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This is where we place excerpts by historians writing about the news. On occasion this page also includes political scientists, economists, and law professors who write about history. We may from time to time even include English profs.
SOURCE: PJ Media (3-7-13)
Ron Radosh is a PJ Media columnist and Adjunct Fellow at the Hudson Institute.
...When North Korea was still being led by its original founder, Kim Il-Sung, the visitors from the United States to the horrendous Communist regime were not the likes of Dennis Rodman. Today, the founder’s grandson has inherited the mantle of leadership, thereby carrying on the dynasty that rules in the name of Marxism-Leninism, as modified by the founder’s philosophy of juche, or self-reliance, autonomy and independence.
How far the North Korean Communists have fallen. Back in the day of the old fellow-travelers’ tours to the various communist paradises, the regimes had their praises sung by the likes of the African-American baritone Paul Robeson, who regularly went to the USSR and told the world how great Comrade Stalin was and how the Soviet Union had the only real democracy on earth . At least Robeson was an All-American football quarterback, Phi Beta Kappa, and the most well-known black American actor and singer in the 1930s and 40s, who got a law degree as well at Columbia University. That a man so intelligent could function as a dupe for Stalin was far more worrisome than seeing Rodman do the same today. No one would call Rodman intelligent. He is both a useful idiot as well as a real one; Robeson only filled the first category.
So let us turn to the reign of the founder of the hermit kingdom, Kim Il-Sung, who one thinks would never have welcomed Dennis Rodman to his lair. That Rodman is welcome there today is the result of Kim wanting a good education for his children and grandchildren, with the result that the current ruler learned to love basketball and Rodman while a student in one of the most elite schools in Switzerland. When a Red ruler sends his kids for a good education out of the homeland, one never knows what might be the result.
We now know, thanks to the enterprising scholarship of a young M.A. student at the College of Brockport, Benjamin R. Young, about the hitherto unknown ties of the American New Left with Kim Il Sung’s North Korea, which it seems these major New Left activists hoped to replace both the Soviet Union and Communist China as the model for socialism in their own day and age. Now, Young’s findings and documents are online for all to see at the website of The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and its division The Cold War International History Project....
I was not unaware of the fascination of the New Left with North Korea. Those of you who have read my memoir Commies, A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left, might recall a few pages on the left-wing journalist Robert Scheer, who now edits his own webzine, Truthdig.com. In the summer of 1970, on a trip to San Francisco, I went to see Scheer, who was then living in the Red Family Commune, and working at its kindergarten, The Blue Fairlyand. During the visit, I taped Scheer for a weekly radio program that my friend Louis Menashe and I had on New York’s WBAI, the flagship station of the leftist and counter-culture Pacifica radio network. I wanted to talk to him about the state of the Left, the nature of the radical movement, and his work in journalism. All Scheer agreed to talk about, however, was his recent visit to North Korea, and his view of its leader, Kim-Il Sung. For two hours, Scheer regaled me about the nature of the paradise North Korea had created under the great Kim, and how juche was the ideology necessary for the building of socialism. He had successfully one-upped his other American comrades, who were still touting Fidel Castro and Cuba as the homeland for revolution....
SOURCE: CNN.com (3-4-13)
Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter" and "Governing America."
(CNN) -- The politics of health care is changing fast. President Barack Obama's Affordable Health Care Act was vulnerable during his first term when Republicans demanded repeal of the law. Even after the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality, there were still many voices who objected to it.
However, with each passing day, it appears that the program is in good shape, slowly becoming part of the fabric of American government.
Last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, one of the main potential contenders for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, said that his state would accept the Medicaid expansion that is part of the ACA. Christie had been one of the president's toughest critics, frequently lambasting the program as a prime example of big government liberalism. But he has changed his tune.
The expansion of Medicaid will allow about 104,000 of the poorest residents in New Jersey to gain access to health insurance. Christie said: "Let me be clear: I am no fan of the Affordable Health Care Act. I think it is wrong for New Jersey and for America. I fought against it and believe, in the long run, it will not achieve what it promises. However, it is now the law of the land. I will make all my judgments as governor based on what is best for New Jerseyans."...
SOURCE: NYT (3-2-13)
ON July 18, 1994, a van filled with explosives blew up outside the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people and injuring hundreds. It was the worst terrorist attack ever in Argentina, which has Latin America’s largest Jewish population, and one of the deadliest anti-Semitic attacks since the Holocaust.
In 2007, after more than a decade of investigations, Argentine prosecutors obtained Interpol arrest warrants for six suspects and formally blamed Hezbollah for staging the attack and Iran for financing it.
But bizarrely, Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, abruptly switched course last month and reached an agreement with the Iranian government that would set up a “truth commission” of international legal experts to analyze evidence from the bombings. The agreement, which the Congress approved early Thursday, would allow Argentine officials to travel to Tehran and interview Iranians suspected of involvement in the attack....
SOURCE: NYT (3-2-13)
Monica Prasad, an associate professor of sociology and faculty fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University, is the author of “The Land of Too Much: American Abundance and the Paradox of Poverty.”
Why do European countries have lower levels of poverty and inequality than the United States? We used to think this was a result of American anti-government sentiment, which produced a government too small to redistribute income or to attend to the needs of the poor. But over the past three decades scholars have discovered that our government wasn’t as small as we thought. Historians, sociologists and political scientists have all uncovered evidence that points to a surprisingly large governmental presence in the United States throughout the 20th century and even earlier, in some cases surpassing what we find in Western Europe.
For example, European banks did not have to contend with regulations separating commercial and investment banking, as American banks did under the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. Until the 1980s taxes on capital income were higher in the United States than in most European countries, where taxes on labor were and still are higher. American bankruptcy law has been harder on creditors and easier on debtors than any of the countries of Europe, even after bankruptcy reform here in 2005. Or consider the famous case of the thalidomide babies in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Thalidomide was a drug given to pregnant women for nausea. It caused devastating birth defects, from stunted limbs to spina bifida, and many babies died. Thalidomide was widely available in Europe and produced thousands of cases of birth defects there. But the Food and Drug Administration kept thalidomide off the American market, successfully using aggressive governmental intervention to protect children from a pharmaceutical company with a dangerous product. They would be in their early 50s now, those babies saved by the F.D.A. I wonder sometimes how many of them are walking around today complaining about big government....
SOURCE: NYT (3-5-13)
EVERYONE talks about getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan. But what about Germany and Japan?
The sequester — $85 billion this year in across-the-board budget cuts, about half of which will come from the Pentagon — gives Americans an opportunity to discuss a question we’ve put off too long: Why we are still fighting World War II?
Since 1947, when President Harry S. Truman set forth a policy to stop further Soviet expansion and “support free peoples” who were “resisting subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures,” America has acted as the world’s policeman....
SOURCE: NYT (2-27-13)
Paul Kennedy is Dilworth Professor of History and director of International Security Studies at Yale University; and the author of many books, including “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers.”
Being about the only professor at a liberal, tolerant, cosmopolitan Western university who is known to be a practicing Catholic — baptized at the age of two weeks — I have been asked frequently in recent times about what I think will happen to the church in the light of Pope Benedict’s resignation. Will it split further, between conservatives and liberals? Will there be an African pope? When will there ever be female priests, then bishops? What about declining attendance of the European congregations (as opposed to the surging populations in the southern world)?
I sigh. When I turn to my daily newspapers, I sigh further, at the stereotyping, the false assumptions, the hostility in some quarters, the focus upon protocol rather than substance, the obsession with fiscal laxities at the Vatican rather than the proclaimed mission of Christ. Much of this criticism is boringly predictable; I may be wrong, but I suspect it might be hard to find a month, for example, when New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd does not launch an attack upon the papacy and the Catholic Church. And when the College of Cardinals announces the successor to Benedict, there will be fervid speculation about the new pope’s attitude toward divorce, abortion, the Jews, secularism in Italy, and so on....
SOURCE: CNN.com (2-11-13)
David M. Perry is an associate professor of history at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois.
(CNN) -- On July 4, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI traveled to Sulmona for his second visit to venerate the relics of his long-ago predecessor, Pope and St. Celestine V, who died in 1296. Few predicted then that just a few years later, Benedict and Celestine would be locked together in history as the two popes who retired, theoretically voluntarily, because of their age.
Here is what Celestine wrote: "We, Celestine, Pope V, moved by legitimate reasons, that is to say for the sake of humility, of a better life and an unspotted conscience, of weakness of body and of want of knowledge, the malignity of the people, and personal infirmity, to recover the tranquility and consolation of our former life, do freely and voluntarily resign the pontificate."
Compare that to Benedict's statement: "In today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter."...
SOURCE: Arizona Republic (2-14-13)
Matthew C. Whitaker is an ASU Foundation professor of history and founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Arizona State University.
Time magazine recently announced the selection of President Barack Obama as its Person of the Year. It did so, for a second time, because, as Richard Stengel argued in his editorial preface, “We are in the midst of historic cultural and demographic changes, and Obama is both the symbol and in some ways the architect of this new America.” Obama is Time’s Person of the Year, he wrote, “for finding and forging a new majority, for turning weakness into opportunity and for seeking, amid great adversity, to create a more perfect union.”
Indeed, Arizona State University’s Center for the Study of Race and Democracy for years has studied the “Age of Obama” and foretold the influence of America’s stunning demographic changes. February, Black History Month, presents us with an opportunity to pause and reflect upon these changes and what they mean for a society still grappling with race and pluralism.
Blackness, as personified by the Obama family, embodies the type of hybridity that defines all Americans. We are a fusion of humanity, but Obama’s ascendency has helped educate millions about just how diverse we are. Thanks to Obama, we see that Blackness, and a diverse racial lineage, are not antithetical. In fact, multiraciality is what helps to make African-Americans who we are....
SOURCE: Religion and Politics (2-24-13)
Daniel Bornstein is Professor of History and Religious Studies and the Stella Koetter Darrow Professor of Catholic Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the vice-president of the American Catholic Historical Association, and will assume the presidency in 2014. He is the author of The Bianchi of 1399: Popular Devotion in Late Medieval Italy and the editor of Medieval Christianity, volume 4 of A People’s History of Christianity.
The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, announced for February 28, is an action virtually without precedent. No pope has resigned in modern times. No pope has ever resigned for reasons of failing health. And hardly any pope—only one, really—has ever resigned the papacy voluntarily. Early examples are shrouded in obscurity, but were all obviously constrained in one way or another. Pontian (230-235) is said to have resigned after being exiled: he evidently recognized that he could not function as bishop of Rome while performing slave labor in the mines of Sardinia. Marcellinus (296-304) had the misfortune to be bishop of Rome during the great persecution of Christians under the emperor Diocletian. He reportedly bent to imperial pressure and offered sacrifice to the pagan gods; and as a consequence, he was either deposed or forced to abdicate.
Even under Christian emperors, popes could run afoul of the political authorities and be forced from office. Benedict V (964) lasted barely a month in office before being deposed by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto I. Henry III deposed Benedict IX and two rival popes in 1046, ending a brief but messy schism and initiating a sweeping reform of the church. As part of that reform, in 1059 Pope Nicholas II decreed that popes would henceforth be elected by the chief clergy of Rome—the College of Cardinals—which has been the standard procedure for papal elections ever since. The Council of Constance (1414-1418) dealt with the Great Western Schism, which since 1378 had divided the Catholic Church between two (and after 1409, three) competing popes. Invoking the conciliar theory—the idea that supreme authority in the earthly Church lies not in the papacy, but in the assembled body of the faithful as represented by an ecumenical council—the council was able to pressure all three papal claimants to resign, and then to restore unity with the election of Pope Martin V in 1417. None of these popes left office willingly....
SOURCE: National Review (2-28-13)
Republicans and Democrats are blaming one another for impending cuts to the defense budget brought about by sequestration. But with serial annual deficits of $1 trillion–plus and an aggregate debt nearing $17 trillion, the United States — like the insolvent Rome and exhausted Great Britain of the past — was bound to reexamine its expensive overseas commitments and strategic profile.
The president’s nomination of Chuck Hagel for defense secretary was a sort of Zen-like way of having a Republican combat veteran orchestrate a reduced military. In fact, Barack Obama has nurtured a broad and diverse constituency for his neo-isolationist vision. Budget hawks concede that defense must suffer its fair share of cuts. Libertarians want their republic back and hate the big-government baggage that comes along with a big military’s involvement overseas. Leftists agree, adding that the U.S. has neither the moral authority nor the wherewithal to arrange events overseas. For liberals, a scaled-back military presence abroad means more entitlements at home. For each F-22 Raptor not built, about another 20,000 families could receive food stamps for a year.
SOURCE: Truthout (2-28-13)
Peter Dreier is professor of politics and chair of the Urban and Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His new book, "The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame," was just published by Nation Books.
On Friday, March 1, tens of millions of children and their parents will be reading Dr. Seuss books as part of Read Across America Day, sponsored by the National Educational Association (NEA) in partnership with local school districts and some businesses. The NEA, which started the program 16 years ago to encourage reading, was smart to tie the program to Dr. Seuss, who remains - more than two decades after his death - the world's most popular writer of modern children's books. Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904–1991) - Dr. Seuss' real name - wrote and illustrated 44 children's books, characterized by memorable rhymes, whimsical characters and exuberant drawings that have encouraged generations of children to love reading and expand their vocabularies. His books have been translated into more than 15 languages and have sold more than 200 million copies. They have been adapted into feature films, TV specials and a Broadway musical. He earned two Academy Awards, two Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, and the Pulitzer Prize.
What few Americans know is that, despite his popular image as a kindly cartoonist for kids, Dr. Seuss was also a moralist and political progressive whose views suffuse his stories. Some of his books use ridicule, satire, wordplay, nonsense words and wild drawings to take aim at bullies, hypocrites and demagogues. He believed that children's books should be both entertaining and educational. His most popular children's books included parables about racism, anti-Semitism, the arms race, and the environment. His books consistently reveal his sympathy with the weak and the powerless and his fury against tyrants and oppressors. Many Dr. Seuss books are about the misuse of power - by despots, kings, or other rulers, including parents who arbitrarily wield authority. His books teach children to think about how to deal with an unfair world. Rather than telling them what to do, Geisel invites his young readers to consider what they should do when faced with injustice. Generations of progressive activists may not trace their political views to their early exposure to Dr. Seuss, but without doubt this shy, brilliant genius played a role in sensitizing them to abuses of power....
SOURCE: Tikkun (2-26-13)
Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history and education at New York University. He is the author of Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory (Yale University Press).
Will raising the minimum wage put more money in the pockets of America’s working poor? Or will it have the opposite effect, throwing more poor people out of work?
That’s the question we ask whenever anyone proposes a hike in the minimum wage, as President Obama did in his State of the Union Address. But it’s also the wrong question, diverting us from the biggest one of all: what are the rights that we share as human beings?
Minimum-wage opponents say we all have the right to pursue our own happiness—and to maximize our self-interest—so long as we respect others’ right to do the same. Proponents counter that everyone has a right to certain necessities of life—food, clothing, and shelter—and that no one can be happy if some of us are deprived.
And the proponents have Pope Benedict XVI on their side....
SOURCE: NY Daily News (2-22-13)
Jonathan Zimmerman is a professor of education and history at New York University. He is the author of "Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory.”
In 1941, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People released a report condemning racist school textbooks in New York City. Music books routinely referred to blacks as "darkeys," while literature anthologies called them "coons" or "Sambos." Worst of all, American history textbooks depicted slavery as a genteel institution developed by benevolent white Southerners to "civilize" savage, ignorant Africans.
All of these books were profoundly offensive to the city's African-American population, of course. But they were also full of lies, as NAACP secretary Walter White emphasized. "This study was made not on a basis of racial sensitiveness or pride," White wrote, describing the NAACP's textbook report, "but on the highest plane of historical accuracy and objectivity." Indeed, the report drew on research by pioneering black historian Carter G. Woodson to refute the textbooks' cheery portrait of life under slavery.
I thought of this episode as I read about the furor against Jane Youn, the P.S. 59 school teacher who asked her fourth graders to come up with math problems that drew on their social studies coursework. One of their questions asked how many slaves would remain on a ship, if some of them perished in a revolt; another asked how many times a slave would be whipped over the course of a month, assuming five daily floggings....
SOURCE: CNN.com (2-22-13)
Jim Cullen is chairman of the history department at the Fieldston School in New York and author of "Sensing the Past: Hollywood Stars and Historical Visions" (Oxford University Press).
(CNN) -- If, as many observers believe, Daniel-Day Lewis wins the Academy Award for best actor on Sunday, he will become the first man to win three (Meryl Streep has done this; Maggie Smith might match her if she wins for her turn in Quartet). Such an honor would ratify Day-Lewis' standing not simply as one of the greatest actors of his time, but for all time.
Like Robert De Niro, Day-Lewis is seen as the quintessential method actor, a commitment he has taken to extremes in his well-known penchant for embodying his characters even when the cameras aren't rolling. Day-Lewis also is notable for the extraordinary breadth of roles he has played.
He first came to global attention in 1985 when he appeared simultaneously as the priggish Cecil Vyse in the Merchant-Ivory film adaptation of E.M. Forster's 1907 novel "Room with a View" as well as Johnny, the gay East End punk, in Stephen Frears' brilliantly brash "My Beautiful Launderette."...
SOURCE: ReaderSupportedNews (2-24-13)
Ruth Rosen, a former columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times, is Professor Emerita of History at the University of California Davis and a Scholar in Residence at the University of California Berkeley. Her most recent book is The World Split Open: How the Modern Women's Movement Changed America.
The feminist writer Susan Griffin called rape "The All American Crime" in Ramparts Magazine in 1971. She was the first feminist to explain that men rape children, elderly and disabled women, not just girls dressed in mini-skirts. In other words, she challenged the belief that that rape was a sexual act, fueled by men's irrepressible sexual drive. Instead, she argued that rape was an assault against a woman, fueled by the desire to control and harm her, not a sexual act at all.
While I became a professor of history at the University of California a few years later, an elderly woman was raped by a man who stalked the campus looking for prey. He finally found a woman in her 90s and raped her in Davis's Central Park. (I can't find the newspaper story, but I remember the terror he caused among the town's women.) In 2012, a 43-year-old man raped a 73-year-old woman in New York City's Central Park and even boasted about how many elderly women he had raped. So, no, rape is not a sexual act.
Griffin was right. Even more, we now know that rape is the universal crime. Men don't need seductive young bodies scantily dressed to incite them to use their overwhelming power over a vulnerable woman. Even though rape has been declared illegal in war as a means of demoralizing an enemy, the Balkan wars revealed the creation of "rape camps" on all sides....
SOURCE: NYT (2-24-13)
Manisha Sinha is a professor of Afro-American studies and history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is the author of “The Counterrevolution of Slavery: Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina” and the forthcoming “The Slave’s Cause: Abolition and the Origins of America’s Interracial Democracy.”
On the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, discussion over who freed the slaves, fueled by movies like “Lincoln,” have become commonplace. While historians have debated the relative roles of Abraham Lincoln and the slaves themselves in the coming of emancipation, few have paid attention to the abolitionists, the forgotten emancipationists in the story of black freedom.
Actually, they’re hidden in plain sight, even in contemporary emancipation narratives. In Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” which may well win the Academy Award for Best Picture this evening, they are represented by the lone figure of the Radical Republican Congressman Thaddeus Stevens. In Quentin Tarantino’s fictional western on slavery, “Django Unchained,” perhaps by the articulate German bounty hunter posing as a dentist (Christoph Waltz’s character isn’t pure fantasy; many “Forty Eighters,” refugees from the failed 1848 revolution in the German states, were political radicals and staunchly antislavery). In fact, the idea of a Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery, the subject of Lincoln, originated with abolitionists.
The problem with movies like “Lincoln” is not that they depict passive black characters — in fact most black characters in the movie are drawn in a nuanced fashion — but that nearly all characters in the movie, including Lincoln himself, are devoid of their proper historical context, particularly the abolitionists and the even larger political antislavery movements. Emancipation was not simply a presidential and congressional game; it was the long and hard-won result of decades of black and white activism before and during the war....
SOURCE: CNN.com (2-11-13)
Timothy Stanley is a historian at Oxford University and blogs for Britain's The Daily Telegraph. He is the author of "The Crusader: The Life and Times of Pat Buchanan."
(CNN) - Journalists have a habit of calling too many things "historic" - but on this occasion, the word is appropriate. The Roman Catholic Church is run like an elected monarchy, and popes are supposed to rule until death; no pope has stepped down since 1415.
Therefore, it almost feels like a concession to the modern world to read that Benedict XVI is retiring on grounds of ill health, as if he were a CEO rather than God's man on Earth. That's highly ironic considering that Benedict will be remembered as perhaps the most "conservative" pope since the 1950s - a leader who tried to assert theological principle over fashionable compromise.
The word "conservative" is actually misleading, and the monk who received me into the Catholic Church in 2006 - roughly a year after Benedict began his pontificate - would be appalled to read me using it. In Catholicism, there is no right or left but only orthodoxy and error. As such, Benedict would understand the more controversial stances that he took as pope not as "turning back the clock" but as asserting a living tradition that had become undervalued within the church. His success in this regard will be felt for generations to come....
SOURCE: Informed Comment (Blog) (2-21-13)
Juan Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Professor of History and the director of the Center for South Asian Studies at the University of Michigan. His latest book, "Engaging the Muslim World," is just out in a revised paperback edition from Palgrave Macmillan.
The resignation of Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali in Tunisia has created a political crisis that the elected government will have to deal with. Jebali is a politician of the Muslim religious right, from the Ennahda Party, and had led an Ennahda-dominated cabinet in coalition with two smaller secular parties, Moncef Marzouki’s social democratic Congress for the Republic and another small partner.
The Jebali government was shaken by the assassination of secular opposition figure Chokry Belaid, a severe critic of the religious right. Many secular Tunisians openly accused Ennahda of the act (though without proof), withdrawing the public confidence necessary for Jebali to rule from that party. He therefore sought a shake-up of his cabinet, installing non-party technocrats to produce a government of national unity. The Ennahda Party parliamentarians, however, rejected that step. They have the largest bloc of members of parliament, around 40%, but are not a majority.
When Jebali found his proposal blocked, he stepped down Tuesday night. In essence, he treated his party’s rejection of his plan as a vote of no confidence. In parliamentary systems, prime ministers have to step down all the time when they lose a vote of no confidence. I see Jebali’s move as positive. He or someone else will have to try to form a government, being nominated by elected president Marzouki for the task.
Actually Jebali is not the first post-revolution prime minister to step down, and while the political crisis is regrettable (and especially the assassination that caused it), the political process is not. Tunisia was ruled by strongmen for most of its post-independence history, but now has leaders who need the support of parliament and of the people. As we see in Belgium or Italy, getting such support is not always straightforward. But that’s politics, and politics of a parliamentary sort are good, and much better than corrupt, oppressive, inflexible strong men.
SOURCE: National Review (2-20-13)
Conrad Black is the author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom, Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full, and the recently published A Matter of Principle. He can be reached at email@example.com.
What a pleasure it is, in the wake of Presidents’ Day, to write something upbeat about President Obama. As disappointing as I found his second inaugural address, I am pleased to disagree with commentators from right to left who found fault with his State of the Union message last week. I thought it was pretty good. For the first time in my observations, he actually seemed to take the deficit seriously, though he could not avoid recourse to refuge in his old mouse-hole of the serried ranks of unnamed economists “who say we need $4 trillion in deficit reduction to stabilize our finances.” I don’t believe there are such economists; they are the flip side of the “economic royalists, monopolists, and war profiteers” that FDR used to rail against in the Thirties, to the delight of his followers. (There were no war profiteers or “malefactors of great wealth” in the U.S. in the Thirties. But it was a convenient cul-de-sac into which he could sweep public anger, where it could harmlessly dissipate itself — though it still rankles with the contemporary nincompoop Right, which holds that FDR didn’t alleviate the Depression but won four straight terms through electoral flimflam.)
To President Obama’s phantom gallery of economists is imputed the view that if the country cuts just $400 billion a year from what the deficit will be if no changes are made to taxing and spending, for ten years, all will be well. No, it won’t: The accumulated deficit, which was $10 trillion four years ago, and is $17 trillion today, will be $27 trillion in ten years on that scenario, and, in the words of Douglas MacArthur (referring to nuclear war), “Armageddon will be at our door.”...
SOURCE: National Review (2-21-13)
In his first term, President Obama was criticized for trash-talking the 1-percenters while enjoying the aristocracy of Martha’s Vineyard and the nation’s most exclusive golf courses.
Obama never quite squared his accusations that “millionaires and billionaires” had not paid their fair share with his own obvious enjoyment of the perks of “corporate jet owners,” “fat cat bankers,” and Las Vegas junketeers.
Now, that paradox has continued right off the bat in the second term. In the State of the Union, Obama once more went after “the few” and “the wealthiest and the most powerful,” whom he blasted as the “well-off and the well-connected” and the “billionaires with high-powered accountants.”...