Human Trafficking

28 12 2009

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

Lots of Americans may not know that human trafficking exists in the Twenty-First Century, much less in their hometowns and where they work.  The Kansas City Star has a fine article on the subject entitled, “U.S. system to find, help victims of trafficking is broken,” which everyone should read.  It is an eye-opener; however, it merely touches on one of the greatest tragedies in the world today, which must be dealt with and eradicated.

In comments following the article, I wrote:

This is a terrific article; and its authors, Mike McGraw and Laura Bauer, are to be congratulated on such fine reporting.  Seldom have I seen an excellent piece of investigative reporting about this subject of such importance.

Years ago I read an article about a Korean girl who began as a “comfort woman” for the Japanese military during World War II.  She and other women traveled with the military, and were forced to provide non-stop sex to Japanese soldiers.  Toward the end of the war, somehow she escaped and made her way back to Korea where her family disowned her because of the shame that she had caused them.  She married, to an abusive husband, and finally left that marriage and found happiness with another Korean man.

Also, I read an article about a woman in the former Yugoslavia who was caught up in the fighting there, and lost both her husband and son, and ended up in a refugee camp.  There, she and other women were told about opportunities to become secretaries across the Adriatic in Bari, Italy where I have been years ago.  When she arrived, she and the other women were forced into prostitution.  Only when the Italian police raided the house where she was enslaved did she escape.

There are approximately 50,000 human slaves in the U.S., and more than a million worldwide.  It is so tragic, yet little or nothing is being done about it, which is why this article is so important.

I brought the issue to the attention of someone who is very close to President Obama’s two top campaign chiefs, and never heard back from him on the subject.

I include my comments here, not because they contain great wisdom, but because it is the easiest means of highlighting an issue of enormous importance.  Every year we read about lots of cases here in the U.S., where children are kidnapped and never found again.  Clearly, the case of Jaycee Lee Dugard, an 11-year-old girl who was kidnapped from South Lake Tahoe in 1991, and who was found alive recently, riveted national attention.  She was kept as a sex slave[2]; however, her story is not unique.  There are lots of women like her in the United States and elsewhere in the world today.  Men are victims as well, as Mike McGraw and Laura Bauer have discussed in their article.

Too often when we hear of such stories, we think that it could never touch our lives or the lives of our loved ones or friends.  Tragically, that is what Jaycee Lee Dugard’s family thought; and the same was true of the family of Elizabeth Smart whose kidnapping occurred on June 5, 2002, when she was abducted from her Salt Lake City, Utah bedroom at the age of 14.  She was found nine months later, after having been held as a sex slave too.[3]

While there are issues galore facing Americans today (e.g., the economy, national security, wars), human trafficking cannot be one that is shunted aside and forgotten.  It is too important.

© 2009, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Mr. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass), the first black senator since Reconstruction after the U.S. Civil War.  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates (www.naegele.com).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years.  See, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles

[2] See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kidnapping_of_Jaycee_Lee_Dugard

[3] See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Smart





Obama In Afghanistan: Doomed From The Start?

26 12 2009

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

At the same time that President Obama announced the deployment of an additional 30,000 American troops to Afghanistan, he said the U.S. would begin pulling out by July of 2011—just before his reelection campaign begins in earnest, and only one year after our forces will have been deployed fully.  It is a political decision, and tantamount to conceding the country to our enemies sometime that year.  The president’s decisions are not surprising because he is an anti-war politician who never served in the U.S. military, and he knows nothing about running a war.  His plans are designed to appease his political soul mates and constituency, America’s anti-war far-Left.

His “dithering” for months now has undermined the support of our allies, and sent a clear signal to our enemies that he is weak and indecisive, and America is too.  The halfway measures of his new Afghan policies will not satisfy the American political Left or Right, our allies or the Afghan people—whose suffering will continue.  However, the president will have pleased our enemies, especially when he is focused on an “exit strategy” instead of winning.  It is disturbing to watch him pathetically try to micro-manage the war in Afghanistan from the White House.[2] Indeed, it smacks of Lyndon Johnson’s tragic handling of the Vietnam War that resulted in the senseless deaths of more than 58,000 Americans, and more than 150,000 who were wounded[3]; and the end of his presidency.

We began in Afghanistan militarily shortly after 9/11, and were successful in taking over the country and ousting the Taliban.  The poppy crops should have been eradicated then, so the worldwide supply of heroin would have been reduced dramatically.  The Associated Press reported on November 23, 2009: “The poppy crop in Afghanistan, which produces 90 percent of the world’s supply of opium, is linked to corruption, addiction and a drug trade that bankrolls the Taliban insurgency.”  Opium poppies are the raw ingredient in making heroin.

We should not have turned our attention to Iraq until Afghanistan was stabilized fully.  Because we directed our resources to Iraq, Afghanistan was allowed to “languish” and the Taliban were permitted to regain traction.  We have made great strides in helping the long-suffering women of Afghanistan, and that must not cease or be neglected.  Afghanistan is important to us strategically as well, because the Taliban “straddle” both Afghanistan and Pakistan; and if Afghanistan falls, Pakistan might descend into unfathomable chaos, with its nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of our enemies.

President Obama is a far-Left neophyte who is in the process of presiding over a failed presidency, which is likely to get worse with the passage of time.  General David Petraeus and other leaders in our military chain of command have endorsed General Stanley McChrystal’s requests for more troops, which according to reports involve far more than 40,000.  The president should let the military handle Afghanistan, and allow General McChrystal to do his job.

Obama has not been successful at running anything, ever; and it is unlikely that Afghanistan will be an exception.  At best he is a failed “community organizer” from Chicago, who was raised in Hawaii and Indonesia.  Just read his book, “Dreams from My Father”—which is a real eye opener—if you have any doubts.[4] His beliefs are premised on naïveté and defeat, as well as the notion that the U.S. cannot send additional troops without a plan for getting them out.  For example, the Washington Post quotes White House officials as stating: “[Obama’s] desired end state in Afghanistan envisions more informal local security arrangements than in Iraq, a less-capable national government and a greater tolerance of insurgent violence.”[5]

This is a prescription for defeat, and it sends precisely the wrong message to our enemies, who will simply wait for Obama to get weaker and for America to leave Afghanistan.  It will result in the shedding of American blood and that of our allies for nothing, like Vietnam.  Former Vice President Dick Cheney is correct when he says that the average Afghan citizen “sees talk about exit strategies and how soon we can get out, instead of talk about how we win.  Those folks . . . begin to look for ways to accommodate their enemies.  They’re worried the United States isn’t going to be there much longer and the bad guys are.”

President Obama is correct that the people of Afghanistan have endured violence for decades, which makes his exit strategy of one year after deployment so unrealistic.  A year passes in the flash of an eye; and it is not long enough to make a difference in Afghanistan.  Just imagine Franklin Delano Roosevelt saying that he would not commit U.S. troops to the war against Hitler in Europe, or the war against Japan in the Pacific, unless he had an exit strategy in place and operating one year after they were deployed.  Thank God that Obama was not in charge of the D-Day invasion of Europe, or other decision-making in World War II.  Hitler would have won, and Europe (including the UK) would be speaking German.

More and more Americans are realizing that Obama is a mistake, even though he is personable, intelligent and certainly a fine speaker.  The highly-respected Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll—for December 24, 2009—shows that 43 percent of U.S. voters Strongly Disapprove of the way Obama is performing his role as president, while 27 percent Strongly Approve, giving him a negative Presidential Approval Index rating of -16.[6] That speaks volumes about where Obama and America are heading.

The president’s Afghan policies are doomed from the start because he is not sending enough troops to succeed; he has set an unrealistic exit date; Al Qaeda and the Taliban will be active and aggressive in Afghanistan long after Obama exits politics; he will not be able to hold even his own party together with respect to this issue; and like Vietnam for Lyndon Johnson, Afghanistan may prove to be Obama’s political undoing—apart from the economy, ObamaCare, national security and other vital issues.  Since when does an anti-war far-Left community organizer know how to run a war, much less successfully?

© 2009, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Mr. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass), the first black senator since Reconstruction after the U.S. Civil War.  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates (www.naegele.com).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years.  See, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles

[2] See, e.g., http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/25/AR2009122501923_pf.html

[3] See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_casualties_of_war

[4] See Obama, “Dreams from My Father” (paperback “Revised Edition,” published by Three Rivers Press, 2004); see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/is-barack-obama-a-racist/

[5] See infra n.2.

[6] See http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obama_administration/daily_presidential_tracking_poll





Is Redemption Possible For Tiger Woods?

17 12 2009

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

Aside from his porn “stars,” escorts and other bimbos, the issue that may totally destroy Tiger Woods is drug use and abuse, with respect to which rumors have been swirling since his “accident.”

One of America’s finest sports writers, Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times, has a lead story dated December 16, 2009[2], in which he asserts that Tiger’s credibility—already eroded by marital infidelity—could evaporate entirely if there is fire to go along with the smoke generated by his reported link to a doctor who promotes performance-enhancing drugs such as HGH.  Plaschke’s comments about the alleged linkage echo a report by the New York Times.

As Plaschke writes: “If a guy is a chronic cheater off the course, what kind of leap is required to believe he could be the same sort of cheater on the course?”  The doctor, Anthony Galea, is apparently under a joint U.S.-Canadian investigation for providing athletes with such performance-enhancing drugs.  One of the athletes that has been under Galea’s care is Tiger, who was visited “at least four times” at his Florida home by the doctor.

Plaschke adds: “The public thinks, if there’s even a chance [Tiger is] guilty of running a harem while married with two young children, there’s a chance he could be guilty of anything.  Once we realize we don’t know him, then we stop trusting him.  And once we stop trusting him, then he becomes vulnerable to people ignoring the amazing flight of his ball and concentrating on the unsettling size of his neck”—a reference to the size of disgraced baseball star Barry Bonds’ neck.

Bonds is a central figure in baseball’s steroids scandal; and his agent pronounced his playing career dead on December 10, 2009, saying it is essentially impossible for Bonds to find work in baseball heading into 2010.  Today, Bonds is remembered not only for his home runs and All-Star Games and Most Valuable Player awards, but also for a federal indictment that accuses him of lying to a grand jury about knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.

Plaschke notes with respect to Tiger: “You know what’s really recklessly irresponsible?  Dealing with a doctor who has a history of using and prescribing the banned HGH substance, that’s what.”  Clearly Tiger is a sick human being.  No “happily-married man” who cavorts with porn stars and other women with savory reputations—much less in his own home—is anything less.

His popularity is plummeting, according to the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll.[3] Since admitting to “infidelity,” his “favorable” rating dropped to 33 percent in the latest poll versus 85 percent from his last poll in June 2005.  His “unfavorable” rating climbed to 57 percent from 8 percent four years ago.  Tiger posted the highest popularity rating in poll history, 88 percent, when Gallup first measured him in 2000.  The swing is the largest drop between consecutive measurements since Gallup began tracking it in 1992, according to its managing editor.

The results of the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll are similar to those of the latest highly-respected Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey—announced on December 9, 2009[4]—which found that just 38 percent of Americans now have a favorable opinion of Tiger.  That is down from 56 percent, shortly after the stories first broke about his auto accident.  Two years ago, 83 percent had a favorable opinion of him.

It is not surprising that women take a harsher view of him as well.  Golf has been predominantly a men’s sport until recent years, and most women—certainly those who do not play or follow golf—probably view him as nothing more than another highly-paid athlete who got caught cheating on his wife.  What is so tragic is that golf gave Tiger an opportunity to rise to its zenith; and he has abused his family, friends, fans, sponsors, and the sport itself.

Tiger has trashed the sport of golf like no other player in its history.  Every American golf pro and others who earn a living from the sport worldwide will be hurt by his conduct.  His golf swing cannot be separated from his reckless life style.  He is a global disgrace.  However, golf will live through the Tiger Woods era and survive.  American golf existed long before anyone heard of him, and it will exist long after he is gone and nothing more than entries in the record books like Barry Bonds.

Tiger and his handlers have devised the ruse of a “hiatus” from golf because they want people to beg him to stay in the game.  An acquaintance of mine has noted: 

”It’s a shrewd political move.  It makes him sympathetic.  It makes the public and the PGA beg for his return.  His alleged ‘indefinite’ leave from the game is no such thing, nor is it designed so he can ‘work on his family issues.’  Rather it’s a cynical way to try to regain favor with the public.”

For many of us, Tiger was never a hero—just a gladiator or human “machine” that his father had fashioned, much like the gladiators who were trained for combat in ancient Rome.  Hence, we feel neither disillusioned nor betrayed, because Tiger is akin to so many other celebrities and politicians of our times, who have unbelievable feet of clay and should not be role models for anyone.  Regrettably, lots of people of all different ages apparently needed a hero and found one in Tiger.

Many of us have enjoyed the game of golf before Tiger came on the scene, where he was certainly dominant at times.  Vijay Singh and other fine golfers excelled too, and many of us applauded them, not Tiger.  What none of us really knew was that Tiger is a fraud and a sick human being, as well as the hedonistic version of the “American dream” gone haywire.

There are reports that Elin has decided to leave him after Christmas, and that she is already talking with one or more divorce lawyers.  Apparently she wants the holiday season to appear normal for her children, but will separate from him early in the New Year.  Tiger is an uncontrollable narcissist who will never change, nor can he be “fixed” by Elin or anyone else.  His marriage seems doomed regardless of what he does, which should not come as a surprise to anyone.

Bill Plaschke has noted: “As the public leaves him, so do advertisers, with global consulting firm Accenture PLC completely dumping him and Gillette pulling his commercials indefinitely.” Accenture’s termination of Tiger is presumably based on a “morals clause” in his contract.  With Gillette and AT&T phasing him out of their ads as well, which means they are dumping him—after Gatorade has dropped him already—the rest of his sponsors may follow suit.

Plaschke adds: “Woods won’t just lose all his endorsements—when was the last time you saw Barry Bonds selling anything?—but he’ll also lose his last bastion of support, his galleries.  Even those guys wearing plaid pants and [smoking] fat cigars don’t much tolerate golf cheats.  If golf fans go nuts when they think a guy is using a juiced driver, imagine what they’ll think about a juiced body.”

Also, there are reports that Team Tiger is coming apart, and that those who have guided his career in recent years may be dropped.  The real “hustlers” of Tiger are Steve Williams, his caddie; Bryon Bell, president of Tiger Woods Design; Mark Steinberg, his manager; and the other leeches who have made their living from him and knew exactly what was happening but kept taking his money.

Williams has said: “What people fail to realise is I [just] work for Tiger Woods  . . .  I am not with him 24/7.  . . .  When he is not competing, I am back in New Zealand.  I have no knowledge of what he is doing . . . .”  Williams claims the scandal has caused strife in his own marriage—perhaps because he lied to his wife like Tiger lied to Elin.

Bell allegedly arranged for the trip to Australia of Tiger’s bimbo, Rachel Uchitel, to join him at the Australian Open.  He even paid for her ticket and accompanied her on the flight.  Steinberg has been Tiger’s agent for 12 years, and the likelihood that he did not know what was happening is slim to none.  Moreover, any notion that these men failed to spot the trouble as it was developing, of course, is naïve and a fantasy.  If anything, it is likely that one or more of them served as high-class procurers or pimps for the golf legend.

When all is said and done, the media made Tiger a celebrity, and sadly it is unmaking him now.

© 2009, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Mr. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee; and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass), the first black senator since Reconstruction after the U.S. Civil War.  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates (www.naegele.com).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years.  See, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles

[2] See, e.g., http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-plaschke16-2009dec16,0,3987424,full.column

[3] See, e.g., http://www.usatoday.com/sports/golf/2009-12-14-tiger-woods-gallup-poll_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip

[4] See, e.g., http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/lifestyle/sports/december_2009/tiger_woods_favorables_fall_to_38





The Great Depression II?

16 12 2009

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

It is being asserted these days that “[h]ome-building is so far down it has nowhere to go but up,” which is patently absurd.  Such nonsense was preached after 1929 too, and those who believed it probably bid on a bridge in Brooklyn as well.  The U.S. economy as well as economies around the world have been going through wrenching experiences already, but much more is likely.  Home prices have fallen substantially, though there will be relatively brief respites from the downward trend, such as we are witnessing now.

Anyone who thinks that the bottom is close to being reached, or that the so-called “Stimulus Package” devised by Team Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress will solve the problems, has never taken a college course in economic history.  It took years for the housing bubble to reach its staggering proportions; and when it burst, an economic tsunami was released that has been rolling worldwide with devastating effects, stretching well into the next decade.  The Great Depression did not end until the onset of World War II; and the painful experiences that the U.S. and other global economies are witnessing today may take just as long.

The bailout legislation helped Wall Street, the banks, GM and Chrysler, home builders, and others, but there has been no relief for the American people, and they know it in spades.  There are lots of rude awakenings yet to come, both in the U.S. and abroad.  Barack Obama remains euphorically optimistic, but neither he nor the leaders of other countries can hold back an economic tsunami; and Americans are realizing more and more that he has lied to them.

Vernon L. Smith, Nobel Laureate in Economics, and Steven Gjerstad have written: “The events of the past 10 years have an eerie similarity to the period leading up to the Great Depression.”  Years from now, economic historians may look back at this era and conclude that global market forces ultimately determined the depth and duration of the economic meltdown, not the politicians in Washington or anywhere else.  The tsunami that was released when the housing bubble burst may not run its course until about 2017-2019, and its effects will be devastating worldwide.

While U.S. politicians and their counterparts in other countries have been trying to convince their electorates that they have the answers, they are simply holding out false hopes that real solutions are at hand; and Americans are in the process of realizing this as the elections of 2010 and 2012 approach.  America and other nations are in uncharted waters; and their politicians are facing backlashes from disillusioned and angry constituents that will be unprecedented in modern times.

The latest highly-respected Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey—which was released on December 14, 2009—found that just 40 percent of American voters favor the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats.  Fifty-six percent of Americans oppose it, which is the highest level of opposition found in six months of polling.  Perhaps more significantly, 46 percent of U.S. voters Strongly Oppose the plan, compared with 19 percent who Strongly Favor it.  Yet, Obama and the Democrats are in the process of trying to shove it down the throats of Americans.

Obama’s poll numbers have been falling like a rock.  The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for December 15, 2009, shows that 26 percent of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way he is performing his role as president.  However, 41 percent Strongly Disapprove, giving him a negative Presidential Approval Index rating of -15.  Tragically, the legacies of former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan—who is to blame for the domestic and global economic meltdown[2]—Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress will haunt the United States and the American people for generations to come, as the economic tsunami continues to roll worldwide.[3]

ObamaCare, which the American people strongly oppose, Obama’s war in Afghanistan and his failing economic policies, and his failure as a president may cost the Democrats both houses of Congress and change the course of American history.

© 2009, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Mr. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee; and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass), the first black senator since Reconstruction after the U.S. Civil War.  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates (www.naegele.com).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years.  See, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles

[2] See, e.g., http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/173_212/-365185-1.html

[3] See, e.g., http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/tms/politics/2009/Apr/08/euphoria_or_the_obama_depression_.html





Is Barack Obama A Racist?

5 12 2009

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]


As the first year since Barack Obama’s election as president passes into history, it is worthwhile to read (or reread) and reflect on his “Dreams from My Father,” which was first published in 1995, when he was 33 years old.  In his preface to the 2004 edition—only a scant five years ago, when the book was republished—he does not disavow or even soften his often-harsh sentiments at all.  However, he does mention that his mother died of cancer right after the book was first published; and in retrospect, he might not have written the same book about an “absent parent,” his father, but instead might have celebrated her life.[2] He loved her, and writes: “[S]he was the kindest, most generous spirit I have ever known, and . . . what is best in me I owe to her.”[3]

The book is still relevant and instructive today because it provides a window into his core beliefs—unfiltered by aides or the pandering to voters that so often takes place when a politician is running for public office.  These core beliefs came into being many years before we heard his name or knew how to pronounce it; and they are being reflected in his actions and policies that affect each of us.  Also, the book warrants a careful reexamination at this juncture in his presidency, when a growing number of Americans are having second thoughts or “buyers’ remorse” about the man in the White House.

Barack Obama is not his Kenyan father, nor his mother.  Perhaps he comes closest to being his maternal grandparents, “Toot” and “Gramps.”  They loved him dearly and nourished him when he was growing up as a “half-breed”—his term, not mine[4]—caught between two cultures, one white and the other non-white. He writes lovingly about his grandparents: “They had sacrificed again and again for me.  They had poured all their lingering hopes into my success.  Never had they given me reason to doubt their love; I doubted if they ever would.”[5] Later, he would write: “I looked out the window, thinking about my mother, Toot, and Gramps, and how grateful I was to them—for who they were. . . .”[6]

Because of his looks and not his parentage or lineage, he made a conscious decision to be black.  Once he made it, he seemed to put the white world behind him and to identify with the “victimization” of blacks.  For example, he writes: “[T]o admit our doubt and confusion to whites, to open up our psyches to general examination by those who had caused so much of the damage in the first place, seemed ludicrous, itself an expression of self-hatred—for there seemed no reason to expect that whites would look at our private struggles as a mirror into their own souls, rather than yet more evidence of black pathology.”[7] In these and other similar statements, he evidenced how far he had traveled from the white world of his mother and her parents who raised him.

The transformation seems to have started when young “Barry” Obama returned to Hawaii from Indonesia, where he had been living with his mother and her second husband, to live with her parents and enroll at Honolulu’s elite, ethnically and culturally diverse Punahou School—where his sense that he “didn’t belong continued to grow.”[8] He began hanging around and identifying with the few black Punahou students and other black teenagers “whose confusion and anger would help shape [his] own.”[9] He writes about loneliness that made him want to run “back into the sort of pain a boy could understand,”[10] and he speaks about “the sense of abandonment [he’d] felt as a boy.”[11] Also, he writes that he was “trying to raise [himself] to be a black man in America,”[12] and “living out a caricature of black male adolescence, itself a caricature of swaggering American manhood.”[13]

It was during this time that he developed a “ledger of slights.”[14] He adds: “I learned to slip back and forth between my black and white worlds, understanding that each possessed its own language and customs and structures of meaning, convinced that with a bit of translation on my part the two worlds would eventually cohere.”[15] Still at Punahou, he would recall: “[T]he only thing you could choose as your own was withdrawal into a smaller and smaller coil of rage, until being black meant only the knowledge of your own powerlessness, of your own defeat.  And the final irony: Should you refuse this defeat and lash out at your captors, they would have a name for that, too, a name that could cage you just as good.  Paranoid.  Militant.  Violent.  Nigger.”[16]

One wonders whether on some level Obama thought in those terms about the whites who made his future successes possible?  If not, why was he choosing to identify so much with the “victimization” of blacks and with anti-white feelings?  Is that the anger he “inherited” from his Kenyan father with multiple wives, who was a stern disciplinarian and loved him so much that the father spent only one month of his life with young Barry when he was 10 years old[17], and effectively abandoned him the rest of the time?  In his own words, he reflects on his feelings as that 10-year-old when his father visited Hawaii: “I began to count the days until my father would leave and things would return to normal.”[18] Also, he acknowledges his anger.[19]

Later, in Kenya, he realizes what his life might have been like when he views a photo album of his father’s third wife and their family.  “They were happy scenes, all of them, and all strangely familiar, as if I were glimpsing some alternative universe that had played itself out behind my back.  . . .  Here it was, I thought, what might have been.  And the recognition of how wrong it had all turned out . . . made me so sad that after only a few minutes I had to look away.”[20] However, he expresses great love for his father too, and places him on a pedestal at times[21]—and there is mention of the fact that his father was highly educated, generous and never held a grudge.[22] There is no claim or insinuation that his father was a racist; and his mother certainly was not a racist.[23]

At Occidental College in Los Angeles, Obama hung out with blacks too[24], but seemed to mellow somewhat.  He writes: “I had stumbled upon one of the well-kept secrets about black people: that most of us weren’t interested in revolt; that most of us were tired of thinking about race all the time. . . .”[25] In writing about a young multiracial student named Joyce, he quotes her as saying: “It’s not white people who are making me choose.  Maybe it used to be that way, but now they’re willing to treat me like a person.  No—it’s black people who always have to make everything racial.  They’re the ones making me choose.”[26] Yet, Obama rejects her beliefs, and allies himself with others who are “alienated.”[27] He seems to mellow somewhat again by admitting: “My identity might begin with the fact of my race, but it didn’t, couldn’t, end there.”[28]

When he arrived in New York City to attend Columbia University, he became “Barack” as opposed to “Barry,”[29] and he asked rhetorically: “Where do I belong?”[30] Also, he asked: “Did any of us [know where we belonged]?  Where were the fathers, the uncles and grandfathers, who could help explain this gash in our hearts?”[31] Leaving a theater in New York with his mother and half-sister Maya, he observed: “The emotions between the races could never be pure. . . .  Whether we sought out our demons or salvation, the other race would always remain just that: menacing, alien, and apart.”[32] Later, in writing about his times in Chicago and the stories he had heard from the black leadership, Obama says: “They had arisen out of a very particular experience with hate.  That hate hadn’t gone away; it formed a counternarrative buried deep within each person and at the center of which stood white people—some cruel, some ignorant, sometimes a single face, sometimes just a faceless image of a system claiming power over our lives.”[33]

Yet, as he was about to embark on his life in Chicago (before attending law school), he reflected: “[T]his community I imagined was still in the making, built on the promise that the larger American community, black, white, and brown, could somehow redefine itself—I believed that it might, over time, admit the uniqueness of my own life.”[34] And it has, as our first non-white American president.  While commenting on his work in Chicago, however, he concludes: “If [black] nationalism could create a strong and effective insularity, deliver on its promise of self-respect, then the hurt it might cause well-meaning whites, or the inner turmoil it caused people like me, would be of little consequence.”[35] In discussing the difficulties facing black businesses, he mentions “the leg up that your [white] competitors possessed after having kept you out of the game for over three hundred years”[36]—again, the issue of black victimization.

What is perhaps most striking is that he never expounds on any religious beliefs or spirituality, much less a belief in God.  However, the book spans so much of his life—and his formative years—and deals with almost every other subject imaginable that one could think or write about.  Perhaps the closest he comes to dealing with the subject may be reflected in the following comments: “I remained a reluctant skeptic, doubtful of my own motives, wary of expedient conversion, having too many quarrels with God to accept a salvation too easily won.”[37] Also, when he and his Kenyan half-sister Auma are on a safari, he listens to their Kikuyu driver sing a hymn at night while Obama is walking back to his tent, and he writes: “I felt I understood Francis’s plaintive song, imagining it transmitting upward, through the clear black night, directly to God.”[38] One is left to wonder about his beliefs, and whether his attendance at churches in subsequent years may be for political reasons, and calculated, which is true of many politicians.

Other issues raised in the book include:

  • What would have become of Obama’s life if he had gotten hooked on the illegal drugs he was taking?  For example, he writes: “Junkie.  Pothead.  That’s where I’d been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man.”[39]
  • To what extent has he has been successful at anything other than writing, speaking, campaigning, politics and getting elected—being a professional politician?  For example, the book evidences few significant accomplishments as a “community organizer.”  Indeed, he writes: “When classmates in college asked me just what it was that a community organizer did, I couldn’t answer them directly.  Instead, I’d pronounce on the need for change.  Change in the White House, where Reagan and his minions were carrying on their dirty deeds.  Change in the Congress, compliant and corrupt.”[40] Also, he accomplished nothing memorable in the U.S. Senate during the short time he was actually there.
  • How his socialist and anti-capitalist views are reshaping America, and the damage that may result?  His biases are reflected in the book.  For example, in New York City before he moved to Chicago for the first time, he went to work as a research assistant at a consulting house to multinational corporations, where he recalled feeling like “a spy behind enemy lines.”[41] That spy effectively “owns” General Motors, Chrysler and major American banks and other business entities; and he has not hesitated to dictate to them—including that GM’s CEO be removed and what cars the company is to make in the future.  History is replete with the names of other world leaders who have tried to run areas of economic and societal activity, without having any knowledge[42], and they have failed.
  • How to address the sense of black victimization that is reflected in so much of his book?  For example, by way of contrasting the attitudes of various American minority groups including Asians, he cites a black man who says: “I guess we worked so long for nothing, we feel like we shouldn’t have to break our backs just to survive.  That’s what we tell our children anyway.”[43]
  • Whom will Obama blame if his popularity fades (e.g., because of perceived narcissistic arrogance and incompetence) and his presidency fails?  Since he and his party control the White House and Congress, the buck stops with him; and sooner or later, he may come to be viewed by a majority of Americans as the problem, not the solution.  Will he handle his descent from “Mount Olympus” gracefully, or will his fall from grace be a tumultuous one?
  • What scandals will unfold involving his life and administration, such as the federal funding of organizations like ACORN that have engaged in massive voter fraud or other criminal activities?  Ultimately, will Obama be ensnared in a web, politically and legally—a victim of the very need for change that he has preached for so many years?  He writes: “Real change [is] . . . an extension of my personal will and my mother’s faith. . . .”[44]
  • Former Senator Edward W. Brooke, the first black U.S. Senator since Reconstruction, was a trailblazer too; however, he did not try to change America because of any deep-seated hatred of whites or our capitalist system.  After reading “Dreams from My Father,” most Americans will have few if any doubts why Obama associated with and befriended Weather Underground co-founder Bill Ayers and Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.  Their radical views seem consistent with his.
  • The messianic adoration of Obama is reminiscent of John F. Kennedy, his presidency and sycophants.  What will we learn about Barack Obama in the future?  If he has feet of clay too[45], how will that factor alone manifest itself and affect America and its role in the world, and the fates and fortunes of individual Americans?  Also, will our adversaries (e.g., North Korea, Al Qaeda, Iran, Russia, China) determine he is weak and naïve, and hurt our great nation deeply, capitalizing on that naïveté?

Because Obama does not appear to be religious, one wonders whether he has the courage, depth and capacity to provide the moral authority and spiritual vision and leadership to guide America and its culturally rich and diverse people through truly perilous times?  Jimmy Carter was a man of God, yet he failed.  Carter did not have feet of clay though.  If Obama’s goal is to grow government, his naïveté knows no bounds.  Having worked in and with the federal government for 21 years nonstop, I believe the only agency of government that is remotely efficient and effective is the Pentagon and our military, which have been performing magnificently.

In writing about a young black organizer named Rafiq aka Wally Thompson, Obama says: “[H]e was less interested in changing the rules of power than in the color of those who had it and who therefore enjoyed its spoils.”[46] Is that what Obama is all about too?  Before he left Chicago for Kenya, he observed: “[N]otions of purity—of race or of culture—could no more serve as the basis for the typical black American’s self-esteem than it could for mine.”[47] That seems to have been an awakening for him.  Also, he came face to face with the realities of his father as a man: “It was into my father’s image, the black man, son of Africa, that I’d packed all the attributes I sought in myself. . . .   Now, . . . that image had suddenly vanished.  Replaced by . . . what?  A bitter drunk?  An abusive husband?  A defeated, lonely bureaucrat?  To think that all my life I had been wrestling with nothing more than a ghost!  . . .  Whatever I do, it seems, I won’t do much worse than he did.”[48]

En route to Kenya, he referred to himself as “a Westerner not entirely at home in the West, an African on his way to a land full of strangers.”[49] He grew up in Hawaii, Indonesia and then Hawaii again, which are hardly the “heartland” of America, so his experiences were different than those of most Americans.  It is arguable that he had not assimilated fully into the American “culture,” and that his father’s absence from his life—as well as his mother’s absences—contributed to his sense of abandonment and anger.  In trying to find his “identity,” he had immersed himself in the writings of people who were “alienated” as well, and he embraced those lessons.  He adds: “Stripped of . . . the racial obsessions to which I’d become so accustomed and which I had taken (perversely) as a sign of my own maturation[,] I had been forced to look inside myself and had found only a great emptiness there.  . . .  What if . . . [my father’s] leaving me behind meant nothing, and the only tie that bound me to him, or to Africa, was a name, a blood type, or white people’s scorn?”[50]

In Kenya, his alienation is reflected once again when he characterizes other tourists as expressing “a confidence reserved for those born into imperial cultures.”[51] Also, throughout the book, he expresses his intense dislike for “colonialism,” which is perhaps summarized by his thoughts as he rides a train and imagines how a British officer might have felt on its maiden voyage: “Would he have felt a sense of triumph, a confidence that the guiding light of Western civilization had finally penetrated the African darkness?  Or did he feel a sense of foreboding, a sudden realization that the entire enterprise was an act of folly, that this land and its people would outlast imperial dreams?”[52] Yet, he tells his Kenyan aunts: “We’re all part of one tribe.  The black tribe.  The human tribe.”[53]

In terms of his presidency, his comments about the late black Chicago Mayor Harold Washington’s last campaign are interesting and instructive: “The business community sent him their checks, resigned to his presence.  So secure was his power that rumblings of discontent had finally surfaced within his own base, among black nationalists upset with his willingness to cut whites and Hispanics into the action, among activists disappointed with his failure to tackle poverty head-on, and among people who preferred the dream to the reality, impotence to compromise.”[54] Will Obama’s presidency and legacy follow a similar pattern: doing enough to mollify his base, while reaching out to others in an effort to broaden that base and seek his reelection and the election of a Democrat majority in Congress during the years ahead?

Early in the book, he is careful to point out: “I wouldn’t do anything stupid.  It was usually an effective tactic, another one of those tricks I had learned: People were satisfied so long as you were courteous and smiled and made no sudden moves.”[55] Perhaps those words encapsulate his political life, his campaign for the presidency, and how he is governing and hopes to survive the global economic meltdown, national security challenges and growing constituent anger, while trying to change the essence of America.

In the final analysis, will he be viewed as a fad and a feckless naïf, and a tragic Shakespearean figure who is forgotten and consigned to the dustheap of history?  Will his naïveté have been matched by his overarching narcissism, and will he be considered more starry-eyed and “dangerous” than Jimmy Carter?  Will his presidency be considered a sad watershed in history?  Or will he succeed and prove his detractors wrong, and be viewed as the “anointed one” and a true political “messiah”?  Even Abraham Lincoln was never accorded such accolades, much less during his lifetime.  And Barack Obama’s core beliefs are light years away from those of Ronald Reagan.

© 2009, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Mr. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee; and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass), the first black senator since Reconstruction after the U.S. Civil War.  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates (www.naegele.com).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years.  See, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles

[2] Obama, “Dreams from My Father” (paperback “Revised Edition,” published by Three Rivers Press, 2004), pp. xi-xii.

[3] Id. at xii.

[4] Id. at 100.

[5] Id. at 89.

[6] Id. at 343.

[7] Id. at 193.

[8] Id. at 59-60.

[9] Id. at 80.

[10] Id. at 341.

[11] Id. at 430.

[12] Id. at 76.

[13] Id. at 79.

[14] Id. at 80.

[15] Id. at 82.

[16] Id. at 85.

[17] Id. at 125, 342.

[18] Id. at 68.

[19] Id. at 115, 270.

[20] Id. at 342-343.

[21] Id. at 129, 220.

[22] Id. at 220, 336-337.

[23] Id. at 127.

[24] Id. at 98.

[25] Id. at 98.

[26] Id. at 99 (emphasis in original).

[27] Id. at 101.

[28] Id. at 111.

[29] Id. at 118.

[30] Id. at 115; see also p. 199.

[31] Id. at 118.

[32] Id. at 124.

[33] Id. at 195.

[34] Id. at 135.

[35] Id. at 200.

[36] Id. at 201.

[37] Id. at 286-287; see also p. 295.

[38] Id. at 358.

[39] Id. at 93; see also pp. 120, 270.

[40] Id. at 133.

[41] Id. at 135.

[42] For example, Adolf Hitler tried to run his country’s military and other activities; and ultimately, he destroyed everything within his control—including Germany, at least a generation of Germans, and millions of innocent people.

[43] Id. at 182.

[44] Id. at 229.

[45] See, e.g., Thomas C. Reeves’ “A Question of Character: A Life of John F. Kennedy,” and Seymour M. Hersh’s “The Dark Side of Camelot.”

[46] Id. at 202.

[47] Id. at 204.

[48] Id. at 220-221.

[49] Id. at 301.

[50] Id. at 301-302.

[51] Id. at 312.

[52] Id. at 368.

[53] Id. at 348.

[54] Id. at 287.

[55] Id. at 94.