For some thirty-five years, practicing general medicine in a rather small town in Florida, I have gotten to know my patients' views pretty well. In fact, I could usually tell who was going to win presidential elections and senatorial elections by the tenor of my patients' degree of interest and their approval of the candidates. Our area of the country has always been a fairly accurate barometer of national elections. The 2000 presidential contest appeared to be a dead heat--determined by Jeb Bush in what I have to admit was one of his rather rare lapses of moral judgement during his term as governor of Florida. His brother's disastrous presidency was not worth the reputations of thousands of voters deprived of the right to vote by the governor falsely accusing them of being felons. More troubling was the fact that, at the time, Eric Holder held the position of U.S. Attorney General (upon the premature retirement of Janet Reno) and he was apparently "double dipping," still collecting a few million dollars a year from the same law firm that was representing Governor George W. Bush in the infamous recount.
Meanwhile. It seemed obvious that John Kerry, despite his pitiful campaign and even more pitiful vice-presidential pick, had beaten George Bush in 2004. The exit polls showed him winning by four points or so (the same in Ohio), but the "tabulated" votes revealed a different result in the two swing states. After Ken Blackwell, Ohio Secretary of State and State Republican reelection chairman, used his own company's voting machines, Bush again beat the exit polls by several percentage points. Unlike the slumbering citizens of Florida, however, Ohioans fought back. They launched several lawsuits against the election board, claiming that Blackwell and Karl Rove had recruited Republican National Committee IT expert, Michael Connell, to divert computerized voting-count results to intermediate servers to change the actual vote counts.
Reports in the national press suggested that Connell, wilting under the pressure, was about to testify against Rove and Blackwell. In fact, the lead attorney for one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Blackwell and the Election Board had sought protection for Connell in a letter to U.S. Attorney general Mukasey because of alleged threats from Karl Rove. Shortly after being subpoenaed to testify, Connell was killed in the crash of his small plane. The investigation and the case were hastily swept under the rug and never again pursued. Pertinent computer records relating to 2004 and 2006 elections have apparently never been recovered despite the subpoenas originally issued.
On first blush, it seems no surprise that President Obama would protect his dear uncle, Tom (Eric) Holder and refuse to pursue serious cases of actual election fraud (usually election supervisors taking thousands of votes home and changing results, as happened several times in Wisconsin, with no punishment). The "surprise," of course, is supposed to be that Mr. Obama, after all the sordid details of the elections of 2000 and 2004, would choose for his attorney general the person least likely to straighten out anything related to serious voting irregularities. For that matter, as Holder's record shows, he has always failed to even pretend to address bogus political prosecutions and any of the corruption in the Bush administration. Apparently, in our so-called "justice system," the price for confirmation to the Supreme Court is to ignore legitimate appeals by innocent political prisoners. Republicans, apparently, don't have a monopoly on weak-willed Justices with selective consciences (except for Clarence Thomas who seems to have no conscience at all). In fact, I don't really see much difference between the effete, rightly called "injustice systems" of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush or Barack Obama.
I actually believe that all three of the aforementioned presidents initially intended to serve admirably and thought that they could improve the lives of millions of Americans. In fact, they all did some good things while making plenty of mistakes. In each case, even President Bush's, their mistakes reflected character flaws more than lack of intelligence. Bill Clinton's ego, unfortunately, outdistanced his considerable political and administrative abilities. He was duped by the Enron loophole and over-regulation of energy entities that actually did an adequate job of self regulation. His sexual exploits undermined some of his best attempts at unifying the country. George W. Bush, a competent governor because he worked with both sides of the aisle, ignored the math and claimed that without even a plurality of the electorate favoring him, declared that he had a "mandate." Doing virtually no historic research of his own and with no long-term plan he had somehow decided, even before 9/11, to take over Iraq, never realizing that he would be handing it over to Iran. Never realizing the significance of the Sunni / Shiite conflict, he compounded the problem by putting the psychological equivalent of the "Three Stooges," Rove, Rumsfeld, and Cheney, in charge of the situation- three apparent, by definition, sociopaths, who, unlike Bush, cared more about money than national and world security.
Bush's chief character flaw seemed to be trusting all the wrong people instead of his own father. His claim that he consulted "a higher father" instead, is a troubling subject for another day. However, suffice it to say that even with the ill-conceived invasion of Iraq, without the Three Stooges' inept and corrupt handling of the Iraq war and occupation, there probably would be no ISIS.
President Obama seems to present a much different set of character flaws. Pleasant and erudite, ironically, he is the most "presidential" of our recent chief executives, well liked and, despite Republican criticism, well respected abroad. Of course, Putin, Assad, and various dictators are critical of him and Netanyahu pouts and is just as critical of him as he is of anyone who doesn't give him his way. Obama seems to spend too much time trying to be appreciated. In doing so, he never took control of his own party. One of the best orators of his time, he never took his bully pulpit, which seems to be the reason for permitting Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid (I once referred to them as the "political harlot and the political half wit," something I will not apologize for at this time), to take over his job as head of the Democratic party. Mired in pointless intellectual dilemmas, he has permitted lesser lights to influence decisions that he needed to make on his own.
It seems that Mr. Obama, the intellectual, purposely avoided the investigation of the worst of the Bush-era decisions, the illegal political prosecutions, fixed elections, five million illegal emails between the White House and Karl Rove purposely destroyed, honoring the Bush administration's deal with an Iranian government in Iraq to remove our troops whenever they felt like it, even though they had violated their part of the agreement by persecuting the Sunnis! Bush may have been instrumental in the creation of ISIS, but Obama helped strengthen it by agreeing to prematurely withdraw our troops from Iraq. He ended up with the best deal he could with Iran under the circumstances because the banks would no longer honor sanctions against Iran. However, despite the fact that he made a better deal than Bush could have made in the bank bailout, the terms were still far too weak, apparently enabling the banks to prematurely force a deal with Iran.
It remains to be seen as to how seriously Mr. Obama's (ironically) conservative approach to the protection of both U.S. sovereign immunity as well as virtual immunity for both elected politicians and appointed members of the judiciary and the "Justice" Department will affect the legitimate function of a "rigged" system. So far, by defending the Saudi's sovereign immunity against the right to be sued, he was defending the immunity of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Karl Rove and many others, not only from being sued, but even from being tried as international war criminals. Even more important is the ultimate impotence of Mr. Obama's campaign promises to go after certain political lobbies, specifically those which are most influential in the very "rigging" of the system. This can only be done by a president who was not dependent on huge lobby donations. Obama, through Howard Dean's finance techniques, was not really dependent on lobbies. However, by turning his administration over to lesser elected officials, by not talking directly to the members of both parties and the common people and by maintaining the corrupt "Justice Department" of his predecessors, he leaves whatever is left of this country in hands of the same lobby-infested Congress in which he found it.
Mr. Obama, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and a host of other enablers have succeeded in electing Mr. Trump, the first populist president, I would guess, since Andrew Jackson. My patients, of course, kept warning me. If it is any consolation to those who dislike Mr. Trump, he is probably a good deal more intelligent than was Jackson, but just as ignorant about what goes on in Washington and the rest of the world. Hopefully he is wiser. He needs to be held accountable for his promise to wage war on the Washington lobbies. Good Luck Folks!Al Finkelstein (Ofinky) 11/25/16