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How Much Time do We Have?

August 25, 2016

Twenty-three years have passed since William Jefferson Clinton was elected President in 1993 and seven years since Hillary Clinton was appointed Secretary of State in 2009.

Only in 2016 are the activities of the Clinton Foundation and allegations of conduct by Hillary Clinton been portrayed as “Pay to Play.”

What is it about American politics that responsible citizens react too late to bad policies and questionable activities?

William Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama were each elected to second terms when it is clear in hindsight that none was worthy of re-election.

In a recent post titled “Irresponsible Generation,”  I wrote that “this generation did not do the hard work to understand forces in the world that wanted to destroy the United States, nor to prepare to sustain that world leadership.”

We were worse off at the end of each of these second term Presidencies than we were at the end of their first terms, yet the American people seemed to yawn and moved on to more important decisions.

Well, we now face a decision in the current Presidential election between a reprise of the Clinton and Obama Presidencies and something so totally new and unexpected that none dare name it.

What is Donald Trump? And what forces within the GOP allowed Trump to gain control of the Republican Party.

“Do Nothing” Congress comes to mind, especially since 2015 when Republicans controlled both Houses of Congress. If Barack Obama was as bad as the GOP claimed, why didn’t the House and Senate immediately introduce an Impeachment resolution?

Indeed, why didn’t they do that when the GOP took control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010?

Clearly, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell were “insiders” who were consumed by the legislative process and ignored the educational role of Congress.

Even though they wouldn’t have succeeded in Impeaching the President in 2010, they should have begun that process when the GOP controlled the U.S. House of Representatives six years ago.

Blame may be placed firmly on Cong. John Boehner (R-OH), but surely there is blame to be placed on his successor Cong. Paul Ryan (R-WI) for not immediately understanding that Republicans were dissatisfied and would bolt the GOP for an alternative.  Ryan, too, is a Congressional “insider.”

Donald Trump is the “outsider” that Republican primary voters have chosen and that will force a total realignment of the Republican Party which can easily take three to four Presidential cycles to sort out.

Unfortunately, if there is no forceful opposition party that comes into being during that time, we may not have the luxury of politics as usual..

Why Some Religious Colleges go Bad

August 24, 2016

The “drift” of religious colleges in the United States away from sectarian education and direction has been swift. Catholic colleges, in particular, have rapidly moved to become non-sectarian. The University of Notre Dame is a particularly egregious example that has aroused concern of some Notre Dame alumni. But the descent into non-sectarian education is most visible in New York State:

Take a look at the Websites of these formerly “Catholic” colleges and ask yourself what can be done to recover their former strength as “religious” institutions.

Marist                                              Dominican College

New Rochelle                                Iona

Fordham                                         Le Moyne

Mercy College                               Manhattanville

Cazenovia                                       St. Joseph’s

College of St. Rose                      St. Thomas Aquinas

One of the reasons that Catholic colleges in New York State have “gone South” is because many are on the dole. In the 1960s, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and McGeorge Bundy crafted legislation called “Bundy Aid.” Bundy Aid was made available to non-profit, degree granting, accredited colleges and universities in the State of New York. A provision of this legislation provided subsidies to sectarian institutions under certain conditions.

Here are the relevant passages affecting participation of religious institutions in Bundy Aid funding:

1) Institutions may have no denominational control. Boards must be self-perpetuating and a majority (51%) must be laypersons. (Laypersons appointed by a Bishop, for example, would be unacceptable).

2) Institutions may not require courses in religious doctrine or philosophy. Materials such as catalogs detailing degree requirements may be used as evidence.

Silencing Religious Freedom

August 24, 2016

Conservatives of a certain age who review the past half century can see that the United States is becoming more secular.

Secularization occurs when the religious beliefs of citizens change and when instrumentalities of the state restrict religious expression.

I conclude from my reading of the influence of Transcendentalism and Darwin’s Origins of the Species and the damaging effect of the American Civil War on the religious beliefs of Americans that a substitution of secular “civil theology” with formerly dominant Christian beliefs was occurring. That process began with the acceptance of Transcendentalism by our intellectual classes beginning in the early 1830s through 1865. a period during which the United States underwent a process of secularization.

Hillsdale College Professor of History, Richard Gamble, has argued that President Abraham Lincoln played an important role in this process.

Living in secularized American society of today affects religious expression. Left to themselves, the majority of American citizens would allow any and all expressions of traditional Jewish and Christian belief. But, the U.S. Supreme Court has contributed to secularization by interpretations of the First Amendment’s religious freedom and Establishment clauses.

Requiring a prayer in public schools of the state of New York was held to be unconstitutional in  Engel v. Vitale (1962).

“Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country.”

That prayer, inoffensive enough on its face, was seen to be an unconstitutional act of Establishment of Religion.

A review of these issues may be found in a study published by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Today, though we tend to be dispassionate and accept these secular interpretations of religious freedom as “facts,” Protestant Pastors, as seen in  a recent survey, believe that religious freedom is in decline. A perception exists among these Protestant leaders  that American culture is at war with the religions of the American people.

I call this to your attention because I have begun reading The STRIPPING of the ALTARS  by Eamon Duffy which, in Part Two, examines how William Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Thomas Cromwell engaged in “stripping” England’s former “Catholic” Church of its holidays, feast days, pilgrimages and other celebrations after Henry VIII’s separation of the Church in England from the Roman Church.

Though many celebrate the good effects of the decision of Henry VIII to break away from the universal Church, the process was wrenching for those Christian believers for whom these celebrations were central to their lives.

The problem in America today is that secularization of America has made its way through American culture for more than 180 years. As a consequence, we no longer experience that secularization because steps to affirm that the United States is a secular nation state were taken long before we were born.

Recovery of that understanding is critical for sustaining the freedoms of American citizens from the intrusiveness of the American administrative state.

Obsessive Political Analysis

August 22, 2016

Johnathan Chait is an accomplished journalist, if a bit obsessive. His major obsession is found in The Big Con, a book that demonizes Supply-side Economics. Published in 2007, The Big Con comes to the Supply-side Economics table a bit late.

The first incidence of Supply-side economic policies was found during the Administration of Warren Harding who recruited Andrew Mellon to become U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. Mellon designed a policy he called “Scientific Taxation” that lowered marginal tax rates. Next came President John F. Kennedy whose first and only economic plan was announced in Kennedy’s “Address to the Economic Club of New York,” on December 14, 1962.

In 1978, the maximum capital gains tax was 40% and the inflation rate was 12-13%. Jack Kemp, Art Laffer and Jude Wanniski successfully persuaded Ronald Reagan that lowering capital gains and marginal income taxes would spur economic growth.

Johnathan Chait called that historical development and application of Supply-side Economics to public policy a “Big Con.”

Yesterday, Chait took on a new challenge, the dumping of Neoconservatives onto the ash heap of history. Here’s what he wrote in an essay titled, The Neocons Have Gone From GOP Thought-Leaders to Outcasts, New York magazine on August 21, 2016.

Johnathan Martin and the NY Times

August 21, 2016

Visit this link at The New York Times  and you will find Johnathan Martin’s recent articles.

Of Martin’s last ten articles, nine are representative of bias against the Trump campaign.

I watch “Inside Politics” on CNN on Sunday mornings. The program is hosted by a professional journalist and Chief National, Correspondent John King. The program is a good summary of the week’s political news, but my eyes have wandered and have begun to watch Johnathan Martin.

I first took notice of Martin when he was introduced as a reporter for The New York Times, which alerted me to possible bias on Martin’s part. But, then Martin’s demeanor is not TV compatible. He looks like what we call a “Know it all,” and he has a way of scowling that lets us know what’s coming.

Recently, the camera has shown Martin looking down at his cell phone, as if the conversation of his colleagues on Inside Politics are not interesting. He also dresses poorly. This morning he wore a light cream summer suit, suitable for luncheon at a good restaurant in Manhattan and a garish tie.

I think it was pink.

Which brings me to this conclusion. Johnathan Martin is what we used to call a “pinko”.

John McLaughlin, RIP

August 19, 2016

It’s hard to believe that The McLaughlin Group first aired on PBS in 1982. Memory plays tricks and if asked, I would have said the show aired during the Carter Administration.But Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 and we were still enjoying the emotional “lift” that Ronnie’s election gave to us long-time conservatives.

I also associate John McLaughlin with the exodus from the Catholic priesthood of good Catholic priests in the 1960 and 1970s, I met some of them since many had taught at Fordham, a Jesuit institution, and married female colleagues of mine at the College of New Rochelle.

That exodus from the priesthood still requires an explanation since not all left to marry. Something must have been transpiring within the Church that may have had something to do with a rejection of Scholastic philosophy. Sometime in the late 1950s, “Thomism” was “remaindered” and nothing replaced it. I mark the decline of Catholic higher education from that rejection of St. Thomas.

Not that there was much “out there” better than St. Thomas’ philosophical approach–even Pope John Paul II was not a Thomist. He found a better intellectual foundation for his faith in “personalism.”  One of my former colleagues from the University of Dallas, Dr. John Crosby, now teaches that doctrine at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Dr. John Crosby on Personalism

I suspect that many Catholic priests of that era were attracted to an eclectic philosophical approach called “phenomenology” or some may simply have lost their faith. But, it is clear that the pedophile problem that has so seriously hurt the Church was exacerbated by those pedophile priests who chose to remain in the priesthood.

John McLaughlin was one of those good priests who left the Church, later married and continued to influence the general public by his views and especially his attitude.

McLaughlin had “attitude” and we enjoyed watching him refer to one of his colleagues as “Mortawn.” His sparring with Jack Germond was great fun especially when McLauglin asked the group to guess who the Time Man of the Year would be. Germond refused to participate–year after year.

But most important, McLaughlin gave credence to the notion that there were intellectual conservatives. Not many of our fellow Americans admitted that and even fewer in what became the Talking Head industry.

I hadn’t watched the McLaughlin Group for years, but several weeks ago if found it while channel surfing. Age had diminished John McLaughlin and the Group wasn’t as interesting, but what a “run” The McLaughlin Group had–and on PBS!

Irresponsible generation?

August 19, 2016

We are in the final days leading to one of the most important political decisions that Americans will make this century, and commentators and candidates are, simply, irresponsible.

Let’s dispose, first, of the irresponsibility of both candidates.

Hillary is incapable of telling the truth, used her office to benefit her husband’s “charitable” foundation and demonstrated that, even as Secretary of State, she had bad judgment and is not suited to be an “administrator.”

The Donald is impulsive on principle and impulsively decided to run for President of the United States with little knowledge of political campaigns and without preparing to wage a campaign that would, ultimately, get out the vote. He assumed that running a country is like running a business and is too new at the game of public policy that he makes it up as he goes along.

Both HIllary and Trump are representative of a generation of Americans–the post World War II generation–who enjoyed the benefits of a world at peace, world leadership and economic prosperity. Yet, this generation did not do the hard work to understand forces in the world that wanted to destroy the United States, nor to prepare to sustain that world leadership.

That is evident in a common use of the world “dictator” to describe Saddam Hussein, Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad or Robert Mugabe and any or all the authoritarian leaders that populate Third World countries and now post-Soviet Russia.

Misuse of words is something that occurs when knowledge and understanding are corrupted. Confucius saw that in 6th Century China when he called for the “rectification of names.” When we use the word “dictator” to describe authoritarians we ignore that this word is a pejorative used to describe persons who do not govern by democratic rules.

But, the more accurate word to describe how most nations are governed is “authoritarian.”  The opposite, more dangerous form of authoritarian rule, is not “dictator” but “totalitarian.”

Soviet Russia was a totalitarian regime. Fidel Castro is a totalitarian ruler, the current and immediate past Presidents of Venezuela were totalitarians leaders and most important, the supreme leader of Iran, Sayyed Ali Khamenei, is a totalitarian.

Totalitarian describes a leader with a political ideology or religion that seeks to replace normal life or reality with something better that is solely made up and willed to be true. Marxism, Leninism, Communism, Socialism, Nazism,  Fascism and Islamic radicalism are totalitarian ideologies.

Making distinctions, or not making them, affects public policy.

President Obama, himself trained in totalitarian Marxism, has made overtures to Fidel Castro and Ali Khamenei that are not in the national interest of the United States. He does that because he sympathizes with those regimes.  Our irresponsible generation twice failed to understand the character of this young community organizer from Chicago and a disastrous course of the United States is now set for at least a generation.


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