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Change the Faces Act... Proposed legislation to a government controled by one party seemingly unable of fund the government itself. Why not do SOMETHING, -a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g- to bring people together. Stop spreading hate and hold your nose long enough to pass a law.

Does America still have a Confessor-in-Chief?

    Sunday, January 28, 2018 -- (Long Beach, CA) -- Once it was that our presidents -- every one of them -- loved The People... all of the people.

    Sure, there were political disagreements. Labor unions feared the firing of air traffic controllers during the first days of the Reagan Administration, and forever after the economy changed.

    The IBM corporation -- perhaps the biggest symbol -- told workers in 1984 that no long did the company promise never to lay off anyone.

    Perks and pensions and health care and vacations evaporated, and the “safety net” put forward during Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” began shredded.

    Yet, still, massive numbers of American workers -- including a high percentage of labor union members -- loved America’s 40th president.

    The biggest controversy of the Reagan Administration also stands as a mark of personal confession by the president himself.

    The Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council worked together on a plan to patch together highly-controversial policies, and push forward with secret crimes.

    By law, US policy said we would NOT work with the Iranian government, because the regime that captured dozens of diplomats for 444 days also was engaged in open war with a neighboring nation. The law said, “Don’t want to hug the Ayatola.”

    And in central America, the hard-right “contras” battling against the far-left led to open murders that spread beyond a single nation, to also rip apart neighboring nations. In a slap, the Congress sent legislation to the President saying, “Don’t hug the Contras.”

    The president sits at the top of a mountain, all below are staff and department workers and the military and spies.

    Sometimes, big things get ordered that no one likes, but the president gives the order. President Richard Nixon ordered a sustained secret bombing of the Cambodian nation, which we had not waged war against. But Mr. Nixon ordered the bombs be dropped, just as he had ordered the CIA to topple a leftist government in Chile.

    Sometimes, big things happen and the president doesn’t know. Enter the man who loved jelly beans.

    President Reagan hired a CIA chief who turned the skies around, from deep angst over Congress not liking them, to instead now have a president who nods even when he doesn’t know what they’re doing.

    The National Security Agency put a Lt. Colonel to work, patching a way to cut a deal with hated foreigners.
  • The Iranian government -- fighting an open major war with Iraq -- needed bombs and weapons. They promised to give America money if we would sell them the tools of war.

  • The far-right thugs in central America had plenty of guns, but they needed money, so as to buy their way up the middle of their fractured nation, to silence the undecided by shaking sacks each holding 30 pieces of silver.
    “Hey,” said the Lt. Colonel, “why not sell the bombs, and then give the money to the thugs?” And so it happened. A junior member of the NSA got the sign-off and conducted what quickly became known as “Iran-Contra.” All aspects of the secret crimes were disgusting, even to the president... when he finally found out.

    To his great credit, when Ronald Reagan seemed to finally recognize that “Iran-Contra” would etch a scandal into the stone of history, he ordered an independent investigation within the White House itself. He demanded that the Confessor-in-Chief be able to kneel to the American people, and admit that what had been wrong once was still wrong.

    Few remember the honorable tone by Mr. Reagan’s voice, because his own fury was within. When a sin is conducted, the inner soul must first see the wrongness, before a confession is recognized as being needed. While Members of Congress balked or yelled, and each side pounded their chest, quietly the Confessor-in-Chief cleaned house.

    The internal investigation conducted by President Reagan was lost in the mud of Congressional hearings and the chuckling smile of a Lt. Colonel. Only historians will see that those who loved Mr. Reagan had even more reason to do so, for at the deep moment of scandal, the Confessor-in-Chief -- unlike Mr. Nixon -- accepted that what is wrong once stays wrong forever.

    In the midst of Mr. Reagan’s eight years, the division of the nation -- and the world -- held us at the brink. Europeans worried that the Soviet Union would battle America by dropping nuclear weapons across their own continent. Workers became poorer. The rich got richer. And a huge spending on the military made everything else tough for government to afford.

    The president ran a far-right campaign and lost seats in both chambers of Congress in every election afterward, because policies outraged voters. Nonetheless, Mr. Reagan seemed willing to admit when others had better ideas, such as saving Franklin Roosevelt’s greatest achievement -- Social Security. Only by meeting with House Speaker Tip O’Neill and a old super-liberal Congressman from Florida named Claude Pepper did Social Security get saved. That confession allowed a president who was hated to rescue on who was loved.

    Perhaps that may be good enough reason to not hate forever the actor-turned-politician. Maybe that Republican might be a good face to show that people can work together on something, even if it is as simple as changing the faces of our money. Take away the Republican on the $50 -- a general so brutal that his nickname was, “The Butcher” -- and instead make America smile again. Let the Democrat on the $20 -- whose biggest military job was to kill Indians -- get replaced by Mr. Roosevelt. If Congress takes up the simplest task, perhaps it can show that government can SOMETHING together, rather then bash one another. Maybe it Washington and Lincoln get to embrace two Kings -- Elvis and MLK -- instead of someone who discovered electricity or a slave-owner. Maybe the rich man on the $10 who wanted George as our new King can instead be replaced by Harriet Tubman, who put her life at risk to led an underground railroad, and gave true meaning of liberty and justice.

    The man who loved jelly beans was (and is) himself hated by vast swaths of the American people. During his governorship in California, parents with kids in college didn’t approve of policy that forced tuition, where once there was none. Crackdowns against free speech and the far-left resulted in massive arrests, firings, and political tension.

    Yet he worked with his harshest critics to find a middle ground on Social Security. Presidents are at their best when they listen to the other side, and are kind enough to find the truth of what can be done to help the people.

    If before government could work together on huge things, now we can’t even fix the roads. A government with absolute control of the Congress and White House fail to pass a budget to keep the government open. Maybe changing faces on the money is just too big a task for politicians who can only yell at each other.

    Just as every soul is imperfect, and this is an imperfect Union, certainly every president does things wrong. Every president -- aside from Mr. Roosevelt -- is hated. (Ronald Reagan said constantly that he would NEVER say a mean word about Franklin Roosevelt.)

    Confession are rare in politics, and lately it is not love but hate that our president seems to use as his tool in office. The prior president is a good dad, but just as brash as any soul to believe that victory means never bending. And the man with great hair from a small state simply could not confess about his own imperfection.

    Please, God, let it be so, that if THIS president -- like Mr. Nixon -- is willing to shake hands with the Devil, so as to stay rich and buy and election, then it is You who are omnipotent. It is You, God, who will know whether an imperfect soul is exploring within to assess personal failure and political game-playing.

    If, Dear God, the Confessor-in-Chief washes his hands so as to seal his fate with tweets of hatred, then the failure of an imperfect soul to look within not only fails at running the government, but will have ripped this nation apart. The glutton of wealth and coveting of power weigh as much as do 30 pieces of silver.

-- Billy Orton






S   A   V   I   N   G       A   M   E   R   I   C   A


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Billy Orton is a novelist and historian living in Long Beach, California.