Category Archives: US Politics

Promises, promises, and promises

Let me tell you a story about a country whose national constitution and its leaders promised each and every citizen free room and board in an apartment complex, a tuition-free education from K-14 and college, and that the government would provide a monthly stipend to the student if they maintained a grade of “C” or better during the semester.

And, upon graduation from college, there would be a guaranteed job anywhere they chose to live in that country. Oh, one moment please…did I forget to mention that the government also guaranteed its citizens that in addition they would receive free medical and hospital and dental care?

Where is – or was – this Paradise?

Obviously it is not here in these United States.

Just sign here on the dotted line and the government will issue you a passport.

But, before you sign, please read the small print, you may not be in a hurry to pack and leave. In that small print, it states: The recipient shall forfeit their US citizenship to board and pledge alliance to the USSR.

Like myself, thousands did sign away their rights and disappeared into the land of unbelievable promises.

I do not know how many Jews left America for Birobidzhan, an area in the Soviet Far East, but some did. The Soviets promised them a homeland. I also do not know the actual numbers who picked up their families and slammed the doors to their homes in France, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Syria, China and from the four corners of the earth. But I do know that there were more than 300 Armenian American families that had given up on America and had accepted Stalin’s invitation to “repatriate” to the USSR. I was in one of the two groups that left the land of the free and the home of the brave…

The Soviet Union and its leader Joseph Vissarionovich Djugashvili aka Stalin needed manpower to rebuild the war-devastated country and anyone who could pick up a shovel was welcomed to get into the employment and bread lines.

They answered “Uncle Joe’s” call because many believed “capitalism” was had outlived its purpose and that communism would indeed, some day, lift the pathos of the exploited workers of the world. Aside from the many promises, the Soviet Union had also emerged from World War II as a “superpower”. Stalin had gobbled up most of Europe and, in 1949, when Mao Tse-tung ‘s Red Army forced Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek to move the Cabinet of the National Government to Formosa, (nee Taiwan) one need not crack a fortune cookie to read the future of the Chinese people.

There suddenly were Communists everywhere…at least the young Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy maintained that was so.

The Western World was sick of war and no power, not even the newly-established United Nations was willing to say “Nyet” to Stalin.

And we, the children of the Great Depression, who saw our fathers lose everything, including their hope in the country, wept for those we cherished so dearly. Bread lines in America? No jobs! Work two hours or two days, if lucky, on WPA projects!– Looking for food, even scraps, in the empty boxes at the Eastern Market..these are the images of America in the 1930’s.

Who among us that survived the bloody clashes between the strikers and scabs and police to bring in the Labor Unions will ever forget! The blood stains are still there…on the concrete at the Rouge Bridge where UAW strikers and Ford’s henchmen, led by the sadist Bennett, battled for the write to organize a union at the Ford Motor Company. Who among us will forget the Flint sit-down strike? The Republic Steel Company and the Memorial Day massacre in South Chicago where police fired upon strikers leaving a pool of a blood at “Little Steel”.

Around the negotiating tables that brought together Labor and Corporate Mangers came agreements that changed not only the lives of American families, but made the United States the envy of the world. As GM’s Charles Kettering, Chairman of General Motors, noted in his time that “the world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.” And it is interesting to note that there were more that 11 million labor union members on corporate America’s payrolls during the 1940’s and 50’s, and these workers helped make this nation the greatest nation in the history of mankind.

Even in democracy’s darkest hours, when most of Europe had mourned the loss of its freedom, and was under the marching heels of Hitler’s army, America, yes, America provided the world with a gleam of light, of hope. The man who would enslave the world, and his Fascist madmen, inevitably felt the deadly sting on a united America.

When the challenge appears formidable, our nation and its leaders have always responded. Presidents did not have to “practice being `presidential’.’’ They were ready when called upon to act. I can still hear the scratchy sounds of the words of FDR coming from the radio as he addressed the nation during the dark days of the Great Depression. Those words ring clearly now as when they were uttered. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Or who can forget FDR’s opening statement on Dec. 8, 1941, which began, “December 7, 1941, a day that will live in infamy…”

A united nation, whose army still relied on the horse-drawn artillery, rolled up their sleeves, and industry coked up their furnaces, and steel became tanks and ships and fighter planes and bombers and the weapons that would defeat what was considered an undefeatable Nazi Germany and an Imperial Japan.

Never again would we be caught off guard.

There have been other breathless moments – the Cold War, The Korean Conflict, Viet Nam, the Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, and it goes on…

In the 1960’s a young, handsome senator named John F. Kennedy reminded us, “The most powerful single force in the world today is neither Communism or Capitalism…it is man’s eternal desire to be free and independent…”and he became our president. And he made us believe in his Camelot, that he would take us to the moon and beyond.

We reached the moon, but it all turned into a nightmare when the president who had challenged the nation, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

And now I am told by the woman who I must obey, that I must come to the TV set for the “Great Debate”.

I would rather stay here with my readers.

Tell me, my fellow Americans, why should I leave you to listen to and hear the jibbering Donald Trump or the equivocating Hillary Clinton have to say? Haven’t they said enough? Instead of offering words that will provide national cohesion, the two pull the country apart. Neither has really offered a single policy or a word of wisdom that will be remembered down through the decades.

But, then there’s NBC’s Lester Holt – and he’s definitely worth listening to.

Before I end this post: I have noticed that in some sectors of social media there is an outcry for a return to “nationalism”, the evil that follows those lamentable individuals who believe that refugees should not step on US soil and those who were born elsewhere should go elsewhere. I remember the thoughtful words of Albert Einstein who noted, “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”

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bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

 

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Thoughts on Governance

Lincoln Memorial
Image courtesy of Pixabay and ahundt

If two-hundred-forty years of so-called American democracy has taught us anything, it is that there are no shortcuts to good governance.

If we the people, and those we have empowered to govern us, have not gotten it right after more than a couple of centuries, why should we expect those foreign countries whose dictators and tyrants have been overthrown, get it right after a couple of years?

The transformation from authoritarian to democratic governance is a long, arduous process with many pitfalls on the way. As recent history showed us, there are no guarantees when a dictator is deposed and freedom rings out.

One single event, put in motion by obtuse elected officials, can set the world ablaze. Is there a nation, a city, an institution that feels secure today? The United States’ invasion of Iraq, illegally planned by a sophomoric, opportunistic group of politicians, carried out an attack against a sovereign nation, created the chaos and mayhem that we, the people, live in today. The exuberance of the so-called “victory” was indeed short-lived. The blame for our national pathos today lies at the feet of an inept and divided Congress, which fails to act on any issue because of the color of the skin of the 44th President of the United States.

History will not forgive them.

And, now fellow Americans, we must suffer until November 8 and, perhaps beyond, because the major political parties have nominated and offered us two incredibly scrupulous candidates. One, with his mawkish oratory and childish actions, has demonstrated there is little, if any, civility left in today’s American politics. He is a pathological liar whose followers believe that he will make “America Great Again” and whose supporters believe “He tells it like it is”. Give us a break.

The other major candidate, a former Secretary of State, NY Senator, and First Lady, has tainted what was believed impeccable credentials for the office with lies and deception.

It comes down to this: The 45th President of the United States will either be a pathological liar or one who has willingly accepted baksheesh from those who seek a helping hand from the occupant of the White House.

Not much of a choice.

Today, more than ever, the people must take a hard and long look at these candidates. For now, more than ever, the future of the world, the country, and your loved ones are at stake.

Is it any wonder that the elite members of the frustrated RNC are on daily alert to explain what their man is trying to explain? Likewise, the DNC, which believed it had a “sure thing” in the first woman nominated by its party, has discovered Truth never allows a Lie to sleep. FBI Director Comey proved that point.

I say and write this because if we, the strongest and most powerful country in the history of mankind, can’t get it right, why, then, do we expect other nations and foreign leaders to live up to our expectations?

We have tried to export our democracy, our way of life and laws to those nations whose people have followed ancient laws and customs set forth by centuries. Under whose orders or power, were we given the right to impose upon these people our “democracy”, our way of life? If you know of any, please tell us. I was taught that government derives its power by the consent of its people. If the people demand change then their actions, and only their actions, should bring about that change.

The history of the United States has shown that in times of peril Americans have chosen the right person to lead the nation. The enduring names of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower, have become immortal in the minds and hearts of those who remember what they accomplished when the country called upon them to serve. History has embraced them.

Political change, indeed, has come to the Middle East, but the freedoms we value, and believe they, too, value, have not. But we still have hope, that one day, all people will be treated with dignity and respect; that all people will honor life, liberty, and the individual pursuit of happiness.

Today our so-called victories in Iraq and Afghanistan have been branded as Pyrrhic. Today’s political dialogue is malignant and destructive to everything that we believe in – and many are suspicious of anything that is proposed in this Congress.

We need to work together; we need to refocus on our common goals. “A house divided against itself,” Lincoln warned us,” cannot stand.”

It was as true in 1860 as it is today.

These are my thoughts on governance…I welcome yours.

***

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

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War, Not Peace?

Hand holding earth
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Ponsulak

It was Churchill who noted that facts are better than dreams.

For we can dream all we want of jobs, or a national health care program, or financial security, or peace, if we do not work for those ends, it just won’t happen.

To hope is good, but the word is too subjective. I can pray all I want to God for peace, but the fact is there is no peace. The 20th Century was one of the most violent centuries since man recorded history; and the 21st is shaping up to being no better. We have been involved in Iraq and Afghanistan for more years than we were in World War I or even World War II.

And to make it clear – I detest war as most men and women do. Death comes too soon in life to hasten it in battle.

Though I have heard during my fourscore and one years many false prophets preach of a “Judgment Day” for the evil and a Resurrection Day for the merciful, I have seen neither. So those who have died for the causes…the “isms”, for liberty, for equality, for fraternity and for their national security have apparently died in vain.

There is no justifiable reason to go to war, not even if it is a so-called “humanitarian operation”.

If by “we” means to place American lives in jeopardy, I say no…a thousand times “no”. Have we not sacrificed enough of our young men and women upon the altar of war? The world has long forgotten those who sacrificed their lives at Verdun and the Somme and Amiens and Normandy and El Alamein and Stalingrad, and Dien Bien Phu – to list but a few. Those millions of lives lost – on both sides of the battle lines – were lives of the young and our finest – what unfulfilled missions did they have before the fatal bullet struck them down? Which of those brave lads was the one destined to find the cures for our cancers, to create undersea and ocean apartment complexes – what were they destined to do before they were called to arms?

Isn’t it time for man to abandon violence as a means to settle disagreements?

Given a microphone to ask a question, one student at one of my book talks at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan, said, “Mr. Mooradian, I have served in Iraq. Do not be confused. We are not there for the people. We are there for our buddies: to protect him and hopefully for him to protect me.”

Another student raised the question, “Should we not intervene to stop those in power from mass murdering ethnic groups?”

Strange, isn’t it – that that question should be asked of an Armenian author whose mother, at the age of 10, watched as a Turk plunged a saber into the belly of her pregnant older sister and saw the Turks slaughter her mother and father after they burned down their home in the village of Ererzum. Where was the United States? Where was France and England and Russia then? They stood by and asked the Christian Armenians to pray…

But then Armenians did not have oil.

To those who believe in intervention, let the United Nations – not the United States – act. After all, was not that the purpose of the framers of the United Nations charter…to establish a government body that would immediately act against those who would commit crimes against humanity.

“They don’t have the power…or the forces…to do so,” you say.

Then give them the power and the resources.

And, I will repeat what I have told the now thousands who have heard me, “If man cannot live on earth in peace, then damn it, we do not deserve to live on earth!”

***

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

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Explaining the Inexplicable

Donkeys in a pasture
Image courtesy of Franky242 and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When it comes to politics, nationalism, and economics, everyone, it seems, (including me) is seeking to explain “the Donald Trump…”, the “Bernie Sanders…”, “The Brexit … ” phenomena. And, when it comes to enigmas, I am the first to admit I am no Winston Churchill or Alan Turing – and not to offend Polish readers, I’m also not a Marian Rejewski, a Jerzy Rozycki, or Henry Zygalski…the cryptologists who initially cracked the  “uncrackable”  Enigma, the Nazi Code Machine.

If you will please bear with me for a few paragraphs or so, I am going to digress here, to tell you an ancient Armenian saga. And when I finish, I am quite certain, you will not need the political pundits or the cryptologists to explain the poppycock Donald Trump or the ground-roots popularity of Bernie. (Now that is what we call political bias, Mr. Mooradian).

Eons ago, while sharing his wine and lavash and cheese with me under the mulberry tree, the centenarian Armen Dye, whose role as groundskeeper and gardener and in-house philosopher at the famous Pioneers Palace in Yerevan, told me the following story. It went something like this:

…Once upon a time there was this not-to-wise farmer. His name was Ashot. Ashot had a donkey (ehshe) which he used to plow his field and carry his produce to market. Ashot usually fed and treated his loyal donkey well, and the donkey repaid his master, laboring without stubbornness or complaints, and you know how stubborn a mule can be.

However, one evening Ashot was distracted and forgot to feed the animal. The following day as he worked the field, the donkey, decided to stage a sit-down strike. The animal folded his legs, and slipped to the soil. Ashot immediately realized the injustice – he had not fed his loyal laborer and the ehshe (ass) had no other recourse but to halt production. The farmer promised, after pleading, even begging, that once they got back to the barn he “would take care of him”.

But once in the barn, Arshot became belligerent – “How dare this ass make demands of me – I am the boss here. He must obey me.” So he didn’t feed him that evening. Or the next. Or the next. And the farmer realized that by not feeding the jackass he was also saving a lot of money.

Several days passed, then one evening Ashot heard a loud terrible sound come from the barn. He rushed out and a cold shill enveloped him. He glanced down at the animal. It had died. In tears, Ashot moaned, “If only you had worked one more day, I would have fed you.”

Labor is sick and tired of waiting…

The jobless remain jobless, and have given up hope of finding a job….

If you’re “fortunate” enough to be employed these days, and dare to ask for a raise…forget it. Your boss will tell you “This isn’t the time for raises.” And then you learn that the corporation is planning to move its operation overseas.

Political candidates seek power “to make changes and get rid of the elitists,” they assure us that they want office to care “for the poor and downtrodden.” But, once in office do they not become the “rich man’s friend?”

Once in office, politicians enact anti-labor laws such as NAFTA – the North American Free Trade Agreement – then add salt to labor’s wounds by joining TPP – The Trans-Pacific Partnership – so why do we wonder or why are we stunned when England’s voters decide to turn up their noses at the Europe and vote to exit the EU!

As Tony Blair, the ex-Prime Minister of England noted on “Morning Joe” the other day… “The elite today are so disconnected (with the labor class). We’re living in a bubble. And this isn’t only happening here in England. It’s happening everywhere….in France, in Italy, in Germany…in Romania…everywhere…”

And, dear Mr. Blair…it has been that way now in these United States for decades. How else can you explain the popularity of a Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump?

In time, the “elite” evaporate; the people, however, have been here since the beginning of time.

One doesn’t need the services of a cryptologist to understand this: Workers today are sick and tired of waiting for the crumbs to fall from the rich man’s table. And they have worked to put the rich man there; now, they want a seat at the table. Fear not those who rush for the crumbs that fall from the table. Fear those, who stand back and watch…

Yes, that last paragraph, I updated from what the brilliant Oscar Wilde wrote in the late 19th Century. The chair of the middle class has been snatched from beneath us and the nation is plummeting into a black hole by the senseless and irrational behavior of a divided Congress.

In the tinderbox of the world, it would be wise to remember the words of an undelivered speech of one of the greatest presidents of our country, Franklin D. Roosevelt, written shortly before his death: “Today we are faced with the pre-eminent fact that, if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships – the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together and work together in the same world, at peace…”

Do you think it’s possible?

***

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

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Yet, again…

Man at sunset
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Why do these dreams of ours continue to be haunted by our nightmares? Will there ever be a week when we can turn on our TVs or pick up a newspaper without a banner headline announcing yet another senseless mass murder or killing?

Must we sacrifice our sense of security or forfeit our way of life, to these apparently predatory and certainly unstable individuals? Like a rattlesnake, they attack and kill without reason or rhyme. Their poisonous venom spreads to other spineless cowards who surface time-and-time again from their sulfurous dungeons to carry out their horrific acts.

Those who survive the onslaughts become hostages to fear – fear of sending a child to school, attending church, going to a movie theater or a concert, taking a stroll in the park, or spending an evening with friends at a nightclub.

In the last century, there were real and deliberate killers …Al Capone…Lucky Luciano…John Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde (aka Blanche and Bill Barrow), Baby Face Nelson, Machine Gun Kelly….they were killers! Even they didn’t go into high schools to kill; elementary schools to kill; churches to kill; or movie theatres to kill. They killed specific people for power and notoriety, as well as greed. At least we understood why.

You would think that after all of the violence over the years, all of the anguish, we would be a more peaceful nation…not a more violent one.

Yes, our politicians will gather this week and again these honest and honorable people, after all they are ALL honorable, will first offer their sympathies to the families of the victims and then they will vow that these “senseless killings” must be stopped. Some will advocate more stringent control laws, while others will counter with that “we should all bear arms”, that the government and Obama want to take our weapons away from us…and the dead will be dead and the living will go on living.

It was Ronald Reagan who said, “We have a long way to go, but thanks to the courage, patience, and strength of our people, America is on the mend.”

Bullshit!

 

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

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In the beginning…

US Capitol Building
Photo courtesy of
Stephen Melkisethian and Flickr under the Creative Commons License

Month by month, state by state, seventeen of the United States’ most brilliant political and business icons provided the American electorate a brief history of themselves to convince the voters that they had the solutions to this nation’s ills and were best qualified to lead this country for the next four years.

Only time will tell.

To quote the veritable statesman Adlai E. Stevenson, “In America, anyone can become president. That’s one of the risks you take.” (Stevenson was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for president in 1952 and 1956.)

This primary season’s elite cadre of 17 Republicans included candidates who have served our country as governors and US senators; one who is the brother of and the son of two former presidents and another who was also a religious leader. There was an ex-CEO of a major corporation and a billionaire who has distinguished himself as a builder of hotels and casinos, as well as the host of a popular TV show. In addition, this historic group included a brilliant pediatric neurosurgeon.

For almost a year now, the nation has heard and read of these and tolerated the Republican candidates: Their names are familiar to most of us: Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasick, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump, and Scott Walker.

Most of us looked forward to the Republican debates, expecting to find substance and gather information about the candidates’ credentials that would lead to solving our problems. Unfortunately – no, that is too innocent a word – tragically proved to be nothing but a sham!

It was a shameful, dishonorable, embarrassing, humiliating show by would-be candidates whose shabby political ignorance was echoed, not only here throughout our beloved nation, but heard in every corner of this earth.

They not only slandered their colleagues, but raised the ire of women and even children in the use of their foul and shallow language. Candidates spoke in the most unconventional way; often not completing sentences. Those sentences lacked substance, digressed from the questions, issues and solutions to this nation’s myriads of problems. Instead of concrete and direct answers to questions, they gave fraudulent responses, attempting to mask their ignorance with dangling participles left floating in the air.

And in this notable lot who, under pressure, collapsed were the young, good-looking, presentable and articulate, Marco Rubio, senator from Florida, and Dr. Ben Carson, the soft-spoken physician whose gifted hands saved the lives of hundreds of children and opened the way to groundbreaking medical advancements, the director of the prestigious Johns Hopkins Hospital’s pediatric neurosurgery. There was John Kasick, the Governor of Ohio, who described himself as “one of the chief architects” of the last balanced budget. Ted Cruz, a Harvard graduate who has argued cases before the US Supreme Court, who would spank “naughty” children, who advocated that “Children should be seen and not heard,” manipulated factoids and offered them up as facts. This learned scholar, disavowing any knowledge of the events, employed campaign consultants who spread false information that Dr. Carson had suspended his campaign in Iowa, when he had not; that Gov. Kasick had agreed to suspend his campaign in Indiana so that the Texas senator could challenge Trump one-on-one, when he had not.

This 2016 Republican group has been fodder for today’s press and will continue to be for future political writers of history.

Did I forget something or someone?

Of course not.

There is one…Donald Trump…the only one left standing of the elite 17, whose caustic tongue cut down his rivals one by one.

I personally would like to see Trump in the Oval Office. Wait, please, bear with me. I believe it will be a farce and the news media will have material for years to write and talk about. Much has been said and written about the billionaire who wantonly, slanderously cuts down anything and anybody who stands in his path.

If ignorance is bliss, then Trump must be a happy man. He is definitely unique in the history of American politics.

It appears, as the saying goes, “What you see is what you get!” But I wonder…all of us wear masks to a greater or lesser degree at times. Trump’s immediate circle of family, friends, political strategists, and advisors have assured us that the Mr. Trump seen on the political stage and on his reality show isn’t the real Mr. Trump. They maintain that the future builder of the Great Wall is passionate, virtuous, lovable, and a champion of the people, as proven by the numbers who have supported him at the voting booths in the majority of the states.

“Mr. Trump will be presidential,” they say, “once he and his beautiful wife are awarded the keys to the White House.” So, friends and foes will embrace this Republican Adonis, whom they believe will soon “Make American Great, Again!”

Yet his stage persona mirrors the painting of Dorian Gray, created by the fictional Basil Hallward, of Oscar Wilde’s imagination. Who has the key to the attic, where we can see the true nature of the man or beast, where good and evil stand side-by-side? That evil and that good is in all of us.

Now there is one.

But, look to the horizon…there is more to come.

***

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

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The Third World War

World War Three
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have joined many of you in prayer for peace and good will among nations. And, obviously, our prayers have yet to be answered.

I have sat at the dinner tables of the Soviet mother who lost all three sons fighting the Nazi invader, and watched my neighbor place the Gold Star in her front-room window, signifying that her son had died in the battle.

In my lifetime alone the conflict between nations has never ceased – World War II, Korean, Viet Nam, The Cold War, the Iraq and Afghanistan Invasions to name a few – the battlefields that have claimed millions of young men and women, and still mankind remains right on course in its insane attempt to commit suicide.

We choose to build rockets with atomic warheads, nuclear submarines, multi-million dollar aircraft carriers and drones, yet fail to provide our people with medical care, food, and clothing. We MUST defend our homeland but our troops are stationed in lands and cities whose names we can’t pronounce or find on our maps.

As Trygve Lie, the First Secretary General of the United Nations once noted…Wars occur because people prepare for conflict, rather than for peace.

If the word is more powerful than the sword, why then have we turned our backs on our knowledge to solve our political difference? Must we continue to be governed on the false and insane premise that might makes right.

For more years that most care to say, the United States has been fighting an “invisible” force of terrorists, known as ISIL, whose top officers consist of the deposed Iraq dictator. Their ranks are made up of the uprooted, disenfranchised, and the disillusioned whose leaders corrupt the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed and the Koran. They spread their venomous teachings of hate and terror in hopes of creating a caliphate whose barbaric foundation would be to enslave all who do not believe in their monstrous views.

As if there isn’t enough pain and suffering today on earth, the world may again be plunged into another world conflict as the fragile cease-fire between Nagorno-Karabakh and its neighboring Azerbaijan has been violated. Even during the truce there have been killings. Rockets fired. Men and women killed.

Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave of the Republic of Armenia, was part of ancient and historic Armenia that became a part of Azerbaijan shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution, thanks to the generosity of the then Commissar of Nationalities, Joseph Stalin.

Armenia, which in 301 converted to Christianity making it the first nation to accept Christianity as a national religion, had no say in the decision and, the Nogorno Karabakh Armenians were governed by the Sunni Azeri’s until the collapse of the Soviet Empire.

Upon the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Christian Armenians of Karabakh had no desire to live under the heel of the Sunnis and fought for their freedom, which they won. The 192,000 Christian Armenians who composed approximately 75 percent of the population of the region dreamed of reuniting with Mother Armenia.

With 60,000 million Turks in the West and 16 million Sunni Azeris to the East, Armenia is sandwiched between two historic enemies. It is no secret that the Russian Federation and its president, Vladimir Putin would side with the Christian Armenians. They have a mutual defense pact.

But Turkey is a longtime member of NATO, and the Turks, who slaughtered 1.5 million Armenians in 1915, would not hesitate to finish their bloodletting.

Add the countries who signed the Minsk Declaration, a mutual defense pact which includes 11 former members of the Soviet Union, plus the Russian military onto the battlefield…you have the makings of another world war. And that, I believe, is why Putin has dispatched his Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, to the Armenian capital, Yerevan, to talk with Armenia’s head of state, Serzh Sargsian.

And you thought the 20th was a violent century!

***

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
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How Quickly We Forget

ISP-dictator4
During my lifetime the world has witnessed the rise and fall of many sadistic dictators. Topping the list of 20th Century despots are Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini, Hikedi Tojo, Mao Tse-tung, Francisco Franco, and Ho Chi Minh.

It seems, as in the gang drug wars, when one drug lord is executed, another quickly claims the territory.

And now, civilization has to be concerned over a newcomer on the world stage of aggression – the young psychopathic ruler of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, who seems to enjoy shooting off long-rang missiles and torturing members of his own family before executing them. More on Kim later.

I realize we humans have short memories. Quick test: Who today remembers the (1) Katyn Forest massacre? (2) The slaughter at Oradourt sur Glane, France? (3) Austerlitz and (4) The First Genocide of the 20th Century?

My mother used to say that the only time you will remember an evil deed is when the sword strikes you or your loved one and, by a miracle of God, you survive.

I was reminded of that as I sat last night as I watched a young American student, arrested and convicted by the North Koreans for removing a political banner from a hotel, burst into tears and beg the court for mercy. Breaking into tears, 21-year-old Otto Frederick Warmbier, pleaded with the court, apologized for his actions, and tearfully asked for his freedom.

“My brother and my sister need me…I beg that you see that I am only human. I realize that I have made the worst mistake of my life.”

Warmbier’s plea fell on deaf ears. The Korean judges knew that Kim Jong Un’s shadow hung over their decisions. The judges ordered the young American to be incarcerated and to serve or 15 years of hard labor.

As the courtroom drama played across the TV screen in our living room, my wife turned to me and said: “Did you cry?”

“My dad always reminded me that men don’t cry….but `yes’ I cried and, in fact, got on my knees and begged for mercy.”

I was Warmbier’s age when I was arrested by the KGB (nee NKVD) at the airport in Yerevan, Armenia. My mission to Moscow was to present a petition to the US Ambassador in hopes that he could help a group of American Armenians to return home. I was arrested by two NKVD officers and charged as an “enemy of the state” (diminishing the power of the state.) Just by attempting to go to the American Embassy, the law reads that I was diminishing the power of the state.

My dear wife interrupted my thoughts with another question. “What will happen to him?”

“Oh, he’ll serve some time…”

“Fifteen years!” she screamed across the room. “For trying to remove a poster from a wall in his hotel!”

“No, no, no!” I responded, “Don’t worry….our CIA is very busy as we speak, looking down a list of possible North Korean spies in this country, someone in the class of the Soviet master spy, Rudolph Abel. And when they find one, they will hire an attorney (remembering the movie Bridge of Spies) of Tom Hanks’ caliber, who then will proceed to broker an exchange for Wamblier. We got Francis Gary Powers back for Abel, didn’t we?”

Question 1 – Katyn Forest – Stalin ordered the execution of some 20,000 Polish officers because, according to reports, the Soviet dictator believed that after the war against the Nazis was over, “we (the Soviets) would have to fight them anyway…” The mass murders were first blamed on the Nazis, but, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian President, Boris Yeltsin admitted that the Soviets had committed the atrocities.

Question 2 – The Nazis massacred every living man, women and child in Oradour in retaliation after they discovered one of their SS officers dead. The SS encircled the town, shot the men, then hauled women and children into the church and set the church on fire. Those who tried to escape the inferno were gunned down. The SS also stopped a train bound for Oradour and arrested all the passengers who were then taken to a field and executed. The bodies were tossed into the burning church.

Question 3 – Most Americans have forgotten the name of Reinhard Heydrick who is known by those who lived through World War II as the “Hangman of Europe.” One of the masterminds of Hitler’s “Final Solution” of the Jews, Heydrick and his SS troopers rounded up millions of Jews who were shipped by trains to the gas chambers and crematoriums at Auschwitz.

Question 4 – Beware my dear Kurds, what you have sown, for soon you shall reap. The Kurds, culpable in the crime of the Ottoman Empire’s genocide of Christian Armenians in 1915, today wage war against Turkey, the architect of the genocide against a peaceful people who had lived alongside their fellow countrymen for more than 800 years. The Kurds’ goal is to establish a state by carving off lands in southern Turkey, northern Syria and Iraq. Who, but the Armenians today remember the crimes committed against Armenians by the Sultans, the Young Turks, and their agents of death – Talaat Pasha, the minister of war, and Enver Pasha, the minister of war who executed the plan to annihilate more than 1.5 million Armenians.

Believe me, the plague of genocide can spread from Iraq, Iran, Syria, in Russia, China, Poland, Germany – in India and Asia – to every corner of the earth.

Can it happen again? Dear Readers, it already has…

 

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bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

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Stranger than fiction

Sleepless man
Image courtesy of Graur Codrin and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It happened one night…

I had watched the 11th Republican Party Debate, wrote a blog post, and then headed for bed. But I couldn’t sleep. The 2012 Republican candidate for President Mitt Romney’s scathing criticism of the current Presidential primary candidate Donald Trump played in a loop in my mind’s ear.

In the aftermath of Romney’s awakening, the political cauldron exploded. It seems that the conscience of the Republican hierarchy – or is it “aristocracy” –awakened. The establishment doesn’t want Trump…but the genie is out of the bottle…or is it more like Pandora’s box has been opened.

I sought solace in sleep; but to no avail.

The seductive sleep nymphs refused to allow my conscience to shut down. “Only the innocent sleep…” they whispered. They tried to lure me back to my computer. I refused to get out of my warm bed.

Seconds later, I found the computer on my lap, open and running, waiting for me to try to put this chaos into words.

“Write!” one of the nymphs ordered. “No sleep until you do!”

“If you’re going to dictate this, why don’t you write the whole damn post yourself. Why use me for your dirty political tricks?”

“You have credibility.”

“And, you don’t?” I challenged the nymph.

“Unfortunately, we don’t. Those who believe in us are those who write epic novels and the poets.

Point well taken.

“Did you not see what those people did to that African American who protested at one of the Trump rallies? Didn’t it remind you of that fateful night in 1949 when you watched from your third-floor window in the American House in Yerevan? How the army of KGB officers tossed those children and old women and men onto those trucks? Who used their clubs and rifle butts to crack the heads of those children and old women? You must remember; how could you forget.”

I wanted my mind cleared. I wanted those thoughts to go away. I didn’t want to get involved. Go haunt and taunt others. I am sick and tired of writing and fighting. No one listens, anymore. Just leave me be.

The sanctimonious Mitt Romney had spoken. He had labeled billionaire businessman Donald Trump a “fraud” and “phony” and said that he, Romney, “…will never stop until we keep this con man from taking over the party of Reagan and Lincoln and the conservative movement.”

There was silence in the bedroom…but I knew from the epic stories about them that the night nymphs didn’t give up without a fight. I knew I couldn’t compromise with these ethereal messengers of my mind and believed that the sooner I carried out their dictates, the sooner sleep would be mine. I could hear them mumbling, but nothing coherent seemed to emanate from these ghostly figures of my mind…until I heard…

“Caesar had his Brutus…”

“And King Charles I, his Cromwell…” said another.

“And Donald Trump, his Mitt Romney!” chimed in a third.

The voices continued, “Treason! Treason!”, rising above the maddening Republican masses. “To deny our anointed one the sacred garland of victory, and his right to challenge the heretic queen could awaken Kydoimos, God of Confusion, Uproar, and Hubbub, whose wrath would surely doom our conservative cause and end our momentum toward obtaining the kingdom!”

What are you saying? That it wouldn’t Make America Great Again? Well, maybe, then, it could make America whole again…

“May I go to sleep now?” I wished.

“There is still one more task…Obama’s legacy.”

Sorry, out of my jurisdiction.

“You must give him a message from Lord Cromwell. Mr. Obama has had enough sleepless nights,” the nymph continued as a sheet of paper feathered its way into my hand.

I read it. “No way…” Did Cromwell actually do this? Well maybe.

It seems that the Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland got so sick of Parliament sitting on their royal derrieres and getting paid for doing nothing, that he stormed into the chambers and told his lawmakers:

“It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice……and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money…Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth? Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place…Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves become the greatest grievance. Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a period to your iniquitous proceedings in this house…In the name of God go!”

I can dream now, can’t I?

***

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

Save

Voting: USA vs. USSR

Image courtesy of Nirots and FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Nirots and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I was 31-years-old before I could vote in an U.S. Presidential election. The year was 1960, and the major candidates were Vice President Richard M. Nixon and Senator John F. Kennedy, and having seen and heard the Vice President in Moscow during the summer of 1959, I came away very impressed with him. Nixon had been in Moscow for the opening ceremonies of the inaugural United States Exhibition. American commercial and agricultural goods were put on display in Sokolniki Park for the Russians to view. The Nixon tour took an unexpected turn when he and Nikita Khruschchev, then the First Secretary of the Communist Party, debated the virtues of capitalism vs. communism. At one point, they literally stood toe-to-toe. The Soviets had never seen a Western official argue with their First Secretary and they were aghast, watching with their mouths open. I half-expected them to exchange blows.

The incident went down in our history books as the “Kitchen Debate”…that is another story.

Back to the voting booth in 1960…

At that time 21-year olds were eligible to vote (Congress lowered the eligibility age to 18 in the 1970’s). It wasn’t indifference to civic duty that stopped me from voting previously. I had not cast a single ballot in an American election from November 1, 1947, until July 23, 1960, because I was behind the Iron Curtain.

On July 23, 1960, the American Consul in Moscow, John A. McVickar, handed me my American Passport and told me I could return to my native land. My thirteen years behind the Iron Curtain were finally over. And, in November, 1960, I chose Richard M. Nixon over John F. Kennedy. The reason I have mentioned the above facts is that one of my readers raised the question: “Did I ever vote in the USSR?” And that was followed up with a second question: “What was it like to vote in a totalitarian state?”

I believe, as a former citizen of the USSR. I am qualified to answer that question.

But first, let me say that the Soviet Constitution I lived under was called the Stalin Constitution, adopted by the Soviets on December 5, 1926. It went down in history as one of the most liberal constitutions in the history of mankind. Not only did it provide a Bill of Rights, those rights included and guaranteed Soviet citizens the right to work, universal medical care, and the right to a free college education, among other things.

In addition, the Constitution read:

Article 124

…guarantees freedom of religion, universal direct suffrage and the right to work.

Chapter XI

…..deputies to The Supreme Soviets and the Presidium of the Supreme Soviets …are chosen by the electors on the basis of universal and equal suffrage by secret ballot.

…Women have the right to elect and be elected on equal terms with men…and chosen by the electors on the basis of universal, direct and equal suffrage by secret ballot.

Article 135

…elections are universal: all citizens of the USSR who have reached the age of 18, irrespective of race or nationality, religion, educational or residential background have the right to vote…

Article 141

…candidates are nominated according to electoral area. The right to nominate candidates is secured to public organizations and societies of the working people, the Communist Party, trade unions, cooperatives, youth organizations, and cultural societies.

Enough! Enough! Enough!

Fiction. Fiction. That is all Stalin’s Constitution represented. The words signified nothing but deception, propaganda that deceived millions into believing in the Soviet Workers Paradise, which was, in truth, Dante’s Hell.

The first time I cast a ballot…

The year was 1948 in the early morning hours. There is a knock at our apartment door, located on Kalinin Street in Yerevan, the capital of Soviet Armenia. He is “The Party’s” messenger…

“Is this the home of Comrades Mooradian, Simonian and Ketegian?”

Simonian, who spoke Armenian, replied that it was. The messenger continued: “Comrades, greetings from The Party. Today is Election Day. Here is the list of candidates, unanimously agreed upon by The Party, who will represent us as our deputies….Please sign your names here.” He handed Mr. Simonian the paper. Simonian briefly looked at the paper, then signed. One vote cast for The Party’s candidates. He handed the paper over to me and pointed to where I should sign. I had had a previous experience with the NKVD. I didn’t need another. I quickly signed. Two votes for “The Party”. I gave the paper to Johnny. Johnny, the rebel among us, said: “I don’t know what the F—this paper says. I won’t sign.” Simonian gave him a threatening glance that had made me shudder. In English, Simonian reminded Johnny that his parents would soon be arriving in Soviet Armenia from New York, “and you don’t want this on their record.”

Simonian’s urgency lead me to remind Johnny that he and I were not working and were dependent on Simonian for food and even the wood to keep the stove burning. If this was that important to him, we should do it. Johnny signed. Not many years later I learned that refusing to vote, labeled you a dissident, and there would be consequences.

A few days later, Simonian read an article in one of the newspapers to us that proudly announced the results of the election, stressing that 97 percent of the electorate had voted.

And, shamefully, many in the West would believe these figures and use them to promote communism.

I question the dignity of words that proclaim freedom and liberty and justice in documents of nations whose foundations are built on words ending in “ism”.

As English statesman Edmund Burke, pointed out more than 150 years ago: “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

 ***

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

Save