Chapter 10: Plutocrats – and Others

The United States is the most plutocratic ‘democracy’ on the planet. We’re not even close to being second ranked. Some say that’s not so bad – that we were founded and organized as a plutocracy, of sorts. In order to vote, you had to own land and had to be a white male, and you were allowed to own African slaves. It was only much later that black men were allowed to vote, and even later women. We were founded as a republic – a representative ‘democracy’. Voters voted for representatives who would in turn write, pass, and implement laws and policy.


The founding fathers, by and large, were semi-wealthy, white men who owned significant land and other property, and were naturally inclined to favor a system of government that protected the financial interests of their own class. But they were also, generally, well educated, well read, and fairly intelligent. The historical musical Hamilton is helping to inform Americans of that intellectual heritage.


The word “democracy” does not appear in the US Constitution. The founding fathers were afraid of true democracy; they warned of the dangers of the tyranny of the majority if America adopted a truly democratic government. Hamilton claimed that The people should have as little to do as may be about the Government.’


As the nation developed and evolved, our ‘democracy’ slowly became more inclusive. Blacks were finally allowed to vote, then women, then the 18 – 20 year olds, although the black vote was – and still is – thwarted and controlled by voter registration restrictions and barriers.


Although we are much more of an inclusive democracy today than at previous times in our history, we are also more financially unequal and distorted today than at any other time in our history – including the so-called ‘Gilded Age’. Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States provides a good background up to about ten years ago.  And since then, the situation keeps getting worse.


Jane Mayer’s Dark Money is one of the more recent treatments of plutocracy in America. The book is subtitled: The Hidden History of the Billionaires behind the rise of the Radical Right. The book was apparently stimulated by her 2010 New Yorker piece titled Covert Operations. The Kochs took issue with much of what she wrote. So she’s spent much of the last five years fleshing out the situation, releasing Dark Money in early 2016.


With the election of Obama in 2008 and the Democrats having majorities in the House and Senate, the far right Republicans began right away to orchestrate a Republican takeover, using plutocratic dollars. Well described in Dark Money, they developed the Redistricting Majority Project, the REDMAP – a strategy to take over key state legislatures in order to use the 2010 census to gerrymander their state’s congressional districts. It was an audacious and actually brilliant, if immoral, strategy. By targeting their plutocratic resources on key swing state legislatures, they succeeded in getting right wing Congressmen elected from many districts that would otherwise have likely elected far more moderate people. Gerrymandering cost, but paid back handsomely in taking the House. And then came Citizen’s United and the opening of the plutocratic dollars floodgates,


A recent op-ed in The Guardian, by Mike Lofgren defined ‘Deep State’ as:

            … a hybrid association of elements of government and top-level finance and industry that is able, through campaign financing of elected officials, influence networks and co-option via the promise of lucrative post-government careers, to govern the United States in spite of elections and without reference to the consent of the governed…. when there are economic incentives for war, fear becomes the Deep State’s weapon of choice….


Steve Israel, a Democratic member of Congress who announced his resignation after eight terms:

‘It’s horrific. I don’t think I can spend another day in another call room making another call begging for money,’  he said. His op-ed prompted a New York Times Editorial:

…he estimated he has spent 4,200 hours in call rooms, plus 1,600 more at fund-raising dinners, raising $20 million in donations. Plus untold multimillions more in his time running the campaign machine of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Money grubbing is so relentless for both parties that a Democratic directive for arriving freshmen members that surfaced … two years ago candidly advised them to devote four hours of each working day to ‘call time’ if they entertained hopes for re-election — as opposed to three to four hours for the actual job of lawmaking. Members are regularly seen leaving the Capitol after a vote to put in more call time, as if feeding gluttonous parking meters.


The growth in plutocracy was significantly emboldened by the Supreme Court decisions which equate political monetary donations with free speech. Political campaigns now utilize hundreds of million of dollars from ‘donors’ and ‘organizations’. Presidential campaigns ‘require’ upwards of a billion dollars today. The Supreme Court’s recent rulings have basically endorsed political corruption, plutocracy, and almost outright bribery.


In addition to the outright ‘purchase’ of Congressmen/women, state legislators, Governors, and others, campaign strategies are so advanced and sophisticated that very small interest groups and even individual voters can be directly targeted – almost as if individual votes can now be directly purchased – and the Supreme Court, given its present makeup and track record, may well find nothing wrong in selling – or buying – individual votes.


Zephyr Truthout writes in her own book, Corruption in America: ‘

…the Constitution was designed in significant part as protection against corruption … since 1976 the Supreme Court has seriously constrained public power to pass anticorruption statutes, and since 2006 it has definitely rejected the traditional concept of corruption.

She concludes her book with:

... democracy, without constant vigilance against corruption, is an unstable, unmoored thing, … and likely to collapse.


And if all that is not enough, the process can go in the other direction – Congressmen actually approaching lobbyists and plutocrats for money in exchange for votes on a bill – i.e. outright extortion. Former Speaker Boehner has been accused of such extortion related to key bills. A New York Times piece, The Extortion Racket, described the ‘tollbooth’ strategy to raise ‘donations’. There’s even a book out titled Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money. House Speaker John A. Boehner was apparently a master of such tollbooths.


On January 20, 2009, when the Obamas were dancing at inaugural balls, a group of Republicans, including Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy, were planning the end of the Obama presidency before it even got going. They promised each other that they would filibuster and obstruct any and all legislation supported by the new president. They would do everything possible, for as long as it took, to make his a ‘failed presidency’.



“Plutocracy is why you ran in 2012 on a no dollars platform,” Jay recalled. “That’s what attracted me to your campaign, as did your slogan: For a Sustainable Future…”


“I did spend $5,600 on my campaign for Utah District 2 – $600 over budget.”


“The Don Quixote campaign,” Bill noted. “But we all loved it.”


“And others ran on similar platforms – especially Bill Barron for Utah Senate and then in 2014 for Congress, District 2,” I said. “I was stimulated by Ralph Lessig’s then new book, Republic, Lost – all about plutocracy. And it just keeps getting worse. There’s so much money, influence, and expectation about money in politics that even the generally optimistic Bill Moyers now comes across almost despondent – watch his discussion with Truthout and Lessig. Amy Goodman has also interviewed them.”


The dynamic Zephyr Teachout (she’s a woman) tried to become Governor of New York on an anti-plutocracy campaign. It is clear that our democracy/republic is in danger of being destroyed. A frightening Lessig quote is: ‘We will, I fear, simply tolerate the corruption, as a host tolerates a parasite that is not life-threatening. Until it is.’

The good news is Teachout is now running for New York’s District 19 House seat.


In 2012 Obama met with major Democratic donors some 8 months before the election. Vogel, in Big Money, quotes him as saying:

            I may be the last presidential candidate who could win the way I won [in 2008]…who had the time and the space to mobilize a grassroots effort…started off small and able to build…

He meant he didn’t have a lot of big donor, special interest support at the beginning of the campaign, although such support did develop later.


Facing wealthy donors and supporters in early 2012, he said:

            …you genuinely have a situation where 10 people could each write a check…five or six in this room tonight could make a decision on the next president…. That’s not the way things are supposed to work.


In early 2007, when Obama declared his candidacy, he said it was time to

            …take government back from the cynics, and the lobbyists, and the special interests who’ve turned our government into a game only they can afford to play.

But at the 2012 meeting, Kenneth Vogel reports, in Big Money:

            Obama was admitting that was no longer achievable in the current system – that American politics had fundamentally changed in a way that made it, at the highest levels, a game for the ultra-rich….a new political reality was here to stay.

He admitted the plutocracy was even more entrenched, even more difficult to overcome.



“Isn’t that why Trump got so much traction?” Jay asked. “He is his own rich guy, so he can’t be bought. He doesn’t need the plutocrats dollars.”


“Maybe. The public understands the problem. They don’t see a solution,” I said. “Some think the ‘solution’ is to support a very rich candidate – like Trump or Bloomberg. Although Bloomberg might be ok, his wealth should not be the reason to vote for him.”



The present Supreme Court is a key part of the problem. Injustices, published in 2015, reviews the present Court’s many problems – and the unlikelihood of any change in the very near future. The film Citizen Koch has a good section on the Supreme Court and its Citizen United decision. One justice change is all it took.


The major plutocrats have been energized by their successes to date – and by the Court’s endorsement of their actions and activities. It’s the plutocrats who buy the presidential candidates, the Congressmen, and even the Governors. They are the base of our pyramid of problems. Which is why harmless must address – and treat – the major plutocrats privately, personally, directly.






The Koch Brothers


“There must be something like 25 or so very rich, political, biased, hard-ass plutocrats,” Jay said. “People like Adelson, Mercer, Schwarzmann, Neugebauer, Braman, Rasteller, Singer, Griffin, Rauner, Ricketts, Simmons, and many others.”


“That’s a good list! There are many politically active plutocrats,” I said, ‘including a few Democrats. But we can’t treat all who need treatment. We have to select and get to a few whose change of ‘heart’ – whose actions – will generate great media and public interest – and hopefully initiate a change in perspective and behavior.”


“We need to become experts on all those we choose to try to treat, correct?” asked Jay.

“And we need to help direct the actions of their heirs – go on…”


“Yes, we really need to know our patients – and their close family, friends, their care-givers, their advisors, their heroes – and their heirs.”


“The Koch Brothers should be first on the list, for their own actions and for their efforts in organizing billionaire politics at their regular gatherings,” Bill said.


“Did you see the Kochs set up a Utah chapter of Americans for Prosperity?” Jay asked.


“And the Salt Lake Democrats are saying that the chapter is already influencing County budget hearings,” I noted.


“That means Koch-Utah has gotten up and running very quickly,” Bill said. “They are effective.”


“I could use a little part time additional income,” Jay smiled. “Think I should apply?”


“They’re after conservative Utah money that will no longer go to another Romney campaign,” I suggested. “The Romney defeat in 2012 really impacted Charles and David Koch. They really didn’t expect it.”


“Mike Lee might ask for more of it – he’s up for reelection,” Jay said. “Better I earn some of it.”


“If you need a reference, you can use me,” Bill smiled. “I’ve been on their Montana ranch.”


“You mean Centennial Valley?” I asked.


“Yes. You have to drive right through the Koch spread to get to the U’s Humanities Center – the Taft Center. It’s 26 miles from Interstate 15 on an unpaved road.”


“The Koch Brothers’ father, Fred, started the Koch empire with a number of cattle ranches, right?”


“Yes, ranches were part of it. The spread in Southern Montana is Beaverhead Ranch, part of their Matador Cattle Company,” Bill noted. “It borders a major National Wildlife Refuge.”


“The Taft Center is a great facility,” I recalled. “Diana and I visited there some five years ago. On the way out, heading East towards West Yellowstone, we were stopped by a shredded tire.”


“The way in and out from the West is shorter and easier on tires,” Bill said.


“Maybe the Kochs could have an event there, perhaps tied to honoring their Dad, Fred. His birthday is Sept. 23 – and Charles and the Company celebrate it each year as Founder’s Day.”


Bill added: “Maybe John Taft could take them around the refuge in his open jeep, feeding them Ananda’s chocolates along the way.”


“Several of Fred Koch’s boys spent summers at the Montana ranch – Bill, Charles, and – perhaps – David. It could be a homecoming gig.”


“I assume there are easier ways to get to them,” Bill said. “David is quite a philanthropist – and even supports some so called liberal causes.”


“And they may prefer Dana Point to Lakeview, Montana,” I said.



Dana Point is a spectacular luxury site on the California coast where the Kochs had another in their ‘Koch Primary’ conferences. Jon Stewart – in one of his last Daily Show programs – reviewed the event – showing the five participating candidates suckling on a large Charles Koch mother pig! Fiorina, Walker, Cruz, Rubio, and Jeb Bush were all there saying nice things about the Koch brothers and their supporters. The Koch candidate and donor ‘conferences’ or seminars have been going on for over ten years.



“Earlier, I thought the Kochs would be hopeless, but I recently learned some things to change my mind. They’ve had a very rough family life – and they are pushing 80, some with young kids and grandkids – likely heirs.”


“There’s been some press that they’re trying to improve their image,” Jay added. “Their recent activities in prison reform, the Koch Scholars scholarships, and some action related to an Hispanic initiative suggest some diversification.”



“My Latino friends looked into their Libre Initiative,” I said.  “It’s basically the Koch 101 philosophy.”


From the web site:

            LIBRE is dedicated to informing the U.S. Hispanic community about the benefits of a constitutionally limited government, property rights, rule of law, sound money supply and free enterprise through a variety of community events, research and policy initiatives that protect our economic freedom.’



“Not much there on climate change or energy, is there?” Jay smiled.


“No, I’m afraid they just want to clone a few more Rubios or Cruz-es,” I said.


“They want the Hispanic vote,” Jay said. “The Libre folks were giving away free turkeys in exchange for signing on to a mailing list and doing a questionnaire. Libre has some 70 employees in nine states.”


“The Kochs fund the operation via their Freedom Partners group – nearly $16 million, the Times said recently.”


“I did do some homework,” Bill offered. “Charle’s wife, Liz, seems reasonable and involved…and annoyed with being portrayed as part of an evil empire. She’s reported to have said:

            I’m so hopeful that there will be something, SOMETHING in the world out there besides ‘Evil Koch Brothers’. Jesus H., I’m sick of it.


“I read that Liz sometimes talks like a longshoreman,” I smiled. “She’s nine years younger that Charles and very loyal and committed.”


“She stands by her man,” Jay said.



There are four Koch Brothers, although Charles and David get most of the attention. Charles basically runs the company and is largely responsible for its growth and profitability. He’s talented, driven, motivated, aggressive. David is an Executive VP with his own responsibilities; he seems to be the greater philanthropist and is more public than Charles. Charles’ philanthropy tends to focus on his Libertarian, Hayekian, and Ayn Rand-based values and goals. Charles and Liz live in Wichita. David and much younger wife, Julia, live in Manhattan.


From a recent news story:


Charles is the steady, driven one. He’s grounded in the Kansas soil of their birth.


David is his outgoing younger brother. He’s a New Yorker now, and pronounces himself forever changed by a near-death experience.


Bill is David’s free-spirited twin, a self-described contrarian whose pursuits beyond business include sailing, collecting things and suing people (his brothers included).


And then there’s the oldest, Frederick, who’s as likely to turn up in Monte Carlo as at his apartment on New York’s Fifth Avenue and doesn’t have much to do with the rest of the lot.


They’re all fabulously wealthy, all donate lavishly to charity, all tall — Frederick is the shortest at 6-foot-2 — and all are prostate cancer survivors.


The family now lives night and day with bodyguards. Charles Koch has said:

            We get a lot of death threats. We get threats to fire-bomb our facilities. We get attacks by ‘Anonymous,’ trying to break in, destroy our communications, computer systems – cyberattacks.


David Koch, now 75, lives in New York and, reportedly, tells his three children, ages 7 to 15, that their bodyguards are like nannies, hired to help the family.


The four brothers were exposed to philanthropy and art via their mother, Mary, who died in late 1990. Mary Koch graduated in 1929 from Wellesley College, majoring in English and French; she married Fred Koch in 1932. Fred was a hard working, driven, perhaps obsessed, John Wayne-like character. He was a fearless boxer in college. Mary was apparently somewhat afraid of husband Fred, according to a perhaps controversial Rolling Stones piece by Tom Dickinson.


Their first born, Fred or Freddie (1933), shared his mother’s interests in art and history. He was not, perhaps what father Fred expected for his son. The John Wayne-like drive and toughness was just not there. He was sent away to boarding school, perhaps to minimize friction within the family. Charles, born 1935, responded to his father’s expectations. He worked hard, excelled in sports, and became a good little anti-Communist and student of libertarian economics. Charles has been an avid skier and kayaker.


David and Bill (Bill) came in 1940, as twins, rounding out the four Koch Brothers. All but Freddie went to MIT and studied engineering – as had their father. Charles was going to be a nuclear engineer, but changed his mind when he realized that most jobs in the profession were via the Federal government. He certainly did not want to work for the government.




Charles Koch is 6 feet 3, lean, eats healthy, and does a daily 90-minute workout. He’s had both knees and his right shoulder replaced; his joints took a beating from years of strenuous athletics.


Liz Koch says that Charles has a conviction that free markets are the only way to create prosperity. Even those who live in poverty, he believes, have more money and more opportunities for jobs if they live in a free-market economy rather than one controlled by dictators or socialists intent on redistributing wealth. A friend, a Wichita realtor, said that, in the early 1960s, Charles was a skinny young guy who read about economics night and day, and spoke about helping the world.


Liz recalled that Charles knows there are certain laws that govern the natural world. So he asked if that isn’t also true for the societal world. Are there laws that determine to what extent people can achieve their ends – the extent to which people are more prosperous, more civil, peaceful? ‘I became very passionate along with him,she said. He’d read Adam Smith, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman – economists deeply committed to keeping government out of private enterprise.


Charles feels that organizations, economies, entire societies operated according to the same fundamental principles. He wants people to understand there are principles in life, like in engineering.



“He certainly appears interesting, passionate, committed,” I said. “The problem is he’s extrapolated his engineering rules and laws directly into the public sector. He assumes that the simplistic ‘rules’ and assumptions applied by his father, by Ayn Rand, by Hayek are as reliable in the social arena as Newton’s Laws and the rules of chemistry are in the physical science arena.”


“He obviously never studied Quantum Mechanics, did he?” Bill asked, “or the Uncertainty Principle.”


“I doubt it. Charles and David are basically mechanical engineers, with some chemical engineering thrown in.”


“Why do so many engineers seem simplistic, arrogant, and ignorant of social issues and problems?” Bill asked.


“That question came across loud and clear when I served as Dean of Engineering at the U. I got to know some 120 academic engineering faculty – representing all major disciplines. The simple rules of the physical sciences have a seductive simplicity. If that’s how you’re trained, it’s hard to understand that social, human scale issues and problems should be so hard.”


“But that’s why they chose engineering or science in the first place,” Jay said. “They didn’t want to deal with people issues and problems. They wanted to work in the more predictable and understandable physical world.”


“Yes – that’s the big boundary between the humanities and the sciences – the world of people and the ‘natural’ world. Although biology bridges both, most engineers and physical scientists are still largely uncomfortable with people issues.”


“I love the semantic ‘seductive simplicity,’ Bill said. “It makes so much sense.”


“The other major problem with the Kochs, as with all Libertarians and even Reaganites, is that their economic philosophy is rooted in 18th and 19th century assumptions about the world – about the planet,” Jay added. “We now know the planet and its resources are limited and not infinite.”


“Right. Charles – and David – need to be introduced to another Fred,” I said. “Frederick Soddy.”


“OK, I’ll bite,” Jay said. “Who’s Fred Soddy?”


“He was a Nobel laureate in Chemistry, 1921, for work on radioactive decay. He really understood thermodynamics – including entropy and uncertainty.”


“So? There must be more,” Bill smiled.


“He became focused on societal issues and problems – stemming from the aftermath of World War I – and turned his attention to economics. He recognized, way before the great depression, that the economy was a vast pyramid scheme – a perpetual motion machine – operating with no knowledge of basic thermodynamics.”


“So was he the first to consider limits and advocate sustainability?” Bill asked.


“Yes – and written off as a crank by the economics – business – political worlds.”


Frederick Soddy’s views on economics were based on physics – on the laws of thermodynamics – the most basic scientific principles we know. Nearly everything in science derives from the Laws of Thermodynamics. They forbid perpetual motion – schemes in which machines create energy out of nothing. Soddy criticized the prevailing – and still largely current – belief that the economy could generate continuous and growing wealth – expanding forever. His ideas eventually lead to the field of eco-economics, pioneered by Herman Daly, and to the general concept of sustainability. Soddy wrote a book in 1926 (subtitled The Solution of the Economic Paradox) presenting his concepts and analyses, but they were largely ignored. The last chapter of the 1961 edition of the book, ‘Summary of Practical Conclusions’, should be covered on every economics, political science, and law student’s final exams. Soddy died in 1956. His work on radioactivity inspired H G Wells to write the novel The World Set Free.


“Thermodynamics is one case where scientific principles can indeed be directly applied to society – to the economy. Charles and David – in their MIT engineering training – apparently never learned that. We need to teach them,” I said.


“There you go trying to play professor again.”


“Once a teacher, always a teacher,” I said. “We never give up on a student… I just learned that Charles received ALEC’s Adam Smith Free Enterprise award in 1994, together with brother David,” I said.


“You mean from the American Legislative Exchange Council – that ALEC?” Jay asked.


“Yes, the group that bribes state legislators to pass legislation written by ALEC or its sponsors – and dismisses global warming and pollution.”


“I doubt that ALEC even knows Smith wrote an earlier book called The Theory of Moral Sentiments,” Bill said.


“And I wonder if they know Moral Sentiments’ subtitle: An Essay towards an Analysis of the Principles by which Men naturally judge concerning the Conduct and Character, first of their Neighbours, and afterwards of themselves.”


“That’s news to me,” Bill noted. “I guess the more recent reprintings don’t bother with the long subtitle.”


“And since they likely haven’t read it, they probably don’t know that Smith actually covered empathy – something to do with ‘conduct and character’. A 2014 book, The Empathy Exams, cited Smith’s Moral Sentiments discussion.”


“Well, I assume Charles Koch did not read it. But he has read Hayek.”


“Do you think he read the parts that deal with safety nets and social insurance?” I asked.


“Oops, perhaps not. And I’ll bet neither did two other well known Hayek fans: Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.”


“Is he an Ayn Rand fan?” asked Jay.


Before I could respond, Bill jumped in:


“Wait!  Let me add this cool fact. I was at the post office mailing a package and used a 93 cent stamp – the Flannery O’Conner stamp.”


“So? Who’s she,” Jay asked.


“She’s a fiction author – I didn’t know her so I looked her up.  The web profile said she wrote a letter to a friend saying: ‘Friends don’t let friends read Ayn Rand.’ Her critique was that it’s crappy fiction.”


“I just saw a Times review of Rand’s newest, perhaps her very first book/play, unpublished until now. It’s titled Ideal,” I added. “The reviewer, Michiko Kakutani, wrote:

            Rand’s embrace of selfishness and elitism and her contempt for ordinary people … underscores the reasons that her work — with its celebration of defiance and narcissism, its promotion of selfishness as a philosophical stance — so often appeals to adolescents and radical free marketers.


“Remember what Peter said before?” Jay recalled. “It’s a philosophy for adolescents – on their way through puberty. But some never get beyond their intellectual puberty, like Paul Ryan – or perhaps Charles Koch.”


“And that’s exactly what you said earlier – seductive simplicity,” Bill said, looking at me.  “It’s exactly what adolescents want and need: simple, firm, apparently reasonable rules, because they haven’t yet learned to think for themselves.”


“I was looking at a recent book on libertarianism, called Uncivil Liberties. The Foreword is by Hazel Henderson, who wrote, regarding her own initial fondness for Ayn Rand: ‘For me, reality overtook my adolescent escapism.’


“Hasn’t the Cato Institute been funding professorships to specifically teach Ayn Rand and libertarian economics?” Jay asked.


“And, if I recall correctly, there was lots of flak about the Kochs directly micromanaging who was to be hired and how they were to be evaluated,” Bill recalled.


“And there are other Ayn Rand – addicted rich plutocrats,” I added. “Do you remember that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was dumped in the primary by a guy named Brat, who went on to win the seat?”


“Yes, it was quite a surprise as Cantor was so conservative and well funded,” Bill recalled.


“Brat is interesting. He’s an academic. His professorial position at Randolph-Macon College, where he taught Ayn Rand and Libertarianism, was funded by a John Allison – an Ayn Rand – loving CEO of a failed bank – bailed out by Bush bailout funds.”


“So he’s a bank CEO plutocrat?” Jay asked.


“Not anymore. Shortly after getting the bailout, he bailed to become President of the Cato Institute.”


“Surprise!” Bill smiled. “And Cato is at least partly funded by Koch. The Ayn Rand folks are everywhere.”


“Right. And although Charles may be somewhat well read, I think his early influences – especially his John Birch dad – set him up to read uncritically – simply reinforcing those Birch-Libertarian beliefs he inherited.”


“We know his degrees are from MIT,” Jay added, “back when it was not exactly an institution providing a well-rounded education.”


“He’s getting older, wants to do good, and is genuinely concerned about the nation, even if he avoids the issue of what Koch Industries is doing to the planet,” I surmised. “Somewhere on the Koch Foundation website it says support of various causes which ‘further social progress and sustainable prosperity’.”


“That sounds like sustainable economics to me,” Bill said.


“Maybe. His second book, called Good Profit, just came out. Earlier, the book’s web site accepted questions to Charles.”


“You didn’t?” Jay teased.


“I did – I asked him about Frederick Soddy, thermodynamics, and free market economics.”


“Are you trying to blow our cover? Did he respond?” Bill asked.


“Nope, at least not yet.”


“There’s now a Koch Industries’ ‘We are Koch’ ad campaign,” Bill said. “Jon Stewart’s parody of their ads is worth watching!”


“The ads – and Charles’ recently increased emphasis on the prison-incarceration-justice issues – suggest hope. We all mellow with age – and hopefully develop some wisdom. We’ll try to treat him – assuming we can get to him.”


“Don’t be overly optimistic,” Jay cautioned. “The Kochs were cooperating nicely with Obama’s decreased incarceration initiative – for a while. But they are holding out for a weakening or repeal of the ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse’ standard – especially for corporate ‘ignorance’.”


“They want to institute the ‘mea culpa’ cop-out – especially for pollution and degradation statutes, I bet,” Bill said.



Charles has indeed pondered and considered his upcoming mortality, legacy, and continuity issues.


Charles and Liz (Elizabeth B.) have a daughter, Elizabeth R. She now runs Catapult, a very new publishing and writing firm. She was born in 1975. Elizabeth R may still be unmarried. Although she has attended at least one of Charles’ regular political/donor ‘seminars’, Schulman, in Sons of Wichita, writes:

Elizabeth … has taken little interest in the affairs of the family company. … ‘My father is very big on creating value. I told him I may not make the world a better place – right away.’ Charles’ literary daughter is deeply conflicted – haunted even – by her family’s colossal wealth, and she has written unsparingly about her ‘disturbed and convoluted relationship with money.’


‘Even though I was born into an obscenely wealthy family, I do not toss money around…’ she wrote …she has ‘invested great amounts of creative energy into pretending’ she does not come from money. ‘Gratitude is in me somewhere, but so buried in shame I have trouble finding it’.


Charles’ son Chase, born 1978, is senior vice president at Koch Agronomics Services. His father’s lectures on economics apparently influenced him. Chase married Annie Breitenbach, in 2010. She’s a nurse. Chase serves on the Charles Koch Foundation Board, together with his mother, Liz, and Charles’ friend Richard Fink. Chase and Annie have two children.



“So Charles and Liz now have grandparent duties,” Jay suggested.


“Yes – and in a few years Charles can start their Hayek/Rand – based economics lessons,” I smiled. “And a range of tough physical and work challenges.”


“The Koch Brothers were ridden quite hard by their dad – and thoroughly indoctrinated as libertarians and even John Birchers along the way, I understand,” Bill added.


“You watched Koch Brothers Exposed?” I asked.


“Yes, both the original and the new version which includes the Citizens United decision,” Bill answered.


“Yep – I saw the first version,” Jay said. “The most sickening part, for me, was their trying to take over a local school board.”


“All the ten or more segments – examples – made me sick,” Bill said.


“And I’m especially sickened by their attempted purchase of higher education – the various Koch professorships,” I said.


“Like the one at Utah State?” Jay asked. “Some guy named Randy Simmons, who can’t even analyze wind energy data without distorting it!”


“The Deseret News just reported that the Koch Foundation has awarded 1.54 million to USU – for two tenured professor positions in their Institute for Political Economy,” Bill noted.


“No big surprise,” I said. “Maybe John Huntsman, Sr. will ask to get his name taken off their Business School.”



Charles started thinking about – and studying – society, philosophy, economics after he returned to Kansas, about 1961. He frequented a John Bircher bookstore in Wichita. A philosopher named Gus diZerega credits Charles with giving him books by von Mises and Hayek. David and Charles had absorbed their father’s conservative politics, but they did not share all his views, according to diZerega. Charles eventually invited Gus to the Kochs’ mansion, to participate in an informal political-discussion group. ‘It was pretty clear that Charles thought some of the Birch Society was bullshit,’ diZerega recalled.


In 1984 Charles and David established Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE). Richard Fink was its first president. CSE was an exercise in community organizing. It rallied grassroots voters in support of reduced spending and lower taxes.


Charles is not an Obama fan: ‘He’s a dedicated egalitarian,’ Charles has said about Obama.

            I’m not saying he’s a Marxist, but he’s internalized some Marxist models—that is, that business tends to be successful by exploiting its customers and workers.


David agrees, saying

            He’s the most radical president we’ve ever had as a nation, and has done more damage to the free enterprise system and long-term prosperity than any president we’ve ever had.

David suggested the president’s radicalism was tied to his upbringing – to his father being a socialist in Kenya. ‘It just shows you what a person with a silver tongue can achieve,’ David said.


Interesting. But apparently their Dad’s ‘silver tongue’ didn’t influence the Koch Brothers Libertarian/Birch ideologies?


The brothers believe the cost of a carbon-free economy is too high.



            There’s a direct correlation between the energy use of a country and its standard of living. If your energy use is massively reduced, it’s going to damage your standard of living.



            With the uncertainty and the politicization of the science so far, to go spend trillions of dollars a year changing the whole world economy to satisfy something this uncertain, because you have some religious zealots like Al Gore going around preaching this – it doesn’t make sense.


Those quotes are from some years ago, but they apparently have not been corrected. It is unlikely that today David and Charles, given their ‘rational’ engineering background, would continue to believe the science and situation is ‘uncertain.’


Charles and David don’t understand why their visions don’t get more support and acceptance. Isn’t it obvious that small government and free markets result in a better world? The Kochs thought their aim was to increase the standard of living for everyone. The way to do this, they believed, was by applying to society the same methods that had grown their company.


According to Continetti, a writer for The Weekly Standard,

            For the engineer Kochs, devotees of the ‘science of human liberty,’ the answer to the social problem was as clear cut as a blueprint for an oil fractionation device.

They assumed that if you educated people in the laws of economics, they would see the light.


Richard Fink agrees:

I just don’t understand why the overwhelming benefits of the free market aren’t understood.


Clearly – to harmless – Fink, Continetti, Charles, and David are victims of the seductive simplicity of Libertarian, Hayek-ian, Rand-ian thinking. They cannot understand that their simplistic economic, free market rules and laws are insufficient for the real world of people, goods, and markets. They are so hard-wired – so rigid – that planetary constraints and human complexities cannot penetrate. Hence the need for therapy.


DiZerega, who has lost touch with Charles, eventually abandoned right-wing views, and became a political-science professor. He credits Charles with opening his mind to political philosophy, which set him on the path to academia. Charles is one of three people to whom diZerega dedicated his first book. But diZerega believes that the Koch brothers have followed a wayward intellectual trajectory, transferring their father’s paranoia about Soviet Communism to a distrust of the U.S. government, and seeing its expansion, beginning with the New Deal, as a tyrannical threat to freedom.


diZerega moved beyond his earlier interests in seductive simplicity. He’s quoted in Dark Money as saying: ‘Perhaps [Charles Koch] has confused making money with freedom’. He’s also said

            … the chief moral weakness of many libertarians… They appear unable to imaginatively place themselves in the shoes of people unlike themselves. They have a failure in empathy.



“Maybe we should ‘treat’ many other Libertarians – they likely all have a ‘failure in empathy’,” Bill suggested.


“Sure,” Jay added. “Let’s get to a Libertarian convention or other big meeting. We could donate Ananda’s Chocolates – one in each member’s convention bag.”


“Cool. We could call it Ananda’s Freedom Collection,” Bill smiled.


“A good idea,” I said. “Let’s get back to it later.” I continued: “Charles had an ‘intellectual epiphany’ when he was about 40 – perhaps earlier. He discovered Robert LeFevre, an early Libertarian pacificist who ran a Freedom School to preach freedom and free market ideologies – and pacifism.”


“So he actually did change his mind, at least once?” Bill asked.


“Actually twice. The first time was choosing LeFevre’s over the John Birch philosophy. That was apparently after father Fred died in 1967. It was a significant revelation, though not as major as the one we hope to engineer. Father Fred talked Charles, who was enjoying an engineering job in Boston, into returning to Wichita to run the company. Fred then died about six years later.”



“I heard father Fred died in Utah. True?” Jay asked.


“Apparently so. He was duck hunting with a friend along the Bear River. He had just shot one, went to reload, and had a massive heart attack. Charles, at 32, became president and CEO of the family company. He’s done very well – if you ignore all the environmental and dirty energy issues.”


“Daniel Schulman’s Sons of Wichita is complete, thorough, and fairly current,” Bill mentioned. “Terry Gross of Fresh Air did an interview the author. Much of the book has appeared as stories in Rolling Stone magazine.”


“Mayer’s New Yorker piece, Covert Operations, is also very good. She credits a Cato Institute official with saying: ‘Charles thinks he’s a genius’.”


“Given what he’s done with the company and its pseudo-Libertarian initiatives,” Jay said, “he does seem to be a genius in an obsessive-compulsive-like way – focused on one idea or ideology  and resistant to, impervious to, anything else.”


“He’s certainly focused on growth and on making money,” Bill added.


“He’s what I call a highly focused and effective believer-type. And he’s had help – or at least reinforcement. Richard Fink, his long-time politico-economic advisor/assistant, has been referred to as Koch’s Brain. Fink has said: ‘Charles is the most consistent person I have ever met’.”


“That’s what hard core believers are:” Bill said, “consistent, unchanging, firm, uncritical.”


“Remember a New Yorker cartoon? Mom and Dad are on the couch doing their own thing. Their kid, young adult, standing – is saying to them: ‘The thing is, I’ve grown – and you haven’t.’ DiZerega grew, Charles didn’t.”


“And David hasn’t much, either,” Bill added.


“The Kochs have ideology in their DNA – according to an Economist piece in 2014,” I concluded.



By late 1979, Charles had become the libertarian movement’s primary funder. He had cofounded the Cato Institute as an incubator for libertarian ideas, bankrolled the magazine Libertarian Review, and backed the movement’s youth outreach arm, Students for a Libertarian Society. Charles sought to transform the Libertarian Party into a viable third party. Over the years, he would spend millions propping up a league of affiliated think tanks and front groups – a network of Libertarian-based groups that became known – initially critically – as the Kochtopus.


Now 80 – owning a large chunk of the Alberta tar sands and using his billions to transform the modern Republican Party into a Libertarian-like organization – Charles Koch is unlikely to have another revelation – at least not without assistance. He apparently has no interest in slowing down. He has made it clear that he has no retirement plans, saying ‘I’m going to ride my bicycle till I fall off.


The criticism against him, brother David, and Koch Industries continues to expand and become more intense. Even President Obama is calling them out by name. Robert Kennedy, Jr. recently said the Koch Brothers

            …are the apocalyptical forces of ignorance and greed. These are the four horsemen from the book of Revelations herding humanity toward a dystopian nightmare of their creation. Koch Industries is not a benign corporation. It’s a suicide pact for creation. It’s the archetype of ‘disaster capitalism.’ It’s the command center of an organized scheme to undermine democracy and impose a corporate kleptocracy that will allow these greedy men to cash in on mass extinction and the end of civilization.


Although Charles and David see it differently, if they had even a little empathy, they might understand how most of the rest of us tend to see it more as Kennedy does.


Asked about Mr. Trump’s plan to bar foreign Muslims from entering the United States, Charles said that such a policy was antithetical to what America represents:

Well, then you destroy our free society. Who is it that said, If you want to defend your liberty, the first thing you’ve got to do is defend the liberty of people you like the least?

Charles also said that Cruz’s plan to “carpet bomb” the Islamic State militants would be fruitless, wondering if the next step would be to go country to country bombing Muslims. He continued:

I’ve studied revolutionaries a lot. Mao said that the people are the sea in which the revolutionary swims. Not that we don’t need to defend ourselves and have better intelligence and all that, but how do we create an unfriendly sea for the terrorists in the Muslim communities? We haven’t done a good job of that.


Harmless keeps discussing Charles – trying to understand him and how best to approach him. We understand he’s been a very young and gifted intellectual, learning his philosophical foundations during puberty in the Libertarian echo chamber ruled by his confident and dominating father. He then built upon and strengthened that foundation with little or no input from any different views. Although he says otherwise, it’s clear that he does not appreciate contrary views or inputs. He’s apparently not had the experience of talking seriously with people of a different persuasion – of people outside the Libertarian echo chambers. And now, entering his ninth decade, he seems to be starting to see the conflicts between Hayekian Libertarian economics and a finite, limited planet. It will be difficult for him to let go – even a little – of the previous seven decades of Libertarian influences and beliefs.



David Koch shares Charles’ political, philosophic, and economic interests and beliefs. They work as a team of close ideologues.

David Koch considers himself a social liberal. He supports women’s right to choose, gay rights, same-sex marriage and stem-cell research. He opposes the war on drugs, supports policies that promote individual liberty and free market principles, and supports reduced government spending. David was born in 1940, together with his twin brother, Bill.



“I wonder if he’s aware of the Cognitive Liberty movement?” I asked.


“Cool semantic,” Bill said. “I’ll bite. Go on.”


“It’s the idea that liberty includes within its definition the personal right to expand our individual cognition,” I said.


“You mean like education?” Jay smiled.


“Cognitive liberty also means like drugs, and unpopular ideas, and strange practices. There’s a law professor at the University of Leicester, a Charlotte Walsh, who seems to be the best spokesperson. She has several online videos on the topic.”


“Like a basic human right?” asked Bill.


“Yes. She says cognitive liberty is basically just freedom of thought – and refers to the European Convention on Human Rights. She considers psychedelic drug users as a minority group, says drug prohibition is a type of censorship – like putting filters on the internet. She says that the inner world of each person is her or his own religious sphere, and its exploration via drugs or whatever is essentially religious use – even if no dogma or church is involved.”


“Amen,” Jay said.


“And a brief fyi,” I added, ‘this from a short piece in a recent New Scientist, titled Need for Weed’:

The Mexican Supreme Court ruled by 4 to 1 that banning the consumption and cultivation of cannabis for personal use violates the human right to free development of one’s personality.


“Cool. Libertarians should be in agreement with the Mexican Court – and rich ones should support Walsh’s work,” Bill suggested.



David Koch survived a serious plane crash in 1991 and a prostate cancer diagnosis shortly thereafter. All four brothers have prostate cancer, and all have been treated successfully. As a cancer and plane crash survivor, David is well aware of his mortality. He said, via a Barbara Walters question, his tombstone might read: ‘He did his best to make the world a better place.’ In the same interview, he shared a personal revelation, that the Lord saved him from the Los Angeles crash so he could do good. And this revelation apparently inspired and empowered his extensive philanthropic efforts.


“So he has received at least one revelation,” Jay smiled. “Time for another, I’d say.”



David and wife Julia have three young children: David, Jr., John Mark, and Mary Julia, ranging in ages from about 9 to 17 (David, Jr.). They married in 1996 when he was 56 and she 34, after knowing each other for five years. They apparently met via philanthropic activities and began dating after the 1991 plane crash. David is even taller than Charles, apparently 6 feet, 5 inches. He has artificial knees.


He is skeptical about anthropogenic global warming, saying a warmer planet would be good because

            Earth will be able to support enormously more people because a far greater land area will be available to produce food.

He contributes to both Republicans and Democrats, with the majority of his contributions going to Republicans.


According to a 2010 New York Magazine story, David is ‘gaga about dinosaurs…his childlike quality is genuine … ‘. He cries easily. He’s deeply antagonistic to the Obama administration. He opposes Obama’s climate change proposals and actions… He’s dealt in ‘astroturfing’: funding movements designed to look grassroots, but which in fact represent corporate interests.


He was profiled in the documentary 740 Park Avenue. There’s a good segment in the 740 Park film about Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, and Paul Ryan’s simplistic infatuation with her beliefs. It also covered other ultra-rich plutocrats, including Stephen Schwarzman of Wall Street bailout and gargantuan bonuses fame. Michael Gross, author of 740 Park, says ‘Stephen Schwarzman is the poster child of capitalistic greed.’ There are some 30 units at 740 Park Avenue occupied by the ultra-rich. 15 Central Ave is another really rich folks’ address. Gross has written books on each address.



“It sounds like harmless should just treat the entire building,” Jay said. “I’ll look into it. With all the Legionnaire’s disease issues in New York City, one more building wouldn’t raise too much suspicion.”


“I’ll bet this one has incredible security and maintenance,” I said.


“Did you see the piece on Schwarzman in Sunday’s NY Times? Last year he made nearly $700 Million! That’s pushing a cool billion,” Bill enthused. “His firm, Blackstone, apparently only pays 4.3 percent in Federal taxes, due to the ‘carried-interest gains’ loophole.”


“Interesting,” I said. “And in the film 740 Park it shows him lobbying Congress to keep that loophole intact.”


“The more you get, the more you want, I guess,” Jay added.


“He’ll be – or perhaps is – 70,’ Bill added. “The Times said he has no plans to retire.”


“Isn’t he the guy who threw his own incredible 60th birthday party?” I asked. “I think it was mentioned in 740 Park.”


“The Times piece said he suggested ‘…the company might even have a higher calling than minting money for its partners’,” Bill continued.


“I wonder what that means?” Jay asked.


“Well, he is a philanthropist of sorts,” I said. “He’s funded the NY Public Library Building and a major new complex at Yale University.”


“Let’s talk with the caterer for his big 70th bash,” Bill suggested.


“And the doorman at 740 Park Avenue,” I smiled.


“Sure. We can just give the doorman a $100 bill and ask him to give chocolates to the tenants as they enter and leave,” Bill said. “David Koch opposes the war on drugs – so why not an empathogen for he and his friends – and for Schwarzman?”


“Ask the doorman to also give a chocolate to Julia and to Christine Hearst Schwarzman,” Jay reminded.



The David H Koch Charitable Foundation is accessed via the Koch Family Foundations site. There is very little information on the sparse site. The Foundation’s IRS 990 report for 2013 is there, and lists David as President, Ruth E Bills of Wichita is Secretary, and Heather Love, also of Wichita, is Treasurer. There are no advisory boards, grants board, or other officers listed.


The Charles Koch Foundation is similarly brief and sparse. Its 2013 IRS 990 includes pages and pages of grants to colleges, universities, and related groups. The higher education funding has prompted a set of pushbacks.



Charles is Chairman of the Charles Koch Foundation – Richard Fink is President. Son Chase and Charles’ wife Elizabeth B. (Liz) are listed as Directors. Brian Menkes of Arlington is Secretary; Heather Love of Wichita is Treasurer. Elizabeth R., the daughter, is not listed as an officer or Director.





There is a Fred and Mary Koch Foundation, focused on Kansas giving, and a Koch Cultural Trust, also locally focused. Both seem to be managed and directed by Elizabeth (Liz) B Koch (Mrs. Charles). Her site bio says

            I am interested in the creative process, the creative process of launching people who hope to become artists. I am very interested in young people. So we look at students of the arts and try to create a way of either launching a career or getting a student to a summer camp or something that would further their interest in their chosen art form, whether dance or painting or drawing or sculpting or music.’


The brothers’ first major public step came in 1979, when David, then thirty-nine, agreed to run as the Libertarian Party Vice Presidential candidate. Charles and David were backing its Presidential candidate, Ed Clark, who was running against Ronald Reagan. Frustrated by the legal limits on campaign donations, they realized that David, upon becoming a candidate, could spend as much of his personal fortune as he wished on the campaign without concern for Federal campaign funding constraints. The ticket’s slogan was ‘The Libertarian Party has only one source of funds: You’. In reality You was David Koch, who spent more than two million dollars on the campaign.


Ed Clark told The Nation that libertarians were getting ready to stage ‘a very big tea party’. That was a beginning – the so-called ‘grass roots’ Tea Party came some 25 years later.


In November, 1980 the Libertarian ticket received 1.1 per cent of the vote – the Kochs expected more. That result was in part responsible for Charle’s turn from conventional politics:

            It tends to be a nasty, corrupting business. I’m interested in advancing libertarian ideas, he reportedly said. According to Doherty’s book on the Libertarian movement (Radicals for Capitalism), the Kochs came to regard elected politicians as like actors playing out a script. Doherty was told that the brothers wanted to write those scripts. In order to change the direction of America, they had to ‘…influence the areas where policy ideas percolate from: academia and think tanks.’


Recalling Keynes’ words

            Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence are usually the slaves of some defunct economist … Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.

The Kochs apparently would like to be those ‘madmen in authority’ – empowering ‘academic scribblers.’



“They want to alter the direction of America – that sounds like State Change to me,” Jay said.


“We want to alter it, too,” Bill said, “but in a very different direction.”


“They want to alter it by plutocratic influences – by buying people’s minds,” Jay continued. “We want to alter it by simply chemically enhancing the Kochs’ minds – and those of their heirs.”


“And likely delivered through chocolate,” I said.



After the 1980 elections the Kochs decided to spend millions in efforts to ultimately take over the Republican Party; the Libertarian one was just too small and ineffective for their State Change goals. The work began close to home: the Kochs had become dedicated patrons of Senator Bob Dole of Kansas, who ran interference for Koch Industries in Washington.


They actively funded and supported organizations that contributed significantly to Republican candidates, and that lobby against efforts to expand government’s role in health care and in combatting global warming. According to Mayer, in 2008 the three main Koch family foundations contributed to 34 political and policy organizations, three of which they founded, and several of which they direct.


In trying to stand up for full personal freedom, David and Charles each made $10 million grants to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to fight the Bush administration over the Patriot Act,  ‘…substantially more than the Kochs have contributed to all political candidates combined for at least the last 15 years,’ according to Reason magazine. has presented a graphic of their giving titled A Maze of Money, showing the various recipients and their relationships.


As the first anniversary of Obama’s 2008 election approached, David Koch was in Washington to attend a triumphant Americans for Prosperity gathering. Obama’s poll numbers were falling fast. Not a single Republican senator was working with the Administration on health care, or much else. Pundits were writing about Obama’s political ineptitude, and Tea Party groups were accusing the President of initiating a government takeover. David said


            We envisioned a mass movement, a state-based one, but national in scope, of hundreds of thousands of American citizens from all walks of life standing up and fighting for the economic freedoms that made our nation the most prosperous society in history. . . .

Nearly the entire anti-Obama ’mass movement’ was largely funded by the Kochs, according to Mayer’s Dark Money.


David continued:

            Thankfully, the stirrings from California to Virginia, and from Texas to Michigan, show that more and more of our fellow-citizens are beginning to see the same truths as we do.



“See the same truths we do?” questioned Bill.


“Sure – we all accept the Law of Gravity and Newton’s Laws of Motion,” Jay nodded, continuing: “And if physical truths work for the natural world, then certainly Koch Libertarian truths have to work for the world of societies, governments, and economies.”


“But Libertarian ‘truths’ seem to ignore the laws of thermodynamics,” Bill added.


“Amen.” We all smiled.



Matt Kibbe, the president of FreedomWorks, one of the Koch-funded groups, has said ‘…ideas need patrons.’ The Koch brothers, after helping to create Cato, Mercatus, and Americans for Prosperity concluded that think tanks alone were not enough. They needed a mechanism to deliver those ideas to the street – to attract the public’s support. In 1984, David Koch and Richard Fink created, with Kibbe, Citizens for a Sound Economy, sponsored principally by the Kochs via $7.9 million between 1986 and 1993 – according to the Center for Public Integrity. Its mission, Kibbe said,

…was to take these heavy ideas and translate them for mass America. . .We studied the idea of the Boston Tea Party as an example of nonviolent social change. We learned we needed boots on the ground to sell ideas, not candidates.

Within a few years, the group had mobilized fifty paid field workers, in twenty-six states, to rally voters behind the Kochs’ agenda.


And, some years later, we got the Tea Party.


After mounting an unprecedented political effort in 2012, resulting in the Romney- Ryan dramatic loss, the brothers regrouped for another battle. Their advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, injected some $125 million into the 2014 midterm elections, with minimal success. Their 2016 effort is likely to be bigger and more expensive – together with their allies and fellow plutocrats, spending in the neighborhood of $800 million – nearly a billion dollars!


The Kochs have, through Americans for Prosperity, succeeded in persuading many members of Congress to sign a little-known pledge,, promising to vote against legislation relating to climate change unless it is accompanied by an equivalent amount of tax cuts. Since most solutions to the problem of greenhouse gas emissions require costs to the polluters and the public, the pledge essentially committed those who signed to vote against nearly any meaningful bill regarding global warning, and acts as yet another roadblock to action. By mid-2013 four hundred and eleven current office holders nationwide had signed the pledge, including the entire Republican leadership in the House, a third of the members of the House as a whole, and a quarter of U.S. senators.


NPR has provided discussions of Mayer’s Dark Money as well as Charles Koch’s recent political perspectives: Mayer said:

Charles Koch … is an ideological true believer in some of the most hard

line libertarian philosophy that you can come across in American politics.

Charles told NPR:

            [We try] to find candidates who will move us toward policies that will enable people

to innovate and contribute…



“Parts of Charles’ recent NPR interview seemed somewhat incoherent to me,” I said.


“You think he could also be losing it?” Jay asked. “He is 80 or so years old.”


“Losing it may be a bit strong,” I said, “but he certainly seemed to be mixed up on free speech, political donations, and government spending. He seemed to say that all government spending is a form of political spending – of political influence.”


“That’s a stretch,” Bill said.


“Almost everything hardcore Libertarians espouse is a hard stretch,” Jay explained.


“I still think that – in his senior phase of life – he may be struggling with the coherence, relevance, and reasonableness of his hardline positions. It’s more than legacy – he thinks he’s rational, objective, scientific. But he’s based his last half-century of actions and politics on a set of fundamental, now irrational – and even suicidal – assumptions. Maybe he’s now, finally, starting, perhaps only subconsciously, to process that inconsistency.”


“It may be an ideal time for MDMA for him – to release him from the fear of changing his mind – of changing his hardcore positions,” Bill suggested.


“Perhaps – it’s worth a try.”


“David may also be salvageable,” I suggested. “His giving is heavily focused on cancer and on the arts.”


“So, what makes him ‘salvageable’?”


“He has a masters in Chemical Engineering – he understands chemistry. He now knows something about air and water chemistry and pollution. And he has a strong personal and philanthropic interest in cancer: My guess is that he’s certainly put all that together, even if he can’t talk about it openly.”


“Right,” Jay added. “Libertarian philosophies have to be incredibly simple. As soon as you weight them down with real world issues and constraints, they disintegrate.”


“Yes, so he has to keep his slowly evolving wisdom to himself,” I suggested, “otherwise his – and Charles’ – Libertarian world would crumble.”


I continued: “David Koch got caught up in the formaldehyde issue popularized by Sixty Minutes recently – about China-made flooring with very high formaldehyde emissions. The Kochs own Georgia-Pacific, which makes extensive use of the chemical in its laminates.”


“I remember now. The Kochs have lobbied for years against classifying formaldehyde as a human carcinogen,” Jay recalled.


“Correct. And David’s online resume shows that he received a presidential appointment to the National Cancer Advisory Board in 2005, serving a five year term.”


“Isn’t that a conflict of interest?” Bill asked. “It is a human carcinogen, isn’t it?”


“Formally, I think, since about 2011.”


“After Koch left that advisory board? Interesting, as you would say,” Bill concluded.


“So David will eventually have to own up. His strong personal interests in cancer and the Corporation’s strong involvement with formaldehyde will have to be addressed, probably via formaldehyde substitutes or replacements. He may be looking, perhaps subconsciously, for a way to address the conflict.”


“Perhaps harmless can help,” Jay smiled.



Bill Koch, David’s litigious twin, is also 75 years old. He’s 6-4 in height, and has a PhD (actually a DSc.) from MIT in 1971 – on gas flow through porous materials.


Their father had loathed publicity, scrupulously guarding the family’s privacy. Brother Bill became concerned that Charles and David’s political activism was beginning to draw attention to the company and the family. Bill also wanted more money. Bill felt Charles was donating too much corporate money to his personal political interests, so he tried to organize a corporate leadership takeover bid to replace Charles as Board Chair, allying with Fred and another major shareholder. That failed, as Charles, David, and other shareholders held firm. But it did lead to a familial split which is in part still ongoing.


Fred and Bill sold their stock in the firm in 1985 for about a billion or so dollars. Charles and David then had nearly full control of Koch Industries.


After the sale, Bill felt he had been shortchanged, claiming Charles misrepresented the company’s assets and worth. Fred joined Bill – and they filed suit to receive greater compensation. The lawsuits dragged on for a dozen or so years, with Charles and David being the victors. There were many long years of controversy, charges, testimony, and acrimony, resulting in wounds and scars which continue to endure. A Wichita judge said

            …it is no secret that the courts have become a stage for the unraveling of a family.


In a 1978 essay, the then 41-year-old Charles had claimed that business leaders had been hoodwinked by the notion that regulation is in the public interest. He advocated the barest possible obedience to regulation and implored

            Do not cooperate voluntarily, instead, resist whenever and to whatever extent you legally can in the name of justice.

As time went on, Koch Industries’ risk-taking  and regulatory disobedience crossed over into recklessness and even liability.


In his 2007 book, The Science of Success, Charles acknowledged his company’s recklessness:   While business was becoming increasingly regulated, we kept thinking and acting as if we lived in a pure market economy. The reality was far different.

That was Charles’ Revelation #2: the government is Koch’s customer – and Koch must play by its rules – like it or not.


Bill now runs the Oxbow Group, his energy development holding company based in West Palm Beach, Florida. It started out fairly green (thanks to government subsidies, he claims) and has more recently transformed to a more typical dirty energy firm. He said, via a Florida Weekly piece in late 2013, that alternative energy only exists with mandates and subsidies: So let’s not count on alternative energy to save us.’ Although not a hardcore climate denier, he believes if we want to live lavish lifestyles we need to accept dirty energy.



“A lavish lifestyle – that’s what we all want? That makes him a denier and an anti-environmentalist, in my book,” Bill said.


“Definitely,” I agreed. “Plus he’s given a lot of money to the Cape Cod Alliance to stop the large off shore wind farms, because he thinks he’ll see them from the properties he has there. So he’s probably not a wind energy fan.”


“But he’s not really a practicing plutocrat, is he?” Jay asked.


“No, certainly not like his brothers. But he is a Forbes-listed billionaire – worth in the range of perhaps $2 to $4B or so – who’s getting old with a wife and six kids – apparently via five different women!”


“And those heirs are getting old enough to have their own views and interests, I assume,” Bill said.


“He’s very proud of the private school he founded in Palm Beach, the Oxbridge Academy, that his kids attend,” I continued.


“And certainly the teachers there ought to be sympathetic to environment- and climate-connected education,” Jay said. “- and chocolates.”



Bill married Bridget Rooney, his third wife, in 2005. Twin brother David served as best man – so there has been some reconciliation of sorts.


He started Oxbridge Academy of the Palm Beaches in 2011 – in West Palm Beach – an independent college preparatory school founded on project-based learning: I wanted the school to teach the reality of accomplishment.’


Mrs. Koch jokes that when Bill Koch starts a school, it’s an instant school.

I believe the school will be Bill’s legacy. I really do. One of his finest accomplishments … He’s really a kind-hearted man … He’s so generous … Most people don’t see that side. They see him as a businessman, the America’s Cup winner, a tough litigator … He’s really a sweet, kind-hearted soul.


Two-thirds of the student body at Oxbridge receives financial aid and most of that aid comes via Bill. Four of his children go to Oxbridge.


He describes his son Wyatt, now about 30, as a gentleman. His daughter, Charlotte, is 17. His stepson Liam is also 17 – a star athlete. His son Bill, Jr. is 16 and also into sports; daughter Robin is 14. His youngest Kaitlin, 7, goes by the nickname K.K.


Bill has set up trusts and property for each of his kids:

            I’m always preaching to them to get along with one another. When I die … there will be nothing for them to fight about like my brothers and I did … I’m making sure there’s no financial incentive for them to fight. 


At a reconciliation event with David’s family, now some years ago, David, Jr. and Bill, Jr. were pre-school buddies.


Bill spent five summers on his Dad’s Montana ranch, working 10-hour days, seven days a week at 50 cents an hour:

            I fell in love with the West as a result, and I like the old code of the West: Stand your ground and help your neighbor, very simple things … If you didn’t have help from your neighbor, you wouldn’t survive.



“Say, perhaps Bill could call for a reunion of sorts in Lakeview, Montana,” Bill said. “I’ll bet he doesn’t even know the U’s Taft Center is there.”


“We could try to contact him – tell him we learned about him and the ranch via Sons of Wichita – and we’re fans of Centennial Valley,” I said.


“It’s worth a try – his kids should get to know the place – and perhaps Chase and Annie’s two, as well as David and Julia’s three.”


“What a great way to get them all in one place at one time – perhaps the U could initiate the invitation?” Bill considered.


“There’s another Montana connection,” I noted. “Dark Money says that sometime in the 90s, a Koch group, the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE), held special seminars for judges. Later, one or more of those judges were involved in decisions opposing the regulation of ground level ozone, subscribing to the argument that ozone is good for you!”


FREE still exists, based in Bozeman, and continues to offer expense-paid seminars about its philosophy, held primarily at resorts and private ranches in Montana, including its Gallatin Gateway ranch ( ). FREE says (via Wikipedia) it is an American think-tank that promotes free-market environmentalism, emphasizing reliance on market mechanisms and private property rights, rather than on environmental regulation. One of its major funders is the Claude R. Lambe Foundation, largely controlled by Charles Koch, who dissolved the foundation in 2013, again according to Wikipedia.



Although Bill Koch is anti-Obama and was pro-Romney, he’s given money to Democrats in the distant past, including Hillary Clinton and Al Gore.


Regarding his brothers’ activities, he said to a Tampa Bay paper:

I think some of the things they are doing are great. I like that they’re fighting regulations. I like the fact that they are pointing out a lot of the weaknesses in the Democratic standard positions. I like the fact that they are … putting their money where their mouth is. And I like the fact that they are trying to be very clever, a bit Machiavellian.

He’s also said:

            I’ve become much more libertarian in my old age …  I’m obsessed – obsessed with winning.



Bill Koch and family live on that Palm Beach stretch of water and status that some call Billionaires’ Row – South Ocean Boulevard. He’s ranked in the top quarter or so on Forbes’ list of the world’s 400 richest people.


“His Palm Beach mansion may need to build a sea wall,” I said. “Remember that letter that Florida mayors sent to Rubio on the need for action on climate change? One of the many signors of those letters was Jeri Muoio, the mayor of West Palm Beach.”


“Maybe Bill and twin brother David can build their individual sea walls together?”


“Just how ‘salvageable’ might Bill Koch be?” Bill asked.


“Well, he has kids and perhaps soon grandkids to think about,” I responded. “He has a legacy in the Oxbridge Academy. The school even has students winning science project prizes for environmental work.”


“Isn’t that the Florida high school with a polo program and team?” Jay asked.


“What would you do without the New York Times?”


“I’d be bored.”


“And his current environmental perspective?” Bill asked.


“The motto or slogan on the site says: ‘Producing natural resources for the world – responsibly.’”


“I wonder what ‘responsibly’ means?” Jay pondered.


“There is a Sustainability page under the About Us tab,” I reported. “And a Safety-Community-Environment Venn diagram. There is really nothing else on the site about environment or climate concerns.”


“We’ll just have to work on his wife, all the kids, and the Oxbridge school – and maybe a gentle competition with Charles or David.”


“And perhaps that West Palm Beach mayor,” Jay added.



Frederick Koch is now 82 and is very private. He has many properties in Europe and the USA. He has a New York City Fifth Avenue ‘apartment’, near David although they seem to have little contact.


Frederick was always the outlier among his rough, competitive brothers. While the three younger brothers took after their John Wayne-like father, Frederick gravitated toward his mother’s artistic interests.


‘Fred sort of segregated himself from the family very early on,’ a family friend has said. ‘I think everyone was more comfortable with that.’ According to Bill, ‘Freddie wanted no part of the family and did his own thing.’ Frederick studied humanities at Harvard (BA 1955) and received an MFA from Yale School of Drama in 1961.


He was closest with his mother, Mary. They shared a love of fine art, music, and theater. He has collected musical scores, manuscripts, historical documents, and artistic materials, much of it purchased anonymously. His Frederick R. Koch Collection is now housed in Yale’s Beinecke Library. He is a scholar of the fine arts and a natural storyteller.


There seems to be no information on potential heirs or on his relationship with his nieces and nephews.



“We’ve learned a lot, but we don’t really have any strategy or access,” Bill surmised.


“And they’re quite old – I worry about feeding them 100 mg of MDMA, although I really don’t think it would hurt them. They seem fairly robust and healthy,” I said.


“Let’s not worry about Frederick,” Jay said. “It’s likely his assets will go to art-based groups.”


“There’s some opportunity via Bill, I think, connected in some way to the Oxbridge School.”


“What if we let the school know about Bill’s Centennial Valley history – and the U’s Taft Humanities Institute? Maybe Bill would spring for getting a group of students to the ranch and the U facility,” Bill suggested.


“And perhaps invite David and Julia,” Jay said.  “Their sons – the juniors – David and Bill – seem to like each other.”


“I did find wife Bridgett sis on the Board of the Palm Beach Zoo. That’s at least a start.”


“The impact of climate change on animals?” Bill suggested.


“Regarding Charles, he did say once:

            The biggest problems in society have occurred in those areas thought to be best controlled in common: the atmosphere, bodies of water, air …


“So he may be familiar with The Tragedy of the Commons problem,” Bill said.


“Yes, he even mentioned it in his Science of Success book. He quotes Garrett Hardin, ‘… in a world that is limited. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all’. His ‘solution’ is that the individuals using the commons need to bear ‘… the full costs of their actions…’”


“So what’s with his aversion to regulation – to government?” Bill asked.


“Charles told NPR recently:

… on environmental regulations, it is definitely a role of the government to set standards on emissions based on sound science…

And in the Preface to his new book he advocates

…allowing people the freedom to pursue their own interests, within beneficial rules of just conduct.

But he can’t seem to get his head around those ‘beneficial rules’ – or their enforcement.”


“He really sounds conflicted,” Jay added. “As an engineer, he understands resources are limited – that we live in a commons – and yet can’t overcome the seductive simplicity of totally private property and largely unregulated actions.”


“That’s his problem,” I agreed. “And given his now politically active billions, it’s a serious problem for the country and its politics. And yet there may be some hope. Maybe he’ll age his way into wisdom – out of his obvious philosophical conflicts.”


“How so?”


“Well, he’s also quoted as saying:


Universities are supposed to be a marketplace of ideas and encourage different thinking, not, ‘Oh, we don’t want any student to be uncomfortable’. … you want all the students to be uncomfortable because they are exposed to new and different ideas that challenge the way they are thinking to help them develop thinking skills….Let’s have a free and open debate. That’s what a free society is all about.


“Amen,” Bill said.


Daniel Fisher of Forbes recently interviewed Charles Koch in his Wichita office, to discuss Good Profit and his 2016 election perspectives:

A Picasso-esque painting of a figure in red hangs on one wall, the precocious work of his daughter Elizabeth, now a publisher in L.A., when she was 16. A portrait of Koch’s father, Fred, hangs on a wall to the right of his desk.


Fisher notes that Charles is now 80 and still very much in charge at Koch Industries. His son Chase, a graduate of Texas A&M, runs Koch’s agronomics division. His daughter Elizabeth, who graduated from Princeton, runs a new publishing company called Catapult.


In response to a question on the Warren Buffett pledge, Charles told Fisher that he has already done his estate planning, and his final assets will go to his foundations.


A full chapter in Sons of Wichita was titled Legacy, covering Charles’ two children, Chas and Elizabeth.



“That’s the most recent input we have on Charles’ views and perspectives. He’s far less specific and dogmatic than his earlier interviews and writings,” I said.


“Perhaps he’s beginning to understand his own limitations and that his earlier positions and perspectives may not be as clear and appropriate as they once were,” Bill said, seriously.


“I think so. Other parts of the interview suggest that Charles may indeed be starting to question them. That is the beginning of wisdom and of education,” I said, “knowing how little you know and understanding that the world is indeed very complex – not amenable to simple solutions and positions.”


“But given all he’s invested in those earlier, dogmatic and simplistic views and positions, how does he get out of it – how can he transform?” Jay asked.


“We have to help him escape the fear of changing his mind – the fear of contradicting his earlier self,” I suggested. “Maybe daughter Elizabeth can help him.”


“He did say in that Forbes interview, responding to a question about his kids, that Elizabeth

…is a much better writer than I am. She’s terrific. I’m really proud of both my kids. They have great values, they treat other people with dignity and respect and great work ethic.


“The homework I’ve done on Elizabeth turned up the quote ‘We’re very close but we’re all different…’. Another one from her 2007 writings is ‘My mother … just e-mailed me. She thinks we’re growing apart’. So it’s clear, I think, that the family is close and does interact.”


“So Elizabeth, who, apparently, has never bought in to Charles’ dogmatic Libertarian ideals and philosophy – may be our best intellectual access to Charles.”


“Perhaps,” Jay said, not very convinced.



Elizabeth R. Koch is the literary member of the Koch family. She’s 40, studied English at Princeton, and received an MFA in creative writing from Syracuse University, where she studied with author George Saunders. She recently launched Catapult, , a new firm publishing paperback and e-books and providing services and outlets for writers.


She told a Wall Street Journal reporter in late 2015 that she hopes to create the same kind of safe, collaborative atmosphere that she found at Syracuse, where she finally became comfortable with the idea of being a writer. At Syracuse, she said, she and her classmates were encouraged ‘to show our most vulnerable selves. We were really encouraged to take risks.’


The Catapult team is Elizabeth Koch as CEO, Andy Hunter is publisher, and editor-in-chief is Pat Strachan. Catapult will offer fiction, narrative nonfiction and graphic novels.



Elizabeth grew up in Kansas, and wrote stories from the time she was young. After her Princeton studies she held a series of jobs, editing books, working at magazines and doing a brief stint in journalism. Growing up as Charles Koch’s daughter, she had instilled in her the need to be productive, to be busy, to be doing.

I was doing so many other things because I didn’t have the courage to write. It wasn’t until I got into Syracuse that I felt, okay, now I think I have permission. That’s part of what we want to do at Catapult—give people permission. Don’t quit… We’re here, we’re with you, we support you.


Elizabeth has noted that her earlier publishing experience involved a deep-seated belief that a well-told story can be a training ground for empathy, for expanding our minds and developing personally. Ms. Strachan said Catapult wants to have  ‘…empathy for writers. That’s one of the most important things for an editor to have.’  And Elizabeth has said ‘I just want my writing to be judged on its own merit … That’s what every writer wants.’


George Saunders, Elizabeth’s Syracuse mentor, said.

She’s one of the most verbally gifted writers I’ve worked with, just wildly imaginative. Her work is kind of dark but personally, she is very optimistic and bright. The darkness is the willingness to acknowledge that things don’t go perfectly… Some people come in and light up the room and raise the bar and she was one of those.


She was also an executive producer on the Netflix original film Beasts of No Nation.


She wrote an 11-part travelogue in 2006-07, which is online, saying

Having money upsets and confuses me into feeling crappy and spoiled and quivering with self-loathing. … I expend a lot of energy pretending I don’t have it.


A Wall Street Journal article on Catapult compared its goals briefly to that of Graywolf Press and noted its recent best seller The Empathy Exams, 2014. Given that title, harmless did some homework on the book and read its first essay, also titled The Empathy Exams. It refers to a medical actor, presumably the author, Leslie Jamison, acting out disease or ailment symptoms for medical students to diagnose. The essay asks questions about our basic understanding of others: How can we feel another’s pain? Is empathy a tool by which to test or even grade each other? She discusses Yeats and the Joni Mitchell song Slouching toward Bethlehem as well as Joan Didion.



“There’s more and more material coming out on empathy,” Jay said.


“And remember MDMA – the Movie?” Bill asked. “It may be released in late 2016.”


“harmless’ actions are just in time then,” I smiled.


“And we’ll soon be doing the Centennial Valley gig – for the Kochs, and perhaps Ernst, Gardner, Lee, and Inhofe. I’ve been planning for early September so the weather in southern Montana is still pleasant.” Bill said.


“There are so many patients who need treatment,” Jay said, without enthusiasm.


“It’s good to know we’re needed, even if we’re not wanted,” Bill offered.


“Yes, we – harmless – are definitely needed. But we can’t treat them all.” I said. “We need to successfully treat very key and important patients, demonstrating that they are indeed treatable. And then, hopefully, others will follow in our footsteps.”


“You mean we need to empower fellow activists to do their own revelation engineering work, correct?” Bill said.


“Exactly,” I said. “There are many approaches to revelation engineering. MDMA just happens to be the most efficient and effective approach for harmless.”


“And we’re showing, in this book and via our actions, that MDMA can be easily made and delivered – even though it’s now illegal,” Jay continued.


“Others will assume the responsibility and take the risk – just as we’re doing – just as Tim DeChristopher did,” Bill added.


“The clinical trials with MDMA are continuing and expanding. The efforts to re-legalize MDMA are increasing. MAPS, EmmaSofia, and likely others will eventually succeed, at least to some extent,” I said.



We then briefly discussed a recent Colorado Public Radio segment we had all listened to on a current FDA approved and MAPS – facilitated study of MDMA for PTSD victims. One of the physicians involved, said in response to a question,

            …MDMA should be approved [for physician prescription] within five years.



“We need to carefully focus. We need to demonstrate that moral enhancement, empathy enhancement – revelation enhancement – is possible and really works. And we need to do demonstrate that with some very high profile patients,” I surmised.


“Like the Koch Brothers,” Bill said.


“Like the Koch brothers,” I agreed.


“But there are three more I’d like us to get to and treat – not normally considered plutocrats or ultra-greedy CEOs,” I said. “But they’re just as significant and influential – and perhaps even more evil than the Kochs.”


“Yes?” Jay asked.


“Wayne LaPierre, Grover Norquist, and Thomas Donohue. First – LaPierre and his National Rifle Association – the NRA.”



Wayne LaPierre is now about 65, has served as Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association since about 1991; he has been with the NRA since 1965 – his first 20 years as a lobbyist. He is the NRA’s major public face and voice. Sheryl Stolberg of the New York Times says, ‘He is the NRA – he’s built the NRA. She told Frontline

            The membership wanted a tough guy … somebody that drew a red line, who didn’t compromise, who didn’t cave.


LaPierre grew up in a home without guns only to embrace the right to own many with near-religious fervor. He apparently has no kids and never served in the military. He is now married to Susan, who helps raise money for the association and is a co-chairwoman of its women’s leadership forum, which sponsors an annual luncheon that has featured prominent political spouses including Callista Gingrich and Ann Romney.


‘He’s a student of it – lives, eats and breathes politics, says friend and former chief NRA lobbyist James Jay Baker. Grover Norquist has said, ‘He’s a guy who will never fold.’ He devotes himself to the NRA, serving as spokesman but also top administrator. He spends his weekends traveling to NRA gatherings across the country, sometimes making multiple stops in a single weekend.


He works very hard, saying

You don’t have any time in this town. I mean you work from 7 in the morning until 11 at night, night after night, you end up working weekends . . . and your life goes by.



“Maybe he’s thinking of retiring,” Jay said. “He’s been very quiet after the recent shootings.”


“You mean in Oregon and San Bernardino?” Bill asked.


“Yes – and even after the Paris terrorist actions, he seemed to be relatively quiet,” Jay added.


“Since he basically works for the gun manufacturers, he doesn’t have to say anything. Their stock and sales keep going up – after every shooting,” I fumed.



LaPierre won’t say when or if he might leave the job. But when asked what a former NRA chief might do with his life, he smiled:

            Probably [go] up to northern Maine, I’m serious, and open an ice cream shop.


The group Everytown for Gun Safety recently reported that the NRA is

…losing the American people. The NRA is getting desperate, so they’re tightening their stranglehold on Congress. Their membership revenue is plummeting — by some estimates, they lost an annual $47 million over just one year. They’ve had to raise their membership dues for the first time in more than twenty years. And they’re embarking on a fundraising campaign so aggressive that many members are ripping up their membership cards.


The National Rifle Association does not exist to offer sensible public policy or participate in conversations or pretend to be sensitive about tragedies. The NRA exists for gun manufacturers – and to help them sell guns and accessories. That is their job, summed up, in its entirety according to Jason Linkins in the December, 2012 Huffington Post. Gun manufacturers’ stock doubled in 2015.


The message of security, fear, paranoia – and ‘they’ll come for your guns’ – continues to resonate.

The NRA works closely with the far right, with libertarians, with the Tea Party, with ALEC, and with the industry. The various gun industry firms make major gifts to the NRA, have strong Board representation, and generally think of the NRA as their trade organization. In recent years it has built and maintained its flagging individual memberships by stoking fear and paranoia. The NRA and its industry is followed closely by Josh Sugarmann, the executive director of the Violence Policy Center.



‘LaPierre is not a gifted orator, skilled rhetorician or naturally talented performer’, writes Blannelberry at

… far from it. His voice is shrill. His delivery is anything but smooth. He frequently makes mistakes … His body language is incredibly stilted, and even downright awkward. He is strangely intense.


Some LaPierre quotes:


What people all over the country fear today is being abandoned by their government. If a tornado hits, if a hurricane hits, if a riot occurs, that they’re going to be out there alone, and the only way they will protect themselves, in the cold, in the dark, when they are vulnerable, is with a firearm.


Our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters.


I ask you, do you trust this government to protect you?


We live in the most dangerous of times. America has been infiltrated by terrorists and Mexican drug criminals … lurking and plotting to murder us.


Americans are facing the reality that they’re on their own.


He did begin a recent speech with


We as Americans are wary, we’re despairing, we’re sad.


No new federal gun control legislation has been passed since 1994. The very minimalist executive orders Obama issued after the San Bernardino massacre are being opposed and challenged by the right and the Second Amendment crowd.


The NRA – and La Pierre – seem to thrive on criticism. Brian Anse Patrick in NRA and the Media, 2002,??  wrote

the more negative coverage … [it] has received, the larger its membership has grown.


The NRA and its membership express a fervor as strong as religious zealots. The leaders manipulate those passions to consolidate political power and keep the money flowing, according to Richard Feldman in Ricochet.


The NRA Board consists of 76 very gun-oriented, gun-supportive individuals who think of themselves as patriots protecting fundamental freedoms – especially the Second Amendment.

Board members are 86% men, 93% white, 33% current or former lawmakers and government officials.


To LaPierre, and the gun owners he represents, the real, overriding reason to own a gun isn’t protection from tyranny or some warped sense of civil duty, it is fear: terror at what’s perceived as an increasingly dangerous, fractured society; paranoia about coming natural disasters or apocalyptic events; and an obsession with criminals and drug gangs – you know: ‘bad guys.’

LaPierre, in his Year 2000 NRA meeting ‘Moms’ Speech’, ‘Well, it’s all a big, stinking, dangerous Al Gore lie. ABC, NBC, CBS,  … are you reporting my words? Because I defy you to argue with the truth.’


Writer Lupica ?? is especially direct, saying LaPierre is

…a cheap, dangerous demagogue … fronting for the big gun companies…[he] isn’t a patriot, he’s a pimp.


LaPierre once told a cheering NRA crowd that ‘…the guys with the guns make the rules.’ Although – as far as the NRA is concerned – it is now the guys who make the guns who make the rules, via the NRA.


The NRA’s ‘number-one legislative priority’ in 2005 was a law blocking liability lawsuits that once threatened to expose the industry’s darkest business practices. The law was enacted.


The notorious ‘stand your ground’ law was the brainchild of former NRA president Marion

Hammer. It makes it legal for a person who is attacked in public to use lethal force as

a first resort. As we learned earlier, the first such measure was passed in 2005 in Florida – championed by an ambitious state legislator named Marco Rubio and signed by Governor Jeb Bush.


The National Rifle Association partners with ALEC to steer similar laws through other state legislatures. Since 2005, the NRA, through ALEC, has taken stand-your-ground nationwide, helping to pass laws in 24 other states. At least 10 of those laws are all but identical to the language of the Florida legislation.


In Florida, Trayvon Martin’s home state, ‘justifiable homicides’ tripled between 2005 and 2011. A new study from Texas A&M found that by ‘lowering the expected costs associated with using lethal force,’ these stand-your-ground laws have driven an eight percent increase in murders and manslaughters.



“Did you hear about the new studies using plagiarism-detection software to analyze legislative bills?” I asked.


“Not really – but we’ve heard of situations where candidates and even elected officials have been induced to resign due to charges of plagiarism,” Bill said.


New Scientist just reported studies looking specifically at legislation, to determine the origin of the bills – often coming from activist and special interest groups.”


“Like ALEC,” Jay smiled.


“Especially ALEC. And now there’s also a real time fact checking program, called ClaimBuster.”


“Cool. These sound like good tools to help identify and communicate just how common and pervasive ALEC is in state legislatures and local government.”


“They just had their annual meeting – the States and Nation Policy Summit,” Bill said. “Scott Walker and Ted Cruz were among the keynote speakers.”


“ALEC now includes something called the American City and County Exchange – the ACCE.”


“So they now are peddling their libertarian wares to the very local political level,” I said.


“It just keeps getting worse,” Bill said.



NRA’s corporate patrons include about two dozen firearms manufacturers, half of which are makers of assault weapons, according to a 2011 analysis by the Violence Policy Center.  Gifts also flow from dozens of firms that profit from high-capacity magazines, including Browning and Remington. Donors from the industry and other corporations – including Xe, the new name of the mercenary group Blackwater – have funneled up to $52 million to the NRA in recent years.


NRA’s active lobbying division is the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA). The NRA backed Bush to the hilt in the 2000 race. ‘The gun issue cost Al Gore the White House,’ says Feldman. ‘Absent the gun issue, he would have won Tennessee, Arkansas and West Virginia.’ The Bush administration rewarded the NRA by appointing John Ashcroft as Attorney General.


In 2012 the NRA was the eighth-largest dark-money group in the country. In the 2012 election cycle, it spent more than $24 million in both regulated and dark money.


Richard Feldman worked as a lobbyist for the NRA, and now says:

            They have really gone after the gun industry. …[They are a] …cynical, mercenary political cult.


The NRA’s unbending opposition to any gun-control measures does not match the views of most gun owners or most of its members. ‘Their members are much more rational than the management of the NRA,’ Rolling Stone has reported: ‘They’re out of touch.’  Perhaps intentionally so.


And now LaPierre is railing against the United Nations and the international community. His most recent book is America Disarmed: Inside the U.N. and Obama’s Scheme to Destroy the Second Amendment. The one just before was called: Guns, Freedom & Terrorism. These are more recent versions of earlier books by him on the same subjects. The books, the speeches, the positions of LaPierre and the NRA are consistent with fear, paranoia, and libertarian-like attitudes – very similar to that of the Tea Party and those generally older, largely uneducated, and white men who feel their traditional world and values are disintegrating before their eyes. Rollert in an article on empathy, in The Atlantic, caught their mental state:

To be haunted —and how else to describe a life hemmed in by fear—is to be viscerally present, at every moment, to the darkest possibilities.

They exist in a sad, unpleasant, and – to them – dangerous world.



“And it’s all reinforced by their simple-minded right wing politicians and the right fear-baiting media,” Jay said.


“Diana and I like to watch an Italian mystery show, Don Matteo, about a Catholic priest who helps the local police solve killing mysteries. The other night the show dealt with gun trafficking.  Father Matteo quoted a small child as saying

Father, Aren’t those that make and sell the guns guilty of murder – because they know the guns will be used for killing?”


“The wisdom of kids,” Bill said. “But Republican adults have no such wisdom. It was Jeb Bush  who in 2003 told the NRA: ‘The sound of our guns is the sound of freedom!”


“It’s all about fear and paranoia,” Bill concurred.



“Let’s try to turn this around,” Jay said. “Where does the ‘stand your ground’ idea come from?”


“From defending your home, property, family,” Bill responded.


“Right. A man’s home is his castle. It’s been called the Castle Doctrine – and part of the background to the Supreme Court’s stand your ground decision.”


“Some call it the ‘Go on – make my day!’ law, uttered by trigger happy vigilantes,” Jay said. “But let’s say my home – my castle – is defined to be Planet Earth. If I catch you trashing and destroying it, can’t I stand my ground to protect it?”


“Wow, interesting. And since Stand Your Ground, thanks to the NRA and ALEC, is now legal in some 25 states, we should use the law to prevent Earth destruction in those states,” Bill said.


“It’s even more reasonable to use the castle doctrine laws – valid in some 45 states,” Jay added. “In any event we should be on firm legal ground to really get tough on planetary protection.”


“These laws don’t say we can drug the bad guys – we can only shoot or kill them. Drugging them is still illegal.”


“Unless the drug is lethal?” Jay asked, smiling.


“I don’t think any environmental activists have ever used a castle doctrine or stand your ground defense,” I said. “I’ll talk with Matt about it.”



The younger LaPierre said, on May 1, 1999:

            We believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools. That means no guns in America’s schools, period.

That was in response to the Columbine High School massacre.


The older, more experienced, hard-nosed LaPierre said in response to the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in December, 2012, some 13 years later:

            The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

He then proposed having armed, NRA-trained vigilantes patrolling each of the nation’s nearly 100,000 public schools.


But good guys can go bad. PeterR, an online blogger, wrote:

            Good guys blinded with anger do bad things. Good guys blinded with anger who have guns at hand kill people.


As a young man, LaPierre was not particularly fond of guns. As a newly minted political science graduate, he found an outlet for his interests in politics and political strategies. He found a calling, an opportunity. And now he seems to have morphed or evolved from an opportunist, to an ideologue, to an individual thriving on the fuel of brute power.



“LaPierre is now older, perhaps a bit tired, and may be moving towards more adult, mature, and reasonable perspectives. Perhaps it’s time for that ice cream shop in Maine he mentioned,” I said.


“So you’re thinking he might be responsive to a harmless treatment?” Jay asked.


“Yes. As some people get older, they get more conservative, fearful, even paranoid. But others – even ideologues – go in the other direction. They can mellow and even get wiser. They can think about the future, the younger generations, their grandkids.”


“Boy, you still are naive!” Bill said. “And so optimistic.”


“But LaPierre doesn’t even have kids, or grandkids,” Jay added.


“He’s married now; perhaps he has nephews, nieces; perhaps he’s mellowing. Maybe he’s fond of chocolate. It’s worth a try.”



His wife, Susan, may not be much help. She’s been called a ‘trophy’ wife, likes expensive dresses, and doesn’t seem to have her own calling or direction. According to Feldman in Ricochet:

            … Wayne LaPierre and his wife, Susan, holding court at one end of the white-draped refreshment table. Although the room was small, the lighting was subdued and I couldn’t tell from the doorway whether Susan was wearing one of her designer dresses that had increasingly become her trademark. Her haute couture had caused a stifled groundswell of discontent among the traditional conservative higher-ups in the official family. It was one thing to make a killing in a nonprofit, membership-funded organization. But it was another thing altogether to flaunt it.


“There are some on line photos showing the LaPierres with Larry King at some cardiac foundation event,” Jay said. “Perhaps we could get Susan to deliver chocolates to the NRA’s Women’s Forum – or get some into their registration packets.”


“Why doesn’t Ananda offer them as a promo to gun manufacturers displaying at the meeting?” Bill added. “If not to all registrants, perhaps just the Board members.”


“Perhaps if we approached Susan,” I said. “Don’t trophy wives like chocolate?”


“They all do,” Jay said.




Grover Norquist is founder, president, and the face of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR).


According to its site, ATR works to limit the size and cost of government and opposes higher taxes at the federal, state, and local levels and supports tax reform that moves towards taxing consumed income one time at one rate. ATR organizes the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which asks all candidates for federal and state office to commit themselves in writing to the American people to oppose all tax increases.


Arianna Huffington calls Norquist ‘The dark wizard of the Right’s anti-tax cult.’


            Americans for Tax Reform is a wonderful-sounding name.… As far as I’m concerned, it’s a front organization for Grover Norquist’s lobbying activities,’

said former New Hampshire Senator Warren Rudman.


Lee Fang in The Nation wrote that Norquist has a long history of helping his corporate donors lobby for tax subsidies and other gifts.


Charlie Cook of Sixty Minutes has called him

…the single most influential conservative in Washington or, for that matter, the United States.


One aspect of Norquist’s pledge is the promise not to raise rates. The second – and less well known part – is a commitment to sustain all existing corporate tax subsidies or credits.


Although rigorous Libertarians like Charles Koch often argue against any and all government subsidies, Norquist argues to maintain all such tax subsidies now in place. And firms receiving major subsidies often donate to ATR to empower Norquist to keep lobbying on their behalf. As an example, Fang reported that from 2008 to 2011 the American Petroleum Institute gave $525,000 to Americans for Tax Reform.


Norquist is not above equating tax collection with a street mugging, or suggesting that arguments for higher taxes on rich people echo the ones Nazis used to justify their targeting of Jews. Bipartisanship is another name for date rape,he once told a reporter. He likes to say he wants to shrink the size of government in half over the next 25 years ‘…to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.’


ATR has received major funding from the Center to Protect Patient Rights, which is itself primarily Koch Brothers funded, with some help from Stephen Schwarzman. Another major funder of ATR is Crossroads GPS, the Karl Rove group, which is in turn heavily funded by Paul Singer, a vulture hedge fund player. Singer is worth about $2B and is worried that civilization may end via an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event.


“Civilization won’t end,” Jay said. “But much of our wireless and computer electronic infrastructure might fry and crash.”


“Books will survive,” Bill said. “And music, and plays.”


“And most of us – and the living world – would likely survive.”



Norquist’s lobbying career has now spanned many decades. He, via ATF, helped provide money laundering services for Jack Abramoff’s clients, yet Norquist emerged from the Abramoff scandal largely untainted. There’s a lot on Norquist in the first third of Abramoff’s book Capitol Punishment (2011). Norquist and Abramoff apparently influenced and helped each other in their early careers.


Norquist’s written several books. His newest is End the IRS before it Ends Us, out in early 2015. Earlier ones are: Leave us Alone: Getting the Government’s Hands Off …in 2009; and, with John Lott, Debacle: Obama’s War on Jobs …, 2012; a recent mini-book is called A U-Turn on the Road to Serfdom. In it is his 2013 Hayek lecture on reducing the size of the state. The lecture is on-line at:

Norquist is an entertaining speaker and make a good case for ‘leave us alone’ – for freedom and liberty, but then constantly stumbles over himself when discussing public needs and services.


It’s interesting that the Hayek lecture the year before, in 2012, was given by Elinor Ostrom on the Future of the Commons. Ostrom is a Nobel prize economist who worked on sustainable economics. Norquist – as well as the Koch Brothers – would have benefited from hearing her lecture.


There are several books about Norquist. And, of course, he’s had his moments with Jon Stewart.


Donald Trump and Jeb! Bush have not signed (as of 9-1-2015) Norquist’s No New Taxes pledge. Trump is now discussing raising taxes. Grover, where are you?!


So who is Grover Norquist, beyond being a pre-puberty political prodigy?


‘Politics is what I do,’ he said in an interview.

            I read murder mysteries. I exercise 40 minutes a day. I watch videotapes while I exercise. I listen to audiotapes when I am in my car.


Politics hit him like puberty, and he has never looked back. He had the no tax pledge idea when he was 12 years old and working for the Nixon campaign.


“But he did get through puberty without reading Atlas Shrugged, I understand,” Bill said.


“After folks suggested his ideas were Ayn Rand – like, he asked ‘Who’s Ayn Rand?’ –  he’s now read Atlas Shrugged, and seen the film, stating he thought it was ‘excellent’”.


“So did Sean Hannity,” Jay smiled.


Michael Scherer wrote, back in 2004:

            By the age of 12, he already knew that government was bad, that the Soviet Union must be eliminated, that public monopolies were worse than the private sector, that social freedom was more important than social fairness. He isn’t about to change his mind now.


“That all sounds like Ayn Rand to me,” Jay said.


“Did you know Ayn Rand thought of herself as a right-wing John Steinbeck?”


“I doubt that Steinbeck would tolerate any comparison to Rand,” Jay said.


“Norquist called Paul Ryan a ‘brilliant choice’ for Romney’s Vice-President in 2012,” I added.


“I expect that Norquist would have endorsed any Ayn Rand – loving politician,” Jay said.


One classic Norquist quote is

            My ideal citizen is the self-employed, homeschooling, IRA-owning guy with a concealed-carry permit. Because that person doesn’t need the goddamn government for anything.


“Sure, until he’s stricken by cancer, shot by a stand-your-ground vigilante nut, hit by a big earthquake, or caught in an unpredicted flash flood,” Bill said.


“I just quickly read his recent, current book on End the IRS … – the subtitle says it all: How to Restore a Low-Tax, High-Growth, Wealthy America (in red, white, and blue colors, of course!).”


“Anything about environment or pollution?” Bill asked, cynically.


“How’d you guess? No such words in the Index. But climate change appears on pp. 291-2: a rant against Al Gore and environmental-climate concerns that reads like it was written at least a decade ago. He’s learned nothing in the ensuing ten or so years.”


“What did you expect? He’s a Libertarian ideologue,” Jay said.


“But I’ve learned he apparently has a sense of humor. He volunteers as a stand up comedian – and is reportedly quite good.”



Norquist has competed three times in the comedy fundraiser Washington’s Funniest Celebrity and placed second in 2009. Baratunde Thurston, a comedy writer and performer, who has observed Norquist on stage, has said:

            The culture we’re in wants to vilify people who disagree with you. I wanted Grover to be a pure devil, a heartless, rapacious capitalist. But there’s a heart that beats in there. And it’s disappointingly humorous.



“So he may really have a heart – and a personality?” Jay asked.


“Perhaps – and he’s still young. And he’s willing to consider a carbon tax, if…” I said.


“If, what?”


“If it means lower taxes elsewhere – or perhaps the Citizens’ Climate Lobby revenue neutral carbon fee and dividend plan.”


“So he may not be as ultra-rigid and dogmatic as we normally believe?” Bill asked.


“Perhaps not.”



Norquist describes himself as a …boring white bread Methodist.’  He has long been active in building bridges between various ethnic and religious minorities and the free-market community. He has close professional and personal ties to Islamic political activism. He co-founded the Islamic Free Market Institute. He has said

George W. Bush was elected president of the United States of America because of the Muslim vote, because more than 46,000 Muslims in Florida voted Republican in 2000.



He married Samah Alrayyes in 2004 in a Methodist ceremony. They adopted a Palestinian child in 2008, and a second one more recently. Their two girls are named Grace and Giselle. And he and Samah attended Burning Man in August 2014 in Black Rock, Nevada. When asked why, he explained that he attended because,

            There’s no government that organizes this. That’s what happens when nobody tells you what to do. You just figure it out. So Burning Man is a refutation of the argument that the state has a place in nature.


Samah was formerly a director of the Islamic Free Market Institute and specialist at the Bureau of Legislative and Public Affairs at the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Samah was born in Kuwait to Palestinian Arab parents.


From an online bio:

She is the Public Affairs Specialist for Arab and Muslim outreach at the Bureau of Legislative and Public affairs at USAID


Norquist’s sister Lorraine is married to Majed Tomeh, founder of the Islamic Institute.  In 2010, Norquist emerged as an outspoken Republican foe of politicizing the mosque-in-Manhattan issue, calling it a ‘distraction’.


Norquist is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. For a while he was apparently on leave from his Board position in the NRA, but seems to be back on now. According to friend and former roommate John Fund, Norquist’s devotion to his political causes is ‘monk-like’. His profession, as noted on his marriage certificate, is ‘economist’. His politics appear to fit under the banner of Libertarian rather that right wing, evangelical, or tea party.


Norquist does not fit the caricature of the right-wing nut the media and Democrats have made him out to be. He serves on the advisory board of GoProud, a political organization representing gay conservatives. He stands up to those who portray all Muslims as terrorists.


Every year during the Islamic month of Ramadan, Norquist co-hosts Iftar, when Muslims break their fast; it is an inter-denominational event held in the DC area.



“He is definitely an interesting fellow,” I surmised. “And he’s getting older, if not wiser. The Dedication to his new IRS book reads:

And to my wife, Samah, who in addition to everything gave me two powerful reasons to fight to restore and expand our freedoms: our daughters, Grace and Giselle.



“Isn’t that sweet,” Jay grimaced. “He wants to expand their freedoms to breathe crappy air, drink polluted water, and endure climate chaos.”


“But probably in a gated, controlled country community or building – maybe at a Koch ranch or a Manhattan luxury pad,” Bill suggested.


“Well, guys,” I shrugged, “Perhaps now having a wife and two girls, he may be in the mood to think more about the future of the country and the planet. Let’s let Ananda get to him – and see what happens.”


“Don’t be too disappointed if our magic potion doesn’t have much of an effect,” Jay cautioned, “although LaPierre may be an even worse bet.”




Thomas J Donohue is the President and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce. He has a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University and a master’s degree in business administration from Adelphi University. The Chamber supports pro-business causes. Donohue has been its president since 1997. He rapidly grew its Board to more than 100 seats. His 2013 paycheck was reported as $5.5 million. He has been criticized for big, lavish parties to do the Chamber’s business. He was born in 1938 and is now 78 years old. Donohue’s wife is Liz Donohue. They have three sons and five grandchildren.



“Just right for a near end of life revelation,” Jay said.


“His actions in encouraging cigarette sales world-wide decrease the longevity for his many victims,” Bill added.


“It really is criminal what he and the US Chamber does,” I said. “They shouldn’t be called the ‘US Chamber’ because it makes it seem like the USA is endorsing world-wide cigarette sales.”


“The US government has always been about supporting and expanding US industry,” Jay said “Howard Zinn made that crystal clear in his People’s History of the US book.”


Mother Jones’ recent Marlboro Country piece shows an Indonesian five-year-old smoking. Indonesia is apparently a playground for large tobacco countries. More than seventy percent of men there smoke, and more than 40 percent of the 13- to 15-year age boys – Indonesia’s ‘Marlboro boys’.


Donohue has been called ‘…a bodacious, hard-charging, in-your-face kind of guy…’ He threatens, cajoles, badgers — whatever it takes to get what he wants… The Wall Street Journal says Donohue’s

… most striking innovation has been to offer individual companies and industries the chance to use the chamber as a means of anonymously pursuing their own political ends. …Major corporations donate funds to the Chamber, earmarked for particular political topics, and the Chamber spends them under its own name.


Like LaPierre, Donohue took a fairly weak and small organization and built it into a major political powerhouse. His Chamber web site bio:

            Under Donohue’s leadership, the Chamber has emerged as a major political force in races for the Senate and the House of Representatives. As part of this bipartisan effort, millions of grassroots business advocates, as well as the Chamber’s federation of state and local chambers and industry associations, mobilize in support of pro-business candidates.


A key person with the Chamber is Karen Harbert, president and CEO of its Institute for 21st Century Energy. She, her Institute, and the Chamber are strongly anti-Obama’s and anti-EPA’s efforts in behalf of clean air improvement and fossil fuel regulation. In addition to tobacco ‘freedom’, the Chamber is filing a lawsuit challenging the latest EPA ozone standard.



“Hey, if nicotine is ok for you, what could be the problem with ozone?” Bill laughed. “Maybe they cancel each other out!”


“No, they are synergistic,” I said. “One causes lung cancer, the other aggravates allergy and COPD.”


“Their 2015 Agenda was Jobs, Growth, and Opportunity,” Bill said.


“Doesn’t that sound like the Ryan, Rubio, and Cruz political books?” Jay asked.


“It’s the standard GOP mantra – based on 18th and 19th century assumptions and mentalities.”


“Coal emissions, ozone, and nicotine – a very healthy mix – for very dirty industries,” Bill added.



A Washington Monthly story in 2010 noted that Donohue

…has a well developed talent for self promotion. He makes a point of being the last person on any stage… He travels in a chauffeured Lincoln and a leased jet, and his salary …  makes him the sixth highest paid lobbyist in the country….

The Chamber’s revenues in 2010 were over $200 million, making it one of the best funded lobbying and political interest groups in the country. He says ‘…you can never have enough money.’

….a large part of what the Chamber sells is political cover. For multibillion dollar insurers, drug makers, and medical device manufacturers who are too smart and image conscious to make public attacks of their own, the Chamber of Commerce is a friend who will do the dirty work


The Chamber was profiled recently via Peter Hanby of CNN. As a nonprofit trade association, it can raise unlimited funds but is not required to disclose its donors, opening the door for corporate

spending on behalf of candidates in political races. It is known mainly for its heavyweight policy and lobbying practices, spending $74 million on lobbying in 2013, according to the Center For Responsive Politics. The Chamber works with the GOP establishment to ‘extinguish’ tea party ideologues wherever they threaten business backed candidates.


Michael Podhorzer, the political director of the AFL-CIO, said

Their efforts, like the Koch brothers, are distorting the political process gravely. They are out to undermine all of their political opponents and unions are at the top of that list.

The Kochs organized Freedom Partners as a 501(c)6 organization, following the Chamber’s model for political lobbying.


Some of the Chamber’s chapters have distanced themselves from Donohue’s office, out of fear of offending their elected officials or and over disagreements on policy matters like climate change.



“I noticed on the Chamber’s site that Salt Lake City’s Chamber President, Lane Beattie, is on the US Chamber’s Board,” I reported.


“So maybe Lane can get one of us an invite to the Chamber’s big annual Christmas Party,” Bill said.


“Well, I did contact their Byron Russell and, I think, Wesley Smith when I was trying to make the local Chamber aware of The Leonardo. I’ll call them.”


“Good luck. What they do, working to export lung cancer around the world – and targeting youth – is not only criminal – it is evil,” Jay added.



A New York Times 2015 report covered the partnership between big tobacco and the US Chamber – and its affiliates (called AmCham). There seems to be a revolving door between Chamber staff and big tobacco staff.


Diplomats at more than 40 American embassies serve as honorary board members or in other capacities at the chamber’s foreign affiliates, blurring the lines between the organization’s policy and American policy.


The Chamber has worked systematically in countries around the world to fight measures to reduce tobacco use and even works to influence international trade agreements to benefit tobacco companies. The US Chamber’s involvement leads to the perception that the full force of the U.S. business community is behind these efforts.



According to online DC party information, DC staffers like to attend parties by Google, Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The US Chamber’s main office and headquarters is in DC at 1615 H Street, NW.



“There’s a good chance that both Norquist and LaPierre will be at Donohue’s party,” Jay said.


“Time for a revelation or two,” Jay suggested.


“Time for a DC holiday party gig,” I replied.



Chapter 9: Congress

We had decided to allocate 15 of our patient ‘openings’ to current members of Congress. Who are our ‘winners’?





“There are 435 members of Congress,” I said. “So many potential patients.”


“Time to decide on our full list of high priority patients,” Jay reminded us.


“I’ve been working with Kay on the various Congressional committees and subcommittees,” I responded, “trying to identify which might provide access without serious security or related issues.”


“Yes,” Bill said. “If we can get access to a subcommittee hearing or meeting, we may be able to access several members during one session.”


“And if that doesn’t work, we can still work to treat them on their own turf, during local events, town meetings, Congressional recesses, etc.”


“And parties, “ Jay suggested.



Committee and subcommittee meetings are generally open to the general public. They are scheduled at least a week in advance, although the specific agenda may not be fully available. The schedule is readily available. Audio and/or video records of meetings are available within three weeks after the meeting. Many are covered via C-Span. The site includes information on the Chair and Members and often on the specific agenda, legislation, or issues being addressed, as well as direct links to the Committee’s own site where there is far more information, including video records of hearings and meetings. The videos are a good way to ‘get to know’ the specific patient serving on the committee. harmless will review previous meetings and hearings using the available audio or video recordings.


There are major problems with the Committees and indeed with Congress itself, going back to Gingrich and the Bush-Cheney era.


“You mean Congress is broken?” Bill asked.


“Very much so. In fact The Broken Branch was published already in 2006 – and it’s gotten worse from then on,” I said.


“I read it, too,” Jay said. “And Mann and Ornstein’s more recent It’s Even Worse than it Looks.”


“And even more recently, mid-2014, we have The Big Lobotomy, a summary of everything Congress has done to make itself – and its members – even more stupid and uninformed,” Bill said. “It even covers the shutdown of the Office of Technology Assessment in 1995.”


“You worked for the OTA, didn’t you?”


“I did. They did the greatest fact-finding reports for Congress.”



“I interacted briefly with OTA’s Director, John Gibbons, during my artificial organ – bioengineering years,” I said.


“Great guy. He died just a year or so ago,” Bill noted.


“I just saw that Ashton Carter, Obama’s Secretary of Defense, also did an OTA stint back in 1979,” I said.


“There was just a piece on him in WIRED,” Jay added, “titled the Military.Industrial.Complex. It’s periods or dots today – not dashes.”


“He has a strong science background,” I continued. “PhD in Theoretical Physics from Oxford – and his undergraduate degrees are from Yale – in Physics and Medieval History.”


“The WIRED story said he’s empathetic, flexible with people, and likes to read textbooks for recreation.”


“Are Republicans allowed to read textbooks?” Bill asked, smiling.



The Lobotomy piece has some interesting facts and perspectives. Since 1995 Congress keeps cutting its own staff and expertise. Making Congress dumb and dumber started with Gingrich’s ‘Contract with America’, resulting in what Lorelei Kelly called a ‘self-lobotomy’ of Congress – which is still ongoing. The result is an outsourcing of legislation-related ‘research’ and drafting and a great dependence on lobbyists. Committees have lost their responsibilities and influence. There are fewer committee meetings, lower attendance, and thus a mal-functioning – or non-functioning – Congress. Conservatives don’t see the lack of expertise as a problem. The downsizing and the brain drain is their way to advance the conservative agenda. The lack of staffers means there is far less non-partisan influence or oversight. Committee chairs and members can ‘…regularly shake down lobbyists for money’, as we well know and as The Broken Branch notes. Political extortion has been partially institutionalized; one key extorter was the House’s former Speaker, John Boehner.



Committee meeting rooms are roughly similar to what Utah legislative committees use. The audience is in the ‘back’ of the room, then – proceeding towards the front – a table for witnesses and others asked to address the committee, then space for the press, then a semi-circular table for committee members, and finally the staffers.



“So the press has space between the witnesses and the Committee?” Jay asked.


“Apparently so,” I responded, “according to Kay’s discussions with several committee staffers and via several C-Span videos.”


“So the press can video both the witnesses and the Committee from the same location, I assume,” Bill added.


“I wonder what it takes to get access via the press route?” Jay pondered. “What credentials are appropriate?”


“I imagine the Chair’s office can provide authorization. Kay learned that the Chair and his staff control nearly everything: meetings, agenda, who’s invited, who speaks – everything. Minority members have no input.”


“Here’s an idea,” Jay smiled. “A local paper doing a story on the Committee and, especially, on one of its key GOP members. Paper wants access to do a story on Mr. GOP in action.”


“That might work,” I said. “And the press person can also provide chocolates before, after, and during breaks.”


“That may be the easiest way to get direct access,” Bill concluded.



We focused on the Senate, identifying those committees and many of the subcommittees wherein deniers might be particularly present, troublesome and accessible.


After working extensively with Kay on all the appropriate Senate Committees, and then on the House Committees, and considering their hearing and meeting schedules, and many other factors, we decided to access each patient directly – on their own turf. Accessing Congressmen and staff in their local offices would likely be easier and just as – or even more – effective than trying to do so in D.C. – and with less security hassles.


Given the high priority patients we’d already selected – Justices, Presidential candidates, and allowing for several bad guys – we only had space for 15 Senate and House patients. We began to learn something about each candidate, her accessibility, and his likelihood of being successfully treated.


Patient choice is so difficult. There are rankings and listings of Congress member attributes and performance. ‘Least effective’ members are at . Steve King, Iowa, is rated the least effective; Jim Jordan, Ohio, the second least effective (we saw why by watching his ‘performance’ on the House Benghazi Committee).


A Bipartisanship Index is at  .  Paul Ryan’s ideological buddy, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, is dead last. We were disappointed to note that his Ph.D. in Political Science from American University is not especially conducive to fostering bipartisanship.


How far ‘right’ or ‘left’ they are shows up nicely via the ideology-leadership plots at . The individual’s position on the ‘political spectrum’ refers to the rough ideology of the bills they’ve sponsored and co-sponsored. The site uses a statistical method based on Principal Components Analysis to determine the Ideology (X axis) coordinate and a Page Rank approach to determine the Leadership coordinate (Y axis). The left side of the plot tends to be liberal; the right side conservative. It’s fascinating that there is almost no inter-mixing of Democrats (blue points) and Republicans (red points) in the final plot. The ‘spectrum’ results in two ‘peaks’ – one including nearly all Democrats; the other including nearly all Republicans. It’s a clear representation of the strong polarization existent in today’s Congress.


For example Senator Jim Inhofe, climate denier par excellence, is on the far right – a very high ideology score – with a roughly average Leadership Score.


Geoffrey Kabaservice, author of Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, has said: ‘Ideological extremism correlates closely with legislative impotence.’ Ineffectiveness and ideological extremism do correlate for many Congress people, as the Govtrack plots often show.


Very strong ideologues may be much more difficult to successfully treat. But if they do ‘respond’ to treatment, it will generate publicity and awareness among their equally ideologic followers. We began to feel that a mix of ideologues and somewhat more moderate patients might be best for harmless.


We agreed to prioritize and fast track the current leadership: Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Kevin McCarthy – the majority leaders and Speaker.


More Homework.


McConnell, Mitch – Senate Majority Leader.

Mitch McConnell is Kentucky’s senior Senator and says he is in his last term. He was first elected in 1985. Govtrack puts him in the middle of the GOP ideology curve, with a high leadership score.


McConnell is looking tired. He failed at his earlier goal of ‘…making Obama a one term President’. He now has his ‘dream job’ – Senate Majority Leader.



“Yes, but he’s failing at it,” Jay said. “He lost to Rand Paul on the Patriot Act provisions.”


“He screwed up the timing,” Bill added. “He was confident that by letting it go to the wire, Paul would play ball. He didn’t; McConnell took a beating.”


“McConnell’s convinced that the now two term Obama will be replaced by a Republican, saying, in response to the recent Paris climate agreement: ‘Obama should remember that the agreement is subject to being shredded in 13 months’.”


“And McConnell should recall that Romney lost – and so will Rubio, or Cruz, or whoever.”


“The McConnell – Paul fight is an interesting power struggle – the old and young senators from Kentucky duking it out,” I said. “Both are strong climate deniers, but Paul at least tries to be semi-rational, consistent, and principled.”


“Paul’s covered as one of our Presidential aspirants – even though he just dropped out of that race.”


“To focus on his Senate reelection,” Jay said.


“And another presidential aspirant, Senator Cruz, is now on McConnell’s case – calling him a liar on the Senate floor,” Bill added.


“Which means Cruz is just shooting off his own toes,” Jay said. “He’ll come tumbling down soon – with Trump.”


“We hope!”


“McConnell won one for Kentucky – The Bluegrass Benefit,” I said.


“A lawn seed subsidy?” asked Jay.


“No, a sweet race horse subsidy – part of the new omnibus spending bill – a special benefit for the race horse crowd.”


“I’ll bet they’re all in the upper 1%,” Bill said, cynically.


‘I’m sure. This sweet little tax giveaway makes racehorses eligible for depreciation over a three year period, rather than seven years.”


“So they can wear them out quicker? Where’s the SPCA when you need them?” asked Jay.


“There was some budget good news – solar and wind tax breaks,” Bill said.


“And one for hard cider,” I added.




“Back to McConnell,” I said. “Perhaps he may be receptive to a change – even a revelation – which might endear him to his kids and grandkids.”


McConnell’s wife is Elaine Chao, a former Labor Secretary, and is reported to have said ‘…there’s nothing better than girl power.’ She immigrated from Taiwan with her family when she was eight. Her father developed a successful shipping business. She’s eleven years younger than Mitch, been a key part of his fund-raising and campaign efforts, and was very instrumental in his last re-election. She has a Harvard MBA, worked in the banking sector, served as Director of the Peace Corps under Bush #1, and was Secretary of Labor for both terms of Bush #2. She married Mitch in 1993. McConnell has said ‘In my first marriage, I married a Liberal.’ Chao is not a liberal. She is conservative and has worked for the Heritage Foundation. She’s been characterized as a ‘tiger woman’, meaning focused, hard-nosed, hardworking, etc.


There’s often a strong conservative component to immigrants who have struggled, worked hard, and succeeded in America. They adopt an Ayn Rand philosophy – if I could do it, you can, too – and loose much of their compassion and empathy along the way.


She’s received over 30 honorary degrees. In her commencement speech at DePauw, 2002, she noted that it is a ‘… top liberal arts university’, and that the students now have ‘… a responsibility to lead.’ She referred to volunteerism, her experience with the Peace Corps and United Way, her immigrant roots. She is a very smooth and personable speaker. She concluded by telling them all ‘… to do good.’


“I wonder if she’s ever whispered in Mitch’s ear, ‘Do good, Dear’.”


“Do you think she fully understands what the liberal arts are? What a real education is?” asked Bill.


“She is a very effective politician,” I said. “The speech is on YouTube. Given her political skills, she’s the part of the couple that should be a Senator.”


“Any kids?” Jay asked.


“Apparently not. She was 40 when they married in 1993,” I said. “But he does have three daughters via his first marriage. His recent campaign referred to his three daughters, but no details.”


“It’s sounding to me,” Bill surmised, “that we may not want to target McConnell, given his wife’s apparent conservatism, the anonymity of his daughters, and his own hard wiring.”


“I thought the same,” I said, “until I learned about his commitment to civil rights. The Times just did a large story on his ‘…longstanding commitment to civil rights legislation’.”


“I did hear about that, too,” Jay added. “So maybe he’s not hopeless?”


“Maybe not. The Times article ended with a McConnell quote: ‘America is a work in progress…We are always looking for opportunities to improve our country.’ Perhaps we can induce him to expand his civil rights interests to human rights.”


“It’s worth a try,” Bill said. “He’s entitled to the benefit of our doubt.”


“Let’s see what we learn about his daughters – and if there are any grandkids,” I said.



Ryan, Paul – Speaker of the House


Paul Ryan represents Wisconsin District 1 – the far SE corner of the state, including Racine and Kenosha. Surprisingly, because he is basically a Libertarian, Govtrack puts him to the left of the GOP center, with a low leadership score.


His hometown and residence is Janesville WI (a Democrat town!) on the far west end of the district, near both Milwaukee and Chicago.  He drives a Chevy Suburban, attends Catholic mass at St. John Vianney Catholic Church, and is a Green Bay Packers fan.  He is a bow-hunter. Prime rib is apparently his favorite meal, and he likes to go to the Main Street Citrus Cafe and the Buckhorn Supper Club. Ryan’s father died from a heart attack when he was only 16.


Ryan owns a six bedroom 5,800 sq ft house in the Courthouse Hill district of Janesville. Built by George Parker of Parker Pens, it is locally referred to as the Parker Mansion. The Ryans have lived there for many years: Paul, wife Janna, and their three young children: Liza, Charlie, and Sam.



“The House Speaker, and former GOP VP candidate for 2012, is a very traditional Hayekian economics fan,” I surmised.


“In 2012 the press dubbed him ‘the intellectual brains of the GOP’,” Bill recalled.


“Because, starting in 2007, he began developing his Roadmap for America – a largely Libertarian economics – based budget plan,” Jay added. “The GOP was completely against it, as they thought the Democrats would use it to the GOP’s disadvantage in the 2008 elections.”


“He waged a very uphill battle within the Republican Party to get it to eventually endorse his Roadmap and adopt much of it for the 2012 Romney-Ryan campaign,” I added. “I’ve been reading his little 2014 book, The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea. It’s worth reading.”


“He was quite an Ayn Rand fan, but then recanted a bit as he started to experience some of the realities of governing,” Jay said.


“Jon Stewart took him on in 2013 for the takers vs. makers comments he made in response to Obama’s 2013 Inauguration speech,” I said.


“Yea – and if I recall correctly, the same Stewart piece showed many earlier Ryan clips on the takers vs. makers theme,” Bill said.


“Did you ever read Ishmael – a little book about an intelligent gorilla teaching a guy about the takers – makers history and economy?” I asked.


“I haven’t – sounds clever,” Jay said. “Go on.”


“The story’s narrator, a somewhat clueless but curious fellow, comes across an intriguing ad in the Personals section of the Classifieds.”


“I remember Classifieds,” Bill laughed. “A 20th century phenomenon.”


“Well Daniel Quinn, the author, published it back then – in 1992. Actually it was the result of a competition – the Ted Turner Fellowship Award,” I said.




The Wikipedia entry states:


The Turner Tomorrow Fellowship Award was created in 1989 by Ted Turner, to be awarded to an unpublished work of fiction offering creative and positive solutions to global problems. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn won the award in 1991, which will not be awarded again, and was selected out of 2500 entries by a celebrity panel including famous sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury. The award was worth $500,000, the largest single sum ever awarded to a single work of literature. Turner created the prize in hopes of combining literary merit with potential solutions to near-term environmental concerns… the fellowship included a hardcover publishing contract with Turner Broadcasting’s publishing unit. says that there are more than one million copies in print.


The book begins with a classified ad:

TEACHER seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person.


“Fascinating. I might respond to such an ad,” Jay said. “But why a Ted Turner Prize? I’ve only associated him with Buffalo and Jane Fonda.”


“That alone makes him pretty interesting,” Bill said.


“Turner’s a very interesting guy. He’s donated big time to the United Nations – a billion dollar pledge in 1997, which he has fully paid,” I said. “And shortly after he made the pledge his assets plunged. But he struggled, partially recovered, and honored the pledge.”


“Was he at the U some years ago?” Bill asked.
“No, I don’t think so. But his semi-official biographer did give a lecture at the Law School titled something like Plutocrats and Ted Turner. I was so impressed by what I learned that I bought and read the book.”




The book is Last Stand: Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Planet, by Todd Wilkinson, 2014. Wilkinson’s U lecture was videoed and is online at . It’s worth watching.


“Perhaps Turner should be the businessman running for President, rather than the casino clown.”


“Turner couldn’t run as a Republican,” Bill said.


“Nor would he want to,” I concluded.





Janna Ryan participates in the Janesville Woman’s Club. She was interviewed by the Janesville Gazette in August, 2015. She’s 46, he’s 45. He lives in his office during the week and returns home to his family in Janesville on the weekends. He sleeps in his Longworth Building office so he can work out in the House gym. He’s begun sporting a beard, saying ‘I’m the first Speaker to sport a beard in about 100 years.’



“He’s Speaker of the House, but without the beard looks like a kid,” Jay said. “He’s probably trying to distance himself from the other clueless kids on TV – like Cruz and Rubio. Others have said it makes him look cool and contemporary.”


“It sure is better than Trump’s hair,” Bill noted.



Paul Ryan replaced John Boehner as Speaker of the House when the tea party – in the House now known as the Freedom Caucus – acted to precipitate Boehner’s resignation. A House Divided, a New Yorker story by Ryan Lizza, says


Ryan represents a bridge between Boehner’s generation and the members elected

since 2010 …  some in the older guard … don’t know if Ryan can control [the Freedom Caucus] any better than Boehner could.


Tom Cole, a Republican congressman from Oklahoma and a close ally of Boehner’s said,

            John Boehner was … I think … an excellent teacher. I just don’t think he had the brightest students in the world.


Lizza notes that Charlie Dent, the head of the Tuesday Group, a caucus of fifty-six center-right Republicans, says that the rejectionist wing, dominated by the Freedom Caucus, votes against everything and considers government shutdowns a routine part of negotiating with Obama.


Ryan is extremely conservative, basically a Libertarian. In response to Obama’s executive actions on guns after the San Bernardino massacre, Ryan said:

From Day 1 the President has never respected the right to safe and legal gun ownership that our nation has valued since its founding… rather than focus on criminals and terrorists, [Obama] goes after the most law abiding of citizens. His words and actions amount to a form of intimidation that undermines liberty.


Regarding Congressional agendas, Jennifer Steinhauer wrote in the Times:


[Ryan and McConnell] … are operating on starkly different political planets in this election year, with little harmony in their legislative agenda. … Mr. Ryan wants to finally offer a Republican alternative to Mr. Obama’s signature health care law. Mr. McConnell does not. Mr. Ryan would like to see his chamber explore authorizing military force against the Islamic State. Mr. McConnell would not… nearly every item on Mr. Ryan’s ambitious policy agenda for the year has been welcomed by Mr. McConnell with all the appreciation of a cup of black coffee after 8 p.m. Thanks, but no.


McConnell said of Mr. Ryan’s agenda: ‘…what we take up with in Senate will be different, with

special eye toward our incumbents.’


“It’s not about governing,” Jay fumed. “It’s about re-electing.”


“I’m not sure any amount of our precious chocolate will impact Ryan or McConnell,” Bill added.


“Maybe Janna – or the kids?”


“If the kids could read Ishmael, they’d begin to question their father’s takers-makers perceptions and prejudices.”



Ishmael, the gorilla philosopher in Quinn’s book, defines ‘Takers’ as members of the dominant globalized civilization and its culture, while ‘Leavers’ refers to members of the countless other ‘non-civilized’ cultures existing both in the past and currently. Leavers tend to live sustainably – they leave the environment in a generally healthy condition. Takers live by taking from the environment – resources like minerals, wood, land, etc., and degrade it by their massive economic enterprises.


In Ryan’s neurons the Makers are those who make stuff, cities, jobs – fuel the economy. But of course they do so generally at the expense of the environment – at the expense of the Planet. Ryan’s Takers are those who might require social services, participate in the dwindling ‘safety net, who have low and minimal incomes. Ryan’s Takers are close to Ishmael’s Leavers – they tend to leave the environment as is, without significantly depleting it.



“Remember Obama’s 2012 Inaugural address – when he beat Romney-Ryan and their Taker-Maker mantra?” Jay asked.


“Remind me,” Bill said.


Obama’s 2012 Inaugural Address included

…  every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity…  We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.  We recognize that … one of us at any time may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm.  The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.


“I think Ryan’s kids would really enjoy conversing with an intelligent gorilla,” Bill said.


“Let’s make it happen.”



McCarthy, Kevin – House Majority Leader


Kevin McCarthy represents California District 23 – between Fresno and Los Angeles – a very Republican district. His parents are Democrats.


His Govtrack Ideology score is, surprisingly, on the left side of the GOP distribution, with a very low Leadership score (although he is House Majority Leader and almost became Speaker!).


McCarthy is 50, a graduate of California State University – Bakersfield (BS in Marketing and an MBA), and essentially a career politician. He began his Congressional seat in 2006 and is considered a GOP ‘Young Gun’; now in his fifth term; he gave John Boehner, former Speaker, a B- grade for his performance as House Speaker.


When he’s in Washington, McCarthy sleeps on a sofa in his office. He flies home weekly to see his wife, Judy. Their kids are Connor (20) and Meghan (18). Immigration has been a tough issue for McCarthy, who represents a 35% Latino district that relies on immigrants for picking crops. He recently did a fundraiser for a fellow party member and attended a symposium on valley fever, a very serious health problem in the drier, desert-like regions of southern California.


‘Judy is the ultimate ‘there you are’ person, always looking for a way to support the people around her, and treats everyone with respect’, said one of her Congressional wife friends. Friends closer to home agree – ‘Judy is unaffected by the notoriety, always keeping her focus on her convictions of faith, family and friends’. She is said to be the yang to Kevin’s yin. She is happy to leave the glad-handing to her gregarious husband.


She is one of four children. She says of her dad: ’He is the perfect example of hard work. … we have a very close family, and my foundation of faith came from my mother’.


Judy and Kevin met in a biology class at Bakersfield High School. ‘Kevin’s personality wins you over, and he doesn’t give up,’ she said.


In Washington, Judy is a volunteer trustee at Ford’s Theatre, which celebrates the legacy of President Abraham Lincoln. She is fond of James Patterson novels, but said her favorite book is the Bible. She is apparently quite religious. Wikipedia lists Kevin as a Southern Baptist.


McCarthy was a young member of the so-called ‘Caucus Room Conspiracy’ in 2009. On January 20, 2009, when the Obamas were dancing at inaugural balls, a group of Republicans, including Paul Ryan, were planning the end of the Obama presidency before it even got going.

They promised each other that they would filibuster and obstruct any and all legislation

supported by the new president. They would do everything possible, for as long as it took, to make his a ‘failed presidency’.


Rachel Maddow said ‘His ascent seems to be based on tactical expediency instead of competence’. He torpedoed that ascent to the Speakership by going on Fox News to brag about his party’s responsibility in bringing down Clinton’s poll numbers via the Benghazi hearings, essentially admitting that the hearings were always about sabotaging Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.


A recent critique noted that a recent McCarthy speech on foreign policy contained many

incoherent sentences.  As Speaker of the House of Representatives he would have been third in line for the presidency. According to Mark Levin, a conservative talk show host: McCarthy’s credentials are ‘… [former Majority Leader] Eric Cantor with ten less I.Q. points’. McCarthy likes to give ‘red meat’ comments on the Hannity tirade show.


He’s not fond of Obama and tried to derail the Paris climate discussions. He’s very pro-fracking.


There was some speculation as to why McCarthy abruptly withdrew from the race to replace Boehner as Speaker, leading Chaffetz and Issa to magnanimously offer themselves for the job. The common perspective was that McCarthy’s remarks related to the Benghazi Committee questioning of Clinton ‘torpedoed’ his candidacy.


Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (Republican, California District 48) publicly dressed down McCarthy for his Benghazi comments and described how they had harmed his ability to lead and be a forceful Speaker in the 2016 campaign. This and other criticisms are generally credited for his decision to withdraw from the race for Speaker.


In 2010 McCarthy signed the Koch Brothers – sponsored Americans for Prosperity pledge – promising to vote against any climate change legislation that would raise taxes on affected companies.


McCarthy is pro-life and has received a 100% rating from the National Right to Life Committee. He has voted to ban abortions, to stop perceived taxpayer funding of abortion and has also voted repeatedly to repeal and/or defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.


As Trump began to acquire states during the state caucuses and primaries, McCarthy said, responding to a question on MSNBC, ‘I think I’ll work with Donald Trump … I think I can work with anyone that comes out to be the nominee’.


“They keep getting dumber and dumber,” Jay said.


“But Lindsay Graham just had a minor revelation,” I countered. “He said it would be better for a Democrat to win the White House than Donald Trump.”


“Cool,” Bill said. “Graham used to be – way back – a moderate. Maybe there is some hope.”



Congress’ ‘soldiers’ – Twelve priority patients:


“That’s good background on the three major leaders of Congress – now time for the ‘soldiers’ – or those who vote on bills,” Bill said.


“Or don’t vote, like the mighty Marco Rubio,” Jay noted. “But he’s covered under Presidential candidate.”


“We’ll also include other needy members of their delegation, in case they are convenient to treat.”


“And if the book about harmless and its actions is published, we can Tweet to each of them: ‘You made the cut. Congratulations’,” I smiled.


harmless selected the additional 12 Congressional ‘soldiers’ on the basis of their far right, anti-environment, and anti-bipartisanship records and statements. We also considered their membership on Congressional committees.


Barrasso, John – Wyoming Senator, denier, anti EPA. He’s a graduate of Georgetown University. He’s an MD and did a residency at Yale University. He practiced orthopedics and was named Wyoming Physician of the Year. Barrasso is married (his second) to Bobbi Brown. They married in 2008. She is a breast cancer survivor. He has three children: Peter, Emma, and Hadley. Although Barrasso went to Catholic schools, he is now a Presbyterian.


He’s quoted as saying, ‘I believe in limited government, lower taxes, less spending, traditional family values, local control and a strong national defense’; he has ‘voted for prayer in schools, against gay marriage and [has] sponsored legislation to protect life’.


Barrasso was one of 46 senators to vote against the passing of a bill in April 2013 which would have expanded background checks for all gun buyers. He received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association in 2002.


He wants to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from limiting carbon dioxide emissions.


He is a ranking member of the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests, within the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.


“Barrasso’s now speaking out, unfortunately,” I said. “He tried to undermine Obama at the Paris Climate talks by saying ‘…the American people have [climate] as a very, very low priority’; he also said ‘…foreign leaders in Paris could not trust Mr. Obama’s commitments’.”


“How can someone with degrees from Georgetown – and an MD degree – be so conservative – so dogmatic,” Bill asked.


“Ben Carson has an MD degree,” Jay smiled. “It hasn’t helped his perspective on the planet.”




Capito, Shelley Moore – West Virginia, Senator, denier.


Shelley Capito was elected to the Senate in 2014 after having served in the House for seven terms. She is married to Charles L. Capito. They have three children: sons Charles and Moore and daughter Shelley. The Capitos are now grandparents.


Shelley Capito is another Presbyterian, and a strong advocate for the mining industry, especially coal. She opposes ‘job-killing’ energy regulations, opposes capping CO2, and has voted with her party 93% of the time. Her position on the Govtrack ideological spectrum is not very conservative; her ‘leadership score’ is quite low. However, she serves on many important committees; if her conservatism could be adjusted a bit more to the left, she could make a real difference. She has a B.Sc. in Zoology from Duke University, so she should know something about science and critical thinking.



“Perhaps she had a class from Steven Vogel at Duke – that would have taught her real critical thinking,” I said.


“Is that the guy who did so much, for so little cost, on animal biomechanics?” Bill asked.


“Yes. The U’s Bioengineering Department had him give a seminar decades ago, when we were beginning the Bio-Based Engineering program.”


“He wrote some great ‘popular’ science books,” Bill recalled. “The one I read was called, I think, Life and Fluids – something like that.”


Life’s Devices, one of his earlier books, was a major inspiration for our Bio-Based Engineering program,” I said.


“I did some homework on him when I saw she has a Bachelor’s in Zoology from Duke. He died recently, in November, 2015; 75 years old. The Times obituary said he ‘… had a biologist’s romance with the natural world, but an engineer’s appreciation of human design’.”


“Well, if Capito didn’t actually take one of his courses, she certainly must have heard of and about him,” Bill said.


“We’ll give her the benefit of our doubt,” I concluded.



Chaffetz, Jason – Utah District 3, strong denier.


Jason Chaffetz is reported to have said – to a member of the Citizen Climate Lobby at a Utah town hall meeting – ‘Climate Change is an Al Gore hoax’. Chaffetz was, like his father, a Democrat – prior to 1990.  He was even co-chair of a college Dukakis for President campaign in 1988. He met Ronald Reagan in 1990, during a Reagan motivational speaker gig at Nu Skin, and immediately became a Republican.


He is a Brigham Young University (BYU) graduate in Communications (1989) and football player – an outstanding place kicker. He converted from Judaism to Mormonism during has last year of college. After graduation he did public relations for Nu Skin, a Utah multi-level marketing firm, for ten years.


Chaffetz was the campaign manager for Utah gubernatorial candidate Jon Huntsman in 2004.  Huntsman won. In January 2005 Chaffetz became Huntsman’s chief of staff, but left some eleven months later. Chaffetz was considered abrasive and perhaps arrogant with legislators and office staff. Chaffetz was elected to the House in 2008 from Utah’s highly Republican District 3.


In spite of his work with Huntsman, Chaffetz endorsed and supported Romney’s presidential bid in 2012, rather than supporting Huntsman in the early days of the campaign. His ‘disloyalty’ apparently annoyed Jon Huntsman so much that Huntsman sent out the now classic Tweet, when Chaffetz offered himself up as a possible Speaker of the House:

McCarthy just got “Chaffetized”. Something I know a little something about.

            #selfpromotor #powerhungry

The hashtags say it all.


Jason and Julie were married in February, 1991; they have three children: Max, Ellen, and the youngest, Katie. They are all included in a 2008 campaign video on line. Max and Ellen are apparently now in college.


Jason has written that he and Julie ‘… met at a wedding in Arizona and started dating shortly after when I was a senior and Julie was a junior at Brigham Young University in 1989’.


Julie has written:

I’m the youngest of six and I have an amazing family. My parents and siblings are settled everywhere from Minnesota to Arizona…. I also belong to a book club of six women. … One of my recent favorites is The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.


In 2008 Chaffetz said he would run a different kind of campaign: no paid staff, no campaign office, no free meals for delegates, no campaign debt, and no polling. It worked. He won.


He did garner well-known backing from conservative circles: Utah’s ‘red meat’ conservative state senator Howard Stephenson and Gayle Ruzicka, the leader of Utah’s ultra-conservative Eagle Forum.


Very early in his Congressional career he became annoyed and concerned with the new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) full-body scanning implemented at Salt Lake City International Airport. So he introduced an amendment to ban ‘whole body imaging’ at airport security checkpoints, saying ‘You don’t have to look at my wife and 8-year-old daughter naked to secure an airplane’. The issue generated much press, including aspersions that he was arrogant and expected special treatment. Chaffetz and TSA have had a rocky relationship since then.


Chaffetz is roughly in the center of the Republican half of the Govtrack ideology distribution.

He now chairs the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, replacing Darrell Issa as Chair in 2015. His Democratic counterpart on the committee is Ranking Member Elijah Cummings of Maryland. The two visited one another’s districts the summer before Chaffetz became chairman. When Cummings visited Utah, Chaffetz took him to Moab, briefing him on public lands issues before meeting with Utah Governor Herbert. Chaffetz said he was committed to bringing a new level of bipartisan cooperation to the committee; Cummings has been supportive of – and even complimentary – to Chaffetz’s efforts on some issues.



“Maybe there’s some hope for Chaffetz,” Jay offered. “He’s been a Democrat, his kids are old enough to start asking questions, and he is a bit of a rebel.”


“Did you notice how adoringly Julie looks at him in their online campaign and PR photos?” Bill asked critically. “She must be the perfect Mormon wife.”


“Look at it this way,” I suggested. “Two of the kids are in college and Jason is generally not home. She likes books. Maybe she’s beginning to think and expand her perspectives.”


“You’re always the optimist,” Jay smiled. “Are the kids at BYU?”


“I don’t know – yet,” I answered. “But The Glass Castle is not a typical Mormon happy family novel or memoir – it’s a hard book by someone with fairly open and critical perspectives. In fact, a key character, Mom, right at the beginning of the book, says

You’re the one who needs help. Your values are all confused…tell the truth. That’s simple enough.”


“Maybe Julie could whisper that line in Jason’s ear,” Jay said.


“Be hopeful.”


“Does Jason read? He’s one of the few national politicians who hasn’t ‘written’ a book, I think,” Jay said.


“Maybe we can get to them at Mike Lee’s Christmas party – in the Utah State Capitol,” Bill suggested.  “After all, Mike’s son John took Chaffetz daughter Ellen to a prom. Maybe they’ll all be there.”


“I plan to be there, chocolates in hand – and also at the St. George meeting of the House Natural Resources Committee on BLM Planning – Chaffetz, Bishop, and Stewart should all be there,” I said. “There’s even a ‘listening session’ that afternoon hosted by Stewart with ‘special guests’ Chaffetz and Bishop.”


“Report back if any of them actually listened to anything,” Bill requested.


“And as they’re not likely to have drinkable coffee, you should have great interest in Ananda’s Chocolates,” Jay said.


“I’m sure I will.”



Ernst, Joni – Senator, Iowa; elected 2014 after serving in the Iowa State Senate.


Ernst is the first woman to represent Iowa in the US Congress and the first female veteran to serve – from any state – in the Senate. She recently retired from the Army National Guard as a Lt. Colonel. She saw 14 months of active duty in Kuwait in 2003-04. Her undergraduate degree is in Psychology from Iowa State University.


She used her experience in castrating pigs in a campaign ad which got her national attention and greatly aided her 2014 campaign. The Des Moines Register stated:

Ernst is a smart, well-prepared candidate who can wrestle with the details of public policy from a conservative perspective without seeming inflexible.

Indeed, her Govtrack Ideology Score is a bit liberal for a modern Republican; she has a low Leadership Score. Her Govtrack position is almost identical to Capito’s.


She received enthusiastic support from the Kochs, who saw in her an advocate for their brand of free-market, libertarian conservatism. She participated in the August 2013 Koch gathering at an Albuquerque resort.


Her Koch support included hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of television ads funded by undisclosed donors and tens of thousands of dollars in direct campaign contributions. Interestingly Charles Koch, wife Elizabeth, son Chase and his wife Anna – each donated $2,600 to her campaign, according to . What is perhaps even more interesting is that Charles daughter, Elizabeth R., apparently didn’t contribute.


About seven months after Ernst won over Koch allies during her appearance in Albuquerque – still barely registering in Iowa polls – the Koch network created a nonprofit group called Trees of Liberty. Trees then launched a TV and web advertising campaign attacking Mark Jacobs, Ernst’s much less conservative GOP rival.


The Koch’s Freedom Partners group began a $1 million-plus ad campaign attacking Braley, the Democratic candidate. Although Ernst ran a good campaign, the boost from the Koch network was crucial. She won the June 2014 GOP primary and went into the general election in strong position against Braley. Shortly after her primary win, she participated in the Koch summer 2014 summit in Dana Point, saying at a candidates’ panel:

The first time I was introduced to this group was a year ago, August, in New Mexico, and I was not known at that time. The exposure to this group and to this network and the opportunity to meet so many of you – that really started my trajectory.


Cory Gardner of Colorado also sat on the panel, and also collected about $60,000 from the Victory Trust 2014, a group that hosted a fund-raising reception at the event.


Ernst delivered the official Republican response to the State of the Union a week later on January 20, 2015. She is very smooth.


Ernst is very conservative, claiming the United Nations’ Agenda 21 is a plot to move people off farms into urban areas and take away property rights. She’s proposed eliminating the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Education, and the Environmental Protection Agency as a means of cutting federal spending. She has advocated eliminating the Department of Education ‘not just because it would save taxpayer dollars, but because I do believe our children are better educated when it’s coming from the state’.


She’s a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association and has received its “A” rating. She opposes same-sex marriage and is more than pro-life, believing that life begins at conception. She voted for a fetal personhood amendment in the Iowa Senate in 2013 and has said that she would support a federal personhood bill.


She said in 2014 that Obama had ‘become a dictator’ and that if he acted unconstitutionally, he should face the proper repercussions as determined by Congress, ‘whether that’s removal from office, whether that’s impeachment’.


She supports a ‘fairer, flatter, and simpler Federal tax code. She is a mild denier.


In mid 2015, Ernst sponsored ‘Joni’s 1st Annual Roast in Iowa and Ride’ – a motorcycle parade in which she rode a motorcycle. The Des Moines Register: ‘Ernst indicated that it is critical for presidential candidates to engage in the type of retail politicking this and other Iowa events provide’. The event was attended by Republican presidential candidates Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, and Peter Walker. She and Scott Walker are close friends.


Her husband, Gail, a retired command sergeant major in the United States Army Rangers, has tweeted hate stuff when she was in the Iowa legislature.


She did say:

I’m appalled by my husband’s remarks. They are uncalled for and clearly inappropriate. I’ve addressed this issue with my husband, and that’s between us.


Joni and Gail have a daughter, Libby. Husband Gail also has two daughters from a previous marriage.


She is a member of the Mamrelund Lutheran Church (ELCA) of Stanton, Iowa and  teaches bible confirmation to 8th and 9th grade-level students. Her Wikipedia entry says she’s an ‘Evangelical Lutheran’.


“I imagine evangelical Lutheran puts her far, far right of Garrison Keilor,” Bill smiled. “But a degree in psychology, and her military experience, suggests she may know a little about neuro-drugs, PTSD, and even empathy.”


“Iowa really needs our assistance,” Jay said. “I just saw some poll questionnaire numbers from Iowa – part of a Cruz campaign assessment.”


Jay was referring to a mid-December Times’ Iowa poll:

The poll provided a snapshot of how conservative Iowa’s likely Republican voters are. Nearly six in 10 say climate change is a hoax. More than half want mass deportations of illegal immigrants. Six in 10 would abolish the Internal Revenue Service.


“Six in ten say climate change is a hoax?” Bill asked.


“Yes, but that’s perhaps because half or more Iowans are evangelicals, like Joni – just waiting for the Rapture,” Jay smiled.


“Joni and Cruz are on the program for the CPAC Annual Conference, together with John Bolton and Sean Hannity,” I noted.


“That’s one I really do want to miss,” Bill smiled.


Ernst’s offices are is Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Sioux City, Davenport, and Council Bluffs.



Gardner, Cory – Colorado Senator, elected 2014, after serving in House for two terms.


Gardner received a B.A. in political science in 1997 from Colorado State University. While in college, he switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party and interned at the Colorado State Capitol. He earned a law degree at the University of Colorado in 2001


He helped create the Colorado Clean Energy Development Authority, which issued bonds to finance projects that involve the production, transportation and storage of clean energy – until it was repealed in 2012


Gardner believes climate change is occurring, but he is unsure whether humans are causing it –

and supported the Keystone Pipeline. He is pro-fracking. Gardner is a signer of Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge and is a recipient of much Koch interest and support.


Gardner participated in a Candidates’ Panel at the Koch 2014 Dana Point Summit, receiving Koch support there and along the way.


Govtrack gives him a moderately right ideology score. He has had interests in energy efficiency and renewable energies, as well as in contraceptives.


He lives in Yuma, in NE Colorado, with his wife Jaime and their three children: Alyson, Thatcher, and Caitlyn.



“Gardner may be salvageable, in spite of his attention from the Koch apparatus,” Jay said. “His renewable energy interests merit cultivating.”


“I think so, too,” I said. “And he’s so close by.”



Gowdy, Trey – South Carolina District 4 (Spartenburg, Greenville); Benghazi Committee chair; former prosecutor.


Gowdy earned a B.A. in history from Baylor University in 1986 and a J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1989.  His wife is Terri Dillard; they have two children, Watson and Abigail. The Gowdy family also includes three dogs: Judge, Jury, and Bailiff. Wikipedia says Trey is a Southern Baptist.


“You gotta be kidding!” Jay chuckled. “Judge, Jury, Bailiff?”


“He’s a gung-ho prosecutor,” I said. “Remember the Benghazi hearings.”


“But he said then, indignantly, ‘this isn’t a prosecution – it’s an investigation’.”


“That was just before McCarthy misspoke.”


“His dogs’ names remind me of the guy who installed a folding ‘Murphy’ bed in our basement some 15 years ago,” I recalled. “He’d left his wife and three boys in his truck while he was working on the bed. So we invited them in – to our backyard, so the boys could at least run around. He came up, probably to keep an eye on them. I tried to interact with the boys, getting them to tell their names. Dad interrupted, and introduced them as Colt, Wesson, and Ruger!”


“You’re kidding!” Bill said.


“Nope – those were their names.”


“That must have been before Glock started to dominate the market,” Jay smiled. “At least Gowdy didn’t name his kids Judge and Jury.”


“Did you see the Times piece on Cruz’s ‘sharp elbows’ campaign manager, Jeff Roe?”


“The one that said he was pithy, profane, and that no lie is too big and no trick too dirty for him?”


“That’s the guy. He and wife, Missy, named their new baby Remington!”


“There’s a type of arrogance and cluelessness in naming kids or dogs like that. It’s a personality aberration, to me,” I surmised.


“Perhaps our treatment will help him,” Jay concluded. “Or his clueless client.”


“More than clueless,” Jay added. “Bruni now calls Cruz ‘diabolically hypocritical’.”



In 2009 Gowdy challenged incumbent Republican Bob Inglis in the primary for South Carolina’s 4th district. Inglis, who had a 93% lifetime conservative rating, angered the conservative wing of the Republican Party by ‘coming out’ on climate change. Gowdy ran well to the right of Inglis, defeating him in the run-off, thus allowing Gowdy to win in the heavily Republican district. He was reelected in 2012 and 2014.



“Our local Citizen Climate Lobby chapter had Inglis out in Fall, 2013 to give several talks and meet with Utah GOP legislators,” I recalled.


“Wasn’t his climate change ‘revelation’ due to his own eighteen year old son?” Jay asked.


“Yes, the kid apparently said he couldn’t vote for his Dad because he hadn’t looked at the evidence for climate change.”


“Inglis did look at it – and he was man enough to change his position.”


“And presumably get his son’s vote.”


“After loosing to Gowdy, Inglis set up the Energy and Enterprise Initiative and began speaking to conservatives across the country – including in Salt Lake City.”


“Revelations can happen,”



Gowdy is very conservative, saying he is ‘pro-life plus’ and believing in ‘the sanctity of life’. He signed the Contract From America, to defund, repeal, and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and limit EPA regulations. His Govtrack ideology score is not too far right of middle, a bit surprising; he has a low leadership score.


Gowdy will be 52 in 2017 – with a strong judge-relevant resume. He wants to be a Federal judge.

South Carolina Senator Tim Peter, a Gowdy friend, has said:

…a federal judge. That would be the best job he’s ever had. … I assume he’ll be a Supreme Court justice before he’s 65 or so.


“Gowdy has helped Cruz a bit in his campaign, hosting a Furman University event for him in Greenville, but he now seems to be betting on Rubio,” I said.


“He’s covering his bases. If Rubio is elected, perhaps he’ll appoint Gowdy to the Supreme Court,” Bill suggested.


“Without having served on the Federal District Court?” Jay asked.


“It’s happened before,” I said.


“We certainly don’t want him to become a judge – appointing him to the Supreme Court would be a disaster,” Bill said.


“I agree.”


“All the more reason to treat him right away,” Jay said. “I understand Greenville is a nice city.”


“You’re on,” Bill smiled. “Maybe I can get Bob Inglis to introduce us.”



Inhofe, Jim – Senator, Oklahoma; best known Congressional climate denier and anti-science ‘hoax’ man.


“I just love Gail Collins!” Jay said.


“You must’ve read something this morning – out with it.”


“She finds the coolest, most ridiculous, crazy facts about Congress – and tells us about it in colorful and humorous language.”


“I missed her this morning,” Bill said. “Go on.”


“Guess who this is: an 81 year old private pilot, with quadruple bypass surgery just two years ago – who wants to get rid of medical exams for pilots.”


“He’s not the same guy who landed his Cessna on an X-marked (under construction) runway at a Texas airport five or so years ago, is he?” I asked.


“Sending the construction workers jumping out of the way? Bill asked.


“You got it – Jim Inhofe, the very senior senator from Oklahoma,” Jay smiled.


“He’s the same age as Charles Koch. We should get to each of them quickly.”


“More credit for Gail – her pithy, succinct summary of the Adelson GOP debate in Vegas recently:

Kill the families. Screw the orphans. Carpet bomb Syria, but in a targeted way. Send Jeb Bush a dollar. On to 2016.


“Apparently Rand Paul was the only one who said anything reasonable or even factual. As someone else said recently – be afraid; be very afraid! – of front-running Republican candidates.”



Inhofe grew up in Tulsa, married Kay Kirkpatrick in 1959; they have four children. He received a BA, at 40 years of age, from the University of Tulsa. He served as mayor of Tulsa and was then elected to Congress in District 1 in 1986. After several terms he was elected to the Senate in 1994 at the age of 60. He’s served for over 20 years.


His biggest donors are the oil, gas, and electric firms; he’s also a favorite of the NRA and the Kochs.


He is Chair of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, where he performs his climate dental and scientific hoax tirades. He is endorsed by the American Chemistry Council in its efforts to keep formaldehyde from being regulated as a toxic and carcinogenic chemical. In 2012, he published The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future. He is one of the most conservative senators, with an ideology score pegged to the far right axis on the plot! He says:

God’s still up there … the arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.


He’s compared the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to a ‘Soviet style trial’.


In The Republican War on Science, Chris Mooney stated in 2006 that Inhofe ‘politicizes and misuses the science of climate change’. During a heat wave in July 2006, Inhofe said to the Tulsa World newspaper that the environmentalist movement reminded him of ‘the Third Reich, the Big Lie’, as in ‘You say something over and over and over and over again, and people will believe it, and that’s their strategy.’ In 2011 Inhofe testified

I have to admit—and, you know, confession is good for the soul… I, too, once thought that catastrophic global warming was caused by anthropogenic gases—because everyone said it was.


With the Republicans regaining control of the Senate in early 2015, Inhofe returned to chairing the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. He brought a snowball on to the Senate floor and tossed it, claiming environmentalists keep talking about global warming even though it keeps getting cold!


Now he’s bad-mouthing the Paris Climate Agreement, saying it will fail. The GOP continues to look for ways to undermine or stop the Paris agreement, while Rubio and Bush are getting letters from mayors telling them to actually do something about climate change.


Inhofe is very pro-Israel, stating

I believe very strongly that we ought to support Israel, and that it has a right to the land, because God said so.  In early 2002, he suggested to the Senate that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a form of divine retribution against the U.S. for failing to defend Israel.


Inhofe first ran for Senate in 1994, using his plane as a daily campaign vehicle and visiting nearly every town in Oklahoma. He participates in Senate and Congressional debates involving aircraft regulation.


He landed his Cessna in the fall of 2010 on a closed runway at a south Texas airport, scattering construction workers who ran for their lives. The airport manager, speaking to the FAA in a recorded telephone call, said:

I’ve got over 50 years flying, three tours of Vietnam, and I can assure you I have never seen such a reckless disregard for human life …. Something needs to be done. This guy is famous for these violations.


Inhofe stated that he ‘did nothing wrong’, and accused the FAA of ‘agency overreach’ and causing a ‘feeling of desperation’ in him. As he agreed to take a remedial training program, the FAA agreed not to pursue legal action against him. But six months later Inhofe introduced a bill to create a ‘Pilot’s Bill of Rights’ – to increase ‘fairness’ in FAA enforcement actions. The bill passed.



“Perhaps Inhofe is also ‘losing it’, like Scalia,” Bill suggested.


“And like McConnell,” Jay added.


“And I’ve had my doubts about our own Orrin Hatch,” I said.


“It seems reasonable to me to have mental and proficiency tests for pilots, drivers, physicians and surgeons every so often – why not elected officials?” Bill asked.


“Yes, Inhofe is ‘piloting’ and working on legislation and policies of national and even international significance and impact. We shouldn’t trust him with that responsibility if he’s not ‘all there’ upstairs,” Jay said.


“And that argument is even stronger for someone on the Supreme Court,” I added. “You know – we tenured faculty have performance and competency reviews every five years – al least at the good colleges and universities.”


“”And we shouldn’t depend on the every two year or every six year reelection process to medically and mentally evaluate candidates,” Bill said. “There should be a rigorous medical examination, just as there has been for pilots and other semi-dangerous professions that deal with the public.”


“Perhaps it can be part of the swearing in process – part of the oath of office formality. Any candidate over 70 years of age should be assessed every three years; anyone over 80 or so every two years.”


“We’ll ask Hatch and Inhofe to voluntarily submit – to set an example.”


“Scalia’s not a worry anymore,” Jay said.



Issa, Darrell: California House #49, denier; richest member of Congress, net worth about $355 M. His second wife is Kathy Stanton; one child, Bill. Wikipedia list his religion as Eastern Orthodox. He’s also very familiar with Jewish culture; his mother was Mormon. He is in his eighth House term.


Some five years ago he said that the science community is not in agreement about climate change or its severity. He has attacked both the IRS and the EPA – basically to get at Obama, and has voted against CO2 regulation. His climate denialism seems to be intact and perhaps has hardened in more recent years. He’s a Norquist pledge signer.


Issa began dogging Obama from the moment Issa became chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2010. He spent four years holding hearings on everything from an IRS training fiesta at Disneyland to an attack at the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya. According to House rules, the Committee may at any time conduct investigations on any matter, which gave him, via the Committee, the power to subpoena, investigate, and harass the Obama Administration. During his time as chairman, Issa held 128 hearings; Congressional leadership was happy to see him go when term limits forced him out. He developed a reputation for brash behavior and dramatic remarks that overshadowed his own hearings.


Then another Issa emerges, a forceful advocate for government transparency, capable of working with Democrats and negotiating with the administration to pass open government legislation and whistleblower protections. Issa says he has a solid relationship with House leadership, calling Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, ‘a dear friend’.



“A ‘dear friend’, until Issa undercut him a bit by offering to be Speaker of the House,’ I smiled.


“We talked about Issa many months ago,” Bill noted. “I even visited his district offices in Southern California.”


Issa’s Ideology Score is a bit to the left of the GOP Center, has an above average Leadership Score, and is an avid denier.



Labrador, Raul: Idaho District 1, elected 2010.


Raul Labrador lives in Eagle, Idaho. He is a Mormon, the first to represent Idaho’s 1st district. He and Rebecca Johnson Labrador were married in 1991and have five children: Michael, Katerina, Joshua, Diego, and Rafael. When he and Rebecca were married, Raul relocated to his wife’s home state of Idaho and practiced law and immigration law in private practice from 1995 until his election to the Idaho House of Representatives in 2006.


Born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Labrador grew up Las Vegas, Nevada, as a child and graduated from Las Vegas High School in 1985. He attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and spent two years as a Mormon missionary in Chile, from 1987 to 1989. He then returned to BYU, receiving a B.A. in 1992, in Spanish with an emphasis in Latin American literature. He was admitted to the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle, receiving the J.D. in 1995.


In 2010, Labrador won the Republican primary in what was considered a major upset and then beat the incumbent Democrat. He was reelected in 2012 and 2014.


In Las Vegas in 2011 he sharply criticized Mitt Romney’s comments about Hispanics.

In 2010 he signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity – a Koch-funded group –  promising to vote against any Global Warming legislation that would raise taxes.


Labrador announced in mid-2014 that he would run for the House Majority Whip leadership position, but lost to Kevin McCarthy. He obviously has leadership aspirations, although his Govtrack leadership ranking is modest. Several House conservatives have suggested him as a candidate for Speaker or Majority Leader. He is a bit right of the GOP average on the Govtrack ideology plot.


On Meet the Press in mid-2014 he stated that Obama needs to ‘immediately deport’ young undocumented immigrants.



“Do Puerto Ricans consider themselves Latinos?” Jay asked.


“Yes, I think so,” I responded. “Certainly Sonya Sotomayor considers herself a Latina. Why.”


“Well, Labrador, wants to deport undocumented immigrant kids. Why doesn’t he have some empathy for Latino kids? And what about Cubans? Cruz and Rubio hale from Cuba – and they want to deport them, too.”


“It’s not about ethnic heritage,” I suggested. “It’s more about libertarian teachings – and brainwashing. So-called self-made people, including immigrants, tend to be very conservative – almost libertarian.”


“Yea,” Bill agreed. “They’re the ones who love Atlas Shrugged – and say ‘I did it, you can, too’.”


“Remember Dickinson’s Rolling Stone piece on the Freedom Caucus and the resignation of John Boehner?” I reported. “Here’s what he said about Raul:

            Labrador was raised by a single mother in Puerto Rico, who instilled in him a bootstrapping sense of self-reliance. ‘My mom never used welfare because she believed welfare was destructive to the soul,’ he says. ‘I became a Republican because of that’.



Labrador’s House web site has him taking major credit for using very tough strategies, including government shutdowns, to force action. The details are in Lizza’s New Yorker piece A House Divided. Lizza describes Labrador as ‘the public face and strategist for the Freedom Caucus’.


Lizza quotes Labrador as saying to Boehner:

You have two choices, Mr. Speaker. Either you change the way you’re running this place, which you have been unwilling to do, or you step down.

The next morning, Boehner announced his retirement.


Dickinson also noted that Labrador said he thought Nancy Pelosi was a smarter leader than John Boehner or Kevin McCarthy. Labrador advocated Ryan for Speaker, saying:

In Ryan, we have somebody who understands what Obama’s trying to do. He understands that we have to have a bright contrast between the two sides and that only through that contrast are you going to be able to win the battle of ideas. Boehner was never about ideas.


Labrador does ‘believe in’ alternative energy sources but opposes government subsidies for their development. He does say Idaho’s development of geothermal energy is being impeded by government regulations.


Labrador is well supported by the NRA.



Lee, Mike:  Senate Utah, elected 2010.


Mike Lee married Sharon Burr in 1993. They have three children: John David, James Rex, Eliza Rose They are advocates of ‘free-range kids’, a group advocating treating kids as smart and self-reliant. Lee speaks Spanish and served a Mormon mission in the southern Rio Grande Valley in Texas. In 2014, he had the opportunity to speak Spanish with Pope Francis.


Mike Lee was the tea party youngster who surprisingly beat out Robert Bennett for the Utah GOP Senate nomination in 2010 and then won election to the Senate. He received a BSc, 1994, in Political Science from Brigham Young University and a law degree from BYU in 1997.


He worked for Energy Solutions, a Utah company, arguing they should be able to accept low level radioactive waste from Italy.


He is basically a libertarian – and a far right conservative, almost as far right as Inhofe and Risch on the Govtrack ideology plot. He claims to be a  ‘tireless advocate for our founding constitutional principles’. His father argued cases before the Supreme Court.



“Do you think he and Scalia have ever interacted – or Alito?” Jay asked.


“Interesting you should ask,” I smiled.



Lee served as law clerk to Judge Dee Benson of the Utah U.S. District Court and with then Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He served as general counsel in Jon Huntsman’s governor’s office 2005 to mid-2006, when he returned to Washington to serve a one-year clerkship at the U.S. Supreme Court with Justice Alito.


In early and mid-2011 Lee, along with Rand Paul of Kentucky, voted against extending three provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act. The NSA’s new massive billion-dollar data facility recently opened in Bluffdale, Utah, South of Salt Lake City, close to Lee’s home.


Lee and Jason Chaffetz, Utah District 3, know each other well. It’s been reported that Lee’s son John, took Chaffetz’s daughter Eliza to a school prom.



“The kids should be old enough to be asking questions by now,” Jay said.


“And getting Libertarian-like answers,” Bill smiled “Lee and Chaffetz are on similar wavelengths – and their kids likely similarly brain-washed.”


“What about Sharon – anything about her?”


“Good Mormon wife, I suppose,” Jay said.



Rodgers, Cathy – Washington District 5 – Spokane and Eastern Washington.


Cathy Rodgers was elected in 2004 and serves as Chair of the House Republican Conference. She has a BA in pre-Law from an un-accreditied ‘Christian’ school and a 2002 MBA from the University of Washington. Wikipedia lists her religion as Evangelicalism. She ranks in the center of the GOP ideology distribution, with a fairly high leadership score.


She married Brian Rodgers, a retired Navy commander, in 2006. A year later she became the first member of Congress in more than a decade to give birth while in office, with the birth of Cole Rodgers, who was later diagnosed with Down syndrome. Grace, was born December 2010, and Brynn Catherine, in November 2013.


She gave the Republican response to Obama’s 2014 State of the Union Address.

After voting dozens of times to repeal Obamacare, in 2014 Rodgers responded to reports that the ACA had provided coverage to over 600,000 Washington residents; she then acknowledged that the law’s framework would probably remain and that she favored reforms within its structure.


In early 2015, on the fifth anniversary of Obamacare, her Facebook page said

            …whether it’s turned your tax filing into a nightmare, you’re facing skyrocketing premiums, or your employer has reduced your work hours, I want to hear about it.

Her page was then filled with testimonials on the benefits of the ACA. At a later press conference, she said nothing about the overwhelmingly positive comments she’d received, rehashing her old arguments against the ACA.


She’s quite positive on Trey Gowdy and his Benghazi hearings.


There are online reports that she’s signed the Koch-sponsored pledge against climate taxes. She’s received multiple contributions from the NRA


She has offices in Spokane and Walla Walla, just North of Pendleton, Oregon.



Smith, Lamar, Texas, House #21, avid denier, lawyer.


Smith represents Texas District 21. He is Chair of the House Science Committee and an avid climate change denier; he has tried to subpoena NOAA records because he’s against NOAA’s analysis of data in clarifying climate change ‘pause’.


He is to the right of average on the GOP ideology plot with a modest above average leadership score.


Smith was born in 1947. He graduated from T.M.I., a college preparatory school known as the Texas Military Institute, and now called The Episcopal School of Texas. He received is undergraduate degree from Yale University in 1969, and a Southern Methodist Law degree in 1975. In 1969, he was hired as a management intern by the Small Business Administration in Washington, D.C. He was a business and financial writer for the Christian Science Monitor. His religious affiliation is Christian Science.



“I heard something about Christian Scientists at the U the other day,” I said. “It’s relevant.”


“Go on…”


“Peggy Fletcher Stack, the Salt Lake Trib’s religion reporter for some 40 years, was giving a talk – I stepped in just as she was talking about great newspapers, including the Christian Science Monitor.”


“So…it’s a ‘great’ paper?” Jay asked.


“She wondered why, too – and said it’s because they believe their goal is to help address problems and challenges around the world – and that they need to know what those problems and challenges are – hence, a good newspaper.”


“That’s fascinating,” Bill said. “It is a very good paper.”


“Think we could use that Christian Science argument on Lamar Smith?”



He was elected to the House in in 1986 and has been regularly reelected since. He’s always been re-elected with at least 72% of the vote. He was reelected to a 15th term! in 2014 in the still heavily gerrymandered 21st District.


Smith was selected Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology in 2012-2013, beating out Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-WI).


Just prior to his selection, he said

I will promote legislation that encourages scientific discoveries, space exploration, and the application of new technologies to expand our economy and create jobs for American workers.


He is a fan of NASA but doesn’t want it to use its resources to study global warming or climate change.


He had an early interest in science and began as a Physics major at Yale. But as a Yale freshman he says he took

a physics class taught by the chairman of the department. … Looking to either side of me, I soon realized that I was sitting next to the future Einsteins of the world, and I wasn’t one of them.


“That’s my story, too,” I said. “- Physics at UC-Berkeley. My professor, just before our first midterm exam, said he designed the exam to be challenging for those students who would go on to become highly accomplished researchers in the international physics community.”


“And you didn’t,” Bill smiled.


“I had accidently seen a document with my IQ on it – and knew that the average Berkeley entering student had an IQ about 10 points higher.”


“That’s disheartening,” Jay said.


“Disheartening is the wrong word. I knew from the very beginning that I was in over my head – literally.”


So, what happened?” Bill asked, encouragingly.


“Well, I actually did ok on the first exam. But I rapidly moved from Physics to Math, and then two years later became a Berkeley drop-out.”


“You’re a Berkeley drop-out! Cool,” Jay said.


“I dropped out in good standing. If I’d stayed another quarter, they probably would have thrown me out. As it was, the counselor who allowed me to leave said ‘You shouldn’t be burning your bridges behind you!’


“And then what?”


“A semester of working and dating – met my future wife during that time – and then on to San Jose State, initially in Electrical Engineering.”


“And that’s where you ran into the Eleusinian ceremony people, right?”


“Yes – Eleusinian – like. That turned out well. But back to Texas.”



Smith is very anti-abortion, anti-marijuana, but apparently pro-alcohol, because in 2011 he received nearly $40,000 from the Beer, Wine and Liquor Lobby – over  $60,000 between 2009 and 2011. He received some $200,000 from the Content Industry (now called the Media Business) through 2012.


He is a signer of the Norquist Pledge. His climate skepticism, and his Chairmanship of the House Science Committee, resulted in his receiving more dollars in 2014 from fossil fuels than from any other industry. Under his chairmanship, the House Science Committee has held hearings that feature the views primarily of skeptics, subpoenaed the records and communications of scientists who published papers that Smith disapproved of, and attempted to cut NASA’s earth sciences budget. He has been criticized for conducting witch hunts against climate scientists. He’s issued more subpoenas in his first three years as Chair than the committee had for its entire 54 year history.



“So he’s more infatuated with hearings and subpoenas than Darrell Issa – or Jason Chaffetz,” Jay smiled.


“Or even Benghazi warrior Trey Gowdy,” I added.



Smith is now de facto leader of the House GOP climate change skeptics’ caucus. They are anti – EPA and, Smith in particular, is very critical of the National Science Foundation’s peer-review process.


But now Smith has some denier competition: Ted Cruz wants in on the denier action, via his Senate post – using his position as Senate chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness. He held a Data or Dogma hearing, subtitled Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climate.


Smith is a Christian Scientist. In 1992, he married Elizabeth Lynn Schaefer, a Christian Science practitioner and teacher, as was his first wife, Jane Shoultz; she died in 1991. He has two children, Nell Seeligson (born 1976) and Tobin Wells (born 1979), from his first marriage.

He and his second wife, Beth, have an adult daughter and son.


Smith’s convoluted 21st Congressional District has district offices in San Antonio, Austin and Kerrville.



“What makes you think he’s salvageable,” Jay asked.


“Besides optimism, you mean? He’s 70, lives in a heavily climate impacted state, is probably getting a lot less money from the fossil fuel, avid denier folks than he used to, and keeps hearing that climate change is really real.”


“And you think some of all that has sunk in?”


“Maybe – with Ananda’s help.”


Jay smiled.

Chapter 8: Presidential Candidates

Leading Presidential Candidates get an enormous amount of press. Major U.S. elections are a media spectacle, where hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on advertising. harmless feels that all the Republican candidates would benefit from a more empathetic and socially considerate perspective in their campaigns. Harmless wants to advise and ‘treat’ those needy candidates.






“Let’s start with Bush, Rubio, and Cruz,” Bill offered. “They are likely to be in the news at least until the 2016 GOP Convention.”


“And one of them is likely to be the Republican nominee,” Jay said. “And each has an interesting wife and lives in a climate-impacted state.”


“And two of the three are not total nuts,” Bill noted.


“Two? You left Cruz out – the total nut?”


“Yep – together with Donald Trump and a dozen or so others.”


“Scott Walker is now out – so I don’t have to read his Unintimidated,” I said.


“The lack of money must have intimidated him,” Bill smiled. “The Kochs must have read the writing on the wall.”


“And let’s look at Rand Paul, too,” Jay said. “At least he’s consistent and interesting.”


“Business darlings Trump and Carly were in the lead – or was it Carson?”


“Business failings, you mean.”


“At least Carly is a woman. She’s struggled with breast cancer, and she lost a stepdaughter to drug addiction. Some of this is in her memoir Best Choices. There may be a hint of empathy there.”


“Hillary’s memoir is called Hard Choices,” Bill said.


“Carly may have trouble with the truth,” I said. “The Times’ Charles Blow quoted Josh Marshall as saying: ‘Fiorina has a habit of simply making things up’.”


“Which makes her a typical, main-stream GOP candidate,” Jay added.


“Sometimes you have to do that – make things up – to make sense of philosophy and medieval history,” I smiled.


“What?” Jay asked, annoyingly.


“Those are Carly’s undergraduate degrees from Stanford,” I said. “I was sort of joking.”


“Sort of,” Bill noted.


“Here’s a Carly quote,” Jay said:

I feel empathy with every woman who is working really hard and giving it all they’ve got – and Hillary is.


“Fiorina claims to have empathy for Hillary – and perhaps vice versa. Some Fiorina empathy enhancement could prove helpful.”


“David Brooks suggested earlier, perhaps tongue in cheek, a Rubio – Fiorina ticket, saying they are the ‘best positioned’,” I added.


“That’s scary,” Bill said.


“OK, for now let’s just consider these four: Bush, Rubio, Cruz – and Paul,” I said. “First Jeb!”


“And Trump?”


“Not yet,” I said. “I imagine he’ll burn out soon.”



That was in late 2015 – I was wrong, of course, about Trump. The harmless team had been doing their homework on and planning for the treatment of leading GOP presidential candidates long before Rand Paul and Jeb! Bush dropped out of the race – and before the strong rise of Donald Trump. As Bush and Paul are young and likely to continue to pursue their presidential ambitions, they are of continued relevance to harmless and are worthy of treatment – as now is Donald Trump.



Homework: Jeb! Bush for President



Jeb likes exclamation marks – or his campaign managers liked them. JEB is composed of his initials John Ellis Bush. He was Governor of Florida for two terms – 1999-2007. He is the second son of former President George H. W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush. He grew up with two younger brothers, Neil and Marvin, one younger sister, Dorothy, and an older brother, ex-President George W, seven years older.


He attended the elite Phillips Academy high school in Andover. He taught English as a second language and assisted in the building of a school in Ibarrilla, a village near Guanajuato, Mexico, when he was 17, via Andover’s summer program. He met Columba Garnica Gallo, his future wife, while working in Ibarilla. Their children are George Noelle and John Jr.  Jeb and Columba reside in Coral Gables. He converted from Anglicanism and became a Catholic in 1995. He speaks fluent Spanish.


Jeb attended the University of Texas, earning a B.A. in Latin American studies. Unlike older brother George W, he did well in school. He became a Florida real estate developer and then, in 1986, Florida’s Secretary of Commerce. In 1988 he worked on his father’s Presidential campaign.


He ran for Governor of Florida in 1994, barely loosing, partly due to ignoring environmental issues deemed important to Florida’s electorate. He learned that lesson, ran again in 1998 with specific plans to protect the environment, and won. He was reelected in 2002, becoming Florida’s first two-term Republican governor. He was a very conservative governor, cutting and slashing taxes in many areas. He received mainly A and B grades from the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, during his Governorship.


He became a candidate for the GOP Presidential nomination in mid-2015. Earlier, in 2013, his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, said:

There are other people out there that are very qualified …  we’ve had enough Bushes.



Jeb Bush characterizes himself as a moderate Republican with conservative principles. He has promised immigration reform – saying illegals should have a path to legal status, but not a path to citizenship. Although his 1998 platform suggested concern for Florida’s environment, he supports offshore drilling outside of Florida, supported the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and supports fracking. He questions the scientific opinion on climate change, stating

I think global warming may be real [but] …It is not unanimous among scientists that it is disproportionately manmade.


In 2000 he and the Florida legislature entered into an agreement with the Federal government to protect and save the Everglades. Dexter Filkin’s New Yorker article, Swamped, documents Jeb’s reneging on that agreement when it became clear that the only way to meet its requirements was to take sugar producing lands out of production. He was called in by the Fanjul family, a very large sugar producer and political donor in Florida. The Fanjuls and other sugar manufacturers drafted a bill to essentially pull out of much of the year 2000 agreement, thus unsaving the Everglades. Plutocracy won again. According to Filkins, even the

G.O.P.’s libertarian wing, which sees propping up sugar prices as corporate welfare, was angered by his work on behalf of Big Sugar. Bush has been trying to square the circle. His Super PAC, Right to Rise, received half a million dollars from U.S. Sugar in the first half of this year. But in October his campaign announced that the candidate now favored a ‘phase-out’ of the price-support system.


The sugar-Everglades issue played out recently via a full page New York Times ad by The Everglades Trust – a full page letter to the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, which is apparently partially funded by sugar-derived money.


Jeb Bush is a gun guy. He is for expanding gun owners’ rights and, as Governor, supported more than a dozen new protections for gun owners. The NRA has called the six pro-gun and pro-hunting laws he signed into law in 2006 ‘the six pack of freedom’. He has spoken at NRA National Conferences and is considered a good friend of the organization. In 2005, he signed Florida’s stand-your-ground law, the first such state law in the United States. He advocates capital punishment; 21 prisoners were executed during his terms.


Although he says he supports cutting taxes for all Americans, he supports decreasing capital gains taxes and property taxes and supports welfare restrictions, actions that would preferentially benefit the wealthy and increase financial inequality. He favors gradually raising the retirement age from 65 to 68 or 70. Bush is a frequent critic of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform. Although there doesn’t seem to be a strong Koch interest in Jeb, he has spoken at Koch-sponsored LIBRE events. He’s clearly very conservative.


Bush was involved in the Terri Schiavo case, involving a woman with massive brain damage, who was on a feeding tube for over 15 years, and whose husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, wished to remove the tube. This move was opposed by Terri Schiavo’s parents in the courts. Bush signed ‘Terri’s Law’, legislation passed by the Florida legislature that authorized him, as Governor, to keep Schiavo on life support. The law was ruled unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court; the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, thus allowing the Florida court’s ruling to stand.


In 2014, Bush said illegal immigration

is an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that that is a different kind of crime. There should be a price paid, but it shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families.



“I’ve done some homework on Columba,” Bill said. “She is sometimes called Colu. She gave a Bush #1 seconding nomination speech – in Spanish – at the 1988 Republican Convention. She’s also done Florida Governor’s mansion tours – it’s all on YouTube.”



Columba and Jeb met while he was working and teaching English in Mexico. They were married in 1974, in Austin. Their three children are George, Noelle, and John. George has a law degree from the University of Texas. He is the Texas Land Commissioner, an elected position. Noelle was born 1977 in Texas. John Ellis Bush, Jr., born 1983 in Miami, is in Florida commercial real estate. Jeb and Columba have four grandchildren, two via George, and two via John Ellis.


Columba’s interests appear to be family, domestic violence, addiction and substance abuse.

Their daughter Noelle has struggled with drug abuse. Jeb said recently:

I can look in people’s eyes and I know that they’ve gone through the same thing that Columba and I have – referring to his daughter Noelle’s drug issues.


“Colu is also interested in Latin art and Mariachi bands, according to an Atlantic piece,” Bill continued. “As a teen-age bride from Mexico, she gave Jeb a peace-symbol ring and is reported to have great instinctive insights into life.”


“We’ll need to know more before we can conclude if she might be helpful in facilitating a Jeb Bush revelation,” I said. “I understand she’s quite Catholic and is why Jeb converted. Maybe the Pope’s visit and climate encyclical is helping steer her in the right direction.”


“She’s been very quiet about Jeb and the campaign so far,” Bill said.


“And now with Jeb out of the race, she’s probably one of the happiest Latinas in the state,” Jay suggested.


“My wife’s worked in Colombia and has a number of Latina friends. They don’t muzzle easily,” I said. “And neither do Chicanas. We may hear more from her.”


“There seems to be a hint of empathy,” Jay said. “He’s worked in Mexico, speaks Spanish, has a kid with drug issues – maybe he’s not a total hard-nosed Libertarian.”


“Columba may also help him with empathy,” I suggested. “Remember Sotomayor’s little statement:

I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”


“Yes, but Columba was still a teenager when she married Jeb and relocated with him to the United States. Her Latina/Chicana perspectives may be somewhat dimmed by the decades.”


“Diana has lots of Latina friends who’ve been in the States for long times. Their emotions and perspectives haven’t ‘dimmed’ much,” I said.


“Maybe we could also involve Jeanette Rubio in the discussion?” Bill smiled.


“NPR just noted that there is even some Latino political activity in New Hampshire – someone is on the street talking to Latinos, distributing a sheet saying, in Spanish, ‘Don’t be invisible. Be active’.”


“The Latinos could have significant political clout, if only they’d get more active,” Jay added. “I just saw that the TV group Univision may start playing a stronger political awareness role.”




Homework: Marco Rubio for President


Marco Rubio, born 1971 in Miami, is the third of four children of Cuban immigrants; his parents, Mario and Oriales, migrated in 1956, three years before Castro assumed power. Batista was dictator at the time. Rubio’s dad was a bartender, his mom a maid. He has two sisters, Barbara and Veronica, who live in Miami. His older brother was a city official in Jacksonville. Marco attended South Miami Senior High, graduating in 1989. He earned a B.A. in political science from the University of Florida in 1993, and his law degree from the University of Miami in 1996. Rubio has said that his education required $100,000 in student loans, which he paid off in 2012. Rubio’s parents were Mormon converts for three years while residing in Las Vegas; Rubio at age 12 asked them to convert to Catholicism; they did.

Marco and Jeanette were married in 1998; they have four children: Amanda, Anthony, Daniella and Dominic. They live in West Miami. The Rubios attend Christ Fellowship, a Southern Baptist Church, as well as Catholic services.

Rubio served in Florida’s House of Representatives for nearly nine years. Speaker-Designate Rubio, in September 2005, challenged his House colleagues to help write 100 Innovative Ideas For Florida’s Future. He had distributed a hardback book of that title to his fellow legislators – the pages were blank. He later published the book after fact-finding and discussion events throughout Florida. About 24 of the ideas became law, while another 10 were partially enacted.

“That was a cool approach – and strategy,” Bill said.


“Yes – and his fellow legislators apparently really participated, as did citizens throughout the state.”


“It shows Rubio has some creativity and leadership skills,” Jay said. “Maybe there’s hope for him.”



At the time Rubio took office as speaker, Jeb Bush was completing his term as governor. Rubio hired 18 Bush aides. Rubio’s style was very different from Bush’s – Rubio delegated certain powers, relinquished others, and invited former political rivals into his inner circle. The Governor at the time, Charlie Crist, had a strategy to fight climate change through executive orders – creating new automobile and utility emissions standards. The legislature under Rubio’s leadership weakened Crist’s climate change initiative, saying his approach would harm consumers by driving up utility bills without having much effect upon the environment. Rubio said a better approach would be to promote biofuel (e.g. ethanol), solar panels, and energy efficiency.


Rubio was elected Senator in 2010 after serving as Speaker of the Florida State House. One of his major financial backers was and is Norman Braman, a billionaire auto dealer and former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles. They met during Rubio’s nearly nine year service in the Florida legislature; Braman later backed his Senate race. They traveled together to Israel in late 2010. Braman is expected to donate over $10 million to Rubio’s Presidential campaign and super PAC.


Rubio, a major advocate of Florida’s ‘pioneering’ stand-your-ground law during Governor Bush’s administration, was given an A rating in 2015 by the National Rifle Association (NRA) for his stance on gun control issues and a nearly 99% rating by the American Conservative Union, based on his lifetime voting record in the Senate. Two other senators were tied with Rubio, and only two were rated as having more conservative ratings.




“I just read American Dreams – his second book,” I said. “He’s a good writer.”


“And his first book?” Jay asked.


“It was just three years earlier, a memoir called An American Son. I haven’t read it.”


“Hey, we now have our ‘favorite’ Utah Congressman, Chris Stewart, endorsing Rubio, and pontificating: ‘I believe our nation is at a tipping point in our history’,” Jay said.


“A fracking, fossil fuel tipping point,” Bill added. “Rubio just gave a major speech promoting drilling and fracking.”


“Perhaps because two of Cruz’s major donors, the Wilks, recently sold their fracking company to Koch Industries.”


“Rubio wants to be next in line for major Koch dollars, I’ll bet,” Bill said.


“Did you see the Times write ‘Mr. Rubio is radiating machismo on the campaign trail lately’?” Jay asked.


“He was showing off his new boots and rifle at campaign stops, trying to compete in manliness with Cruz and Trump,” Bill said. “And because Christie said Marco’s so weak that Hillary would beat him up.”


“Whatever happened to substance?” I asked.


“Oh, you’ve been tuning in to the wrong debates,” Jay smiled.


“Rubio was criticized by his own kids for being mean and demeaning at a recent debate,” Bill said. “Ouch!”


“He was also criticized in the Florida press for shirking his Senate duties because of his intensive campaigning,” I reported.


The press quoted

You are paid $174,000 per year to represent us, to fight for us, to solve our problems. Plus you take a $10,000 federal subsidy— declined by some in the Senate — to participate in one of the Obamacare health plans, though you are a big critic of Obamacare…

…  you took to the Senate floor to excoriate federal workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs for failing to do their jobs. You said, ‘there is really no other job in the country where if you don’t do your job, you don’t get fired.’ With the exception of your Senate job, right?


“Rubio’s clearly special. Attendance rules and mores don’t apply to him,” Jay smiled. “And maybe Trump’s getting ready to fire him!”


“Evan Osnos, in the New Yorker, said ‘Rubio has succeeded in politics by straddling as many positions as possible’. The title of the Osnos story is The Opportunist.”


“Interesting,” Bill said.


“Osnos further noted that Rubio read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged twice in his first term  [in the Florida House].”


“More intellectual adolescence,” Bill said.



In 2008 Rubio began teaching under a fellowship appointment at Florida International University (FIU) as an adjunct professor. In 2011, he rejoined the FIU faculty after entering the U.S. Senate. He teaches, when the Senate is not in session, in the Department of Politics and International Relations – up to four undergraduate courses per year on Florida politics, political parties, and legislative politics. His Wikipedia profile reports that his student reviews have been positive, even from students who disagree with him politically. He generally gives the impression of being unbiased and nonpartisan, and when offering his own opinion identifies it as such. Rubio says that he wants students, when they watch the news, to have an appreciation for what is really going on behind the scenes, and says that teaching ‘forces me to stop sometimes and analyze things.’ Most of the funding for his FIU position is apparently from private sources. A major contributor has been billionaire Norman Braman,



“Perhaps reading Ayn Rand augmented his qualifications for the Florida International U faculty position?” I suggested.


The Osnos story said that Reagan’s election and Rubio’s grandfather’s allegiance to Reagan were defining influences on him. Rubio mentions this in An American Son. Rubio also mentioned to Osnos that he was rereading Bill Manchester’s The Last Lion, saying:

It’s this book about Churchill. It’s really long. Only because I’m just so fascinated by the leadership he provided. Churchill was a guy who was largely ignored through much of the thirties as a warmonger, and a guy that was crying wolf, and Chamberlain was this heroic figure that was going to achieve peace in our time by diplomacy. And I think, in many cases, we’re kind of at a similar moment…


“Churchill was no intellectual adolescent,” Jay said. “And he didn’t mind reading – or writing – ‘really long’ books, unlike Rubio.”


“Interesting. When will one of Rubio’s competitors paraphrase Lloyd Bentzen’s 1988 rejoinder to Dan Quayle, by saying ‘Senator, you’re no Winston Churchill’?”


“It is interesting that Rubio’s Iowa campaign pretty much copied the Obama 2008 strategy in Iowa.”


“The Opportunist,” Jay recalled.



Miami-Dade County is, on average, just six feet above sea level. While in the State legislature, Rubio’s own district included Miami’s flood-vulnerable airport.


The county’s highest natural point is only about twenty-five feet, according to Kolbert’s The Siege of Miami in The New Yorker. She wrote that South Florida has been called

ground zero when it comes to sea-level rise … the poster child for the impacts of climate change …  the epicenter for studying the effects of sea-level rise, a disaster scenario, and the New Atlantis.

She quoted local residents as saying Dios mío! El cambio climático!


On Face the Nation Rubio said, in response to a question:

What I said is, humans are not responsible for climate change in the way some of these people out there are trying to make us believe, for the following reason: I believe that climate is changing because there’s never been a moment where the climate is not changing.


“Is that a Q.E.D. statement?” Bill asked.


“No, it’s an opportunist politician’s semantics to satisfy everyone, by speaking nonsense generalities,” I said.



Al Gore once suggested that Florida ought to join

with the Maldives and some of the small island states that are urging the world to adopt

stronger restrictions on global-warming pollution,

recommending that Florida-based politicians use the Sea Level Rise Toolbox, created by their own students and professors at Florida International University.


Annika Barth, a New Hampshire resident and freshman at American University, asked Rubio, during one of his New Hampshire campaign stops, if he would support a Department of Justice investigation on all that Exxon knew about climate change.  Rubio referred to the investigation as ‘nothing but a leftwing effort to demonize industries in America’.


In response to Pope Francis’ Laudato si encyclical in 2015, in which the Pope warns of the dangers of climate change, Rubio said:

I have no problem with what the Pope did … He is a moral authority and as a moral authority is reminding us of our obligation to be good caretakers to the planet. I’m a political leader. And my job as a policymaker is to act in the common good. And I do believe it’s in the common good to protect our environment, but I also believe it’s in the common good to protect our economy.


“He is an opportunist – and that may be connected to his current pro-fossil fuel energy positioning. If he was running for the Demo nomination, he’d be arguing for energy plans like he did in the Florida House back in 2008,” I said.


“Interesting. Fill us in,” Jay said.


I did. A recent piece by Bruce Ritchie contrasted the 2007-8 Florida House discussions with Rubio’s current positions:

As speaker of the Florida House of Representatives in 2008, Marco Rubio helped pass a sweeping energy bill — backed by a number of environmentalists — that seemed to reflect a bipartisan interest in renewable energy, climate change and the environment.


In 2007 Rubio said:

This nation and ultimately the world is headed for an emissions tax and energy diversification … Those changes will require technological advances that make those measures cost effective. The demand for such advances will create an industry to meet it. Florida should become the Silicon Valley of that industry.


An environmental advocate for the 2008 Florida legislation, Susan Glickman, said:

From my perspective Marco Rubio completely switched gears and went from someone who looked for positive solutions that created jobs and developed smart technology to someone whose head is in the sand about the reality of rising sea levels that are already impacting his home state.


Miami mayor, Republican Tomás Regalado, a Rubio supporter, told the Miami Herald

We are in ground zero, and we need to have our candidates from Florida address the issue. He was one of a group of South Florida mayors who sent letters to Rubio and Bush on the need for action to address climate change. Their letter to Rubio:


            We are already experiencing the effects of a changing climate. Sea levels off the coast of South Florida rose about eight inches in the twentieth century. … we have seen more tidal flooding, more severe storm surges, and more saltwater intrusion into aquifers. By 2050, mean sea level around Florida is expected to rise about a foot, a shift which could wipe out as much as $4 billion in taxable real estate in the four-county region of Southeast Florida. At three feet of sea level rise, the loss could total $31 billion, with large sections of the Everglades, the Florida Keys and the Miami metropolitan region under water.


A later paragraph continues:

We need a realistic national plan to slow global warming emissions and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The science is well established: protecting the long-term future of our cities must include preventing global temperatures from rising above the internationally recognized target of two degrees Celsius above preindustrial policies that reduce global warming emissions at home and global leadership to ensure other countries are doing their part. The U.S. should be at the forefront of the transition to clean energy, creating jobs for Americans while conserving our environment for future generations.


In December, in New Hampshire, with Jeanette and their four kids in tow, Rubio lamented the unseasonably warm New Hampshire weather: ‘[The kids] were hoping to see snow. What happened?’ [he and family got snow in spades later in NH campaign, he saying, via a Trumpism  line: ‘I’ll make America snow again!’]



“Well, Rubio is an ex-Mormon, you know,” Jay said. “He can reset, recalibrate at any time!”


“If he senses a political advantage in getting his head out of the energy sands,” I suggested, ‘he may be very responsive to some chocolate therapy.”


“He is definitely an opportunist,” Bill said. “Right after the Paris massacre he issues a video on a ‘clash of civilizations’.”


“Yes, one minute long,” I said. “And actually very perceptive, I think. He even acts and looks ‘presidential’ in it.”


“A day or two earlier, at Florida’s Sunshine Summit, he spoke very effectively, arguing for the American Dream and that the 2016 election is a generational change,” Jay added. “But everything he says is based on Libertarian economic assumptions.”


“We really have to get to him before his youthful positions become overly hard-wired,” I said.


“Romney’s Utah fund-raising clout just helped in Rubio’s visit to Salt Lake City, touting vocational education and ‘generational choice’.


“Interesting speeches,” Jay said. “Chris Stewart blathered completely uncritical support.”


“Just as he did for Romney in 2012,” I recalled. “Remember his support of the Romney energy plan: drill here, drill everywhere?”


“Sure – it was a part of your campaign against Stewart. Did you hear Rubio say ‘…a welder makes a lot more than a philosopher’, touting his support for increasing vocational education?”


“Yes, I heard it,” Bill said. “Why can’t we have welders who have read a little philosophy – and have enough education to be responsible citizens and voters?”


“What are you smoking?” Jay asked. “This is America – land of entertainment, banned books, and the banning of common core educational standards.”


“But it’s also the land of John W. Gardner and his beautiful little classic Excellence. Every elected official should have their own well read copy.”


“Perhaps make it part of the Ananda’s Chocolates package for some,” Bill suggested.


“Rubio’s ‘philosophy is irrelevant’ comment generated a response from some philosophers,” I noted.


“Cool. Go on.”


“An Arizona State University professor said philosophy is about critical thinking  – about thinking and writing skills – and that new philosophy graduates are paid roughly the same as the average for all welders.”


“I wouldn’t have expected that,” Jay said.


“There’s more. The same Times story quoted a Ph.D. philosopher who became a mechanic – and welder. He said the trades are not mindless – they require critical thinking as well as good hands.”


“Rubio – and the rest of the GOP lineup, don’t seem to be fond of critical thinking,” Bill added.


“Nor are any of them likely skilled enough to function as a decent welder,” Jay smiled.


“And now Rubio is talking about dismantling the ‘overpriced higher education system’.”


“He may be on to something – much of it is indeed overpriced, perhaps attracting overly coddled and overly comfort-seeking students,” I added.


“Rubio’s trying to appeal to the young – and to youth. But Jeremy Peters noted recently in the Times:

Being young is one thing. Being the candidate whose ideas seem fresh and appeal to younger voters is another.

Most of the young know Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything – Capitalism versus the Climate, so even if Marco changes his 2008 mind to pander to the conservative GOP wishful thinkers, youth will likely know better.”


“He keeps getting questions as to how he’s like Obama – young and naive and inexperienced,” Bill said. ”His response in New Hampshire was:

The reason why Barack Obama failed is because his ideas don’t work. It’s not that he didn’t have the experience. It’s that his ideas were the wrong ones.”


“No,” I said. “Obama partially failed because he was indeed young, naive, and inexperienced. And so is Rubio. In fact he has much less perspective, vision, education, and brains than Obama.”


“Enough,” Jay said. “I can get to Rubio via the $500 per person ‘reception’ at the home of the Kellers in nearby Bountiful – former Romney supporters. We can’t afford the $2,700 per person discussion session.”


“Great. I’ll kick in a major chunk,” I said.


“Peter Keller is President/CEO of Keller Investment Properties. They operate apartment complexes in four western states, including Utah,” Jay noted.


“Compliment Rubio – and the Kellers – on Marco’s redesigned campaign website – and on his ‘clash of civilizations’ video. And on the prominent MEET JEANETTE label at the top of his site’s Home Page. She’s an asset.”


“I hope she’s into chocolates,” Jay smiled. “I’ll see if I can engage him in a brief higher education discussion.”


“And ask him if Romney may actually be thinking of running – or perhaps serving as his VP,” I suggested, “or Secretary of Defense.”


“The Times photo of Rubio’s banner in lights on a theatre marque in Iowa –  ‘Marco Rubio … A New American Century’ – encapsulates his basic problem: he operates from the assumptions of the early 19th century, ignorant of – or at least ignoring – the realities of our current twenty first,” I noted.


“Like all the other pseudo-libertarians, he has no concept of sustainability, atmospheric and oceanic constraints, or resource limitations: he thinks, like the others, that we can grow our way out of any problems,” Bill added.


“Yes, and now given Romney’s Washington Post op-ed, they want us to wage all out war against ISIS,” Jay said. “And so does Jeb Bush.”


“As long as it’s a ‘volunteer’ military, it’s not their kids and grandkids that Republicans want to commit to killing and dying,” Bill said, bitterly.


When asked by a Fox News anchor about Black Lives Matter Rubio told the story of an African American friend of his whom police had stopped eight or nine times over the previous 18 months even though he had never broken the law. ‘This is a problem our nation has to confront, he declared. He also recounted young African Americans who get arrested for nonviolent

offenses and pushed into plea deals by overworked public defenders. He said we must

… look for ways to divert people from going to jail…so that you don’t get people stigmatized early in life.


Rubio was one of the bipartisan Gang of Eight early in his Senate term, co-authoring the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 to give illegal immigrants a pathway to legal status. His proposal contrasted with the Republican party’s long-held view that offering citizenship to undocumented immigrants is virtually the same as amnesty But four months after the Senate passed the bill he co-authored, Rubio publicly opposed its passage in the House.



“When you’re running for President, you have to be an opportunist – you take the positions which – at that time – generate the greatest support – votes and dollars,” Jay said, bitterly. “You convince yourself that it’s just temporary – that after you’re elected, you can then do the right thing.”


“That’s exactly what Nixon thought,” I said. “Whatever keeps me in office is what’s best, because I’m so good for the Country.”


“And Nixon did do a lot of good – before he resigned in disgrace,” Bill added.


“But the ends do not justify the means,” I said.


“Remember Jeb Bush, the poor Everglades, and the sugar dollars that bought Jeb’s reneging on an Everglades agreement?” Jay asked. “Well, according to Filkins, the same sugar magnates, the Fanjuls,

hosted a fund-raiser for Senator Marco Rubio, of Florida, another candidate for President and, despite his ties to the Tea Party, a staunch backer of price supports for sugar. The cost of entry was twenty-seven hundred dollars a person.”


“Plutocracy is alive and well in Florida,” Bill said. “I understand Cubans have a sweet tooth.”


“Especially when the sweets come dripping with money,” Jay smiled.


“And he’s now getting some support from a popular Iowa senator, Joni Ernst,” I reported. ”She recently joined him for a rally in Des Moines, shortly after the Des Moines Register endorsed him.”


“Joni is a Koch favorite.”


“Gail Collin is after Marco now, based on his Iowa talks,” Jay said, “writing

Rubio, who used to be sort of the Boy Scout of the pack, has been getting more and more irritating with every passing day.”


“And more and more religious, especially in Iowa,” Jay continued. “In response to a question, Rubio said:

I pray for wisdom. The presidency of the United States is an extraordinary burden and you look at some of the greatest presidents in American history. They were very clear. They were on their knees all the time asking for God, asking God for the wisdom to solve, for the strength to persevere incredible tests.”


“I’d rather he used his kneeling time to read the New York Times,” Bill said.


“Bruni said basically the same thing,

I’m less interested in whether a president kneels down than in whether he or she stands up for the important values that many religions teach — altruism, mercy, sacrifice…”


“His recent hyper-criticism of Obama really bothers me,” Jay said. “He said in West Des Moines

… this president has been a disaster … Obama believes … America is an arrogant global power that needs to be cut down to size. …I’m going to say it again…These things [Barack Obama’s] done to America are not accidents.


“Enough,” Bill said. “Let’s talk about Jeanette – maybe she’s more reasonable. Her parents are originally from Colombia, she leads a bible study group, and she is interested in human trafficking.”

“And, thanks to Kay’s work, I’ve learned that her parents divorced when she was only six. I don’t know yet what her Latin interests and connections might be. I did see an earlier ABCNews family clip. They seem like a solid, grounded family. She works part-time for the Braman Foundation, funded by a billionaire largely bankrolling Rubio’s campaign. Their oldest, Amanda, goes to a Catholic high school – so perhaps there’s another potential Pope-climate connection.”

“Perhaps Amanda might be interested in Ananda’s Chocolates? And they live in Miami,” Bill said. “That ought to be a strong climate change connection.”

“And a very strong Pope connection. Bush and Rubio both attend Miami’s Catholic archbishop Thomas G. Wenski’s mass and sermons,” I noted. “Wenski’s already said, via the Times, that he hopes the encyclical has resonated with Jeb and Marco. Another point: Wenski chairs the committee on domestic justice and human development at the U.S. Conference of Bishops, a historically very conservative group. Interesting.”

“Jeanette and Marco are apparently lousy drivers – especially Jeanette,” Bill said. “Lots of traffic citations and mandatory driving school attendance. And they have trouble with budgets and arithmetic.”

“And credit cards,” I added. “A short Times story discussed Rubio finances. Either he can’t count or he can’t live within a budget. The Times reported on his ‘financial struggles’, including one of those mid-life crises purchases – a luxury speedboat!”

“It wasn’t a speedboat – apparently a recreation boat that’s fairly popular with middle class Floridians,” Bill said. “He got a substantive advance on his book and felt like spending part of it, I guess.”

“He is in his forties,” Jay said. “That’s when men start to succumb to testosterone urges – mid-life crisis.”

“Voice of experience?” Bill asked.

“No – just a well known weakness of men approaching middle age.”


“All four of their kids are in private, parochial school – that costs,” I said. “What could be the problem with free public schools in Florida?”


“Hey, it’s not about education, it’s about indoctrination,” Jay concluded.


“And now Jeanette’s apparently become a Baptist – or at least going to a Baptist church, with Marco in tow.”


“Interesting. Did that have anything to do with the Iowa primary: Iowa – the Evangelical State?” Jay smiled.


“Jeanette is a social conservative and has deepened her husband’s conservatism,” I said.

“Her influence has likely reinforced his outspoken opposition to abortion in almost all cases.”


“Let’s keep searching and thinking. Maybe we can find a Florida GOP or philanthropic event where we can connect with the Bushes and the Rubios.”


“Maybe a Miami Christmas party,” Bill said. “Or a performance art exhibit reception!”


“You saw that piece on Miami performance art,” I said. “It’s tailor-made for Floridians who need to be aware of rising ocean levels!”


“Rubio’s comments to the Fox News guy and his Gang of Eight early actions – and the 2007-08 Florida legislature energy-climate actions – that all suggests that there is hope for him,” I said.


“Yes, Mr. Optimist,” Jay smiled, “With a little help from Ananda.”


“And maybe Jeanette – and their kids. The kids are old enough now to start thinking for themselves.”



Homework: Ted Cruz for President



Ted Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada to an American mother and Cuban father.

His mother earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Rice University in the 1950s. Eleanor and Rafael Cruz divorced in 1997. Cruz has said, ‘I’m the son of two mathematicians/computer programmers.’


He attended Second Baptist High School in Houston, graduating in 1988; he was valedictorian.

While in high school he learned of free market economics, including Hayek and von Mises, via a group called the Free Market Education Foundation. He received a B.A. in Public Policy from Princeton University. He participated in various debating championships and was U.S. National Speaker of the Year in 1992. He went to Harvard Law School and served as a law clerk to Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He was the first Hispanic to clerk for the Chief Justice. While serving as Solicitor General of Texas he authored more than 80 U.S. Supreme Court briefs and argued 43 oral arguments, including nine before the Supreme Court.  From 2004-09, he taught Supreme Court Litigation as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Texas School of Law.


He married Heidi in 2001; they have two daughters – Catherine 5, Caroline 7.  The Cruz’s live in his hometown of Houston, Texas. Cruz has said, ‘I’m Cuban, Irish, and Italian, and yet somehow I ended up Southern Baptist’.


Cruz was elected as Senator from Texas in 2012. He is a climate change denier, strongly pro-life, and opposes both same-sex marriage and civil unions. He is an adamant opponent of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the 2015 international nuclear agreement with Iran, and a critic of the rapprochement between Cuba and the United States.


“If his mother was a mathematician, how come he can’t count – or add or subtract?” Jay asked.


“Guess he wasn’t a good student,” Bill said.


“He gave the commencement speech – and collected an honorary degree – a year or so ago at the Southwestern Adventist University, saying:

            If you ever hope to persuade anotheryou’ve got to understand how another person of good morals and good intentions can look at the exact same issue you are passionate about, and come to precisely the opposite conclusion.

“Isn’t that related to empathy,” Jay smiled. “I hope that means he, too, can be ‘persuaded’.

“Well, he also quoted Churchill: Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never, never give in’.”

“A recent interview of Cruz notes he thinks of himself as more of a ‘Spider-Man Guy’. And he’s a Star-Trek fan,” Bill said. “He identifies more with Captain Kirk rather than Captain Picard.”


“Given that, according to Heidi Cruz, The Princess Bride is his favorite movie – and that he and Heidi have two young daughters – as a family they’re likely to be watching Dread Pirate Roberts in action on a semi-regular basis,” I suggested.


“You think they’ll tell the little girls that Cruz’s Libertarian soul-mate Ross Ulbricht, alias the dark web’s Dread Pirate Roberts, was given a life sentence for, according to the judge, doing things ‘…terribly destructive to our social fabric’?” Jay asked.


“Not likely,” Bill said. “Ted himself did and is doing terrible things to our national social fabric by working to shut down the government.”


“Ulbricht wanted to empower people to be able to make their own choices – to have privacy and anonymity as they desired – a standard Libertarian ideology,” Jay said.


“And isn’t that part of Cruz’s ideology and stand?” Bill asked.


“Yes,” Jay said. “But I don’t think Cruz extended that to illegal drugs – at least not yet.”


Wired Magazine did a comprehensive two part story on how Ulbricht and his Silk Road started unraveling,” I said, “and how the FBI-DEA finally caught him. A good read.”


“The Times recently ran a story on the DEA agent who fairly early on suspected Ulbricht, a Gary Alford. He was following a

            … young man from Texas who, just like Dread Pirate Roberts, admired the free-market economist Ludwig von Mises and the libertarian politician Ron Paul.

That was the key clue,” Bill noted. “But that wasn’t Ted Cruz.”


“Ulbricht held out for three years,” Jay said. “But he got arrogant and sloppy.”


“And started having online conversations because he was lonely,” I said. “He had trouble really keeping it all to himself. And, according to the Wired story, he was careless at the very beginning: ‘… in the era of informational perpetuity, you only have to be careless once’.”


“Shhh – and Amen,” Bill smiled.


“Ted Cruz used his Princess Bride acting skills during the Iowa campaign,” I said. “And then prayed with a pastor who said he was a ‘biblically qualified’ candidate.”


“What an endorsement!” Jay said.


The Economist recently noted that Cruz

 …has built his campaign around a simple pitch: assuring the most conservative third of the Republican electorate, from born again Christian voters to hardline members of the Tea Party, that they form a natural majority of the conservative movement, and indeed would decide general elections if they would only turn out and vote….The 2016 presidential primary calendar is front-loaded with conservative, pious states, many in the South, allowing Cruz strategists to dream of swiftly dominating the ‘very conservative ‘ lane of the race…

But the story goes on to say that the argument didn’t play out in the 2012 election results.


Cruz worked as a policy adviser for George Bush’s 2000 campaign, but George recently said ‘I just don’t like the guy.’ The Times’ Bruni noted that George thinks Cruz is ‘cynically opportunistic and self-serving’; Bruni concludes the column with ‘…he’s frightening’.


Cindy Casares, in The Guardian:

Cruz’s father, Rafael, has been brainwashing his son since he was about four years old to believe he’s ‘gifted above any man he knows’ and ‘destined by God for greatness’.


“Such a supportive evangelical father,” Jay smiled.


“ … 2016 is going to be a religious liberty election, according to Ted at a Plano, Texas meeting,” I said.


“Maybe he’s channeling his crazy father,” Bill observed. “Raphael is a pastor who directs Grace for America, whose goal is to restore the traditional family throughout America.”


”I didn’t realize we’d outlawed the traditional family,’ Jay said. “What’s the big deal – you are free to be traditional – and free to be non-traditional.”


“We know that – and perhaps Ted knows that, but Papa Cruz doesn’t want to accept it.”


“His speech to the World Council on Families meeting in Salt Lake was so powerful that he got a standing ovation.”


“Maybe Cruz’s father should run for president – he’d be in the Huckabee – Carson mold, “ I suggested.


“He can’t – he’s an immigrant from Cuba – not born here,” Bill said. “He claims he fought for Castro and against Battista during the revolution.”


“Claims?” Jay asked.


“Yes – and Ted parrots the story, but … the New York Times recently ran a full page investigative story on Rafael – the ‘elder Cruz’ they call him.”


“And?” Jay, again.


“They quoted a compatriot as saying elder Cruz was – or is – a ojaletero – a wishful thinker – that he was making up the exploits he recounted.”


“I also saw the story. The writer says something that could have come right from Mark Twain: ‘The fog of almost 60 years can cloud even the clearest of memories …’.”


“Especially if you’re an ojaletero,” Bill smiled.


“Ted, in his recent book, propagates Rafael’s mis-memories.”


“Well, Ted isn’t known for asking critical questions.”


“I had assumed that Ted was trying to distance himself from Rafael’s ultra-right, evangelical ravings,” I said, “but apparently not. He seems to be using his father to whip up the crowds, at least in certain venues.”


“One of our local papers interviewed a Jill Love at the World Council conference. She said she felt just like Rafael Cruz did – until she learned one of her six kids was gay.”


“Revelations happen,” I said.


“Bruni has torn into Cruz – ‘Anyone but Ted Cruz’ is one of his NY Times headlines. He’s talked with people who’ve worked with him:

They loathe him…. His thirst for the spotlight is unquenchable. His arrogance is unalloyed. He actually takes pride in being abrasive…”


“I read that, too,” Bill added. “Bruni also said that when asked about Cruz at a fund-raiser, former Speaker John Boehner gave him the middle finger!”


“So would I,” Jay said.



One commentator said Cruz ‘is a master at channeling indignation’.


David Brooks has noted that ‘Ted Cruz has always stood out for being nakedly ambitious for himself.’


“Sure sounds like Cruz should be the subject of a Pat Bagley cartoon book,” Bill suggested. “Clueless Cruz could compete with Pat’s Clueless George.”


“I think we’d each buy several.”



Casares also tracked down his freshman roommate, Craig Mazin, at Princeton, who told her:

I begged them for a different room or roommate. Begged. They didn’t understand then. They do now…I would rather have anybody else be the president of the United States. Anyone.

But a recent Economist story said that David Panton, a Princeton and Harvard roommate, called him ‘a loyal friend … polite, kind and respectful’. The piece also said that ‘Mr. Cruz’s Christianity is profound and sincere’. So, somewhat mixed reviews.


“And Cruz is very strategic. I just saw that he and his plutocrat supporter, Robert Mercer, are spending loads of money engaging Cambridge Analytica – a ‘psychographic profiling’ firm which uses Facebook-derived data – to target potential new supporters.”


“Cruz’s politics and perspectives may be rooted in the early 19th century, but his campaign tactics are definitely 21st century,” I said. “That’s a very dangerous combination.”


“There is a small positive side to his ‘win’ over Trump and Rubio in Iowa,” Jay said.


“What’s that?”


“Ethanol subsidies. Andrew Revkin wrote in the Times that

Cruz … withstood the perennial temptation — among Republicans

and Democrats alike — to bow down to Big Corn and the federal mandate for

ethanol that has been such a boon to Iowa corn farmers.

Nearly half of all the corn grown in Iowa is made into ethanol.”


“That is huge. Libertarians are supposed to be against all business subsidies, but then they all cave in when campaigning in Iowa,” I said.


“Except Cruz,” Jay said.


“Hey, it’s not that simple,” Bill corrected. “Mooney’s piece in the Washington Post was more informative. Cruz wasn’t so much anti-ethanol subsidy as he was anti-EPA. He reframed the issue to appeal to his evangelical audience. I don’t hold out any hope that he’d be consistent and be against all energy subsidies.”


“Interesting,” I said. “And here’s some real bad news. Cruz is accepting campaign help from some really horrible people. Remember the saying ‘…you are the company you keep’, and if Ted Cruz is the company he keeps, that’s downright terrifying – according to an online piece. It went through and described a slate of people working very closely with his campaign who are outright fascist. You could even say that some of them are as horrible as ISIS.”


There’s been considerable discussion and comment on Cruz’s ‘brutalism’, ‘obnoxiousness’, and ‘meanness’ by Brooks, Bruni, and several others. David Brooks wrote that when Cruz was Solicitor General of Texas he took a case to the Supreme Court to keep a man in prison who should have been freed. Even the Justices were skeptical and critical. ‘Is there some rule that you can’t confess error in your state?’ Justice Kennedy asked. Brooks wrote that Cruz

…  is a stranger to most of what would generally be considered the Christian virtues: humility, mercy, compassion and grace… [his] overzealous application of the letter of the law … violates the spirit of the law, as well as fairness and mercy.


And Brooks goes on:

[His] speeches are marked by what you might call pagan brutalism. There is not a hint of compassion, gentleness and mercy. Instead, his speeches are marked by a long list of enemies, and vows to crush, shred, destroy, bomb them. When he is speaking in a church the contrast between the setting and the emotional tone he sets is jarring.


“You might think he’s being ‘brutal’ to appeal to God-fearing evangelicals in Iowa,” I said. “But some of the actions Brooks cites are from nearly two decades ago – he wasn’t campaigning and pandering to evangelicals then.”


“I guess he just likes being a super-powerful hard-ass asshole,” Jay said. “suffering from Empathy Deficit Disorder – big time.”


“Amen,” added Bill


Brooks continues,

Cruz lays down an atmosphere of apocalyptic fear. America is heading off ‘the cliff to oblivion’ … [He’s] always been good at tearing things down but incompetent

when it comes to putting things together.


But Cruz may be the best thing going for the other GOP candidates, says Gail Collins:

Cruz is the No. 2 every politician dreams of being stacked up against in a

contest where the road is long and, sooner or later, everybody needs a friend.

It’s fascinating how much his fellow Republicans hate this guy.


Shenkman, a psychologist, recently referred to Cruz’s ‘stone-age brain’ in discussing his statements on ‘carpet bombing’ and his obvious lack of empathy. Shenkman refers to Cruz’s ‘cognitive dissonance’. His new book Political Animals is subtitled: How our Stone-Age Brain gets in the way of Smart Politics, although he takes particular aim at Ted Cruz, for obvious reasons.


At a campaign event in Iowa, one of the audience interviewed, Jon Lubecky, 39, an Army

veteran, said

You’ve got Cruz saying he’s going to carpet bomb the Middle East. Rubio

saying he’d torture people. And Trump who wants to nuke everybody.


Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, says Cruz is the most dangerous candidate, because

He’s more fanatical;

            He’s a true believer;

            He’s smarter;

            He’s more disciplined and strategic;

            He’s a loner who’s willing to destroy institutions.


“Actually – he and Trump are, to me, tied in being dangerous and ignorant,” I said.

“It’s all about apocalyptic fear and paranoia,” Jay said. “That’s what resonates among the 50 percent of the country that are hardcore believers – especially in Iowa and, I guess, Texas.”


“Let’s consider Heidi – she may be more promising,” Bill suggested.


“I’ve done some homework on Cruz’s Heidi – I like the name.”


“She’s been on the campaign trail for Ted in Iowa,” Bill said.


“Yes,” Jay added, reading from his smart phone: “The Financial Times recently did a story on her, noting that

…it was originally Mrs Cruz who was seen as the real star of the couple, according to people who knew them when they met on the 2000 George W Bush campaign 15 years ago … She is intense and as ambitious as they come…If her husband hadn’t become a senator, she would be the famous one.”


“Heidi has quite a resume. She worked for Bush-Cheney in 2000. She’s been at Goldman Sachs since 2005, now on leave for the campaign.”


“I wonder what Elizabeth Warren thinks of her,” Jay mused.

“Heidi lists her occupation as ‘wealth manager’, according to Wikipedia – and her religion as Southern Baptist.”

“Interesting, because she grew up as a Seventh Day Adventist,” Jay said.

“I wonder what Heidi thinks of her own father-in-law preacher Rafael, who’s said gay marriage is a government conspiracy and called President Barack Obama a Marxist who should ‘go back to Kenya’ – that’s according to the Daily Mail. How’s that for a father-in-law?”

“She should have known better,” Bill smiled – “especially knowing that Ted attended white Christian schools in Houston. No surprise that Ted’s more evangelical than Catholic. He’s so anti-Latino that he changed his name from Rafael to Ted, at the time infuriating his father.”


I continued: “She was at Harvard Business School for two years and received a Master of Business degree from Solvay Brussels (Belgium) in 1995.”

“When Diana and I were in Morro Bay some years ago, we came across a Fresno Bee report about her,” I recalled. “She was born and grew up in San Luis Obispo, had a bread stand, and became interested in politics. She went on to become a Capitol Hill intern, a policy aide on the George W. Bush campaign and economic director for the Western Hemisphere with the National Security Council.”


“She is very interesting,” Jay said. “Her Wikipedia entry says her folks were medical-dental Seventh Day Adventist missionaries in Africa. She studied at an Adventist church school in Monterey, got an economics degree from Claremont, two MBAs, and then met Ted in 2000 – they were both working on the Bush campaign.”

“I did some Adventist homework. The Adventists have 28 fundamental beliefs,” I said, “including:

We are God’s stewards entrusted by Him with time and opportunities, abilities and possessions, and the blessing of the earth and its resources. We are responsible to Him for their proper use.”

“That may be just as helpful as Francis’ encyclical,” added Bill.

“Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon Islamophobe former candidate, is also a Seventh Day Adventist, I understand. Perhaps they could meet and talk, but as she’s now a Baptist, maybe that wouldn’t be so helpful.”

“The Cruzs have two young daughters,” Bill noted. “So they should be interested in the future of the planet – for their sake.”

“Cruz is such a manipulator interested in his own success that he used his two young daughters in ‘a twisted Christmas ad’,” I reported. “ –  a political ad ‘to go after Mrs. Clinton’s private email account’, according to Elizabeth Williamson in the Times. Williamson’s online editorial has a picture of Ted and Heidi with Catherine and Caroline holding US flags – the whole family so sweet and having fun.”


“I can’t believe Heidi let him get away with that,” Bill complained. “Two very young, sweet kids being roped into an egomaniac’s quest for power.”


“Maybe Heidi’s starting to have second thoughts,” Jay said.


“Don’t bet on it. She may be just as bad – just as much a fanatical evangelist,” Bill added.


“How so?” I asked.


“I saw a Daily Kos piece quoting her and Ted’s views on church and state – frightening:

Heidi Cruz says her husband’s campaign, and, if elected, presidency,

exist ‘… to show this country the face of the God that we serve’ … She went on to say that, ‘I think that’s something that this country really needs to be reminded of, is that Christians are loving people, are nonjudgmental people, but there is right and wrong, we have a country of law and order, there are consequences to actions and we must all live peaceably in our own faiths under the Constitution. And Ted is uniquely able to deliver on that combination of the law and religion’.”


“I heard something like that from the Taliban – or was it ISIS?” Jay said.


“That was the Daily Kos comment as well,” Bill smiled.


“I hope she takes to chocolate,” I added.



Steve Eder’s New York Times article on Heidi’s ‘sacrifices’ may be relevant to harmless’ strategy.

She had a good career in Washington, but decided to move to Texas to be with Ted, then the state’s new Solicitor General. The transition affected her greatly – perhaps culture shock was part of the stress. Eder wrote that in August 2005 an Austin police officer found her, with her head in her hands, sitting beside an expressway onramp.  Although she has avoided using the word ‘depression’, in his own book, A Time for Truth, Ted Cruz wrote that her move to Texas ‘led to her facing a period of depression.’ Mrs. Cruz obviously rebounded, recovered with the aid of ‘spiritual counseling’ via a Christian song she heard on her car radio. A decade later, she was a successful executive for Goldman Sachs and a force in Cruz’s presidential campaign. She did say in an interview: ‘God leads you to where he can use you the most. And it may not look exactly like you’d expect.’


“That’s a bit too much Christian optimism for me,” Bill said.


“Gail Collins has written about the candidates putting their immediate family and relatives on the campaign stage, including Cruz’s young kids, saying:

Leave the kids alone. When they’re teenagers, they’ll figure out their own ways to get



“I hope Heidi finally wakes up, well before her kids become teenagers, and do take revenge,” Bill said. “Maybe we can help them help their father to have a revelation.”


“Her brother is an orthopedic surgeon,” Jay said. “Perhaps there’s some critical thinking on her side of the family.”


“Perhaps, but remember engineers and physicians – especially surgeons – often tend to be conservative – they like things simple.”


“I’m not optimistic. She seems to be acting as a ‘stand by your man’ type.” Jay attempted to sing the Tammy Wynette lyric, not very successfully.


“Stand by Bill sort of backfired on Hillary – or was it her comment on baking cookies?” Bill asked.


“Heidi did agree, according to Ted, to mortgage their house and spend their savings on his first campaign.”


“Let’s hope she starts questioning him a bit. She does seem to be a competent, grown up woman who should be able to think and question for herself,” I said.


“And there you go again, Mr. Optimist,” Bill chided.


Katie Zezima of the Washington Post wrote

…few political spouses have redirected their own ambitions to the degree that Heidi Cruz has… Welcome Wilson Sr., a wealthy Cruz donor…‘She is the most dynamic female I have ever met, and I mean that’, he said. ‘She is on point and relentless’.


“Heidi is now chairing – or at least headlining – $1,000 a plate fundraising lunches in Los Angeles,

Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Birmingham, and Seattle. She knows how to ask for money – or investments,” I smiled. “She is a wealth manager.”


“And perhaps a wealth protector – via plutocratic ‘investments’.” Bill said.




Homework: Rand Paul for President



Although Paul dropped out of the presidential race recently, he is likely to be reelected to the Senate. harmless has kept him on its patient list.


Rand Paul was born January 7, 1963 in Pittsburgh. He is the middle child of five; his four siblings are Ronald “Ronnie” Paul Jr., Lori Paul Pyeatt, Robert Paul, and Joy Paul-LeBlanc. He identified as a practicing Christian as a teenager. Ron Paul, his father, is a former U.S. Representative and Presidential candidate from Texas. Paul attended Baylor University and Duke University, receiving the M.D. in 1988; he finished a residency in 1993. He then began practicing ophthalmology in Bowling Green, Kentucky, establishing his own clinic in 2007. He specializes in corneal, cataract and glaucoma treatments.


He regularly volunteered for his father’s campaigns. He ran for Kentucky’s Senate seat in 2010, won, and has served in the Senate since 2011. He describes himself as a Constitutional conservative and a supporter of the Tea Party, advocating for a balanced budget amendment, term limits, and privacy reform. Paul is Presbyterian.


He and Kelley Ashby were married in 1990. They have three children – boys: Duncan, Robert, William. Rand has been their soccer coach. The two oldest currently attend the University of Kentucky, the youngest attends a private school in the Washington, D.C. area.


Paul is co-author of a book entitled The Tea Party Goes to Washington (2011) and Government Bullies: How Everyday Americans Are Being Harassed, Abused, and Imprisoned by the Feds (2012).


Despite his father’s libertarian views and strong support for individual rights, Ayn Rand was not the inspiration for his first name. But, in his teenage years, Rand did study the Austrian economists that his father respected, as well as Ayn Rand’s writings.


In February 2014, Paul joined the Tea Party-affiliated conservative advocacy group FreedomWorks in filing a class-action lawsuit charging that the federal government’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records metadata is a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. Commenting on the lawsuit, Paul said


I’m not against the NSA, I’m not against spying. I’m not against looking at phone records…. I just want you to go to a judge, have an individual’s name and [get] a warrant. That’s what the Fourth Amendment says.


In May, 2015, Paul spoke for ten and a half hours in opposition to the reauthorization of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, resulting in sections of the Act not being reauthorized.


Although he describes himself as a ‘constitutional conservative’, he is generally described as a libertarian. He supports term limits, a balanced budget amendment, and reduction of federal spending and taxation. He favors a flat tax for individuals and business, while eliminating taxes on inheritance, gifts, capital gains, dividends, and interest. His tax plan benefits the wealthy and contributes to growing financial inequality.


He is ‘100% pro life’, believing that legal personhood begins at fertilization, and personally feels same-sex marriage is offensive. He does believe the issue should be left to the states to decide.


Unlike many libertarians, he does not believe in legalizing the recreational use of marijuana but does not support jailing marijuana users. He opposes all forms of gun control or restriction.


He advocates restricting the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency and other Federal agencies to ‘impinge upon states’ power over land and water use.’ In an interview some years ago with Bill Maher, Paul said

I’m not against regulation. I think the environment has been cleaned up dramatically through regulations on emissions…


He’s said that conservative donors Charles and David Koch have ‘always stood for freedom, equality and opportunity’ in a tribute published by Time.


“But he seems to be dropping fast in support – there’s also the issue he’s up for reelection to the Senate.” I said.


“I think he’ll hang in there for a while,” Jay said. “And he’s an important Senator. Paul Ryan listens to him.”


“And vice versa.”



Paul’s wife, Kelley, is a free lance writer and has worked as a political consultant for The Strategy Group for Media, one of whose clients was then Senate candidate Ted Cruz. She is a Rhodes College graduate, focusing on communication and English. In 2015 she published the book True and Constant Friends: Love and Inspiration from Our Grandmothers, Mothers, and Friends. She was born in 1963 in Kentucky. Her parents are Hilton and Lillian Ashby; her father was with the Air Force – the family traveled regularly. One of her greatest influences is her Irish grandmother.


Kelley played a key role in Rand Paul’s decision to run for President, noting that it was an easier decision than his deciding to run for the Senate in mid-2009. She reviews many of his speeches and, according to Rand, ‘always makes them better’. She speaks to Republican women’s groups, and participates in commercial advertisements on behalf of his campaign.


Many political consultants have referred to Kelley Paul as Rand Paul’s ‘secret weapon’.  She has been described as’… a very confident person, very comfortable, and she complements [Rand] well’.



Homework: Trump for President


“And then there’s Trump,” Bill said.


“Trump’s sons are now working on his campaign,” Jay said.


The candidate said last spring that he was now ready to hand his company over to Donald Jr., Eric, and his daughter, Ivanka.


Donald J. Trump Jr. and his younger brother Eric have been traveling on behalf of their father, and making news media appearances on his behalf. The two men have drawn criticism in the past for big-game hunting in Africa. Donny, Jr. was a recent deer hunting guest of Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.


The Junior said:

For a guy like me from New York, where we don’t have quite the quality that you guys have, I wanted to come out early and make sure we got a few good days in there. If you don’t put in the time, you’re not going to do well…[he said] hunting is relaxing….Being from my family and New York, in a city like that, I think the fact that I was in a tree stand or a duck blind on many mornings probably kept me out of a lot of other trouble I would have gotten into growing up, and I love the lifestyle … [ hunting is] an important tradition, a very American position.



“Sounds like The Donald, Jr. is quite a panderer,” Jay smiled.


“And an opportunist – just like Daddy Donald,” Bill added.


“Maybe they could ask Cheney to hunt with them?” I suggested.



Collins:  Besides his talent for not being Ted Cruz, Trump’s other strong suit for

Republican leaders is the suspicion that he doesn’t particularly believe anything he says. It’s not that he disbelieves it. His positions are more like thoughts of the moment, or opening bids.


David Rennie, with The Economist, on the Diane Rehm Show said that Republicans supporters know that both Trump and Cruz are liars, but Trump is a more pragmatic and flexible liar; Cruz is an ideological liar.


“Some one on NPR referred to the Trump – Cruz choice as like choosing between Hitler and Stalin,” Bill said. “But I’m not sure that’s any choice at all.”


“Did you see the Times’ 95,000 Words story – analyzing most of Trump’s talks? It quoted a Texas A&M expert as saying: ‘Part of his argument is that if you believe in American exceptionalism,

you should vote for me, [meaning him]’. The story continued:

It is the sort of trust me and only me rhetoric that, according to historians, demagogues have used to insist that they have unique qualities that can lead the country through turmoil.


“He keeps getting worse and worse,” Jay said. “The Times Editorial – The Trump Effect – mentioned his ‘faith-based wall around the country’ and the Republican governors’ ‘axis of ignorance’.”


“The editorial’s last paragraph says it all,” Bill added, “reading:

The racism behind the agenda of the right wing on immigrants and foreigners has long been plain as day. Mr. Trump makes it even plainer. After his remarks on Muslims, how many of Mr. Trump’s rivals have said they would reject his candidacy if he won the nomination? … none.


A recent Syrian refugee from Aleppo discussed her conversations with her five year old about moving to the US – the land of refugees. ‘My daughter wants to be the Statue of Liberty next Halloween,’ she reported.


“They must be two of only some 2,700 who made it to the US,” Bill said, “out of over four and a half million who left Syria.”


“So much for being the land referred to in the Statue of Liberty,” Jay added.


“And Kristof recently said, via his column on religion,” I said:

ISIS empowers Trump, who inadvertently empowers ISIS. He’s not confronting a national security threat; he’s creating one.


“Cruz earlier avoided criticizing or taking on Trump,” I continued, “because he wants to inherit Trump’s supporters when he finally drops out.”


“He’s doing much better than anyone ever expected, but…he’s so dimwitted, ignorant, and egocentric that it’s unlikely our treatment would have any significant effect,” Jay said.


“I agree. Let’s treat if it’s convenient – and let’s stay up to date on his antics and progress – but let’s not spend any of our precious time trying to get to him.”


“Maybe he’ll be a candidate for Act II?” Jay asked.





Bill and Jake had continued working on their web projects – completely unrelated to harmless. They met regularly at Cucina’s, in the Avenues near the U. This time I joined them, because Jake said he had something he wanted to share with us. He’d been involved with another U professor, setting up a site for a class related to morality, ethics, and evil.


We sat down with our various sandwiches. I asked Jake about his new, little 200 square foot home on a trailer. We talked sustainability, carbon footprints, and The Leonardo’s new exhibit on the UN Charter on Human Rights.



“So what’s with this class?” Bill asked.


“I’ve set up a little demonstration,” Jake said. “I’ve edited some stuff I saw and read in the class materials. The prof is having the students do some play-acting – and getting phenomenal results. She has the students involved, motivated, and asking for more.”


“Go on,” I said.


“I want to do a little performance. I want to recite this piece I edited for you, because it relates to our earlier conversations on evil and morality.”


Bill and I looked at each other. In the many years we each had worked with Jake, this was the first time we saw him so excited about a project, except perhaps when he was protesting the Tim DeChristopher decision and sentencing some five years ago.


Jake stood up, with his notes in hand:


There is a fever over our land.

            A fever of disgrace, of indignity, of hunger.

            We have a democracy, yes,

            But it is torn by elements within.


            Above all, there is fear:

            Fear of today, fear of tomorrow…

            fear of our neighbors…

            and fear of ourselves.


            We want to be told:


            Lift your heads, be proud –

            yes, there are devils among us –

            but once these devils are destroyed,

            your misery will be destroyed.


            We love our country.


            What difference does it make…

            if a few political extremists lose their rights?

            What difference does it make

            if a few racial minorities lose their rights?


            It is only a passing phase.

            It is only a stage we must go through.

            It will be discarded later.


            The country is in danger.

            We will march out of the shadows.

            We will go forward.

            Our land will be great again!


            Follow me!


Jake sat down, saying “Have you heard that before?”


“No, but it sounds like I should have,” I said.


“It sure sounds familiar,” Bill said. “I’m sure I heard something like it before.”


“It’s based on a three hour black and white film from the early sixties,” Jake hinted. “Required viewing in the class I’m helping with.”


“It almost sounds like Hitler,” Bill said, “or perhaps Mussolini.”


“Or Trump,” I said.


“You’re close. It’s based on the confessional testimony of one of the four Hitler-era German judges tried in the film Judgment at Nuremberg. One of them, Ernst Janning, played by Burt Lancaster, gave this incredible speech.”


“I did see that,” Bill said. “A terrific film. The chief trial judge was Spencer Tracy, right?”


“Yep,” Jake said. “It really gets to the question of evil – and Man’s great weaknesses. Here’s a bit more, a little less edited by me:


Forward was the great password….


            The … message … swept over the land like a raging, roaring disease.

            What was going to be a passing phase… had become the way of life.


            It was being done…for love of country.


            Were we deaf? Dumb? Blind?

            Maybe we didn’t know the details.

            But if we didn’t know, it was because we didn’t want to know.


“Wow. I will see it,” I said.


“It’s in the U film library,” Jake said. “The class is now largely over – you shouldn’t have any trouble getting access to it.”


We thanked Jake for the input – it was indeed very relevant to nearly all aspects of harmless and State Change. He said goodbye and left.


I looked at Bill. “Trump, the new Hitler?”


“And Cruz, his loyal assistant?” Bill added.


“Mankind is so stupid.”


“And so fragile.”


I checked out Judgment at Nuremberg from the U library. Diana and I watched it. In one of the special features on the DVD, Abby Mann, who wrote the screenplay, said ‘…the villain of Judgment at Nuremberg is patriotism.”

Chapter 7: Supreme Court Justices

The Supreme Court is the final juror and arbiter of national policies and of the nations’ culture and behavior. harmless feels that a number of current Justices would benefit from a more empathetic and socially considerate perspective to their deliberations and decisions. Harmless wants to advise and ‘treat’ those needy Supreme Court Justices.




The Supreme Court consists of nine justices, appointed for life:


Ginsburg, Ruth Bader:   appointed 1993 by Clinton;        now 83 years old; Jewish

Scalia, Antonin:             appointed 1986 by Reagan;       recently deceased at age 79; Catholic

Kennedy, Anthony:        appointed 1987 by Reagan;       now 79 years old; Catholic

Breyer, Stephen:           appointed 1994 by Clinton;        now 77 years old; Jewish

Thomas, Clarence:       appointed 1991 by Bush #1;       now 67 years old; Catholic

Alito, Samuel:               appointed 2005 by Bush #2;       now 66 years old; Catholic

Roberts, John Jr.:         appointed 2005 by Bush #2;       now 61 years old; Episcopalian

Sotomayor, Sonia:        appointed 2009 by Obama;        now 61 years old; Catholic

Kagan, Elena:               appointed 2010 by Obama;        now 56 years old; Jewish


harmless’ homework on and discussion of the Supreme Court occurred prior to Justice Scalia’s death in early 2016. As the harmless team and project progressed, the five conservative justices were actually ‘treated’ in late 2015, to perhaps affect the Court’s fall term.


The account that follows relates those deliberations and actions.


John Roberts has been Chief Justice for over ten years. He and Alito were appointed in 2005 by Bush #2. They, together with Scalia and Thomas – and to a slightly lesser extent – Kennedy, make up the Court’s conservative block. The others – Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan – and to a slightly lesser extent Ginsburg – make up the liberal wing of the Court. Kennedy and even Roberts are occasionally swing votes. This makes for a significant number of 5-4 decisions. Four of the five Catholics tend to vote very conservatively. Five of the justices were appointed by Republican presidents, four by Democrats. Their ideologies and decisions generally reflect those of the Presidents who appointed them.


Conservatives tend to like a literal interpretation of rules, regulations, laws – especially the Constitution and the Bible. They try to determine what the signers of the Constitution meant – what the words meant back in the late 1700s. They are called originalists or literalists or textualists.


The liberals tend to focus on the Constitution as a living document – one designed to be interpreted and applied in the context of today’s world. They recognize that some of its sections and sentences are intentionally vague and interpretable, due to the wisdom of the drafters and signers in foreseeing that tomorrow will be very different from today – or even yesterday.


The so-called Roberts Court is responsible for the Bush v. Gore decision, which lead to ‘…an enduring cynicism about the Court among many Americans,’ according to Marcia Coyle. Citizens United is an even more hated decision: ‘It’s the most hated of any recent Supreme Court decision, even more than Bush v. Gore,’ according to Theodore Olson, lawyer for both cases.


In some respects, the Court hasn’t been as right wing as it was expected to be, thanks to Kennedy and Roberts. An analysis of the 2015 Court cases suggests that it was gently left-‘leaning’. The New York Times published a graph in mid-2015 where Kennedy was identified as the ‘median’ or center Justice separating the 4-4 factions.


When Utah’s Deseret News carried the masthead ‘We believe the Constitution is divinely inspired’ back in the late sixties and early seventies, they meant it. They believed (and largely still do) that the drafters and signers were Christian, religious patriots – and themselves divinely inspired. The same is true today for the conservative justices. Four of the five are Catholic; Roberts is Episcopalian. Most Catholics like their religion – and their Constitution – literal.


Although we declared our independence in 1776 (the same year Gibbons published the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire), the Constitution was drafted in 1787 and ratified in 1789. The Bill of Rights was ratified in 1792, thereby amending the Constitution.


The mindsets, philosophies, and perspectives of the political and military leaders in the late 1700s were in large part based on the nature and status of the planet, the continent, and the nation at that time.


Adam Smith had just published The Wealth of Nations (1776), providing the foundation for a capitalistic ‘guiding hand’ economy. Smith’s first book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, was published earlier, in 1750, and was intended to provide a foundation, a context, for the Wealth of Nations book, although most people who use and quote The Wealth of Nations are ignorant of the earlier book.


In the late 1700s our new nation wanted to grow, to populate, to prosper. It was vast – land was largely infinite, water was abundant, the skies were clear and the air clean, except in certain areas of certain cities due to coal smoke. There was no such thing as climate change – and certainly no concern or even awareness of planetary issues or constraints. Although farmers and settlers were frugal and resourceful, the national attitude was growth and prosperity – there were no real constraints.


The conservatives of the Roberts Court live and work today largely in the mindset of the late 1700s. The liberals are closer to the realities of the 21st Century. Harmless wants to help address this fundamental issue and problem:


How can we get intelligent, accomplished, even distinguished people to realize – to understand – that the principles and the assumptions upon which their entire life and careers have been based are no longer appropriate?


How can they understand that what was appropriate for the late 17th and 18th centuries is inappropriate – even suicidal – for the 21st?


How can they accept that many of the legal decisions and precedents of the last 200 years are inconsistent with today’s realities, needs, and principles?


It is not that they necessarily want to deny today’s realities, it’s that their entire mindset is an extrapolation of yesterday’s assumptions.




“Well, Obama got there before we did,” Jay said.


“What do you mean?” I asked.


“Obama gave a speech in 2007 about judicial empathy,” Jay recalled. “He said he wanted judges and justices who had:

the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it’s like to be a teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old.”


“Yes, I remember that,” Bill said. “The conservatives jumped all over him for it. They called it the ‘empathy standard’ – in a derisive or mocking way.”


“It actually goes back earlier, to Obama’s The Audacity of Hope. According to John Paul Rollert in The Atlantic:

… Obama … describes empathy as both the ‘heart of my moral code’ and a ‘guidepost for my politics.’ Defining it succinctly as a successful attempt to ‘stand in somebody’s else’s shoes and see through their eyes,’ Obama regards empathy not as an exceptional gesture but an organizing principle for ethical behavior and even a preferred way of being. By cultivating our capacity for empathy, he says, we are forced beyond ‘our limited vision.’ We unburden ourselves of the trivial rigidities that divide us, allowing us to ‘find common ground’ even in the face of our sharpest disagreements.”


“Rollert also said, quite perceptively,” I continued,

A capacity for empathy relies not only on a willingness to step into the shoes of another person, but the ability to step away from yourself. If you can’t leave your own world behind, at best, you may have the resolution but not the wherewithall.”


“Obama went on to say,” Jay continued, “when Justice Souter resigned in 2009: ‘… justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook’ – and that he would appoint empathic judges.”


“Which is why he appointed Sonia Sotomayor to replace Souter,” I said. “So, yes. He certainly got there before us. Our job is to assist by doing what we can to ‘tip’ the Court.”


“The two swing votes are often Kennedy and/or Roberts,” I continued. “The really hard core 18th century mentalities belong to Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.”


“So, for most pressing issues, it may only take one reliable ‘swinger’?” Jay asked.


“Yes,” I said. “There’s also the age and legacy effect: Scalia and Kennedy are getting on in age. Kennedy has his international and global interests. Scalia has a whole stable of grandkids. And Alito has demonstrated some very selective empathy.”


“Well, let’s review them all and develop a strategy for empathogenic assistance and expansion,” suggested Bill.


“We should be able to get to one or two,” I said.


“Let’s try for three or four – or five,” Bill added.




Obama’s empathy comment and the ensuing empathy ‘standard’ discussion has influenced the morality literature. A little book called Empathy and Morality appeared in 2014, with a paper on empathy and justice. It also touched on altruism as well as psychopathology.


Obama’s statement also prompted a Yale Law Review paper, by the same John Paul Rollert:


            To the Right, empathy was nothing less than a code word for judicial activism …  By the time the Sotomayor hearings began, Republicans were united in their aim to put empathy on trial. In their opening statements, every Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee singled out the term for abuse.


Much earlier, when the John Roberts appointment had come up for Senate confirmation, Obama, then the junior senator from Illinois, said he could not vote to confirm, referring to


… one’s deepest values, one’s core concerns, one’s broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one’s empathy.


Rollert goes on


…there is a significant difference between saying that judges should be obliged to follow the plain meaning of the law and asserting that the law’s meaning is always plain.


That’s the main difference between the so-called conservative and liberal justices. Retiring Justice Souter, in a Harvard Commencement address, said the Constitution is


a pantheon of values …  hard cases are hard because the Constitution gives no simple rule of decision for the cases in which one of the values is truly at odds with another.


In his The Audacity of Hope Obama credited former Illinois Senator Paul Simon:


            Paul’s … sense of empathy .. is at the heart of my moral code, and it is how I understand the Golden Rule—not simply as a call to sympathy or charity, but as something more demanding, a call to stand in somebody else’s shoes and see through their eyes.


Obama continues:


Empathy … calls us all to task, the conservative and the liberal, the powerful and the powerless, the oppressed and the oppressor. We are all shaken out of our complacency. We are all forced beyond our limited vision. No one is exempt from the call to find common ground. …  we seem to be suffering from an empathy deficit. We wouldn’t tolerate schools that don’t teach, that are chronically underfunded and understaffed and underinspired, if we thought that the children in them were like our children. It’s hard to imagine the CEO of a company giving himself a multimillion-dollar bonus while cutting health-care coverage for his workers if he thought they were in some sense his equals. And it’s safe to assume that those in power would think longer and harder about launching a war if they envisioned their own sons and daughters in harm’s way.


Rollert noted that

Obama was … suggesting that empathy might supply a judge moral certainty when legal certainty was simply not available.


Obama captivated the country in 2004 when he said:

It is that fundamental belief – that I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper – that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family. E pluribus unum. Out of many, one.




Rollert concludes:

An abiding faith in the power of empathy underpins it. Nobody understands that power better than President Obama.




“He really did get there before us,” Jay said, again. “But he’s kept those sympathies in the background for the last 4 or 5 years.”


“He kept wanting to cooperate with the ideologues. He kept naively hoping they would listen to reason, that they would govern,” Bill added.


“He finally, perhaps far too late, came to the understanding that they wouldn’t cooperate, meaning they cannot govern,” I offered. “Which is why he’s been doing what he can via Executive Order – via those statutes and powers which do not require Congressional blessings.”


“Unless blocked by conservative Supreme Court decisions,” said Bill.


“And harmless will soon address that,” Jay smiled.



There’s been some recent discussion of empathy versus psychopathy. A recent Medical Daily post by Ali Venosa: noted that the symptoms of


…a psychopath include a lack of empathy and feeling for others, selfishness, lack of guilt, and a superficial charm that manifests exclusively to manipulate others. … A psychopath simply doesn’t have [a conscience] … They will steal from you without feeling a twinge of guilt … A sociopath …[understands] that taking your money is wrong and may feel remorse, but it won’t be enough to stop [his] deviant behavior. A psychopath has less regard for others than a sociopath.

[Psychopaths] can come off as charming, intelligent, and may even mimic emotions they really don’t feel. … The most important characteristics of a psychopath revolve not around violence,

but around lack of empathy, selfishness, and manipulation. … Many psychopaths actually find great success in the business world thanks to their ruthless nature – a disproportionate number of CEOs are actually psychopaths.


A book and documentary titled The Corporation, by Joel Baken, examined the psychopathic basis of modern corporations, a theme also addressed in Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story. Given the Court’s affinity for corporations and their ‘rights’ in recent years, harmless feels that the balance between corporation and individual rights and duties need to be openly and openly reexamined by Congress and by the Supreme Court.




The now recently deceased Antonin Scalia was the most senior of the ultra-conservative justices, appointed by Reagan some 30 years ago. His Wikipedia photo shows him as a round faced, gentle grandfatherly type, rather than the archconservative who writes scathing, albeit sometimes witty, opinions. One of his former (Catholic) high school classmates said he

…was a conservative when he was 17 years old … an archconservative Catholic. He could have been a member of the Curia.

He was the first Italian-American justice.


His Wikipedia article says he

            …asks more questions and makes more comments than any other justice, …[provoking] laughter more often than any of his colleagues.


Jeffrey Toobin, a New Yorker writer, says Scalia often expressed a ‘juvenile petulance’. He’s been described as forceful, like a medieval knight prepared to bludgeon his opponents, perhaps due to his Sicilian heritage (his father emigrated from Sicily at age 15). Scalia didn’t read the New York Times or the Washington Post, because they are ‘shrilly liberal’. He preferred the Wall St. Journal – and, he said, ‘I even believe in the devil.’

He was generally considered the most conservative member of the very conservative Roberts Court.


harmless did considerable homework and study of Justice Scalia before deciding to treat him – several weeks before his death. We have not included that material in the State Change book, except for a discussion on ‘losing it’:



Professor Neil Richards, Washington University Law School, assessing Scalia’s legacy:

I think his greatest flaw … was a lack of empathy, and I mean this in two respects. One, I think he just had a difficult time understanding people who were different from him.


“Did you see the Times op-ed on Scalia’s argument for a theocracy of the majority?” Jay asked.


“Go on,” Bill said.


“Richard Posner, a well known US Court of Appeals judge, wrote that Scalia’s opinions have apparently migrated or devolved to a majority-based theocracy; that his ‘…political ideal verges on majoritarian theocracy’.”


“Decisions which go counter to his personal religious beliefs garner his vigorous and bitter dissents,” I added.


Scalia ‘…did the most to limit religious freedom of any justice in history,’ said Charles Haynes, with the Newseum Religious Freedom Center.


“Perhaps he was starting to lose it,” Bill suggested.


“It’s possible. How do you remove a Supreme Court Justice who’s demonstrably losing it?”


“I did some homework earlier,” I said. “There’s no mechanism. According to Jonathan Turley, an interesting legal scholar who argues unusual and often unpopular cases:

The Constitution provides for involuntarily removal of justices only by a process of impeachment. It requires a showing of serious wrongdoing but has nothing to do with mental competence. And yet since its founding, the court has struggled with incompetent, addicted and even insane justices.


“So they have to be counseled – talked into – resigning?” Jay asked.


“Apparently so.” I concluded. “FYI – Turley has a Mormon connection – he’s defended plural marriage in several cases!”


“There’s always a Utah connection,” Bill smiled.


“The Times’ Greenhouse recently wrote, days after Scalia’s death, that his recent actions and statements ‘…in recent years may have reflected the contraction of his intellectual universe’.”


“I love that phrase – ” Bill said. “‘ … contraction of his intellectual universe’.”


“Here’s another example suggesting Scalia was perhaps fully ‘losing it’,” I said. “According to a recent Daily Kos report, Scalia told an audience at Archbishop Rummel High School that


there is ‘no place in the country’s constitutional traditions for the idea that the state must be neutral between religion and its absence…. there is no place for that in our constitutional tradition.”


“Jesus!” Jay said. “What Constitution and history books was he reading?”


“The Daily Kos story went on to tell him where and why there is separation of Church and State.”


“He needed to get his aging brain out of the Wall Street Journal and into a library – to read some early American and Constitutional history,” Bill suggested.


“Well, neither he nor we need to worry about his aging brain anymore.”


“No – but we have to worry about many others – and those who were greatly influenced by his beliefs and actions,” I said. “There are so many very old legislators who refuse to do their jobs, like 81 year old Richard Shelby of Alabama, the current chair of the Senate Banking Committee, who refuses to consider any Obama nominees.”


“If they refuse to do their work, why can’t Obama simply refuse to sign their pay checks – or the Secretary of the Treasury?” Jay asked.


“Cajones,” Bill said. “It takes real cajones.”





Justice Anthony Kennedy is 79, appointed by Reagan in 1988. He’s one of the swing votes in the current highly polarized Court. He was born in Sacramento, went to Stanford (his mother’s alma mater), and Harvard Law. His wife is Mary Davis; they have two sons and a daughter:

Justin Anthony Kennedy;

Kristin Marie Kennedy, married, in her late forties;

Gregory Davis Kennedy, married to a comedienne, in his late forties.


One profile said he

…has been, if anything, a surprising and unpredictable justice on the Supreme Court, displaying thoughtful independence that at times, fails to reflect any particular ideology.


He’s also been a leading proponent of using foreign and international law as an aid to interpreting the U.S. Constitution.


He’s been a frequent visitor to China, serving as a lecturer and educator. He has spent time nearly every summer teaching at Salzburg University. He worked with the American Bar Association to develop curricula for high school seniors.


Before finishing his undergraduate studies at Stanford he went to the London School of Economics. Toobin quotes him as saying:


At the political union, you had to sit in the room according to your place on the ideological spectrum, and, to give you an idea of what it was like, the Communists—the Communists!—were in the middle. It was a different world, and I loved it.


Kennedy has a passion for foreign cultures and ideas, and, as a Justice, has turned it into a principle of jurisprudence. Kennedy regards the use of foreign law by the Supreme Court as an inevitable effect of an increasingly interconnected world. He’s also referred to the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child.


Justice Scalia, being an American exceptionalist, refused to consider any foreign court decisions or arguments, or any other national or even international laws. Ditto for Justice Thomas.


Toobin said that Kennedy’s perception of a judge, and of himself, is

…as a figure of drama and wisdom, more than any specific ideology. … that the rule of law was protected by enlightened individuals….


A Kennedy quote:

            It does not lessen our fidelity to the Constitution or our pride in its origins to acknowledge that the express affirmation of certain fundamental rights by other nations and peoples simply underscores the centrality of those same rights within our own heritage of freedom.


Kennedy is a natural teacher; in front of his students, as in his opinions from the bench, he expresses himself in plain English, rather than legalese.


He seems to believe that the Court is obligated to consider the evolving standards of society – the constitution with a small “c” – in addition to the words of the Constitution, which are what mattered to Scalia.


Kennedy said:

Rights come not from ancient sources alone. They rise, too, from a better informed understanding of how constitutional imperatives define a liberty that remains urgent in our own era.



“He’s seems reasonable, independent, and not so parochial,” Jay added. “But he is the Justice most responsible for giving us Bush rather than Gore in 2000.”


“Correct. But he seems to have tracked a bit more liberally since then. At least he has some international interests and experience,” I noted. “He’s not as parochial as Thomas is or Scalia was.”


“But he can be very naive – perhaps even simple-minded,” I said. “Fred Wertheimer recently reviewed his Citizen United decision:

Justice Kennedy’s opinion, … asserted that there is nothing wrong with using political money to obtain access and influence and that ‘the appearance of access and influence will not cause the electorate to lose faith in this democracy’.


“He obviously doesn’t understand how citizens ‘think’,” Jay said.


“That’s not all – Wertheimer continued:

Justice Kennedy’s strange prediction about the faith of the electorate, without citing any basis for his prophecy, and his view that there is nothing wrong with donors buying access and influence have been overwhelmingly rejected by the American people.”


“Wonder why Wertheimer didn’t just say the guy is clueless and naive.”


“Kennedy spoke at the Utah Bar Association’s recent meeting in Sun Valley,” I noted.


Jay interrupted: “Utah lawyers had to go to Idaho for the Utah Bar meeting?”


“Perhaps given Kennedy’s recent vote and authorship of the Court’s pro-gay marriage decision, maybe they thought it would be better for him in Sun Valley.”


“In Idaho?! Give me a break,” Jay countered.


“And he also voted to uphold ObamaCare,” Bill added. “Maybe he doesn’t need our therapy.”


“I think he does. He has to be on our list.”


“Kennedy’s a Catholic, as are his wife and kids, I suspect,” Bill said, “so perhaps the Encyclical was relevant to him. The Pope did say, ‘It’s not a green encyclical; it’s a social encyclical.’ Social isn’t about carbon or climate. Deniers welcome!”


“Other major issues likely to be on the next agenda include voting rights – one person, one vote?; reproductive freedom; and crime and punishment,” Jay added.


“One vote could make an enormous difference,” Bill said.


A Supreme Court web site, SCOTUS, has Kennedy giving talks and accepting an award in:

Anaheim (California State Bar), as well as at

Cambridge (Harvard Law School), and

Washington DC (National Museum of Women in the Arts).



Clarence and Virginia Thomas


“Why include Virginia?” Jay asked.


They are very interesting,” Bill said, “They reinforce each other, providing their own private hard conservative echo chamber. They may be hopeless.”


“Maybe – and maybe not,” I said. “It is fascinating to track and compare Thomas and Sotomayor – and how they turned out. Each coming from very difficult family situations, each being an ethnic, ‘racial’ minority, each achieving – by working very hard – incredible success in spite of enormous difficulties. And yet Thomas became an arch-conservative with little or no empathy and Sotomayor became a liberal with strong empathic tendencies.”


Overcoming poverty and his difficult childhood via hard work has contributed to Clarence Thomas’ very conservative positions on a wide range of social issues. His memoir, My Grandfather’s Son, was published in 2008. At 16 he began studying for the priesthood. The death of Martin Luther King, Jr challenged his religious directions; he then went to College of the Holy Cross as an undergraduate and dabbled in student activism, and then on to Yale Law School, graduating in 1974. He’s reported to be another Ayn Rand fan.


He was appointed by George Bush in 1991, even though he had little relevant judicial experience.  The appointment of Clarence Thomas may be, in retrospect, one of George H. W. Bush’s greatest mistakes. Bush was actually an empathic person, according to Jon Meacham in his recent biography Destiny and Power. He said Bush had an empathy for others, and confided that his own appointee Rumsfeld lacked the ‘humility to see what the other guy thinks’.


Thomas was just barely confirmed, due to the Anita Hill accusations and controversy during his confirmation hearings. Utah’s Orrin Hatch was one of Thomas’ staunchest supporters.


Thomas is now 67. He married Virginia (Ginni) Lamp, his second wife, in 1987. She is a conservative activist and fund-raiser who reportedly has called Barack Obama a ‘tyrant’. His first wife was Kathy Ambush (1971 – 1984) – they were granted a Catholic annulment. They have a son Jamal Adeen Thomas, who is about 34 today. Thomas speaks lovingly about him in the Preface to his memoir. Although a Catholic, Thomas apparently now attends an Episcopal Church. He showed empathy and responsibility for his grand nephew Mark who grew up under similar difficulties to Thomas’s own.


Clarence Thomas is Mr. Silent during Court proceedings, but quite loquacious when not in Court. He is a prolific written dissenter. He is extremely conservative.



“You know why Thomas always keeps his own mouth shut in the Court?” Jay asked.




“Because Scalia was always talking – essentially making the same comments Thomas might have made. Scalia loved the sound of his own voice.”


“Thomas has actually started to talk in Court, now that Scalia’s empty chair is silent,” Bill added.


“Jeffrey Toobin is one of Thomas’ major critics. He wrote a book on the Supreme Court in 2008, The Nine,” I said.


“And I just read Toobin’s 2014 New Yorker story on his ‘Disgraceful Silence’,” Bill added.


“No homework yet for me,” admitted Jay, “but I do remember his confirmation hearings and Anita Hill’s incredible testimony.”


“Thomas’ wife defended him in an essay in People Magazine shortly after he was finally confirmed,” Bill added. “He revisited the issue in his 2007 memoir. Say, either of you seen Hill’s version?”


“Her version, Speaking Truth to Power, came out in 1997. I came across two videos on the case at the U Library: Anita, a 2013 major documentary, and Sex and Justice, an earlier 1993 documentary,” I said.


“So much material, so little time,” said Jay. “All of it fascinating.”


“I read the last chapter of his 2007 memoir, where he wraps up the confirmation fight and his swearing in as a member of the Court. Thomas’s book ends with his prayer: ‘Lord, grant me the wisdom to know what is right and the courage to do it’.”


“Amen,” said Bill. “But he seems to have ignored that prayer during his Court tenure.”


“And he’s been voiceless ever since?” asked Jay.


“Until recently – since Scalia’s death.”


“I have major concerns about Thomas as our patient,” I said. “It seems he’s been very conflicted since his undergraduate days: priest, activist, or well heeled lawyer? Activist or conservative? Ultra-conservative white wife? He’s had strong conflicts with the black community related to his conservatism. His behavior suggests apparent apathy and disinterest in the Supreme Court, according to a 2014 piece by Toobin:


            These days, Thomas only reclines; his leather chair is pitched so that he can stare at the ceiling, which he does at length. He strokes his chin. His eyelids look heavy. Every schoolteacher knows this look. It’s called not paying attention.

He seems to be angry, bitter, conflicted – not a good prospect for empathogen therapy.”


“Although we really only need to ‘treat’ several of the arch-conservatives to help ‘tip’ the Court,” Bill said, “we may want to include Thomas as well if it’s convenient. There are some hints of emotion and empathy.”


“I read somewhere,” Jay added, “that when he was first appointed, after the bitter hearings with Anita Hill, he told his clerks or staff at the Court ‘I ain’t evolving!’ And he apparently hasn’t.”


“In a recent The Atlantic piece, Epps noted that during a recent visit to Yale Thomas took responsibility for the bad time he’d had there, saying:


               I wish that I came here at a time when I could have been more positive because there was so much here that I walked right by, that I closed my eyes and my heart to.”


“So perhaps he’s mellowing with age,” Bill said. “And now with Scalia gone, maybe Thomas will open up a little.”


“He doesn’t list very many gigs on SCOTUS. There was one at the University of Florida – SCOTUS didn’t list it until after it happened. And the Florida Alligator newspaper mentioned some of the security precautions – a bomb sniffing dog and no cell phones in the room. The event was kept a bit quiet – no prior announcement to students. ‘He kind of reminds you of someone’s grandfather,’ one student said.”


I continued: “But one SCOTUS listed gig I saw is perfect – a BYU dinner in Salt Lake at the Gross America Hotel,” I said.


“You do mean the Grand America?” Bill asked.


“Of course. I call it gross because it’s so ostentatious and overdone. The event is a Founders’ Day dinner sponsored by the BYU Law School. I’ll see if I can get one of my U law school friends to get me in.”


“A substantive donation to BYU Law should suffice,” Jay said.


“Right. I’m not above that – it’s for a good cause.”


“Look for Mike Lee there – he’s an alumnus.”


“If you do get to Thomas – and his Mrs. – give them each two,” Bill advised.


“Will do.”



John Roberts is Chief Justice, appointed by Bush #1 in 2005. He’s a conservative Republican and has served on the Federalist Society steering committee.


Roberts is a Harvard alum (History and Law) and a Roman Catholic, according to his Wikipedia profile. He’s relatively young, born in 1955. He has three sisters: Kathy, Peggy, and Barbara.


In every major case since he became Chief Justice, he’s has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff.


Laurence Tribe has said: ‘The Chief Justice talks the talk of moderation while walking the walk of extreme conservatism.’


Roberts is a gifted public speaker—relaxed, often funny, sometimes self-deprecating.


According to a Toobin 2009 story in The New Yorker, Obama is the first President in history to have voted against the confirmation of the Chief Justice who later administered his oath of office. In his Senate speech on that vote, Obama praised Roberts’s intellect and integrity and said that he would trust his judgment in about ninety-five per cent of the cases before the Supreme Court. But Obama also said:


In those five per cent of hard cases, the constitutional text will not be directly on point. The language of the statute will not be perfectly clear. Legal process alone will not lead you to a rule of decision. In those circumstances, your decisions about whether affirmative action is an appropriate response to the history of discrimination in this country or whether a general right of privacy encompasses a more specific right of women to control their reproductive decisions . . . the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in the judge’s heart.


Obama did not trust Roberts’s heart, saying:


It is my personal estimation that he has far more often used his formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak.


The first bill Obama signed as President was known as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; it specifically overturned the interpretation of employment law that Roberts had endorsed in a 2007 Supreme Court case.


Obama offers a mirror image of the view of the Supreme Court that Roberts often presents. In considering Supreme Court appointees, Obama said:


            I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook. It is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives—whether they can make a living and care for their families; whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation. I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.


John Roberts married Jane Sullivan in 1996. They have two adopted children:  John (Jack, ‘spiderman’) and Josephine (Josie); they are now 23 years old. The political press said that Jane ‘… breaks the mold of Supreme Court wives.’


Jane Sullivan attended College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. After graduating with a degree in mathematics, she spent three years teaching math in Australia, earned a Masters in Education in Melbourne, and later a master’s degree in applied mathematics from Brown University. She worked as a systems engineer before entering law school. Jane Roberts went from mathematics to engineering to law – and is now a professional legal recruiter.


She works with a half-dozen Washington and Boston area non-profits, ranging from Catholic schools and parishioners’ groups, to an anti-abortion advocacy group, a hospice, an environmental organization and a professional women’s group. Humanitarianism and concern for society’s vulnerable seems to characterize her nonprofit work. She’s worked on hospice care through membership on the advisory board of The Washington Home and Community Hospices in 2007 and 2008.


She served on the board of Feminists for Life, an advocacy group based in Virginia, from 1995 to 1999, and volunteered as its legal counsel until 2007. Feminists for Life’s goal is to address ‘the unmet needs of women in the workplace, schools, home and society’ — needs that the group believes are ‘the root causes that drive women to abortion’, according to founder Serrin Foster.


At a commencement address in 2011, she said


            I’ve been a restaurant waitress, a hotel hostess, a car parker, a nurse’s aide, a maid in a motel, a bookkeeper and a researcher. I was an Irish Catholic waitress in a Greek restaurant in a Jewish neighborhood … a cocktail waitress in a port town near the iron ore mines in Australia.


She’s also said ‘I love to swim and I love the ocean’.

She advised the graduates on the importance of connecting with people and said the key to connecting is having some empathy for them – to try to feel what they might be going through – and then do something about it. She said there are plenty of ways to help others via legal training.

She may have had an effect on her husband’s 2011 vote for the Affordable Care Act – and perhaps again in the 2015 ACA-related decision.


“They are both very compassionate,” said attorney and writer Lisa McElroy, author of John Roberts: Chief Justice. McElroy’s little book also noted that Roberts loves chocolate, and has a dish stocked with chocolate in his Supreme Court chambers. His favorite films are North by Northwest and Dr. Zhivago – and he likes to kayak.


Interesting, especially the chocolate (John) and empathy (Jane) characteristics.





Samuel Alito was appointed to the Court by Bush #2, serving since January, 2006. His confirmation vote was very unenthusiastic (58 to 42). He was born in 1950, making him 66 years old. His personable younger sister, Rose, is reported to be an excellent lawyer. He’s a Princeton alum and graduated from Yale Law School in 1975. His Princeton senior year was in Italy; he did a thesis on the Italian legal system. Alito is Italian-American and a Catholic. Although a conservative with a libertarian streak, he does not always agree with the Court’s conservative coalition.


He married Martha-Ann Bomgardner, a law librarian, in 1985. She is originally from Oklahoma. They have two children: Philip (29) and Laura (27). Philip went to the University of Virginia; Laura has been at Georgetown University and is a competitive swimmer.


The Times in 2006 said Mrs. Alito is a classic suburban mother. Friends say she has devoted the last 20 years to raising her children and supporting her husband and his career. She is, they say, an extremely intelligent and well-read woman who orders restaurant meals in fluent French and recently took a philosophy class for intellectual stimulation.

If Judge Alito is quiet, Mrs. Alito is reported to be the couple’s public face, effervescent and outgoing. She talks to strangers; he does not. She is apparently caring and empathetic – and stands on her own. Friends have said ‘They complement each other. He’s calming for her, and she’s socializing for him.’

Mrs. Alito, 52, was born in Fort Knox, Kentucky and is an only child. Her father was an air traffic controller in the Air Force. Her mother was a librarian at the bases where the Bomgardner family lived. Mrs. Alito does not, friends say, talk politics.


Alito wrote the majority opinion in the Hobby Lobby case, with the court ruling 5-4 that family-owned corporations can be exempt from a federal mandate requiring the inclusion of contraception coverage in employee health plans. His vote likely was influenced by his strong Catholic influences.


At the 2010 State of the Union address, President Obama criticized the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC, a campaign finance decision, stating that:


            …the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections.


While the other justices present showed no reaction, Justice Alito was seen to mouth the words ‘not true’ as the President spoke. This minor reaction from a Supreme Court justice received considerable press.


Alito is a gourmet cook, and interested in tennis, music, and Bruce Springsteen. His lawyer son, Philip, together with Scalia’s lawyer son, Eugene, worked at the DC law firm Gibson Dunn – a firm often litigating before the Supreme Court.


A 2011 New York Times story by Emily Bazelon noted that Alito has proved himself to be the closest thing conservatives have to a ‘feelings’ justice. The nature of right-wing empathy on the court is reflected by Alito, who expresses feelings mostly for people who are a lot like him – a type of selective empathy. It’s been said that his sense of empathy never seems to involve an act of imagination, that it rarely extends to people who are not like him.


The 2014 book by Garrett Epps has some very helpful perspectives. Alito has become a kind of un-Scalia. Scalia was an ‘originalist’. In deciding constitutional cases, he read the Big History Book and told the rest of us the ‘original public meaning’ of the Constitution’. Although both justices are very conservative, Scalia’s conservatism looks back, invoking the spirits of the Framers. Alito’s is forward-looking. He frequently discusses the dystopian implications of modern technology — whether it be GPS trackers, the Internet, video games, or violent pornography and ‘crush’ videos. Scalia asked how things were done in the past, because the past was good; Alito asks how they should be done in the future, lest the future be bad. Scalia talks about principles; Alito talked about consequences.


Alito is often the rudest justice, broadcasting his hostility and impatience to advocates and colleagues. He can treat lawyers like children caught in a lie, grilling them on every minor point of their argument while dismissing their logic. He handles fellow justices like hecklers who have thoughtlessly interrupted his train of thought. He has a gruff demeanor, often sounding like he would rather be somewhere else. He’s shaken his head at Ginsburg and rolled his eyes at Kagan.

Alito’s ‘historical amnesia’ is dissected in an essay by Stephen Fortunato, cleverly couched as a review of the book: The Lost World of Italian American Radicalism. Fortunato notes why Alito was appointed and some of his qualifications, and also says:

           Since the beginning of written history the virtues of compassion and mercy have been described as absolutely central to the process of judging, especially in equitable matters; and this has been recorded from the time of Aristotle… One searches in vain in Alito’s personal and professional life, as well as his written decisions, for compassion — or passion for that matter — and for legal commentary favoring the marginalized, the economically fragile, the voiceless. … Although ‘Alito is drawn … to history and biographies… whatever he reads, it surely is not chronicles of the people and times that are the subjects of [this book]. The ability to hear across the decades the cries of the oppressed and their champions for justice, fairness and equality before the law is a direct measure of one’s present responsiveness to the pleas of today’s ostracized and exploited. Sadly, Justice Alito—and also Justice Scalia — are prominent members of the legion of the forgetful.

Robert Kennedy, Jr. said recently that it is wrong to think of Alito and Roberts as traditional conservatives.


            They are not. They are corporatists. If you analyze their decisions, there is no coherent conservative political philosophy. They have taken the ‘conserve’ out of conservatism. The only predictable outcome of their rulings is that the corporation always wins.


“Perhaps we could send Alito a copy of the book Fortunato reviewed,” Bill suggested, “before we have our therapy sessions with him.”

“Or hand deliver a copy, together with the chocolates?” Jay smiled.

“There’s some hope that MDMA may also provide historical or selective amnesia therapy,” I said. “That certainly ties to empathy and compassion.”

“Ask your son,” Bill suggested. “He’s a historian.”

“And he’s been there – many years ago. Good idea.”

“Alito has a Utah connection,” I said. “Our own Junior Senator Mike Lee – after serving as Governor Jon Huntsman’s legal counsel – did a one year clerkship for Alito when he served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.”

“So maybe Mike Lee’s own arrogance is the result of his emulating his mentor?” Jay asked, smiling, of course.

“Perhaps they deserved – and empowered – each other,” Bill added. “Of course, Lee could just be emulating Utah’s GOP legislators.”

According to SCOTUS, Alito is giving talks and discussions in

West Orange, NJ;

National Archives in DC;

NY Historical Society;

University of Notre Dame;

Memphis; and

Georgetown University Law School in DC.


Sonia Sotomayor was appointed by Obama in 2009. She may be helpful in generating a little empathy and compassion in her five co-justices. Her religious tradition is Catholic. She is divorced and has no children. Her parents are from Puerto Rico. Her undergraduate studies were at Princeton, in history; her undergraduate thesis was on Puerto Rican history. Her younger brother, Juan, is a physician and professor. She is diabetic and has daily insulin injections, which she learned to give by herself when she was just six years old. Her pre-Supreme Court life is well written in her memoir My Beloved World.


Republican’s had issues during her confirmation hearings with her earlier public statement:


            I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.


That certainly bothered Limbaugh and Gingrich. She also said, to a group of Latina professionals: ‘I also have a Latina soul and heart, with the magic that carries.’


She is now regarded as the empathy justice and has been called the people’s justice and the Justice of Hearts.




Elena Kagan was appointed by Obama in 2010 – she is the newest Justice. She is considered liberal. She’s a Harvard Law graduate, professor, and former Dean; she also has a Masters in Philosophy from Oxford. She is not married and has no children. Her religious tradition is Jewish.




Stephen Breyer was appointed in 1994. His 2005 little book Active Liberty covers his perspectives and approach. According to Epps, he advocates ‘modern liberty’ in distinction to ‘ancient liberty’. His concern is, via Epps:


            …not the past but the future; not the antecedents of a rule but the consequences of a decision… He is polite…and has a very strong familiarity with literature, art, and philosophy…


Breyer has said that a judge must


            … be able to imagine what other people’s lives might be like, lives that your decisions will affect. People who are not only different from you, but also very different from each other … empathy … seems to me a crucial quality in a judge.’


He is considered liberal. His new book, The Court and the World, discusses foreign and international law, an issue Scalia and Kennedy have both discussed. In spite of the differences among the justices, he said there are two informal rules for the Court:


            First unwritten rule is that nobody speaks twice until everybody speaks once at the conference, referring to the private meetings where the justices cast their votes. Great rule. Everybody feels they’re treated fairly. Second: Tomorrow is another day.



Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed by Clinton in 1993. She is the oldest Justice at 83, although Scalia was the longest serving Justice. Her interests have been in women’s rights, civil liberties, and human rights. Her husband Martin died in 2010. Their two children are Jane Ginsburg (born 1955) and James Stephen Ginsburg (born 1965). He is a lawyer and involved with classical music. Jane is also a lawyer, on the faculty of Columbia Law School. Justice Ginsburg worked at Lund University and speaks Swedish.


She issued a strong dissent on Hobby Lobby decision and discussed her views with Katie Couric.


She once attended, with Justice Scalia, the Red Mass, held every fall in Washington, DC at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. She no longer attends because:


            I went one year, and I will never go again, because this sermon was outrageously anti-abortion. Even the Scalias – although they’re much of that persuasion – were embarrassed for me.


A recent non-biography, Notorious RBG – The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has led to a great deal of attention. The recent Times’ review by Jennifer Senior noted:


Justice Ginsburg is a bit like the Mona Lisa, whose likeness has also launched a thousand fanciful appropriations. To be a scrim for the world’s projections, it helps to be a little hard to read.




“We’ll prioritize Kennedy, Roberts, and Alito,” I said.  “Although generally conservative, they can and do swing, their wives seem to be reasonable and involved, and they are somewhat accessible.”


“We should start with Roberts,” Bill suggested. “He likes chocolate.”


“It only takes one,” Jay recalled.


“And clearly,” Bill surmised, “Kagan, Sotomayor, and Breyer don’t need us; neither does Ginsburg.”


“Nor Obama,” Jay said. “The question is how to proceed. The Court is generally in recess from June to October, so we can’t really treat them in their chambers.”


“They each largely do their own thing until the fall term, so we likely have to get to them individually,” Bill said.


“There is one event where many of them come together,” I said, “the annual Red Mass, just before the October term begins.”


“What is that all about?” asked Jay.


“It’s an old tradition – goes back to late 13th Century,” Bill said. “It’s to bless and encourage lawyers, government officials, and public servants to do good work. It’s ‘red’ because they wear red vestments to and during the service.”


“And it’s not just in Washington, D.C. There are red masses in New York City, Detroit, and even in Salt Lake,” I added.


“And there are now Blues Masses for first responders, police, military – and White Masses for health care professionals in some communities.” Bill said.


“I guess everyone could use a blessing and words of encouragement,” I smiled, continuing: “The Washington, D.C. Red Mass is held the Sunday just before the beginning of the Court’s new term, usually very early October. There are usually four to six justices who attend.”


“So we give them chocolate Communion wafers?” Jay suggested. He has close Catholic friends – and knows how it works.


“I doubt they all take Communion,” I said. “And it would be tricky to get the priest to give them ‘special’ Communion wafers.”






Most Communion wafers in the U.S. are supplied by a Rhode Island firm named Cavanaugh. Wafers can be readily purchased on Amazon. They are generally made from wheat flour and are available in various sizes. Since roughly one percent of Catholics are, like the rest of Americans, sensitive to gluten, there’s been a movement to have gluten-free Communion wafers available. A group of Benedictine nuns now make and sell such wafers, in response to the actions of the Catholic Celiac Society. Apparently the USA is behind Europe in meeting such needs and concerns.



“Wouldn’t an MDMA-fortified wafer be really useful?” Jay asked. “What could be better that enhanced empathy and compassion for practicing Catholics? Perhaps they could receive a truly ‘special’ Communion when they turned 18 – legal voting age.”


“Sounds like the moksha ceremony in Huxley’s Island,” I said. “Perhaps Pope Francis could raise the possibility.”


“That’s not so far-fetched,” Bill said. “Do you know the history of the Communion wafer – of the Catholic Eucharist?”


Jay smiled. “Perhaps you could enlighten us?”


And Bill did. The Mystery of Manna is a little book written a dozen or so years ago by Dan Merkur. Apparently Paul, the architect of the Catholic Church, first proposed and used the Eucharist, probably based on his earlier experiences with pre-Christian religions. The idea of holy bread, manna, goes way back – to Moses and earlier. Merkur argues that the ancient pre-Church visions and related experiences likely trace to the use of ergot-contaminated flour and even much earlier to psychedelic mushrooms. There are many references in the scriptures to spiritual, meaning vision-inducing, food and drink.



“So instead of using thin, dry mushroom slices – which are chewy, bad tasting, and difficult to digest – a simple gluten-free MDMA-containing wafer could be the next step in a strong and rewarding Holy Communion,” Jay said.


“And a more empathetic and compassionate Supreme Court,” Bill added.


“Why not a chocolate communion wafer?” I asked. “It was the Jesuits who took cacao from the deep Amazon to the Bahia area of Brazil for cultivation – and basically launched the world’s chocolate industry.”


“Where did you get that?” Jay asked.


“Just heard about a book called On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao. It apparently covers the history and transmission of chocolate in and from South America.”


“Pope Francis is a Jesuit,” Bill said. “He likely knows some of that history.”


“There were chocolate truffles on his special Alitalia flight to Cuba.”


“I saw somewhere that his Argentine visitors bring him alfajores, cookies filled with dulce de leche and covered in chocolate.”


“He certainly enjoyed a Vatican event using a full size replica of himself – made out of chocolate,” Jay added.


“A chocolate Pope Francis? Cool.”


“Made by a Rome chocolatier out of over a ton of Guatemalan chocolate.”


“I sometimes think we all read too much useless stuff,” I smiled. “I love the idea of using the Red Mass for true enlightenment, but it’s very unlikely we could smuggle in and get the priest to use clandestine Communion wafers. I think it’s easier to get to each patient individually via Ananda’s Chocolates, unless …”


“Unless what?”


“I was at the funeral mass for my mother last week – in California – and thought of something during the formal high mass.”


“Sorry to hear about her passing,” Bill said. “You told me earlier she was 95, right?”


“Nearly 95 – she was ready – said she was ‘in God’s hands’.”


“Go on,” Jay said.


“The priest wafted incense smoke over her casket, walking around the entire casket. We saw the smoke, smelled the incense – it permeated the front half of the chapel.”


“Kind of like Delphi?” Bill asked.


“Perhaps. But then two family members brought a carafe of wine and a basket of Communion wafers from the back of the church to the front – to the priest. His aides accepted the ‘offering’ and proceeded to prepare it and offer Communion to those now in line for his blessing. And some chose to also partake of the chalices of wine.”


“The Body and Blood of Christ,” Bill explained.


“Yes, but imagine at a funeral mass that the wafers are substituted by different, more ‘effective’ wafers, and the wine contains a more effective component …”


“…and the incense also delivers a more effective Eleusis-like agent,” Bill added.


“Yes!” Jay said. “A funeral mass in which a number of people – acquaintances and colleagues of the deceased – could all be treated. It might work.”


“But,” I said “we’re too far along now. If any of us ever do a harmless gig again, it might be a good approach. For now, let’s stay focused on Ananda’s Chocolates.”


“And we already know Roberts likes chocolate.”


“But we need to get on it,” I said. “Let’s plan on treating them right away.”


“We really need only one sure success,” Jay said. “When do we get the chocolates?”


“Soon,” I answered. “We’re just finishing up the logo, design, and packaging.”