Monthly archives "January 2016"

Carter, Obama, Hillary, Titanic

Jimmy Carter’s domestic policy was disastrous in its results with high unemployment, high inflation and high interest rates.  His foreign policy was even more so.  Henry Kissinger summarized it in 1980:  “The Carter Administration has managed the extraordinary feat of having, at one and the same time, the worst relations with our allies, the worst relations with our adversaries, and the most serious upheavals in the developing world since the Second World War.”  This is cited in Nathan Miller’s Star-Spangled Men:  America’s Ten Worst Presidents.

One can put the name Barack Obama in for Carter and it is also accurate.  Some think Obama is the worst President since James Buchanan who served just before Abraham Lincoln.  Americans give Carter and Obama about the same marks for leading the nation on to the wrong track.

There are also differences.  Jimmy Carter gained more spine toward the Soviets after they invaded Afghanistan and began to arm the Afghan rebels.  Barack Obama shows no sign of learning that ISIS is a real threat.  Mr. Carter had a sense of failure when he told his fellow Georgians that he was sorry he let them down after Ronald Reagan’s blow out victory in the 1980 elections.  Mr. Obama really believes his Administration has been a great success.  Dr. Charles Krauthammer, psychiatrist as well as columnist, calls this “delusional.”

Because she needs his constituents,  Hillary Clinton has embraced the Obama Administration and is rather open about wanting his third term.  It is a good guess that there will be more distance between the two if she gets the Democrat nomination.  Hillary will probably try to appear as moderate as Bill Clinton which is not her natural inclination.  But she knows that neither Obama nor his policies are popular outside the Democrat Party.

After Jimmy Carter there was Ronald Reagan, now considered to have been a great President.  One felt that from the moment of his Inauguration someone was in charge again.  One has to admit that Bill Clinton, while not a great leader, had a rather successful Presidency as well.   Hillary could choose a worse model and right now has done so.

Some believe on the Republican side that this is the greatest slate of candidates since 1980 when George H.W. Bush, John Connally  and Howard Baker joined Ronald Reagan in seeking the GOP nomination.  We can hope that one of them can take on the mantle of Mr. Reagan.  Right now it appears to be coming down to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio as final contenders with possible space for Chris Christie.  If they run a good campaign, one of them should be able to defeat Hillary as she, unlike fine wine, does not improve with exposure.  In fact, the more she is in the public eye the less popular she is.  Doubtless this is the reason the Democrats are hiding their debates in the thicket of college football playoffs and late on a Saturday evening.   This also explains why Mrs. Clinton gives few interviews.

There is another parallel between Jimmy Carter’s Presidency and that of Barack Obama.   Mr. Carter himself said it was possible we had seen our high water mark as a nation and that our children would have to scale back on their expectations.  He felt that they might not exceed the success of their parents.  This was new for our nation which was seen as exceptional.   Though he did not employ the word, Carter’s views became known as “Malaise.”

If Carter indicated our best days might be behind us, Obama has openly indicated we are not an exceptional nation and said to entrepreneurs in 2012, “You didn’t build that.”  What a pair.  And Hillary promises more of the same.  Her election may make disaster irretrievable.  This is the reason that 2016 must be a Republican year.  And they have the far stronger candidates to face either an open Socialist or a closet one.  But the GOP is also perfectly capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.  Hopefully there will be fewer candidates after Iowa and New Hampshire which means, with fewer distractions, we can begin to focus on a winner.

But Thomas Hardy’s poem “The Convergence of the Twain:  Lines on the Loss of the Titanic,” also comes to mind:

And as the smart ship grew

In stature, grace and hue,

In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.

Alien they seemed to be:

No mortal eye could see

The intimate welding of their later history.

Are there icebergs in America’s path?   Lots of them.  And the mortal eye can see them.  They are placed there by the Left and can bring the great ship down–Socialism, Malaise, Delusion, and more.

Staying with The Titanic, when the great ship hit the iceberg there was a ship, The California, near enough to negotiate a rescue but the ship’s wireless man had fallen asleep and missed the desperate S.O.S. signals of The Titanic.   The Carpathia came to the rescue but it was much further away and there was great loss of life by the time this ship could get there.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Sometimes events get in the saddle and ride mankind.”  Let this not be such a time.  Let us not fall asleep at the switch.  Let us elect a strong, savvy leader in 2016.  Let us not be the generation that has to say to our children and grandchildren and the larger world beyond:  “Behold a Pale Horse and its rider’s name was Death.” (Revelation 6:8)  Restore us again, O Lord.

Eutychus

 

Hill, Bill & Barack

Monica Crowley is editor of online opinion at The Washington Times.  She has a PhD in International Affairs from Columbia University.  From 1990 (when she was 22 years of age) until his death in 1994, she was a research assistant to former President Richard Nixon.  She speaks of how intelligent he was and how well versed in foreign affairs.  David Gergen worked for five Presidents including Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton and says Nixon, for all his awkwardness, was the smartest of the bunch.

In a recent column, Dr. Crowley takes note that, though Hillary Clinton has been on the national political scene for a quarter century, she is still scrambling to find a compelling reason for her candidacy.  This is partly because she is a small person, a poor candidate and not likeable as she is all about power and self-aggrandizement.

There is another factor in her panic stricken campaign:  Hillary is struggling to navigate her way through the radical new Democrat Party of Barack, Liz  (the Squaw) Warren, Bernie Sanders and New York Mayor Bill De Blasio.  Mrs. Clinton has been a Leftist since she studied under the Communist radical Saul Alinsky.  She is not an effective politician as she demonstrated when she faced the more natural Alinskyite Barack Obama in 2008.  But she is a Leftist temperamentally and ideologically.

Her husband is not a Leftist ideologue.  Bill is a moderate Democrat, a Southern pragmatist who did not seek to destroy the existing order as Barack has done but to work within it.  As a result he was elected President twice and remained successful and popular even in the midst of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.  Hillary hungers for that kind of political success and says she is a member of the Bill Clinton economic order.  But that Democrat Party no longer exists.  She has to live in Barack Obama’s Democrat Party which is not popular and considered off track.

In light of this reality, Monica Crowley would submit this question for Hillary in a future Democrat debate:  “Mrs. Clinton, your husband successfully moved the Democrat Party from the radical left to the center and was rewarded with two terms of a relatively successful Presidency.  President Obama has successfully moved the Party back to the Far Left.  This partially explains the success of your primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders.  In which version of the Democrat Party are you most comfortable?  Do you prefer your husband’s moderate Party or Mr. Obama’s Far Left one?”

This matters as the last pro-America Democrat ticket (other than Bill Clinton in the 90’s) was the Hubert Humphrey-Ed Muskie team of 1968.  Since then the radical wing of the Party nominated George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, John Kerry and Barack Obama.  Other than Obama all these candidates lost as centrist Democrats became Reagan supporters or fled the Party all together.

These moderates supported Democrats Harry Truman, Jack Kennedy, Henry “Scoop” Jackson and Humphrey.  During the moderate ascendancy of Bill Clinton his fellow leaders included Sens. Sam Nunn, Joseph Lieberman, Evan Bayh and Charles Robb and Congressmen such as Harold Ford and Democrat National Chair, Ed Rendell.  These men are all off the stage now and the remaining “Blue Dog” Democrats were whipped into submission by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid (what a pair).  As they voted for big government programs such as Obamacare and the Stimulus they were voted out by the sensible people back home.

Democrat centrism is now irrelevant and practically non-existent in the Alinskyite Party of Obama.  This is the sea where Hillary now swims.  She may find she is floundering in a Far Left Party going extinct in Obama’s America.  Her answer so far to Monica Crowley’s question seems to be that Mrs. Clinton is Barack Obama’s bosom buddy and his third term.  This is to secure the nomination in face of Bernie Sanders challenge and to stay in the good graces of Obama.

If she gets the nomination, it seems likely she will rush back to Bill Clinton as the country is not Far Left or Alinskyite.  But by then the damage may be done as Bill’s moderates no longer exist and Americans appear to have already decided they do not like Hillary whether her suit of clothes is Far Left or moderate.  Here’s hoping that is the scenario.  One Clinton is enough for anyone.  And this country is simply not the one envisioned by Saul Alinsky or his followers, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Eutychus

Sand(ers) in the Engine

In the winter of 2015 the conventional wisdom was that if there was to be a challenger to Hillary Clinton from the Left it would be Senator Elizabeth Warren of MA.  Rush Limbaugh lovingly calls her The Squaw as she falsely claimed First American blood to advance her academic career.  Warren’s running was the preferred scenario among the cognoscenti.  Warren had the “intangibles” and who would not enjoy a fight between two formidable women?

But Bernie Sanders?  He was an angry, elderly white man from the fringes who honeymooned in the old Soviet Union. He was more kooky than conventional and would feed on scraps the media threw his way and small campaign contributions that college students could scrape together.

Geoffrey Norman is a writer from Sanders’ state of Vermont who has taken note of his campaign.  Though a conservative he has also attended Sanders rallies and the Democrat debates–if their little noted forums can be called debates.  To the surprise of all Bernie’s campaign has become real and has gained traction.  He is close in Iowa and leading in New Hampshire.

This is a real irritant to Hillary (sand in the Clinton machine) as evidenced by her attacks on Sanders.  Before Clinton was benevolent toward Bernie Sanders as she treated him with some condescension as a crazy uncle not allowed out of the basement till after dark. Doubtless Hillary is haunted by what happened to her in Iowa in 2008 at the hands of young, black upstart named Barack.  Now it is an old white guy named Bernie.

Basically Sanders campaign decries the gap between billionaires and millionaires who are the “malefactors of great wealth–the one-tenth of one percent” who control as much as the 90 % at the bottom.  His “democratic socialism” will close the gap by making college free for all, rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure (remember Obama’s shovel ready jobs that were not shovel ready?), increasing the minimum wage and Social Security benefits, ending global warming and on and on.

Strangely the Sanders campaign reminds many of another improbable run by an angry man named Donald Trump. There is great irony here as Trump is one of the billionaires Sanders has set up as the reason for the great gap between wealth and the lower classes.  It is also one of the reasons many among the Leftist intelligentsia are not happy with Bernie.  They are not only for Hillary, Sanders is too much like Donald Trump for their tastes.

Norman attended a Christmas rally for Bernie in New Hampshire.  Radical professor, Cornel West gave Sanders a fiery introduction: “Brother Bernie manifests that justice is what love looks like when it goes out in public.”   No one seemed to know what that meant but it sounded good and the crowd went wild.

But even with all the enthusiasm, Geoffrey Norman writes that one had the sense that Bernie knew as he addressed his supporters that his was the longest of long shots.  He may win Iowa and New Hampshire and his crowds are large and he is raising vast amounts of money, but it is not to be.

Even if Hillary is indicted by the F.B.I. this would most likely lead to Joe Biden’s entering the race not unlike Bobby Kennedy did in 1968 when Eugene McCarthy drove Lyndon Johnson from the White House by a strong New Hampshire showing.  There is some evidence that Vice-President Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren would then team up. This might deny Mrs. Clinton the nomination but it would not win the nomination for Senator Sanders.

But in a year of unconventional candidates Bernie Sanders heads the list followed by Donald Trump.  None of this bodes well for Hillary Clinton, an aging woman with little to commend her for the Presidency nor for the Washington D.C. Establishment that has let down so many.  No one knows who will win but it makes for good theater and hopefully leads us to a leader worthy of the name.  Perhaps like no time since 1980 or even the Civil War, our times cry out for such a person to take the reins.  Let us pray for a Lincoln or a Reagan.  No need for more sand in the engine–be the name Bernie or Hillary.

Eutychus

Hillarynomics & Her Programs For All

President Bill Clinton’s finest year in office was probably 1997.  Early in 1998 his affair with Monica Lewinsky was revealed which led to his impeachment.  But in December 1997 unemployment was at its lowest in two decades.  Inflation hovered at 2 %.  This was a number not seen since the 1960’s and John F. Kennedy.

Charles Krauthammer’s column of December 19, 1997 noted that the economy was growing at 3 %.  Hourly wages were up 4 % and factories were producing at that perfect knife-edge of near capacity but not quite so much as to create industrial bottlenecks which lead to shortages and inflation.

Things were rosy even in social pathologies with crime down drastically.  Sexual assault was down 45 % since 1993;  murder about  30 %.  Welfare rolls were down also.   Some of this must be credited to Ronald Reagan as these were part of the fruit of savings in Cold War spending after the collapse of the old Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc communism.

Nonetheless, especially in light of Barack Obama’s sorry failure, Bill Clinton had a successful Presidency.  Even when we factor in Clinton’s moral failings and scandal with Monica and other women his stewardship of the economy and other parts of national life were positive.

Therefore, it is quite natural for Hillary Clinton to say, “I come from the Clinton School of economics.”  She is identifying with her husband and suggesting that if she is elected she would duplicate his economic success.  But her pronouncements on the economy are closer to Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders, her rival for the Democrat nomination for President, than to Bill Clinton’s.

She seems to be against everything her husband did to strengthen the economy from obsessive focus on raising taxes on the wealthy to raising capital gains taxes to opposing the Trans-Pacific Agreement (TPP).  With help from Republicans Bill Clinton won passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which was a boon to economic growth.  She supported NAFTA and, as Secretary of State, said TPP was the “gold standard” of free trade agreements.

While the Clintons will not admit it, the economic growth of the 1990’s was aided by the Republicans who killed Hillarycare.  This was an early version of Obamacare which would have been the same economic drag on the 90’s that Obama’s Affordable Care Act is now.  The GOP curbed spending and passed Welfare Reform.  A legacy of Ronald Reagan’s deep tax cuts, sweeping tax reform and relief from excessive regulation was an economy poised for growth well into the Clinton years.

Fred Barnes notes that at an Iowa event in December Hillary claimed that her husband and Obama “each inherited economic problems from their Republican predecessor.”  This was true in Obama’s case but not her husband’s.  It was    Bill Clinton who left George W. Bush with a mild recession in 2001.  If Hillary Clinton succeeds Barack Obama in 2017, she will inherit a weak and overregulated economy and soaring public debt.  This is another reason she has little chance of matching her husbands’ economic record.

Mrs. Clinton is also proposing 17 new and expanded programs which will cost 1.1 Trillion dollars over 10 years.  These include universal pre-K schooling, $ 350 billion on a debt-free college plan, $275 billion in infrastructure spending and increased Social Security benefits for widows and single women.

How would she pay for these programs?  In the same manner Democrats always pay for their budget busting programs-soak the rich.  Corporations will also transfer more of their wealth for funding.  Will this work?  It never has.   And if Hillary Clinton wins and her “growth plans” do not work, an already faltering economy will really suffer and there are few tools left to handle a major recession.

Early in his Presidency, Bill Clinton took his entire Cabinet to Camp David for “sensitivity training.”   One of hard headed Newt Gingrich’s first acts was to hire a “corporate psychotherapist” to be a “caring professional” to his troops in the new GOP House majority that they might carry their feelings to the public.

The sensitivity industry now has more therapists than firefighters, librarians, mail carriers, dentists or pharmacists.  George Will calls it the politics of pathos.  Hillary Clinton has adopted it for the entire nation where there is a program for everyone and the therapeutic ethic sternly forbids sternness with anyone.  One wonders if the GOP has a candidate who will boldly say to John Q. Public:  “It is the business of government to protect the nation militarily, not to protect every person from personal hurt or to provide safe zones that no one’s feelings are ever bruised.   Grow Up!  Stand Tall!  Discover your unique gifts and employ them unencumbered by government regulation!”   This was once our ethos and we were a stronger nation under a Harry Truman who said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

What kind of nation will we be?   Hillarycare with government programs for all or individuals standing tall for themselves?   We will be free or we will be slaves to government programs and sensitivity training.  Ronald Reagan, in “The Speech” in 1964, called this a recipe for a “thousand years of darkness for our children.”   I vote for freedom.  I say with Joshua in 1400 B.C., “As for me and my House we will serve the Lord.”  My House will not be enslaved to the government.  I hope you stand for the same.

Eutychus

The Danger of Faction in the United States

Abraham Lincoln, our greatest President and perhaps also our most profound, wondered whether a nation like ours “can long endure.”  A quarter century before he became President he delivered an extraordinary speech to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, IL, in which he spoke of the damage done to nations by “the silent artillery of time.”  In this Lincoln echoed Edward Gibbon’s last volume of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, where the first answer Gibbon gave to the question of why Rome had fallen was “the injuries of time.”

Gibbon’s last volume was published in 1788, as the ratification of the U.S. Constitution was being debated.  Benjamin Franklin, asked as he left the Constitutional Convention what it had wrought, replied,  “A republic, if you can keep it.”  American’s Founders were haunted by history’s record of the failure of republics.  In his Farewell Address, President George Washington pondered what could “prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations.”  Washington worried about our fall.

In the spring of 1969 I took a graduate course at the University of Colorado, Boulder, on American Political Theory.  One of our texts was The Federalist Papers.  I have been rereading them of late and take note of Federalist # 10 by James Madison.  In essence Madison is dealing with the danger of factions (his word for divisions) in the nation.  What is the Nature of these factions?  What are the means of avoiding their dangers?  Why is a Representative Republic superior to a democracy in preventing factions?  And what is the advantage of a large republic in this respect?

Madison writes, with dry understatement, “Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.”  What is the answer when this happens?  Regular elections.  We saw this when the understated Jerry Ford followed the intense and paranoid Richard Nixon in 1974.   President Ford  was haunted by his pardon of Richard Nixon and was followed by the self-righteous and hapless Jimmy Carter.   As this was proving too much for the Republic, Carter was followed by the powerful but charming Ronald Reagan.

Bill Clinton ruined Al Gore’s chances at succession with Monicagate.  George W. Bush pushed the idea in 2000 that he would restore integrity and dignity to the Oval Office without  ever mentioning the Clinton scandals directly. With the financial collapse of 2008 and a nation weary of war, Barack Obama promised “Hope and Change” in that election.

But, rather than hope and change, Barack Obama has done immense damage to the nation with his petty and personal politics.   Most Presidents recognize in State of the Union messages that they represent the entire nation, all citizens and both Parties.   Obama does not.  In the 2010 address he scolded the Supreme Court as they sat before him for backing corporate contributions to campaigns.  Justice Samuel Alito silently said, “Not true!” and has not attended since nor do Justices Scalia nor Thomas.  Last evening the small man in the White House and at the SOTU scolded and made fun of the GOP candidates seeking the nomination.

His policies in general and his conduct are hurting Hillary Clinton as she is tied to these from Gun Control to Benghazi to ISIS to Libya to a possible recession on the horizon.   And Bill Clinton’s scandals have returned to haunt as Donald Trump is unafraid to bring out any elephant in the room.

Thus far James Madison’s answer to factions and the lack of enlightened men at the helm’s being regular elections has worked.  May it be so again.   May the lawless Barack Obama be followed by a leader who understands the Constitution and both the power but also the limits of the Presidency.  But we also know that every nation eventually falls to the wayside.   Let this not be our time for that.

In 785 B.C. a Prophet was called to go East to Nineveh to preach repentance to the Assyrians.  So the Prophet, sometimes called Dove, booked passage West to Greece.  On the way a great storm struck and the other sailors reluctantly threw Dove overboard.  The sea calmed and a Great Fish swallowed the Prophet and spat him out on the Eastern Shore.   So Dove, also known as Jonah, went to Nineveh and preached repentance.  This was not Billy Graham’s, “Thus sayeth the Lord.”   No, it was “Repent, I hope you don’t.”   Much to Jonah’s surprise and chagrin the city listened, repented and Assyria was given another 175 years.

Dear Lord, may we listen and repent and may Madison be proven correct on elections. You have blessed us more than we deserve, but we pray again repentantly.   May we elect sensible, enlightened leaders who give us another 175 years whereby our grandchildren’s grandchildren still live in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.  Dear Lord, may it be so!

Eutychus

Federalist # 51

The Federalist Papers were written between October 27, 1787 and August 15, 1788.  The Federalist is the most painstaking explanation of the Constitution and one of the most profound political treatises ever written.  It is a series of eighty-five lengthy papers by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay that were written to convince New York to ratify the Constitution.  A seasoned diplomat, Jay had extensive knowledge and experience in foreign affairs.  But he was taken ill and published only five of the papers.  Madison was indispensable as he was the best informed man in any debate and because he was note taker for the Constitutional Convention.  Thus, he had unrivaled grasp of the proceedings.  The idea for the papers sprang from the fertile mind of Hamilton.  They were published in the New York Press under the name Publius.

Publius was a Roman consul.  Jay, Hamilton and Madison did not wish to be identified lest it color the readers view of their efforts on behalf of the Constitution.   As educated readers took note of the quality of the writings some began to guess they might be the effort of Hamilton or Madison or both.   Then the two men began writing opinion pieces of their own as to who might be the authors of their own works.

Jay wrote five of the Papers as noted above;  Hamilton fifty-one and he and Madison combined on three (numbers 18-20) and Madison wrote twenty-six.  Jay emphasized the need for a united nation in face of foreign powers.   Hamilton called  for a strong federal government.  Madison was concerned with individual rights in the face of that strong central government which he addressed particularly in Federalist numbers 10 and 51.

Hamilton believed there was a natural purifying effect of power.  He had great confidence in human virtue.  Madison knew better and wrote in Federalist 51:  “If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.  If framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this:  you must first enable the government to control the governed;  and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”  In face of the fact that we are not angels or governed by them, the Separation of Powers in the Executive, Legislative and Judicial were key–especially to Madison.

We see today how right James Madison was and is in the face of a lawless and foolish President who believes he is always right.  In the face of ISIS and the Middle East aflame and North Korea out of control, President Obama calls for Climate Change and issues Executive Orders on Gun Control.  It is as if in the face of a storm Obama wishes to break the barometer to stop it.  What a feckless leader.  As Chris Christie has said, “He is a petulant child.  If he does not get his way, he goes to the corner, throws a fit and issues an Executive Order.”  I think it worse than that.  He wishes to be King of our nation and Emperor of the world.   He certainly does not understand our Republic and representative government.

In addition to electing a Republican in 2016 I would suggest we study The Federalist Papers again or, in some cases, perhaps for the first time.  Steven Hayward, Political Science professor at Pepperdine and former one year (academic year 2012-13) conservative in residence at the University of CO, Boulder, has written that The Constitution and The Federalist Papers are neglected even in the government departments at some colleges.

I also suggest a look at the Hebrews of the Old Testament and the Scriptures in total.  Founders like Madison were students of the Bible and keen observers of human behavior.  Thus, he suspected too much power in too few hands.  Men are not angels but God is God.  Psalms 48:14:  “For this is God, our God forever and ever;  He will be our guide even to death.”

Dr. Dennis Kinlaw was one of my professors of Old Testament .  He has a profound devotional titled A Day with the Master, 365 Daily Devotionals.  He points out something very interesting in the Hebrew language:  the future is behind a person and not out front.  Instead of speaking about boldly striding into the future, the Hebrews talked about moving backward into it.  The future is uncertain, we do not know where our foot will land in the next step or what the next mile will bring.  Life is uncertain but Christ asks us to put our hand in His and He will lead us and never let us down.  He is the Lord of tomorrow as much as yesterday and today.  He sees the future as well as the past and present and knows where each step will land.

This is true of the individual and of a nation founded on Godly principles as ours was.  We need His direction again and to place our corporate future in His hands.  “If angels were to  govern men. . .” but they do not.   Jesus Christ will lead us if we allow Him to do so.  James Madison understood this.  Abraham Lincoln said of his Second Inaugural address, considered the best ever written:  “God governs the world.”  Ronald Reagan openly said he felt we were a nation of Providence and his brush with death early in in his first term took him to God for guidance even more than before.

Let us look to such to govern us again rather than a leader who would be King.  They will make errors as they are not angels either, but they are not likely to lead us astray as they put their hand in the hand of Jesus Christ as did Madison, Lincoln and Reagan.  Lord hasten the day!

Eutychus