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Survival or Depression: A False Choice

We have to ignore the alarmists and get back to work

By Dr, Larry Fedewa

(Washington DC, July 13, 2020) One of the ongoing controversies in recent days is the dispute over which should be the nation’s top priority: economic recovery or pandemic precautions? Both positions are framed in the same terms: no recovery will be successful if everybody is afraid of catching the virus; likewise, drastic prevention measures, if continued, will bring on the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression of the 1930’s. The answer is that both positions are essentially correct.

We cannot afford either of these alternatives. Common sense tells us that we must resume full economic recovery as soon as possible, but we ignore the frightful prospect of an unchecked pandemic at our own peril. Each consideration has its own imperative: we must resume economic activity at its fullest capacity as soon as possible and we take all reasonable precautions at the same time.

So, the key question is: what are reasonable measures for protecting ourselves as a society? Keep Reading

Senior Retired Military Dissenters: Patriots or Rogues?

General James Clapper, Jr., Former Director, National intelligence (April 2017)

 

Are they fomenting revolution?

Bu Dr. Larry Fedewa (July 7, 2020)

(Washington DC) — There have recently been calls from retired senior officers for active commanders to disobey a presidential order to use federal troops to assist local law enforcement in establishing law and order in some of America’s cities should such an order be given.

The first such call came from James Mattis, Trump’s one time Secretary of Defense, who is also a retired Marine Corps General. He was followed by retired General John Kelly, former Trump Chief of Staff, and Admiral Michael Mullen, Obama Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and several others.

The Hoover Institute’s Victor Davis Hanson wrote a detailed critique of the remarks of several of the most prominent retired senior officers for the National Review (June 2020) which began with this statement:

In a time of crisis, their synchronized chorus of complaints, falsehoods, and partisan appeals to resistance threaten the very constitutional order they claim to revere.” (ibid)   Keep Reading

Trump’s controversial rally

A lot to argue about!

By Dr. Larry Fedewa

(Washington, DC – June 21,2020) President Donald J. Trump held his first post-lockdown rally last evening in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There was controversy before, during and after the event. Criticism was not confined to the content of the speech as usual but spread over the unusual areas of the timing, location, venue, and attendance of the rally.

The earliest criticism concerned the timing of the event. A Trump rally, held in an indoor arena, was criticized as a blatant violation of the CDC current (and often changing) recommendations regarding safeguards against the “Chinese virus”, as Trump calls it. Among the most obvious violations were the lack of social distancing in the densely packed house, without compulsory masks, and held indoors (as opposed to outdoors).

After the rally, much was made of the lower attendance. Not only were there noticeable empty bleachers (which the network cameras showed frequently), but also the scheduled outdoor appearance by the President was cancelled because the only crowd out there was the ever-present (thankfully peaceful) protesters. Nevertheless, there were approximately 18,000 or more in attendance, counting the seating on the floor of the arena, out of a published capacity of 19,000. One unaccounted-for factor was the absence of the 0ver-65 crowd who tend to be among the most loyal of the Trump base.

So, what to think about all this? First of all, there is the symbolic significance of the scheduling. The President has shown in various ways that the public health contingent – which essentially scared him (and all of us) into the lock-down in the first place – is no longer calling the shots in the White House response to the pandemic.     Keep Reading

Trump’s Leadership Underrated

 

Look past the words at the actions

By Dr, Larry Fedewa

(Washington DC, May 17, 2020) – As the saying around Washington goes, “President Donald J. Trump frequently steps on his own message”. Nowhere is that observation more accurate than in the matter of his leadership during the current crisis. His verbal descriptions of the steps he has taken and the reasons for each step sound a lot like bragging – even, at times, a plea for credit. But in few cases do they clearly and accurately convey either the obstacles or the strategy that led to these decisions – both of which have been significant. Keep Reading

Notes on the President’s May 3rd “Town Hall”

A matter of language

By Dr. Larry Fedewa (Washington DC, May 4, 2020)

Fox News presented a “virtual Town Hall” program last evening featuring President Donald Trump answering videotaped questions for two hours. For those who have been catching the President’s daily news conferences, there was little new information. Apparently, the President’s assumption was that the audience had not been following the daily briefings. For those voters this was a status report on the country’s efforts to recover from the pandemic, both medically and economically.

Rather than attempt to summarize the status report – most of which is already familiar to those who follow the news — we will look here at whether the interview was an overall success of the interview.

The first item on that agenda is the President’s style. On the positive side, he reveals his command of the facts involved on a wide variety of issues. Equally important is his candor in admitting when he does NOT know something. Another characteristic which comes through is his sincerity. He clearly believes what he is saying – and it is this sincerity which allows him to connect with people.

On the other hand, he speaks in a sort of stream-of-consciousness style, which is well suited to his amazingly successful rallies but does not serve him as well when the question requires an authoritative response. His manner of speaking is entirely consistent with his overall approach to many of the issues he deals with. That is to say that he is a transactional thinker. He thinks in terms of negotiating each issue rather than in factual terms.

Thus, in answer to a speculative question like, “when will America return to normal?” his answer will be to list some of the elements of the prediction rather than giving a simple answer like “I think we will be back to normal by January 2021”. Instead, he starts thinking of all the elements which go into such a prediction, like: “Americans really want to get back to work. We are not meant to sit around waiting etc.” After surveying the main elements of the prediction, he finally opines that he expects the third quarter, 2020 to be transitional, the fourth quarter to be very vigorous, with a return to the booming economy by the beginning of 2020.

The effect of this style is frustration on the part of the listener. The President seems to be wandering all around the problem, touching on some points that seem irrelevant before finally stating – or not stating – a simple answer to what seems like a simple question. In his mind, he is reviewing all the possible items that might influence an action; he is “negotiating” with the questioner.

It is for this reason that several results occur: 1) he is hard to listen to when the questions concern results rather than the elements of an answer; 2) he is better judged on the basis of his actions rather than his words; 3) a more effective presentation of his accomplishments is done by others. This latter point was graphically illustrated last evening when Vice President Mike Pence and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin appeared with the President in the last segment and explained the President’s accomplishments more convincingly than did the President himself.

Another aspect of the President’s transactional mode of thinking occurred near the end of the interview when he was asked about his intentions regarding tariffs on China’s imports. He indicated that the question was forcing him to explain his negotiating position prior to opening talks with China on the issue. In other words, like any good trader, he does not want to reveal his “hold card” (his true goals) in advance. It is often the case that only if the opposition is approached with no prior conditions will talks even commence.

I have noted this characteristic many times before, specifically in terms of his press relations. Reporters always want to know the goals of any negotiation before it even starts, obviously so that they can judge the results as success or failure. They don’t realize that such an approach to negotiations constitutes a set of demands rather than a negotiation. After all, prior to engagement, how does anyone know what might be agreed to in the final outcome. But the press just doesn’t get it. The bottom line is that President Trump likes to play his cards close to his vest – and the press hates him for it!

My conclusion is that President Donald Trump is better judged on results than on discussions. Let him tell his story in his own words at rallies and let others tell us about his accomplishments at town halls, virtual or otherwise. After all, in the end what counts is, “Promises made, promises kept!”

 

© 2020 Richfield Press. All rights reserved.

 

 

Republican activist agenda for 2020 elections

 

Republicans have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to become the majority party!

Washington DC. April 11, 2020 by Dr. Larry Fedewa) For Republican activists who would like to a plan of action for the summer and fall, I would suggest that they work to increase the Republican Party’s base. There are three constituencies which the Republicans need to capture if they wish to return to majority party status:  black voters, Hispanics, and suburban women.

Black voters

Background

Remember that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves in 1863 and black Republicans were the first elected officials of their race during Reconstruction. This phase ended when the Democrats struck back with the Ku Klux Klan and began a reign of terror against southern blacks which lasted until Republican Dwight Eisenhower signed the Voting Rights Bill of 1957, the first victory of the civil rights movement. Keep Reading

Sanders’ Socialism

 Everybody gets a free ride!

By Dr. Larry Fedewa (March 16, 2020)

Recent polls show that a large plurality of Americans prefer socialism over capitalism. On its surface, such a preference is shocking. Digging beneath the surface, however, we find a somewhat less alarming reality. So, let’s dig a little.

The first question is, what do most of those Americans think “socialism” means? To many of our fellow Americans, “socialism” has been defined by Bernie Sanders, the socialist Senator from Vermont. He describes socialism in terms of an expansion of “human rights” into services, notably health care, higher education, and income parity, if not equality. He advocates free delivery of these services to every American. He also believes that the USA should have open borders, inviting anyone who wishes to become an American citizen to come at will.

Then there is the other side of his views. He also believes that Americans’ access to gun ownership should be severely restricted. He says that climate change is “an existential threat” to the world and adopts the “green agenda”. That agenda includes the elimination of fossil fuels, and the substitution of renewable forms of energy (even though no such energy sources exist) and the re-entry of America into the Paris Accord, which obligates the USA to pay the bill for converting the major polluters of the world (China and India) to renewables. These are samples of the price we would pay under a Sanders idealized world-view for all the “free” services. Keep Reading

Three issues the Dems own: Wealth Gap, Health Care, and Climate Change

There are free market solutions for these issues waiting for GOP support

By Dr. Larry Fedewa (February 11, 2020)

On most of the issues highlighting the 2020 campaign, the Republicans have a great story, especially the economy, law enforcement, foreign policy (including trade), national security, energy, and job creation. The Democrats have concentrated on three critical issues, however, which are nearly ignored by most Republicans: the wealth gap, health care, and climate change

These issues are currently owned by the Democrat candidates; they have not even been addressed directly by the Republicans. This silence is a tragic mistake because current polls show that these three issues are of critical importance to significant numbers of the American electorate. If Republican candidates continue to ignore these two issues, they will suffer in the only polls that really count – the votes in November.

Today’s topic is the wealth gap, with discussions of health care and climate change to follow in succeeding columns. I use the term, “wealth gap” in preference to “wage gap” and “income inequality” because “wealth” includes assets which are relatively long range as opposed to “wages” or “income” which may fluctuate from time to time. Keep Reading

State of the Union: A Shakespearean drama

The President answers his white-shirted enemies

 

By Dr. Larry Fedewa (February 5, 2020)

The 2020 State of the Union address had all the elements of a Shakespearean drama. The setting was filled with tension and made for television. The primary picture showed the hero flanked on his right by his loyal acolyte, Vice President Mike Pence, and on the left by his archenemy, the little old lady of the Left, Nancy Pelosi, as he eloquently, at times even poetically, told America what he had accomplished with the responsibility the voters had given him while his enemies had been trying to destroy his presidency. Keep Reading

Notes from Senate Impeachment Trial – #2

Speeches over; questions next

By Dr. Larry Fedewa (January 28,2020)

Some impressions as the trial completes phase one and prepares for phase two:

  1. The first take-away is the comparison between the two presentations. The House speakers were on a mission and they showed it. They were obviously playing to the television audience more than the senators. Their rhetoric was graphic, at times crude (particularly Mr. Naylor). Their tone was passionate, sometimes angry. Their body language was tense. The exception was Mr. Schiff, who proved himself an effective and articulate advocate, who appeared convinced and convincing, especially in his opening summary. In his final speech, however, some of the earlier polish seemed to have worn off as he spoke of the President in personal and insulting terms, dripping with hatred.
  2. The President’s team overall was much cooler in manner, with the exception of Mr. Sekulow, who supplied the passion, sometimes slipping into anger. White House Counsel Patrick Capilione was quietly and rationally effective, in the sharpest contrast to the House team. I found his manner more effective than Sekulow’s. Anger in the Senate chamber seemed a bit out of place.

In terms of the arguments on their merits, I, like many others, found the House case full of assumptions, presumptions and very weak. Of course, I had the same reaction to the original testimony, so my reaction was not surprising that I reacted to the trial presentation which was derived from and actually re-used large portions of the House footage.

The basic issue was the definition of “crime”. The House wants to call such terms as “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress” crimes meeting the standard of the Constitution. That standard is admittedly brief – “treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors”. However, the application of common sense to this description, as pointed out by the founders’ commentary, demands that “crimes” must be specific and provable. Otherwise, the charge is simply a matter of opinion and therefore indefensible. Such are the terms of the current articles approved by partisan House.

The President’s team had their moments. Particularly damning was the recitation of the case against Joseph and Hunter Biden. Three lawyers split the presentation into Overview (Sekulow), Facts (Pam Bondi) and Conclusions (Eric Herschmann). It is hard to believe that the elder Mr. Biden can continue to attract support for his presidential bid after such a graphic, detailed and public recitation of the case against him.

Also notable was the presentation of Alan Dershowitz, who spoke to the constitutional standard of impeachment. His explanation was replete with citations and quotations and delivered in such a rapid-fire style that it was like trying to get a drink from a fire hose. The prominence of the speaker, however, added a certain level of authority to the argument. In view of his status as a lifelong Democrat, it is doubtful that his performance swayed any Democrats.

Today’s defense of the President ended with a plea to the Senators from Mr. Capilione to preserve for the American people the right to vote for their president, and to vote “for what in your heart you know is right”. As one of the commentators observed, however, politicians rarely vote what is in their hearts, preferring to vote for their best political advantage – a cynical remark which is unfortunately all too often true.

The overall impression of this entire exercise appears to be a gigantic waste of time and resources because the entire body of the Senate knew the outcome before the whole drama began. Namely, they will almost all vote the party line, and nothing said in this whole charade will change more than a few votes.

The only true exceptions to this outcome will be those politicians who believe that they cannot be re-elected if they vote with the party or have already decided not to run again. This whole business has to be changed to accurately reflect the momentous responsibility involved in an impeachment vote for both the immediate present and future American generations. I don’t know how that can be accomplished, but it is imperative that this process not be allowed to destroy America’s electoral process.

 

© 2020 Richfield Press. All rights reserved.