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A family tradition

When I was growing up, the first presidency I can really remember much about was Jimmy Carter's. The details are a bit fuzzy, but I do recall some things with remarkable clarity.

One of those is his (late) brother, Billy.

Billy was, quite frankly, a laughingstock. He was like someone from Central Casting got a call saying "we need an absolutely perfect stereotypical redneck Bubba to play the part of the president's brother. Carter comes across as too serious and preachy; we need someone who will remind folks that it's OK to laugh at southerners sometimes." And soon Billy Carter became a staple of the news. Sitting on his front porch, beer in hand, talking about his big brother, the president. Hell, he even signed an endorsement deal with a brewery that sold "Billy Beer," which was apparently almost indistinguishable from stale goat urine.

The closest Billy ever came to actually causing Jimmy any political discomfort, though, was when he started taking some meetings with some fellows from Libya. One meeting led to another, money changed hands, and soon Billy found himself arguing on behalf of Libya's interests -- and dropping big brother's name opened a lot of doors for him to make his arguments.

The only problem is, he neglected to tell the government that he was working for a foreign government -- and one that had a LOT of ties to terrorism and other anti-American activities. He finally did get around to registering as a foreign agent, as well as reporting the almost-a-quarter-of-a-million dollars Libya had "loaned" him. (And that was back before big brother tanked the economy and sent inflation through the roof -- in those days, $220,000 was a LOT more than it is today.)

Well, Billy died back in 1988, and I never really thought much about him (except for a brief piece I wrote last month about "embarrassing presidential brothers"). But there's a new story out that brings him back to mind.

I've always thought of the Saudis as among the canniest of the Arab world. They've pulled off the nigh-impossible -- a small minority proclaimed itself "the royal family" and has held power over some of the greatest oil reserves in the world, an island of stability in a highly chaotic region. (Note that this is NOT praise, but simple recognition of their achievement.) And it seems that that talent of theirs led them to make a far wiser move in the 1970's than Libya did. While Khadafi (or however Muammar is spelling his last name this week) worked on buying Billy Carter and going for influence on the cheap, the Saudis figured it was worth top dollar to bypass the family of the president and go straight for his buddies. (They apparently saw the wisdom of "God gives us our relatives -- thank god we can choose our friends" and targeted those Jimmy Carter opted to trust.)

Well, Rachel Ehrenfeld of the Washington Times pulled a whole bunch of strings together, and weaved them into a rather convincing knot showing how, over decades, the Saudis have invested a very sizable hunk of money into James Earl Carter, Jr.

Jimmy Carter is often cited as, along with George Washington, one of the most honest men to ever serve as president. I'm reminded of the old definition of an "honest" politician -- one whom, once he's bought, stays bought.

Somewhere, Billy Carter is looking down (or up) and seeing big brother Jimmy once again put his own accomplishments to shame.


Comments (17)

Well, that was fascinating,... (Below threshold)

Well, that was fascinating, Jay. Thanks. And, although I'm sure Mr. Carter will deny that the Saudi money holds any influence on his thoughts on the Middle East, it's awful hard to demonstrate that it doesn't.

At the risk of stating the ... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

At the risk of stating the obvious, the Saudis positively (or negatively) hemorrhaged money on it seems almost eyeryone in the US political elite in the last 30 years . Of course there is Arab fincancing of the Carter Center as well as lesser Jewish contributions.. But Jay you are on the right road... Big money can be an important consideration in enunciation of policy even perhaps by an ex-president, but why reserve your dudgeon, only for ex-presidents.

Considering the circles of ... (Below threshold)
epador:

Considering the circles of Hell, though BC is currently having to crane his neck up for a peek at his Big Brother, he'll have a long way down to aim his piss when JC goes to his reward.

Yep..."Billy Beer" ah...bu... (Below threshold)
nogo postal:

Yep..."Billy Beer" ah...but as long as we are discussing brothers....Our President's brother..Neil..I could care less about his asian underage hookers and his messy divorce...
Along with everyone who lived in Colorado in the S&L rip-off we remember Silverado Savings....
So please google Billy Carter and "corruption" and "divorce"...and then google Neil Bush with the same words....Billy cost taxpayers very little...Neil's part in taxpayer bailout was over a billion bucks...
I report...you decide...

ZZZzzZzzz. Like read... (Below threshold)
AION:

ZZZzzZzzz.
Like reading an aging, infinitely passing, advertisement.

Steve C. is right. It's no... (Below threshold)

Steve C. is right. It's not just Carter that's been bought and paid for by the Saudis. They've been spreading money (and lots of it) around DC for many years, toward any number of government officials and ex-government officials. Of either party -- the House of Saud ain't fussy about what you call yourself, just so long as you say what they want you to say.

The big scandal at the time... (Below threshold)
Rober the original:

The big scandal at the time was Burt Lance, Carter's budget director I think, and the BCCI bank.

Drug money from Afghanistan flowed through Pakistan (and other Arab States) and into the BCCI bank that was buying up lots of US banks with the help of Burt Lance.

But BCCI was unsound and brought down everything including Burt and involved lots of other people and countries - this was a BIG BIG scandal - and involved also the WTI in Ohio as I recall.

To this day the FED maintains a section of banking laws and regulations known as the "Burt Lance" laws.

Of interest, Jackson Stephens, who along with Walton and Tyson was one of the three power brokers in Little Rock, and a key Carter supporter, was deeply involved but escaped to later support Clinton and Gore. Under Clinton, the Stephens group profited handsomely from its connections, in the heath care and computers services areas.

Stephens, one time head of Augusta Golf Club, was said to maintain the old-time southern attitude toward blacks and Jews.

Jay neglects to point out t... (Below threshold)
John:

Jay neglects to point out the connections between the house of Saud and the Bush family which goes back three generations. Prince Bandar is an "honorary" member of the Bush family, whom they jokingly refer to as Bandar Bush. The Saudis bailed Bush II out during his Arbusto/Spectrum 7 days which allowed him to claim he was an "oilman", and not a "failed, bankrupt oilman" on his resume.

Jay, If you really wanted to do a scholarly work, and not just a hack piece, you could have discussed what's been happening over the last 25 or 30 years, which is a lot more relevant that what happened during the Carter administration.

You could have even discussed the agreement we have with the Saud royals to keep them in power, even with our military, in exchange for their promise to stabilize our energy prices. Makes for much more interesting reading than old, cold hash about "Billy Beer".

Rober and John: prescient p... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

Rober and John: prescient posts. Billy news is strictly bathroom reading: something to take you're mind off necessary crap. Like the U.S. throwing gasoline on the Turk-Kurdish dispute as I write. W is a megolomaniac.

You can choose your friends... (Below threshold)
blackcat77:

You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family. Nuff said.

Jay, If you really... (Below threshold)
marc:
Jay, If you really wanted to do a scholarly work, and not just a hack piece, you could have discussed what's been happening over the last 25 or 30 years, which is a lot more relevant that what happened during the Carter administration. :: by John on January 13, 2007 2:09 PM ::
Well John... considering Carter has recently been in the news he is legitimate fodder for bloggers and the MSM alike.

Your attempt to drag the topic of this post from its intended subject to something you feel is more important, more anti-Bush sniping, it's an easy jump to declare your comment a "hack piece" and very, very troll-like.

Carter, of course, has thru... (Below threshold)
robert the original:

Carter, of course, has thrust himself into the news with his new book and reentry into the Middle-East debate. Not only Jay has taken up Carter in recent days, and those that bail on him.

As long as Carter is used as peace icon of the left, and glorified also I might add, he is making himself news, not Jay.

And as long as his positions are quoted on the Senate floor it is only right to recall what a disaster he was, and why we should not listen to him now, and expose the connections that may have led to the positions he takes against known fact and Israel, but refuses to defend.

I'm pretty sure Jay Tea has... (Below threshold)

I'm pretty sure Jay Tea has the right to blog about whomever he desires. If you don't like it, write your own post, but don't hijack the comment section because you don't like Bush.

I wasn't alive for Carter's presidency, but from what I've seen and read of the man I'm no fan.

Not a Carter, worse. If you... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

Not a Carter, worse. If you want to find the real Arab money then you have to look at the Clintons. They have a hundred thousand dollars in graft from the Arabs for each nickel anyone else has ever received. How easy it is for a liberal to forget who was pushing the Arab port deal, the money in the Libary, bait shop, and massage parlor in Ark. and many other 'projects'.

From the comments both left... (Below threshold)
Rich:

From the comments both left and right it seems to me that no matter who gets elected,they have money tied to the Arabs. How far back does that go? Are they already pouring money into all the people who are throwing their hats into the next election? How many other countries have the same discussions about their leaders(or family of leaders) who sucked up tons of our tax money to nudge things in our favor?

Yes, it is true that the Bu... (Below threshold)
robert the original:

Yes, it is true that the Bush family has longstanding ties to the Saudis.

So both sides have their arab ties, true.

In this case, Carter has been accused of being persuaded off of the neutral to the point of making factual errors and strong judgements against Israel. His book has been panned by many and it has been suggested that his ties to the arab world may be responsible.

Bush on the other hand has been the strongest supporter of Israel of all our Presidents.

It would be difficult to argue, although some here may, that the Saudis are influencing Bush to support Israel.

Jimmy Carter was such a wus... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:

Jimmy Carter was such a wuss he would make PEE WEE HERMIN look like HE-MAN




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