Analog’s Envelopes and Old School Values

My brother takes considerable pride in his lack of technology skills. His email address includes the phrase analog. I won’t provide the rest.

It is less clear that he takes the amount of pride that he should in his sales skills, the field to which he has devoted his career, but whatever pride he takes is both fairly earned and well deserved.

Though now retired, he continues to combine the “I’m thinking of you” sales technique with his trademark technology aversion by providing a clipping service in the form of “envelopes” that arrive from time to time.

Each one is stuffed with missives of wide variety. To be sure, some miss the mark but most do not. Each one is carefully cut out to remove any white border as if the slimmed down pages would save on the airmail stamps that no longer exist.

If the ones I receive are an example of those he sends to others, he has a keen sense of what will be of interest to the recipient or perhaps more specifically an interest he shares with the recipient. There is more than a hint of old school values.

In a recent envelope, one story – that I would never have seen – stood out especially and it is our subject today.

In the printed version, the story in the New York Post by Michael Walsh is called Money Monster. It lists $21,667,000 of speaking fees earned by Hillary Clinton from 2013 to 2015. The Photoshop wizards have a smiling Hillary with dollar sign sunglasses, a diamond encrusted dollar sign necklace and $100 bills fluttering down from above.

The online version is entitled “How corporate America bought Hillary Clinton for $21M.” It includes an up-the-nose picture of the Democratic nominee grasping her gullet, a pose not flattering to those who might wish to appear younger. It too lists the speaking engagements for your reading pleasure.

On this alone, the careful observer is free to conclude that the New York Post is unlikely to say much nice about the former first lady as she attempts to clinch the Democratic nomination by shaking the pit bull jaws of Bernie Sanders from her shin.

Now we need a momentary diversion to keep this story on track. Though the readers of LibertyPell are few, many are more than willing to tell me what they think. Disagreement is fine as is a bit of name-calling – the more erudite the better. Today, for example, I learned the words “ass hat” and “douche nozzle” though these were neither erudite nor directed at me. (If you must know, they were directed at the Republican nominee who has recently shaken the last pit bull jaws from his shin.)

What is not fine is “I had no idea what you meant.”

That is not fine because the reader (like the customer) is always right and the burden is on the writer to get his point across. There is a tension (generally well resolved by experienced writers) between making yourself clear and clubbing the reader over the head.

At risk of head clubbing, this is not a story about Hillary Clinton. To get to the real point, those readers who prefer her should ask themselves how they would react if the identical story were written about an adversary.

Rub your head. It has been clubbed. Now come back to the point. The story is about the relationship between big money and elective office. Are you happy with what you see?

The total speaking fees earned by Bill and Hillary approach $50 million. Insert George 41 and George 43 if you prefer. Or Barack and Michelle.

Whichever you choose, we don’t seem to have much of an idea of how we think former presidents and presidential candidates should live the rest of their lives. Is this seemly? Is this what we aspire to? Does it inspire?

Let’s be clear. Everyone has a right to earn large speaking fees if that is what the market will bear. This year it would appear that at least some candidates also feel they have a right to demean the presidency. I don’t think they should but it is their right, just as it is our right to reject them for doing so.

Sarah Chayes wrote Thieves of State. It is about corruption as the source of turmoil especially in third world countries. I am a fan.

In the context of the Clinton Global Initiative, I asked her “how do you tell a contribution from a bribe?”

She paused and answered, “ask the donor.”

No matter how inconvenient, we might also ask ourselves the same question.

If there is to be more and more life after politics the answer will be important and perhaps it should better reflect old school values.

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Haven Pell

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Without hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

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