A Discussion of the Digital Age

The Digital Age, also known as the Information Age, has dramatically altered the tools of both industry and government. Check the components of the S & P 500 index of American companies fifty years ago, and compare them with companies on that list today. The competitive landscape at the corporate level has changed at a pace that is far more rapid than any pace we have seen in human history. Companies that head the list of most valuable today: Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, and Netflix, did not exist fifty years ago. This is due in great part to the beginning of the Digital Age.
The technological revolutions of the last fifty years have affected all companies, both large and small. Companies with very little connection to technology, are forced to procure and deploy new digital technologies due to competitive forces. This includes seemingly the most arcane industries like automobile repair, waste disposal, and oil and gas exploration….to list but a few.
The Digital Age has also dramatically affected the shaping of modern armed forces all around the world. It has also changed the priorities of those in command. Accordingly, it has affected the endless battles associated with ambitious civilian generals and their efforts to accumulate the power to appoint or act as military generals.
One of the reasons why the Digital Age and Information Age are synonymous is because of the way this new era has changed the way information is gathered and disseminated to the masses. Print media is dying. Broadcast media is struggling. Perhaps the term “fake news” would be better understood if it was labelled, “manufactured news,” or “modified news,” created in the Digital Age.
Make no mistake, while there have been biases in news reporting for as long as there have been human beings reporting news, it is a fundamental truth that people will come to believe what it is in their best interests to believe regardless of what is actually true. And the internet delivers more of what people believe is in their best interests to believe.
We are reminded that Pontius Pilate posed a question to Jesus just prior to his crucifixion. “What is truth?” Pilate asked dutifully. These days all one has to do is watch Fox News and then MSNBC or CNN cover the same event, and he or she will ask Pilate’s timeless question, “What is truth.”
The Digital Age has also changed the political battles that determine which civilian generals will govern us. This site is significant proof of just how cheap it is to publish and disseminate information, whether it be news, opinion, or opinion disguised as news.
The lines between news, opinion, and manufactured news have never been more blurred with the low barriers to entry prevalent in the information dissemination game.
History will record that social media and the internet were sounding a death knell for investigative journalism a decade ago. Not only are major media outlets even more disinterested in investigative journalism today, particularly as their deep biases for certain viewpoints are exposed, most consumers struggle to differentiate in the face of all this information. What is genuine and what which is patently false are less distinguishable.
Again, in refraining on passing judgment on this situation, we choose instead to embrace this reality and expound upon it, instead of simply pretending these conditions do not exist.

A Discussion of the U.S. Constitution

The U.S. Constitution is the longest lasting governing framework of its kind in human history. It has lasted because it is a supreme aggregation of wisdom regarding human nature. The U.S. Constitution should be taken literally, because when it is, it transcends partisan politics. In fact, the document actually recognizes the poisonous nature of ambitious partisans and their devious methods. It provides serious safeguards to protect ALL American citizens from the vagaries of those who would in their capacities as civilian or military generals, force others to comply with oppressive methods of governance that violate basic protections of human freedom.

We recall with great fondness and appreciation how American public education once revered the United States Constitution including all amendments. As recently as forty or fifty years ago, there was still a great consensus among government, history, and civics teachers on the beauties of the document. A grasp of how important it is that the U.S. Constitution provides crucial protections to the most ardent liberal progressives, as well as the most reactionary conservatives.....and all others in between, has been fading for decades All surveys indicate that in recent years, there has been a parting of the ways on the value of fundamental freedoms. Strangely enough it has been the once free-speech loving progressives, who have found it more useful to take their protections in the U.S. Constitution for granted while attempting to deny others the same.

Another curious perversion of the freedom mindset has been the way public education has focused on the character flaws of the Founding Fathers. Incredibly, a perversely idealistic all or none demand for human perfection among the founders, has paved the way for millions of progressives to become the enemies of both the good and the great protections contained in the U.S. Constitution. 

From time-to-time you will still hear American progressives refer to the U.S. Constitution. However, it is increasingly obvious that these references only occur during occasions when they are immediately expedient, in terms of assisting progressives in achieving short-term political goals or objectives.

Conversely, we revere the U.S. Constitution and all its amendments and keep the document in the forefront of our mindset. We embrace the document as a nearly ideal framework for the limited governance, rather than some sort of vaguely worded piece of paper that allows for maximum governance power in the hands of distant Civilian Generals.

The idea that the U.S. Constitution should merely be viewed as a very limited theoretical tool to be drawn from the rhetorical holster when a political point needs to be scored is one of the great abominations of our time.

Public education's abandonment of emphasis on the non-partisan nature of the U.S. Constitution is the shirking of a FUNDAMENTAL DUTY to a free society. Teaching of the timeless wisdom contained in the U.S. Constitution including all amendments, should be required at every level of education. The lack of emphasis on this important aspect of our existence is the precursor to political chaos and eventually the end of freedoms for all of us, regardless of our political leanings.


A Discussion of Wars

The winners of major wars most often hire the historians who wind up defining what are the most important trends of human history.

In The Story of Civilization, authors Will and Ariel Durant chronicle human history. It is not an exaggeration to assert after a survey of their work that countless wars have dominated the primary narratives of human history. On this site, we’ll lean towards leaving commentary on wars in the pre-Napoleonic eras to the Durants work, except for America’s Revolutionary War.

We could spend our entire lives discussing the American Revolutionary War. We find more significance in three documents associated with the Revolutionary War, than the military aspects of the conflict itself. The Declaration of Independence, The Articles on Confederation, and the U.S. Constitution, including the first ten amendments, are among the most significant intellectual contributions in human history. The Declaration of Independence creates the framework for the U.S. Constitution and the Articles of Confederation are perhaps best known for what they do NOT contain, namely a strong central government.

It is crucial to the interpretation of human history to understand that the United States Constitution and its first ten amendments contained the FIRST protections of citizen rights from both civilian and military generals. These protections were first secured when the American colonies WON the Revolutionary War. However, it is even more crucial to understand that the essential elements of the U.S. Constitution had to be spelled out BEFORE the 13 original colonies would agree to be governed by a central power.

So forward looking was the document that the provisions for processes that allowed amendment of the document were also crucial. The framers knew they may have left out important protections. The allowance of amendments, paved the way for the legal end to slavery. However, it is noteworthy, once again, that a war, the Civil War, made some of the subsequent amendments to the Constitution that prohibited slavery possible. Hence our preference to see history through a Military Prism.

Two world wars in the 20th Century can often be reduced to a single concept. Too many countries around the world did not adhere to sacred constitutional processes, that enabled a more intelligent selection of their civilian/military generals. Whether we consider Kaiser Wilhelm, Benito Mussolini, Hideki Tojo, or Adolf Hitler, the point here is simple. The countries that wound up with profoundly flawed leaders did not have processes in place to help them govern themselves by choosing peace oriented civilian and/or military generals. As such, these nations eventually wound up with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of their citizens killed in wars. Eventually it was other nation’s generals, who were dictating the terms of existence for the Germans and Japanese.

Of course, there were subsequent wars after the two world wars of the first half of the 20th Century. The Korean War and the Viet Nam War are the first to come to mind. These two conflicts were simply violent outbreaks associated with the Cold War between Russia and the U.S. Why does a Cold War continue to this day? It is simply because as nuclear proliferation became widespread, it induced a mandatory temperance towards traditional military escalations. American/Russian relations have hardly improved since the end of WWII.

The battle for power between the U.S., Russia, and even China has not ceased. Instead the conflicts are about subversion, espionage, and even a few proxy conflicts.

History records that Lyndon Johnson was particularly enamored with the idea of war. Not only did LBJ escalate the U.S. involvement in the Viet Nam War, he initiated his infamous "War on Poverty." He won neither. However, in doing so, he introduced the idea of using the term “war” to describe his personal political efforts to enact public policies he favored.  Again we have another example of why we find the use of a Military Prism very functional when reaching opinions regarding most current events.


A Discussion of Civilian Generals

Since much of the commentary on our site is generated through a Military Prism viewpoint, it is important to expound on what we mean by the term "Civilian General."
One of the beauties of the U.S. Constitution is the insistence that the powers vested with the Commander in Chief of our nation’s military, remain in the hands of an elected civilian official. In this situation, we mean the President of the United States. Of course, the very first president of the United States was George Washington, who obviously was a former military general, just recently retired from the battlefields.

It might come as a surprise to many citizens, even well-read U.S. citizens, that there have actually been a dozen former military generals elected President of the United States. They are: George Washington, Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, U.S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, John Garfield, Chester Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, and Dwight Eisenhower.

Notice that since the late 19th Century when Benjamin Harrison was elected, only one former military general has been elected president. We do not think the distinction is that noteworthy. We use the term: civilian generals and military generals as almost interchangeable because both have so much in common.

Rising through the ranks of the military is as much a successful political process, as it is a merit-based process. This reality is exacerbated by the fact that appointments at the very top of the military food chain fall into the hands of successful politicians. While the military has a separate culture from the domestic political arena, sometimes the similarities seem almost endless.

There is competition between the branches of the military, for both resources and power. Like their civilian counterparts, generals/admirals are often engaged in contentious battles for the power to direct resources. Consider the confrontations between Dwight Eisenhower and George Patton or even Douglas McArthur and Chester Nimitz. Confrontations between civilian and military generals like Franklin Roosevelt and Douglas McArthur also remain legendary. Roosevelt claimed that nobody ever talked to him the way McArthur did. FDR called McArthur the most dangerous man in America. Perhaps FDR thought McArthur would one day run for public office?

We are reminded that it was the Civilian General FDR who decided to imprison all Japanese-American citizens into “camps” for the duration of World War II.

Watch the presidential debates before any election to gain a sense of how common it is for candidates to engage in vicious rhetorical warfare. In America, taking command as a Civilian General means taking command of all military generals because civilian generals obtain the power to appoint military generals. Military generals who want to retain their authority, are advised to stay in political favor with the winning Civilian Generals.

The differentiation of America's process of controlling its military is significant when comparing our governing framework to the ones in place that led to the rise of military dictators like Tojo, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Castro. However, make no mistake, Americans who aspire to hold national offices are the civilian equivalent of military generals. American citizens enjoy more levels of constitutional protection from all generals.

Again, we see history and current events through a Military Prism and we keep a close eye on the backgrounds and philosophies of ambitious would-be Civilian Generals.


A Discussion of The Story of Civilization

We are great lovers of dogs, all breeds. Dogs distinguish themselves from humans after a couple of years of life. Dogs can’t talk or teach their young about their ancestors. Language distinguishes human beings from the animal world. Accordingly, history is mostly about people. Interpretations of all historical events essentially weave together successions of events and successive generations of people.

It is a fundamental truth that there is much more consensus among warring domestic political factions about the facts associated with ancient history and more distant history. Such is not the case with current events. You will find that Democrats and Republicans often find much less to argue about when discussing Genghis Khan or Alexander the Great, than they do discussing the relative merits of say Franklin Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan.

Will and Ariel Durant’s eleven volumes of, The Story of Civilization, cover a large portion of human history. We prefer to use the Durant's work as a primary reference for distant history.

Is there a distinct dividing line where partisan disputes fade away and consensus prevails? Not really. While Abraham Lincoln is generally regarded by both parties as a great leader, there is much in dispute in modern day political discourse, even regarding the Founding Fathers of 18th Century America.

Since this site offers commentary on both domestic and international history, we feel the need to stipulate on the authenticity of historical observations for a large portion of the past, lest we argue all day and then all night. We want to limit the arguing to all day.

The best and most complete collection of historical observations through the early 19th Century are contained in the eleven volumes of, The Story of Civilization. We believe the Durant's body of work is second to none. Therefore, we will stipulate to the basic truth of their findings prior to the last two hundred years. We also rely on a number of other independent historical sources, including some of the Durant’s subsequent writings.

Bought "my bitch" a Roadster

© 2018 Jim Spence - Let's update the Lebron James saga. In my previous column the commentary centered around James' hopelessly racist comments about NFL owners. Why he feels compelled to put is ignorance on display like a hot selling toy in a department store window is tough to explain. Perhaps he gets his backside smooched so frequently, while his adoring groupies tell him how brilliant he is, he has taken all the accolades a bit close to his heart. Or possibly a high school education in Akron, Ohio is even more limiting than was previously thought.
Of course nobody in pop culture really cares if people like James make racially charged comments about "old white men," especially if they are wealthy old white men. Correctly, James seems to understand rules of basic decency don't apply to him. While many of us have figured James out for what he is, probably nobody who matters in his world has done so.
So, precisely what did Lebron do this weekend to exceed his previous new high for abject stupidity?
It seems James went to social media to disgrace himself instead of doing it on HBO. Not content to shoot racially charged layups on old white men, James decided to declare it open season for the disparagement of Jews and Women. He posted a selfie on Saturday that was accompanied by lyrics from rapper 21 Savage:
Image result for lebron james"We been gettin' that Jewish money, everything is Kosher. Bought myself a "Ventador and bought my bitch a Roadster. Drive my Lambo to the store, I'ma wave with my doors."
Somehow wealth and fame must be very intoxicating to Lebron James. Or perhaps this is simply a Christmas message from Lebron, designed to warm the hearts of all his followers with holiday cheer.
Surely being the intelligent and learned man he is, James understands that Hanukkah came early this year and everyone should be happy that everything is Kosher after getting all that Jewish money. Instinctively, Lebron must understand we all kinda sit around wishing we too "been gettin that Jewish money," so we can buy ourselves a $400,000+ Lamborghini, and also buy our "bitches" Roadsters. I mean hey! everyone wants to buy "his bitch" a Roadster right?
There's not much more to say about pop culture in America except: Merry Christmas from the great cultural icon, Lebron James, with additional kudos to his hero 21 Savage. Everyone can't wait to see what Lebron thinks he should say or do next to impress all of his adoring followers.

They got that slave mentality

© 2018 Jim Spence - One of the greatest things about America is the 1st Amendment. Freedom of speech isn’t hard when people say things you agree with. In fact, one could argue that we wouldn’t need the 1st Amendment if we all agreed with one another. I am thankful that for many years now I have exercised my 1st Amendment rights on this site. I have also enjoyed thousands of hours of broadcast time on the radio doing sports and political commentary.
Some people hear celebrities say things they disagree with and they demand they shut up about their political views. Not me. Celebrities have the same rights as everyone else. While it is true they often have a larger forum than the average American citizen, they should be allowed to expose their ideas to scrutiny if they choose to do so. This is what freedom is all about. Pop singer Taylor Swift comes to recent mind. I love Taylor Swift’s music. I have almost every song she ever recorded. However, I did not agree with her take on the Tennessee Senate race earlier this year.
Image result for neil armstrong
Neil Armstrong
The most noteworthy celebrities to weigh in on politics and American history are arguably the top two players in the NBA. Stephen Curry and LeBron James have put their thinking caps on recently in full public view. During a podcast with former NBA star Vince Carter, Curry asked Carter and his teammate Andre Iguodala if they believed the United States had ever actually put men on the moon. Astonishingly, in unison these men, all of whom have made millions of dollars playing basketball, agreed in tones that assured viewers they were serious that the answer was no. You have to wonder how grown men who have become multi-millionaires choose to remain so ignorant.
Curry is in the minor leagues when it comes to saying stupid things. It was LeBron James who took the cake this week. James, who holds a high school diploma from St. Vincent – Mary in Akron, Ohio has apparently not used much of his spare time to study the plight of slaves in America many generations ago. James had this to say on HBO. "In the NFL they got a bunch of old white men owning teams, and they got that slave mentality. And it's like, this is my team. You do what the fuck I tell y'all to do or we get rid of y'all.”
Ummm, ok.....let’s see. How do we begin with a young man who is as clueless as LeBron James. For starters, let’s assume James is correct about NFL owners getting rid of players who don’t follow their coaches’ orders. Firing players who don’t stick with the game plan is not a slave mentality. We people who own businesses and pay people a salary call this approach, "a performance mentality."
Let’s try to help poor LeBron process this information. Slave owners didn’t fire slaves for not following orders. Instead, they chained them to posts and beat them with leather whips. If the slaves tried to escape, their owners would often cut off half a foot. Slaves lived in atrocious shacks and were fed the lowest grades of foodstuffs. Slave women were abused in ways that are unimaginable. If you haven’t read author Alex Haley’s “Roots,” you should do so soon.
Image result for lebron james
It seems doubtful that LeBron James has ever read Roots or studied history. It seems doubtful he knows that 600,000 white men (some of them old) actually died fighting for the Union in the war that ended slavery. Because James is uneducated and ignorant, he finds it very easy to take shots at "old white men." Oddly this seems fashionable in 2018. However, James chooses the wrong white guys. NFL owners pay their players (of all races) seventy-seven times the average salary earned by working Americans ($2.1 million per year versus $26.9 thousand). NFL owners compete with their pocketbooks for athletic talent and pay much higher salaries for truly great players many of whom are black. Though the last slaves in America have been dead for many generations, James is too ignorant to know that it is an insult to the plight of American slaves to compare their horrific status to that of modern NFL players who enjoy privileges that average working people can only dream of. It is also an insult to NFL owners to compare them to plantation owners.
Still, LeBron James is an American. He has a constitutional right to demonstrate how limited both his cognitive skills and his desire for fundamental knowledge are. We should all celebrate the fact that in America even the blessed clueless, sometimes seize the opportunity to make a complete asses of themselves and provide a few chuckles for all the pathetic old white men he seems to have an issue with.


The participation trophy conundrum

© 2018 Jim Spence - A few observations seem in order after seeing George H.W. Bush was laid to rest last week. It was astonishing to watch CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, NPR, MSNBC, the Washington Post and the New York Times spend hours and hours covering that funeral when these are the exact same media outlets that branded Bush 41 a shameless racist many years ago.
Of course, it is noteworthy that the Washington Post has never in its long history endorsed a Republican for president. And the last time the New Your Times endorsed a Republican, I was still soiling my diapers (I am 62 now). Still, these are newspapers who hire avowed racists (the Times recent addition to their editorial board) while accusing every GOP candidate of being racist and "partisan."
One must wonder why would these media outlets changed their tune suddenly and acted like Bush 41 was a true gentlemen, a self-less statesmen, and an admirable public servant?
Any fair-minded person should know the media's history on this. The media not only treated Bush 41 like garbage, they also did the same with McCain when these men ran against Dukakis, Clinton, and Obama. This stark fact regarding their 180 degree change in tone during both men's funerals, leads to only two possible conclusions.

1) the media was either lying about McCain and Bush when they were running against Democrats, or

2) they are lying about them now.

Here's the point.....Nobody who was a shameless racist in life, should ever be re-cast as an American hero in death. It is no wonder that America distrusts the news media more than any other entity. The media behaves as if nobody has a record of what they used to say.
With the incoming Democratic majority in the U.S. House a question seems appropriate. Does the voting public care about real economic results generated by sound public policies. We are talking about record low unemployment rates for ALL AMERICANS and rising wages for the first time in decades. Why would the majority of voters give power back to Democrats in the face of a two-year economic miracle under GOP rule. This is a head-scratcher. How in the world could American citizens not care about results?
The answer is simple. Americans have been being indoctrinated for decades to not bother to keep score (except in sporting events) or care about real results. There is a deep disconnect between the two types of people in American life. Some people like to compete and like to keep score. And then there are those who really prefer the participation trophy concept that came into public education etc. a few decades ago.
It is the age old clash of philosophies. People who like to compete and keep score also tend to value freedom. Whereas people who want participation trophies think showing up is a big deal and government should protect their egos from objective measurements regarding results. Participation trophy types think measuring success is mean-spirited. Winning is something that only greedy people are truly interested in. Of course this ignores reality, but then, what the heck, that is what public education is all about.....ignoring reality. This explains why the private sector brings us more and more conveniences for lower prices, while public education is manufacturing unemployable dolts by the millions.
There is one thing that most Americans should learn about the participation trophy types. Those who hate keeping score, like having access to resources. And they don't care if they didn't work to get their stuff. They like to spend money, especially other people's money.
Participation trophy types simply don't like to admit that life is generally about competition and that anywhere were competition is encouraged, living standards are higher. Participation trophy types want higher living standards, but they want more, more, more, without accepting the basic economic foundations that create more useful things.
In the end, participation trophy types (a metaphor for Democrats) refuse to admit that despite all of its obvious flaws, the system of free market capitalism, is the system that produces the greatest good for the greatest number of people. This explains why people from everywhere are clamoring to get here. They don't understand the system, they just see all the "stuff." Participation trophy types will always have a "yea but," for every historical truth that bears these facts out. They will also have a "yea but" excuse for all the failed participation trophy systems where people are starving and doing without basic staples of life.
Hating the excesses of Donald J. Trump that comes with all of the sound policies he has implemented, is just the participation trophy types way of having baseless emotional excuse to vote stupid, which is what they do.

The fishing contest

© 2018 Jim Spence - I am reminded of what Americans get when the majority votes for Democrats. Nancy Pelosi will soon become Speaker of the House again. She was named leader with the help of all three New Mexico reps in the U.S. House.  Below is a spot-on allegory that illustrates what having Pelosi in charge of the House means for our future:

It seems that President Trump and Pelosi begin arguing intensely over border security in 2019. Pelosi insists that all migrants should enjoy free entry into America. She proposes a bill to increase taxes on working Americans to pay for the benefits illegals will receive. Since it is illegal for any immigrant living here illegally to actually work at a job, taxpayers will have to pay their bills.
Not surprisingly, Trump threatens a veto. He says repeatedly that he wants America to secure its borders and return to a much more rational approach to legal immigration, where everyone waits in line until it is their turn, instead of filing bogus asylum requests using hack immigration lawyers to game our system. 
Since the Democrats and GOP are at a stalemate on immigration reform, Trump and Pelosi work out an agreement to hold a 3-day ice fishing contest to settle the issue. The contest is simple. Between Pelosi and Trump, whoever catches the most fish at the end of the 3-day contest will have his or her immigration reform process implemented.
Trump and Pelosi decide that a remote lake in northern Wisconsin will be an ideal place to have the ice-fishing contest. There will be no observers allowed on the frozen lake, but both competitors will need to have their catches verified and counted each night at 5:00 PM. They both agree to use a team of neutral game wardens to verify the fish counts.
After Day 1, Trump brings in a total of just 10 fish. Surprisingly, on Day 1, Pelosi caught no fish. On Day 2 Trump learned from his successes and failures from Day 1 and caught 20 fish. Once again on Day 2, Pelosi caught nothing.
As soon as the fishing ended on Day 3, it was clear that Trump had been really intent on learning what he needed to learn to improve his fishing techniques. He added another 40 fish to his total. He wished he could have done better the first two days, but he also knew that he had improved and Pelosi needed 71 fish to win the contest. 
It turns out that Pelosi did not bother to fish on Day 3. Instead she and her political cronies got together and decided to accuse Trump of being a "low-life cheating piece of scum." In fact, Pelosi made some phone calls to high-ranking buddies, who were life-long Democrats working at the FBI and DOJ, and asked them to follow Trump, spy on him, and get proof that he was cheating.
To prep the press for her cheating narrative, Pelosi instructed her staff to leak tidbits of juicy “inside information." The leaks strongly hinted that the Democrats had caught Trump red-handed in the middle of a massive illegal cheating conspiracy to win the fishing contest.
That evening, at 5:01 PM, Nancy Pelosi and most of her cohorts from the U.S. House of Representatives gathered in front of a throng of eager reporters from CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, NPR, The New York Times and the Washington Post.
Though her fish count stood at zero, Pelosi looked into the cameras and explained, "You are not going to believe this," she said emphatically. "We have the most damning and incontrovertible evidence that proves Donald J. Trump is a miserable cheat.....it turns out he's been cutting holes in the ice."
The press gasped. Many journalists did not wait to hear from Pelosi's cronies. Instead they began pounding away on their laptop computers and Ipads to get the story out. The TV reporters rushed outside to get in front of cameras and file live reports on air and answer questions from aghast pundits serving on discussion panels.
Within a half an hour every journalist had explained to their devoted followers why this horrific incident demonstrated once and for all why NO business person should EVER be trusted with the immense power of government. We should simply put our futures into the hands of people who had worked most of their adult lives as government employees.
Impeach! Impeach! chanted the pundits on all the major networks except Fox. The story was told over and over on the nightly news shows for days. The details of the ice cutting scandal was trumpeted all around the world. It was soon repeated in every public education institution in the nation during current event segments. Within days Hollywood screenwriters were belting out passionate scripts bemoaning the utter evilness of Trump's ice cutting. A rehabilitated Harvey Weinstein produced a box office smash hit based on the incredible story that rivaled All the President's Men.