The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘honesty’

THE IDENTITY POLITICS PICKLE

When I was in my grammar school orchestra, our music teacher and conductor introduced us to a recently written short piece entitled, “Who Am I?”  I no longer recall the name of the composer nor have I been able to discover that despite a lot of internet searching.  I really didn’t care for the piece (or I would remember who wrote it) but the title is incredibly pertinent to an understanding of the world view that many have adopted – Identity Politics.

There is probably no thinking human who has not at some point asked the questions, “Who am I; Where do I come from; What am I doing here; Where am I going?” Religion and science have both addressed those questions.  I suspect our lives would be far easier if we definitively knew the answers to those questions.  But as we don’t we have to cope with life as we perceive it.  That includes how we see ourselves and our relationship with the world and other people in it.

Without question, most of us would prefer to have a simple answer and way of dealing with all the challenges that come our way in life.  Unfortunately, simple solutions are not always the best solutions.  Pigeonholing people into a class or group whether by race or gender or sexual orientation makes a fundamental flawed assumption that anyone who can be identified as a member of some particular group is part of a homogenous mass of people all of whom are defined by some particular specific trait and are all exactly the same.

As convenient as it is to define people including ourselves in this way, it is incredibly narrow-minded and denies a basic reality.  There are people whom we proscribe to a group who do not fit into the criteria that we ascribe to all members of that group.  This leads to one of two options.  Either we can consider changing our views based on the evidence in front of us or we can deny it or pretend it simply doesn’t exist.

Years ago, the Roman Catholic church in America had a very serious and embarrassing problem.  There were a number of priests who were pedophiles and rather than addressing the problem honestly, the hierarchy chose the path of covering it up, denying what obviously had happened.  The media coverage was both relentless and extensive – as it should have been.  Most people recognize that sex offenses are serious crimes.

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is currently serving a fifteen month prison term for molesting teenage boys when he was a teacher and wrestling coach.  That story also got a fair amount of media attention.  There is no surprise that both these stories were covered as widely as they were.  A large number of people in the media seem to support a secularist view in their reporting.  And most share a highly anti-Republican/conservative bias.

There is a similar story that is making it challenging for a Democrat incumbent mayor to retain his position in Seattle.  Ed Murray who is openly gay has been accused of paying an underage boy small amounts of money in exchange for sexual favors.  This is not the first such allegation against Murray.  Two teenagers made similar accusations in 2007 regarding events that were supposed to have taken place twenty years earlier. No charges were filed in either of those allegations.  By and large, the media seem to be in denial on this story and is sweeping it under the rug.  Gays are one “protected class” of people that Identity Politics has defined as sacrosanct.

It doesn’t much matter other than to Murray and his purported victims whether these allegations are true.  With the proliferation of sexual predation, it’s hard to imagine that at least one person who is a member of the gay community has not at some point been engaged in inappropriate and illegal behavior.  To deny that is to defy common sense.  But if that example were found and proven, it would be completely inappropriate to condemn the entire gay community because of the actions of only one person.  Unfortunately, that is where Identity Politics inevitably leads us when it is applied rigorously and universally.

If you can find one word which completely describes and defines who you are, you have more than likely self-circumscribed yourself and are comfortable in the limiting world of Identity Politics.  As for me, I would like to give myself a little more credit .  I think I am a little more complex than that.  In fact, I think we all are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE LYRE

On a balmy night in July, 64 A.D., the great city of Rome with its magnificent structures began to burn.  The fire lasted two days before it was contained and according to a number of the extant records written at the time, the Emperor Nero ordered the fire and calmly played his lyre as he watched the devastation grow and the fire consumed more of the great city.

There are several theories as to why this happened.  The first is that Nero was insane.  The second that he was quite sane and needed a scapegoat to blame for the decline of the Roman Empire under his and his predecessors’ rule – and he found it in the growing Christian community that he viewed as a threat.

In politics, despite the span of several millennia, it’s apparent that some things really don’t change.

Over the past thirty years, there have been more “fires” associated with Bill and Hillary Clinton than any other politicians in all of  U. S. history. Naturally, the Clintons dismiss these as nothing more than right wing fabricated conspiracies intended to undermine this sordid couple and their personal ambitions.  There is an alternate theory to this explanation.

If ten arsons were set and there was one commonality to all of them – that the same person was present at each blaze – the reasonable assumption would be that person might be the arsonist and his or her connection to these blazes should be investigated.  That’s what any intelligent law enforcement official would do.  And, perhaps, despite years of evasion, the time for that investigation has come to the Clintons.

We will certainly not know the conclusion to the FBI’s re-opening the case into Secretary Clinton’s use of an unsecure server, the contents of most of the emails that were deleted apparently in defiance of and after a Congressional subpoena for all her emails was issued or the “pay for play” allegations that are swirling in an every growing eddy around the Clinton Foundation by the time we cast our ballots on November 8th.  But for those few voters who are still undecided, there is something they might want to consider.

The financial services industry is one of the most highly regulated businesses at both a federal and state level.  Most people who deal either in providing investment advice or in the sale of securities are required to pass the Series 7 examination and to take regularly scheduled continuing education exams to make sure they are current on the latest regulations.

Virtually every training course for the exam begins with the same sentence which the applicant is supposed to consider paramount in her or his career should they pass the exam.  It boils down to the simple sentence, “Know your customer.” Here’s what that means.

As an advisor or broker, a licensee is supposed to put the best interest of the customer first and to tailor any advice specifically to meet the needs of that customer using what is known as “the prudent man rule.”  In other words, would a prudent man make a recommendation for a customer to purchase a specific security after analyzing their financial objectives and particular circumstances.

As an example, a sixty-five year old widow with a two hundred thousand nest egg and whose sole income other than return on investments is Social Security would normally be directed toward an allocation of conservative investments such as blue chip dividend paying stocks and government bonds.  After all, with a life expectancy of nearly twenty years, conservation of principal is critical.

On the other hand, a thirty year old who happens to win twenty million in a lottery payout would most likely be directed into a more aggressive investment strategy which would, in part, include higher risk assets in order to grow the portfolio in the long term to maximize the likelihood of wealth accumulation.  Among those high risk assets might be taking small interests in various “private placement” offerings which, among other things, might include participation in oil and gas drilling ventures.  These sorts of ventures have existed for well over a century.

Now using the prudent man rule, it would be imprudent if the advisor suggested putting the new millionaire’s entire fortune into one or even several of these placements.  After all, despite the improvement in technology, it is possible for a particular oil and gas syndicate to drill five or ten wells and have them all come up dry and for the investors in them to lose their entire investment.  But to advise an investment allocation of perhaps five percent of the lottery winner’s fortune and spread that between ten or twenty exploration ventures would most likely be viewed as conforming to the prudent man rule as the allocation into these risky ventures is small and by spreading the risk over a number of such ventures the investors chance of getting what might be a significant return would increase.  Diversification reduces risk – even in the case of inherently risky ventures.  At least that’s the case on the surface – but let’s add some additional facts to the equation.

First, the advisor most likely will earn a commission by directing investors into the ventures he recommends.  That is in complete conformity with accepted financial services guidelines.  But the question about this recommendation becomes hazier if the syndicates planning on doing the oil and gas exploration happen to be directed by the advisor’s brother-in-law – particularly if the advisor fails to disclose that fact to the investor.  And, of course, it becomes an outright scam and punishable by fines and jail time if the syndicates never plan on actually doing any drilling but are simply reporting back to the investors that they drilled nothing but dry holes and pocketing their money.  Sadly, there are people who are perfectly capable of engaging in just such behavior – hence the need for regulation – and where warranted, prosecution.

I feel confident in saying that Hillary Clinton is familiar with these regulations.  The basis for my statement is based on three historical facts.  The first, Ms. Clinton demonstrated a remarkable understanding of financial markets when she was able to turn a one thousand dollar investment in cattle futures into a one hundred thousand dollar account – a return of 10,000%.   The second, continuing with the narrative of her stellar financial acumen, the Clintons claimed that they were “dead broke” when they left the White House – and yet, starting with nothing, have managed to accumulate well more than one hundred million in wealth.  The third, of course, is that Wall Street clearly understands Ms. Clinton’s unique insights into money and has recognized her talents by paying her $225,000 to share her wisdom with them in each of four separate one hour speeches.

Forgive me if, given the profound understanding that Ms. Clinton has of the way things work, not only in financial markets but political arenas as well, how she mishandled a few small but disturbing aspects of her job as Secretary of State.

The first, of course, is how she felt comfortable having an unsecured server on which she conducted official and personal business in violation of State Department rules;

The second is how a woman of her perspicacity could have confused the “c” in the header of emails she received, meaning “classified:”, with “cookie recipe”.

But the  most disturbing thing to me about candidate Clinton is, how did she come to develop such a misanthropic and disdainful view of people and on what basis has she come to accept her obviously imperious view of the world.

I can see only one posible benefit coming from the election of Hillary Clinton to the presidency of the United States.  She will create a tremendous demand for new jobs for music teachers.  All of us will have to learn to play the lyre as we watch the liar that is Hillary Clinton set America ablaze.

OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE (BUT WHICH PEOPLE?)

As we come down to the wire and the general election is less than two weeks away, I look at it’s being over with a mixture of gratitude and trepidation.  Gratitude that the endless political ads will have ended – and trepidation as to the outcome.

That we have two flawed candidates (my apologies to Gov. Gary Johnson and Dr. Jill Stein who are essentially irrelevant), from whom we must choose is rather distasteful.  But at least one of those, Donald J. Trump won his nomination fairly and squarely in a field as crowded as the Kentucky Derby and despite an entrenched Republican establishment that actively opposed him.  They lost that battle and are working hard to lose the war because they refuse to recognize a truism uttered by the late Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago, “The people has spoke.”

From  a quick read of some of the revelations being supplied by Wikileaks, it’s becoming clear that Hillary Rodham Clinton had some underhanded (and perhaps illegal assistance) in getting where she has gotten.  Nevertheless, she is on the ballot and we Americans have a choice to make.  The decision is effectively a binary one – and I have thrown my support and my vote to Trump for one simple reason which the late humorist, Will Rogers so eloquently expressed:

“I am less concerned about what government can do for me than I am concerned about what government can do to me.”

There are two things we can say about Trump and Clinton with some degree of certainty.  The first is that they are both human (although extreme partisans in either camp might dispute the validity of that statement as it pertains to the opposing candidate).  The second is that they have, during their lifetimes, both switched party affiliations.

Trump claims that in order to do business in his home base of New York City, it was essential that he both register as a Democrat and contribute to various Democratic candidates in order to “grease the wheels” of commerce.  While I don’t know if that was true in NYC, I do know that was a certainty in Chicago where I spent most of my adult life.  Attempting to do business with the City of Chicago as a self-identifying Republican was about as fruitful as a man who had lost both his arms in an accident attempting to engage in a little self-abuse.

Clinton arrived at Wellesley College armed with a copy of  Sen. Barry Goldwater’s book, “The Conscience of a Conservative” and four years later had shed this tome in favor of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”.  With her newly enlightened mindset, naturally Clinton turned her political allegiance away from her Republican foundation and joined the ranks of the militant Democrats – the purported champions of the “little people”.  But is that characterization in fact consistent with the real history of  Democrats?

Dinesh D’Souza took on this subject in his excellent documentary, “Hillary’s America:  The Secret History of the Democratic Party”. The movie is available on-line and I heartily recommend watching it by anyone who has an interest in American politics.  But below you will find my marginally edited recap – together with some additional material that I believe is relevant and important.

In 1838, Democrat president Andrew Jackson implemented his plan to remove the indigenous pre-Columbian Cherokee people from the ancestral lands they occupied east of the Mississippi River, relocating them to what is now the state of Oklahoma.  The Cherokees called this “The Trail of Tears”.  Of the estimated 15,000 men, women and children who began that march, it is estimated that 4,000 perished en route.  Jackson was no friend of “diversity”.

The year was 1861.  In South Carolina, Democrats fired the first shots on the Union garrison at Ft. Sumter beginning the Civil War.  The reason for the salvo and the primary motivation for the Confederate onslaught that took more American lives than any other war in which this nation has been engaged since it’s inception was the preservation of the institution of slavery.

It was the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln who wrote and spoke the words of the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves from their bondage.  It was Democrat John Wilkes Booth, the active agent of a covert conspiracy who fired the fatal shot, killing the president.

In the Reconstruction Era, Democrats founded the Ku Klux Klan to intimidate the newly freed slaves and discourage them from exercising their newly forged freedom.  The tactics that were employed included whippings and lynchings.  Although this original hate group soon died out, it saw two later reincarnations -revived in both cases by people who identified as Democrats.

In 1878, U. S. Senator Aaron A. Sargent introduced a bill that was destined, forty-two years later, to become the 19th Amendment to the Constitution – granting the right to vote to women.  Not one single Democrat in the Senate voted for this legislation and it had to be re-introduced two more times before it met the requirements to be voted out of the Congress and given to the states for ratification.

The year was 1942 and Democrat President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the War Department’s Executive Order 9066 which authorized and resulted in the internment of more than 110, 000 Japanese-Americans who were legal residents in the United States.  Of these, more than 20,000 were U. S. citizens.  This complete violation of the Constitutional rights of these individuals was upheld by a majority Democrat dominated Supreme Court.

A significant number of the ads which are being aired in Nevada and, I presume, in most other states, portray Trump as a person who is “unstable” and should “never be trusted with the codes that could launch our nuclear weapons”. Personally, as a child of the cold war, I remember my many nightmares in which, despite our air raid drills at school and the yellow and black signs on our public buildings indicating that they were “bomb shelters,” none of these made me feel secure.  That humanity has both developed and continues to stockpile a sufficient quantity of these weapons effectively to destroy all life on our planet still causes me to shudder.  But what is the actual history of the deployment of nuclear weapons?

The year was 1945 and Germany and Italy had been defeated by the Allies.  The war against the Japanese Empire continued.  Despite the advice of his military advisors, including Dwight D. Eisenhower who would succeed him in the Oval Office and who advocated for a naval blockade of the Japanese islands, Democrat President Harry S. Truman gave the order to drop atomic weapons on Hiroshima and two days later on Nagasaki.  Although there are no exact statistics of the number of people who were liquidated immediately when the bombs fell or who subsequently perished from radiation poisoning, the estimates are that at least 600,000 people died, making these the most devastating two days in human history.

In its historic decision in 1957, the Supreme Court struck down school segergation, a policy that was typical of the discriminatory anti-black laws which Democrats had championed in the South.  In Arkansas, a state in which Hillary Clinton should later become First Lady, the scene was set for confrontation as Democrat Governor Orval Faubus intended to resist the Supreme Court’s ruling.

At Little Rock Central High School, formerly an all white school, nine black students had enrolled for the new school year.  When they arrived at school they were greeted by angry crowds.  President Eisenhower summoned Faubus to the White House to demand that he call in the National Guard to ensure the safety of these students.  Faubus declined to do so, ultimately causing President Eisenhower to call in the 101st Airborne to ensure the students’ safety and to control those who protested the integration of our public schools.

Republican President George W. Bush has been widely excoriated for engaging in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in which more than 7,000 American service people have died.  Part of that criticism comes from the fact that among the dead enemy were additional people, euphemistically called “collateral damage” who were civilians including women and children.  That is tragic – but we should be used to this sort of tragedy as it happens every time violent conflict occurs.

But in contrast, our fourth bloodiest conflict, exceeded in death count only by the Civil War, WWII and WWI, the war in Vietnam, vigorously pursued by Democrat President Lyndon B. Johnson, makes these recent sorties look like a nice day at a church picnic.

We lost 58,209 servicemen in Vietnam with an additional 1,643 MIA and presumed dead.  Perhaps the turning point in the mindset of Americans who originally supported this war, came about not only as the numbers of soldier deaths mounted but as the media began reporting on the way in which the war was being pursued, specifically that we were using napalm as a tool to “flush out” the Viet Cong.

Napalm is a gelatinous compound that burns through almost anything in which it comes in contact – including human flesh. This iconic Time Magazine photo of a naked nine year old girl and her friends who had napalm dumped on their village in 1972 might have been the most gripping of any picture taken in Vietnam or perhaps any war.

 

File:TrangBang.jpg

 

And there you have it … a somewhat concise history of nearly two hundred years of how Democrats have addressed the questions of race and women and bringing about peace through diplomacy.  It hardly squares with the propaganda about “inclusion” which is one of the central themes of their talking points.  Is there an explanation?

At the beginning of D’Souza’s movie, he speaks with a fellow prisoner in his jail.  (D’Souza was convicted and sentenced for improperly making a ten thousand dollar political contribution to a friend’s campaign).  In light of the information coming out from Wikileaks about monies being moved around to support a failed Democratic candidate for the Virginia Senate – amounting to close to three quarters of a million dollars – whose husband is the number two person in the FBI and had oversight responsibility into the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email illegalities, D’Souza’s offense seems rather like small potatoes.

His fellow inmate was a con artist.  And as though it had been lifted directly from Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” if the truth about his con were uncovered and the facts revealed that his con was a sham, D’Souza asked, “How do you deal with that revelation?”  His answer was, “Lie, lie, and keep on lying.  Never admit to or give up the con.”

Hillary Clinton has lied and lied and lied and has never given up her con.  And that’s precisely why I cast my vote for Donald J. Trump.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ISLAM, MODERATE ISLAM AND RADICAL ISLAM – PART II

I apologize to my readers who anxiously awaited part two of this piece for my delay in posting but sometimes life not only imitates art – but it gets in the way of it.

In response to the recent and ongoing terrorist attacks carried out by people who are Muslim throughout Europe and the United States among other places, the news media has found a new go to buzz word that they have nearly succeeded in beating into the ground.  That word is “radicalized”.  It’s as though they feel they should be able to pinpoint that psychotropic moment when a perfectly happy, normal individual suddenly has an internal button pushed by some external entity or event and they suddenly enter a different world with a personality totally antithetical to their previous one.  That is nonsense and hog wash of the first order.

Of course, the present administration has bent over backwards with the limberness of a double jointed gymnast to avoid calling Islamic impelled terrorism what it is, despite the fact that every one of the three acronyms we give it, IS, ISIL, ISIS all start with the word Islamic.  The official, politically correct reason is that using that term disparages a religion and brands all Muslims with the same broad brush strokes of hatred which is essential to the makeup of those who blow themselves and others up with a religious zeal that can be described as nothing other than Islamic.  The holy book of Islam, the Koran, encourages this behavior.

I find it hard to understand how those on the left proclaim that we should have understanding and respect for one of the world’s largest religions – yet they do not see what it is that Islam actually is and what it teaches.  The throw away phrase that it is a “religion of peace” is belied by the facts of history from its inception until today’s most recent atrocity in a parish in France.  Islam is both a religion and a political entity which teaches that it should be the exclusive faith of every human on earth and those who fail to convert should be killed. That is Islam at its core.  In it’s political aspect it is no more or less totalitarian than Hitler’s Third Reich or Stalin’s Soviet Union.

For a moment, let’s consider the left’s premise that those who drive trucks through crowds with the intent of killing as many as possible, carry out beheadings of people of other faiths, throw gays from buildings, stone to death women accused of adultery and perpetrate “honor killings” should one of their children marry outside her or his parent’s determination of who should be their spouse, are really only lost souls who have gone mentally AWOL.  Their Islamic faith had nothing to do with their behavior.  But the fact is that Sharia Law, the codification of behaviors and punishments set forth in the Koran and in the Hadiths (sayings) of Mohammed preach exactly those forms of punishment and dictate that exact behavior in Islam’s adherents, the truck and flying planes into buildings being modern improvements, of course.

For an administration that considers the luxury accommodations at Guantanamo Bay to be cruel and unusual punishment, it is somewhat difficult for an intelligent person to understand how it dismisses, or more exactly, totally ignores the pernicious punishments which Sharia Law so generously hands out with the sanctity of what they believe is their holy faith.  Most Westerners would consider Sharia Law to be an exact description of the term “radical”.  And while the left so quickly dismisses these horrific acts as mere aberrations of the mentally challenged, let’s see how many Muslims actually believe in the sanctity of Sharia Law.  To that end, we’ll spend a moment with Ben Shapiro, one of the most brilliant people I know and see his analysis of this issue.

https://youtu.be/g7TAAw3oQvg

So according to Mr. Shapiro’s presentation there are (or were a few years ago) 680,000,000 “radical Muslims” in the countries he analyzed.  And while I have the greatest respect for Mr. Shapiro, I think he (and most others) are missing the point which is that by the very nature of Islam, any true believer is “radical” – at least as we in the West think of civilized conduct and behavior.  But even if we accept Ben’s analysis of “radical Muslims” and were to assume that while “radical” most of these are not “motivated” to perform radical deeds, let’s say one out of one thousand, that means there are 680,000 Muslims worldwide who might strike out against what they perceive as the enemies of Islam – which is to say the entire non-Muslim world.

While some may consider that a slam against a religious faith, Islam of the three great “faiths of the Book” is the only one which has both a religious and political agenda.  And it is that political agenda to which I am referring.  By contrast, Christian missionaries try to convert those who are non-Christian through preaching and example.  By contrast, Judaism discourages people from converting to that faith.  It is only Islam that views all infidels as worthy of contempt and in the failure of conversion, worthy of death at the hands of the devout Muslim.

It fascinates me how the left, so pre-occupied as they are, with “diversity” can be so defensive of Islam which preaches nothing other than religious and political homogeneity.  It amazes me that the left that so decries the “racism” inherent in the pre-amendment Constitution, valuing a black person as only three fifths of a white person for purposes of census and apportionment of Congressional seats, can be so supportive of Islam which states that a woman’s inheritance shall be only one half that of a male relative’s.  It astounds me that the left, so intent on equal justice for the bathroom rights of transgenders should be so silent when it comes to Islam’s imposing the death sentence on men who are involved in homosexual sex acts.  But then, one has to be logical to be astounded – and that has never been a core principle of the left – and most likely never will be.

The American apologist in chief, President Obama, has led this country and the Western world down a dreadful path with the “Iranian Nuclear Deal.”  The mullahs in Tehran must be laughing and drooling in their beards.  This is a bad deal, not because of the terms which they essentially dictated, but because there can be, as holy followers of the Koran, no deal whose terms they must honor because one of the parties is not a Muslim state.  According to both the Koran and Mohammed’s own actions in dealing with non-Muslims, any requirements imposed on them cannot be enforced as Allah allows, in fact, invokes faithful Muslims to agree to anything that will advance the furtherance of Islam in the world but in no way penalizes the faithful if they default on their end of the bargain.  It’s not unlike negotiating with an extortionist who has your entire family hostage and threatens to dismember each one of them if you don’t agree to his terms.

In light of this admittedly negative view of political Islam, Donald Trump’s much denounced statement about a “religious test” for admitting Syrian “refugees” is, perhaps, not so terribly outrageous.  The fact that every intelligence branch of our government has acknowledged that there is no way we can possibly corroborate the backgrounds of those who wish to migrate here should, of itself, be sufficient reason to oppose letting potential Trojan horses into the United States.  But there is a way out – one that would allow us to fulfill our welcoming outreach to the downtrodden and which would provide those who are already here with at least a moderate sense of security.

Let us open our arms to those few remaining Christian Syrians whose population has been so genocidaly reduced by ISIS.  They are people who most desperately need our help.  And they are people who are most likely to assimilate and be thankful for having the opportunity to be a part of the American dream.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ISLAM, MODERATE ISLAM AND RADICAL ISLAM – PART I

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(See Part II)

A SPEECH FOR HILLARY CLINTON TO BE DELIVERED AT THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION

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.

‘TIL DEATH DO US PART

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.

 

 

 

 

 

MANAGEMENT AND MS.MANAGEMENT

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.

IS HILLARY CLINTON RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SAN BERNARDINO MASSACRE?

As most of us who are political junkies know, the slings and arrows and mud throwing of this election cycle promises to be more intense than an extreme martial arts contest.  So without further adieu and not waiting for the actual participants to start the battle, I thought I would stir the pot and get things off on the right foot.  (Pun intended).

The two participants who appear to have emerged as the presumptive standard bearers of their respective parties, Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump, both have a history of flirting with controversy – and if you haven’t heard all the gory details and the sordid particulars, stay tuned because no doubt you will.

There are those BS (that’s Bernie Sanders) supporters who avowedly would never vote for Hillary.  (Although I never considered voting for the man from Vermont who has lived off the public trough his entire life and never accomplished much of anything during that entire period, I must say that my attitude toward HRC is that water boarding and Chinese fingernail torture couldn’t convince me to cast a ballot on her behalf).

Mr. Trump has a similar problem with the most conservative wing of the Republican Party’s constituents.  From day-to-day it is clear or unclear where he stands on anything other than Making America Great Again – an admirable rallying cry and perhaps even an achievable goal – if we ever were blessed to receive some specifics.  However, we are all now getting used to his mercurial stance on positions and can only hope that he puts together a serious cabinet whose members are practical, businesslike and intelligent – something we’ve been sorely missing for nigh on to eight years.

Yes, I have reservations (is that word allowed in the PC lexicon? – well, who cares) about Mr. Trump.  Many of them.  I have on the other hand none about Ms. Clinton who I believe years ago should have traded in her collection of pants suits for an orange jump suit bearing a number.

I have had several conversations with those who advocate Ms. Clinton’s candidacy.  And while I am happy to delve into the many past (and present) controversies which seem inexorably to circle her, I am always greeted with the same rather haggard argument.  “Well, those things were looked into and no charges were ever brought against her.”

My response to that is simple.

According to FBI statistics, since 1990, 211,000 unsolved murders have occurred in the United States.  By unsolved we mean that no one has been arrested, arraigned, tried and convicted of these crimes.  But the fact that our imperfect justice system and law enforcement agencies have been unable to bring these murderers to task doesn’t mean that there are any fewer people who have been murdered.  It simply means that we have not found and punished their killers. The fact that Ms. Clinton has not been held to account as of yet of any misdeeds hardly means that she is not guilty of misdeeds, anymore than O. J. Simpson was not guilty of the death of his wife and Ronald Goldman despite the verdict of acquittal handed down by his jury.

It would be truly surprising if the media treats both candidates equally, given their unarguable left-wing bent.  Perhaps one indication of that is a theoretical question regarding abortion which was recently posed to Mr. Trump by Chris Matthews.  The question hypothesized that Roe v. Wade was overturned by a future Supreme Court decision and a pregnant woman decided to abort her unborn child, despite the fact that doing so was now illegal.  Should she be punished for disobeying the law?

Mr. Trump flailed a bit before responding (and then retracted his answer the next day), but if I were him would have responded as follows:

“You know, Chris, the important question is not about some future event which might or might not happen.  We had a situation that happened recently – a situation that was fact – not possibility – the murder of fourteen innocent people by two Radical Islamic Terrorists in San Bernardino, CA – and whether Hillary Clinton was responsible for this tragedy.  Let me explain.”

“According to FBI Director James Comey, there are open cases in every one of the fifty states – investigations of people who have ties to Islamic Extremism .  Now as we’re all aware, the FBI has been investigating then Secretary of State Clinton’s improper use of a personal, unsecured server exclusively to conduct official government business.  Notwithstanding her protestations that no information ‘either sent or received’ was ‘marked classified’ at the time of its being sent or received, there are at least sixteen separate Federal laws which she might have violated – which are not dependent on those documents being marked with the classified designation.”

“In order to get to the bottom of this mess, brought about for no reason other than Ms. Clinton’s decision to ignore State Department protocol, the FBI has assigned 147 of its agents to the investigation.  So what if, instead of diverting all these individuals from other duties, which might have included monitoring the activities of the San Bernardino murderers, these agents were doing far more important things – like insuring the safety of the American people?  Should we hypothetically hold Ms. Clinton responsible for those untimely and unfortunate deaths?”

“But, of course, that is just hypothetical.  What is absolutely certain is that because Ms. Clinton chose to maintain a private, illegal server, a choice she admits was a bad one, should we, at the least, send her a bill for the salaries of those 147 agents who would have been doing more important things but for her ill-conceived decision?  By my count, that would come to a bill in excess of $10 million.  Perhaps Hillary and Billary could simply call some of their foreign Clinton Foundation donors and explain they are having a tag day to cover this obligation.”

I would have loved to have seen the look on Chris Matthews’ face if Donald Trump had responded in that manner.

Perhaps I have a future as an advisor to him and his campaign.

“I do not know if the people of the United States would vote for superior men if they ran for office, but there can be no doubt that such men do not run.”
– Alexis de Tocqueville

BILL CLINTON AND THE DECLINE OF AMERICA

There has been quite a lot of head shaking among my fellow Baby Boomers at the current state of affairs in America both political and cultural as though they are thinking, “How could things ever have reached this low?”  Well, for them I have some good news.  We’ve been there before – about 50 years ago.  And we made a comeback.  Perhaps the core of our problem is that we think of things in a linear manner.  We would be better served if we adopted the Mayan view of time and events and thought of them as circular and recurrent.

That is not to say that as I watch the idiocy, misinformation and shear ignorance that is the stock in trade today of today’s younger generation brought about by an educational system that has largely failed them and turned it’s attention to creating “safe spaces” for these poor, shrinking violets rather than educating them in the classics and history, I do not wring my hands with despair and despondence.  I do.  But then I remember embarking on my college career as the country was highly polarized both by race relations and the Vietnam War – and I think to myself, I’ve seen this movie, well at least the original version if not the remake.

The college at the University of Chicago was left leaning since long before I started there in 1964.  The only place on campus one might find conservatives was at the Business School and, to a lesser degree, the Law School.  But for those of us who were undergraduates, we were generally immersed in a culture of the left – whether we wanted it or not.  Notwithstanding the political orientation of our teachers, we were exposed to a wide variety of thought – often thought which directly conflicted with our instructors’ own political or social viewpoint.

One of the mandatory courses was Sociology 101.  The reading list was extensive, almost unmanageable because of its volume.  But among those books which were required reading were the works of J. J. Rousseau, John Locke, the Federalist Papers and Alexis de Tocqueville.  These authors could hardly be described as proponents of the philosophy of the left.  Despite the fact that my professor for this class was a good friend of Saul Alinksy (Rules For Radicals) who dedicated this work, the subject of Hillary Clinton’s 1969 college thesis, to Lucifer, his approach to dealing with this material was to present it and, because he believed he had a superior mental ability either to the authors or his students, attempt to debunk what they had to say.

Consider that last line as a sign post of the difference between then and now because it is crucial.  The material was presented and debated – or at least it was.  Today’s universities do not exercise the same intellectual honesty because they present only one side of the story, pretending that is the only side to be told.  And this manifestation of intellectual dishonesty extends everywhere into the culture where freedom of speech merely means, freedom to speak but only in the manner that the vocal left minority deems appropriate.  The late Chairman Mao would be proud of them – as would have been Adolph Hitler.

“Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”

– Alexis de Tocqueville

De Tocqueville was sent to the fledgling America by the French government to study her prison system and went on to write his classic two volume work, Democracy in America.  There are many profound observations which he made in that work and over the next several posts I will be using several of them to illustrate my point.

But let us move on to the subject of this post with the assistance of another of his quotes:

“The greatness of America lies in the fact that her laws are applied equally to everyone.”

There are two separate but equally important points to be taken from these quotes.

First, de Tocqueville recognized that moral behavior was an absolute thing.  That there was right and wrong, good and bad, truth and falsehood and that God, not man established those things which also gave rise to the Founding Fathers’ exclamation that “We hold these truths to be self-evident…”.  Truth, right and good were ordained as such by God and no matter how man might convolute these to suit his own personal needs, were immutable. There is no clearer expression of this than in our legal system where the person testifying is required to take an oath, pledging to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

But to whom is this oath sworn?  To God.  As de Tocqueville points out in the first of these quotes, morality is dependent on faith.  So if we set God aside, then the only concern of a deponent in a jury proceeding is not in testifying truthfully but in testifying in a manner which best serves his purpose if he is confident that he will not get caught lying.  And the sad truth is that there are few cases of perjury which are ever prosecuted – thus reinforcing this self-serving behavior.

During President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial our then Chief Executive clearly lied about his sexual liaisons.  Frankly, I could care less about them and would have had more respect if he had said, “Yes, I had sex with that woman in the Oval Office.  So what?” Clearly there have been other presidents who had dalliances outside their marriages including FDR and Eisenhower to mention just two who come quickly to mind and those relationships didn’t seem to impact their ability to govern.  Instead, Clinton chose to take the low road with a series of legalistic responses to avoid the embarrassment of public revelation about his numerous sexual relationships.  And his punishment for this perjury – a fine and the revocation of his law license.

Second, let’s consider the concept of “the equal application of the law” which de Tocqueville lauds and review the case of Martha Stewart.

On December 27, 2001, Martha Stewart disposed of her interest in Imclone stock based on inside information she had received.  This helped her avoid a loss of about $50,000 as bad news on the company was about to break.  Ms. Stewart was arraigned and her trial took six weeks, resulting in her conviction on nine felony counts.  But the bulk of her penalty – a six month imprisonment followed by five months of electronic monitoring and an additional thirteen months of supervision was the result not of insider trading, for which she paid a fine but because she had lied to the FBI while being interrogated under oath by them.  As an aside, until 2014 when the law was changed, the insider trading activity in which Stewart engaged and which was illegal for any American to participate in – was fully legal if you were a Member of Congress.  Perhaps that is one of the reasons that so many congressmen and women enter the Rotunda poor and emerge as millionaires.

In my view, the penalties meted out to Clinton and Stewart were hardly comparable.  If anything, Clinton’s should have been the more severe because he held the highest of public offices and Stewart merely saved herself some money – an insignificant amount considering her net worth.  But both of them have returned to the limelight in society, their past transgressions forgotten and forgiven.  To this day, Bill Clinton is one of America’s most admired politicians.  And de Tocqueville has an explanation for that in our closing quote:

“Society is endangered not by the great profligacy of a few, but by the laxity of morals amongst all.”

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