America: A Rich Tapestry Of Life

26 02 2010

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

What makes a country special and, yes, great?  Its land, its people, its history, its culture, its belief systems or its soul?  All of these, and so much more—including intangibles that most of us never think about.  The United States is that country, unlike any other on the Earth.  There is no need for Americans to flaunt it or be arrogant or condescending or aloof.  Those are not the American way.  Deep beneath the surface, there is love for people everywhere, and an appreciation of each person’s God-given gifts and uniqueness.  In a recent interview, I said:

I believe in this country, and I believe in Americans of all colors, faiths and backgrounds.  The United States is the only true melting pot in the world, with its populace representing a United Nations of the world’s peoples.  Yes, we fight and we even discriminate, but when times are tough—like after 9/11—we come together as one nation, which makes this country so great and special.  Also, all of us or our ancestors came here from somewhere else.  Even the American Indians are descended from those who crossed the Bering Strait—or the “Bering land bridge”—according to anthropologists.[2]

Most of us spend a lifetime dealing with issues and challenges that we believe, rightly or wrongly, are not of our own making; and we react accordingly.  Some are big, but most are small and petty, albeit each seems so important at the time.  For example, last night I bought a new Apple iPod on which I loaded music and other data from my laptop, but I could not find the icon on my desktop this morning.  I called Apple’s technical support line, and was routed to a fellow in India.  He was very nice and courteous, but I told him that I wanted to speak with someone in the United States.  When he said that he would let me talk with his supervisor, I thanked him but said no, and hung up and called Apple again.  The same thing happened, so I tried a third time and a very nice woman came on the line named “Abby.”  I detected a slight accent and asked where she was located, and she said the Philippines.  I thought about hanging up a third time, but decided against it.

Abby was delightful, and really tried to help.  Having been an Apple customer for about 20 years, I know how diligently she tried.  Finally, she routed me to “Amy,” who turned out to be located in Boise, Idaho.  Amy was delightful too; and we tried everything, but nothing worked because the “Made in China” iPod is apparently defective and needs to be replaced.  In the course of our discussions, I learned that Amy hailed from California, where I was born and raised.  Having had bad experiences with HP recently—where Amy’s husband has worked—in terms of its nonexistent customer support, I was pleased to tell Amy how I had gone through Apple’s ups and downs, but have been generally quite pleased with its telephone support.  It has kept me in the fold and a loyal Apple customer through thick and thin.  Something struck me in the gut though, about companies like Apple farming out calls to India, the Philippines and other countries.  It just seemed very un-patriotic.  It meant the loss of jobs that might have gone to Americans; and it was the first time that I found Apple doing it.

If I had purchased Apple stock at about $12 per share many years ago, I would have made out like a bandit.  If I had bought stock in Ford when it reached a low of $1.01 in November of 2008, which was not too long ago, I would done very well.  Ford has announced plans to hire more American workers; its new cars are great looking; and their quality is apparently superb.[3] Despite the fact that the U.S. may be in the “doldrums” for the rest of this decade, I have been pleased to tell friends and acquaintances that Ford is back, or so it seems, just like Apple came roaring back.  My first four cars were Fords, before I switched to foreign brands—with two Chevrolets thrown in—and it is nice to think about Ford once again and to have an American automaker to be proud of.  Lots of people are avoiding cars from Barack Obama’s “Government Motors” and Chrysler, and I share their views.

Whether it is a computer-related product or a car or almost anything else in life, there is a newfound pride in buying American that is surfacing in this country.  Will it result in harmful protectionism that sent the global economies into a tailspin during the 1930s?  I do not believe so because at the very least, complicated products like cars and computers often have parts that are made abroad.  However, as times get tougher, Americans and others may buy their own country’s products before turning abroad.  This is human nature; or their decisions may be dictated solely by price not sentiment.  Apple’s iPod and its computers are made in China, but even that might change—although it seems unlikely anytime soon.

In April of 2009, I wrote: “America and other nations are in uncharted waters [economically, politically, and in other ways]; and their politicians may face backlashes from disillusioned and angry constituents that are unprecedented in modern times.”[4] Even harder days are ahead, and politicians may experience electoral “bloodbaths.”  These will be years of taking stock, and of being thankful for the little things—for families and helping others.  The limits of hedonism, godless secularism, and paying homage to the false gods of materialism will become self-evident.  We may opt for simpler lives because we have to, and because we come to like and prefer a return to the basics.

When I decided that I wanted to work on Capitol Hill after spending two years in the Army, rather than rejoin a prestigious San Francisco law firm where I could make more money, I tried to get a job with then-U.S. Senator Alan Cranston from my home State of California.  To my surprise and disappointment, his staff was headed by a fellow from New York who apparently wanted to propel Cranston into the foreign policy arena, and was less interested in hiring Californians like me.  Hence, I pounded the Senate corridors and learned that then-U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke—the first black senator since Reconstruction after the U.S. Civil War, with Barack Obama being the third—was hiring an attorney for the Senate Banking Committee.

I was hired by his chief of staff, Dr. Alton Frye, without ever having met the senator.  I was honored that a white man from California was working for a black man from Massachusetts, but that is how America works.  I went on to write the “Brooke Amendment” relating to public housing; and the national “Housing Allowance” that morphed into the Section 8 housing program, which has helped millions of Americans.  The nicest thing that some people might say about me is that I am “outspoken.”  Ed Brooke put it another way one day, when he said that I lacked “tact.”  Perhaps this is the beauty of being an American.  Each of us can speak our mind on any and every issue, without qualms about doing so.

I criticize President Obama regularly, often in scathing terms, but I almost voted for him.  Even though I disagree with almost everything he does, because I am much more conservative than he will ever be, I would prefer him any day of the week to a leader like Russia’s murderous dictator-for-life Putin.[5] Perhaps I will never forget the way Obama wrote lovingly about his mother and his maternal grandparents, “Toot” and “Gramps,” in his book “Dreams from My Father.”[6] Yet, after working in Washington, D.C. for 21 years nonstop, the one lesson I learned is that government does not work; and the Obama presidency is a shining example of that.  Only the Pentagon—where I spent two years as an Army Officer—and our military are remotely efficient and effective.  The rest of government is a vast “wasteland,”  even though there are good people working at all levels of government.

America is magnificent geographically, whether one thinks about the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite and other breathtaking parks, or its deserts, mountains, lakes, inland waterways and coastlines.  Its metropolitan areas are unparalleled, be it New York City or San Francisco, or thousands of cities and towns in between.  Its people are like a rainbow, with diversity undergirding all.  Its culture is rich because of the many cultures that have been blended into the American experience, which is unique in all the world.  Its belief systems are as varied as there are colors in the rainbow.  And its soul . . . ah yes, its soul . . . embraces the souls of more than 300 million people, woven together into a rich tapestry of life.

When we have decisions to make or feel that we are being called in a particular direction, our strength comes in putting our faith in God within and trusting the guidance we receive through prayer, intuition or love.  As individuals and as a country, we walk by faith not by sight.  Yes, America is great . . . from sea to shining sea—and deep in the Pacific where volcanic peaks of the Hawaiian Islands loom, and in the majestic northernmost reaches of Alaska’s tundra, and in the azure Caribbean too.  God blessed us beyond belief, although we take it for granted much of the time.  Everyone does.  This is human nature.  After all, we are not perfect.  Neither is America.  Only God is.[7]

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele

Statue of Liberty


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal 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 http://www.philstockworld.com/2009/10/11/greenspan’s-legacy-more-suffering-to-come/ and http://seekingalpha.com/instablog/2951-ilene/31177-interview-with-timothy-d-naegele

[3] See, e.g., http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?s=F&a=00&b=3&c=2008&d=01&e=2&f=2010&g=m; see also http://www.ford.com/about-ford/news-announcements/press-releases/press-releases-detail/pr-ford-kicks-off-2010-with-24-31945 and http://online.wsj.com/mdc/public/page/2_3022-autosales.html#autosalesE

[4] See http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/tms/politics/2009/Apr/08/euphoria_or_the_obama_depression_.html; see also http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/173_212/-365185-1.html

[5] Compare https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/the-end-of-barack-obama/ and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/emp-attack-only-30-million-americans-survive/ and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/01/barack-obama-america’s-second-emperor/ and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/26/obama-in-afghanistan-doomed-from-the-start/ and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/is-barack-obama-a-racist/ with https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/

[6] See Obama, “Dreams from My Father” (paperback “Revised Edition,” published by Three Rivers Press, 2004), pp. xii (“[S]he was the kindest, most generous spirit I have ever known, and . . . what is best in me I owe to her”), 89 (“[Toot and Gramps] 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”), 343 (“I looked out the window, thinking about my mother, Toot, and Gramps, and how grateful I was to them—for who they were. . . .”); see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/is-barack-obama-a-racist/

[7] Some years ago, I had a law student from UCLA who worked for me as a law clerk doing research and legal writing.  He made a small mistake in a brief, but one that I considered important.  I jumped all over him.  He had worked in Saudi Arabia as an engineer before coming to law school; and he stopped me, and asked if I knew how the Saudis made Oriental rugs.

Some were made by hand and others by machines, he said, but in every case there was an intentional mistake inserted somewhere in each rug.  He asked if I knew why, and I said no.  He said the Saudis believed that only Allah—or God—is perfect; and of course I believed that too.  Since then, when I have jumped all over myself for making mistakes, or thought about criticizing others, I have recalled his story.  None of us are perfect.  Only God is.





Israel’s Senseless Killings And War With Iran

20 02 2010

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

Former Vice President Dick Cheney criticized presidential aspirant Sarah Palin recently for irresponsibly engaging in war-mongering with respect to Iran.  He took issue with Palin’s suggestion that President Obama could help himself politically if he declared war on Iran.

“I don’t think a president can make a judgment like that on the basis of politics,” Cheney said. “The stakes are too high, the consequences too significant to be treating those as simple political calculations. When you begin to talk about war, talk about crossing international borders, you talk about committing American men and women to combat, that takes place on a plane clear above any political consideration.”[2]

Regrettably, the Wall Street Journal did exactly the same thing as Palin, in an editorial entitled, “Obama and Iran.”[3] Its editors fell into the trap of carrying water for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is possibly the most dangerous and irresponsible leader that Israel has ever had.

When Israel engages in targeted killings in Dubai and elsewhere[4], and adopts “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” approach, its enemies around the world are emboldened to respond in kind or worse. In turn, this puts innocent Israelis at risk whenever they travel outside of Israel; and it potentially begets violence against innocent Jews everywhere in the world.  It is so senseless, yet it garners headlines for Mossad—Israel’s national intelligence agency—and makes some Israelis and other Jews feel good and proud.

Clearly, Netanyahu has no qualms about using these tactics.  He was hated by former Israeli Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Yitzhak Rabin—and especially by Rabin’s wife Leah, who blamed Netanyahu for her husband’s assassination. She saw “only doom for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process” with Netanyahu at Israel’s helm[5]; and her views were prescient.

Nothing has changed since Leah Rabin’s death, except Netanyahu is once again Israel’s Prime Minister—despite the fact that Tzipi Livni and her Kadima party won the most seats in the Israeli Knesset.  Indeed, it was the first time in Israel’s history that the party with the most seats was not asked to govern.[6] Quite predictably, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is going nowhere, which is likely until Netanyahu leaves office. In the interim, the United States must not be drawn into hostilities with Iran, or another war that the American people oppose vehemently.

To those who would argue that getting rid of Netanyahu changes nothing, except possibly to get rid of an ally who is willing to fight back, the answer is that Netanyahu is not an ally of the United States.  He never has been, and he never will be.  He is a narcissistic impediment to peace in the Middle East, and always has been.  He is a moral midget and a pygmy when compared with Sharon and Yitzhak Rabin, who were both courageous and remarkable men and had the credentials to prove it. 

Again, Leah Rabin was right in seeing “only doom for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process” with Netanyahu at Israel’s helm.  The sooner he is gone, the better.

Fortunately—like Sharon, Yitzhak Rabin and other world leaders before him—it appears that Barack Obama learned early on that Netanyahu is dishonest and cannot be trusted. Also, Obama seems determined not to be manipulated by Netanyahu, which bodes well with respect to American policies vis-à-vis Iran and Israel, at least for now.  The Wall Street Journal’s editorial is irresponsible when it describes “Iran as the single biggest threat to . . . U.S. security.”[7] This is utter nonsense.

American hearts go out to the advocates of democracy in Iran, many of whom have been arrested, tortured and killed recently.  These opponents of the country’s brutal theocracy deserve U.S. support whenever, wherever and however possible.  Regrettably, Obama did not support them.  Like the courageous peoples of Eastern Europe who have become our partners in NATO[8], this seems to have been an opportunity that was lost at least for now, but not forever.

Regarding those who irresponsibly advocate that the United States should go to war with Iran, we have not gone to war to free the oppressed peoples of North Korea, Cuba or other totalitarian-controlled countries; and an exception for Iran is not warranted.  Surely—with our ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—neither the Wall Street Journal nor any other responsible media organization is advocating that America embark on a third war without end, against Iran, much less as Israel’s “sponsor” or at Netanyahu’s behest.  That is lunacy.

One of the greatest concerns today involves the possibility of an EMP Attack against America—by al-Qaeda, North Korea, Iran, or by China, Russia or their surrogates.  Our only real protection is a reliable, broad-based missile defense system, which Obama has been taking steps to weaken.[9] Similarly, as the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer has written:

[T]he Obama 2011 budget kills [the U.S. Space Shuttle’s replacement,] Constellation. Instead, we shall have nothing. For the first time since John Glenn flew in 1962, the United States will have no access of its own for humans into space—and no prospect of getting there in the foreseeable future.[10]

This has serious strategic ramifications too, aside from the peaceful exploration of space.

Lastly, what are America’s alternatives to the use of force against Iran?  Aside from supporting democratic movements within the country, as we did in the case of Eastern Europe, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial outlines steps that can be taken now, which should have been implemented ages ago to put the screws to Iran.[11] More “dithering” is not an option, but neither is war.[12]

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal 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 http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=9821035

[3] See http://www.naegele.com/documents/ObamaandIran.pdf

[4] See, e.g.http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article7028123.ece and http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article7025821.ece; see also http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1251581/Terror-innocent-Britons-named-Mossad-assassins.html and http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article7029553.ece and http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703444804575071561636104090.html?mod=WSJ_hps_MIDDLEThirdNews

[5] See, e.g., http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/7367/leah-rabin-calls-netanyahu-all-political-manipulation/ and http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9605/29/israel.leah.rabin/index.html

[6] Some of the tactics used against Israeli government officials include arrest warrants issued in other countries, such as against Livni. See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tzipi_Livni#UK_arrest_warrant

[7] See http://www.naegele.com/documents/ObamaandIran.pdf

[8] See http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/nato_countries.htm

[9] See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/emp-attack-only-30-million-americans-survive/

[10] See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/11/AR2010021103484.html

[11] See http://www.naegele.com/documents/ObamaandIran.pdf

[12] See also http://www.naegele.com/documents/NukeIranToSaveIsrael.pdf





Ansel Adams Has An Heir

12 02 2010

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

When I was a kid growing up in West Los Angeles, my mother had a Kodak “Brownie” box camera[2], and it seemed as though she took photos of everyone.  Her love of photography was passed on to me; and later in life, I discovered that what I loved most about the art form was encapsulated in the photography of Ansel Adams[3] and no one else.  Let me correct that.  Between my mother’s photography and that of Ansel[4], there was the breathtaking photography of the great Mathew Brady during the U.S. Civil War, which was a precursor of today’s photojournalism.[5]

Ansel was from San Francisco where I had lived when I attended law school at Berkeley; and he was a concert pianist before arthritis affected his ability to perform at the levels to which he aspired.  He chose to pursue a life in photography; and that changed lots of other lives, including my own.  On a whim, I picked up the phone one day at my condominium in Northern Virginia; and I called information for Carmel, California, and asked for a listing in his name.  I was connected; and to my great surprise, his wife Virginia answered the phone at their home in the Carmel Highlands.

I asked how I might study with him; and she gave me information about whom to contact at his workshops.  The next thing I knew, I had applied for his workshop in the Yosemite Valley, I was accepted, and I went.[6] I knew very little about the man personally, although I soon learned that his base of operations at Yosemite was the Ansel Adams Galley, which had been the Best’s Studio[7].  His wife was Virginia Best Adams; and her family owned the gallery before she and Ansel met.

When I arrived, there were sycophants aplenty surrounding the “master,” like I assume must have happened with Leonardo di Vinci, Pablo Picasso, and the other great artists.  In a sense, we “students” were sycophants too, although I did not realize it fully until much later.  Having grown up in the shadows of Hollywood, and then having worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., I had been around lots of them.  When our group of students traveled to the “high country” of Yosemite with Ansel, and had other photographic experiences with him, I did not delude myself and knew that I would be lucky if my knowledge of photography was ever a fraction of his.

Indeed, in the high country one day, I had my tripod set up with a Minolta 35mm camera on it; and I framed a scene that I believed was picture perfect.  Ansel came over and looked through the lens, and said it was all wrong, and moved the tripod about a foot or so, and took the “perfect” photo of what I had been trying to capture.  He included a nearby tree branch, instead of merely photographing interesting rock formations in the distance; and of course, he was right.

In his darkroom at Yosemite, he kept a metronome from his days with music, which he used to time the placement of negatives in trays of various liquid solutions as he was developing them into photographs.  He apparently liked his drinks at the end of each day too; and I was told that he did not make any “big money” until he limited his output to museum collections only, which drove up the values of his photography and allowed him to live comfortably for the rest of his life.

He told many stories, but the one I will always remember is how he took his most famous photograph, “Moonrise Hernandez.”[8] He was driving in the countryside on a lonely highway near the small town of Hernandez, New Mexico; and all of a sudden, he saw the moon over a little cemetery, and he stopped his car.  Pulling out his equipment, he could not find his trusty light meter; and hence, using his “zone system,” he guessed at the proper settings for the photograph and took it.  As with so many things in life, it was a miracle; and he created the one photograph by which he may be remembered forever.

When I saw him later at Carmel, his health had declined, and he was a “figurehead” at the workshop that I attended.[9] However, he was as jovial as ever, albeit “protected” by those who were part of his inner circle.  After his death, one of his instructors and I met with Robert Baker, who had co-authored or been the “Collaborator” of several of Ansel’s books[10].  Bob was very talented, low-key and nice, and not ego-driven or a “hero worshipping” sycophant like so many of those who surrounded Ansel.

We talked over lunch about a book that he and Ansel had been working on when the master died.  My interests were always in color photography, not black and white; and Ansel had avoided it because he could not control the colors like he wanted.  His book with Bob might have been the definitive book in the world on the subject, but it was not to be, because of Ansel’s death.  After that, it seemed that the focus of attention was on preserving the master’s image for posterity, instead of advancing the science of photography, as Ansel and Bob Baker had done.

Of all the photographers whom I had met at the Yosemite workshop, one stood out and his photography stands out today, and that is William Neill.[11] Bill was then, and he remains today the finest color photographer in the United States, if not the world.  Of all the photographers who surrounded Ansel at Yosemite, Bill was special.  He was head and shoulders above the rest.  I will always remember a small color photo of his, which he took at the Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Arizona.[12] It was exquisite.

What makes a great photographer, in terms of Brady, Adams and Neill?  I believe it is “photo-realism,” which takes the viewer to the spot where the photograph was taken, and puts him or her in the eyes of the photographer.  It is so true that once a photo is taken, that image will never appear again in history, nor did it ever appear before.  The photographer captures a moment in time, as if time literally stood still.  Take a look at Brady’s photos of the Civil War, or Louis Daguerre’s magnificent photographs of France[13], or Ansel’s photos, or Bill Neill’s.  You will see true masterpieces.

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. 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/Brownie_(camera)

[3] See http://www.anseladams.com/content/ansel_info/anseladams_biography2.htmlsee also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ansel_Adams

[4] “Ansel” was the way everyone referred to him, even in his presence.  He seemed to encourage it, and was a bit folksy in such ways, which was disarming and endearing.  Lots of books have been written about him, by insiders such as Bob Baker and others.  I was never an insider, nor do I profess to be.  I got close enough to learn what I wished to know about photography from a master—perhaps “the” master in the history of photography worldwide—and that was enough for me.

[5] See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathew_Brady

[6] See, e.g., http://www.anseladams.com/photography_education.html

[7] See http://www.anseladams.com/ and http://www.anseladams.com/content/customer_service/history.html

[8] See, e.g.http://www.anseladams.com/content/ansel_info/ansel_ancedotes.html

[9] I dated a lovely instructor whom I met there, and we gave thought to marrying; and I will always love her and wish her well.

[10] See, e.g., (1) http://www.amazon.com/Polaroid-Land-Photography-Ansel-Adams/dp/0821207296 and (2) http://www.amazon.com/Camera-Ansel-Adams-Photography-Book/dp/0821221841/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265948749&sr=1-1 and (3) http://www.amazon.com/Print-Ansel-Adams-Photography-Book/dp/0821221876/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265948838&sr=1-2 and (4) http://www.amazon.com/Negative-Ansel-Adams-Photography-Book/dp/0821221868/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265948931&sr=1-3; see also http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Robert+Baker%2C+Ansel+Adams&x=0&y=0

[11] See http://www.williamneill.com

I was so taken by Bill’s photography and talents that I commissioned him to build a darkroom at my home in Malibu, California, which was under construction after we met.  It was never finished in the way that I envisioned; and hence, Bill was never able to work his “magic” on the darkroom.

[12] See http://www.nps.gov/cach/index.htm and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canyon_de_Chelly_National_Monument

[13] See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Daguerre; see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_photography





Russia’s Putin Is A Killer

9 02 2010

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

Russia’s dictator-for-life Vladimir Putin is every bit as sinister and evil as Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Mao Tse-tung.[2] He is a ruthless killer—of his own people and others, and of the human spirit.  Recently, he warned against despotism and chaos in Russia[3], which is equivalent to Hitler warning against the death camps, or Stalin and Mao warning against the ravages of communism.  Putin is the face of America’s enemies today, personified, as well as the enemy of free peoples everywhere.  He is responsible for the dismantling of Russia’s incipient democracy.[4] Despots like him are destroyed ultimately.  However, in the interim, the death and destruction they bring about are savage, barbaric and tragic.  Like a Mob boss, Putin is apt to die a cruel and horrible death, mirroring the cruelty that he and his ex-KGB lackeys have brought to so many in Russia and elsewhere.

He was born in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg; and he joined the KGB officially when he was 23, and rose through its ranks.  He came to prominence as a KGB operative in East Germany—or the DDR, as it was known before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Erich Honecker’s government—which was one of the most repressive regimes in the Soviet Union’s orbit, or the Evil Empire.  Russia has a brutal history, especially since the rise of communism; and Putin is a product of that system.  Stalin and Mao were the most ruthless killers of their own people[5], and that is Putin’s heritage.  He learned his craft well; and he must be viewed in this context, not as some Westernized Russian democrat, which he is not.  Under Putin, Stalin’s reputation has undergone a renaissance, despite being the killer of more than 30 million men, women and children who were his own countrymen.[6] Putin is Stalin’s heir.

Some people argue there is a “soft side” to Putin, and that he has been principled and acted in the best interests of Russia.  Indeed, it is argued that he fended off his ex-KGB lackeys in the selection of Dmitry Medvedev as Russia’s President, when Putin was ineligible to run for a third consecutive presidential term because of constitutionally-mandated term limits.  Stalin, Hitler and Mao had soft sides too.  Like Putin, they smiled and were shown in “photo ops” befriending children and women.  In reality, they were butchers just as Putin is.  Yes, the numbers of innocent people killed may differ among the four of them.  However, each one brutally repressed democratic forces, systematically killed their own countrymen and others, and decimated the human spirit.[7] When Putin was coming to power, I was told by an old friend on Capitol Hill that he was a “smoother version” of Stalin, and I will never forget those prescient and ominous words.

Russia is not a Third World country today, but it is close—and certainly it is no longer a superpower.  Based on its gross domestic product (GDP), it ranks behind Italy, Brazil, Spain and Canada; and it is less than nine percent the size of the United States.[8] Its military expenditures are 9.5 percent of the American spending[9]; and its antiquated Soviet-era conscript military was on display in Georgia.  Indeed, Putin left the Olympic games in Beijing and traveled to the Georgian border, where he directed the Kremlin’s cruel aggression against its vastly smaller neighbor.  Today, the U.S. military has no peers; and when arrayed against “paper tigers” and backlot bullies like Putin’s Russia, Americans can be proud of what George W. Bush accomplished.

He kept American safe and strong; however, there are serious questions whether Barack Obama is building on and not diminishing that strength.  The idea that the U.S. and Russia would agree in principle on a deal to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start) with a new agreement that would cut each side’s nuclear arsenal is absurd.[10] The Russians cannot be trusted; and Obama’s weakness is on display when he cuts any deals with Putin.  China must be America’s focus of attention, not the backwater country of Russia.  China must be included in any agreement, or else the cart is placed before the horse.  Also, Obama surrendered to Putin by scrapping Bush’s proposed antiballistic missile shield for Eastern Europe—in the Czech Republic and Poland—which emboldened Putin and sent the worst signals possible to our allies in “New Europe.”[11]

Those who “scold” Putin are subjected to harsh dictatorial rebukes, at the very least.[12] His treatment of others is strikingly similar to how Stalin, Hitler and Mao treated their adversaries.  Prison without trial—or “kangaroo trials”—has been commonplace.[13] More often than not, they disappear or are ruthlessly killed to send loud and clear messages to those who challenge the dictator, or otherwise might be considered “enemies of the state.”  Like Stalin before him, the full extent of Putin’s atrocities will never be known; and his “fingerprints” will not be found on the “murder weapons.”  However, make no mistake about it: none of it would have happened without him.

In addition to what has been described above, it is useful to catalog some of the more heinous crimes and horrors that have happened since he came to power, for which he is responsible directly or indirectly:

•  Russian apartment bombings in September 1999, which led the country into the Second Chechen War, and brought Putin to power.[14]

•  The assassination in London of former Russian state security officer Alexander Litvinenko who claimed, inter alia, that Putin ordered the Russian apartment bombings.[15]

•  The Dioxin poisoning of Victor Yushchenko, which left the Ukrainian President’s face greatly disfigured, jaundiced, bloated, and pockmarked.[16]

•  The brutal “Second Chechen War,” in which Russian troops entered Chechnya and took control over the country, with unofficial estimates ranging from 25,000 to 50,000 dead or having “disappeared.”[17]

•  A widespread crackdown on media freedoms, with Russian reporters being killed and muzzled—such as the shooting death of Anna Politkovskaya[18]—and media outlets being shut down.[19]

•  Miscellaneous jailings, killings and disappearances—including one of Putin’s mistresses.[20]

At some point in time, he will be eliminated and disappear from the pages of history, just like so many other two-bit, tinhorn despots before him.  Again, it is apt to happen violently, in an instant.  Regardless of how he departs, one can only hope that it happens soon—and his reign of terror and that of his ex-KGB lackeys ends, like it did for Stalin, Hitler, Mao and their thugs.  The sooner the better.[21]

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele

See alsoThe Death Of Putin And Russia: The Final Chapter Of The Cold War


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal 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.naegele.com/documents/StalinMaoHolocausts.pdf

[3] See http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.4578e814909f0ad722594e6c798584f9.4c1&show_article=1

[4] See, e.g., http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-fg-russia-democracy24-2010jan24,0,3025105,full.story (“[A] democracy museum about Putin, the man whose ascent to power was marked by the loss of a free press, the unsolved killings of political critics and harsh crackdowns on antigovernment protests”)

[5] See, e.g., http://www.naegele.com/documents/StalinMaoHolocausts.pdf (“Aside from ordering the killing of those in the Soviet hierarchy, it is estimated that Stalin was responsible for the deaths of more than 30 million men, women and children—his own countrymen—including millions during the collectivization of the Soviet farms in the 1930s.  . . .  [A]s the Soviets moved through Germany, they raped at least two million German women in what is now acknowledged as the largest case of mass rape in history.”)

[6] See id.

[7] See, e.g., http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118463398015768385.html?mod=googlenews_wsj (“Russia has become, in the precise sense of the word, a fascist state.  It does not matter here, as the Kremlin’s apologists are so fond of pointing out, that Mr. Putin is wildly popular in Russia: Popularity is what competent despots get when they destroy independent media, stoke nationalistic fervor with military buildups and the cunning exploitation of the Church, and ride a wave of petrodollars to pay off the civil service and balance their budgets.  Nor does it matter that Mr. Putin hasn’t re-nationalized the ‘means of production’ outright; corporatism was at the heart of Hitler’s economic policy, too.”)

[8] See, e.g., https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2195.html (2009 est.) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28nominal%29 (2009 est.)

[9] See, e.g., http://www.sipri.org/yearbook/2009/05/05A and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures#Chart_by_country_or_organization

[10] See http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article7013042.ece; see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/emp-attack-only-30-million-americans-survive/

[11] See, e.g., http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/18/world/europe/18shield.html; see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/the-end-of-barack-obama; https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/01/barack-obama-america%E2%80%99s-second-emperor; https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/26/obama-in-afghanistan-doomed-from-the-start; http://www.philstockworld.com/2009/10/11/greenspan%E2%80%99s-legacy-more-suffering-to-come/

[12] See, e.g., http://www.kyivpost.com/news/russia/detail/58572/ (“Few Russians in positions of power dare to openly criticise Putin. . . .”); http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6145UJ20100205 (“Putin told the leaders [of his United Russia party] to warn voters of the consequences of voting for untried opposition parties.  United Russia must always explain that ‘proper and well organized leaders are always capable of solving any problems and that in the absence of such leaders, anarchy prevails,’ he said.”)

One of the “untried opposition parties” to which Putin was referring is former World Chess Champion—many people consider him the greatest chess player of all time—Garry Kasparov’s “The Other Russia,” a coalition that opposes Putin’s government.  See http://www.theotherrussia.org/ Indeed, Kasparov has vowed to “restore democracy” to Russia by toppling Putin, of whom he is an outspoken critic.

Kasparov has said: “An anti-democratic regime can be neither reformed nor modernized; it can only be dismantled.  All the hope that goes into finding a way to somehow reform or perfect the current system is in vain.  It’s impossible, because the essence of the system will remain the same.”  See http://www.theotherrussia.org/2010/02/03/kasparov-russias-european-choice/ He adds: “After a year and a half of [Dmitry] Medvedev’s tenure as president of Russia, Putin’s authoritarian regime has only become more severe.”  See id.

[13] See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Vladimir_Putin#Relations_with_.22oligarchs.22 (e.g., the criminal prosecution and imprisonment of Russia’s richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, president of Yukos oil company, as payback for his support of Putin’s opponents); http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Khodorkovsky

[14] See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Vladimir_Putin#Domestic_terrorism_accusations (“The chain of command was as follows: Putin (former director of the secret service, future president) – Patrushev (Putin’s successor as director of the secret service) – secret service General German Ugryumov (director of the counter-terrorism department).  Maxim Lazovsky (the owner of Lanako, the company that employed the secret service agents behind the 1994-5 terrorist attacks) and Lieutenant-Colonel Abubakar were two secret service operatives directly responsible for the practical organization of the bombings.” [Yuri Felshtinsky and Vladimir Pribylovsky, “The Age of Assassins. The Rise and Rise of Vladimir Putin,” Gibson Square Books, London, 2008, p. 106]); see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Putin

[15] See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Vladimir_Putin#Domestic_terrorism_accusations; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blowing_up_Russia:_Terror_from_within and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lubyanka_Criminal_Group; see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Litvinenko

[16] See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Yushchenko#Dioxin_poisoning (“On September 27, 2009 Yushchenko said in an interview . . . that the testimony of the three men who were at a dinner in 2004 at which he believes he was poisoned were staying in Russia.  Ukrainian prosecutors said Russia has refused to extradite one of the men, the former deputy chief of Ukraine’s security service, Volodymyr Satsyuk, because he holds both Russia and Ukrainian citizenship.”)

[17] See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Chechen_War; see also, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chechnya#Human_rights (“In 2006 Human Rights Watch reported that pro-Moscow Chechen forces under the effective command of President Ramzan Kadyrov, as well as federal police personnel, used torture to get information about separatist forces.  ‘If you are detained in Chechnya, you face a real and immediate risk of torture.  And there is little chance that your torturer will be held accountable,’ said Holly Cartner, Director Europe and Central Asia division of HRW.”); http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2006/11/12/chechnya-research-shows-widespread-and-systematic-use-torture; see id. (“On July 1, 2009, Amnesty International released a detailed report covering the human rights violations committed by the Russian Federation against Chechnyan citizens.  Among the most prominent features was that those abused had no method of redress against assaults, ranging from kidnapping to torture, while those responsible were never held accountable.  This lead to the conclusion that Chechnya was being ruled without law, being run into further devastating destabilization.”); see http://www.naegele.com/documents/AmnestyInternational-RussianFederation-Rulewithoutlaw.pdf

[18] See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Vladimir_Putin#Allegations_of_political_assassinations_and_muzzling_of_reporters (“On October 7, 2006, Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist who ran a campaign exposing corruption in the Russian army and its conduct in Chechnya, and a strong critic of Putin and the FSB, whom she had accused of trying to set up a Soviet-style dictatorship, was killed.  She was shot dead in the elevator of her apartment building in Moscow.”); http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Politkovskaya

The Federal Security Service—or FSB—is the main domestic security agency of the Russian Federation, and the successor agency of the dreaded Soviet-era Cheka, NKVD and KGB.

[19] See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alina_Kabayeva#Marriage_controversy

[20] See, e.g., http://news.oneindia.in/2010/02/08/mumof-vladimir-putins-love-childvanishes.html (“The woman who gave birth to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s love child[, Russian gymnast, Alina Kabayeva,] is said to have vanished”); see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alina_Kabayeva#Marriage_controversy; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Putin#Family_and_personal_life

[21] See alsohttp://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/aug/12/georgia (Obama adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski has described Putin as “following a course that is horrifyingly similar to that taken by Stalin and Hitler in the 1930s”)





The Silent Voices Of Stalin’s Soviet Holocaust And Mao’s Chinese Holocaust

6 02 2010

By Timothy D. Naegele[1][2]

Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse-tung were the most ruthless killers of their own people in the 20th Century, and perhaps in the entire history of mankind.  They were responsible for the world’s deadliest holocausts—or the mass destruction of human beings—yet their victims have never been identified or honored.  It is time for the silent voices of those who died to be heard, and for these human tragedies of epic proportions to be recognized fully.

The famous Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal once spoke about the duty owed by survivors of the Nazi Holocaust to Jews and non-Jews alike to insure that other holocausts did not occur again, and of course he was correct.  Memorials have been erected to those who died at the hands of Adolf Hitler’s thugs.  However, those noncombatants who were killed by Japan prior to and during World War II, and by the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot in Cambodia, and in Africa and elsewhere are forgotten.

Saddam Hussein’s brutality with respect to the Kurds and Iranians, and those Kuwaitis whose fate has only been determined recently in shallow Iraqi graves, pales beside that of Stalin who was Hussein’s hero.  Aside from ordering the killing of those in the Soviet hierarchy, it is estimated that Stalin was responsible for the deaths of more than 30 million men, women and children—his own countrymen—including millions during the collectivization of the Soviet farms in the 1930s.

History has focused on Hitler’s rise to power during that period, and his atrocities in the Nazi death camps and on the battlefields of World War II.  Memorials have been erected to the fallen of many nations that brought an end to his cherished dream of a “Thousand Year Reich,” and to the Jews who were persecuted and systematically killed by the Nazis.  However, there are no memorials or tributes to those who perished under Stalin.

He was revered in the former Soviet Union for having defeated Hitler on his Eastern Front, and for the Red Army’s capture of Berlin—even though as the Soviets moved through Germany, they raped at least two million German women in what is now acknowledged as the largest case of mass rape in history.  As the truth about him became known following his death, a program of “de-Stalinization” was implemented.  However, never in the Soviet Union’s history were steps taken to honor fully those whose only crime was working on the land.  They were peasant farmers, most of them, but they stood in the way of “progress,” Soviet-style.  To increase agricultural production and to implement the multi-year plans that were being devised for their confiscated farms, which became state-owned lands, they were expendable—and liquidated.

For such a colossal crime to go “unnoticed” outside of the Soviet Union can only be explained by the gathering storm clouds of World War II, and the march of Germany and Japan, which focused the world’s attention elsewhere.  China and other parts of Asia came under attack and were later occupied by Japan, while Hitler marched into Poland and then conquered Europe.  Straddling the Atlantic and Pacific with Hitler in the East and Japan in the West, and still dealing with the Great Depression’s aftermath, the United States was preoccupied prior to World War II.  Also, there was a strong sense of isolationism—that America was an island, bounded by the Atlantic and Pacific—which militated against our involvement in the Soviet Union’s “internal affairs.”

China’s Mao Tse-tung was directly responsible for an estimated 30-40 million deaths between 1958 and 1960, as a result of what Mao’s regime hailed as the “Great Leap Forward.”  Like Stalin, Mao’s crimes involved Chinese peasants, many of whom died of hunger from man-made famines under collectivist orders that stripped them of all private possessions.  The Communist Party forbade them even to cook food at home; private fires were outlawed; and their harvests were taken by the state.  Those who dared to question Mao’s agricultural policies—which sought to maximize food output by dispossessing the nation’s most productive farmers—were tortured, sent to labor camps, or executed.

More than 60 million human beings are forgotten, seemingly having disappeared without a trace in the Soviet and Chinese Holocausts of the 20th Century, as if they never existed or were swallowed up by history.  Yet they did exist, and they might have produced descendants numbering in the hundreds of millions today.  One can only conjecture as to the contributions they would have made to mankind, which are forever lost like the contributions of those Jews, Gypsies and others who were killed in the Nazi Holocaust, and by Japan, and by Pol Pot, and in Africa.

Approximately 70 years have passed since this human tragedy of epic proportions occurred in the Soviet Union.  Approximately 25 years have passed since the comparable tragedy occurred in China.  It is time for the world to pay tribute to more than 60 million people who perished under Stalin and Mao.  While the precise numbers of the victims may never been known, each of us has a duty to honor their memories and take steps to insure that holocausts do not occur anywhere again.  China, Russia and the other former Soviet-bloc countries whose citizens numbered among the silent voices must take the lead, and other nations must join as well.

It is possible that relatives and people who knew those who died are still alive today, and can bear witness to what happened and give new meaning to their lives.  However, the likelihood of that being true diminishes with each passing day, and it is a race against the clock before they too are gone—certainly in the case of those who might remember victims of the Soviet Holocaust.  It is time for the silent voices to be heard again, so they are not forgotten, which would compound their catastrophic fate.

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal 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] This article was published first at MensNewsDaily.com on August 9, 2005.  See http://www.naegele.com/documents/StalinMaoHolocausts.pdf

Because more than four years have passed, the number of relatives and other people who knew those who perished, and can bear witness to what happened and give new meaning to their lives, has continued to diminish.  It is even more of a race against the clock before they are gone too, which would compound the catastrophic fate of those who were victims of Stalin’s Soviet Holocaust and Mao’s Chinese Holocaust.

Russia’s dictator-for-life Vladimir Putin is every bit as sinister and evil as Stalin, and it is unlikely that he will be of any help in such an effort.