the Co-op sent out its annual accounting, I apparently was not a “full member.”  My statement arrived showing my fifty cent credit on my one share investment.  In addition, I had received a 2.3% rebate on my purchases during the year.  So I was entitled to a distribution of just under three dollars.  But rather than sending a check for that amount, it had been re-invested in an additional partial share.  The explanation included in the letter indicated that until a person became a “full member,” which was to say owned ten shares of stock, that procedure would continue. And it did for many years.  I was moderately offended that the Co-op in the finest tradition of socialist organizations everywhere dictated, through it’s infinite collective wisdom, what its members should do.  Nothing could be more apparent to demonstrate that than what I will next relate.

Perhaps you will remember Cesar Chavez and his United Farm Workers’ Union.  If not, Chavez organized the farm workers to protest the poor conditions under which they labored.  He effectively called for a boycott of farm workers from picking lettuce and grapes.  The Co-op, always mindful of its social, primary mission, aggressively concurred with this policy and refused to carry either of these products during each of these boycotts.  (Those two mom and pop stores saw a significant increase in their sales while the Co-op refused to allow its patrons and members to purchase lettuce and grapes).  Apparently their customers didn’t completely subscribe to the collective wisdom.

As years went by, Chicago saw a significant increase in the number of chain grocery stores.  While the Co-op might have been the biggest fish in a small pond, it’s original concept of saving money by purchasing in bulk could in no way compete with much larger grocery stores with hundreds of outlets throughout the country.

The share dividend decreased regularly to the point where there was no dividend at all and the rebate percentage declined precipitously as shoppers found themselves with far less expensive alternatives.  On May 5, 2009, The Hyde Park Cooperative Society filed a petition of bankruptcy under Chapter 7 in the Northern District of Illinois.  The store was subsequently taken over by one of the smaller, multi-store chains, Treasure Island and is still operating under that name.  Seeing the writing on the wall, I had divested myself of my interest in the Co-op a decade earlier.

There are several points I hope that my readers will take away from this story.

The first is that when ideology, no matter how well-intentioned, is the driving force behind making business decisions even though that philosophy flies directly in the face of economic reality, that business is, sooner or later, doomed to fail.

The second is with regard to bankruptcy law – and the presidential campaign.

Much has been made, particularly by the junior senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren about the horrible things that Donald Trump has done to people because of his using the bankruptcy laws to his advantage.  She has painted a picture of his using those laws to “stiff” small companies and “cheat” them out of monies that were due to them.  So a word on bankruptcy law is in order.

If you’re familiar with the novels of Charles Dickens, you already know that he was a crusader for social justice.  One of the most egregious evils he identified was the existence of debtor’s prisons.  Yes, back in Dickensian England, a person could be imprisoned for failing to meet his debt obligations.  Bankruptcy laws came about as a reform to this form of societal punishment, recognizing that sometimes people found themselves in situations that were out of their control and the law was formulated to allow that person to make a fresh start.

As I mentioned, the individual who has most aggressively inveighed against Mr. Trump for following the law is Sen. Elizabeth Warren.  During her less than stellar career, Sen. Warren, prior to her election was a professor at Harvard Law School, among other venues. While there she gained a reputation as one of the nation’s foremost experts in and exclusively taught students – you probably guessed it – bankruptcy law.  It’s a bit hard for me to comprehend why a person who has spent a career teaching and representing clients in bankruptcy cases would hold such a negative view of that very law.

But then, I did sell my interest in the Hyde Park Co-op – before that very liberal organization had to resort to that same law.  Just saying …

 

T

 

 

 

 

Hyde Park had a strong Jewish presence in the early to mid part of the 20th century, in some respect due to the fact that the University of Chicago had a large Jewish faculty.  But as times changed and the surrounding neighborhoods deteriorated, bringing with that event an increase in the amount of crime in this middle class neighborhood, many of these people relocated to the north side of the city, particularly the area known as the Gold Coast.

There had been any number of delicatessens which catered to this part of the population but with their migration north, by the early ’70’s there was only one left – that being The Flying Lox Box on the very east perimeter of the neighborhood, a few blocks from the residence of the city’s first black mayor, Harold Washington.  The “Lox Box” as we called it, attracted a lot of us on a Saturday late morning for a delightful lunch, replete with outstanding dill pickle slices and an ample supply of insults from the proprietors, Rich who heaped disparaging comments on the diners as fully as he piled on the pastrami and corned beef on our sandwiches.  It was a bit reminiscent of growing up in Manhattan to me – and I reveled in the food, the company and Rich’s well meaning barbs.  I think that deep down, he had a repressed desire to appear on stage at Chicago’s Second City comedy club.

One of the regular patrons was a Chicago Police Department Sergeant, Adolph who was a sort of gentle giant.  Adolph could put away a sandwich with ease and frequently would order a second half sandwich to wash down the first one.  He was a delightful raconteur who would regale us with stories of life on the force.

In his earlier days with the CPD he was assigned to a different district – one that included Chicago’s second most dangerous housing project, Cabrini-Green, which now has been demolished.  He told us that the worst calls were ones coming from the project which involved domestic violence. Emotions ran very high in those sorts of calls.

One day when he and his partner had nearly finished their shift, they were dispatched to Cabrini on just such a call.  Queenie Johnson had called 911 to report that her common law husband was drunk and was beating her.  Adolph and his partner were only a few blocks from their apartment and responded promptly.

When they reached the Johnson apartment, they knocked on the door.  A timid voice answered from behind.  They identified themselves and Ms. Johnson opened the door.  It was immediately clear from the large cut and welt under her left eye that someone had indeed been hitting this woman.

On entering the apartment, Adolph asked, “Ms. Johnson, do you know where your husband is?”

“He be in the bedroom.  He be drunk and I think he passed out.”

“Do you want us to arrest him?  If so, you will have to come down to the station and file a complaint against him?”

“Oh, no, no, no, don’t do dat,” she replied. “He be drunk and didn’ mean no harm.”

“Well, ma’am, if you don’t want us to arrest him, what exactly is it that you would like us to do?”

Adolph paused for a moment.  Despite his large size he really was a big teddy bear.  He then told us what Ms. Johnson asked him and his partner to do on this visit.

She said with an almost childlike innocence, “Could you go in the bedroom, wake him up and make him say, ‘He love me’?”

I was about to join the others at our table who laughed at this woman’s request, but then it occurred to me how sad and pathetic her situation – and how terribly low her self-esteem must have been that she would willingly endure this sort of physical abuse.  And I could see that Adolph had not delivered her statement as the “punch line,” pardon the expression, of a joke.  He went on.

It was about six months after this visit when 911 got another call from Queenie Johnson.   Again, she was suffering a physical attack by her husband.  And once again, Adolph and his partner were dispatched to respond.  But this time, there was no soft voice behind the door.  They could hear the sounds of a struggle and when they broke in the door, they found Mr. Johnson holding a bloodied baseball bat on his shoulder, over the lifeless body of Ms. Johnson whom he had just murdered.

You could have heard a pin drop in the deli.  Even Rich, who had been eaves-dropping on this story, was uncharacteristically quiet.  All of us finished our meals without enthusiasm and went our ways, sobered and chilled by this account.

There are many reasons that I could advance for my unchangeable decision not to vote for Hillary Clinton.  I could argue that, despite the fact that she has never been arraigned or convicted for many of the past scandals which seem to circle her like a buzzard waiting for a wounded animal to die, she seems to be a magnet for controversy and activities which might or might not be legal but certainly raise questions of morality – a higher standard than what might be proven in a court of law.

I might argue that she exhibits all the pathology of a serial liar; that she arguably endangered this country through her slip-shod handling of emails; that she lied to the victims of the families of the Benghazi attack and to the American public; that she through the aegis of her and her husband and daughter’s foundation accepted money from governments which are among the worst human and female rights offenders in the world; that there may or may not be some quid pro quo from countries and individuals during her tenure as Secretary of State which enabled her and the former president to acquire vast amounts of wealth, far beyond even their excessive speaking fees would have produced.

But I do not need to argue any of that in formulating my decision because there is something far more profound and fundamental which in my mind disqualifies her from holding the highest office in the land and having ownership of the nuclear launch codes. That pre-eminent factor is her disposition and temperament.

Have you ever been involved or known anyone who has been involved in an abusive relationship?  If so, you know that the only alternatives open to that person is to terminate the relationship or to continue in it and continue to be abused.  Both choices are difficult – but the second one might be fatal as in the case of Queenie Johnson.

And the simple reason that people persist in abusive relationships always comes down to the same thing – lack of self-esteem.

As a friend, I’ve counselled any number of people who found themselves in situations where their spouses cheated on them or mentally or physically abused them.  My advice has always been the same.  I laid out the two alternatives that were available and suggested that the decision about what sort of future they had in life was totally dependent on how they went forward.

Some continued in those relationships and their abuse went on as before, as predictably it would have.  Some smaller number decided that they had value as a person and took the daring step to find that better future for themselves, though this decision resulted in a great deal of immediate pain and self-doubt which they were only able to overcome through the support of friends and family and their discovery of an inner strength.

Ms. Clinton obviously has chosen the first path.  Apparently her inner strength is so minimal that she is wiling to accept the very public knowledge that she is the “other woman” in her own marriage.  And it amazes me that for someone who purports to be a “champion for women” she is such a poor example for women or, for that matter, people of either gender.

This post is dedicated to Queenie Johnson – and to all the other people, living or dead, who have suffered from abusive relationships.  And while I feel a great deal of empathy for them, pity is not a valid reason for entrusting the future of the greatest nation on earth to a person who allows him or herself to be a victim.

 

 

 

 

 

Ah, to sit at the top of the corporate food chain.  There you are, a middle-aged white male (with or without paunch), showing up occasionally to work in your chauffeured vehicle, taking a few minutes to check the emails that your underpaid assistant has already reviewed, then off to a three martini gourmet lunch followed by a full body in office massage and, noticing that it’s quitting time off you go to the palatial home in which you live thanks to the fact that you are overpaid for being the CEO of your company.  That is the general picture that those who argue against “income inequality”  put forward.

While the picture of a day in the life of the CEO as I just enumerated it is, of course, a gross exaggeration, since most of us are not and will probably never be CEO’s of any major corporation, we simply are not privy to what the CEO actually does. As a result it is not difficult for those who are “anti-corporate” to sell this image.  This resonates particularly well with those who are at the low-end of the corporate ladder and already view themselves as victims of “the system.”

If truth be told, I suspect that a significant number of those who rail against the inequities of corporate America would, were they offered the opportunity, gladly accept the position of CEO of their company complete with a seven-figure salary, stock options and all the perks that accompany that position, quickly forgetting their comrades in arms on the assembly line.  If that analysis is correct, then we can say that it is not the inequities of corporate America toward which people are hostile.  It is merely the fact that they are not the beneficiaries of the positive benefits that those at the top receive.  In other words, their motivation is predicated on one of the ugliest of the deadly sins – envy.

While I have never run a Fortune 500 company, I imagine that my experiences as CEO probably mirrors that of others who ran their own small businesses.  I can assure you that the glamor and prestige which is attributed to being the leader of your business is more than offset by trying to keep the company afloat, making sure that the cash is in the bank to pay your employees (even if that meant skipping your own paycheck) and the sleepless nights – wondering if your plan and your vision will be enough to bring you through a slow patch – well, who would ever trade pacing the floor at three in the morning in favor of a restful night’s sleep?

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from viewing the actions of a number of NFL players off the field, it is that if your job requires you to be aggressive and violent, it is sheer folly to believe that removing a helmet and shoulder pads turns you into Mary Poppins.  We are who we have become – both in our place of work and outside the office.

People tend to want to associate with people who are like them.  By that I am not speaking of superficial characteristics such as race, gender, ethnic background or religious views.  At the heart of this desire to associate with others like us is a general outlook on life and the way in which we conduct ourselves with others. That is as true for a CEO as it is for someone on the assembly line.  There is a reason that the term “den of thieves” is part of our vocabulary.  It speaks to the fact that those comprising the “den” all share a common value system – that theft is not only an acceptable way of conducting oneself – it is an underpinning of  their core belief of how they view the world and their role in it.

People, of course, can change.  But let’s think back to the era of light bulb jokes as one of those comes to mind.

“How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?”

“Only one.  But the light bulb really has to want to change.”

The fact is that behavior whether it is constructive or destructive seldom changes because miraculously the owner of that behavior has a sudden epiphany.  Normally, the longer we repeat doing the same thing seeing what we believe are positive consequences, the longer we are likely to continue in that same behavior.  The thief who knocks over a convenience store and gets away with the crime, is likely to plan additional convenience store robberies.  Or, he might expand his horizons by considering how to make an even bigger haul by robbing a bank.

As he continues in successful caper after caper there is no reason for him to change his modus vivendi.  The only likelihood that he will abandon his career is if he is apprehended, tried and incarcerated.  And even then, we know the rate of recidivism of convicts is extremely high.

There is a reason that two-thirds of Americans view Hillary Clinton as “dishonest and untrustworthy.”  (I am in that camp).   She has a track record which she has developed over decades for, at the best, being barely inside the furthest edges of what might be considered legal; and at worst, violating the law but escaping the consequences of those misdeeds by virtue of her being well-connected and privileged.

Now the primary argument advanced by Ms. Clinton and her cohorts to dispel all the controversies that have surrounded her and her husband for decades is that, “it is a great right-wing conspiracy to disparage and impugn them.”  I would consider myself on the right side of things politically.  Yet I’ve never in all these years received even one invitation to attend an anti-Hillary conspiracy meeting.  Perhaps I should feel offended by this omission.

In evaluating a candidate for president, I try to employ the same standards that I used in my business life in which I referred executives to our client companies for potential hire.  Does the candidate have the requisite experience to handle the position in an exceptional manner?  That was the primary determining criterion that i used.  But beyond that there was a subjective component to my decision either to refer a particular candidate to my client or to withhold that referral.  Did I like the person?

As subjective as “liking” someone is, I tried to apply objective standards to that decision.  Was the candidate late, on time or early for our scheduled interview?  Did she come to the interview in a crumpled outfit or were her clothes fresh out of the cleaners?  Did the candidate have a good handshake or was it limp and fishy?  How was the candidate’s eye contact and general body language during our interview?  Did the candidate respond to questions in a clear and succinct manner or did she or he talk around the answer?  Did the candidate engage in any activities whether on or off the job that suggested a generous nature and a team spirit?  And perhaps most importantly, after we concluded our interview, did the candidate take the time either to call or send me a note, thanking me for the opportunity to meet and expressing an interest in the position we had discussed?

In essence, I mentally compiled a FICO score of personality for each candidate.  Perhaps it was not quite as scientific or mathematical as those which are put together to determine credit-worthiness.  But it seemed to be pretty effective as more than ninety-five percent of the candidates we referred to our clients and who were hired had long careers with those companies.

Applying those same standards to Ms. Clinton, I would not in good conscience have referred her to a client should the position of CEO be vacant and she had come in to apply for the job.  That decision has nothing to do with our divergent political views.  Rather, it centers around the woman herself.

I lived in the same condo for twenty-seven years and served as president for eight of those and as a board member for eighteen.  Many of the owners were in the building for similar amounts of time – but there was some turnover as people changed jobs and relocated or found other accommodations.  In some cases, I only learned the names of the other owners when, after three or four years, they had sold their apartment and were moving.  The reason for that was simple.  They followed the few rules we had, were good neighbors and gave the board no reason to have to intervene in any disputes in which they and their fellow owners engaged.

But as luck would have it, there were two of the seventy-two units whose owners either would appear before the board’s monthly meetings with regularity to allege a complaint against either management or one of their neighbors or who were the subject of just such a complaint by one of their neighbors.  I remember that when they showed up for a board meeting, the rest of the board’s membership joined me in a collective groan as we knew what was in store.  And it seemed that no amount of negotiating, no amount of pacification, nothing we could do would deter these two people from having another problem in the months that would follow.  Very early on in this process, I believe that we all correctly came to the conclusion that the source and cause of the alleged problems was not the neighbor but the complainants themselves.

It was my experience that the overwhelming majority of my neighbors were kind and courteous people.  They acknowledged their neighbors with a cheery, “Good morning” when we’d run into each other in the lobby and perhaps take a moment for a little chat even if they were on their way to work.  They always thanked the doorman for opening the outer door of the building for them.  On the other hand, the two people who regularly showed up at our meetings to file their complaints were cold and dismissive.  They would seldom say hello to other residents and treated the doorman and the janitorial staff as though they were indentured servants.  On more than one occasion, I apologized to our staff for their rude behavior.

Now consider for a moment that somehow, one of these two people were not only elected to the board but, even worse became president.  What was once a generally well-functioning entity is now being run by people who had demonstrated that they were always at the center of controversy – and because of their actions were the cause of that controversy.  How long would it take for the building’s operations to deteriorate, first into mediocrity and then into chaos?  I suspect not long at all.

Ms. Clinton brings with her candidacy a great deal of baggage that has caused many stirs over the decades.  One might agree with her assertions these are all a function of that vast great right-wing conspiracy.  Or one might argue, the reason for all the controversy surrounding her is that she, through her own actions or inactions, has focused scrutiny on herself.  If the same person is on site every time an arsonous fire is set, it would be foolish to overlook that person’s proximity and not have thoughts of suspicion arise toward them.  Accidents happen fairly infrequently – and coincidences even less often.

Despite her proclamations to the contrary, Ms. Clinton is one of the least transparent political figures in this country.  I cede the award of first place to President Barack Obama, hands down, undisputed, no argument. But Ms. Clinton is running a close second.  She has, through her cohorts in the establishment in the DNC managed to schedule very few debates and most of those were aired at a time when people were absorbed with watching major sporting events or preparing to celebrate the Holidays.  She hasn’t had a press conference for six months, unusual for a candidate for president who logically would want the public to know and understand what her positions are on important issues.

If we remember the premise that people tend to associate with people like themselves, what kind of staff would Ms. Clinton hire should she be successful in her bid for the White House?  Well, we do know what kind of staff and who it was that she hired in the only executive position she has ever held – as Secretary of State.

The Dems in Congress have downplayed Ms. Clinton’s role in what lead to the death of our ambassador in Benghazi and that of three other Americans.  To be candid, we may never know if their deaths were preventable.  We also may never know whether the State Department acted in a prompt manner to attempt a rescue effort.  But we do know that the State Department and President Obama knew the night of the attack that their explanation for the attack, that it was due to “an internet video besmirching the Prophet Mohammed” was a false narrative, repeated over a week’s period of time.

Further, we know that Ms. Clinton clung to this narrative while she “consoled” the families of those who had fallen in Libya – though she now denies that despite the testimony of those family members who heard her speak those words.

We also know that despite the Benghazi Committee’s Democrat members who have and still call this a “witch hunt,” were it not for the committee’s investigations, we might never have known that Ms. Clinton maintained an unsanctioned personal server and communication system nor that she deleted thirty-three thousand “personal” emails.  These, among other matters, are currently the focus of an FBI investigation – not the “security review” that Ms. Clinton speaks of when addressing this issue.

Besides the FBI investigation, a number of organizations including Judicial Watch have filed suit to determine whether Ms. Clinton (and her staff)have violated any Federal statutes.  Under the Freedom of Information Act, one of her senior assistants, Cheryl Mills gave a deposition last week.  Ms. Mills was accompanied to this hearing by no fewer than seven lawyers – three who represented her personally and an additional four from the Justice Department.

While I’m sure that it was Ms. Mills’ intent to be transparent and totally forthcoming in her deposition, apparently she refrained from answering a significant number of questions put to her because it might have “compromised national security.”  How ironic.  That Ms. Mills could so clearly identify issues of “national security” in the questions posed her, yet her boss, Ms. Clinton was so unable to determine that thousands of the emails she received could not be so identified truly amazes me.  I am further startled at the sheer numbers of legal talent that were assembled to advise this woman.  In twenty-six years in business I don’t think I had need to consult with that many attorneys in toto.

Throughout her career, both Ms. Clinton and her spouse have regularly relied on legalistic defenses for their actions.  It is reasonable to expect that should she be elected president, that sort of approach will continue.  Perhaps we will see her put the law firm of Dewey, Cheatham and Howe on retainer.

But to my thinking, legal redress in most cases could be avoided by simply doing the right thing in the first place.  That, it seems to me, is one of the fundamental roles that good management brings to the table.

In Ms. Clinton’s case, I am afraid we would see little more than Ms.management. And all of us will end up footing the bill.

MOTHER, MAY I?

Virtually every American city which has what we euphemistically call an “inner city,” (translation being an area of urban blight and poverty, overcrowding, under-education and where single parent families are the norm), has one thing that provides some constancy.  That is that “progressives” (translation Democrats) have been in control for the better part of half a century or longer and have created the perfect conditions for all of this human tragedy.  While I can’t personally speak to the conditions throughout the country, after thirty-six years of living in Chicago I do feel qualified to address the disaster that city has become.

Moving from Manhattan at age seventeen was not only a nine hundred mile geographical relocation.  I felt as though I had moved back in time by a century.  Truly, I had the sense that I was now living in the Wild West – with all the disadvantages that entailed and few of the benefits of modern 1960’s society.  Perhaps those feelings came from snobbery.  But as involved as I was with classical music, I was shocked that the classical radio station WFMT went off the air at 10:00 p.m., the Chicago Symphony at that time was a mediocre ensemble and Chicago’s “opera scene” was only ten years old.

To usurp a Robert Heinlein title, I felt as though I were A Stranger in a Strange Land.

Well, I adapted.  I found a local store that sold used vinyl and the broadcast void was filled with recordings of all the masters, bought on the cheap.  I became used to the fact that in Chicago you couldn’t buy meat in the grocery stores after six in the evening, even though it was sitting there pre-cut in the display case.  (This was a concession to the butcher’s union).  And I later became aware that on “Days when members of the Illinois General Assembly were being elected, it was illegal to buy a drink at a bar or buy a bottle of liquor in a liquor store during the hours that the polls were open.”  As I was under the legal age to buy liquor at any time and didn’t drink it, I found that law amusing – because as I later came to view the Chicago political process, it seemed to me that the only conditions under which one would voluntarily vote for the hacks who held office for decades was if the voter were completely inebriated at the time of casting his ballot.

I’m not sure how my thirty-six year long experience with crime compared to that of other Chicago residents.  One mugging; one near mugging (rescued by my Irish Setter); one car stolen (twice in six months – the second time permanently); one car vandalized twelve times in sixteen months so the thieves could steal the Blaupunkt radios.  As I said, I don’t know how that experience compared to that of your average Chicagoan.  Nor was any of this the basis for my reason to move to Nevada.

It occurred to me that I was paying the State of Illiniois three percent of my income (now four and one half per cent) for the privilige of residing in the state.  Notwithstanding all the monies that Illinois extracted from its citizens, the state’s budget was completely out of balance, has only gotten worse and Illinois now finds itself right behind Puerto Rico in terms of defaulting on its obligations.  But that was not the motivating reason for moving.  The City of Chicago was.

I had been giving some thought to relocating and felt that I needed a change.  As most of us, myself included, fear change, after thirty-six years this was a big decision.  But what decided me was looking at the City of Chicago’s budget for the year 2001.  Included in that budget was a line item for five million dollars.  The expenditure was for something called an anti-graffitti campaign – to purchase equipment and pay for the manpower to remove the graffitti the city expected would be applied to public buildings in the following year.

Consider the thinking behind this one item.  Rather than attack the problem at its source, apprehending people who applied graffitti, the city’s solution was to tolerate the application of paint to its buildings and then return the buildings to their original appearance – at the taxpayer’s expense.  This “solution” is so typical of government’s approach to problem solving at all levels.  And it is infuriating.

It is akin to a man walking into the Emergency Room of a hospital with a gun shot wound, the bullet still embeded in his abdomen.  The attending physician, rather than removing the bullet, gives the man a narcotic based pain killer to remedy his discomfot.  If that were to happen, you can bet that the hospital and doctor would be served papers as the defendants in a medical malpractice law suit.

Many who self-apply the misnomer, “progressives” to their political philosophy view government intervention as the first step toward creating a paradise on earth.  But with the sort of thinking that treats symptoms rather than addressing the underlying problems, what they and their political minions do is ignore problems to the point that they fester – perhaps beyond repair.  And that is precisely what has happened in Chicago and other major cities.

This being the Memorial Day weekend, Chicago started off last Friday with several murders to give us more people to memorialize.  The first death was a fifteen year old girl and was what inspired this post.

Veronica Lopez’ was the first of four murders last Friday in the Windy City.  She was in a car on Lake Shore Drive and at 1:30 a.m. was gunned down when a car pulled up to the vehicle in which she was riding.  Her car was being driven by an unidentified 28 year old male, the presumed target of the attack.  Veronica was apparently an unintended victim of what the police believe is a gang related shooting.

Those who believe in the efficacy of “nanny government” should be inspired by how effective this form of overseeing our citizenry proved to be in this case.  You see, Chicago, like many other cities passed curfew laws regulating when juveniles might be out on the city’s streets when they are not accompanied by a legal guardian.  In Chicago’s case, all juveniles under the age of eighteen are prohibited from being out after 11:00 p.m. on weeknights.  That law has been on the books for over seventy years.

Veronica Lopez’ death would have been avoided if she merely had obeyed the law.  Her mother, Diana Mercado was understandably distraught at learning of her daughter’s death.  “They took my baby,”  she said.

Well, fifteen year olds don’t always exhibit the best judgment.  But sometimes parents don’t either – as in this case.  Ms. Mercado should ask herself, particularly if she has other children at home, if she is enforcing the sort of discipline that a parent has the right to command of her offspring.

Why did she allow her daughter to violate the curfew law?  Even more to the point in these days when acts of predatory rape are as common as grains of sand on the beach, why did she allow her daughter to hang out with and go driving with a twenty-eight year old male?

As a kid, I used to resent what I viewed as my parents’ over-protectiveness.  If a friend invited me to a party at their apartment, my parents wanted the phone number where I could be reached.  And while I could walk there by myself if it were light out, my father would pick me up if it was dark when the party ended.  This was back in the fifties when it was considerably safer for children than it is today.

But the important thing was that my parents strictly regulated what I could do.  I don’t remember going out more than a few times during my time in grammar and high school years on a school night – and then only after I had completed my homework.

The usual response I received as I requested to go out and asked, “Mother, may I?” was “No.”  I wonder if more parents today exercised their authority, laid down rules for their kids and enforced discipline for infractions of those rules, how many more fifteen year olds might be alive in Chicago – and elsewhere.

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