Windows on the World of Raymond Plank
Founder, Apache Corp

Vol. 2016 No. 2

PERSONAL & POLITICAL

 

The atmosphere on the Yale University campus was entirely different upon my return from combat in the South Pacific than where I became an Army Aviation cadet on March 15, 1943 when I was sworn into the Army Air Corp at Fort Snelling in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The song, “Bright College Years with pleasure rife” did not then apply.

As we returned to Yale from the Pacific, the campus swarmed with men returning from the war against the Nazis and Japan’s Hirohito behind us rather than before us.  “Bright College Years” indeed lay ahead.  

As members of Yale’s class of 1944 in from near and far, Hitler and his wife Eva Braun had committed suicide; and it was as though a heavy stone had been lifted from our chests.  Our lives lay ahead of us, not behind.  My grades shot up in my final year; I could concentrate – the war had taught me concentration on killing without hatred, and with concern about whether generations of warriors had died or would die in vain.  This concern had originated with my dad who once said, “Son, I found it useful to try to make a very small difference.”  

Religion, once again became an important part of my life; there must have been some reason, beyond luck, when on a bombing mission we had landed with three hundred sixty-seven holes in it (two more than the days in a year) in my B-24 heavy bomber made it back to base.  Could it be that God had spared my life because He had something more in store to seek to contribute and accomplish before the sands in the hourglass run out?  I decided to believe that he does indeed exist, and I chose to believe so over my life ahead.  Accordingly I give thanks daily and pray every night, and before turning off the bedside light.

Yale freshman left our initial campus and its multiple buildings in favor of individual colleges where the subject matter more closely coincided with our next three years. 

Pierson College housed students pursuing International Relations, with also a smattering of Sociology.  This configuration worked admirably for both faculty and students.  

Professor Arnold Wolfers (1896-1968) was Swiss before as was his glorious spouse Doris, who had been injured skiing in Switzerland; unable to bear children, one evening, she noted at the bridge table that while driving up the hill to the Divinity School on icy roads, she skidded and said (in her Swiss accent) “I vent a whole hill down backvards.”  We all four laughed.

When my closest Yale friend, Brooks Fields, had returned to Yale, his daytime job was to go to the Yale Placement Bureau to seek some kind of a small business we might go into together.  Since Brooks had taken his college degree studying Chinese at Cornell; Yale delivered his degree to Cornell while I chided him “Yale must have been in a rush to get you off their campus.”

During the war Arnold frequently went to Washington D.C. to counsel Secretary of State Dean Acheson as well as occasionally meeting with F.D.R.

 

POLITICS

 

Let’s revisit the swirl of daily politics being pursued from the left and the conservative side.

Super PACs – In no way do I believe in Super PACs whether they be $100 million in Mitt Romney’s failed 2012 election bid or Jeb Bush’s failed 2016 $100 million which seems to be at the head of Donald Trump, or Hillary Clinton where the Wall Street Journal has predicted it will cost her another $2.5 billion to get through the next election cycle.  Super PACs are to me part of that which ails our democracy, smells badly of corruption, and should be eliminated. 

The Wall Street Journal has recently prepared a graph, which shows a 57% gain for the Republicans since 2012, while the Democrats have experienced a loss since 2008.

Question:  What and who is responsible for the conservative increase?  Many Americans feel that they (we) are not being adequately represented; that our voices are being unheard, while our ability to participate and contribute is being locked out of the process.

Obviously Donald Trump, say what you will, has revived the interest of millions of people of all ages (including youth) voting for the first time.  Why waste the accompanying opportunity?  The numbers Trump has generated should already have assured him of the nomination. 

Who is Tony Lentini?  Graduate from West Point twenty plus years after WWII and served for several years in the military in Germany, returning to the states where he was working in Human Relations for several independent oil companies, including Apache Corp. for whom he was outstanding before going on his own (and marrying a lovely, bright Chinese woman, who does not happen to see China as our enemy).

Tony wrote to Donald Trump – his letter is available below.  If you find it worthy you’re invited to send it to Trump with a personal note. 

It seems to me if Trump is the nominee and if he is not selected, Tony and I agree, along with others we respect, that the Republican Party is a sick elephant standing by awaiting death.

If on the other hand Trump is the candidate, and loses, he may well have engendered enough interest to the point where the Republican National Committee and the Party might have a future.  That assumes that Obama has not continued to expand our undeclared multiple wars around the world. 

I do believe that Trump has a better chance of defeating Hillary than Senator Cruz, who today announced Carly Fiorina as his running mate, or Ohio Governor Kasich, whom of course would not at this point entertain any interest in accepting second place on the ticket but might if he were sought when/if Trump prevails in obtaining the nomination and he didn’t think he could do any better.  Having spent my final seventeen Apache Corp. years in Houston, and having many friends there, I believe Trump would carry Texas handily despite Cruz, whom in my opinion is less likely to defeat Hillary.   Who, despite her being an able professional candidate, would like her to be Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces?

Best wishes!

Raymond Plank

 

 

 April 12, 2016

 

Dear Mr. Donald Trump:

I’m one of your more educated supporters with a military background, having graduated from West Point in 1971.  I’m also nearing the end of a very successful career in public relations and marketing communications, two areas in which you are a genius.  I’m a highly disgruntled Republican who feels betrayed by his chosen party and completely disillusioned in American politics, which I believe to be thoroughly corrupt.  I want an outsider to be our next president and early on realized that you were the one person best positioned to make the kind of changes we need to Make America Great Again.

Having said all that, I have some advice to offer that I believe will help overcome the attacks you’re enduring from both left and right.  I know that this communication is certain to be read by someone on your staff and hope that whoever that person is, he or she takes this seriously enough to share it with you.

A central question that seems not to have been asked of you and not adequately discussed in your speeches and interviews is this:  Why would an extremely wealthy and successful businessman such as yourself--who leads a wonderful life with a beautiful wife and smart, loving, supportive adult children--spend his own money and put his business and personal life at such risk in order to run for president? 

Ted Cruz, the one senator from Texas whom I respect and admire, claims that you have been part of the establishment, part of the very system that your supporters abhor as so corrupt.  In a way, he’s right about that, but I believe this attack can be turned to your advantage to recruit additional supporters and win the nomination outright. Here’s why I, personally, believe you are running for president and how you should explain it:

“I’ve built a hugely successful business through hard work and dedication, intelligent risk taking and never backing down from a fight.  Throughout my career, I have been single-minded in pursuing every legal and ethical means to advance my business.  A large and important part of that effort has involved working with both parties within the existing political system.  In American politics today, money talks.  Campaign contributions buy access to political leaders who can make a difference for one’s business. 

In recent years, I have come to realize that while the current political system has worked for me, my family, my companies and my employees, it is no longer working for the American People.  ‘Free’ but unfair trade deals negotiated by self-serving politicians and advanced by wealthy companies and individuals have shipped most of our factories and more and more of our jobs overseas.  We don’t make anything much anymore and our economy is in a shambles.

Across America, incomes are falling, the middle class is shrinking and dependency upon government handouts is on the rise.  Foreign workers, both legal and illegal, are coming into this country, taking jobs, depressing wages and failing to assimilate into our society.  Many of these foreign residents have turned to crime or have brought with them political views and social customs that are completely incompatible with our Constitution and our way of life.  Sharia Law is but one example. One has only to look to Europe to see the negative impact of unfettered immigration and lack of integration.  I don’t want to see that happen to America, especially in this age of terror.

Political correctness is destroying freedom of speech and causing people to self-censor their political views.  As a result, we no longer speak honestly to one another, even about the most important life-and-death issues, such as Islamic terrorism.

We have tremendous problems in this country precisely because the current system is not working to the benefit of ordinary Americans.  

As we are seeing in this primary season, your votes mean nothing.  In both political parties, delegates are being awarded not in accordance with the popular vote, but instead based on the wishes of establishment politicians and the lobbyists, big-money interests, unions and crony capitalists who support them.  The establishment is desperate to remain in power because the current system continues to make them rich.  Establishment politicians exempt themselves from many of the very laws they impose on the rest of us.  They are largely exempt from insider trading rules, anti-bribery statutes, influence peddling and even the draconian Obamacare regulations that are driving up medical care costs and driving down benefits for the People.

Now, thanks to my business success and the celebrity status I’ve achieved through my books and my reality television show, I’m in a position to finally do something about our failing system, to Make America Great Again and restore accountability of our politicians to We, the People, as our Founding Fathers intended.

We have become a Movement and I am but a messenger for the People and a vehicle for setting things right. 

In addition to securing our borders and regaining control over immigration; restoring the economy; negotiating better trade deals; eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in government; strengthening our military and supporting the warriors who defend us—all the things I’ve been talking about to Make America Great Again—we will need to make some changes to our system to ensure that the gains we achieve for the People are not taken away by the corrupt political class.  As such, when I am elected president, I pledge to use the bully pulpit to:

 

1.  Enact term limits on Senators, Congressmen and Judges.

2.  Enact Constitutional campaign finance reform to eliminate campaign contributions from Companies, Unions, PACs, Lobbyists, Bundlers and Big Money Interests.  To create a level playing field, only individual Americans will be permitted to make political contributions and only in limited amounts.

3.  Break up political monopolies through redistricting according to a non-political grid system, rather than political gerrymandering.

4.  Restructure the civil service system to eliminate the self-serving establishment political class and make the bureaucracy accountable to the American People.

5.  Require that all laws enacted apply to members of the political class as well as to the People.

6.  Dramatically reduce the size, functions and power of government in order to limit its insatiable need for money in the form of ever increasing taxes and to restore power to the People.

7.  Restore the U.S. Constitution as the supreme law of the land.  (Just one example: Requiring the president to ask Congress for a formal Declaration of War before committing our forces to major combat operations.)

8.   As president, I cannot and will not be a dictator.  All of the above changes must be enacted through legislation or Constitutional amendment, rather than by illegal presidential fiat.  But the president does have the power of the bully pulpit to Inspire, Motivate and Lead the People toward a better future, and I intend to use it for that purpose.

 

The establishment of both parties and their crony capitalist enablers view my candidacy as an existential threat, and they are right:  I want to take the country back for We, the People.  The establishment will do anything it possibly can—be it illegal, unethical, unconstitutional, undemocratic or immoral—to prevent the changes you and I will bring to this country as we Make America Great Again.  I ask all Americans of all political persuasions to join with me, stand with me in taking our country back.” 

Sincerely,

 

Anthony R. Lentini, Jr.

Houston