Tag Archives: Reagan

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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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

As long as humans continue to be human there will always be opinions of differing hues upon the subjects of the day and memories of the yesterdays.

A clear goal and a firm commitment is a winning approach to foreign policy.  To paraphrase Ronald Reagan,,,,,yes, there is going to be an arms race and we’re going to win it.  We did and the Soviet Union collapsed.   Of course the Soviets had the problem of the communist system itself which led to their downfall.   Our current “central planners” in DC should take note.  The central planners state policy and set goals and targets for the economy (if communism can be said to have an economy) and then the locals who are charged with meeting the targets go to work.  It is crony capitalism without the capital.  Sure enough they made zillions of cars, trucks and tractors for instance that were shoddy and no one really wanted but the number of “units” was met.   They forgot about replacement parts because they were high on the central policy list.  The shoddy products fell apart quickly and then just sat for lack of any repair capability.   Of course the “consumers” never had the things they wanted like TV’s, paper towels, tooth paste, furniture or clothing more stylish than a denim jacket and pants.

I don’t get the hue and cry over the rating agencies the last few years since the economy went south.   They are under intense criticism now and some have even called for them to be prosecuted.  Come on folks, they give opinions not guarantees.  You don’t have to accept or agree with their opinion and you are free to believe they don’t do good work.  They were wrong but so were Fannie and Freddie and the Federal government and the Congressmen with oversight and the buyers who knew they couldn’t afford no down payment mortgages and banks and the list goes on.   I neither like or hate the rating agencies.  Remember the old saying that opinions are like butts, everyone has one.   You think maybe the Pygmalion effect was at work and people mostly believed what they wanted to believe?

Glad to see I am not the only one still asking where the money is coming from for the Eurozone bailout fund.  Lots of talking heads the last week or so have been asking the same question.  The European Central Bank has made it clear that they are not going to print Euros and buy Greek or Italian bonds.  The private investors are already demanding steeply higher yields for loaning money to the Eurozone countries and maybe soon they won’t loan at all because the risk of default is too high.  The Germans say they won’t pony up money.  Show me the money is what the world at large is saying then we’ll see assess the risks.  Seems reasonable to me. 

The Sheriff in Maricopa county has been in office almost twenty years.  His policies have been the same from day one.  He has worked through both Democrat and Republican administrations.   Bit strange that now BO and Holder have decided that all his policies are discriminatory.   Bill Clinton was a true liberal and even he and Janet Reno didn’t find fault.  You think there is maybe an election year approaching?

Two hundred years ago one of the greatest military expeditions of all time was in the planning stages.   Napoleon was getting ready for his invasion of Russia.  He gathered an army of over 500,000 men for the war.  It was comparable to our D-Day in scope and planning.  Regrettably for him it didn’t have the strategic thought for ultimate success.   To mix metaphors and wars it was a bridge too far.   Like a powerful football team playing a very weak opponent he forgot the other team would show up and play and they wouldn’t necessarily do as he thought.

Best kick-start to the day is the whiff of brewed coffee on those crisp winter mornings.

How many billions is it now we have spent on the switchgrass biomass fuel and ethonal folly?   The Feds backed the program with billions and only forgot that there was no developed manufacturing process in place and the mandated quotas set by the Feds were fantasy.  The production is not even 10% of that promised.   I wish that money had gone into the Bakken oil and gas field.

The hardest part of exercising is getting started.   You are already going downhill with the first exertion.   

How many guys are having to endure the Ice Capades during this Holiday season?   I went several times when the daughters were young.  If I can do it  so can you.   It’s just at half time I always thought that there was that much more to sit through.

You catch that story about the whales being caught under the ice fields in the Arctic?  I thought all the ice was melting yet the spread ice apparently trapped a number of whales under it just recently in areas that had been ice-free for a while.  I guess it still gets pretty cold there.

The Feds are beginning to eat their own.   The

has filed suit against the former execs of Fannie and Freddie.  They did make huge salaries while working for that Government sponsored enterprise and obviously didn’t care about the quality of the loans they were making as long as the music kept playing.  They certainly never pushed back against Congress or Barney Frank on the ridiculous requirements to extend loans to those not qualified simply to meet social engineering goals and enhance minority home ownership.  It will be fun to see how they defend themselves.  You think they will prove they were only “following orders”?  Of course those issuing the orders will flee from any knowledge of such orders like rats from the rotting ship. 

“The instinct of ownership is fundamental in man’s nature”  Wm. James.  www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Pentagon Pork And Other Budget Cuts

The news is out about the budget cuts in the Pentagon budget for the coming year and for the outlying years.  The proposed cuts will draw flak from all corners and stripes of the political spectrum.  It is to be expected because that budget affects so much of our economy and our feeling of security or insecurity as the case may be.

When discussing the military budget it is always best to reflect on a bit of history so we have a perspective.   During the Cold War we didn’t have much of a choice about the size of the military budget because we were constantly under direct or indirect assault from the Commies around the world.  The direct assaults were in Greece after WWII, the Berlin Airlift, the Berlin wall, the Cuban missile crisis, the Korean War, the various insurgent and rebel movements all over South America and the unrelenting secret but real war at sea with our Boomer subs and the Soviet navy.  The indirect pressures were the Hungarian revolt, the never-ending presence and pressure all over eastern Europe where the Soviets had dozens of armored divisions within striking distance of the West, Viet Nam,  Grenada, and the clandestine war of the intelligence agencies around the world.   The list is much more than those but they give a flavor. 

Reagan won that Cold War for us against tremendous opposition from the Democrats at home.  They opposed his military build-up at every turn and ridiculed the Star Wars program and drummed the “he’s a wild Cowboy” mantra without end.  But the Soviet Union did collapse due to that pressure and steadfast resolve of Reagan.  He didn’t even back off from calling them “evil” which was also highly criticized by the left as being simplistic.    The fact of the matter though is that the strategy was successful and we began in the early ’90’s to save billions annually on the military budget.   It was called the peace dividend.  That dividend along with other factors, such as a Republican Congress for several years to restrain spending, had much to do with the boom of that decade.   Of course the internet came to life then thanks to Al Gore and that lead to an enormous increase in economic activity.

It was really only after 9/11 that references to the peace dividend began to fade from the headlines.   The  threat we face today is from muslim terrorists which are at the front of the line but there is the emerging threat of the Chinese as they continue to expand their military capability exponentially.  You may have notice the increase in their missile defense systems and the recent news of their own version of a stealth fighter/bomber.   That will be a very serious concern in a decade or so and certainly within the next generation.   It can still be a dangerous world at there.

Olcranky believes we should begin to seriously cut the spending programs of the Federal government and that the Pentagon is not a sacred cow in that regard.   There is so much political pressure regarding the Pentagon budget because it has an effect on jobs in many congressional districts around the nation.   What is troubling about this budget proposal is that it removes the cutting edge of the military.  It proposes reducing the number of troops, the submarine service personnel, the destroyer fleet while only reducing the civilian workforce by 1000.  

Like any large organization the Pentagon grows moldy and calcified and ends up with a redundant workforce.  People are doing things simply because those things have been done in the past, not necessarily because they are useful now.  You can rest assured that there are more than 1000 civilian workers at the Pentagon today who don’t really do anything more productive than shuffle paperwork.  The military mission is not complicated.   It is to destroy things and kills people when the political will believes such action is in the best interest of the nation’s security  How much money is the Pentagon spending to implement the don’t ask, don’t tell repeal for example?  If that is the new policy so be it but do we have to spend money on training and sensitivity programs for that policy.  The money spent by the Pentagon should be audited with one focus.  Does this program or procurement put good weapons and bullets in the hands of our troops, give our airmen the best fighters and bombers to accomplish their mission and provide the Navy with the resources to scare the hell out of tin pot dictators and wanna be tyrants around the globe.   The other expenditures should be eliminated. 

The Pentagon budget could be cut even further in the opinion of olcranky than that proposed but it should be done with the above mandate.  We should allow the various military establishments decide the cutting.  Give them a set budget and tell them to pick what they really need to get their job done.   They can’t have every new “toy” that comes along.   Let them decide how many civilians they really need to assist their operations rather than the politicians.  The politicians will always aim high on procurements and personnel simply to “bring home the bacon” for their constituents back home.  We have to trust someone with making the monetary decisions for the military.  Let the politicians give the cap as they should under the
Constitution but then let the military allocate the money where it is most needed to accomplish their mission. 

The military budget will still be large regrettably for years to come in all likelihood but it could be reduced significantly.   Cut the civilian pork and we all can have some bacon back home.

Please recall that we had a very small military budget during all the 1930’s.  Our armed forces were minimal and thus the costs. It was a great savings at the time.   The issue is though, how did that work out for us in 1941?   www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Reagan Dividend–The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Every budget for the US economy submitted for the last 20 odd years has contained a real savings from the Reagan era that we continue to enjoy today and will continue to do so for years to come.  No thinking person could dispute that it was Reagan’s resolve and force of persuasion that brought us victory in the Cold War.  Yes, he ramped up military spending in the ’80’s to offset the egregious shortages in our military preparedness caused by the Carter cut backs following Viet Nam.  The military still was not popular with Americans at that time and we were facing a real problem with Stagflation under Carter.  The in creased cost for the military buildup did cause budget deficits for the short term. 

Reagan had to deal with an economy that was more than stalled, it was moribund when he took office but he brought an attitude of can do and hope with him to the White House.  It was no surprise that the Iranians released our prisoners they had held for over a year on the very day of his inaugural.   Despite intense criticism and no help from the Democrats in Congress he pushed for and obtained that increased spending and even raised the stakes with his SDI, Star Wars everyone called it, program.  The left sought only accommodation with the Soviets and wanted more money for their pet social programs. 

His strong efforts and obvious resolve did finally bring the walls down across Europe shortly after he left office in 1989.  Immediately everyone began talking about what could be done with the “peace dividend” because we could reduce our military spending.  The military budget did come down then and the cost curve for the future was moved lower.  That cost curve is still down from what it would have been but for our victory in the Cold War.  We are talking real dollars–billions every year in savings since roughly 1990.  

The War on Terror is expensive as all wars are.  We didn’t ask for this fight and we didn’t provoke it.  The US was not sending out the CIA or our armed forces to attack and kill Muslim innocents abroad.  Can you imagine what things would be like now if we had not prevailed in the Cold War?  The cultural clash we have with the Muslim world was brought to us outside the normal diplomatic, economic and ideological conflicts of the recent past.  Regardless of our disputes with the Soviets the Muslims would have attacked the Twin Towers.  Please imagine the pressures and tensions we would face now if the Soviets were still dominant in Eastern Europe as they were for four decades.  They usually had at least 50 divisions in East Germany and Poland at all times.  We never had more than 5 or so at any time. Those Soviet troops were equipped with thousands of tanks and thousands of heavy artillery not to mention their nuclear capabilities that could be brought to bear.  They were never hesitate to use their muscle to make trouble around the world.  There was the Berlin Wall under Kennedy, the Berlin Airlift under Truman and the Cuban Missile Crisis under Kennedy, then the Hungarian revolt and the collapse of it and the Czech revolt which was also crushed. 

Facing the threat of the Soviets and the Muslim terrorists at the same time would be an enormous challenge and the costs would make the current military budget pale.   The Soviets would be encouraging and arming the al-Qaeda at every turn if they were still in power.  They probably wouldn’t have given them any nukes but they sure would have given them training and the most sophisticated conventional weaponry they had available.  They would be fostering every Fifth Column communist group in the world and making any deal with the Muslims to cause us turmoil.  It is not a pretty picture to contemplate.  But that is what we would face if the Democrats had their way in the ’80’s because they were uniformly opposed to fighting back against the Soviets with a few exceptions like Nunn from Georgia and Jackson from Washington.  As Khrushchev said they were determined to crush us.  Gorbachev eased some and opened their society a bit but only because of the internal pressures brought to bear by the Reagan strategy of meeting the enemy head on and calling a spade and spade with no wishy-washy words.  He called them evil which they were and told them to tear down the Wall.  While the Russians today are not our best buds they are not our overt opponents threatening our very existence and they even cooperate after their fashion in the war on terror.  We are the beneficiaries each day of that dividend Reagan brought to us, never forget it. 

Why won’t they go ahead and shut down Fannie and Freddie as government sponsored enterprises and put them up for sale to the private market for whatever they will bring.  It is not a good thing when Government, Inc. owns and controls 80% of the mortgage lending business in the US.  Indeed that is a bad thing.  www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Assessing Presidents, in the tertiary phase

I have some trouble with this topic because I keep thinking of biographies I have read and other historical judgments on the various Presidents but I am determined to make this my personal judgment from the impressions that they made on me at the time when they served and I was doing the usual thing of trying to raise the family and earn a living through the good and the bad times.   Funny, how kids like to eat and buy new clothes whether the times are good or bad.

Carter–Oh my, he was not an evil guy, but he was so wimpy.  That is firm my impression and memory of him.  He embarrassed me.   Ever major challenge he had to face was botched and he came across as indecisive and like the sissy in the school yard.   When the second Arab embargo came along his remedy was FERC which I have written about before.   It controlled everything to do with oil and gas production and pricing.  It was a disaster just like Nixon’s price controls had been.  There was “new” oil and “old” oil and different pricing and distribution for all petroleum products.  Naturally there was a ton of loopholes and exemptions.   We all had to deal with very long lines just to buy gas.  It made things worse not better.  He had no faith in the market system which could have adjusted with less pain and in a shorter time than the programs imposed on us by FERC.  Most folks would have paid more to have it but when the Government regulates it never really knows what is going in YOUR neighborhood.  After all, your neighborhood is not inside the Beltway.

The Iran seizure of our people was mishandled by timidity–to be as charitable as I can about it.   You recall they were released the very day that Reagan was sworn in.  The Iranians knew a new sheriff was in town and didn’t want any part of that.

Reagan–He was one of my favorite Presidents.   He was not a Rhodes scholar but he had a clear vision of American that resonnated with the majority.   He believed Government was not the answer to most problems but was the problem.  He had faith in the people if they could make their own decisions and be free of regulation.  He was right.  Prices came down in all the industries that had been over- regulated.   If you are old enough you will recall the airline industry for example.  Compared to today it was very expensive to fly because of regulation  overkill.  The Government even set the prices they could charge for airfare.  He did tame inflation.  It took a few years as any thinking person would realize.  We had had so many years of economic mismanagement by Congress that had to be undone.   The tax rates went down and so did the loopholes.   At the beginning of his term some rates were over 75% of income which is ridiculous.

He restored our confidence in ourselves and made us dream of what we could be and become.  He was  leader.   Of all the Presidents I have lived under he was the prime example of what it is to be a leader.   He urged us and encouraged us and prodded us to be better. 

Without a doubt his greatest achievement was winning the Cold War.  Make no mistake he did it without any support from most of the Democrats.  They said terrible things about him and his increase in the military budget.   But it did work and we have saved billions over the years from being able to reduce our military commitment.  Compare the military budget today as a percent of GDP to what it was in the ’80’s and you’ll get the picture.   Not only did he save us billions he freed milions from the repression of the Soviets.   There are hundreds of millions of people in eastern Europe who owe their current level of liberty to the actions he took and the stands he made against serious opposition at home and threats from the Soviets.  We all can sleep a little easier at night because of that accomplishment.

Irangate, as the media called it, was just overblown blather.   Please go read about all the covert operations that all the Presidents authorized over the years.  Both Democrat and Republican Presidents approved and sanctioned lots of covert missions.  There are many  books on the subject, read some of them.  Then when you put into context that Iran- Contra deal it was small potatoes compared to our actions in Albania, Greece,  the Congo, Laos, China, Tibet, the USSR to name only a few locales over the last 50 years.

To impress you friends and family prepare a Beef Wellington entree sometime.  It is not that hard.  Get a good tenderloin roast, about 2 lbs.  Marinate if you wish but I recommend do it lightly; you want the meat to speak for itself.   Then prepare a light dough mixture.  You can obtain a recipe from any general purpose recipe book.   I like to grill the roast for a few minutes although that is not standard procedure.  Then encase the roast in the dough thoroughly.  It should look just like a loaf of bread.  Then roast it in a low oven for an hour or hour and a half.  Use the meat themometer to help if you like.  You can make a brown sauce  to accompany it.   Serve with potatoes as you like them and fresh veggies and the presentation will be special as you carve it out of the crust.  You’ll impress everyone.

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