It is a wholesome and uplifting exercise to dream occasionally about what an ideal world might look like. Clearly, such ideas are far from the messy realities of the world as we know it today but lifting our gaze to the clouds can give us courage as well as direction.
So, what would a world look like if democratic capitalism were universally practiced instead of restricted to our own country and a few of our friends? First, we have to describe what we mean by “democratic capitalism”. Keep Reading
The soaring rhetoric with which President Donald J. Trump concluded his 2019 State of the Union address was totally unexpected, but as uplifting in its own way as that of Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy. And we need to be lifted up – from the pettiness and willful blindness which have characterized much of our political discourse as our loyalties and pronouncements have descended into a cauldron of partisan gamesmanship.
As author John Daly observed on “The Dr. Larry Show” last week, the American public has taken to looking at politics as a competitive sport where there must be winners and losers. This perspective has been both led and followed by the news media. Smaller and ever smaller incidents, actions and words are being analyzed in terms of who won and who lost. Fox News has even scheduled an end-of-week quiz every Friday night called “Winners and Losers”. Keep Reading
By Bob Livingston, 2018 University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press, 296 pp
This is the extraordinary story of an extraordinary man. Bob Livingston’s memoir starts with his beginnings in a troubled family through his time in the Navy, law school, first jobs and finally his entry into politics as the first Republican Congressman from his district near New Orleans, LA since before the Depression.
The story hits its rhythm, as they say in sports, as his 22 years in the U.S. Congress unfolds. The climax comes when he ascends to Speaker, only to have it snatched away at the last minute.
Along the way, Bob explains in simple language his common-sense politics and comments on past and current people and events from his own perspective. What emerges is a very attractive conservative philosophy which is worth reading for its own sake.
The reader is also struck by the author’s honesty, even humility — a quality not commonly expected in a politician. This perspective is particularly evident as he details the background and events surrounding the House impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton. That segment adds a first-hand account of his part in that historical epic, with all the pathos and tragedy he and his supporters experienced. Equally enlightening is his assessment of the impact of those sad days through the years that followed. Altogether a valuable and occasionally riveting addition to the literature of that era.
As the platform – and actions – of the Democrat party have become more actively pro-choice on the issue of abortions, questions have begun to surface more widely as to whether a practicing Catholic can in good conscience be a member of the Democrat party? It is true that there are a number of very prominent Democrats who also profess to be Catholics, including 2016 vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and former Vice President Joe Biden, among others.
The tipping point is the increasingly adamant position of the Catholic Church in opposition to abortion in any form. As research shows more clearly the viability of the fetus at a very early stage, the basis of the Church’s position has evolved from disapproval of abortion as a birth control measure to condemnation of abortion as a form of infanticide, i.e. murder. Keep Reading
The immigration situation in the United States is a total mess. Yes, we need barriers where terrain permits. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. To snapshot the most urgent challenges, let’s look at three of the categories of immigration policy that need to be fixed: 1) border enforcement, 2) citizenship qualifications, and 3) visa procedures.
Barriers – Right now there are long stretches of the southern border which have no impediments to anyone crossing from Mexico to the USA other than the occasional presence of Border Patrol agents. There are not enough of these agents available to present a consistent obstacle to trespassers. In fact, it would take an army to effectively guard all these approaches. The only effective deterrent in such terrain is a wall, such as that in San Diego, which has reduced alien traffic by 96% (since 1986 before the wall was built.) Also, such barriers work both ways to prevent human trafficking in and out of the USA.
Catch and Release – current laws provide that anyone caught illegally entering the USA can be deported back across the border, UNLESS the individual claims asylum. In that case, the person must come before a US judge who will determine whether the claim is valid or not. Since the word is out among the masses, nearly all the illegals now claim asylum. But there are not enough judges to handle the caseload of thousands of migrants. Nor are there anywhere near adequate facilities to house the asylum-seekers until they can appear before the court. This has led to “catch and release” the defendants with a summons to appear before the court sometime in the future, usually months. These folks are turned loose – in many cases never to be seen again.
One quarter of the United States federal government is closed. Unless you are a federal employee or contractor, you probably haven’t noticed this – yet. But the longer this closing goes on, the more impact it will have on ordinary people. For example, the IRS is not processing refunds – not much of a problem so far but will be in another month. And so it goes with several other agencies.
What then is causing all this disruption? Whose fault is it? How will it be resolved?
The U.S. government has closed a portion of its services because of a dispute between Republicans and Democrats over money. Is the dispute over how best to balance the federal budget? Not so lucky. The dispute is over a$5 billion-line-item – which sounds like a lot of money until you realize that the total federal budget is $4.407 trillion. Since one trillion equals 1000 times one billion, the amount in dispute is such a small percentage of the total budget that you couldn’t even get that number on a calculator – too many zeros.
If the dispute therefore is not really about money, what is the problem? The problem is that this line item is the funding for a series of walls on the U.S. southern border with Mexico wherever the terrain permits. This proposal builds on the experience of the wall in San Diego which has reduced the flow of illegal immigrants by 96% since 1986 (before the wall was built). While it has been spectacularly successful in its intended purpose, however, smuggling especially of drugs has increased dramatically. Therefore it seems necessary to increase staffing and technology at the ports of entry as well as construction of additional walls in order to effect improved border security.
The 2016 update of the 2010 U.S. Census shows the current distribution of the U.S. population at 80.3% urban and 19.7% rural. (Michael Ratcliff, Geography Division, U.S. 2010 Census Report, issued December 2016) This simple fact is perhaps the most significant reality in the current political polarization of the United States’ electorate. On its face, it signifies that the current Republican Party is doomed to disappear unless it can make some fundamental changes.
To detail some of the differences between urban and rural realities, let’s look at a few. Keep Reading
Former Virginia Governor James Gilmore wrote in these pages. “America today is in a world-wide conflict to determine how mankind will live in the years ahead. This conflict engages all aspects of national power: military, economic, diplomatic, and the competition of values.” (October 12, 2018) As Chairman of the Gilmore Commission (1999-2003) which presented a comprehensive study of America’s national security status and options, as well as his current position as head of a Washington think tank, Governor Gilmore is widely respected as an analyst of American foreign policy. On my radio show, he added that America is already in a non-shooting war with China. His opinion is shared by many other keen observers.
Governor Gilmore cites a little-known document published by the Trump Administration called the National Security Strategy (2017), which enunciates clearly the goals of a successful outcome for the United States in the contest with China for maintaining our position as the world’s primary superpower.
Why do we care? Because America’s status as the most powerful nation in the world has been essential to avoiding World War III, since America took over world leadership following World War II. Prior to 1948, under British leadership, there had been two world wars in the prior two generations, both originating in Europe and spreading to the much of the world because of European colonialism and the industrialization of Asian powers. Keep Reading