The Legacy of Barack Obama

February 16, 2015

Thoughts on the legacy of President Barack Obama 2-16-15

The election of Barack Obama

President Obama’s legacy will be inextricably linked to the fact that he was the first African American to be elected president.  A Black man in the White House.  The Founding Fathers, including those who wrote the words “All men are created equal” owned slaves.  So the election, in itself, will always be a great moment in our nation’s history and part of the Obama legacy.

That’s why they gave him a Nobel Peace Prize before he had even done anything.  His election alone was stunning.

How will he be immediately judged?

If his current media treatment is any indication he will be immediately praised to the heavens by liberals and critiqued by conservatives.   Liberal think tanks of historians will immediately say he is one of America’s greatest presidents.  I should point out, shortly after he was elected president the Sienna Institute named him as the 15th greatest president in history.  So get ready for a healthy debate.

What will he do?

I’ve always argued that his post presidency will be hugely eventful.  In some respects his legacy will be in his hands.  More than any other president in history his post White House years may define him.  He could be a “Jesse Jackson on steroids, with companies seeking to have his approval and putting him, or his surrogates, on their boards of directors.  Expect his team to bully the television executives to give him good coverage.  His NGO will rival Bill Clinton’s and raise billions of dollars.  He will be an international sensation.

What will it mean long term?

Long term?  The quick answer is – we don’t know.

A more prosaic answer is that it depends on the kind of America we have in the future.

If American swings back to a more constitutional form of government and to a more free market economy, your grandchildren will hear history teachers say we almost lost it all under Barack Obama.  That the whole American experiment was almost cashed in.  But don’t count on it.

It is much more likely that American continues to move toward a more government managed economy and government managed education and society, then our grandchildren will hear history teachers say that America is today what it is, because of Barack Obama.  Not FDR, not Lincoln… but Barack Obama.

So the future legacy of Obama will depend on the future of America.

And some would say that the combination of numbers, including those in the general public who benefit from a more socialist form of government and corporations who have their own government subsidies or special insider laws or contracts that give them an advantage, that those numbers mean that it is already too late.  That is, the people who are now gaming the system outnumber and outvote the people who are living under its rules – trying to make a living without any special advantage.

What was his greatest moment?

Getting Osama Bin Laden.  He made a gutsy call and it worked.

What will be seen as his greatest failure?

It has to the plight of the poor.  According to a groundbreaking study at UC Berkley, the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer on a massive scale under Barak Obama.  That has to be a disappointment for him and it is a terrible legacy for a liberal president to carry.  It is causing a lot of people to rethink.

Conclusions?

Either way, this presidency of Barak Obama has been a linchpin and will be one of the most significant in all of American history.  It was set up by 9-11 and by the failed economy of the Bush presidency but the final responsibility for what happened in his two terms is his.  Whether he is seen as a good or bad leader will be partly determined by how good and bad is defined in the future.

And in 100 years?

My guess is that like Reagan, he will gain in respect.  I have liberal friends who hated Reagan who now speak respectfully because he is gone and no longer a threat. I think that will happen with Obama for different reasons,  partly because he is African American and we are still living down a legacy of slavery in our history.  People will find other ways to argue policies and even conservatives will treat him nicely when he is gone and no longer a threat. That’s my suspicion.


State weighs in on Houston’s war on its churches

October 16, 2014

The following letter is being circulated in Texas.  It was allegedly written by the Attorney General of Texas and shed’s more light on the controversy mentioned in yesterday’s blog.

October 15, 2014

Mr. David Feldman

City Attorney

City of Houston

900 Bagby, 4th Floor

Houston, Texas 77002

Dear Mr. Feldman:

Your office has demanded that four Houston pastors hand over to the city government many of their private papers, including their sermons.  Whether you intend it to be so or not, your action is a direct assault on the religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment.  The people of Houston and their religious leaders must be absolutely secure in the knowledge that their religious affairs are beyond the reach of the government.  Nothing short of an immediate reversal by your office will provide that security.  I call on you to withdraw the subpoenas without further delay.

I recognize that the subpoenas arise from litigation related to a petition to repeal an ordinance adopted by the city council.  But the litigation discovery process is not a license for government officials to inquire into religious affairs.  Nor is your office’s desire to vigorously support the ordinance any excuse for these subpoenas.  No matter what public policy is at stake, government officials must exercise the utmost care when our work touches on religious matters.  If we err, it must be on the side of preserving the autonomy of religious institutions and the liberty of religious believers.  Your aggressive and invasive subpoenas show no regard for the very serious First Amendment considerations at stake.

A statement released by the Mayor’s Office claims that the subpoenas were prepared by outside lawyers and that neither you nor Mayor Parker was aware of them before they were issued.  Nevertheless, these lawyers acted in the City’s name, and you are responsible for their actions.  You should immediately instruct your lawyers to withdraw the City’s subpoenas.  Religious institutions and their congregants should never have to worry that a government they disagree with will attempt to interfere in their religious affairs.  Instead of safeguarding that trust, you appear to have given some of the most powerful law firms in Houston free rein to harass and intimidate pastors who oppose City policy.  In good faith, I hope you merely failed to anticipate how inappropriately aggressive your lawyers would be.  Many, however, believe your actions reflect the city government’s hostility to religious beliefs that do not align with city policies.

I urge you to demonstrate the City’s commitment to religious liberty and to true diversity of belief by unilaterally withdrawing these subpoenas immediately.  Your stated intention to wait for further court proceedings falls woefully short of the urgent action needed to reassure the people of Houston that their government respects their freedom of religion and does not punish those who oppose city policies on religious grounds.

Sincerely,

Greg Abbott

Attorney General of Texas


Rand Paul defends Houston pastors under attack

October 15, 2014

“No minister, anywhere, should ever have to submit a sermon to a government censor.” – Senator Rand Paul

Only minutes ago, Senator Rand Paul spoke up for the Houston pastors who have become the latest target in what religious leaders say is the city government’s ongoing war against its own churches.  Messaging on Twitter, Senator Paul declared, “The First Amendment doesn’t exist to keep religion out of government.  It exists to keep government out of religion.”  Said Paul, “I stand with the pastors and churches in Houston against government interference and harassment.”

Houston city attorneys, under the direction of Mayor Annise Parker,  have now subpoenaed sermons preached by selected pastors whom they believe are opposed to the city’s new agenda.

Here is a quick review of the unfolding drama in Houston.

Mayor Annise Parker, the first openly Lesbian mayor of a major city, promoted an ordinance banning anti-gay discrimination in the public and government subsidized venues.  So far so good.  But a controversial part of the ordnance allowed transgender citizens to file discrimination lawsuits if prohibited from a restroom.  Was this a problem?  Where there signs up saying, “No transgenders allowed?”  Some Christian leaders now caught in the middle of the controversy contend that this was an angry politician, purposely poking the bear.

There were all kinds of discussions in the community.  Who was to determine who was transgender and who was not?  A doctor?  A psychiatrist?  Could a man suddenly declare himself a woman and enter a woman’s restroom?  With under age children?

As the proponents of the ordinance hoped, the churches reacted with confusion and panic.  There was a recall effort launched to get the ordinance on the ballot.  The churches gathered more than 50,000 signatures.  It was well over the 17,269 needed.  And then the city poked again.  The Houston city attorney declared that there were insufficient signatures.

The churches sued.

The city attorneys issued subpoenas for their sermons.  And not sermons from the churches who filed the lawsuit.  No, they wanted sermons from other pastors whom critics suspect were specifically targeted because they posed the biggest threat to the city’s agenda.  The subpoena called for “all  speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by delivered by, revised by or approved by you or in your possession.”

Concerned Christian leaders insist that this is not a comedy of errors, that it is not a mistake but it is a systematic, purposeful attempt to silence and frighten the churches into changing their doctrines and suborning free speech.  The city attorney’s will use taxpayer’s money to bankrupt the churches and silence their political voices.  Thus the decision to go after the selected churches who were not even involved in the lawsuit with the city.  It was much the same tactic that allowed the gay and lesbian takeover of the Episcopal Church, taking some congregations and using their resources to take over others.   Only this time it is acted out in the public square with public money which will now be used to destroy the churches and silence their voices.

The city has deep pockets.  In fact, the churchgoers, paying their taxes, will ironically finance the city of Houston in its war to destroy their own culture.

The Texas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and other Liberal groups expressed alarm at the city’s overreach. Meanwhile, Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission expressed sadness at the events and astonishment at the “audacity” of the Houston City government’s attack on its own pastors and congregations.

Coincidentally, the day before the Houston subpoenas, Moore held a private meeting with Senator Rand Paul at the Senator’s office in Washington, D.C.  Part of the conversation was about the war on Christianity unfolding in places around the world.  Who would know what the next volley would be fired by the city government of Houston, Texas?


Is Obama too big too fail? Why is he acting so strangely?

July 26, 2014

President Barack Obama’s shameless fundraising tours in the midst of a world in chaos have brought immediate comparisons to Ronald Reagan.   Led by his erstwhile advisers, such as Michael Deaver, who understood imagery, Reagan would have been back in the Oval Office, looking presidential and sounding like the statesman he was.  Reagan would likely have brought his government together, State Department, NSA, Pentegon, CIA and taken an assessment of how it could all impact on American economy and lives.  He would likely have given a national address, reassuring the nation and signalling the world how we expect civilized people to act.

On the surface, Obama’s actions are incomprehensible.  There is no explanation.  Obama appears transcendent, not responsible for his own administration and uncaring about the world around him.

It has been the Obama style from the beginning. The economic crisis was the fault of the previous administration.  When his own stimulus program could not produce one of the one million jobs he promised, it was replaced with more of the same and  blame on congress for failing to immediately enact more of what wasn’t working.

The president declared that he had no responsibility for the IRS which was blatantly being used for political purposes, he had nothing to do with the failed Healthcare website and nothing to do with the Veteran’s Administration which was corrupt on his watch. Whatever happened to Harry Truman and his Oval Office motto, “the buck stops here?”

It was not just that the president was not in charge of anything, or seemed to know anything, or should be blamed for anything, it was also when we found out differently he didn’t apologize.  When we learned, for example, that the $678 million , no bid, Healthcare website was awarded to Michelle Obama’s buddy from Princeton, the White House ignored it all.  When a news agency asked about it they were charged with racism.  When the president’s hand picked political lieutenant at the IRS claimed she had lost her emails the president defended her.

Sometimes, these juxtapositions can get downright comical.  Recently, General Motors was fined millions of dollars by the Justice Department for faulty ignition issues when, in fact, at that time, the company was owned and being run by the U.S. government.  Should the Justice Department fine itself?  When Obama ran for re-election he bragged about saving the auto industry?  But he has no responsibility for the company he bought.   The President is too big to fail.

On closer examination, Obama’s recent actions make sense.  He is angling for his post presidential role.  He will either be the Secretary General of the United Nations or else he will be some NGO equivalent.  Thus, he spent the week campaigning for the Democrat Party and ultimately Hillary Clinton whom he will need as an ally if he is to realize his ambition.  Nor would he want to poke the Russians more than necessary.

And the Federal Aviation Administration’s sudden cancellation of all flights to Tel Aviv?  At a cost to Israel of millions of dollars?  At first we were told that the president didn’t get involved in such things.  And given the fact that the president isn’t responsible for the economy, the IRS, his own Healthcare namesake and the Veterans Administration, to name a few departments, then one could almost believe it.    What does he do with all that free time?  But if he is now on track for his post presidency then it makes perfect sense.  The U.N. votes solidly against Israel, with only American on her side.  Obama will need to have some more of these anti-Israel moments to shore up his support from the African and Arab nations who dominate the the U.N. and will dictate the reach of any international role.

There was an awkward scene on CNN last week.  Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg snapped at Wolf Blitzer.  The CNN reporter had asked if the FAA decision represented policy.  Given Obama’s anti Israel record it was a reasonable question.  And it had just been raised by a U.S. Senator.  A testy Bloomberg was outraged at Wolf Blitzer for daring to ask such a thing.  It was another shameful moment.  Bloomberg has taken a lot of heat for his slavish support of Obama, in spite of his record toward Israel.

The irony was that Bloomberg’s very appearance was proof of the politics of the policy. If Tel Aviv was safe, and Bloomberg could fly there, then why was it ordered closed to all American airlines?  And if it wasn’t safe, why was it opened up again after the American people reacted to the FAA’ decision with outrage?

Oh, by the way, as someone who once worked in the White House, I can tell you that no one at the FAA would make such an unprecedented and politically charged decision without the okay of the president of the United States.  Sorry.

It all points to this very likely scenario.  We will have Barrack Obama on the world stage for a very, very long time to come.

 

Below was a controversial “what would Reagan do” moment during the Egyptian crisis and the Arab spring.  On this segment, several years ago, I voiced a lonely position that turned out to be prophetic.


Not another Clinton – Bush election? Please!

April 10, 2014

Get ready, we may indeed see another Clinton – Bush election.  This time, Hillary Clinton, former First Lady and former Secretary of State pitted against Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida.  It’s like being Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day.  Ever get the feeling you’ve been here before?

Both candidates have something to prove.  Clinton wants to scrub her husband’s impeachment off the books and this would do it.  In a hundred years when some ten year old boy scans through the list and sees that Bill Clinton was impeached but his wife was elected president shortly thereafter he will make the ready conclusion, “The impeachment must have been political or else the country would never have turned so quickly to his wife.”  And Jeb Bush is running to prove, well, that not all Bushes should be judged by the last one.

How did it come to this?  There are three dynamics at work.

1.) Political dynasties are active in both parties simultaneously.

Normally, one can count on the opposition to raise a fuss.  If there was a Democrat dynasty the Republicans would howl.  If there was a Republican dynasty the Democrats would be outraged.  But now two have appeared at the same time.  No Democrat will raise the issue of corruption and attack the idea of the Bush family dynasty and risk alienating the powerful Clinton’s.  And no Republican will attack the Clinton’s and risk alienating the Bushes?  Even if the latter prove weak and Jeb Bush fails to show well in the primaries, the GOP nominee will have to have that powerful, fundraising machine supportive in the general election.

Now, in a very rare moment of history, the two dynasties have cancelled each other out.  As a result? There are dynasties gone wild. The electric fence is down and the cows are roaming all over.  The Cuomo’s, the Paul’s, the Kennedy’s, the Carter’s don’t get me started.

2.) Journalism is dead.

Normally, one can count on a vigorous Fourth Estate.  No less than Joseph Pulitzer railed against the idea of Robert Todd Lincoln running for president.  Throughout American history the media has been vigilant.  Attempts at family dynasties were always shot down.  This was America, not a monarchy.  After the Revolutionary War, when George Washington was presented a massive family genealogy by the English government he rejected it, pointing out that in these United States success or failure was determined by the choices of the individual not the bloodline.

This is not the Philippines.  This is not Indonesia.  This is not Panama, where fifteen families rule the country.

But in case you haven’t noticed, journalism is dead.  If a reporter can’t even pronounce Sevastopol what hope do we have that they are telling us anything accurate about Russia and the Ukraine?  We now live behind our own iron curtain.  News has become entertainment and the Clinton’s, Bushes, Kennedy’s all sell well.  Don’t expect any help from the media.

3.) Obama has failed.

Finally there is Barack Obama.  His election has been a great historic milestone but by just about any measure, including his own, his presidency is ending in disaster.  For example, the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer at a rate that would make an Eastern establishment Republican blush.  The Nixon administration spied on its enemies but the Obama administration spies on its friends too and on its own political allies in the U.S. Senate.  Having tried an “outsider” like Obama, the American electorate is now more likely to turn to an “insider,” a Bush or a Clinton.  Better to have someone who doesn’t have to learn on the job.

While a Clinton – Bush rematch might just happen, almost any historian will warn that the idea of multiple presidencies in the same family is a recipe for abuse and disaster.  Having been in power and then spending time out of power, a family can muse about what might have been.  Who was loyal and who was not?  What should be done if given another chance?  How could the office have been better monetized?  Who should have been an Ambassador?  Whose corporate jet would be better appreciated and useful, added to the fleet of corporate jets loaned out to a former president?  What government contracts could legitimately go to whom and why?  How can the next family power contender be groomed?

America, already beginning to experience the corruption of a Third World nation, doesn’t need to grease the skids to fall any deeper into the abyss.  Clinton – Bush?  It may happen.  But if it does, expect America’s post constitutional drift to gain full sail.  The abuses won’t be pretty.


Chris Christie must now pay the butcher’s bill

February 15, 2014

“I am no bully,” said Governor Chris Christie at his January 9, 2014 press conference.  And then he proceeded to pummel to death his best friends and closest political advisers.  Now some of those advisers are coming back to haunt him.

Christie insisted that he knew nothing about the hardball, political pay back machinations of his own office which led to the shut down of traffic at Fort Lee.  It was allegedly payback to a mayor who had not supported Christie for re-election.  It tied up traffic coming out of New York City for a day.

The governor claimed that his staff was to blame.  They had  lied to him, he said, and what they had done reeked of “abject stupidity.”

Christie said he had immediately fired his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, and was ordering his two time campaign manager, Bill Stepien, to withdraw his nomination to lead the New Jersey Republican Party.

Christie went out of his way to distance himself from another aide who had long been considered a high school friend, David Wildstein.  “David and I were not friends in high school,” Christie lectured the press. “We were not even acquaintances in high school. We didn’t travel in the same circles in high school. You know, I was the class president and athlete. I don’t know what David was doing during that period of time.”

Richard Nixon had lost his presidency by trying to defend the Watergate burglars.  “We have to help them,” he said, even though he had not ordered the break-in at the Democrat National Headquarters.   It was the effort to get money to the burglars families that eventually implicated the White House in the scandal.  And when the cover-up extended to the highest levels and Nixon was forced to fire his top aides, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, he told that nation, “I feel like I have lost my left and right arms.”  

Said Nixon, “They were two of the finest public servants it has been my privilege to know.”

Later, when Sir David Frost interviewed Richard Nixon he asked why the president hadn’t blamed his staff for their mistakes and fired them and kept out of the scandal from the beginning.

Nixon quoted the British Prime Minister William Gladstone who said that the first requirement for a prime minister was to be a good butcher.  Nixon answered ruefully, “I was a poor butcher.”

Not Chris Christie.  Promoted by pundits on the Fox News Channel as their new Catholic candidate (ala Rudolph Giuliani in 2008) Christie had no problem immediately excising his arms, legs, hands, or anything else that might come in the way of more power.   And he did so decisively.

Haldeman and Ehrlichman may or may not have been two of the finest public servants in American history but Christie’s appointees were “stupid” and “liars” who needed to be put down immediately.  This was one Watergate lesson Chris Christie had taken to heart.

No one stopped to ask why Christie had surrounded himself with “stupid liars” as his closest aides.  The Fox pundits, unperturbed, insisted that the incident was only a temporary setback for their man.

Anyone with experience working for a president or a governor knows that they are not ignorant of what goes on around them although they carefully nurture this idea to avoid blame for the things they can’t fix.  Former Governor Sarah Palin pointed this out.

Information is currency, it has value.  It is like finding a shoe box with hundred dollar bills that are disappearing before your eyes, you spend them as quickly as you can, while they still have value.  If you have information, any information, you get it to the president or governor immediately.

Picture the young staffer bringing in some requested paperwork.

“So what were they talking about at lunch, kid?” The governor asks.  “Why couldn’t they have the meeting here and what was so hush, hush?”

“You don’t want to know, governor, its some political payback thing and you need deniability.”

The governor smiles.  “Okay, what is it kid?”

And the young staffer coughs it up immediately.

“Huh,” the governor grunts, acting dumb, apparently engrossed in a memo.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” And the kid, if he should ever surface, would have to tell the grand jury that he can’t really say if the governor understood or not.

Usually, such a scenario is much too subtle.  Consider Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who talked openly about selling a vacant U.S. Senate seat.  But then, four of the last seven governors of Illinois have been convicted and imprisoned.

Now it turns out that David Wildstein, the Chrsitie appointee who ran the lane closing scandal is talking.  In a letter through his attorney he said that “evidence exists . . . tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the Governor stated publicly.”

Now we will see how Gladstone’s axiom really works.  Can a man cut off his arms and legs and still survive?  Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  And how are all of those arms and legs supposed to feel about what has happened?  Now, it’s time for Governor Chris Christie to pay the butchers bill.


Mandela and George H.W. Bush – The forgotten story

December 12, 2013

In 1990, only days after his release from a South African prison, Nelson Mandela was a hero to blacks worldwide but a question mark for many statesmen and world leaders.  Would he use his newfound popularity to take power and revenge?

One American president broke the ice and made his opinion clear.  In 1990, Mandela was invited to the White House where the president of the United States  stood by Mandela’s side on a stage on the South Lawn.  Who was that president?

George H. W. Bush.

Only Bush, a Republican could give such a meaningful endorsement and so quickly.   He had served as the vice president to Ronald Reagan who had visited the apartheid nation of South Africa as a private citizen and had many friends there.  Indeed, Bush spent his life championing Black causes from the Civil Rights Act of 1968 to major contributions to the Negro College Fund.

“We don’t do it for political reasons,” Barbara Bush once told me, we were sitting next to each other at a charity event, “the media will never give us credit.  We do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

Likewise, George H. W. Bush was the first president to invite in openly gay activists to White House events.  The national news narrative would have us all believe that these things happened on Bill Clinton’s watch.  But hey, let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good narrative.  Such is the state of journalism these days.

One would get the impression from watching the news coverage of the past week, including the funeral and memorial services for Nelson Mandela, that the American president who first championed the South African leader was Bill Clinton.

All networks were alive with interviews with Clinton.  They were good friends, Clinton and Mandela.  Or so we were told.  Clinton warmly revealed that Mandela had told him that he had forgiven his accusers and that, he, Bill Clinton had to do the same.  Of course, the implication could not be missed.  The accusers were equally evil and Mandela and Clinton were equally victims.

This narrative was so strong and so deliberately force fed to the American public that one of the major news networks virtually copied the interview with Clinton that their rival network had shown the previous night.  It must have gagged veteran journalists to see their national news show reduced to copying a story but most of us have long ago resigned ourselves to the fact that television news has become the personal plaything of TV executives and it is increasingly obvious that they have decided Hillary Clinton should be the next president.

Of course, there are differences between Mandela’s accusers and Clinton’s.  Mandela had to forgive racists who were wrong about him and who told lies.  Bill Clinton had to forgive young ladies who were victims of his misogynist advances, who were right about him, and who told the truth.

It was one thing for Clinton, a Democrat who courted and depended on Black votes, to reach out to Nelson Mandela in 1994, when the controversy had passed and Mandela was the president of South Africa.  And at a time when Clinton  needed the association.  It was something else for a Republican, who knew he would never get credit for it or even be remembered for it, to do it because it was right to do.

As a newborn follower of the Liberty Movement I have become a fierce critic of our monetary system and its exploitation of the masses, especially the poor.  All, it seems, for the sake of an oligarchy who needs to see its net worth – Wall Street portfolio rise with inflation.   It remains to be seen when and how the Bush administration had a role to play in all of that.  And yet, I can’t help but feel that in time, when the full story of George H. W. Bush and his record will be known, he will be seen as the leader I knew and for whom I worked.

George H. W. Bush ended  the Cold War, brought China into the world marketplace and briefly united the world for a single cause, a feat that Metternich would envy.  And so too, his improbable record on Civil Rights will be seen accurately for what it is without the bias lens of myopic journalists who cannot be bothered by facts.  And when it is seen, Bush Senior will emerge from the fog of history as a leader who acted with courage and with wisdom when it was risky to do so.


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