Tag Archives: Ike

Ghosts Of Elections Past

It is still more than a year to the next Presidential election but the headlines are already there with the latest in this upcoming contest.  Even though the elections are only ever four years if you live long enough you endure or enjoy quite a few of those events.   The memories may be colored in sepia and the sounds more like echos but the recall can still be vivid.

I was too  young to have any memory of Roosevelt’s ’44 election but I do recall later hearing my Dad and his friends who were all in the War talking about the shock of his death because he was the only President they really remembered.  His death was quickly forgotten though in the turmoil of winning the War.  Berlin still had to fall and Iwo Jima and Okinawa were not yet done deals.

I do remember the newsreels at the movies about the ’48 election.  Images of Truman on the back of the train speaking inevitably to the union group and then photos of the suave Dewey.  I just remember thinking even then that Dewey didn’t look manly enough with that sissy skinny mustache.  He was no Clark Gable.  I don’t remember much reaction to the election afterward as all the adults were very much in the getting back to normal life after the War.   Mostly everyone just wanted stability and a chance to resume doing anything routine.

I was young but I definitely liked Ike just as most of the country.  He came across as that firm but fair grandfather and with a touch of the sage to him.  Even as a youngster I found Truman’s screaming and ranting a bit too much.  Besides Ike had led all those millions of men to victory and he knew how to lead.  Those ’50’s were great years.  Adlai Stevenson was the opponent both times.  He was too prissy; supposedly a real intellectual but he also had a very sharp tongue with his opponents.  He was too friendly with the Commies for the country.   You have to take into account the threat of the Commies during those years.  We really did have bomb drills at school regularly and the Commies continued to crush the Hungarians and foment wars and terror around the world.  The Commie threat wasn’t an abstraction, it was palpable.

Those first televised debates in ’60 were interesting and frustrating.  I didn’t like Kennedy from the git go.  He was too cool and cute by half.   Plus I resented him coming from a family with a corrupt history and born with that silver spoon in his mouth and then having the gall to say how the rest of those aspiring to do better for themselves had to pay more in taxes.  (yes, I know it reduced them some later).  I wasn’t  wild about Nixon but he was a Navy man himself and I thought would do a better job of standing up to Khrushchev.   I didn’t mind Jackie much but really got irritated with the liberal media treating her like some celebrity for just standing there and looking chic.  By the way the election was stolen from Nixon by the crooked Democratic machine  in Illinois, the Daleys.  It was that close.  Many wanted Nixon to sue as Gore did later to challenge the fraudulent results from Cook county but he refused saying it would be bad for the country to have the integrity of the election in question for months.  That was the real profile in courage.

Then came the Goldwater/Johnson duel in ’64 with the famous mushroom cloud behind the little girl.   I thought Goldwater was a very bright guy and that it was time for a Jew to come to the fore just as the Catholics had with Kennedy.  Johnson was the epitome of the crooked politician.  I was aware of the venality of the ’48 election were he had the dead vote for him down there in South Texas.   When he and Ralph Yarborough were the Texas senators each of them never met a union boss with a bag of money they didn’t love and would obey.   It was a nasty election with horrendous consequences.  The Great Society has  been a miserable and costly failure and resulted in even more powers being concentrated in Washington just as the Democrats wanted.  For them it was a huge success and their corrupt reach expanded  exponentially.  Of course we got the Viet Nam war out of him after all the fear mongering he did against the alleged war hungry Goldwater.  You have to at least appreciate the irony of it all. 

Next up was Humphrey and the reborn Nixon.  Humphrey definitely talked too much.  You should not that I believe he still holds the Senate record for a filibuster.  He was the guy to continue the Great Society programs and even expand them.   Nixon was for the Silent Majority the did their jobs and wanted a decent society with much less government.  I voted for George Wallace.  Didn’t even like the guy and he was way too populist for me, but, but , but, he was totally anti-establishment man and especially against the Democratic view of running everything and everyone from DC.  His campaign cost Nixon lots of votes and at least it sent a message.   He did as promised and started the draw down in Viet Nam although I wish he had bombed and mined Haiphong harbor right away as long as we had guys on the ground fighting VC and North Vietnamese.  I will discuss Watergate with you only if you have actually read the Watergate Transcripts in their entirety as I did and not just news accounts of those events and if you used you tube to listen to all the Watergate testimony before the Joint Committee and again not news accounts that are consistently skewed and often flat out wrong on the basic facts.

There never was any question about McGovern versus Nixon.  He was too liberal even for a nation at  the height of the Hippie movement.  I always tipped my hat to him for being a bomber pilot during the War but otherwise found him liberal trite, if not lite.

Then we had Ford against Carter.  Ford was a handsome man and a former All-American football player at Michigan.  Carter was a peanut farmer with a hokey approach with pretensions of profound depth.  He was the former but certainly lacked the latter.  He was evil incarnate like Johnson but he was an embarrassment.   He tried a one and done military action to get those hostages out of Iran but then wouldn’t follow through with any other efforts and his economic policies only lead to “stagflation”.   Look it up that was the call sign for an economy during his era, that along with inflation off the charts.  We took a home improvement loan then at 13 and a half percent that was floating in anticipation of it going higher.

Thankfully the good Lord took mercy on us and we got Reagan in the ’80 election.  If you weren’t there you can’t begin to understand the breath of fresh air he was and the new sense of pride he brought it and hope that things would finally get better after two decades of slow but constant decline.  That floating loan I took out for the house  actually dropped under Reagan because inflation was at last tamed under his direction for the economy.  Mondale never had a chance and for good reason in ’84.  The detractors said he was not smart enough, well he won.  Besides we’ll likely never have a President as bright as Jefferson again.  He had a clear vision and direction and got the right people to move us in that way.  The results surely speak for themselves.

Then we had Bush 41 in ’88 against Dukakis.  The country was not in the mood for a return to traditional Democratic theories after seeing the results of trying things a different way and Dukakis was again to prissy and prim.  Bush had been shot down by the Japs during the war and no one could challenge his courage or his devotion to the country.  Dukakis was still singing the Democratic mantra of kissing up to the Commies and criticizing vehemently the whole Star Wars program and military build up under Reagan and  Bush’s pledge to continue it.  Reagan was right and Bush fulfilled the commitment to win the Cold War.  Like Reagan said when asked how the Cold War would play out.  He said–we win.  The wall came down and the Soviets finally got the demise they deserved.  along the way he faced Saddam and was resolute in Desert Storm.  Only wish he hadn’t called of the dogs so soon.

Then there was Clinton who portrayed himself as a new Democrat with  a more centrist approach.  He was a chameleon who would adopt any ideology that got him power.  The millennials and other youngster are ignorant completely about his election.  Virtually none of them recall or know that he won without a majority of the vote.  H. Ross Perot handed the elections to Clinton.  Perot took 19% of the vote; Clinton barely got over 40% to sneak into the White House.  All the shame and ignominy that Clinton brought to the Presidency can be laid at the doorstep of Perot.   It was a time of despair for honorable people and even as the door was hitting his behind he added one last insulf with the Marc Rich pardon on his last day.  Dole was a decent man and admired his tenacity after those awful wounds he survived from the War but he didn’t have the zip or personality to win.

“When liberty becomes license, dictatorship is near”  Will Durant, American, philosopher, anthropologist and historian extraordinaire.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

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Governmental-Educational Complex

We have had various warnings from leaders over the history of our nation.  It started with Washington in his famous Farewell Address when he warned of many things but among them was the danger in “foreign entanglements” and to avoid them.  At that time and place it was pretty sound advice for the young nation.  We were still very small potatoes in the world and needed the peace and quiet to grow and prosper.  Washington rightly worried that treaties with too many other nations and with too many conditions would inevitably lead to conflicts if not outright war and that would be devastating to the budding Republic.    Indeed as we know from our history we did have several wars during our first 15 years or so after his departure.  There was the undeclared war with the French over trade, the also undeclared war with the Barbary pirates and Muslims on the north African coast and the declared war with Britain in 1812.  Along the way we also had some tussles with the Spanish here and there.   It would have been difficult to pick the right partner during those times and not having a formal alliance with one or the other probably was the smart play.

About 150 years later Eisenhower came along to warn us about the industrial-military complex and the perceived power and influence it was having on our national policy and the skewed effects on our economy.  Again, the advice was probably not too bad at the time.  Many thought the advice was odd coming as it did during the height of the Cold War.  It was believed that we needed a very strong industrial base to support our military operations to hold back the advance of the Communists.  They had been very aggressive in announcing their intentions to take over the world.  They even had organizations for that purpose controlled from Moscow.   But Ike was concerned that the industry supporting our military needs was too strong and could thwart national and international policy with its lobbying in Congress.  That the agenda was more about preserving market share than it was the national interest.   We did need a very strong military presence at that time.  You may recall that one of the key elements of the Kennedy victory in 1960 was the alleged “missile gap” between ourselves and the Communist.  Although there was in fact no missile gap and Kennedy knew it he continued to pound on the subject and it found a receptive chord with the public.  This was the era of Sputnik and the rocket and space race and SAC and the beginnings of the ICBM’s.   Generally, Ike’s advice was not followed and probably it was correct not to do so as the Communists were relentless during those years with their aggression around the world.   We may have overdone it some but better to have too many weapons that are never used than too few when desperately needed.

Today I wish some leader would bang the tocsin with a clarion call to cut back on the governmental-educational complex.  All our major universities and colleges that do any research are in a constant competition for Federal funding for their programs.  You cannot find a single large school that does not receive millions, if not hundreds of millions, per year for directed research.  This has been true for some time but has accelerated during the last 25 years to truly gigantic proportions.   You can bet that many of the scientists and academics at these schools spend as much time preparing their grant request as they do actual research.   Lots of the large schools have either full-time staff that do nothing but this or hire specialists to prepare these applications.   The amount of money going to the educational system is staggering.  Just recently there as been the Race To The Top funding grant with gazillions at stake and in this case it is the States themselves that are seeking the money.  

The department of commerce hands them out, the department of transportation, the department of Energy;  the EPA is a huge contributor, and even the Pentagon doles out grants.  The behemoth of course is the department of Education.   Naturally what gets lost in the shuffle is that education is not a federal concern at all.  We all want a good education for our children and a sound educational system but the Constitution does not provide that as a Federal area of authority.  The States are in control of education along with the private schools.  We also seem to forget that all this money doesn’t come from the Government, Inc., it comes from us.   We get taxed to the hilt and ship that money to DC and then some pointed-headed bureaucrat makes rules, regulations and mandates and then magnanimously return a portion of  it to our state with strings attached by people far away.  

Too many academics are in the “business” of applying for grants just as are too many of the community organizations that apply for and receive these funds.  If a school has a great idea for research they should ask their alumni or private industry to fund the program.  If it is meritworthy it will receive it.  It will be judged on its use and usefullness to society rather than some political agenda from Washington.   That competition between universities would be a good thing.  It would more likely be a competition on merit rather than political connections.  You really think the applications for Iowa State receives the same consideration as the one from Harvard?   Have you checked lately how many Harvard grads are in the current administration?

All of those grants should be cut off root and branch.  Let all that money stay with the citizens of the respective states and let them decide which schools and universities should receive which funding.   Make them compete for private money, not political sway.  The research would be better.  We don’t need an entire industry built on applying for grant money and the lobby that supports it.  It is not productive.  You want transparency then lets start with this whole area and take a look at the numbers and the results and specifically at the players who benefit.  You want more ACORNS to be getting your tax dollars or more research on the alleged decline of some obscure fish in the tago tago river in El Somewhereland?  If those things are useful they will find the money elsewhere.

Is there anything better on a crisp fall morning than a cup of coffee in your backyard and looking up to see a flock of geese heading south?  That dependability of cycles is reassuring in our sometimes hectic world.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Getting One-Upped

We have all witnessed at one time or another a situation where someone got one-upped by a competitor, rival or even a friend in a situation.  They thought they had everything wired just the way they wanted it to obtain their desired goal and then, wham, something happened or was said that put them back in their place.  These are usually fairly harmless little events in the course of life but they can provide amusement or education for the observers.    Even the rich and famous have these faux pas on occasion and get left in the dust by another.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

Shortly before D-Day in June of 1944 word by rumor was leaked to Ike that Churchill was planning on being on a British ship off the coast of Normandy.  He wanted to be a on a fighting ship that fired the salvos against the German defenses and be there as the troops hit the beach.  Churchill wanted to smell the cordite in the air and feel the jar of the big guns firing aboard ship and hear the roar and blast of those big guns.  In a word he wanted to be in the “action” with the sailors and troops.  He was in his late 60’s by this time and had been Prime Minister since May of 1940.  He was the Voice of Britain and recognized to have bull-dog tenacity in fighting the War.   Ike was very concerned.  The risk of death or injury to Churchill would be devastating to the Allied cause.

Ike called Churchill and asked him if he did plan to be there on a ship.  Churchill told him yes.  Ike tried to dissuade him from doing that pointing out the obvious danger and the blow to Britain if he were injured or killed.   Churchill was an old Navy man and had been an infantry officer for a short while during WWI and he told Ike it was very important to morale that he be there with the sailors and troops and that this was the most significant event in history and he wanted to be part of it.  Ike went so far as to say he would prevent him from getting on board any ship.  Churchill reminded Ike that he had been First Lord of the Admiralty and he was sure he had enough contacts in the Royal Navy that someone would allow him on board.  Ike still insisted.  Churchill threatened to call Roosevelt and tell him what he was going to do and go over Ike’s head in the chain of command.  Ike responded that he would resign if Churchill was successful in persuading Roosevelt.   They ended the conversation at loggerheads on the issue.

Ike was so concerned that later he placed a call to George VI and told him of Churchill’s plans and told the King that he should not be allowed to do that.  The King told Ike that Churchill was very bull-headed and the King was not sure what he could do.  The King did agree that it was not a good idea for Churchill to be exposed that way to harm.   The conversation ended with no resolution other than the King agreeing it was a bad idea.

Shortly thereafter the King called Churchill and asked what is this he heard about him being on board a ship for the invasion.  Churchill made the same reply to the King as he had to Ike.  He was the leader, it was a historic event and it was important that the sailors and troops knew he was willing  to share the risks with them.  It was a matter of leadership according to Churchill.  They bickered a bit about the question and when the King asked flat-out for a commitment not to go, Churchill demurred and repeated his argument about this importance of the troops knowing he was there with them.

The King then replied that Churchill was right.  It was important for the leaders to be there with the troops to show they were willing to accept the risks with them.   The King then said he should be there too along with Churchill and asked Churchill when they would be boarding ship.  There was a pause on the other line.   Churchill finally replied that the King had made his point.   There was no conceivable way the Prime Minister would expose the King to that danger and he knew if he went he could not force the King to remain ashore in Britain.  Churchill was one-upped by the King.

The recently fired MMS administrator was Elizabeth Birnbaum.  A Havard lawyer who specialized in environmental law and had worked for various government agencies and NGO’s prior to her appointment.  We should have known that would not end well.  How many young Jewish ladies are in engineering school to be petroleum engineers or petroleum geologists at the major universities? One?  I doubt even that.  They should have appointed a good ol boy from Purdue, Okla. St. or Texas A&M who had some experience in the industry.  Someone who knows a little about how they explore for and develop oil and gas wells.  That would be nice for too logical and non-political for the Washington types.

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Ike And Tax Rates, Regulation Review

Some of the bickering about the financial quagmire we are in at the moment reminds me of watching a movie we’ve seen before.  We know the climax to this one.  To regulate and tax more or maintain more or less the status quo on regulation and tax less are the opposing camps in broad strokes.   When the topic of raising taxes arises the Dems so often talk about fairness and make a big issue of the 91% tax rate “under Ike” during the fifties. Then they claim that things did pretty well during that period.   I saw that movie in real time, I don’t have to go to Youtube to watch a rerun. 

They act like that tax rate was something that Ike imposed, promoted or campaigned on.  Wrong.  Just the opposite.  This was a Democratic tax rate.  The Dems had been in complete charge of all branches of government for decades by the fifties.  They are the ones who had raised taxes to that level, not Ike.  He opposed those rates and indeed proposed lowering tax rates.  He had the House in Republican hands for only two years of his eight in office and the Senate was firmly in the grip of the Dems.   That tax rate was also something of an illusion for the most part.  If you think the lobbyists and lobbying are bad now you should have seen in then.   The tax code at that time was littered with hundreds of special exemptions, deductions and exclusions so that people didn’t have to pay the confiscatory 91% rate.  No one paid that rate, and no one really expected anyone to pay that except for the mentally challenged.   You think the Kennedys paid that rate during that time?  Guess again.  The special interest groups got those deductions by, you got it, donating money to Democratic politicians in Washington.   The rich created charities that they endowed with large sums which was fully deductible and then put themselves and their family members on the boards at a salary of course and just as importantly the charities could fly them around the world and put them up at swanky places all at the expense of the charity.  They also created trusts for large sums of money which paid at a different rate and often held the equities they bought for a very long time to avoid paying taxes.  People are clever and simply will not and did not then pay the confiscatory rate of 91%.  Cars, vacations, fancy meals, employees were paid by others to avoid having to take income and then pay for them by taxpayers.

The airlines and transportation industry was regulated to the hilt during this period.   The ICC, interstate commerce commission established tariffs and told them what they could and could not charge for their services whether to individual consumers or industry.  The prices were high.  Relative to today it cost a fortune to fly from say Dallas to New York.  Likewise it was very expensive to ship a load of typewriters from Buffalo to Kansas City because competition was restricted do the level of regulation.  It lead to terrible results where those who had lobbied hard with  politicians and the ICC had received their “ticket” it was call, that is a permit to transport people or goods would oppose every new application submitted to the ICC.  You had to show to a bunch of bureaucrats that your new company and service was in the best interest of the public good.   Bureaucrats made these important decisions not the market place.  If another entity already provided trucking in the area you wished to serve you had to essentially prove they couldn’t handle all the business there.  How stupid was that.  The only standard should have been can you operate your new business safely and then let market competition decide who offered the best service to the public.  Remember that even if you could offer the same service for a lower price that was absolutely no guarantee that you would get your permit, indeed it was more often than not viewed as a negative because you were encroaching on the domain of the regulators who set the prices and thus your idea was an affront to their abilities and decisions.   There was no free market, it was a market of government.  The costs were high, the service fair at best and you sure couldn’t threaten to take your business elsewhere, there was no “elsewhere” thanks to the bureaucrats and the regulation.

Those are only a very few of the examples of the regulation overkill we lived under and managed to survive.  It thwarted economic growth and lead to the stagnation of the ’70’s which Reagan rebelled against at long last.  Those regulatory walls came tumbling down and now you can fly from Dallas to New York for much much less than it cost 35 years ago, considering inflation it is really low.   If you think the regulators and the regulated on Wall Street work against you now wait until we get even more regulation.   That will stifle competition and competition is what stokes the engines of commerce and makes for a fairer playing field for all of us.   Please read the current financial regulatory bill or as much as you can stomach.  It is a candy store for the bureaucrats and special interest groups and again will place too much power in Washington.  Why do they need 500 million for that new agency to glean “data” from banks, credit unions and credit card companies about your personal account?  It doesn’t say that explicitly but they can gather data and there is no limit on what it can be, it will include your personal data if those technocrats want it and they will otherwise how to they justify themselves and spend that 500 million.  Why all of a sudden do the Feds have authority over corporate laws?  The new shareholder provisions to empower the Greens and anti-globalists are an intrusion in the powers of the States to regulate corporations chartered in their States.  That is no authorized under the commerce clause and is prohibited under the Tenth Amendment.   Read and learn then make up your mind.   Those who love a big, very powerful Federal government don’t need to because their minds are made up and they like that, everyone with qualms about the size of the Federals will take caution.

As a side note, at the end of Ike’s last term there was a mild recession.  Kennedy defeated Nixon primarily on the economy and the so-called “missile gap” between the US and the Soviets.  Kennedy then proceeded to lower the tax rates and didn’t change our missile strategy because in fact there was no “gap” which he knew from his briefings during the campaign but continued to shout about.  Nixon couldn’t talk about our true missile strength because it would have jeopardized our security.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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