Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: What’s Past is Prologue

Published on Jan 11, 2017

If you’re trying to get a fix on where you are, take a look at where you’ve been. As the sign says at the National Archives in Washington DC, “What’s Past is Prologue.”

So, to get some perspective, I took a look at our Presidents in the post World War II Era and tried to come up with a one-word description. Here’s what I came up with:

TRUMAN (gutsy); EISENHOWER (steady); KENNEDY (elegant); JOHNSON (powerful); NIXON (paranoid); FORD (okay); CARTER (godly); REAGAN (affable); BUSH I (earnest); CLINTON (clever); BUSH II (oblivious); OBAMA (decent). Special thanks to my friend Sam Miller for giving me the word oblivious for GWB.

I’m sure everybody has their own one-word description for their favorite and not so favorite past Presidents. For Reagan, some might think the word “affable” is a bit dismissive. Not so. His affability enabled him to be as effective as he was.

For Kennedy, “elegant” doesn’t just mean he looked good, but that once he got the first six months out of the way, it describes his way of governing (especially the Cuban Missile Crisis), and his relationship with the country.

For Clinton, “clever” is not a compliment … his best-known quote … “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

Last, Johnson. Maybe if I had three words, I’d say, “powerful and tragic.” The Vietnam War broke him, because he didn’t have the intellectual confidence to question the Ivy League advisors he inherited.

Looking at that twelve President list, is there a clue that tells us that Trump is the obvious next person in the progression? Maybe. Although, it would probably take a trained astrologer to tell us.

Is it possible to make a prediction as to what is likely to be the one word that will describe Trump? To do so now would be to assume that the job does not have the potential to change the person who holds it. Continue Reading…….

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Hang in there Steve Bannon

Published on Dec 6, 2016

I’m starting to really like Steve Bannon, Trump’s pick to be Chief Strategist on the White House Staff. Sort of like what Karl Rove was for GWB.

It’s not like it’s a man crush or anything. I’m still loyal to John Stockton, former point guard for the Utah Jazz, Patriots Coach Bill Belichik, and my main man, Barack Hussein Obama. Did I tell you he’s the only guy since Eisenhower to get over 51% of the popular vote twice?

Up until a couple of months ago, I wouldn’t have known Bannon from a cord of wood. That’s an old Tip O’Neill line … another guy I really liked.

The Tut Tut Caucus is coming for Bannon. Because he’s slotted for the President’s Staff, he doesn’t have to go through Senate confirmation. Confirmation Hearings are where Senators demonstrate that you cannot serve six years in the Senate and not become a complete jerk … (Obama got out just in the nick of time).

So, what’s their problem with Bannon? The usual package … insensitivity amounting to prejudice on race, religion, and gender that disqualifies him from polite company, never mind service on the President’s Staff.

Who’s leading the charge against him? The Queen of Correct Rachel Maddow, of course, backed up by 650 female graduates of Harvard Business School and Wall Street Journal Columnist Bret Stephens, to name three.

Rachel Maddow. I don’t watch Rachel Maddow very often. I’ve observed from prior viewing that her specialty seems to be exposing conservative Christians in the act of un-Christian behavior. She has no qualms about identifying wrongdoers as Christians while pointing out their misdeeds. Good for her. Apparently the job pays well.

If misbehavior is present in the Jewish Community, it tends to escape Rachel’s notice. Whether that has anything to do with the ownership of her TV network (Comcast) and its controlling shareholder, Brian Roberts, I have no way of knowing. Continue Reading……….

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Trump….Plus Long Knives Out for Bannon

Published on Nov 14, 2016

I guess I should say something about the election. Everyone else has. So, in no particular order:

  • Trump spoke FOR his people. Hillary spoke TO hers.
  • If you read a transcript of the three debates, Hillary won them all. Watching them, Trump survived. He lived to fight another day. He let his people know he was competitive. He was in it to win it.
  • Hillary’s finest moment in the debates was when she gave a little shimmy after taking some over the top incoming from Trump. It was her way of saying, “Isn’t that special!” It was endearing, even sexy. If she could have managed a little self-effacing humor now and then, it would have served her well. The best communicators have that talent … FDR, JFK, Reagan, GWB (“When Bill Buckley was at Yale, he wrote a book. When I went to Yale, I read a book.”), Obama (“Thanks, Obama …” “How does it feel to be the last black President?”).
  • Trump established an intimacy with his audiences, like the Men’s Wearhouse guy … “You’re going to like the way you look. I guarantee it.” His events were “happenings”. Hillary’s events were tutorials.
  • Hillary spoke the language of the Acela Corridor … Boston to Washington. She won the Corridor except the state Trump contested, Pennsylvania, which is often described as Philadelphia in the East, Pittsburgh in the West, and Alabama in the middle. Hillary won the Pittsburgh-Philly parts. Trump won the Alabama part bigly.

Continue Reading…..

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars – The Clintons Again: Better Than Poking Yourself in the Eye With a Sharp Stick … But Not By Much

Published on Nov 1, 2016

The Clintons are coming again. Like a couple of huge Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons.

They’ve been around forever. They’re totally familiar, clever opportunists … ambitious, greedy, unprincipled, and lacking a quarter ounce of political courage.

They’re also inevitable.

They’ve accumulated $100 million without either one of them having other than a government job for 30 years. They don’t pay for anything and, if all goes well November 8, they’ll become Billionaires.

Maybe then, one of them will pick up a check for something, anything, somewhere, sometime.

Like Gertrude Stein said about Oakland CA … “There’s no there there.” At least Oakland has former Jesuit Seminarian and two-time Mayor (and four-time CA Governor) Jerry Brown, Champagne Tony Lema, and Hell’s Angels Shot Caller Sonny Barger. The Clintons have ambition and the certainty that no matter how big a mess they make, they’re smart enough to talk their way out of it, and the sheeple will be with them to the end.

So far, they’ve been right.

The Clintons are the Nixon of our times … except Nixon was interesting, courageous, and a visionary in addition to being paranoid and the other things that drove him from office. The Clintons are just ambitious, ordinary, and boring.

I’m not looking forward to Election Night at all. Bill and Hillary with their rhythmic clapping. Pointing at special friends in the crowd. ($1,000,000 contributors get pointed at, $5,000,000 contributors get pointed at plus a wave and both palms pressed against the chest. That means a couple of nights in the Lincoln Bedroom and an invitation to join the Board of the Clinton Global Initiative for another couple of million … and then there’s the Hillary Library, she’s got you down for five mil there and, by the way, Chelsea needs a lift to Singapore in March, I’m sure your 727 will work fine … it never ends.)

I’m sure there’s a price for lifetime entitlement to a point, a wave, and palms to the chest … transferable of course to heirs and assigns. Continue Reading……….

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Still Can’t Hate Trump

Published on Oct 11, 2016

A while back, I said I can’t hate Trump. Still can’t.

On Hillary, I’m having a hard time getting to where Barack Obama got with Hillary back in 2008. Remember, that is when he said to her at a debate in NH … “You’re likable enough, Hillary.”

In my opinion, Obama exaggerated. But, he’s a gentleman.

Watching the second debate, I made the following notations about Hillary: Knowledgeable; Condescending; Contrived; and Smug. About Trump: Uninformed; Disorganized; Candid; and Likable. I thought Trump made a sincere apology for his creepy tape and Hillary made an insincere (she’s a Clinton) apology about her whole e-mail saga. I couldn’t help but get the feeling it took all the discipline she could muster not to blame the mess she created on Colin Powell … like she’s been doing lo these many months.

When it comes to becoming an enthusiastic Hillary backer, I feel a little bit like how Groucho Marx must have felt when he famously said, “I would never join a club that would let someone like me in it.”

It’s way too easy to join Club Clinton. All one has to do is pretend that she has a quarter of an ounce of political courage. (She showed strength by picking herself up off of the mat after Bill’s affair with Monica Lewinsky and establishing herself as a US Senator from New York. That’s ambition. Courage involves risking your career to do the right thing.)

She certainly didn’t show political courage as Secretary of State. She avoided working on the Israel Account like the plague. You can lose your career with any courageous even-handedness in that area. Continue Reading…….

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Hillary Feeling It

Published on Sep 28, 2016

I had a story title before the debate started … Mrs. Know It All Schooled By The Class Clown. That would have been a fun story to write. Especially for someone who has been amused by Trump and very reluctantly supportive of Clinton. Someone like me, for instance.

But then they actually had the debate. And that changed everything.

I made a note at 9:57pm, about fifty minutes into the debate. “Rooting for Trump to make it a good show, but Hillary is doing a much better job on the question of who will be the most competent custodian of the country’s affairs.” And, that pretty much says it all.

Going into the debate, the Clinton campaign was leaking oil big time. Hillary’s bout with pneumonia gave credence to lingering health stories. Her staff’s lack of candor on the subject exacerbated the situation. London betting shops had her down to a 63 percent chance to win the election. After the debate, they took her up to 71 percent. That’s a win. Continue Reading………

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Hillary and Trump Race to the Bottom

Published on Sep 7, 2016

I was going to compare the Presidential race to a mud wrestling match, but that would be unfair to mud wrestlers, most of whom are solid citizens. So, I’ll have to defer to conservative commentator Chucky Krauthammer, who called it a “race to the bottom with the one finishing second winning”. Think about that.

Last month, I said I was for Hillary … reluctantly. Let me change reluctantly to barely. Somebody called her Nixon in a pantsuit (I love the visual). But, I’m not sure the comparison is apt. Nixon had some charm and charisma in a perverse sort of way. I’m not so sure about Hillary. I never get the feeling she believes her own BS.

The fact that Hillary hasn’t put Trump away is ridiculous. (One of London’s betting houses has her at a 68% likelihood to win.) Trump has done none of the things a national campaign typically does, like build a sophisticated campaign staff and put together field operations and spend money on advertising.

The fact that the race is still a race is an indication of the depth of disgust in the country at large with the “Clinton Way” … the entitlement, the deception, the money-grubbing, the conniving, the pretending to take responsibility while dodging it.

Seriously, who wants that Mickey Mouse in their living room five nights a week? Continue Reading…….

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: I’m Voting for Hillary…..Reluctantly

Published on Aug 2, 2016

She hasn’t made it easy for me. Her speaking style grates and she rarely is able to hold the full attention of an audience. Plus, her relationship with the truth is ambiguous at best.

Consequently, I’m definitely not for her in the same way I’ve been for Obama who, in my opinion, will go down in history as a top ten President. But, as between Hillary and Trump … please.

A couple of things have pushed me into her column.

She made a great pick for Vice President in former Governor and sitting Senator from Virginia Tim Kaine. Kaine balances Hillary the same way meat and potatoes Joe Biden balanced professorial Barack Obama. Both Biden and Kaine can go into a working-class bar and pick up some votes and both look like they could hold their own if a fight broke out. The good news is that Kaine is smarter than Joe and unlike Joe, he recognizes that all sentences must eventually come to an end.

She ran a good Convention and gave a solid acceptance speech. Not quite to the level of Michelle and Barack Obama, but workmanlike … consistent with who she is. Plus, she got the infinitely annoying and incompetent Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democratic National Committee Chair, to finally go away … far away. Continue Reading……

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: FBI Director Comey Does the Right Thing

Published on July 6, 2016

Jim Comey had the 2016 Election in his hands. He decided not to blow it up. Trump vs. Clinton can go forward. It was the right call.

If Comey had ended his Press Briefing yesterday by stating that he will recommend that the Justice Department seek a federal felony indictment for Hillary’s mishandling of classified documents, her candidacy would have been toast. Neither Attorney General Loretta Lynch nor the President could have saved her.

Nobody has ever run for President as the nominee of one of the two major parties while under federal indictment. If Hillary found herself in the position of trying to be the first, she would have failed miserably.

Prosecutors don’t prosecute every violation of the law. They are allowed to use discretion. On a case involving unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents, 18 USC 1924, a misdemeanor, they are allowed to consider whether there was an intention to harm the United States, whether there was the pursuit of personal gain, or whether there was an attempt to obstruct justice. Misleading, even lying to the public in the political arena, does not rise to the level of obstructing justice.

If she had lied to the FBI in her three and a half hour interview, the FBI clearly would have recommended prosecution. Apparently, Director Comey was of the opinion that she didn’t. Continue Reading…….

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner: A Love Story

My favorite Muhammad Ali story was told by Chuck Wepner a, journeyman heavy weight boxer from Bayonne, New Jersey who fought and lost to Ali over 40 years ago.

Wepner, who is of German and Ukrainian descent, was nicknamed the Bayonne Bleeder for his tendency to cut easily and bleed profusely throughout his 14 year, 51 fight boxing career. He may have been a bleeder, but he was also a big, tough brawler who had beaten some of the best of his era.

Wepner’s career was handicapped because he was not able to devote his full time and attention to the business of boxing. He held full-time jobs to support himself and his family and trained early in the morning and after work.

In early 1975, a promoter was found who was willing to put up the money for a fight between Wepner and then Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali. The deal contained a $100,000 guarantee for Wepner and $1.5 million for the Champ. Ali agreed and the fight took place March 24, 1975 in the Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio where, at that time, the NBA Franchise Cleveland Cavaliers played.

Wepner trained diligently for the fight. He spent seven weeks in the Catskill Mountains. When he broke camp, he was in the best shape of his life. He was ready and confident. He was sure he was about to become the next Heavyweight Champion of the World.

On the day of the fight he went out and bought his wife a new nightgown and told her, “Wear this tonight because you’re going to be sleeping with the Heavyweight Champion of the World.” Continue Reading……..