Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Republicans Wish to Own Mexico…At Least the Part They Can Resell

Anita Brenner wiith George R. Leighton The Wind That Swept Mexico. New York: Harper Brothers, 1943.

Porfirio Diaz was a dictator leading Mexico with backing form industrial and financial leaders. He, with one short break, was Mexico’s President for 34 years. Diaz controlled military goods imports and kept soldiers at minimum to weaken any potential military uprising against him.

Revolutionary sentiments against Mexican governments existed ever since Mexico declared independence from Spain in 1810. Mexico had much civil unrest from 1810 to the 1870s. Opposition from Catholic Church leaders was crushed by closing all monasteries and convents, taking away all church property and banning all clergy from dressing as clergy.

Diaz’s aide, Don Jose Yves Limantour, as Treasury Secretary guaranteed bank loans. Bans supported the Diaz government. Foreign governments aided Mexico based on Limantour’s expertise with finances.

Academicians then taught against democracy by teaching it was an outdated utopian fantasy. The United States was held as an example of democracy creating poor government. Elections were considered a poor idea when only about 15% of Mexicans were literate. Local towns were governed by Jefes Politicos, or political chief appointed by Governors and approved by Diaz. Jefes Politicos led local authorities, worked with the secret police, and exerted influence with cours.

Americans who lived and worked in Mexico had de fact immunity in the Mexican judicial system unless word came from a leader that this was not the case. Mexicans wanted American investments and considered Americans as guests.

The Jefe Politics often were the local lender. Most farmers often required loans.

Mexico’s monetary policy made foreign debt interest payments its first priority, internal customs were halted, taxes reapportioned, and the currency was backed by gold. he national Treasury had a surplus of 62 million pesos gold. Germany and other European nations considered Mexican debt as safe. The Mexican debt reached 440 million pesos. Germany held most of the debt.

American holdings in Mexico went form almost none in 1877to $500 million in 1902 rising to $1.5 billion in 1910.

In 1910 Diaz chose Ramon Corral as his Vice President. Corral financial Indian slave trading, was terminally ill with doctors saying he had two years of life left, and was unpopular.

In 1910, about 3% of Mexicans controlled most of Mexico’s wealth with most wealth held by foreign investors.

A book advocating revolution, “Los Grander Proglomas Nacionales” by Andrew Molina Enriquez was popular in 1909. Some labor unions advocated revolution. Many Mexican workers began demanding for, and held strikes for, receiving the higher wages paid to foreign workers. Guerrilla strikes attacked Federal soldiers. The guerrillas were not well organized nor had coordinated leadership. They conducted raids. Often Federal soldiers only pretended to fight back and let their guns be stolen. Diaz and Americans-backed leaders reached a deal where Diaz and Corral gave up power and let Francisco de le Barro, the Mexican Ambassador to the U.S., to take control. Some revolutionaries were appeased. Other continued their revolutionary sentiments.

The first free elections were held. Francisco Madero was eected President and Congress had a majority favorable to Madero. Revvollutionary attacks continued. The Army often offered little resistance.

In 1913, a ten day battle known as “The Tragic Ten” between government troops and revolutionary troops led to many civilian death in cross fires. President Madero, the Vice President, and a General were lynched. American and foreign diplomats arranged ot make revolutionary leader Victoriano Huerto the Provisional President.

Germany and the Catholic Church supported Huerta.. President Woodrow Wilson recalled the American Ambassador declaring “Huerta must go.”

Several politicians, including a Senator, and journalists were murdered, disappeared, or jailed.

U.S. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan telegraphed U.S. consuls “if General Huerta does not retire by force of circumstances, it will become the duty of the United Sates to use less peaceful means to put him out.” The Mexican government expected an invasion.

Venustiano Carraza controlled territory in northeast Mexico close to railroads and oil fields. He wanted more foreign investments kept in Mexico and favored created a strong middle class of people in business, industry, professions, and small farms. In northwest Mexico, Pancho Villa, was an unreliable ally of Carranza. Villa had deals with numerous American investors.

Emiliana Zapata led revolutionaries in southwest Mexico. He was not associated with the other revolutionaries. Many battles were fought by crashing trains.

The United States seized the port city of Veracruz and declared martial law. Huerta broke relations with the U.S. Carranza seized control of the capital. Villa and Zapata refused to attend Carranza’s convention that elected him as President. The convention then decided both Carranza and Villa should retired and that Eulauo Gutierrez was Provisional President. The government and even currencies were splintered. The currencies became mostly worthless ans most trade was conducted by barter or by robbery. Typhus ravaged the nation.

Villa gained control of most than two third of Mexico Carranzo agreed to the right of union organization and to wage and hour laws supported by labor organizations. Union support helped Carranza rebound to defeat Villa. The Zapatistas continued fighting.

Carranza created a new Constitution where the government held all land except when the public interest determined it could be made private. The government owned the subsoil but could leave it to the private sector. Labor could organize, the work day was made eight hours, and equal pay was paid regardless of nationality or sex.

Mexican law did not allow the President to be reelected.

Villa prepared to raid U.S. territory. General John Pershing agreed to stop Villa inside Mexico yet to keep U.S. troops of certain points. Carranza’s troops stood ready to attack any American troops who went too far south. Alvaro Obregon gained power in Mexico.

Mexican law let each family head or young farmer to request a farm ranging from seven humid acres to 20 dry acres. About 5% of Mexicans were prosperous, about 10% to 15% had comfortable earnings, about 15% to 20% were poor yet better off than when under Diaz, and the rest were very poor.

Successors to Obregon died suddenly. Minister of War Benjamin Hill may have been poisoned to death. Villa was assassinated. Elias Calles, who had support from some business and labor leaders, was elected with belated support from Obregon.

Lus Morones led the Confederacion Regional Obrera Mexicana political party whose leaderhsip operated in semi-secrecy. Patronage and kickbacks funded its operations. Great labor rights were provided such as higher wages, compensation laws were cerated and better working conditions were mandated.

Religion could be practiced yet clergy had to be Mexicans. their numbers were limited and the Catholic Church was stripped of power. Priests went on strike, refused to adher to requirements that they register with the government, and they refused to practice. Masses became subject to government raids.

Ortiz Rubio became President in 1930.He ended the land distribution program. The worldwide depression hit Mexico.

Lazaro Cardenas was little known prior to his election as President. He shut down casinos. He personally approved many local public works projects. The Lagunge cotton zone was transferred into a large cooperative, and oil companies refused union demands that they become closed shop. The U.S.. refused to sell silver to Mexico.

Manuel Avila Camacho was elected President in 1940. He was a practicing Catholic and received many votes from Catholics.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Book About a Republican President Written by a Republican President Is As Good As It Gets

George W. Bush. 41:Portrait of My Father. New York, N.Y.: Crown Publishers, 2014.

Prescott Bush (grandfather of the author and father of the book’s subject) attended Yale and served as a field artillery officer in World War I. He later served as a U.S. Senator He denounced Nelson Rockefeller in 1963 for divorcing his wife. Time magazine called his denunciations “one of the most wrathful public lashings in memory.”

Prescott’s son, George H.W. Bush was a Navy pilot.. He flew over a circus causing an elephant to stampeded into town. Bush’s nickname became “Ellie the Elephant”. During World War II, his plane came under Japanese attack. His plane’s oil pressure dropped and the plane crashed into the ocean. Bush and his crew escaped into a life raft that was saved by an American destroyer.

Bush’s plane was hit while flying to Chichi Jima. He completed the bombing mission, hit his target, yet later had to bail out. His head hit the plane’s tail. American pilots shot at and kept Japanese boats from reaching Bush in the water, A submarine saved him. Bush spent a month in the submarine volunteering for duties.

Bush spent much “quality time” with his children. He showed his children the oil rigs in which he invested.

In 1930, U.S. Senator Raymond Baldwin resigned to be in the Connecticut Supreme Court. Prescott Bush, who was a major fund raiser for the Republicans, was nominated to run in a special election. A false charge by Drew Pearson that Prescott Bush was President of the Birth Control League hurt him as contraceptives were then illegal in Connecticut. The author blames this charge for causing Prescott Bush to love by one tenth of one percent of the vote.

Prescott Bush ran for the same seat for its full term in 1952. He lost the primary in a close race Less than two months later, Connecticut’s other Senator died. Bush won the special election for that seat.

During the 1952 campaign, Sen. Joseph McCarthy appeared at a Connecticut Republican event. Prescott Bush stated to a booing crowd “while we admire his objectives in the fight against communism, we have very considerable reservations concerning the methods which he sometimes employs.” Prescott Bush also returned a campaign contribution from McCarthy.

Prescott Bush frequently golfed with President Eisenhower. Bush’s 1956 Democratic opponent Thomas Dodd declared “I notice Senator Bush seems to have a lot of time to play gold. I can’t afford to play golf.” When Dodd later stated his favorite pastime was horseback riding, Bush declared “Well, I congratulate my opponent. I’ve never been able to afford a horse.”  Bush won reelection by ten percentage points. Prescott Bush did not seek reelection in 1962 at age 67 for health reasons. His health improved and the author thinks he questioned his retirement decision.

George H.W. Bush was elected Chairman of the Harris County, Texas Republican Party after visiting each of the 200 precincts. He tried to bring John Birch Society members into the Republican Party organization, asking people to stop referring to them as “nuts”. Bush appointed Birchers to several key precincts. The Birchers refused to work with Bush. So Bush purged the Birchers from their leadership positions.

G.H.W. Bush ran for U.S. Senate in 19764. He ran into a four man Republican Primary. He led in the first round with 44% to 32T% for former State Rep, Jack Cox, a Democrat who switched parties. Bush won the run off with 62% of the vote. Bush lost to “liberal populist’” Sen. Ralph Yarborough in the general election.

G.H.W. Bush ran for Congress in 1966. He defeated District Attorney Frank Briscoe. He became the first freshman member of Congress in 36 years placed on the Ways and Means Committee. He was chosen President of the Republican Freshmen Class.

Rep. Bush toured Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. He learned war must have a defined mission.

Rep. Bush changed his mind of civil rights issues. He opposed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and supported the Fair Housing Act in 1968. Angry mail made him the member of Congress to receive the most mail in 1968. Bush presented his views to his district and received a standing ovation. He was reelected in 1968 without opposition.

G.H.W. Bush met former President Lyndon Johnson and asked his advice on running for the U.S. Senate. Johnson replied “The difference between the Senate and the House is the difference between chicken salad and chicken shit.” Bush ran for the Senate. Yarborough, who Bush hoped to run against as a conservative alternative, lost the Democratic Primary to the more conservative Lloyd Bentson. Bentson won the general election.

G.H.W. Bush arranged a blind date between the author and Tricia Nixon. The author drank, knocked over a wine glass, and smoked. Tricia Nixon asked to be returned to the White House.

President Nixon appointed G.H.W. Bush U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. After the 1972 elections, President Nixon then appointed him Republican National Chairman. When Bush sought the advice of current Chairman, Sen. Robert Dole, he learned no one had informed Dole he was being replaced. G.H.W. Bush realized the Nixon White House was either dysfunctional or too secretive.

President Gerald Ford appointed G.H.W. Bush to represent the United States in China. He was later appointed Central Intelligence Agency Director.

President Jimmy Carter replaced Bush as CIA Director. The author believes this was a mistake noting that G.H.W. Bush retained William Webster, President Reagan’s appointee and that the author retained President Bill Clinton’s appointee, George Tenet. The author was disappointed when President Barack Obama did not retain his appointee Michael Hayden.

G,H.W. Bush was on the Board of Directors of Eli Lilly, Texas Oil, and First International Bancshares. He turned down going back into the oil business from H. Ross Perot.

The author ran for Congress. His brother Neil was his campaign manager. The author defeated former Odessa Mayor Jim Reese, who was supported by Ronald Reagan, in the primary. The author lost to Democratic State Sen. Kent Hance who received 53% of the vote to the author’s 47%.

G.H.W. Bush ran for President in 1980. He won the Iowa Caucus with over 30% of the vote. This propelled Bush into national attention.

In the New Hampshire Primary, a debate was organized. The Reagan campaign coordinate the event. It was a debate between the two front runners, Reagan and Bush. At the debate, Reagan declared the other candidates should be included. Bush made no statement which upset supporters of the other candidates and led many to criticize his silence. When the moderator threatened to turn off Reagan’s microphone while Reagan denounced the debate rules, Reagan responded “I am paying for this microphone”, a statement responded with applause and general popular approval.

Reagan won the New Hampshire Primary 50% with Bush second at 23%. Bob Dole and John Connally withdrew from the race.

Bush’s campaign slogan was “A President We Won’t Have to Train” which was a criticism of Governor Reagan’s limited national political experience. Bush also described Reagan’s economic plan of cutting taxes while balancing the budget as “voodoo economics.”

Bush won primaries in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Connecticut yet could not stop Reagan. Reagan won the Texas Primary with 53% of the vote to 46% for Bish. Bush withdrew and endorsed Reagan.

Reagan picked Bush as his running mate for Vice President, Bush gave the ticket foreign policy experience. Reagan defeated Carter by carrying 44 states with 489 Electoral votes. This was the most Electoral votes ever won by a non-incumbent.

As Vice President, Bush led a task force on deregulating businesses and another on fighting drug trafficking in South Florida.

Bush found Soviet Union leader Gorbachev as wiling to improve relations with the U.S.

Bush became the first Acting President for eight hours under the 25th Amendment while Reagan had surgery. Bush deliberately kept a low profile and played tennis.He hit his hand and briefly blacked out yet was fine.

Bush became the first sitting Vice President elected President since Martin Van Buen in 1836. His campaign was marred by a arms sale to Iran to release hostages which was made with the knowledge of Reagan and Bush. This was an illegal sale and contrary to the policy of not paying ransom demands. It was then disclosed that half the funds from that sale went to the Contras rebels in Nicaragua, which was illegal. Reagan and Bush denied knowing about the funds to the Contras.

Bush was elected pledging “I am not going to raise your taxes --- period.” He lost the Iowa Caucus to Bob Dole at 37% with Pat Robertson finishing a strong second at 25% with Bush at 19%. Bush won the New Hampshire Primary with 38% to 29% for Dole. Bush went on to win the Republican nomination.

Bush notes Jim Baker brought “structure and clarity” to the Bush campaign. Bush selected Dan Quayle as his running mate yet kept the selection to himself. When it was announced, staff were not prepared to deal with many of the questions the press had about Quayle.

The 1988 campaign saw the rise of independent campaign groups An independent group ran an ad hat Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis had, as Massachusetts Governor, furloughed an American American prisoner Willie Horton who later raped a woman. Bush was upset at the ad’s racial tones, which was something Bush had pledge himself not to do.

Bush won carrying 40 states.

As President, Bush eased relations with Russia by providing them with economic aid. He also had troops drive Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who engaged in drug trafficking, out of office and into prison.

Bush sent troops to liberate Kuwait when Iraq invaded it.

Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Bush’s son won on the Board of Directors of the Silverado Banking Savings and Loan which went insolvent. Neil became one of the best known names in the savings and loans financial crisis.. Bush considered not running for reelection when he saw how hurt his son was.

Pat Buchanan challenged Bush’s renomination. Buchanan received 37% of the New Hampshire Primary vote. While Buchanan later withdrew and endorsed Bush, his race “energized independents” which allowed Ross Perot to enter the general election race. Bush lost to Bill Clinton. Like John Adams, no sitting Vice President has ever been then been elected to two terms as President.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Please repeat that part about saving tax dollars...

Nearly every family has had at least one family member---parent, spouse, sibling, or child---who had, at some point in life, a problem with drugs and / or alcohol, a mental health issue, or an intellectual disability issue.

If you faced this, you likely cared about that relative in need. You wanted your relative benefiting from a proper treatment program which overcame problems.

What if, instead of treatment, I suggested we take and place your relative into a locked room for a specific time period and provide no help to your relative in overcoming problems. That sounds ridiculous, right? Yet, that is exactly what we do.

In the 1950s, of people requiring being held in a state institution, 90% were in a mental health or intellectual disability facility and 10% were in prison or jail. Along the way, we have chosen to dramatically change how we handle people requiring state supervision. Today, 90% of people institutionalized by the state are in a correctional facility and 10% are in a mental health or intellectual disability facility.

What makes this even more interesting is that today we better know how to assist people overcome drugs and  or alcohol, mental health, and intellectual disability problems. Great advances have been made in Psychology, Psychiatry, and various counseling professions. As we better know how to help people, fewer people are being provided with help.

We are mistreating people by not properly treating them. We need to get help to those who need it.

One easy way to do this is when someone in Commonwealth custody is identified with a problem, the Commonwealth should offer help. People arrested for a non-violent crime should be evaluated for a drug, alcohol, or mental health issue. If one exists, they should be offered an option to enter a treatment program for a time period appropriate to resolving the problem for that individual. If the person successfully completes the treatment program, the arrest record will be expunged. Or, the person may opt instead to continue with the justice system procedures and probably face trial.

This evaluation system be able to offer treatment at a time when the Commonwealth has them in custody. Many people will opt to receive treatment over trial. More people’s lives will be enhanced from completing treatment. The lives of their families and those around them will also improve.

This will also be one of state government’s greatest cost savings. Our prisons are overloaded with people who commit a non-violent crime because their actions resulted from drug use, alcohol use, or a mental health issue.  It costs far more money to imprison someone than it costs to treat someone. It is estimated that each dollar spent on treatment saves government seven dollars in corrections costs. Getting many more people into treatment will save enormous amounts of money.

This is a common sense approach that will improve lives and save tax dollars. What is needed is to implement this system. The results could vastly improve Pennsylvania.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

If Dogs Could Vote, They Would Vote Republican Because They Would Believe Anything Fox News Throws Them

Deirdre Franklin. Little Darling’s Pinups for Pitbulls. New York, N.Y.: The Overlook Press, 2014.

This book opposed breed-specific legislation which creates different laws for specific dog breeds. There is no scientific study showing any breed of dog is more dangerous than another Some breed, such as pit bulls, have developed a bad reputation because the breed has more “bad owners” who use them for dog fighting. An owner raises a dog and how a dog is raised does not change according to breed. Pit bulls get more attentive as an attack by a pit bull receives nine times more press attention than an attack by other breeds.

There are shelters that will kill pitbulls yet will kill no other breed This book seeks to educate people that there are no differences among dogs according to their breed.

It is recommended by the author that there be increased enforcement of leash laws. that dog owners be made more accountable when they let their dogs act recklessly, that laws make long periods of time tethering dogs illegal, that there be more advocacy for spaying and neutering dogs regardless of breed, that dog trainers be informed on who to use positive pain-free training techniques and that the public be informed to never let a child be along unsupervisd with a dog.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Book of Words from a Great Republican

Committee on Lincoln Dinner (ed.) Selections from the Works of Abraham Lincoln. New York, N.Y.: Republican Club of the City of New York, 1893.

This book is a collection of selected and writing of Abraham Lincoln.

Among notable words of Lincoln include in 1854 his noting that “slavery deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world” and cause nations to “doubt our sincerity” about freedom.

Lincoln in 1857 criticized the Dred Scott U.S. Supreme Court decision. In 1858, he arged “I believe this Government cannot endure permanently, half slave and half free...it will become all one thing or all the other”. He observed that “slavery is an unqualified evil” and that “our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has placed in us.”

As President in 1864, Lincoln argue that “Labor is the superior of capital, and deserve much the higher consideration. Capital has its right, which are as worthy of protection as any rights...there is not of necessity any such thing as he free hired labor being fixed to that condition for life.”