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MARCH  2017
The Last Time a Republican Reigned in Big Business - 1903

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

MAKING THE EASTER BUNNY MAKE SENSE.

I’m not sure I ever believed in the Easter Bunny. The very idea seemed implausible to me. Even at the tender age of five I couldn’t get over the fundamental conundrum of the egg. And the rabbit.

What the heck do rabbits have to do with eggs? They don’t lay eggs. They don’t even eat eggs. If you put an egg in front of a rabbit, the rabbit with nudge it aside to get to the grass underneath. You could even write the rabbit’s name on the side of the egg, and the rabbit will still ignore it.And yet we insist upon convincing our toddlers every year that for some reason a rabbit has chosen to hide vast numbers of eggs all over our back yards. Under bushes. Behind flower pots. In trees. What is wrong with us?! Rabbits can’t climb trees.You might as well tell your children that elephants have been herding water buffalo in your flower bed, or that squirrels are using your attic to store up their winter supply of canned beats. Why do we insist upon telling our children this particular absurd story? Where is this rabbit supposed to get all of these eggs? And from whom is he supposedly hiding them? From the chickens, perhaps - otherwise known as “the mothers”. If you think about it an Easter Egg Hunt is a mass kidnapping and we are encouraging our children to be accessories after the fact. The very idea is so silly that most of the eggs hidden today aren’t even real, they’re plastic. And they are filled with chocolate and licorice and sweet tarts and other things that rabbits don’t eat!Children eat those things. And I understand that the hunt is for their benefit. It’s just supposed to be fun. But couldn’t it be logical and fun at the same time? Couldn’t we have an Easter chicken hiding the eggs? Why does it have to be a rabbit?!I know I’m overwrought over this. The Easter bunny is just another one of those little contradictions accepted without question by most people, one of those silly little bumps in logic in our lives that don’t make any sense what-so-ever! Like Daylight savings time, or that bar on boy’s bicycles, or Keanu Reeves’ movie career.You could get excited about outrageous, silly things like that, or you can just ignore them, pretend there is a logic to them, and live your life in some semblance of calm. But to do so would be a fraud and you know it!The truth shall set you free. I don’t know who said that but whoever it was, they were right. We deserve to know why it is an Easter Bunny who hides eggs. And if the answer isn’t good enough, we have a right to pick our own anthropomorphic creature to create our Easter fun.Here’s all I could find out about the Easter Bunny; Rabbits are an old German symbol of fertility, for obvious reasons. And the egg is a symbol of breakfast and birth, I guess. And if you put those two together, the Easter Egg Hunt becomes a rabbit symbolically hiding the secret of his fertility all over your back yard, where you children can find it.Now, oddly enough I have had a male rabbit actually do that in my back yard. And what he did didn’t smell like eggs, at least not fresh eggs. I ended up with fifty million female rabbits in my backyard for the next twenty-four hours or so. My dog was too scared to go outside. And I certainly didn’t want any small children going out there, either, because I wasn’t sure I could explain what they would see. Not to mention their propensity for picking things up and putting it in their mouths. What an Easter that was.But, back to the ceremony; why would you want your children to find the secret of fertility? So you can have a grandchild, that’s why. Grandchildren are essential because they help you torture your adult children, thus completing part of the circle of life.It’s curious that the chickens, who actually lay the millions of eggs stashed under bushes and flowers and lawn chairs on Easter Sunday, are not considered symbols of fertility. The feminists’ version of this is that these chicks do all the work while some guy gets all the credit. Thank goodness feminism has been totally discredited. Still, those hard boiled chicks may have a point: scrambled, but a point.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

THE PRICE OF GRATITUDE

I know it is popular to demonize Karl Rove as Bush’s brain, but in fact he is merely the latest in a profession that goes as far back as Democrat Amos Kendall, who was Andrew Jackson’s brain. And more directly, Rove’s take no prisoners style can be traced through Lee Atwater, (of “Willie Horton” ad fame) to Murray Chotiner.
Murray Chotiner was probably the last political campaign manager who had a day job. As a political manipulator Murray claimed to have created Earl Warren, who was elected California Governor in 1942. But Murray’s tactics in that campaign so alienated Warren that the Governor refused Murray’s help for his 1946 re-election campaign. The politician Murray is usually credited with “creating” and the one who never broke trust with him was Richard Nixon.Doctor John Lungren, personal physician to Richard Nixon, recalled a breakfast lecture he received from Murray Chotiner in 1952. Said Murray, “First, a basic truth – you must define your opponent, never let him define you. If he does you are through, pure and simple. Then you find your opponent’s weakness in his record or conduct – he’s too liberal, he’s soft on defense, he’s too weak on criminals, he’s got character problems – and you move in, hitting harder and harder – with no letup. And you never give voters more than they can handle. They have their own lives. Most people can’t absorb more than two or three issues during a campaign. So limit your themes, focus and refine the issues and drive them home again and again.” (Healing Richard Nixon; A Doctor’s Memoir 2003.)Murray was a “cigar chomping wheeler-dealer”, “…a chubby lawyer…(dressed in) monogrammed white-on-white dress shirts and silk ties with jeweled stickpins. The monograms said “MMC” because…he billed himself as Murray M. Chotiner, though, in reality, he lacked a middle name.” Murray was married four times, hung out with gangsters, and the L.A. Times described him as “…a brilliant, abrasive and passionate political strategist whose campaign instincts were so acute and effective that his opponents feared him as the “Machiavelli of California politics.” A friend described him as a “…a very aggressive, hard driving fellow… a mechanic, a nuts and bolts man”. And a future Nixon aid described Murray as “...a hardheaded exponent of the campaign philosophy that politics is war.”Murray’s first experience in politics came when he worked for Herbert Hoover in 1932. In 1938 he ran in the Republican primary for a California Assembly seat and lost. In 1942 came his work for Earl Warren, and in 1944 Murray was elected president of the California Republican Assembly. In ’46 he worked for Republican Senator William Knowland, under the slogan, “We Will Not Surrender” without ever identifying to whom the Senator would not surrender to. That same year he advised Richard Nixon’s first run for office against Democrat Congressman Jerry Voorhis. Both Nixon and Knowland won. Politics was still a “hobby” at this point for Murray. To earn a living he practiced law, sharing an office with his older brother, Jack. Their clients were, according to Murray, "unsavory, to say the least"; over four years - from 1949 to 1950 – the Chotiner brothers defended 249 mob clients, ranging from local bookmakers to New Orleans mobster Carlos Marcello and L.A.’s mob boss Mickey Cohen. In fact Cohen donated $5,000 to Nixon’s 1946 campaign and provided free space for a “Nixon for Congress” office in one of his buildings”, again according to Chotiner.There are two pronouncements usually credited to Murray Chotiner. The first is “Chotiner’s Law”; "An incumbent forced to fight in a close primary election almost always loses the general election that follows.” (This was the origin of Ronald Reagen’s 11th Commandment – “Never speak ill of a fellow Republican”). And the second pronouncement was the professional code of conduct which Murray Chotiner lived by: “Victory is all that matters".In 1950 Murray took full control of Nixon’s U.S. Senate campaign, labeling his opponent, Democrat Helen Gahagan Douglas, as “The Pink Lady”, alleging that she was a communist sympathizer – “Pink right down to her underwear,” said Murray.
Gangster Mickey Cohen threw another fund raiser for Nixon that year. Mickey later recalled, “Everyone from around here that was on the 'pad' naturally had to go. It was all gamblers from Vegas. There wasn't a legitimate person in the room.'' While introducing Nixon, Mickey announced the doors had been locked and no one could leave until $75,000 had been collected. Cohen also claimed that his support for Nixon had been ordered by “''…the proper persons from back East. '' It is assumed Mickey meant gangster kingpin Myer Lansky.It was Murray’s advice that lead Nixon to accept the vice-presidental post from Eisenhower in 1951. And when, during the campaign, Nixon was accused of influence peddling, it was Murray who tore up Nixon's resignation telegram to Ike, and pushed him to make his famous “Checkers speech; “We did get something, a gift, …It was a little cocker spaniel dog…and our little girl Tricia, the six year old, named it Checkers….and I just want to say this,…we are going to keep it.” Needless to say, even though Nixon never fully answered the questions about his favors for friends, the speech saved his career and propelled him into the vice-Presidency.Murray was there when Kennedy defeated Nixon in 1960, and when Nixon failed to win the Governorship of California in 1962. In 1968, when Nixon won the Presidency by a narrow margin, Murray was still there again, if now behind the scenes. In May of 1972, when the “Plumbers” were arrested planting "bugs" inside the Democratic Party National Headquarters in the Watergate complex, Murray Chotiner had an office directly above them. As the crises grew and began to engulf Richard Nixon’s Presidency, on Thursday, January 24, 1974, Murray’s Choitner’s car collided with a truck in suburban Washington, D.C. Curiously the accident happened directly behind the home of Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy. In fact, Kennedy called for the ambulance. Murray was taken to the hospital with a broken leg and seemed on the way to a quick recovery when he developed a blood clot. A week after the accident, on Janurary 30th, he died.Nixon’s office released the following statement on February 3rd, 1974; “I am profoundly saddened by the death of Murray Chotiner. For more than a quarter of a century, he was an ally in political battles, a valued counselor, and a trusted colleague. But above all, Murray Chotiner was my friend. His friendship never wavered; in periods of adversity it grew stronger. While some recoil from the label "politician," Murray was rightly proud of it because he was a professional who had the respect and admiration of those who worked with him…he will forever have my gratitude”Effective at noon on August 8, 1974 Richard Nixon resigned as President. I suspect that Murray Chotiner would have called him a quiter.
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

KIDNAPPING GEORGE WASHINGTON


I am thankful that William Tyron, the Royal Governor of New York, was a little too sure of himself. Although the “patriots” had chased Tyron out of town, he was still lurking like a spider a few hundred yards off shore, spinning his loyalist webs aboard the 74 gun “HMS Dutchess of Gordon”. Each day the sailors and royal marines from the "Dutchess" and the two other Royal Navy ships in the harbor, would row to shore for fresh water, to buy food, have their shoes repaired and exchange communications with the loyalist mayor, David Mathews and his agents; perhaps too many agents.
New York City in 1776 was a crowded town of 25,000 at the southern tip of Manhattan. Tyron’s web was strung between the city’s many taverns; “The Highlander” at Beaver Street and Broadway, “The Sergeant At Arms” run by conspirator Alexander Sinclair, and most significantly “The Corbie”, near Spring and Wooster Streets, which was just a few yards southwest of General Washington’s isolated headquarters on Richmond Hill. At his own establishment on Broadway - “The Sign of the Sportsman” - gunsmith Gilbert Forbes, “a short thick man”, waited patiently to buy ale for weary Continental soldiers and listen to their complaints. And in exchange for five gold guineas, he swore them in as members of the Governor’s conspiracy. It was Forbes who first swore in eighteen year old Sergeant Thomas Hickey, a member of General Washington’s personal guards.The 180 officers and men of the Life Guards were as formed on March 11, 1776 out of the regiments laying siege to Boston, as a personal guard for General Washington and his baggage. Washington’s orders called for “…good men, such as they can be recommended for their sobriety, honesty and good behavior…handsomely and well made”We know that Sergeant Hickey was a “black Irishman” who must have been very handsome because he was neither sober nor honest. He had deserted from the British Army, and had for some years lived in Wethersfield, Connecticut. And we know he was a man who wanted money. Hickey said he got involved with the conspiracy “…for the sake of cheating the Tories and getting some money from them”. We know that Forbes put him on an allowance of 15 shillings a week. We know that Hickey brought with him into the conspiracy four other Life Guards, and that for each he was paid a bounty. And we know that on June 15th Hickey and Private Lynch were both arrested for passing counterfeit continental dollars.To finance the revolution two million Continental Dollars were printed on thick rag paper by Hall and Sellers of Philadelphia. And immediately counterfeiters began copying the sad little notes. An advertisement in the journal “Rvington’s Gazette” openly promised, “Persons going into other colonies may be supplied with any number of counterfeit Congress notes ….They are so neatly and exactly executed…it being almost impossible to discover that they are not genuine”. Once locked in the crowded three-story city jail, Hickey was greeted by his fellow inmates.One of those inmates was a professional counterfeiter, Isaac Ketcham, and he appealed to the patriot colonial council to release him in the name of his “six poor children”. And in case that didn’t work he added he had “…something to observe…entirely on another subject.” In private Ketcham told the council that he had heard Hickey’s drunken boasts (liquor seems to have been in ample supply in the jail) that “…there were near seven hundred men enlisted for the King" and insisted he would he never again fight for the American cause.”
Washington could now compare Ketcham’s story with the warning from businessman William Leary, that one of his employees, James Mason, had boasted about the same loyalist plot. And there was also a warning from William Collier, a waiter at The Corbie. Putting all these sources together, Governor Tyron’s plan was clear.
Just before the British Army was to land on Long Island, loyalists would blow up or capture the Kingsbridge over the Harlem River at the far end of Manhattan Island, 13 miles north of the city. This would sever the only land connection into New York and trap the Continental Army. In addition Loyalists militias were to screen the British landings. And most dastardly of all, Mayor Mathews later told a Royal Commission, “I formed a plan for the taking of Mr. Washington and his Guard prisoners…”At one in the morning of Saturday, June 22nd colonial troops surrounded Mayor Mathew’s house in Flatbush near the village of Brooklyn on Long Island. Mathews was arrested, and over the next several hours hundreds of other loyalist conspirators were taken into custody. On the 27th Sergeant Hickey faced a court martial and was quickly found guilty and condemned to death.
At eleven o’clock the following morning, June 28th, a crying Hickey was marched to the scaffold with a clergyman at his side. As the clergyman stepped away Hickey, “With an indignant, scornful air” wiped away his tears and “...assumed a confident look.” He muttered that one of the witnesses against him should be the next to hang. The blindfold was tied over his eyes, and Thomas Hickey then slowly chocked to death at the end of a rope in front of 20,000 spectators.The very next day, July 29th, four new British warships dropped anchor in New York harbor. They were the vanguard of 130 ships carrying 34,000 troops which would arrive over the next week. In the face of that fleet the patriots of New York might have been more willing to listen to the siren song of Governor Tyron. But he had recruited too many agents too quickly. There were too many rumors swamping the city. And General Washington was too competent not to have paid attention to them. And in that the citizens of the young nation (the Declaration of Independence would not be voted on for another week) were very fortunate.

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