Answering President Obama: Who Can We Trust
By: J. Marlando
If the people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it exists—to protect and to promote their common welfare—all else is lost.
World War II was the last government program that really worked.
President Obama most recently said, if we the people didn’t trust the executive branch, the congress or the Supreme Court Judges there is a problem; if we can’t trust the government then who can we trust?
Well obviously there has been and remains a lot of corruption in politics at local, state and federal levels. This is no secret and will not be a sudden shock to readers, be they ordinary citizens or all the President’s men.
For one thing, to trust government would be to assume that all individuals in government are trustworthy. I need not say more than this on that score. Indeed, the very idea that we should trust government acknowledges that government is not an “us” but a “them.” This certainly reveals the myth of so-called democracy being of, for and by the people.
Let’s talk about democracy for a moment: While there is no denying that the men who founded America (and so its ideals) were indeed great insightful, brave men. Yet, they were mostly lead by the American aristocracy of the times and those counted among the elite such as Thomas Paine, a commoner with an extraordinary intellect and the writer of “Common Sense.” In fact, historian Howard Zinn tells us that it was he that made the first bold argument for independence.
It was in fact, Tom Paine who most strongly supported democracy or, in other words, a government for, by, and of the people as opposed to a copycat government of Lords and Commons which he condemned as being deceptive. There were, however, among those elite of the founding fathers, such as John Adams, who didn’t want government too “democratic” which was clearly an aristocratic and yes, an arrogant view.
In honest hindsight of America’s beginnings there was at least a cornerstone of plutocracy added to the rest of the democratic foundation of the country. Nevertheless, what was destined to make the United States the most unique nation on the planet was written into the declaration of Independence. It reads:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it and to institute new government…
The above paragraph, beyond all else, defeated the voice of demagoguery that had ruled the world since the advent of so-called civilization itself. Yet, government has apparently not protected "we the people" by securing those rights for us. At bottom line, I believe that a truly trustworthy government would have.
In regard to this and in regard to the question we can we trust I have decided to simply tell a rather unique history of all our presidents and, as an American, leave it to the individual reader to answer the question for him or herself.
A Look at America’s Chiefs
"We want no war of conquest... War should never be entered upon until every agency of peace has failed."
An elective despotism was not the government we fought for.
Human greed and government nepotism entered American politics from the start. George Washington
George Washington with all his attributes was also a pompous ass that insisted that his visitors stand in his presence. In regard to this, someone remarked that all America had done is exchange George the Third for George the First. What happened to all men being born equal as being a basic truth of the United States?
Speaking of pomposity, John Adams
A major reason why the ordinary folks did not favor him is that, in those early years of the United States the people were invariably religious fanatics and Thomas Jefferson had an open and well-known distain for organized religion. Also, after his wife, Martha died in 1762 his later affair with 14 year old African slave, Sally, became the “whispers” of the land. There was a lot of prejudice against the African then and while many white men had sex with black women, those encounters were generally kept secret or only talked about between men in back porch conversations. There had to be much sincere devotion between the couple, however. Sally gave Jefferson children and their relationship lasted for nearly 40 years.
In 1817 James Monroe
Today inside trading is legal for congress members; for profiting from what the rest of us would be sent to jail for. In any case, I believe it is accurate to say that “good-old-boy-politics” was born in 1818 and have become part of the government system we now have and have had for nearly two hundred years.
John Quincy Adams
School children are taught to idolize Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
We need not talk much about William Henry Harrison
If ever America had a war rooted in the want of expansionism, the Mexican-American War was it. James K. Polk
Polk was also an elitist at heart and greatly favored slavery and slave labor to keep white landowners in power and in wealth.
There was certainly a lot of graft going on under the nose of Zachary Taylor
As always lots of folks got rich during the war when Abraham Lincoln
It is well documented that what little actual democracy there was in American, Lincoln turned it into a dictatorship. Lincoln took away Habeas Corpus for example, jailed people without charge or trial and he sent armed thugs to make voters carry cards revealing which way they were going to vote. Indeed, Lincoln’s government, it seems, was one of arrogance creating a climate of fear so we can only wonder how much demagoguery was in his beautiful statement about government being of, for and by the people.
Ulysses S. Grant
Actually Rutherford B. Hayes
It can be said that Chester Arthur
Arthur’s four years became a playground for under-table deals, fixed elections, trade outs and government favoritisms. It was perhaps good-old-boy-politics at its height.
The railroads always had American government in their back pockets so when the Pullman Strike of 1894 unfolded Cleveland was quick to send 12,000 troops to assist Federal Marshals and State Guardsmen to settle the conflict. There were 13 killed and 57 injured in what amounted to an attack of white supremacists against black employees asking for fair pay and play.
There is more than what meets the eye here, however. A new precedence had been born—government’s interventionism into private enterprise. There was clearly an unconstitutional action taken but, has that ever mattered? As someone once said, the constitution is only what the judges say it is anyway.
Cleveland was an elitist who had little concern for the common people and especially of the working class. He was a separatist in that he was indeed intrinsic in widening the gap between the White House Supreme and the rest of the people. Today we fully grasp that there is an “us” the people and a “them” the government. Any other view is pure mythology!
American government was going to take a nasty twist at the turn of the century and McKinley was going to be the man who began the change from the isolationist view to the imperialistic view. Influenced by men like Theodore Roosevelt who had written to a friend in 1897, “I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one.”
The trick was to get the American population to support a war effort. And so, propaganda reported that the poor Cuban people were virtually enslaved by Spain and so we (The American people) needed to fight for them so they could have democracy and freedom. (The same social engineering was used when government wanted the people’s support to go into Iraq). What we really wanted, however, was to expand our market controls…which we did. In the end men, women and children had died for no other reason than profit and business. And so, after victory America bought up Cuban land at 20 cents an acre, extended the Dole Kingdom in Hawaii while leaving the Philippines in rivers of blood. And we manage to take Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines from Spain as part of the treaty with them plus a “purchase price” of $20 million.
The building of an empire had begun!
The warmongering Theodore Roosevelt
While all this was in Teddy’s favor he was, at the same time, making deals with J.P. Morgan as just how they would play ball with the Bureau of Corporations based on their ability to make private bargains with the president. Banker’s Magazine did not respond favorably to such an agreement. They wrote: “As the business of the country has learned the secret of combination, it is gradually subverting the power of the politician and rendering him subservient to his purposes…”
I believe one can say that big business and government became bed partners during Roosevelt’s era
It was also Theodore Roosevelt who on December 16th, 1907 sent the Great White Fleet around the world—16 battleships—to reveal and flaunt our Naval power to all and to clearly state that we were a mighty power to contend with.
William Howard Taft
As a special note, what Roosevelt, Taft and Wilson had in common was that during their presidencies knew that black people in the South were being lynched by mobs, beaten in murderous riots and did nothing to stop it. Where were all the Golden-ruler-white-Christians at those junctures when such cruelty prevailed against fellow human beings who also just happened to be black?
Warren G. Harding
Straight-laced Calvin Coolidge
Back during Wilson’s term, Democrat and Republican preachers pressured the White House to force prohibition, one of the most un-American deterrents to individuality as anyone can imagine; the creation of the consensual crime! (It is not only illogical but impossible for a country or nation to boast freedom for its citizens and have consensual crimes at the same time. The hypocrisy is simply overwhelming).
In any case, Coolidge as a politician was a purest and indeed, led the country with his laissez-faire philosophy. While his famous quote was, “The business of America is Business,” and business (mostly) did well under his administration. There was some hypocrisy to his views, however. While he preached laissez-faire, he would quickly intervene if strikers jeopardized big business: He would send National Guard in to protect the enterprise and have union leaders arrested for dubious charges.
Hoover was in office when the Great Depression occurred and most Americans blamed his policies on it. After all, quite suddenly the most successful country on the planet was enduring the pangs of poverty for a great many. .Jobs had been were lost, savings had been lost and now bread lines and “Hoovervilles” (Cardboard shanties) dotted especially the big cities where only the gangsters and crooked politicians continued to make outrageous profits.
Then the man that became America’s most beloved president won the vote. Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)
Roosevelt in his earlier years had a roving eye and nearly lost his wife Eleanor because he was having an affair with her social secretary, Lucy Mercer.
Note: I have refrained until now to go into the private affairs of the presidents when it comes to their sexuality—certainly there has been at least one homosexual to hold the office, perhaps two bi-sexual presidents and a lot of promiscuous presidents. While I am fully aware such reports make for interesting reading, as a good American, I do not believe that anyone has a right to interfere in anyone’s private life. Part of our heritage as Americans is that what we do privately, as long as it doesn’t harm or coerce anyone else, is our business and no one else’s. In my research it is strongly suggested that Eleanor was a devout lesbian. What if this is true or not, is nobody’s business and yet, government has made it their business to even have the audacity to tell American individuals what kind of sex they can have in their own bedrooms, what they can smoke in their own homes and what they can drink on their own front porches. Just recently I read where a family was ordered to take down a tree house they had built for their own children on their own property.
Back to Franklin Roosevelt: Roosevelt was born into one of America’s wealthiest families and was himself pampered as a child especially by his mother. Yet, he was one president that had great empathy for the common citizen and, especially the poor. Indeed, he has been accused of being the founder of “bleeding heart liberalism” and even called communistic but the depression years and the Dust Bowl years would have been even more tragic had it not been for his New Deal politics.
The only skeleton in his administrative closet is that some say that he was well aware of the Japanese build up for an attack on Pearl Harbor; that Franklin Roosevelt welcomed having a reason to join the fight against Hitler’s Germany and Japan’s aggressions toward China. The U.S. at the time feared Japan taking over Chinese markets so we secretly desired to weaken if not crush their war machine which we eventually did using nuclear power. As it turned out, World War II itself was an economic war as opposed to being a war of opposing ideologies
As for the horrors of Hitler’s attempt to exterminate the Jewish race in death camps, Franklin obviously did not see this as a high priority even when made aware of the atrocities. Like Lincoln who truly hated slavery, there were economic issues that he deemed far more important in the war than man’s inhumanity to man.
Most people also love Harry S. Truman
Actually it seems that Truman himself was straight forward and honest but his nativity blinded him to a lot of dirty business by his staff. Major General Harry Vaughan, Truman’s Military Aide, solicited gifts of consumer goods and other self-serving perks. Truman’s Treasury Secretary, it is said, turned that US administration “into a den of corruption.” There was just so much under-the-table dealing during Truman’s administration it becomes a little hard to believe that the president was truly blind to it all.
Also crazy, Joe McCarthy hysterics came into play under Truman. (It may also be a point of interest to some that Joe McCarthy was extremely rigid when it came to attacking homosexuals when he was a devout homosexual himself).
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
The election of our 35th president, however, did not arrive without scandal. It is said that to assure Kennedy’s victory there was some “fixing” going on in Texas and Illinois under Mayor Daly with Mafia influences guaranteeing the election. Nevertheless, young Jack captured the hearts of especially America’s youth. And, there was the public adoring of the president’s wife, the beautiful and charming, Jacqueline.
Kennedy was a womanizer, however, and had an affair with the beautiful, sexy Marilyn Monroe who mysteriously died after their relationship seemed to be interfering with Jack’s public image. A great many people believe that Jack and his brother Bob were involved in the super star’s death—but Bob, I believe was too straight-laced to be involved in anything that immoral and unethical. On the other hand, Dad Kennedy was known to be extremely cold and calculating?
In the end Jack Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas Texas on November 22, 1963. A lone gunman by the name of Lee Harvey Oswald made out to simply be a political fanatic. He was arrested the same day and shot down by a local mobster, Jack Ruby before he could be interrogated. The mainstream press has squashed all conspiracy theories but I am convinced that the assignation was a Mafia hit. The Mafia had gone to a lot of trouble to back Kennedy for the presidency and in return the Kennedy’s had given them a lot of promises like giving them back Cuba.
Robert Kennedy quickly became a crusader against organized crime, perhaps in an effort to kill the snake before it strikes but even if this is so, it would have been a naïve attempt and one, I believe against Joe Kennedy’s will—after all one of Joe’s closest friends was Frank Costello so he would have been aware of the Mafia’s “pay-back” policies.
Lyndon B. Johnson
We the people will probably never know the real reason why we took France’s place in Vietnam in the first place. France, after all, had been a cruel adversary to the Vietnam people even though we (American) supported most of their war effort with dollars and weapons. When the French lost their war effort, we moved in, as always under the pretext of fighting for the people’s freedom. But truth told, Ho Chi Minh had pleaded with President Truman to send aide because the French had destroyed their food supply and millions were starving. The communication was not even responded to. Instead, after the French retreated we moved in viciously to crush the North. The CIA had a program called “Operation Phoenix” where at least 20,000 civilians were executed; we dropped more bombs to destroy that small country than we dropped during the entire World War II campaigns.
But unbeknownst to most American, we had been assisting in the war effort there since the Truman and Eisenhower administrations. Jack Kennedy had conducted a number of (secret) military actions before Johnson gave the war a public face.
In fact, “law-benders” made up much of his staff with guys like Henry Kissinger, Bob Haldeman Alexander Haig and John Ehrichman. Nixon in fact had the only Vice President, Spiro Agnew, who had to resign over criminal charges. Then of course the president had his turncoats such as aide John Dean so the entire administration seems to have been corrupted in one way or another. On the other hand, that’s politics, folks!
After Nixon arrived Gerald Ford (1974-1977).
Carter had family problems that didn’t help his career whatsoever. His brother Billy was a well-known drunk and Redneck Southerner. Indeed, back in 1977, he was given some notoriety for urinating on the runway at Atlanta Airport. In fact, Billy boy Carter was called before the Senate Committee to explain why he had received $220,000 ($650,000) in today’s money, from the Libyan regime. Then, in 1979 when angry students took over the American Embassy in Tehran holding its occupants as hostages. Carter ordered a rescue mission but three US helicopters broke down in a sandstorm with other aircraft lost in the fighting. American servicemen had been killed and not one hostage rescued. Iran finally released the hostages to the next president as a gesture of good will.
Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) is perhaps the most controversial president since the forefathers, most Republicans and conservatives rank him right under God while a lot of democrats look at Reagan as right-wingers look at Roosevelt; as a hindrance to the American way.
First of all, as the saying goes, left or right, the devil must have his dues. Reagan’ comic book Star Wars bluff was extremely intrinsic in breaking down Soviet moral while they were already struggling financially. Indeed, if it weren’t for Reagan and his good-old-boys we might still have a Berlin Wall to contend with.
On the other hand, clearly, Ronald Reagan was not a friendly when it came to the poor or even the financially struggling. Indeed, during Reagan’s eight years, poverty especially in the inner cities became explosive. He even cut programs such as school lunches and reduced federal housing benefits for people earning less than $10,000 by nearly 8% and for the first time since the great depression he grew America’s homeless, street people population. And, during his administration he cut taxes for the rich and increased taxes on the middle class; he obviously gave lots of breaks to his wealthy friends and Reagan himself was extremely wealthy, seeming to be a man with the Midas Touch all of his life. And, during his time in office he gave amnesty to 3 million undocumented immigrants supplying big business cheap labor.
Obviously Reagan despised unions—something the Right applauds although on the other side of this coin Reagan himself headed up SAG, the actors union for many years. Then there was the secret sale of arms to Iran in order to secretly supply Contra rebels fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
To the delight of the conservative Republicans, Reagan became a conductor of American morality but such morality seemed only to apply to the poor: Indeed his moral crusading councilor, Ed Meese is said to be the only senior staff member to benefit when the Wedtech Corporation, a military supplier, paid for special access to the administration with Meese’s attorney Robert Wallach probably brokering the deal which resulted in Wedtech being granted a $32 million contract for supply equipment to the US Army. (As seen throughout this narrative good-old-boy politics have been flourishing for a very long time, as said, on the hill). And, during this time, officials of the Department of Housing and Development (HUD) were discovered granting construction contracts to favored companies who had made contributions to the Republican Party.
Indeed, when Ronald Reagan came into office the national debt was $900 billion, when he left $2.8 trillion.
George H.W. Bush
Bill Clinton is what I deem to be the natural politician; he certainly proved to be a game-player on the international chess board but also in the White House hallways too. His affair with Monica Lewinsky nearly became his political nemesis but he managed to overcome the obstacles in spite of the face he had lied under oath about it. The American public at the time was by then used to their presidents messing around and so when Lewinsky was quoted saying something like he liked to wet his cigars in my vagina most people was given a great laugh except of course for the Religious Right who pushed to keep Clinton’s “immorality” in the news as long as possible.
I’ve read so much about Clinton’s Shenanigans from drug deals to illegitimate black children that I do not know which to believe and which to discard but in spite of it all he remains one of America’s most popular presidents to this day. For one thing, he was approached by the House of Saud to go warring against Saddam and he refused. The next president would not.
Barack Obama (2008- ) has been a target of controversy since his election. I have never seen a president more loathed by the Right. For one thing Obama is the first black president of the U.S. and, denied or not, there is clearly racial prejudice in some American’s depreciation of him.
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
And so, am I saying in the above that government is, at bottom line, a collection of crooks, liars and thieves. I am not, I am only pointing out that our so-called leaders are ever as vulnerable to greed, dishonesty, nepotism and biases as the rest of us. Thus, positive change could begin with (1) Reducing the term for Congress/Senate to three terms (2) To place all Congressmen and Senators under the same laws and conditions that the rest of us live under and (3) to abolish all consensual crimes while re-creating a nation that chooses liberty over license.
I have so many friends who say things such as, “We need to get back to our ideals.” The truth is, we have forever run short of our ideals even in Jefferson’s time. There have been some who have sincerely desired to change that—On the Left, the Hippies of the 60s…On the Right, The Tea Partiers of the New Millennium. The system turned them both back into the mainstream like naughty children
We have never been a people’s government except around election time but after that it’s “them” and “us.” However, if we ever had a true democracy the country would be in such chaos within a few days that we would self-destruct. And so, as Thomas Paine said, “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil.”
When I was a kid I believed that we were our ideals. I believed that because my Mom, my Dad and my Teachers lied to me. In fact, I believed that my government wanted me to be safe and free; that our law was based on justice and that’s what we wanted for the whole wide world-freedom and justice. I was a grown man before I realized that the law makers make laws that do not apply to themselves which is corruption in, of and for itself. But then again, even for most of my adult years, I never dreamed that I would see Americans eating out of garbage cans. I never imagined that our government would, with all its money, permit that to happen. I was very naïve as a child of course. I thought that government cared about the people because they were the people too.
As for President Obama’s question, “if we can’t trust government who can we trust?” My answer is go see the old classic movie, “The Wizard of Oz,” and the answer will become as clear as the nose on your face.
References and Suggested Reading
Kerrigan Michael * American presidents * Metro Books
Mapp, J. Alf, Jr. * The Faith of the Fathers *Barnes & Noble
Zinn, Howard * A People's History of the United States *HarperPernnial
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