Swickard: Looking at our imperfect historical leaders

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.   History is the driver of culture. It’s the story of people and how they dealt with adversity. Recently Confederate statues have been under attack which brings the issue of our history.
            Our country is talking not only Civil War but the entire history of our nation. We search for our “Authentic” history, not the propaganda of the winners. But the winners write the history.
            Statues are a measure but they only reflect the feelings of a time but not for all time and all people. In our search for our heroes we are struck by the fact that everyone in the past was imperfect. Some were more imperfect than others but all had blemishes.
            Yet over the years this country has been a beacon to the rest of the world when it comes to liberty. Our country was instrumental in many other countries becoming free of dictators. That is our primary legacy.
            But what of our heroes? We have memorials and currency and a written history about imperfect men. And we now see their blemishes. Example: George Washington perhaps was the only man who could take the Continental Army to victory. Hence, we have our freedom. But he had slaves as did Thomas Jefferson.
            When those slave holders and others who tolerated slavery set forth this nation, they started with “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
            But not all humans were equal then. Women and Blacks were not equal. In the war to end slavery President Abraham Lincoln said, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
            Over the last century and a half liberty has come to Americans. It wasn’t easy but it was done. Now there are political factions trying to derive power from injustice then and now. The history of our country is under attack.
            Rather than taking down statues and screaming about justice perhaps we need to really understand our history with the blemishes. We cannot find any leaders without blemishes then or now. But we can see that Americans are free and they inspire freedom in other countries.
            Our country has brought liberty directly and indirectly to most of the world. No, there is still slavery and injustice over much of the world but people all over the world know that liberty is possible because we broke away from England in 1776.
            Dennis Prager said several years ago, “Our danger now is that we are not teaching our children what it means to be an American.” I believe it is the core of this problem of American identity also.
            We must resolve that the dead in our wars of freedom must not have died in vain. As Lincoln said: “…that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” Only if we focus on our history will that happen.

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We had this fixed forty years ago

© 2016 Jim Spence - America began to fix its race problem one hundred fifty-seven years ago when more than 500,000 white men died in the American Civil War fighting on the union side. What followed was wonderful. Constitutional amendments were ratified by the states providing for equal protections under the law. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the late 1940’s. In the 1950’s the Supreme Court ruled in Brown versus the Board of Education that segregation disguised as "separate but equal" was not good enough. In the 1960’s, despite the fact that Senate Democrats attempted a filibuster, the Civil Rights Act was passed and signed into law. It was Senate GOP leadership that broke the filibuster. In doing so, Republicans insured that one of Martin Luther King Jr’s chief legislative ambitions became a reality. Um.....that was fifty-two years ago.
The transformation of America's multi-racial culture has moved much faster than the claims of shameless politicians. Inter-marriage between all of the races has continued to increase non-stop for hundreds of years. Watershed films like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, in the 1960's also helped expose how utterly preposterous racial prejudice was. The film did so in profound ways. The last time I watched this extraordinary film, I was reminded that Sidney Poitier’s black father was the last of the four parental holdouts in approving of the inter-racial marriage that was the heart of the story. Whites didn't have the market cornered on stereotypes, even in the 1960's.
With the increase in television viewership, professional sports began to dramatically increase its influence on our multi-racial culture in the 60's. By the early 1960’s all professional sports were integrated. And in 1966, Don Haskins at UTEP (then Texas Western), taught the Kentucky Wildcats and many other southern universities how foolish it was to intentionally not recruit the best players from high school to play on their basketball teams. Haskins won a national championship with the best players, and the nation received another civics lesson just a year after the Civil Rights Act became law.
In the decades that followed Jackie Robinson’s entry into Major League Baseball, tens of thousands of great black athletes became multi-millionaires as America’s free enterprise system rewarded them for being the very best at what they did. The entertainment industry followed the same path. Sidney Poitier was joined by thousands of other black entertainers and movie stars, who like their counterparts in professional sports, became rich beyond their wildest dreams. Motown music became as much a part of American culture as apple pie. Fifty years ago America was far along in getting our racial problems fixed and as recently as forty years ago, we pretty much had the problem solved.
Our wonderful story of national healing was and is still not lost on the rest of the world. People of color from virtually every country on earth tried harder than ever to become U.S. citizens, especially people from Africa. This longing by non-Americans of any race to become Americans persists to this day.
What the hell happened?
Politics happened. While white racists were forced to go underground, which was fantastic, hatred of whites was encouraged and deemed chic in an increasing number of circles. It is like the bloody phase of a revolution. Democrats who filibustered the Civil Rights Act quickly learned that stoking racial division via backlash against non-socialist whites worked well politically. So instead of declaring success in the nation's effort to foment racial harmony in America, stoking racial suspicions and paranoia became the Democrat’s favorite “strategy.” Associating whack jobs who hold the illusion of white supremacy, with anyone's logical support of free market capitalism has been a grand political con job. Long ago those at the very top of the American Democratic Party decided it was best not to speak of Jackie Robinson, Don Haskins, or the fact that America is minting tens of thousands of new black millionaires in the sports and entertainment industry every decade. These powerful TRENDS are swept under the table and out of the discussion. Instead, Democrats continue to sell out to the sham idea that it is best to pretend the problem with race has never received enough attention.
Far away from the fantasies, illusions, and distortions created by Democrat politicians, American culture has been and continues to be way ahead on race. For decades television commercials and print ads have been replete with people of all races enjoying themselves……together. The depiction of inter-racial marriages like the reality of inter-racial marriages in our culture, has been commonplace for two generations. People of all races play on all sorts of teams. Together they compete against other multi-racial teams. The best players are sought by all who care about winning, which is pretty much everyone.
So how is it that these days we have race riots where fringe groups line up to throw projectiles at each other? It is because we will never get rid of all the whack jobs in a nation of 350 million people.
Sadly it is the whack jobs that make the news. Take high profile, mixed-race, and sub-par NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick has been made famous for smearing law enforcement officers and refusing to show respect for the nation. Kaepernick is a living symbol for whack jobs everywhere. His story is a great one that went very bad. Kaepernick was adopted and given a stable childhood by white parents who cared not what color he was.....or wasn’t. The police Kaepernick has disparaged so broadly, have provided security for him every time he played a football game. There is so much more. Kaepernick was made a multi-millionaire by the free market capitalist system that is the backbone of America. But if you hear Kaepernick talk, you would think that America is the most unfair country on the planet.....instead of the fairest. How do we know America is the fairest country? It is not because anyone says so. It is because millions say so who know tyranny. The same free market that has made America prosper and Kaepernick fabulously wealthy, tells us all of this phony racial strife is a sham. Hundreds of millions of Africans would give up just about anything to get to America. They want to come here because hundreds of millions of them live under the tyranny and oppression off black dictators in their homelands. These black dictators don't exploit them because they are black. They exploit them because this is what politicians tend to do.
Sorry folks, we had this problem solved forty years ago.
What should America do about the skinheads and Nazi fringe groups who try to drum up attention for their vile hatred with lame demonstrations? Common sense says we should ignore these bastards instead of pretending like they have numbers. They don’t have numbers. But it is in Democrats interest to pretend they do have numbers and more important, pretend they are Republicans.
The group that does have alarming numbers these days is the one that will destroy the free market system we all enjoy......if it can. This would be the violent socialists who are nothing more than the other side of the whack job coin.
The scariest thing going on in America in 2017 is we have whack jobs embedded in our education system. Each year the system tries to mass produce more whack jobs, instead of marginalizing them. Accordingly, the greatest threat our country faces comes from the political camp that feels it BENEFITS from dividing us. And so long as Democrats believe it is in their political interests to divide us, they will keep doing it.
With Democrats armed with the news media, the education system, and the entertainment industry, there is not much the GOP can do to stop this. And they seem hapless in the efforts to expose the truth. Sadly, when professional athletes, who have been great beneficiaries of America's free market system, insist on pretending that America is not the place where most of the world wants to be, they create a problem that does not exist. Kaepernick is not the only fool in his field.
The idea that racism is a major problem in America is a home-grown scam. We had this fixed forty years ago.

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The week in pictures



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A picture from Tony says it all


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So......you want outsiders to clean up Washington eh?

© 2016 Jim Spence - Sixty percent of the U.S. states and 85 percent of the counties in America voted for a real outsider in Donald Trump. Let those numbers sink in.
Is Trump a real outsider? If you have any doubts, you have not been paying attention. Trump has no political experience whatsoever. It is safe to say this lack of experience shows up quite often. On the other hand, (I sound like an economist) virtually every U.S. Senator has tons of political experience as do most members of the House of Representatives. The cads in Washington have had vast "experience" for years.....in my opinion, too much experience milking the system. Trump owes none of the ruling class anything. Hold that thought.
What you have been seeing unfold in America over the last seven months is the exposing of corruption on a scale that boggles the mind. The media is corrupt, the Democrats are corrupt, the Republicans are corrupt, and yes many of America’s biggest business CEO's are corrupt. No wonder Bernie Sanders draws a crowd. Of course Bernie and his fellow communist and wife Jane are as corrupt as they come. Only Bernie and Jane could take a golden parachute from a small college she bankrupted in a very short period of time.
Still, everyone who has not been living in a cave for the last thirty years has known all along that all of Washington is inherently corrupt. What we did not know until now, is just how corrupt Washington is. It took the American heartland's votes for a crass outsider like Trump to create the force necessary to turn over the rocks.
The reason why layer after layer of corruption is being exposed right now is that our our all-powerful federal government and all its benefactors are fighting back hard against Trump the outsider. And we are finding that everyone wielding power in Washington has tools. Serious tools. Virtually all media outlets stick a knife in Trump every day. And government cronies from all walks of life cite bogus news reports as reasons why they can "no longer support Trump."
Wikipedia defines crony capitalism as follows:
Crony capitalism is an economy in which businesses thrive not as a result of risk taken for them, but rather, as a return on money amassed through a nexus between a business class and the political class. ... It is also used to describe governmental decisions favoring "cronies" of governmental officials.
With all that a super-powerful government entails, corruption is practically REQUIRED for survival. In fact, government has become so powerful in America, that crony capitalism has completely replaced virtually all market-based competition. You see this in every failing category of life (education, health care, journalism, etc.)
The all-out propaganda assault on Trump crashes ashore each day like a tsunami that won’t subside. This propaganda tsunami is all about government and its cronies retaining a death grip of "control" on America. It was all triggered by the earthquake Trump created in the political arena. We now know what happens when a president is elected while OWING nobody anything. This has not happened in our lifetimes. And it is not going down well with the entrenched and connected types who are no longer connected.
Don't kid yourself. The ruling class is not going away. They like it when there is decorum.....corrupt decorum. People who cloister around Washington want to be owed whether this president likes it or not. And this perversion does not only involve all of the Democrats in Congress and the news media who are attacking Trump on their behalf. It also involves virtually all GOP Senators and House members, as well as many high-profile corporate CEO’s who eat at and are beholden to those with access to the public trough.
The latest absurd excuse for trying to crucify Trump came after he roundly condemned the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. His problem was he stated the truth. He said he saw fault on all sides. This small nugget of profound wisdom, which recognized that there were extremists on display everywhere in Charlottesville, brought howls from the ever-growing ranks of race-baiters and their apologists, as well as the anti-Trumpers in the GOP.
The simple unspoken truth is this: There are tens of thousands of people who worship Washington who cannot stand the fact Trump does not owe them anything. 
Back to Charlottesville.....Trump saying he saw fault on "all sides" also created an opportunity for priggish crony-capitalists to preen and posture as if they have moral authority. Where were these jackasses when Mr. Obama said law enforcement officers who were simply protecting property in Cambridge, acted “stupid.” Where were they when sixty cops were killed in the final year of Obama’s term, by mostly by Black Lives Matters assassins who receive aid and comfort from Democrats every day? Big Corporate America was also mostly silent on these killings, because cops lives are not nearly as important as staying on the inside with the Obama crowd. This is the essence of cronyism and corruption. You have to slurp up taxpayer dollars at the trough.
Don’t get me wrong. I am no fan of Trump the man. However, I am a big fan of most of the policies that Trump has proposed. Sadly, not just Senate Democrats but Senate Republicans have blocked all paths to improvement for America that would come from basic reforms in the Trump agenda.
As for the fault on both sides claim Trump made this weekend? I am reminded of a Neo-Nazi march in mostly Jewish Skokie, Illinois many decades ago. Those dregs were given a permit by Jewish public officials. And yes, there were violent clashes back then too. Racist dregs have been around for as long as human beings have walked the earth. And it is both true and admirable that our constitution protects free speech.....period. This is not North Korea or Cuba.
The floating standards for judging Trump are finally becoming surreal. When radical Democrats committed violence, as was the case last year when those sixty law enforcement officials were gunned down, mostly by people who vote Democrat, there was never an attempt to micro-analyze the condemnation statements made by Democrats. As for the standard Mr. Obama was held to after he also condemned the violence and the perpetrators of those cop murders.....well.......whatever he said was good enough. And why not? While Obama's rhetoric, like Trump's was over the top sometimes, nobody thought Obama wanted cops killed. That would be stupid. But this is Trump's presidency so bring on the stupid and try to legitimize it.
Once stupid is a way of life in journalism, there is no news anymore…..just overtly political people shaping any event and every event to further their own predetermined agenda. Washington, many corporate CEO's and the powerful but normally stealth ruling elites are showing their backsides. They are not pretty.

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Swickard: War unseen on the horizon

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  “There never was a war more easy to stop (which wasn’t) than that which has just wrecked what was left of the world from the previous struggle.” Winston Churchill about World War Two
            It is good that our world has not been in global military conflict since 1945. There have been some very nasty regional conflicts, but it has been seventy-two years since the entire world was at war.
            Unfortunately, in that time three generations of American leaders have emerged not steeped in the horrors of WWII. That puts all Americans in danger now. We are seeing saber rattling and belligerent talk out of today’s world leaders.
            These hot hasty words may push our world into a global conflict. Worse, there is an amnesia in our country as to the results of any real military conflict.
            I was speaking to a couple young men. The potential for global conflict came up and they didn’t seem concerned. I said, “You realize that you young men will fight the next war.”
            “No,” one countered, “I don’t want to be in the military.” The other one also didn’t fancy serving in the military. “But you signed up for the military,” I stated.
            “Did not,” they both said. “You signed up for selective service when you turned eighteen.” They were confused. “But we had to so that we could get student loans.”
            “Yes,” I agreed. “But you signed up with selective service so you can be drafted into the military if our country needs you to fight a war.” That got their attention. Neither of them believed me but I could see they were thinking about this and would get to the truth shortly.
            Prior to the first and second world wars, America had a small professional military. That was exhausted in a few months and then came the push for civilians. In WWII about sixteen million Americans served in the military. Most were civilian volunteers and draftees.
            What to do about this possible war unseen on the horizon: Ronald Reagan said, “Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U. S. was too strong.”
            For our country to stay out of war requires three interconnected actions: first, our country needs a very robust well-trained professional military. Second, we need political and military leaders who can make tough decisions. Finally, a firm strategy for winning conflicts.
            More so, we need to know at what point do we wave our flags, our bands play and we come home. We experienced the lack of this in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
            It is what our country had in WWII and what it has lacked ever since, with the exception of the Persian Gulf War. America must have a firm grasp of the end in mind when it gets into shooting conflicts.
            If history is any guide, a larger rule is to take the politics out of military action. Hard to do but never use a political solution for a military problem. Never.

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What a filthy way to make a living

© 2016 Jim Spence - You have to hand it to the “ruling elite” in America. They seem to have no fear of the consequences of reneging on agreements. A couple of Republicans come to mind who fit this description, but there are many more people in Washington who have no shame.
The saddest aspect of the travesty we call the federal government, is it is now crystal clear that there is nobody to vote for to fix it. You can’t vote for any Democrat simply because they champion policies that are literally destroying America’s economic vitality.
The GOP was America's last hope. Starting in January, the GOP seemingly had the votes to reverse some of the idiocy that has been foisted on America over the last eight years. In less than eight months the GOP has shifted gears. Now Republicans are telling us we should "lower our expectations." Let's explore this.
Mitch McConnell is seemingly about as crafty as they come. MCConnell thinks nothing of looking the cameras in the eye and saying the GOP will do certain things "immediately" that the GOP has no intention of doing.....ever. And though it is true that most politicians in America will mislead citizens by making false statements about what they will do once they are re-elected, it takes special brass to mislead the way McConnell does. Earlier this week Mitch McConnell was back in his home state of Kentucky. Lecturing his listeners after the most disastrous seven months in Congressional history, McConnell had the unmitigated gall to tell a group that Donald Trump’s “expectations” are too high. It would seem that Trump, like most of the rest of the U.S. population, actually thought the GOP Senators would keep their solemn pre-election commitments. How na├»ve is Trump? Apparently naive enough to believe that people like John McCain and Mitch McConnell were going to keep their sacred word. Why is this naive? It is because with people like McCain and McConnell, nothing is sacred.
Consider John McCain. McCain is arguably the most shameless and remorseless liar in the Republican Party, cancer or no cancer. Perhaps being a POW in North Viet Nam and being re-elected to the Senate for all those terms by Arizona residents, has led McCain to believe that he can promise anything, deliver nothing, and still be treated like he is ultra-special. Of course he is right. Essentially, those characteristics describe most U.S. Senators regardless of party.
After promising to repeal Obamacare to get re-elected, McCain double-crossed his voters and sided with Democrats to keep Obamacare. For his part in the debacle, Mitch McConnell hid behind his own inept leadership as the travesty unfolded while pointing the finger at others. Some people are basically worthless. Others are worse than worthless. It is the height of arrogance to make promises to win elections and then tell those who voted for you to "lower their expectations."
Of course Mitch McConnell is safe in his job for a few more years. And he is happy because he is one of the hundred most arrogant human beings on the planet (a U.S. Senator) and nobody in his adoring inner circle is going to tell him how inept or disgraceful he really is. 
All of this GOP hogwash will probably have consequences soon. Don’t be surprised if McConnell is the minority leader again. Can you say 2018? Instead of serving the people, the GOP has served themselves and will not simply pass laws that repeal others that do not apply to them.
If there is one sure fired way to guarantee low GOP voter turnout, it is to conduct yourself like the GOP Senate has. If people like Mitch McConnell and John McCain were in business, their customers would fire them and take them to court. One GOP donor has actually sued the GOP, accusing Republicans of racketeering. This man is being silly. Doesn't he realize that in Washington, elected officials are in the business of lying, misleading, and finger pointing? These tactics in combination with "incumbency" are not liabilities if you are in politics.
What a filthy way to make a living.

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Swickard: Contradicting ourselves many times over

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself...” Walt Whitman
             We are living in times of contradiction and most people ignore these contradictions. Example: a major push is on to deal with head injuries in sports while television programs feature the biggest hits.
            Years ago, I went to Dallas to visit friends. They decided I should see the famous Book Depository from where Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John Kennedy November 1963. There is a tourist attraction where once an assassin perched.
            The level of security surprised me. Armed guards were everywhere. The money taker sat behind bullet-proof glass. We were herded through metal detectors while protectors watched.
            Maybe I got there at the wrong time but it looked like a crowd of Mom and Pop tourists to me. Then we took the elevator which only went to the sixth floor. Much of the exhibit was the story of the assassination of President Kennedy from the assassin’s point of view.
            It answered questions of how Oswald brought the gun up to the window where he fired. The older tourists were somber. I suspect the younger visitors didn’t have the personal emotional attachment to that time.
            I wasn’t the only person who was peeved at the people who stood in the southeast corner and looked from the assassin’s perspective down to the street below mentally sighting the rifle. It was when they said loudly, “BANG,” that I began to think the exhibit was ill-conceived.
            On our way back to my host’s house we stopped by the Irving Mall. I don’t know exactly what happened, but apparently just minutes before we arrived a gang fight broke out next to the food court.
            Some unlucky guy was just sitting down to a piece of pizza with his wife and two small children when he was killed by a stray shot. We walked in just after the smoke cleared. The security guards stood in groups looking like a bunch of chickens in a barnyard right after the farmer has culled out a couple for Sunday lunch.
            There were some people who lamented that there were not more armed security guards when the shooting occurred. With more people shooting the perpetrator might have been caught. But the armed guards were all back at the Dallas Book Depository.
            Since I paid my way into the Book Depository Memorial on the sixth floor I have the right to say that it should be razed like was done with the Cleveland apartment building when a man used it in the course of a cannibalistic crime spree.
            We Americans are contradictory. We celebrate a fallen president from where the assassin sat. The assassin should not be the attraction. And even better, it would be nice if they were able to change the local shooting gallery back into a shopping mall.
            And for heaven’s sake, don’t get me started on the lunacy of celebrating the outlaw Billy the Kid while completely forgetting New Mexico’s own Sheriff Pat Garret.

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