Saturday, November 06, 2004
Cocaine, Wrestling & George Bush Part 4
In October of 1999, J.H. Hatfield’s biography of George W. Bush, “Fortunate Son” was published by St. Martin’s Press. While the bulk of the book contained nothing new or noteworthy, it was the afterword which packed a powerful punch. Three different sources, unnamed but purportedly close friends of Bush, told Mr. Hatfield that George W. Bush had once been arrested for cocaine possession in Texas in 1972. They also claimed that his father, who was the United States Ambassador at the time under Richard Nixon, was able to get the charges dropped in exchange for a year of community service. That community service was to be with a charity organization that featured George Herbert Walker Bush as its honorary co-chairman.
On October 20, 1999, Charles Kelly and Kris Mayes – writing for The Arizona Republic – wrote a story that refuted those allegations. Oddly enough, the article also relied on three sources. But these sources weren’t unidentified. And one of the sources also happened to be a close friend of Bush.
"If this would have been true, John White would have told me, and John White has gone to his grave and he never told me about it," said Ernie Ladd, co-founder of Project P.U.L.L. (Professionals United For Leadership League) in 1999.
But did John White take the truth with him to his grave?
Or are Ernie Ladd and George W. Bush lying?
Because if it had been true, John White would have never have had to tell Ernie Ladd.
Ernie Ladd would've known. After all, Ernie "Big Cat" Ladd and Dubya's Poppa, George Herbert Walker Bush, had been buddies ever since the late sixties (Sfgate.com).
Why would the 6-foot-9, 320-pound ex-football player and Hall of Fame wrestler lie for the Bushes?
The same boring motives it always winds up being: power and money.
Ernie Ladd’s alibi, along with an article written by Pete Slover of the Dallas Morning News which exposed Mr. Hatfield’s criminal past, helped to discredit the charges, and led to a recall of the book by St. Martin’s Press. All 70,000 copies were turned into “furnace fodder.” The book remained out-of-print until after Bush’s election in 2000, republished by Soft Skull Press, a guerrilla publishing operation founded by Sander Hicks. J.H. Hatfield was found dead of an apparent suicide in July of 2001.
On October 23, 2004 Meg Laughlin wrote an article for the Philadelphia Inquirer entitled “Some Dispute Bush’s Account of ’73 Charity Work.” Some former associates of White, who died in 1988, speaking on the record for the first time, say that Bush wasn't helping to run the program but was instead a volunteer, and that White hadn't asked Bush to come aboard. Instead, the associates said, White told them he agreed to take Bush on as a favor to Bush's father, who was honorary cochairman of the program at the time. They say White, a tight end for the Houston Oilers in the '60s, told them Bush had gotten into some kind of trouble, but White never gave them specifics."
Meg cites more than three sources to back up her claims, five to be exact. But there is one person quoted in the article defending George W. Bush. That person, yet again, is Ernie Ladd: “Ladd says Bush was "an excellent bridge for the kids." "He connected them to the white community on a level they could understand," said Ladd, who's now a minister in Louisiana.”
But Ernie Ladd isn’t just a minister in Louisiana. He also happens to be an executive of a Louisiana based petroleum and chemical firm (Kayfabe). An oil company that has done amazingly well for itself ever since Mr. Ladd spoke out for George W. Bush in 1999.
Operating out of Monroe, Louisiana, Pro Set, Inc., a “leader in the coating and application industry,” is a manufacturer and applicator of polyurea, “a multi-functional industrial coating used to encapsulate, resurface, stabilize or reinforce a multitude of surfaces and substrates.” It’s a high strength, spray-on plastic which is used to prevent corrosion in roofs, walls, truck beds and ship decks.
Even though Ernie Ladd is considered a legend in Louisiana, oddly enough, his name is not prominently featured on the website. But his name can be found on this page of the website along with Pro Set’s owner, Tom Leaverton. Before 2000, Pro Set worked on projects such as the roof of the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home and getting rid of the odor from the bathrooms of a minor league baseball team.
Then, in October of 2000 - according to the Pro Set website - Stonhard, Inc. hired Pro Set “to apply their Polyurea to the propeller shaft housing and rudder of a 350’ Naval Frigate. The website maintains that the “Navy is completely satisfied with the results.”
The Polyurea Development Association conference held in San Antonio, Texas in 2002 featured two keynote speakers: Ernie Ladd and Wendy Thompson. Recapping the event in the PDA newsletter, Ken Bowman, the executive director, wrote “by the way, Ernie is in the polyurea business today, one of the owners of Pro Set, Inc.” In his speech, Mr. Ladd boasted that Pro Set was one of the founding fathers of the PDA.
Wendy Thompson worked for the Department of Defense and in various positions at the Pentagon for over ten years. She was the program manager for the Pentagon's Remote Delivery Facility, a project which was launched in response to the 1998 truck bomb attacks on the United States embassies in Tanzania and Kenya because of vulnerability concerns, since there was no isolated delivery facility in which to sort mail.
But this wasn’t the first time that Mr. Ladd and Ms. Thompson worked together. In November of 2000, again according to the website, Pro Set was hired by Bird Roofing to waterproof the roof of the RDF. Bird Roofing worked as a subcontractor to Hensel Phelps, the primary contractor, which later would garner a controversial $620 million contract to redo the Pentagon after September 11, 2001. It is believed that Hensel Phelps received a no-bid contract, because of its ties to the Army Corps of Engineers, which has hired the company for $1 billion in projects all over the world. According to Walker Lee Evey (PCSI Coatings), another program manager from the Pentagon Renovation, “the lowest bidder on bid projects is not necessarily the best value,” so his “common sense philosophy is to select contractors though a ‘best value’ selection process.”
In January of 2001, Pro Set Inc. was awarded another high profile and - most probably - high paying contract. International Paper hired them to waterproof three areas of roofs at their facilities in Pensacola, Florida. Interestingly, the International Paper Company contributed over $1 million in campaign contributions to the Republican Party in the year 2000, and Bush’s former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill was once the CEO. In an interview with Lori Henson of Savannah Morning News, Mike Vaquer, Georgia governmental affairs director for International Paper said “everything that could be done prior to the election to turn out voters was done.” ”We underwent a pretty intense program of educating our employees on the issues ... providing voter registration packets and arranging for absentee ballots," Vaquer said. "It is really a nail-biter. It is a very interesting election." It appears that International Paper feared that Vice President Gore possessed a “less logger-friendly attitude.”
Polyurea isn’t just used to waterproof roofs and sewage pipes. Noah Shachtman of Wired News reported earlier this year in May that the Navy had stumbled on to another use for the application: spray-on armor. “ Nearly every day, it seems, an American Humvee in Iraq gets totaled by a roadside bomb or rocket-propelled grenade. But the military's top brass have been reluctant to add extra armor to the Hummers, which tend to tip if they get too heavy. ONR thinks the answer may lie in a spray-on polymer that can protect the vehicles without adding extra weight. When it hardens, the polyurea coating feels rubbery to the touch. But in recent tests, it's been shown to stop large-caliber bullets and protect a dummy driver when a Humvee gets bombed.”
How does it work? Don’t ask the Navy. “We have a panel trying to understand how it works,” an ONR program manager told Army Times last month.”
But polyurea does way, way more than just stop bullets. Tests conducted by the Air Force Research Laboratory on a product called Line-X Paxcon have “proven” that the spray-on polyeurothane offers bomb-blast protection (4 Wheel Parts Adventures, Paxcon). “The Air Force says we are the only product that can be used to coat buildings for bomb protection,” said Brandon Borene of Line-X. “ The Air Force Research lab, during a previous test, found that it took at least 1,000 pounds equivalent of TNT to "make PAXCON™ fail and even then it only tore the coating... fragmentation was still averted. PAXCON™ could save lives if applied to buildings subjected to bomb force." According to the Air Force Research Lab, an 1/8th inch coating, front and back, reduces the "stand off distance by over 50%." And that PAXCON™ should be used for any buildings, structures or vehicles that might get exposed to bomb impact.”
That polyurea must be some powerful stuff. Up until recently, it had been primarily used to line the beds in pickup trucks. Now it’s being utilized to help rebuild Iraq through the efforts of Kuwait’s Al Sabaiea National Contracting & General Trading Co, the regional agent distributor & engineering consultant for Linex & Paxcon products (Rebuild Iraq). There ought to be a lot of use for that right now in Iraq.
According to a post left by TruckGasm on this industry message board, George W. Bush has personally approved of our military’s use of Paxcon: “The most interesting thing I have ever sprayed with LINE-X was a custom made trailer that was about 7 ft by 8 ft that was made to hold satellite communication equipment for the military in Iraq. From our shop, it was taken to President Bush's ranch for military approval, loaded with the equipment, and then shipped to Iraq. This happened about a month ago. We sure were proud that day.”
But Ernie Ladd has more interests than just his waterproofing company. In an obscure July, 2000 interview with Greg Oliver of SLAM! Wrestling (The Cat In Bush's Corner) Ernie admitted his allegiance to the Bushies: "I'm stuck pretty close to George Bush's campaign, I've known the family for more than 34 years."
It hasn't been exactly a stealth relationship. In the SLAM! interview, Ernie boasted, "I'm recognized athletically and politically." He also mentioned "that he expects to be sitting in the Bush's private box at the Convention, not out on the floor."
As Jonathan Tilove of Newhouse News Service put it in 2000 (Ernie Ladd's Comeback): "When the Bush team wanted a bigger black presence at inaugural events, they asked one of the biggest black men in America for help." Ernie Ladd was named a special deputy to the Presidential Inaugural Committee (along with Eli Rodriguez, a public relations specialist and GOP activist from Fort Worth, Texas who had been friends with George Herbert Walker Bush since 1964) and placed in charge of the Office of Diversity to ensure that "inaugural activities include a diverse culture and population." Mr. Ladd was responsible for recruiting black faces; while Mr. Rodriguez attracted Latinos.
Kirbyjon Caldwell, the pastor from Mr. Ladd’s hometown church, Windsor Village United Methodist, introduced George W. Bush at the 2000 G.O.P. convention in Philadelphia and also performed the benediction at Bush’s inauguration (“in the name that’s above all other names, Jesus the Christ”). Yet, in an interview with Christianity Today Pastor Caldwell insisted that he was “originally asked by President Bush to introduce him at the convention.” In addition, Minister Ladd was able to book the choir from his church, The Triumph and St. Stephens Choir to perform at the Washington National Cathedral Prayer Service during the inaugural ceremonies.
Ernie Ladd has vigorously defended George W. Bush's controversial "election" in 2000. "I don't agree with people now that the election is over continuing to attempt to divide the country," Ladd told Mr. Tilove in 2000. "These are people who put their political views before the truth. Once our black communities start talking the truth and stop being misled by black leaders who don't bring the whole truth into our communities, we will see a difference."
Based on his expertise in elections, Mr. Ladd was selected for the Louisiana Help America Vote Advisory Committee in March of 2003. On the Advisory Committee Membership ListMr. Ladd is listed as a Representative of Louisiana’s NAACP. The committee was formed in order to determine how much federal money, through Bush’s Help America Vote Act of 2002, would be “made available to assist with improving election administration, for purchasing new equipment and voting machines, for improving voter accessibility, for training elections workers, and for voter education programs.” The committee directed its $48 million dollars in federal funds to help transform their mechanical lever models to computerized voting in time for the 2006 elections. Unfortunately, Lousiana happens to be one of the 17 states which does not have laws requiring paper trails even though “touch-screen machines purchased from Election Systems and Software malfunctioned during fall 2002 elections (http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/frontpage/index.ssf?/base/news-1/1090680796283800.xml).
In April of 2004, The New York Times editorialized that “Louisiana sent an advisory to recent mail registrants, saying that the Help America Vote Act "requires" them to provide part of their driver's license number, or alternative identification, on an enclosed form and that they must do so "immediately." This, too, was false. The act makes clear the information can be provided at the polls on Election Day. The letter gives recipients the impression that they are not fully registered. People who neglect to do the paperwork may believe they cannot vote.”
In the same interview with Mr. Tilove, Mr. Ladd provides further details about the history behind his history with the family Bush: "I just had moved to Houston (to join the Oilers) from the San Diego Chargers and they wanted to know who the most popular black person was in the city of Houston and someone told them Ernie Ladd was getting a lot of newspaper coverage," Ladd recalled. At first he refused to meet with Bush. "I wasn't going to no hotel to see no Republican," Ladd said. But then he challenged Bush to come to his home and meet with him and a houseful of "brothers." "He took the challenge," Ladd said. "He came to my house. My brothers all got after him politically. He weathered the storm, shot us down, and that's how I became a Republican."
On September 13, 2004 a website called 1wrestling.com reported that Mr. Ladd was undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer (Ernie Ladd Update). Gergiann Makropoulos also revealed that - just like George W. Bush - Ernie found God in the eighties, and though his doctors believed that the chemotherapy treatment put his cancer in remission, "Ernie gives all credit to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."
In July of 1990, Mr. Ladd also participated in the anti-abortion Unity 90 conference hosted by the American Life League, which was televised on CNN and brought together Pastor Jerry Falwell and New York Cardinal John O'Connor: “Unity 90 was a great boost to pro-life African-Americans everywhere. We had the opportunity to be uplifted by such eminent Black pro-life leaders as: the Rev. Hiram Crawford (Israel Church), Dolores Grier (Black Catholics United Against Abortion), Maurice Weir (National Institute for Black Family Empowerment), the Rev. D. Pate (Church Point Ministries), Dr. Mildred Jefferson (Right To Life Crusade), Minister Humza Hafeez (Mahamad Speaks), Br. John Tyler (Illinois Federation for Right to Life) Joyce Lester (Teen Talk) and Ernie Ladd ( Former NFL player)." Perhaps the most important aspect of the conference for African Americans was that it provided us with the chance to come together, expand our network, and voice our opinions on the genocidal effects of abortion and many other problems facing the Black community. I am certain that, as a result, Black involvement in the pro-life cause will grow faster than ever.
Ernie Ladd has also been involved with the Bill Glass prison ministries. "That's probably one of my most enjoyable moments is to be able to go into prisons and to be able to share with people that have broken the law an opportunity to repent, and turn their lives around," Ladd said. "It's very exciting to me, and most enjoyable and most rewarding." Speaking of rewarding, “as governor of Texas, Bush allowed the InnerChange Freedom Initiative, a project of Prison Fellowship Ministries, to work within the prison system to rehabilitate prisoners for the outside world (http://www.ifiprison.org).”
In a 1997 interview with Mike Mooneyham of The Wrestling Gospel, Ernie Ladd spoke of his 1981 conversion which occurred at a restaurant in a small Georgia town: "I met a young white boy in the restaurant and he told me he wanted to go into my room and read the Bible with me," Ladd recalls. "I was quite disturbed. The guy wanted me to get on my knees and pray with him. I told him he must have been strange. I just wanted to knock the guy out right there in the restaurant." But something happened on his way to thrashing the young man. "I thought I was going to beat the guy up, but the Holy Spirit beat me up. I went upstairs to read the Bible with him. I ended up giving my life to the Lord. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. The Holy Spirit came up on me and changed my life in its entirety. I could never repay that."
No matter how much Mr. Ladd may have profited from his relationship with the Bush Dynasty, it is equally doubtful that the debt owed to him by Dubya could ever be repaid.