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2008 Presidential Character & Conduct: Barack Obama

The Obama Family

Presented with the kind permission of Fox News.
Special thanks to Brian Gaffney.

This documentary was created during the 2008 Presidential election.

In this in-depth documentary … Fox News Channel explores the character and conduct of Barack Obama and looks at the decisions he has made in his personal and professional life and how they could play a role in how he would lead during this critical time in our nation’s history.

Through interviews with Barack Obama’s colleagues, friends and critics, this series focuses on the life he has led and experiences he has had, both in and out of public office. This series addresses existing questions about Obama’s potential to lead, and provides new insight into what made him who he is today.

Barack Hussein Obama 2008 election

Barack Hussein Obama 2008 election

Horatio’s Drive: America’s First Road Trip

Bud, Horatio Nelson Jackson's trusty travelling companion

Bud, Horatio Nelson Jackson's trusty travelling companion

Presented with the kind permission of Ken Burns.

From the PBS website:

In the spring of 1903, on a whim and a fifty-dollar bet, Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson set off from San Francisco in a 20-horsepower Winton touring car hoping to become the first person to cross the United States in the new-fangled “horseless carriage.” At the time there were only 150 miles of paved roads in the entire country, all of them within city limits. There were no gas stations and virtually no road maps as we know them today. Most people doubted that the automobile had much of a future. Jackson’s trip would prove them wrong.

Traveling with his co-driver Sewall K. Crocker and a bulldog named Bud (who wore goggles, just like his master, to keep the dust from his eyes), Jackson had the adventure of his life. He encountered pioneers in wagon trains, cowboys who used their lariats to tow him out of sand drifts, ranch wives who traded homecooked meals for a brief ride on the “Go-Like-Hell Machine,” and people who deliberately sent him miles out of his way just so their relatives could get their first glimpse of an automobile.

His car, which he christened the Vermont in honor of his home state, splashed through streams, got stuck in buffalo wallows, bounced over railroad trestles to cross major rivers, and frightened horses on the dusty trails. And as he moved eastward, his quest slowly became a national sensation, with huge crowds (tipped off by the telegraph of his approach) lining the streets of town as he whizzed through at 20 miles per hour. “It Startled the Natives,” one headline proclaimed; another announced “A Real Live Auto.”

This was America’s first transcontinental road trip, and like all road trips that would follow it included the usual mix of breakdowns and flat tires, inedible meals and uncomfortable beds, getting lost and enduring bad weather — and having a truly unforgettable experience crossing the nation’s vast landscape. Throughout it all, Jackson’s indomitable spirit and sheer enthusiasm was as indispensable as the fuel for his car.

Partway through his improbable journey, Jackson learned that his spur-of-the-moment trip had turned into something of a race. First the Packard company, and then the Oldsmobile company dispatched their own autos from California in the hopes of passing him and gaining the publicity of being first across the nation. Sixty-three and a half days after leaving San Francisco, Jackson arrived triumphantly into New York City and claimed the honor for himself.

On the centennial of Jackson’s achievement, Ken Burns and Florentine Films …  made a documentary film that follows his historic — and hilarious — journey.

Horatio Jackson Nelson

Horatio Jackson Nelson

Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio

Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937), Italian physicist and radio pioneer

Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937), Italian physicist and radio pioneer

Presented with the kind permission of Ken Burns.

From the PBS website:

Why I Decided to Make Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio

By Ken Burns

I decided to make Empire of the Air, which aired in 1991, after listening to my friend Tom Lewis talk passionately about the topic.

We were intrigued by the notion that, in an era absolutely saturated by the mass medium of television, we have so quickly and completely forgotten how a different mass medium – radio – had dominated American consciousness and culture for nearly half a century.

This is the complicated backstage drama of the early days of radio – an era more often than not smothered in sentimentality and nostalgia.

Pursuing the story of radio illuminated for me larger American themes about the vitality of our inventiveness and our unapologetic commercialism.

It also introduced me to three extraordinary men whose genius, friendship, and rivalry ultimately interacted in tragic ways.


For 50 years radio dominated the airwaves and the American consciousness as the first “mass medium.” In Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio, Ken Burns examines the lives of three extraordinary men who shared the primary responsibility for this invention and its early success, and whose genius, friendship, rivalry and enmity interacted in tragic ways.

This is the story of Lee de Forest, a clergyman’s flamboyant son, who invented the audion tube; Edwin Howard Armstrong, a brilliant, withdrawn inventor who pioneered FM technology; and David Sarnoff, a hard-driving Russian immigrant who created the most powerful communications company on earth.

Against the backdrop of radio’s “Golden Age,” Empire of the Air relates the history of radio through archival photographs, newsreels of the period and interviews with such well-known radio personalities as Garrison Keillor, the late sports commentator Red Barber, radio dramatist Norman Corwin and the late broadcast historian Erik Barnouw.

Ken Burns

Ken Burns, Morgan Wesson and Tom Lewis

Geoffrey C. Ward

Paul Barnes

Jason Robards

Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio is a production of Florentine Films and WETA Washington, D.C. KEN BURNS AMERICAN STORIES is a production of Florentine Films in association with WETA Washington, D.C.

General Motors Corporation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS

General Motors, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

January 29, 1992

Lee de Forest

Lee de Forest

Turmoil & Triumph: The George Shultz Years

George Shultz and Ronald Reagan

George Shultz and Ronald Reagan

Presented with permission from Free to Choose Media

A 3 part documentary produced, written and directed by David deVries.

Part 1: A Call to Service

Part 2: To Start the World Again

Part 3: Swords to Ploughshares

This three-hour documentary series on the life of former Secretary of State George Shultz will present viewers with a rare close-up look at this remarkable man who served his country at the highest level during an unforgettable time.

Each of the three programs will offer a never-before-seen look at the inner workings of the Reagan White House. It will capture the intrigue and in-fighting as advisors vie for the ear of the President over historic issues such as Arms for Hostages and the Star Wars space defense initiative.

Through the memories of George Shultz, other cabinet members, journalists and historians, viewers will relive the gripping tensions of these times; the fear of war in the Middle East, the shock of the barracks bombing that killed 220 Marines in Lebanon, the fall of Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos and the presidency of Corazon Aquino and the delicate manipulations of summitry that helped determine the future of peace on the planet.

For the first time these programs will reveal Shultz’ dedicated efforts to protect his President and expose those in the White House who plotted the illegal Iran/Contra scheme.

Throughout, George Shultz’ relentless determination combined with his use of national strength made him one of the most effective Secretaries of State in the nation’s history. The series will offer George Shultz’ remarkably vivid portraits of the major players on the national and world stage in the latter years of the twentieth century.

But Shultz’ most remarkable and revealing portrait will be of Ronald Reagan himself …

Excerpts from review by David Wiedgand at

Writer-director-producer David deVries has pulled off a rather neat trick in his prosaically assembled film: Usually, when a documentary includes only those with nice things to say about the subject, we stop believing somewhere along the line, and the subject himself ends up diminished in the process.

In this case, Shultz is so smart, so credible and offers such a valuable perspective on world and American political history over the past several decades that even the use of rather hokey re-enactments of some events and hiring comic Rich Little to replicate the voice of Ronald Reagan can be overlooked.

Only once in “Turmoil’s” three hours will you hear someone disagree with Shultz, and that comes in the final part during a discussion of whether Reagan knew that Lt. Col. Oliver North and others were arranging arms sales to Iran and using the profits to support the Contra cause in Nicaragua. Shultz believes Reagan didn’t know; University of Southern California historian Richard Reeves contends that Reagan did know but that Shultz was left out of the loop because “he was too smart” and would have vehemently opposed the scheme.

Otherwise, everyone from Condoleezza Rice to Mikhail Gorbachev, Henry Kissinger and Colin Powell sings the praises of the Princeton graduate who took to heart the school’s motto, “In the nation’s service,” during a career that began with membership in the Council of Economic Advisers under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

And for all that unchallenged praise, you will come away from this compelling film believing former Assistant Secretary of State Charles Hill when he says that Shultz was “among the greatest, if not the greatest, secretaries of state in history.”

You will also understand that, whether you agree with him on issues such as free trade (which is covered in the film) and the merits of the Iraq war (which isn’t), George Shultz is an honorable and thoughtful man, a master strategist and, above all, a government servant who had a vision beyond self-aggrandizement.

The late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy speaks of Shultz as standing out from the crowd in Washington because he seemed “beyond ambition.”

Shultz himself says, twice in the film, “You always start with ideas. And if you don’t start with ideas, you’ll get lost.”

George Shultz and Nancy Reagan

George Shultz and Nancy Reagan

P J O’Rourke: On the Wealth of Nations

P J O'Rourke On The Wealth of Nations

P J O'Rourke On The Wealth of Nations

Presented with the kind permission of The Independent Institute

A talk given by P. J. O’Rourke on February 09 2007.

Excerpt from transcript …

… there is this core of simple clarity to The Wealth of Nations. Smith argues three basic principles. And by plain reasoning and plentiful examples, very plentiful examples, he proves them.

Even intellectuals should have no trouble understanding Smith’s ideas. Economic progress depends upon three individual liberties.

The pursuit of self-interest, the division of labor, and the freedom of trade.

Now Smith’s first, and in many ways, most brilliant insight was that there was nothing inherently wrong with the person pursuing his or her self interest.

Now this, of course, doesn’t sound like news to us. Or rather, it sounds like everything that’s in the news, because these days, altruism itself has a press agent. Because it certainly is somebody’s self interest to be a celebrity, and Bob Geldoff has figured out a way to stay one. And so Al Gore. But the pursuit of self-interest didn’t used to be regarded in that way.

Religious leaders, philosophers, people in political control, used to tell everybody to just suck it up. Subjugate your ego, bridle your ambition, sacrifice yourself to the Church, to the feudal structure, to the principles of philosophy. And we bought that.

We bought that because we didn’t really have any control over our self-interest anyway. And if we were slaves, or serfs, and most of us were, we didn’t really even have a self to call our own that we could be self-interested in. In a doghouse of ancient and medieval life, asceticism made us feel less like dogs.

But by Adam Smith’s time, in 18th-century Britain, ordinary people were beginning to get some control over their own destinies.

And this didn’t please a lot of philosophers. It didn’t please a lot of religious authorities. It didn’t please political authorities. And the fact that it didn’t please these people angered Adam Smith. And we think of irony as being a modern tone.

But Adam Smith was perfectly capable of using irony, and did so in The Wealth of Nations. He said, “This is improvement in the circumstances of the lower ranks of the people. Is this to be regarded as an advantage or as an inconveniency to society?”

Richard Epstein & John Yoo on Civil Liberties vs National Security

Peter Robinson interviews John Yoo & Richard_Epstein

Peter Robinson interviews John Yoo & Richard Epstein

Presented with the kind permission of The Hoover Institution

10.29.06: Peter Robinson interviews Richard Epstein & John Yoo, who debate where should we draw the line between civil liberties and national security in the “war on terror”?

Are we even at war, and if so, what are the constitutional limits to presidential war powers?

Has the Bush administration gone too far in the electronic surveillance of citizens and the coercive interrogation of suspected terrorists and enemy combatants?

Richard Epstein and John Yoo, both widely regarded as strict constitutional constructionists, take decidedly different positions on these questions.

FTV/Hoov: 10.29.06

John Bolton: Obama Administration Undermining American Sovereignty

Barack Obama giving his Cairo Speech

Barack Obama giving his Cairo Speech

Presented with the kind permission of Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute

March 30 2010: Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton spoke about Obama administration national sovereignty policies.

In his remarks he said he believes the administration’s foreign policy is damaging U.S. sovereignty.

Among the topics he discussed were international efforts to combat global warming, U.S. policies regarding terrorism detainees, and the International Criminal Court. He responded to audience members’ questions.


Challenges Facing African Americans (panel discussion)

Rev Jesse Lee Peterson

Rev Jesse Lee Peterson

Shelby Steele

Shelby Steele

Joseph C Phillips

Joseph C Phillips

La Shawn Barber

La Shawn Barber

Linda Porter

Linda Porter

Presented with the kind permission of Heritage Foundation & C-SPAN

Is too much government dependency destroying Black families? What role did racism play in the Hurricane Katrina response? Are establishment Black leaders exercising legitimate moral authority or simply fleecing their constituencies? How well are Black churches combating the moral crisis in urban America? How can Black Americans achieve true success? These and other questions are addressed by members of the panel.

Oct 11 2005: Panel discussion with … Jesse Lee Peterson, Founder and President Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND); Joseph C. Phillips, Actor; Linda Porter, Founder, Jochebed Education Project; Shelby Steele, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution; La Shawn Barber, Freelance writer & blogger

Participants talked about the state of race relations, challenges facing the African American community, community organization, civil rights issues and poverty programs at a forum titled “Reclaiming Our Destiny: The New Black Vanguard Conference II.

They also talked about the role of personal responsibility and criticized Black community leaders who had blamed many of the community’s problems on the federal government or systematic racism.

The discussion was moderated by Reverend Peterson and participants responded to questions and comments from the audience.

2 hours, 56 minutes

Thomas W Evans: Lemuel Boulware & the Education of Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan, from General Electric Theater to President of the United States

Ronald Reagan, from General Electric Theater to President of the United States

Presented with the kind permission of Heritage Foundation

Friday, Jan 19, 2007 … Ronald Reagan began his political career as a Hollywood liberal. An active Democrat, he supported FDR and participated in radio broadcasts on behalf of Harry Truman during his 1948 campaign.

However, in the 1950s, Reagan abandoned liberalism to adopt the conservative ideology that would come to define the political culture of American in the last decades of the 20th Century.

While it is agreed that Reagan’s anti-Communism grew out of his experiences with the Hollywood communists of the late 1940s, the origins of Reagan’s conservative economic ideology have remained obscure.

The Education of Ronald Reagan links the eight years in which Reagan worked for General Electric – acting as host of its television program, GE Theater, and as the company’s public relations envoy – with his conversion to a movement that would come to advocate lower taxes, small government, anti-Communism, and opposition to the excesses of “union officials.”

Thomas Evans shows how Reagan’s time at GE shaped his political and economic outlook and highlights the pivotal influence of GE executive Lemuel Boulware, who was a free-market fundamentalist and skilled political operative, on Reagan’s political ascendancy.

Thomas W. Evans, a lawyer and avocational politician, has served as Adjunct Professor of Education and Administration at Columbia University’s Teachers College. His other books include The School in the Home and Mentors. He was Chairman of the Reagan Administration’s national symposium on partner-ships in education and Counsel to the Points of Light Foundation under George H. W. Bush. A marine platoon leader in Korea, he was awarded the Silver Star and two Purple Hearts.

Lemuel Boulware

Lemuel Boulware

John Choon Yoo: Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush

John C Yoo

John C Yoo

Presented with the kind permission of C-SPAN, Book TV

Jan 15 2010: John Yoo, former deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (2001-2003), talked about his book Crisis and Command.

The books looks at the history of executive power going back to President George Washington.

Professor Yoo discussed his book with Victoria Toensing, former assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division (1984-1988) and founding partner at diGenova & Toensing, LLP.