February 29, 2016


   The year of a Presidential election is a "treat" if you do not take what is said too seriously. This 2016 year is going down in the record books for a number of reasons – the number of Republican candidates, the number of debates. Probably the most overpowering reason(s) is that a mega-billionaire is running for President, funding his own campaign, taking no campaign contributions, pulling no punches when it comes to taking a position on whatever issue is thrown at him, and refusing to cave into the extortion of Fox News and its narrator.

   This week brought what may be the most humorous event of, at least to date and maybe for the entire 2016 election year.

   The Catholic Pope (who resides in Vatican City, Italy and is a native of Argentina) put his foot in political you know what by commenting on Presidential candidate Donald Trump's position that he would build a wall to control illegal immigrants crossing American borders. In case you were somehow out-of-earshot, the Pope said words to the effect that if a man would build such a wall, he did not think Mr Trump was a Christian.

   Now, for those viewing the video coverage of the Pope making the comment and Mr. Trump's response, it was downright enjoyable to see the dynamics.

   Previously, the Pope could do no wrong and adulation has been like no other in recent decades. Granted his lack of pompous attitude and refusal of some of the vaulted trappings of the office has been "refreshing," but, evidently those guiding the Pope forgot to give him the course in Presidential Politics 101, or he chose not to listen.

   The comments made from other Republican Presidential candidates was mind-boggling. Not even Senator Ted Cruz took advantage of the situation as he usually does at insulting Trump, declining to comment except to say "that's between Donald and the Pope. I'm not going to get in the middle of that . . ." Even Jeb Bush said he didn't think it was appropriate to question Trump's faith.

   Trump, exhibiting rare diplomacy, said he didn't like fighting with the Pope but did throw back, "He's got an awfully big wall at the Vatican, I will tell you." As the hours ticked away, Trump showed unusual diplomacy and appeared to try and soften the controversy by adding the Pope is a "wonderful guy," "I like his personality; I like what he represents." (See the Point-of-Information for an interesting bit of information about the Swiss Guard guarding the Vatican inside that big wall.)

   There are some notable revelations revealed by the Trump-Pope fight:

  • the Pope, like or not, is a political leader;
  • the Pope heads a sovereign state – Vatican City;
  • as head of a sovereign state, he meets with world powers;
  • the Pope's comments about Trump were made on a trip to Mexico where he met with government leaders and the head of Mexico;
  • Trump showed a dramatically different side than has been the case to date in the 2016 campaign, that he's not all mouth and bravado; and
  • Trump, by his handling of the "fight," showed a subtle acknowledgment of the 20 percent of American voters who are Catholic and whose vote he would like to count on in November.

   The Trump-Pope "fight" will go down as a first in Presidential election politics, and at least showed the candidates can be civilized to each other after a very acrimonious campaign to date.

Point-of-Information:  The pope's place of residence – Vatican City – has been guarded by the Pontifical Swiss Guard since 1506. For real!!The Pontifical Swiss Guard is the "smallest and oldest army" in the world.

How did such an army come about? Originally founded as a mercenary force, the army has a history of courage like none other, and in a way is, "a precursor to today's elite special forces." The stoic guards are on duty 24/7, accompany the Holy Farther on his travels, protect the College of Cardinals during papal transitions, guard the entrances to Vatican City and perform other security and honorary services.

On first glance and to the uninformed, the Swiss Guards may give the impression they are on the way to the local Renaissance Festival because of the outlandish style and colorful  uniforms they wear, but make no mistake, tangle with one and you will finds the spear they hold are not for appearances, the spear can "shred you to pieces" – that failing, the Swiss Guard has one of the finest firearms (weapons) collection on the planet to finish the job.

Originally trained and founded by the Swiss more than 500 years ago, the elite force found they had no enemies so they hired themselves out as mercenaries, and very profitably so the story goes.

Thanks for all the interviews – on-air and print – for the fodder making this column possible. That's what is great about writing commentary. 

And now for a replay of a column from 2011 which came to mind with the continual reference to "billionaire Donald Trump."



When the alarm clock goes off more days of the week than not, billions of American feet hit the floor, maybe not running, but hit the floor never the less. 

The Recession descended on America and was finally recognized in the final year of the Bush Administration (2008). Having a reason to set the alarm and for the feet to hit the floor took on greater meaning and grew as millions of Americans lost jobs and their reason for setting the alarm. 

Former Presidential hopeful (more than one time) John McCain built his political career on his military career and prison-of-war status – no one would disagree, that time as a prisoner-of-war was far too long and during a war that as yet has no defined reason except for the billions and billions of dollars it meant to military contractors.  Also noteworthy, it was a war many Americans went to great lengths to avoid serving in. 

John McCain over the many years of campaigning repeated words to the effect that his life had been "not for profit, but for patriotism." That idea is most peculiar, even for a politician hoping to move up from Senator to President, especially considering McCain's path taken:  prisoner-of-war hero leaves wife who stood by him during that time – marries wealthy brewing company heiress – elected to lifetime Senator from Arizona – running for President of the United States. Note, there is no disruption on that path by having to "work for a living." A great gig, but a little disingenuous and out-of-touch with ordinary American citizens who hear that alarm five day a week, if not more, and most are downright glad to do so. 

Former minister/Arkansas Governor/Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee claims in his biography that his 12-year career as a man of the cloth (writer's label, not his) "gave him a deep sense of the problems faced by individuals and families."  Now, in that there is no way in this country/world to determine how much money churches take in TAX FREE or how much income ministers claim as tax free, there is a real credibility gap in Huckabee's ego trip/philosophy.  Huckabee's biography makes only one reference to a "for profit" stint at working for a living:   "After an early career in broadcasting and advertising, he spent 12 years as a pastor and denominational leader." 

Huckabee is also known for his musical talents and his band which has opened for the likes of Willie Nelson and the Charlie Daniels Band, two presidential balls and two Republican National Conventions. Not a bad resume! But again, hard to find a morsel in the background about beginning the day with the alarm ringing; i.e., "working for a living, paying their fair share of taxes . . ." 

To be fair, Huckabee has returned to media employment and is now a host of television/ radio shows for Fox and Citadel Media – we can only assume they are paying gigs and he is paying income taxes, although the latter is a risky assumption in that ministers are well-known for being very inventive as to deducting the cost of pencils, wood for heating their cabooses, other such things, even for calling on constituents. Virtually every move a minister makes is exempt from paying taxes under the claim of ministering to their parishioners. Huckabee and his wife live in Florida but spend part of their time in Arkansas.

Working for a living is a concept of America's founding principles, but even then, many of America's founding fathers were not known for actually working for a living, or actually doing the work, leaving such drudgery to their slaves, a fact of the moral hypocrisy that was widespread at the time in America.  Even then, politicians were adept at the practice of "do as I say, not as I do." 

The idea that pervades this edition brings up a "whole nother" point that many ordinary Americans choke on while paying their fair share. Is it a good idea to have a country so totally dependent on the taxes it collects as its primary source of revenue, while the wealthy and large corporations get by without paying any taxes?  Remember, General Electric Corporation (GE) paid no taxes even though its pretax profit was $5.1 billion for its U.S. operations in 2010. GE adamantly maintains this was possible due to previous losses. 

Governor Hickenlooper showed Colorado just how in charge the new sheriff in town is when he replaced the entire membership (five people) of Colorado's Gaming Commission this past week. Next week, taxes and Colorado's casinos.

Mark Twain once said:  "The rule is perfect – in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane." 

The reader’s comments or questions are always welcome.  E-mail me at doris@dorisbeaver.com.

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