Marilyn Writes

Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall began her career as a journalist with the Wyoming Eagle in Cheyenne. During her 20 year banking career, she wrote extensively for The American Banker, Bank Marketing Magazine, Trust Marketing Magazine, and other major industry publications. The American Bankers Association (ABA) published Barnewall’s Profitable Private Banking: the Complete Blueprint, in 1987. She taught private banking at Colorado University for the ABA and trained private bankers in Singapore.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

General Jones, Donilon, and other Boondoggles

Sunday, October 17, 2010 News With Views

By Marilyn M. Barnewall

We all sin. We are human beings and are born of the physical world. But we have a spiritual nature.

Humans are more than animals – I know that’s going to make PETA members angry, but it’s true. If we weren’t different from other animals, we wouldn’t be concerned with loving one another and honoring our parents. We wouldn’t care about the poor. The strong survive in the animal world.

In The New Intellectual, Ayn Rand describes the differences between human beings and animals. She points out that we share two ingrained traits: Perception and sensation. All animal life has the gift of sensation… of being sated by food or sex or winning a competition. All have the gift of perception and can innately sense danger or safety or hatred or love. Humans and animals share the traits of perception and sensation.

Human beings want to live life at a level higher than that of the cave. We tap into a different capacity than sensation or perception, one unavailable to other animals.

According to Ms. Rand, humans have a third capacity. It is the capacity for conceptual thought. It belongs exclusively to humans. No one can force people to use it and no one can prevent them from doing so. That’s how freedom came to be. It was conceptualized. We can read and write because we can conceptualize.

Conceptual thought is the base from which all creative expression comes and creative expression can result in either malignant or positive energy. Creative energy can be good or it can be evil. People can conceptualize positively, or negatively. It’s our choice.

And, speaking of choices, President Obama has appointed a new National Security Advisor (NSA). At this particular time in America’s history, NSA is a critically important job. Below are the bios of the outgoing and the incoming NSA. Decide for yourself if an appropriate level of concern for the security of our nation is exemplified by this choice.

Four Star United States Marine General James L. Jones, Jr. resigned as National Security Advisor on October 8, 2010. His successor, Thomas E. Donilon, was appointed to succeed him the same date.

Job Qualifications:

GENERAL JAMES L. JONES, JR.: United States Marine 1967-2007. General Jones commanded the 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines; 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit; 2nd Marine Division; Commandant of the Marine Corps, July 1999 to January 2003; United States European Command and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, 2003 to 2006. Combat: Vietnam and the Gulf War (in October 1967, sent to Vietnam; served as a platoon and company commander with Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines.). Medals: Defense Distinguished Service, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, French Légion d'honneur, French Ordre national du Merite, Portugal Order of Aviz, Canadian Meritorious Service Cross, NATO Meritorious Service Medal, inter alia.

General Jones served as Chairman of the Congressional Independent Commission, Security Forces of Iraq in 2007. That Commission investigated the Iraqi police and armed forces capabilities. In November 2007, he was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of State as special envoy for Middle East security. He graduated from the War College in June 1985.

General Jones is a Marine who bravely served his country in war and peace and is an internationally trained and knowledgeable individual with experience in the Middle East. He was very qualified for this job.

THOMAS E. DONILON: A lawyer, Editorial Board of Law Review, University of Virginia (1985). Brother, Mike, a lawyer and political consultant is also Counselor to Vice President Joe Biden. Sister, Cathy Russell, is Chief of Staff to Jill Biden. During the Carter administration, Donilon was Congressional Liaison for the White House.

In 1980 and 1984, he managed the Democratic National Conventions (Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan in 1980; Walter Mondale lost to President Reagan in 1984). Donilon was Senior Advisor to Senate Judiciary Committee, Joseph Biden Chairman, from 1986-1988. You may recall, in September 1987, Senator Biden withdrew from the Presidential race. It was reported he plagiarized a speech given by British politician Neil Kinnock. There were allegations Biden had exaggerated his academic record.

Donilon was also a senior adviser to the presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis. He broke his losing streak when he assisted Bill Clinton with debate preparation, then served as an adviser for Clinton’s 1992 transition team. He helped prepare President Obama for his debate with Senator John McCain. He worked at the State Department as chief spokesman and Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. He’s a politician and a lobbyist from a political family.

Oh, yes. He was Executive Vice President at Fannie Mae. He lobbied against increased regulation of Fannie Mae… and made millions of dollars while doing it. And now the President has appointed him America's National Security Advisor.

According to journalist Michael O’Brien, “Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) pressured Donilon, the current deputy national security adviser, to decline the new job due to his work in the past as a lobbyist for mortgage giant Fannie Mae and his lack of previous military experience (article, The Hill, 15 Oct 10).


Speaking of boondoggles, last month, I wrote an article titled “Bullet Train Boondoggle.” I’ve been puzzled why, beginning January 2010, so many ridiculous political statements were made about high-speed rail (HRS). President Obama and Vice President Biden spoke of rapid transit projects around the country as if they were HSR. They weren't.

What were they up to?

The answer came a couple of weeks ago when a Reuters story crossed my desk announcing the presence of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger in Shanghai. He was there to ask the Chinese for assistance in funding and building the California HSR system. Obama is promising Governors high-speed rail systems, but Treasury’s checkbook is in big time overdraft!

If the federal government can’t afford to build California’s high-speed rail system, why are they promising other states HSR systems? If their promises to fund California aren't any good, how good are they elsewhere?

As I told readers, in late August I wrote letters to every sitting governor and all Republican gubernatorial candidates about what I perceived to be a boondoggle. I sent them links to my high-speed rail blog (here). The results are interesting.

On October 7th, Governor Christie in New Jersey halted a train tunnel, citing its cost. A New York Times article says, “Mr. Christie’s decision stunned other government officials and advocates of public transportation because work on the tunnel was under way and $3 billion of federal financing had already been arranged – more money had been committed to it than any other transit project in America.”

Governor Christie rejected the project saying it would cost at least $2.5 billion more than the original $8.7 billion estimate. New Jersey taxpayers would have to pay – and Christie did not want taxpayers on “a never-ending hook.” It was a brave (and correct) decision!

Another New York Times article on October 4th: “Republicans running for governor in a handful of states could block, or significantly delay, one of President Obama’s signature initiatives: his plan to expand the passenger rail system and to develop the nation’s first bullet-train service.”

Scott Walker, a Milwaukee executive and the Republican candidate for Governor of Wisconsin, has made his opposition to high-speed rail funded by government a campaign centerpiece. Wisconsin, Walker says, could be made to spend $7 to $10 million a year in operational costs. He has run television ads calling the project a “boondoggle.”

The Times article also points out that Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich has vowed to “kill a $400 million federal stimulus project” in Ohio. Rick Scott, the Republican candidate for governor in Florida, has questioned the wisdom of the planned project between Tampa and Orlando.

In California, gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman says the state needs to put high-speed rail on hold. Whitman is right (though Governor Schwarzenneger says she’s wrong – while he travels to Shanghai to get funding and building assistance because Washington won’t provide funds).

Ms. Whitman, the experienced and highly successful executive who built eBay from an unknown online auction house to one of the most used Internet sites, is right. California can’t afford government paid HSR – and Amtrak doesn’t have experience with HSR’s more sophisticated engineering construction. They don’t do very well with what they have – but Amtrak is Obama’s expertise source.

According to The New York Times, federal officials are “incredulous that candidates are threatening to spurn stimulus money…”

So what’s the boondoggle?

All of these high-speed rail promises hit the front pages of newspapers in major cities – Detroit, Cincinnati, Chicago, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orlando, Tampa – promising what? Jobs! It’s the number one issue among American voters. The promise of high-speed rail is a promise of union jobs – so vote for Democrats. The money isn’t in the Treasury for government to build high-speed rail but it’s a great way to get votes.

The fact that federal officials are “incredulous” that candidates spurn stimulus money is indicative of the conceptually negative world in which Washington, D.C. bureaucrats live.

We must stop listening to what politicians and bureaucrats say. Too many of them understand the survival of the fittest deriving from perception and sensation. They plan to survive by being the fittest, no matter how many people get harmed in the process. They don’t know how to find positive solutions to negative concepts.

Is Obama’s decision to appoint a former lobbyist at Fannie Mae as National Security Advisor a conceptually positive move? Maybe it is – if you’re looking for ways to endanger your nation.

Are promises of jobs by offering high-speed rail projects the government can’t afford to implement positive concepts? Only if your daily diet is negative lies.

© 2010 Marilyn M. Barnewall - All Rights Reserved

Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall began her career in 1956 as a journalist with the Wyoming Eagle in Cheyenne. During her 20 years (plus) as a banker and bank consultant, she wrote extensively for The American Banker, Bank Marketing Magazine, Trust Marketing Magazine, was U.S. Consulting Editor for Private Banker International (London/Dublin), and other major banking industry publications. She has written seven non-fiction books about banking and taught private banking at Colorado University for the American Bankers Association. She has authored seven banking books, one dog book, and one work of fiction (about banking, of course). She has served on numerous Boards in her community.

Barnewall is the former editor of The National Peace Officer Magazine and as a journalist has written guest editorials for the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News and Newsweek, among others. On the Internet, she has written for News With Views, World Net Daily, Canada Free Press, Christian Business Daily, Business Reform, and others. She has been quoted in Time, Forbes, Wall Street Journal and other national and international publications. She can be found in Who's Who in America (2005-10), Who's Who of American Women (2006-10), Who's Who in Finance and Business (2006-10), and Who's Who in the World (2008).

Web Sites: (High-speed Rail) (The Wanta Revelations)