Monthly Archives: November 2009

Book Review: “A Foreign Policy of Freedom” by Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX). Reviewed by Gregory Hilton

This 372-page book is a collection of Ron Paul’s foreign policy speeches in the House of Representatives, and he addressed many of these topics during his 2008 presidential campaign. The tone of the book is revealed in the introduction which says the Cold War and the War on Terror are both a “farce”, and they were designed to justify a larger role for government. The author compares the United States role in Afghanistan to “a schoolyard bully.”
The book is important because Congressman Paul is one of the few Republicans who is opposing President Obama’s surge of 34,000 troops in Afghanistan, and his support from the GOP grassroots continues to grow significantly. Paul raised over $35 million for his presidential campaign, and his son (who shares his national security extremism) has an excellent chance of being elected to the U.S. Senate this year.
The book’s title is ironic because the author is completely opposed to the Republican Party’s freedom agenda. This was outlined by Ronald Reagan, and the keystone of this foreign policy is assisting democratic resistance and free market movements. This is what Reagan did in Afghanistan and Nicaragua when he was strenuously opposed by the Libertarians. Ron Paul emphasized his extreme opposition to Reagan when he was the 1988 Libertarian Party candidate for President.
Reagan called for “A crusade for freedom that will engage the faith and fortitude of the next generation. For the sake of peace and justice, let us move toward a world in which all people are at last free to determine their own destiny . . . Our mission is to preserve freedom as well as peace.” Ron Paul is a firm opponent of the freedom agenda and a more accurate title for this book is “A Foreign Policy of Isolationism.”
This book is a must read for any one who is considering supporting the Libertarian Party. I admire free market libertarians who advocate small government and low taxes, but this book clearly emphasizes the radical nature of the Libertarian Party’s national security and foreign policy agenda. The libertarians and paleo-conservatives will remain fringe groups until they disavow this extremist agenda.
I am not sure why Ron Paul is a Republican, but as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee he frequently votes with the Democratic majority. He was first elected in 1976 and has always been isolated in the Republican Caucus. He was the Libertarian Party’s 1988 presidential candidate, and during that campaign he was far more critical of Reagan and George H.W. Bush than Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis.
Paul sought the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, but in one of many stunning moves he often praised ultra-liberal Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who is well to the left of Barack Obama. Paul and Kucinich are united by isolationism and because they are both adherents of numerous conspiracy theories.
Rep. Paul has always been an isolationist, but prefers to call himself a non-interventionist. This book makes it plain that Paul wants to ignore the lessons of the 20th century. He wants to end America’s system of collective security, which probably would have avoided both World Wars I and II. Paul is an advocate of U.S. withdrawal from the UN, NATO, the World Trade Organization and practically every other international organization.
Despite all of the potential terrorists who have recently been captured, Paul also wants to abolish the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA. Paul acknowledges Afghanistan’s responsibility for 9/11 and in 1991 he admitted Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, but in both instances he wanted to do nothing in response. In fact, he wants to ignore all evil in the world. He wanted to do nothing about the genocide in Darfur or the ethnic cleaning in the former Yugoslavia. Morality means nothing to him.
This book is also poorly written and tedious to read. It would have been better if the redundant speeches had been eliminated, but that would have left only a small number of pages.
The speeches should have been organized by subject rather than the year in which they were delivered. There is no organized structure or logical progression to this book. It has no index, and the table of contents is inadequate. The book also contains numerous typographical and factual errors.
The author’s isolationist and simplistic foreign policy is easy to summarize because there is not much to it. Similar to his domestic ideology, he advocates highly impractical solutions to complex problems.
The best way to understand the author is read his works. This is what he says about neo-conservatives, and practically all of his accusations are wrong: “More important than the names of people affiliated with neo-conservatism are the views they adhere to. Here is a brief summary of the general understanding of what neocons believe:
1. They agree with Trotsky on permanent revolution, violent as well as intellectual.
2. They are for redrawing the map of the Middle East and are willing to use force to do so.
3. They believe in preemptive war to achieve desired ends.
4. They accept the notion that the ends justify the means – that hard-ball politics is a moral necessity.
5. They express no opposition to the welfare state.
6. They are not bashful about an American empire; instead they strongly endorse it.
7. They believe lying is necessary for the state to survive.
8. They believe a powerful federal government is a benefit.
9. They believe pertinent facts about how a society should be run should be held by the elite and withheld from those who do not have the courage to deal with it.
10. They believe neutrality in foreign affairs is ill-advised.
11. They hold Leo Strauss in high esteem.
12. They believe imperialism, if progressive in nature, is appropriate.
13. Using American might to force American ideals on others is acceptable. Force should not be limited to the defense of our country.
14. 9-11 resulted from the lack of foreign entanglements, not from too many.
15. They dislike and despise libertarians (therefore, the same applies to all strict constitutionalists.)
16. They endorse attacks on civil liberties, such as those found in the Patriot Act, as being necessary.
17. They unconditionally support Israel and have a close alliance with the Likud Party.

The author is correct that conservatives do support the Patriot Act but it is not an attack on civil liberties. They support Israel but there is no special relationship with Likud. A preemptive war was necessary in Iraq, but every other statement above made by the Congressman is false.
The author makes repeated references to our founding fathers. What he does not say is that United States had the first democratic revolution, and many of the founding fathers acknowledged they were acting for all nations.
It is disturbing that Rep. Paul wants the United States to ignore all of the state sponsors of terror. The Congressman’s repeated insistence that “There is no risk of somebody invading us” is just what the isolationists of the 1930s believed — right up until Pearl Harbor.
He is wrong and they did attack us: 1993 (WTC I), 1996 (Khobar Towers), 1998 (African Embassies), 2000 (USS Cole), and 2001 (WTC/Pentagon). His logic would have caused the US to lift not a finger to help Europe against Hitler (remember: “non-intervention”), nor help the West Berliners (1948), nor help the South Koreans (1950), nor help the Grenadians (1984), nor help the Kuwaitis (1990).
Paul’s idea that we can maintain peace by halting our projection of military strength has been proven wrong by history. Collective security was a major lesson of the 20th century.
Ron Paul has not outlined a foreign policy of freedom, but he has done an excellent job of articulating a foreign policy of failure.

My Loss Can Be Your Gain: How to Make a Splash in the DC Party Scene by Gregory Hilton

My latest party proposal was just rejected, but it is a great idea for another organization or a wealthy individual. For over a century a prominent DC institution is the annual White House reception in honor of the Diplomatic Corps. This is the highpoint of the social season for any Ambassador, and the event always includes photos of the attendees with the President and First Lady, as well as numerous cabinet members and Congressional leaders.
In years past the diplomats could leave the White House and walk one block to attend post party receptions at either the Corcoran Gallery of Art (directly across 16th Street) or Decatur House (located on Lafayette Square in front of the White House). Due to budget cutbacks, there is nothing planned for the diplomats after the next party at the end July in 2010.
The staff of the American Red Cross has been cut in half during the past year, and they will not be sponsoring this event. The prominent socialites who had similar gatherings in past years have abandoned the practice.
If someone steps in to fill this void they will have prominent bragging rights. How many people can claim their soirée was attended by over 160 Ambassadors? That was the typical attendance a few years ago.
The rental rate for the magnificent Corcoran Gallery is steep, but Decatur House is a real bargain. I rented the Corcoran for a non-profit in 1988 and the entire cost (facility and operations fee, security and valet parking) came to just $6,000 for the entire evening, and our guests were able to freely roam around the gallery. Today the rental fee is $6000/hour.
On the other hand, Decatur House will allow a non-profit to use their building for 10 hours (three hours for set up and seven hours for a party) for a mere $2000. The cost for an individual would be $5000, and unlike the Corcoran, you can use your own caterer to reduce overhead. You do not have to worry about valet parking because the majority of guests will be on foot from the East Room.
The function has a distinguished history and it will instantly enhance the prestige as well as the fundraising potential of your organization. This post party reception was described by Time magazine in 1949 as the city’s “second most desirable invitation.” According to Time, “Mrs. Truxton Beale, the owner of Decatur House, entertains with a rigid selectivity. Her most heralded function is the white-tie party she hosts after the annual White House diplomatic reception, which takes place, conveniently enough, just across Lafayette Square from her residence.”
A 1938 Life magazine article included 14 photographs and was entitled “Life Goes to a Party with high Washington Society at Mrs. Truxtun Beale’s historic Decatur House. . . she is one of Washington’s topflight hostesses, has been giving her post-Diplomatic Reception party ever since the War. An affair so exclusive that even guest lists do not appear, it has never before been photographed.”
The Decatur House was built in 1818 and its previous residents include Secretary of State Henry Clay and Vice President Martin Van Buren. (Van Buren’s Lafayette Square neighbor was Dolley Madison, and her niece married his son). It was owned by the Beale family from 1872 until 1956. The following excerpt is from “Decatur House and Its Inhabitants” (1954) by Marie Beale. If my event had occurred I would have printed this on the back of the invitation.
“Like a prim dowager, Decatur House serenely overlooks the park that grew up in its front yard, preserving unchanged its original simplicity. During more than 130 years of intimate connection with the main stream of American history Decatur House has been the inner sanctum of Lafayette Square.
“Few houses have witnessed such a panorama of events. Here the dying Commodore Stephen Decatur suffered out his last hours in 1820 after being wounded in a duel. Here foreign ministers represented the power and policies of other nations. Henry Clay struggled here for the Good Neighbor Policy and the Presidency, attaining one but not the other. The ‘gorgeous hussy’ Peggy Eaton (the young wife of the Secretary of War) quarreled here with the wife of Vice President John C. Calhoun, and the astute Van Buren moved on to the White House and subsequent defeat.
“In this house lived Secretary of State Edward Livingston who averted the first secession threat by South Carolina. The gaudy tavern owner Gadsby lived here, the unimpeachable Vice President George Dallas, and the benevolent Appleton. Two leaders of the Confederate cause, Generals Cobb and Benjamin, walked these floors as they reached the most momentous decision of their lives, and renounced their country.
“After the interim of the Civil War years, a General and a President, Ulysses S. Grant, came here for friendship and counsel from General Beale, himself one of the architects of the American West, a ‘pioneer in the path of empire.’ Through the tumultuous period that followed, Truxtun Beale preserved the historic role of Decatur House in the life of Washington. Residents of Decatur House have occupied the Presidency and Vice Presidency; they have been Cabinet members, military leaders, Congressmen; they have been foreign diplomats and American envoys to other nations; the roster includes Confederate Statesmen, a jurist and an inn-keeper. By all of them Decatur House was valued, and perhaps beloved.”

Party Crashing in DC: The Salahis Were Not the First by Gregory Hilton

Tareq and Michaele Salahi today canceled their joint appearance on Monday’s Larry King Live as well as a “press junket.” The junket was organized by public relations spokesman Mahogany Jones, and it is term usually reserved for top Hollywood stars on the day a new movie is released. It involves back to back interviews with prominent print and broadcast news outlets in the same location.
We do not know what will happen to the Salahis, but they have already been inducted into the media hall of fame. The news media has been staked out at the bottom of their driveway for the past 48 hours. They are now one of only a handful of couples to be the focus of major front page stories in The New York Times and Washington Post for two days in a row. They are also the first couple in history to attend a White House State Dinner without an invitation, but they are not the first to crash an exclusive DC event.
I have some perspective on this because of my development work for various non-profit organizations. An unexpected interloper does increase your overhead costs, but many organizations are more concerned about offending some big wig.
A few major donors and prominent government officials do not RSVP or they decide to attend at the last moment. You do not want them turned away at the door, and I have seen guards chastised for denying entry to our local potentates, even though their names were not on the guest list. I have also seen the same party crashers at numerous events. It must be a hobby for them.
I do not want to embarrass anyone so the stories I will relay are from the distant past. Then Congressman Robert Hanrahan (R-IL) crashed a 1974 dinner at the British Embassy in honor of HRH Prince Philip. Only top members of the foreign policy establishment were invited, and the attendees included Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Hanrahan thought the UK Ambassador would be reluctant to toss out a Member of Congress, and he was correct.
The Truman White House had a frequent uninvited guest during his first term. Her name was often not on the list of attendees, but the Secret Service always granted access to Perle Mesta, who was known to be a good friend of the First Family. The Chief Usher mentioned the problem to Mrs. Truman, and was assured he had made the right decision.
The satirical Broadway musical “Call Me Madam” (1950) by Irving Berlin was inspired by Perle Mesta’s life. The play staring Ethel Merman won four Tony Awards, and it was made into a 1953 movie with Merman once again in the lead.
A wealthy widow with no children, she moved to Washington, D.C. in 1940 and quickly attracted attention with elaborate parties. Her spectacular soirées became popular with DC’s power crowd.
Press reports indicate that Harry Truman played the piano at one event, and Dwight Eisenhower sang at another. When asked by the Washington Post to explain her social success, Mrs. Mesta replied, “Just have a $1 million house and hang a lamb chop in the window.”
The phrase “Hostess with the Mostes” from the play was most frequently used to describe Mrs. Mesta. She made the cover of Time magazine where she was identified as a “Washington Hostess.”
Mrs. Mesta was Co-Chairman of Truman’s 1949 Inaugural Ball, and that same year he appointed her Ambassador to Luxembourg. This was only the third time a woman was given a foreign diplomatic post.
She returned to DC after Eisenhower’s election and quickly became an intimate of the GOP administration. Few people today have her skill in transcending party lines, and she was able to accomplish this because her gatherings were rarely partisan. The parties stopped in 1956 when she sold her magnificent Spring Valley home (The Elms) to Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson (D-TX). LBJ was still residing at The Elms when he became President, and the home is now owned by the Syrian Ambassador.

“Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis” by Al Gore, Reviewed by Gregory Hilton

BOOK REVIEW: “Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis” by former Vice President Al Gore.
This book was published earlier this month and it is the long awaited sequel to his best sellers “An Inconvenient Truth” (2006), and “Earth In The Balance” (1999). Gore is the co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the UN IPCC, and his global warming movie received the Academy Award. Newsweek has already published a cover story about Gore and the book entitled “The Thinking Man’s Thinking Man.”
The book is based on 30 of Gore’s ‘Solutions Summits,’ but my conclusion is that he needs to do some more thinking because he rejects so many obvious solutions!
His recommendations on farming strategies and soil degradation have merit, and the book is filled with beautiful photos and impressive charts. There is nothing wrong with solar, wind and geothermal power, but they will never generate the energy we need. As usual, Al Gore panders to the environmental lobby and misses the big picture.
“An Inconvenient Truth” had nine fundamental errors as well as scores of misrepresentations. A graph showed the correlation between global average temperatures and CO2 concentration over the last 400,000 years. What he didn’t point out was that the temperature changes preceded the CO2 changes by hundreds of years, which completely contradicted his thesis.
The new book is not an improvement, and it is poorly referenced. The theme of the book is that global warming is a huge problem, but the author ignores immediate answers which have bipartisan support. Gore says “I am not an opponent of nuclear power, and I hope it can become a larger part of our energy mix.” Then he proceeds to portray nuclear power as an exorbitant and dangerous dead end. He never says nuclear power is an affordable and carbon-free energy source.
Senator John McCain’s (R-AZ)’s call for 45 new reactors by 2030 is dismissed. I am a global warming skeptic who is well aware of Gore’s background, but I was genuinely hoping the former Vice President would be seeking some common ground solutions. Senator John Kerry (D-MA), the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said Gore’s book would be a bipartisan framework which could be presented at the Copenhagen climate negotiations next month.
A few of Gore’s suggestions are sensible, and he praises the Christian Coalition and Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC), but no prominent Republican would agree to his anti-business agenda. Once again, Gore rejects an expansion of nuclear power as well as offshore oil drilling. He does not acknowledge the huge progress which has been made to stop offshore oil spills. He is not enthusiastic about “clean coal” technology for carbon capture and storage at coal burning power plants. He does not mention the urgent need to streamline the nuclear power permit system.
The good news is that people are starting to see through Gore’s smoke and mirrors. The former Vice President always refuses to debate and he will not accept interview requests from skeptical journalists. He has good reasons because he can not answer many basic questions.
Gore can not explain why the Earth has not warmed at all since 1998, or why his data on global ice melting is so misleading. A British court would not allow his movie to be shown in public schools because of the significant number of errors, and over 700 respected climatologists are now rejecting the man made global warming theory. The group includes many current and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the UN IPCC. The over 700 dissenting scientists are more than 13 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media-hyped IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers.
The author also wants to avoid talking about the over 3,000 emails and documents from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) which were posted to the Internet this week. They clearly demonstrate the fraudulent nature of many of the claims about manmade global warming. The CRU has been at the center of global warming debate for the past decade. Many climate scientists were funded with U.S. taxpayer dollars, but Gore also does not address why his allies are trying to thwart a Congressional investigation of their data.
The concerns are so widespread that the APEC nations have announced they will not sign enforceable limits on greenhouse-gas emissions at Copenhagen. China and India have made it clear they are rejecting any new cap and trade system, and the Kyoto climate change protocol is set to expire in 2012. There is now a real possibility it will not be renewed.

Suicide of Top Model Reveals Korean Tragedy by Gregory Hilton

Daul Kim, a top South Korean fashion model, was found hanged in her Paris apartment yesterday. Paris police believe the 20-year-old Kim committed suicide. If so, it will be one of dozens of suicides committed by South Koreans each day.
Kim was a fashion week regular in Milan, Paris, and New York. She was raised in Seoul and in addition to modeling, she was a talented painter and video filmmaker.
South Korea has the distinction of having the highest suicide rate among the 30 nations that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Kim’s apparent suicide joins a list of other well-known South Koreans who ended their lives within the last few years, including former president Roh Moo-hyan, who jumped to his death in May. Roh himself had been sued by the widow of former Daewoo head Nam Sang-Guk for allegedly making defamatory comments that drove her husband to throw himself off a bridge. Park Yong-oh, the ex-chairman of South Korea’s oldest conglomerate, committed suicide earlier this month. Choi Jin-sil, a popular actress, committed suicide in 2008, as did millionaire Samsung heiress Lee Yoon-hyung.
In 2007, actress Jeong Da-Bin, 27, and pop singer Yuni, who both had successful careers, were found hanged. Da-Bin reportedly was depressed over a work shortage; Yuni had just completed her third album. Suicide prevention services had to cope with copycat suicides after the deaths of these two young women.
At Lifeline Korea, which provides telephone counseling to help prevent suicides, Na Sun-Young said “Callers were saying they had to die because even someone as beautiful as Yuni could not stand it and committed suicide.” A series of copycat suicides also occurred in South Korea after 24-year-old film star Lee Eun-Joo took her life in 2005.
The suicide rate in South Korea more than doubled between 1995 and 2005, from 11.8 per 100,000 people to 26.1 per 100,000. On average, 38 people commit suicide in South Korea each day. The South Korean media tends to glorify victims and their deaths. After Chun Se Yong set himself on fire and plunged 15 feet from a building to protest the beating to death of student demonstrators by police back in 1991, five other protestors followed suit.
Another factor may be the cyber attacks targeted at celebrities. Both Yuni and Jeong reportedly had been maliciously attacked on the Internet, a practice that is unfortunately all too common. Why Daul Kim became one of the latest South Korean suicide victims is not yet clear. But she surely will not be the last.

My Advice for the Democratic Party by Gregory Hilton

The 2010 election is still a year away, but the first filing deadline is in six weeks. Many things can change in 12 months but the campaign season begins with a bleak outlook for Democrats. President Obama’s approval rating has declined by a staggering 30%. The Cook Political Report, which is published by a Democrat, says a 30 seat Democratic House loss is possible.
The Republican Party has some weak and underfunded Senate candidates, but disapproval of the Pelosi/Reid agenda is so high that the GOP has now taken the lead in all of the battleground states: Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Connecticut, Colorado, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Missouri and Arkansas. Rudy Giuliani has a 56 to 33% lead in the New York governor’s race, and our prospects for state house in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Iowa are excellent. It has been a long time since Republicans have run this well in the industrial Midwest.
The program the Democrats are pushing in Congress will only result in further setbacks for them. The enactment of the House passed versions of health care reform, cap and trade and additional stimulus spending will guarantee a massive defeat for the Democratic Party. We clearly warned them about the electoral implications of this liberal agenda.
Democrats can come back and President Obama can be re-elected but they have to make some abrupt changes. The stimulus spending program will result in at least $9 trillion in debt by 2019. They need to concentrate on deficit reduction and forget about the economy killing cap and trade bill. Their problems will grow significantly if the budget busting health care reform proposals are enacted.
Democrats are hiding the true costs of this bill, but Americans will realize a year from now that the legislation will do nothing to contain costs. It reduces the profitability of treating Medicare patients and providers will move away from this type of coverage. Raising capital gains taxes to pay for health care will damage our prospects for economic growth and job creation.
Democrats should listen to the wisdom of Robert Samuelson in today’s Washington Post: “Their sweeping overhaul of the health care system — which Congress is halfway toward enacting — would almost certainly make matters worse. It would create new, open-ended medical entitlements that threaten higher deficits and would do little to suppress surging health costs. The disconnect between what President Obama says and what he’s doing is so glaring that most people could not abide it. The president, his advisers and allies have no trouble. But reconciling blatantly contradictory objectives requires them to engage in willful self-deception, public dishonesty, or both.”
The best news for Democrats would be the defeat of Obamacare. If they go back to the drawing board they will find a Republican Party which is eager to work with them on real cost controls, sensible reforms and solutions to the problem of the uninsured.
My advice is similar to that of Bill Daley who was Secretary of Commerce during the Clinton Administration. He was Chairman of Al Gore’s 2000 campaign and his brother is Mayor of Chicago. Bill Daley says it is essential for Democrats to steer a more moderate course. His message is backed up by reams of polling data. As the Democratic Party moves to the left the independent vote shifts rapidly to the Republican column. A real warning sign is that Obama’s approval rating among independents is now down to 41%.
“On the question of which party is best suited to manage the economy, there has been a 30-point swing toward Republicans since November 2008. . . If anything, the Democrats’ salvation may lie in the fact that Republicans seem even more hell-bent on allowing their radical wing to drag the party away from the center,” Daley says. He concludes “While it may be too late to avoid some losses in 2010, it is not too late to avoid the kind of rout that redraws the political map.”

Veterans Day by Gregory Hilton

November 11th is Veterans Day in America while in Europe it is still known as Armistice Day. It is a national holiday in France and Belgium. In the UK a two minute silence is observed at 11am on 11th day of the 11th month because this is when the Great War, or World War I, came to end in 1918.
Now the anniversary is used to remember everyone who died in wars. In the United States we remember the more than one million who died protecting our nation and the Free World since 1776. They are heroes, and it is for us to ensure their sacrifices are not forgotten, and by defending freedom they did not die in vain.
In his last address at West Point, General Douglas MacArthur spoke to the cadets of the soldiers who died under his command,

I do not know the dignity of their birth, but I do know the glory of their death. . . . The Long Gray Line has never failed us. Were you to do so, a million ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray, would rise from their white crosses thundering those magic words: Duty, Honor, Country. . . The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.

My friend Elizabeth Oldenburg is spending Veterans Day at the McLean Bible Church in northern Virginia stuffing Christmas stockings for the American armed forces deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. She is packing them with candy, anti-bacterial gel, nuts, jerky, deoderant, lip balm, etc. Our troops will not be back for Christmas but they will know that wonderful women such as Elizabeth are standing guard at home.
These volunteers are remembering the soldiers who waved goodbye to fearful spouses, confused young children, and scared parents, as well as careers, friends and homes — and said hello to unknown dangers. Civilian volunteers support, encourage and reinforce the fighting spirit of our front line troops, and they clearly represent the best sentiments for Veterans Day.
Another great way to thank a veteran, today and everyday: be aware – if you see someone wearing a ‘vet’ hat or in uniform- walk up, introduce yourself and ask if you can shake their hand. Tell them that you appreciate and honor them and their service. Be an example of gratitude.

The American Scene: Why Are Young Women Using Botox? By Gregory Hilton

I was intensely staring at some beautiful women this weekend. That is not unusual but this time I had a good reason. I was participating in another weekend seminar at Georgetown University but the students were distracted with all of the excitement regarding the health care debate. We want them to be interested in the legislative process and we delayed class so they could watch the debate and news coverage.
This gave me an opportunity to speak informally with some of our younger faculty members and students. The very popular Botox treatments dominated their conversations. I had heard of Botox but assumed it was a product for women in my age group (the AARP crowd).
The women who told me they were receiving regular Botox injections ranged in age from 28 to 36. None of them were using Botox to plump up lips, and because their skin was so flawless, I asked if they had problems with wrinkles in the past.
The answer was no, but they viewed this as a preventative measure. Botox involves botulinum toxin being injected into wrinkle lines to freeze facial muscles and temporarily remove frown lines. The injection temporarily paralyses muscles in the face so it is virtually impossible to frown or raise your eyebrows. Once the preserve of cosmetic surgeons, Botox is now offered by dermatologists and medical spas, and the price has been reduced significantly.
According to the Georgetown group, the whole focus of anti-ageing treatments is changing. It is now about young women wanting to stay youthful. They do not want to see the first signs of ageing and are not prepared to wait until they do. One of our younger faculty members has Botox injections into her forehead and around her eyes three times a year. She also has fillers on her face and regular laser skin treatment. She is 36 years old.
A 28 year old student told me she was receiving Botox every three months to prevent deep wrinkles from forming later on. “My mother has some really strong frown lines and I want to prevent that,” she said. She admitted part of the reason was peer pressure and she would go to the spa treatments with her friends.
To me there appeared to be no reason why this woman would be concerned about wrinkles at her age. One of her 28 year old friends said “I see it as a step up from face cream. I know some people are against it, but many of them have facials. This is a lot better.”
A 33 year old teaching assistant said she had recently started noticing wrinkles around the edge of her upper lip and eyes. “I use to model so I am aware of that volatile and highly pressured business. There are so many women younger than me now. I think it is necessary to keep a younger, fresher look. I want to stop the ageing process for as long as possible.”

House Passage of Health Care Reform Now Appears Imminent by Gregory Hilton

The American people are the clear losers tonight. There were excellent alternatives to improve health care but the Democrats were not interested in compromise. Democrats admit the bill costs at least $1.3 trillion but they still say this will reduce health care costs. Speaker Pelosi and her allies are creating a bureaucratic beast that will end the American health care system as we know it. It will kill millions of small business jobs at a time when our nation’s unemployment rate has exceeded 10%. It will also cut Medicare, pile massive debt on future generations, and increase costs.
Our health care system does need revamping, but we do not need to reinvent the wheel. The House bill ignores tort reform and insurance companies will not have the ability to provide coverage across the United States.
If the Pelosi plan is so good then why doesn’t the Congress adopt it for themselves rather than keeping their Cadillac Plan?
This bill will cut reimbursements to physicians and hospitals, and the backlash will be fewer primary physicians or, those who take Medicare/Medicaid will cease to do so. If reimbursements to hospitals decrease, the far reaching effect will be lay offs for nurses. There are already nursing shortages, nurse patient ratios are now unacceptable to the point of being dangerous.
Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, today commented on the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) more detailed cost estimate of the House health reform bill.
Senator Gregg stated, “The CBO estimate released last night finally sheds light on the smoke and mirrors game the majority has been playing with the cost of their health care reform proposal. Over the first 10 years, this legislation builds in gross new spending of $1.7 trillion – and most of the new spending doesn’t even start until 2014. Once that spending is fully phased in, the House Democratic bill rings up at more than $3 trillion over ten years.
“Additionally, this bill cuts critical Medicare and Medicaid funding by $628 billion, accounts for nearly $1.2 trillion in tax and fee increases and will explode the scope of government by putting the nation’s health care system in the hands of Washington bureaucrats. The $3 trillion price tag defies common sense – we simply cannot add all this new spending to the government rolls and claim to control the deficit.
“If we continue to pile more and more debt on the next generation, they will never be able to get out from under it. The health care system needs reform, but this massive expansion of government, financed by our children and grandchildren, is the wrong way to proceed.”

MOVIE REVIEW: “Star 80” (1983) and “Death of a Centerfold” (1981) by Gregory Hilton

Both of these movies are almost two decades old but they have a lasting message regarding anger management and clinical depression. “Death of a Centerfold” (1981) starred Jamie Lee Curtis and was an NBC made for TV movie, while “Star 80” (1983) went to the big screen with Mariel Hemingway (as centerfold Dorothy Stratten), Cliff Robertson (as Hugh Hefner), and Eric Roberts (Julia’s brother) in a critically acclaimed role as Dorothy’s ex-husband, Paul Snider. Gene Siskel placed “Star 80” in the number 6 position on his top ten list of the best films of 1983, while Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars.
Both movies are true accounts of the life of 1980 Playboy Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten. She was murdered by her ex-husband on August 14, 1980. “Star 80” was filmed on location in Vancouver, and the Los Angeles death scene was filmed in the apartment in which the murder actually took place. Dorothy first appeared in Playboy at age 19, and was murdered when she was 20.
“Star 80” is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Village Voice article “Death of a Playmate” by Teresa Carpenter. The film’s title was taken from the vanity license plates of Paul Snider. “Death of a Centerfold” was based on Peter Bogdanovich’s book “The Killing of the Unicorn.” Bogdanovich, the producer of “The Last Picture Show” (8 Academy Award nominations), “What’s Up, Doc?” and “Paper Moon,” was Stratten’s real-life lover.
Paul Snider was a bisexual professional narcissist who was consumed by his own appearance. Today we would call him a metrosexual and he spent hours on his wardrobe, hairstyle and manicures. He was a clean freak who could not leave the house unless everything about him was perfect. His other obsession was ice hockey in his native Canada
Paul Snider met Dorothy Stratten when she was 16 years old and working at a Dairy Queen in Vancouver. Dorothy’s parents and sisters immediately disliked Snider’s attitude and condescending remarks. Snider wanted to control everything about Dorothy from the outset, and this included throwing out her entire wardrobe and trying to cut off contacts with her school friends.
He was intensely jealous, and this became worse as he drank. Snider himself had no friends because of his difficult personality, and this is also the reason he could not keep a job. He believed superficial things such as clothes and cars were the key to popularity, and he failed to recognize that it was his destructive behavior which turned people off. Dorothy does pick up some of his shallow attitudes.
Many nice young boys were interested in the beautiful Dorothy. She was very picky but for some strange reason she was attracted to the egotistical Snyder who constantly told her what to do. A psychiatrist later said her feelings for Snyder were primarily due to the lack of affection she felt from her own family. Dorothy never could confide in her religious and eccentric mother (Carroll Baker of “The Carpetbaggers” and “Giant”), and claimed her parents never hugged her as a child. Her father was also emotionally distant.
To the disgust of her family, Paul and Dorothy eloped after her high school graduation and moved to Los Angeles. Paul’s next step was to submit her photos to Playboy magazine. In LA, Dorothy soon realizes she made a big mistake in marrying Snider and starts to seek a way out of the marriage. She becomes a Playboy bunny at the LA club, and then appears in the magazine as a centerfold. As all of this happens, Snider gets more and more marginalized.
She tells other women at the Playboy Club that she has to get away from Snider, but is afraid to leave because of his violent tendencies. “I know he will hurt me if I leave,” Dorothy says. When she is selected as the 1980 Playmate of the Year she receives $250,000 in cash and a Jaguar sports car.
With the help of other women, Dorothy files for divorce. Publisher Hugh Hefner is aware of the situation and says Dorothy can move into the locked and gated Playboy mansion for her protection. There was later a law suit about “Star 80.” Bogdanovich said Hefner was not being nice, and Dorothy was paying rent at the mansion through sex with friends of the publisher.
Snider immediately became a stalker when Dorothy left. A maid would later discover him hiding in the closet of Dorothy’s room. There were constant parties at the mansion and soon Dorothy had a new boyfriend who was over 20 years her senior, prominent film director Peter Bogdanovich.
Photos of Dorothy and Bogdanovich at numerous elite parties appeared in the tabloids. As he loses control of her, Snider grows more unstable. His behavior was very erratic and he made a variety of threats. Dorothy obtains a protective order to keep Snider away from her. At the same time she lands the lead role in the science fiction thriller Galaxina.
Eric Roberts does a great job in portraying the hollowness at the center of Snider’s psychological core, and his all-consuming narcissism. His behavior was always perplexing. He was married to a highly desirable woman but was constantly yelling and picking fights for minor reasons. One of the many problems is that Snider was conflicted by his bisexual nature.
Snider’s identity was built around Dorothy and her success was the one thing he had to brag about. When she left him, Snider realizes he is no longer seen as a hot stud with access to the Playboy Mansion and a Playmate wife.
I will not ruin the ending by revealing all the details. Simply put, Dorothy was tricked into returning to Snider’s apartment to pick up things. He murdered her and then turned the gun on himself.
Paul Snider had all of the classic signs and symptoms of depression in men including anger, aggression, violence, reckless behavior, and substance abuse. Depression is not just the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, and is not simply cured with medication.
Snider was a “hothead.” He would get angry easily and more intensely than the average person. As a teenager he was chronically irritable and grumpy. People who are easily angered have a low tolerance for frustration. They greatly resent being subjected to any frustration, inconvenience, or annoyance. They can’t take things in stride. Typically, people who are easily angered come from families that are disruptive, chaotic, and not skilled at emotional communications.
Finally, an interesting aside to both of these movies is that on December 30, 1988, 49-year-old Peter Bogdanovich married then 20-year-old Louise Stratten, Dorothy’s younger sister. Unfortunately the couple divorced in 2001.