Category Archives: History – lessons

Is what we’re witnessing in the US a slow-motion downhill slide into a coup?

 

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other … “ John Adams.

Image result for john adams

This article is in response to comments I made to a Facebook post referencing the article just below, and several responses to my comments (emphasis mine).

image

http://www.news.com.au/world/north-america/is-the-us-in-the-middle-of-a-coup/news-story/ab0ece5c5b27b004b0b203fcce435a92

Me: Interesting that many of us thought the same of Barack Hussein Obama during the past 8 years

Response 1: The difference here, Don, is that President Obama was not mentally unstable and incapable of controlling his irresponsible impulses. Trump behaves like a petulant child and makes rash decisions without using the checks and balance resources in place to vet his decisions before acting on them. I have ideological differences with both political parties but I currently find myself leaning more to the left; however, my biggest issues with Trump are based on my serious belief that the man is a narcissistic bully and does not have the mental wherewithal and self control to not put this nation in extreme jeopardy on many fronts.

Response 2: Don, recognizing that a significant number of Americans were dissatisfied with the leadership of the Obama administration, I would be very interested in hearing how those feelings were the “same” as the feeling expressed in this particular article.

Me: I’d rather not get into a back and forth with family. Experience tells me that will most probably lead to unpleasant results.
However, I have written much on many topics — probably including this topic — over the years on my blog and I invite you to take a look at my thinking — the good, the bad and the ugly.
Go to
https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/ and click starting with “WHY I WRITE” on the top menu, and then shop around using the CATEGORIES drop down.
Love you guys.

Response 3: We love you too Don.

Response 4: I think I may need more direction to find the blog articles that express concern about Obama having the desire and opportunity to bypass the democratic system and fundamentally change America’s system of government

Response 5: I see a lot of interesting topics. And read several, but they aren’t answering my question. And I am genuinely curious. The support for Trump is unfathomable to me, and yet I see that several people I care for (including you) seem to be not only unconcerned but actually excited about his administration. I would like to have a better understanding of it, without the inflammatory rhetoric that infects every news outlet and social media venue I’ve seen recently

Me: Thanks … you’ll forgive me I hope for being a bit gun shy. I’ve been called just about every name in the book over the years emanating fundamentally from my motivations in WHY I WRITE on my blog.
You’ve given me opportunity to review and reflect. I’ve written much, and I’ll try to put together a response, but it may not be “hot of the press” so relax and put your feet up. Perhaps you’ll see another essay trying to answer such a question as yours.
Thanks again

Response 6: That would be fantastic. Thank you!

And I completely understand gun shy. There are a lot more assumptions than questions going around these days.

__________________

My comments to the questions

Is what we’re witnessing in the US a slow-motion downhill slide into a coup?
This question posed at the link above is aimed at President Donald Trump. But from what I’ve seen since the election, and especially noticeable since the inauguration, if anything, would point that question directly back to the progressive left.

The failed electoral recount effort – the denouncement of the Constitutional Electoral College voting method – riots in the streets of Washington on inauguration day – demonstrations around the country – Congressional (Democrat) boycott of the inauguration – immediate congressional (Democrat) announcement of total resistance to Trump in the Congress – Soros funded(?) spontaneous demonstrations at airports –Soros manipulation(?) of some 56 abortion advocacy groups promoting the Women’s March – riots and shutdown of free speech at UC Berkley – the immediate calls for impeachment – assertions that the new President is mentally ill – accusations and insinuations that Trump is planning a coup – visual insinuation of assassination as on the cover of a recent Irish magazine … and more it seems daily.

I’ve lived through the 60s and remember the chaos then. I remember the hatred hurled against Ronald Reagan. I remember the hatred hurled against George W. Bush. Today’s chaos has the feeling of being much more sinister, and potentially more dangerous than those in the past, and gets me to the quote from John Adams, our second president.

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other … “ John Adams.

What we have now, in addition to political chaos, is a frightening moral decline which I have witnessed over my lifetime. Prior to the 2016 election, and with both candidates, I felt we had indeed arrived at that time of which Adams (and others of his contemporaries) wrote – a time of an immoral and irreligious people. Are we as a people at such a place? I recently wrote of scraping the bottom of the barrel with both candidates and lamented the prospect of, for the first time in my electoral life, truly having to vote for the lesser of two evils.  I’m convinced had Hillary Clinton been elected, we would indeed have accelerated further down that path and the nation would suffer from her deep corruption. But Donald Trump is now President. Have we received a reprieve and course correction with his election? I hope so, and judging from the people he has surrounded himself with I have hope. But that hope is tempered, not only by the flaws of this man now our President, but by a nation and its people who, for example, have allowed our federal government to dictate and enforce a so called “gender fluidity” which obliterates known and obvious genetic, anatomical, biological and cultural differences between boys and girls – men and women. This cannot end well with this and future generations. It is this sort of law making and regulation dictates that renders our Constitution “wholly inadequate.”

_____

I’ve written and posted some 550+ articles over the past decade, and it would be quite a daunting task to search through them in order to summarize and condense these thoughts in some meaningful and readable form. Thus what I have done below is to cherry pick some which might have bearing on the questions posed above. I ask the reader to read articles of interest and judge for yourself as to the applicability and validity of what I wrote at the time. In most cases you will probably find areas of agreement and disagreement, and areas where I’ve flat out got it wrong.  But don’t expect responses – I wrote what I wrote at the time, and I wrote what I believed at the time.

So here are some of those posts … have fun.

But before you go on, let me address the issue of mental health along with two of the serious problems that Barack Obama has left for this and future generations.

The first problem is the apparent green light given to Iran to develop deliverable nuclear weapons. This may not happen in the immediate future, but according to it’s many critics, the nuclear deal  will end some years out – 8 to 10 as I recall, at which time Iran is freed up to continue its now supposedly suspended  nuclear development. Iran as you may have noticed is busy right now in developing ballistic missiles on which at some point in the future will house nuclear weapons.

So let’s connect a few dots here – some very big dots,on the order of a full moon on a dark night.

First dot … Iran’s long standing threat to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth along with it’s millions of Jews. An attempted completion of Hitler’s “Final Solution.”

Second dot … Iran has been (an most probably still is) actively developing its nuclear weapons production capability.

Third dot … Iran is currently developing and testing its ballistic missile capability – as recently as a few days ago from when I wrote these words.

Dot connection (a logical conclusion) …  Nuclear armed missiles headed for the cities of Israel. 

Does allowing this to come to fruition on the part of the US and other Western nations  seem like a sane thing to do? I would rather describe it as insanity – and Donald Trump was not even involved in this, so who has the mental problems here?

The second problem is the so called “gender fluidity” that is the latest and last of Barack Obama’s “fundamental transformation of the United States of America.”  Under the bully pulpit advocacy of Obama, and actual legal actions requiring “gender fluid” sharing of restrooms and locker rooms, our federal government is attempting to rewrite biology, anatomy, physiology, genetics and human culture from one end to the other – from children to marriage. This is called “science denial” and is at the expense of children, teenagers,  families and the very fabric of American cultural life.

In the context of the mental health of Presidents, this is insanity. 

As for being excited about the Trump administration, I would rather phrase it as hopeful. Yes the man is loud, insulting, crude and boisterous, even narcissistic (as is Barack Obama).

But from what I’ve seen recently of the man,  the picture I’m hopefully beginning to see that perhaps best illustrates my hope is the story of Image result for the thieves on the cross with jesus

the two thieves hanging on crosses along with Jesus.

Both began their time on the cross by mocking and blaspheming Him, as did many of the spectators, and both were guilty. One of the thieves responded in faith to the message of salvation and was taken to paradise that very day. He is the one usually referred to as the thief on the cross, while the other man did not respond in faith and is now suffering from a deadly and eternal mistake.

In the context of the transgressions of Donald Trump in this 2016 presidential election, and the continual bombardment of those transgressions, I am reminded that Donald Trump is the one on his cross who has acknowledged his transgressions and has apologized for them.  His enemies on their crosses continue with no repentance of their transgressions, and hypocritical mocking of the one on the other cross.

I haven’t seen any direct evidence, but I won’t be surprised if I later find out that the very flawed Donald Trump turns out to be a Born Again Christian. Many Biblical examples here such as David.

How high is your moral bar?

A good place to learn and reflect is at the Ten Commandments.

And speaking of excitement … yes I was excited when I saw Mike Spence being sworn in with his hand on the Bible at 2 Chronicles 7:14 —

”if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

This was a cause for hope.

 

So now finally I will turn you loose on my thinking.

_____

https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2016/02/01/election-2016-the-possibilities-are-bizarre-and-frightening/
Donald Trump
, along with Bernie Sanders, is a direct backlash against what many see as the massive corruption and failures of the Federal Government, and in particular President Barack Hussein Obama.  Trump has masterfully capitalized on this backlash and his popularity and poll numbers have dominated for many months.

However, in my view, Trump is much the same as Obama but expressed in a very much contrasting fashion. Obama is smooth cool and collected in his demeanor and public persona whereas Trump is bombastic and confrontational.

Even with these outward personality differences, both come across as narcissistic, self-centered and egotistical. Both prefer the one-man-rule mode of governance at the expense of the long successful limited form of government, i.e the Constitutional federalist model —  “We the People … “

As to Hillary and National Security
https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/loose-lips-sink-ships/

My warning of the possibility of dictatorship on the horizon.
https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/preparing-for-dictatorship-questions-for-the-younger-generations/#comments

Presidential honesty and integrity.
https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/famous-presidential-lies-contest/

The following is a response I made to reader comment on the above post.

o Dear Lie,
There are a couple of ’emotions’ towards President Obama that I would plead guilty to, but hate is not one of them.

Very early in his presidency, I was talking with an old friend (a lifelong Democrat) about Obama and I told her that I fear him. I feared him at the time because I feared the harm and damage he might bring to the country and to future generations. I feared him because of his almost complete lack of experience in anything of consequence. I feared him because of his radical associations with such as Bill Ayers, a unrepentant radical member/founder of the group WEATHER UNDERGROUND who actually set off bombs in various places. Bill Ayers, that man who recently told a group of Marxist Wall Street Occupiers yesterday: “I Get Up Every Morning And Think… Today I’m Going To End Capitalism” I feared him because of his radical very close 20 year association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and then when questioned about Wright’s radical teachings, Obama abandoned him and claimed no knowledge of what Wright was teaching. There’s more … such as his upbringing by his very leftist mother and grandparents (perhaps Communists), and his association with Frank Marshall Davis, a no-kidding card carrying Communist. I don’t take such associations with Communists lightly – Communism is responsible for on the order of 100 million people in the 20th century, and the enslavement of many more. Little of this was reported by the main stream media, but was known by those who dug deeper – people like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. So we elected a President with very little vetting by the media who instead largely fawned over the man.

These years later I see the actual harm and damage that I feared just 6 years prior. A very damaged economy with record numbers of capable people unable to find work (especially the young people) … record numbers of people on government dependency of some sort. I see a health care ‘reform’ law that is severely damaging the health care system as well as undermining the health care insurance industry. I see 6+ million insurance policy holders who were promised the ” … if you like your plan you can keep it. PERIOD.” ” … if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor. PERIOD.” Some 6,000,000+ cancelation later we see that is not the case at all. We were promised an average $2,500 per capita reduction in health care costs and are now hearing of more and more cases of rates and deductible going up … some dramatically.

I see a nation divided along class and racial lines that I’ve not seen since the 1960s and 1970s and the days of Bill Ayers … and I see this division as a key element in a successful re-election campaign.

I see our status and influence in the world shrinking in what appears to be a collapse of our foreign policy … the region from Northwestern Africa to Pakistan is more explosive and dangerous than I can ever remember, and I see an alarming array of military (nuclear) power filling the vacuum left behind as America retreats from the region.

I still fear the man, but now these 6 years later that fear has also taken on the color of disgust … disgust at his record as president and disgust at his lack of character and integrity.

A few years back Glenn Beck published a book “Being George Washington” In this book, Beck emphasized the character and integrity of our first president, and implored us to find ways to emulate that character and integrity – ways that each of us can “be George Washington.” Is that to much to ask of one who seeks or holds that very same office?

So I plead “not guilty” to hate, but “guilty” to fear and disgust.

But I do thank you for your comments.

On why Presidential trust is vital.
https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/presidential-trust/

On immigration and assimilation
https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2016/09/27/immigration-assimilation-a-hungarian-model-2/

Of related note:
https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/islamjihad-and-the-ten-commandments/

Regarding Israel:
https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2015/04/07/cry-havoc-and-let-slip-the-dogs-of-war/

People and books that have influenced my thinking – an example (of many)
https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/two-book-reports-part-1-exceptional-by-dick-and-liz-cheney/

My views on American Exceptionalism – references yet another influential book
https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/american-exceptionalism-part-2-so-what-why-does-it-matter/

And here is that book.
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/miracle-of-freedom-chris-stewart/1101126471#productInfoTabs

My only comment (I think) about Bernie Sanders.
https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2016/03/27/the-irony-of-bernie-and-seattle/

Best regards, and I do wish us all well.

Don Johnson – February 2017

Birthdays And Inaugurations

George_Washington-Efdr

trump-wideshot-top_20170120_123107

“ … More than any other moment, the inauguration is a picture of our Constitution, proof that we are a nation based on representation, not royalty. … “

January 20 is my birthday and every four years beginning with the inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945 for his 4th term, I’ve received the gift of a new president, or the continuation of the same.

I’ve handled most transitions without much gnashing of teeth, although I suspect I may have been putting up a fuss on that first transition.

But there have been a few that have raised my angst and blood pressure, and a few that have lowered that pressure along with a sigh of relief. Let me recap a few of those transitional birthday presents. 

Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan —

thM01NKP0LthN114P8X6

Going into the Carter years, I was disappointed that Gerald Ford was not re-elected, I felt he was a good man – qualified, experienced and honest. But I rolled with the punch and entered into the term of the man from Plains with not much of a rise in angst or blood pressure. .

As the Carter term unfolded we experienced what I believe was the worst economic mess since the Great Depression. Far worse than the 2008 melt down, with double digit interest rates, inflation rates and high unemployment rate.

Along side all of this was a serious hollowing out of the military – I remember those Navy fighter squadrons hobbled due to the lack of spare parts.

So my angst and blood pressure rose and I looked forward to the next transition.

Along the way during those years was Ronald Reagan. The “Gipper” was on the radio daily in those days with short punchy commentaries that caught my attention, and when he ran against Carter I was delighted and my angst and blood pressure receded – and I was not in the least disappointed by his presidency.

George H. W. Bush (Bush 41) to Bill Clinton

goerge hw bushbill clinton

I liked Bush a lot and was disappointed that he was not reelected. As with Ford, I felt Bush was a good man – qualified, experienced and honest. But I rolled with the punch and entered into the term of the man from Hope with not much of a rise in angst or blood pressure.

Clinton, along with a Republican Congress was able to sustain the good economy of the Reagan/Bush years which was a good thing, and much to his credit. But his sexual behavior, and exploitation of his high position to seduce multiple young women, even in the White House, resulted in much scandal and an impeachment by the House of Representatives.

This caused a considerable rise in my angst and blood pressure, and once more I looked forward to the upcoming transition.  

Bill Clinton to George W. Bush.

bill clintonthJWN9YR1U

I remember breathing a sigh of relief at the election of George W. Bush, and the prospect once more, of having a President I could respect. A good and honest man and a man of integrity. 

I believed at the time, and still believe, that Bush 43 was the right man at the right time following the attacks of September 11, 2001. 

Bush 43 was largely untainted by scandal, unlike his predecessor Clinton, and his successor Obama and Obama’s likely successor Hillary Clinton. The scandal laid at the feet of George Bush was that “Bush lied – babies died” pushing us into the war with Iraq.  This in itself was a lie. There was near unanimous agreement among the world’s intelligence communities that Hussein’s Iraq had and was developing Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). And there was a strong and vocal consensus within the US Congress that Saddam’s Iraq was a gathering threat and needed to be stopped.

So with the approval of the US Congress, and with many UN resolutions to back it, the US and its many allies moved against Iraq with the invasion of 2003. The invasion was successful, with Hussein and his Ba’ath party removed from power.

But when the post invasion success met with problems in the post- war occupation, many of the very politicians that so strongly supported President Bush turned on him and began a vicious campaign against him and Vice President Cheney.

In retrospect, I see two key quotes that capture this demonization and the lust for power among the Bush opponents. The first being “Never let a serious crisis go to waste” offered up by Rohm Emmanuel, Obama’s 1’st Chief of Staff.  The serious crisis was the 9/11 Islamic terror attack, after which these Bush opponents laid in wait for the opportune time to unleash the attacks so as not to “ …  not let the serious crisis go to waste.”   

The second quote is from Barack Obama when he boasted “We are 5 days from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.“    

So this demonization, although occurring during the Bush 43 years, caused a rise in angst and blood pressure – brought on primarily by the demonizors —  the Democrat Party.

George W. Bush to Barack Obama

thJWN9YR1UthOD81VEHL

My angst and high blood pressure continued pretty much throughout the Obama years. I’ve written extensively on this blog and trying to review here would be counterproductive so I invite you to do your own homework, but let me leave you with two large issues causing my angst;

(1) the middle-east is awash in war, and the rise of Islam threatens many, especially Israel. Obama has essentially green-lighted Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons with the express and oft stated goal of the extermination of Israel and the Jews. Under Barack Obama, America has become an enemy of Israel and has appeared to fulfill the prophesy of Zechariah 12:

A prophecy: The word of the Lord concerning Israel.

The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the human spirit within a person, declares: “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves. On that day I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness,” declares the Lord. “I will keep a watchful eye over Judah, but I will blind all the horses of the nations. Then the clans of Judah will say in their hearts, ‘The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the Lord Almighty is their God.’

“On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume all the surrounding peoples right and left, but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place.

“The Lord will save the dwellings of Judah first, so that the honor of the house of David and of Jerusalem’s inhabitants may not be greater than that of Judah. On that day the Lord will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord going before them. On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.

Mourning for the One They Pierced

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be as great as the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives, the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives, and all the rest of the clans and their wives.

(2) Obama has accelerated the downward slide of American culture by sewing seeds of gender and sexual confusion, especially among the young and impressionable.  The federal government requiring by force of law (ACA) and regulation that young girls share locker rooms and restrooms with boys and men is personal and national tragedy in the making.

In my reading of the past 8 years, Barack Obama has fulfilled his goal of “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.“  And it has been a destructive transformation; politically, culturally and on the international scene.

 Barack Obama to Donald Trump

trump-wideshot-top_20170120_123107

“ … This peaceful transfer of power is miraculous and taps our better angels through a ceremonial picture of unity broadcast to the world. That is why I love the inauguration. And the inauguration is why I love the United States of America. … “

 

thOD81VEHLth3Y8YJMCWhillary

 It’s been a tough campaign these past two years for many of us, with much angst on my part. Not that many weeks prior to the election I was saying “we are scraping the bottom of the barrel with these two candidates.”  But when I put Trump aside and took a good look at the corrupting rot of a Hillary Clinton, and a national future of such rot, my choice for Trump was easy, and when he won, though a surprise, I was pleased.

Trump’s selection of the people around him has been impressive, and I feel comfortable in going forward with this team – so my angst and blood pressure are lowered.

Trump has also gathered around himself a number of Christian pastors and a few Jewish rabbis. I heard today from one of the commentators that Trump likes having them around, and actually listens to them.

So that’s my Birthday message.

Don Johnson – January 2017

 

I Wouldn’t Have Done It That Way

It’s Christmas time again — OH GREAT!! All that Jesus stuff and all.

Ya know King of Kings … savior of the world … Oh little town of Beth… all the glitz and glamor … GIVE ME A BREAK!!!

But have you ever heard about the birth and life of this man called Jesus? I mean the backwoodsy place where he was born, his sordid family history, what his childhood might have been like … and more?

Take a listen to this message and be prepared to hear about the man who would and did and does identify with all of us … no matter our station in life and no matter how lowly we may think of our self.

Click on the image below and then view the sermon — “I wouldn’t have done it that way” to get a glimpse of the man we call Jesus.

http://blackrock.org/im-new/sermons/i-wouldnt-have-done-it-that-way/

image

I’m Voting With a Hope to “Keep the Republic”

“ … At the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787,  Franklin was queried as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation. In the notes of Dr. James McHenry, one of Maryland’s delegates to the Convention,  a lady asked Dr. Franklin “Well Doctor what have we got, a republic or a monarchy.”  Franklin replied, “A republic . . . if you can keep it.”

I have just received my absentee ballot and will mark it for Donald Trump and Mike Spence.
You may ask how I could do that after what Trump was caught saying.
This comment below from a FB commenter echoes my thoughts accurately, and in reading this I can completely remove Trump from my rational and look exclusively and only at Hillary Clinton and the entire ruling and completely corrupt Democratic Party — you might want to do the same.
__________________…_________

” … I am still voting for Trump! …..I was asked tonight how I could ever support Trump after the comments he made over 11 years ago about women and if I would still support him if he made those comments to my daughter? My response was this….If he had put our nations security at risk, I would not vote for him. If his organization received large donations from countries that killed women and gays, I would not vote for him. If he boasted 30 Years of government experience, but still could not discern if an email was classified or not, without someone letting him know if it was or not, I would not vote for him. If he boasted about how he has defended children his entire life, but is for abortion, (even late term, when the child can feel pain) I would not vote for him. If he wanted my 3 year old Granddaughter to go to restrooms with men dressed as women, I would not vote for him. I have taught my daughter and will teach my granddaughter to disregard sexist remarks and move on, especially when they were made so many years ago and, also to forgive those who say they are sorry. If he caused lives to be destroyed in Benghazi and then lied to the faces of the parents as they stood at their child’s casket, I would not vote for him. If people who came against him mysteriously turned up dead, I would not vote for him. If he suddenly developed a southern accent when he was in the South, campaigning, I would not vote for him. If he continually broke the law and that was ignored, I would not vote for him, but right now, the only person who does all these things is Hillary. Right now, the fact that Donald made these remarks over 12 years ago, does not move me. I’m bigger than those remarks and we all have said stupid things throughout our lives. To me, the fact that Hillary lies continuously, is a much bigger problem. … Rant over… Still voting for Trump. … “

I’m Don Johnson and I approve this message! 

I will not be a party to the continual corruption and destruction of this great nation!

 

Don Johnson – October 2016

Immigration & Assimilation – A Hungarian Model

clip_image001
(Click on the image above for more)

[Note: Since this original post I’ve added another Hungarian refugee — Thomas Peterffy]

Immigration is much in the news these days, both here in the U.S. and in Europe, and a huge political football in both places with many violent crimes and sexual assaults being committed in countries such as Sweden and Germany (click on the links).

The United States from its inception is an immigrant nation, and as many of us can attest, our roots are in the forefathers who immigrated here whether in the present or in the distant past. For example, in my own home town of Butte Montana, a mining town that attracted people from all over the world, NO SMOKING signs in the mines were posted in 14 different languages.

The success or failure of a society such as ours tracks closely to the assimilation of those disparate immigrant people into the culture of the nation, and for the most part, this assimilation has been quite successful – often after much struggle as in the case of the Irish and the Italians. But through assimilation, each new immigrant population has entered into the fabric of America, and often with significant contributions.

The stories of refugees from the 1956 Hungarian Revolution provide inspiring stories of struggle, survival, perseverance and success. Some I have knowledge of provide a model of what immigration and assimilation should be:

clip_image002

(Click on the image above)

Adam von Dioszeghy  (Mr. von D – as he was known by his US Navy shipmates) is a survivor of the World War II battle of Budapest – a battle pitting the air forces of Great Britain and the United States, the German occupying army and the Soviet Red Army – all converging around the basement bomb shelter where seven year old Adam and his mother survive against this harrowing onslaught.

Surviving the war they suffered in the following years under the brutal oppression of Communist rule.

In 1956 young Adam became involved in the revolution and was twice wounded. The revolution was brutally squashed by the Red Army and Adam and his mother were marked for death and escaped in the dead of night to Austria with nothing but the clothes they were wearing and little usable cash.

Adam and his mother eventually made their way to Menlo Park California where Adam earned a degree from Stanford University. Mind you, that when the two of them first arrived in America they spoke no English.

Adam was then called up in the draft in the early years of the Vietnam War and joined the Navy and was commissioned an officer in the US Navy and assigned to the World War II Fletcher Class destroyer USS Porterfield where we served side by side at General Quarters and on the bridge during normal underway operations.

Following Navy service with three tours to Vietnam, Adam returned to Stanford where he earned a law degree and practiced as a trial lawyer for many years in Northern California.

I hooked up with Mr. von D again in recent months (Spring 2016) when I discovered him via the internet. Adam and his wife retired a few years back, and at his wife’s suggestion, have returned to live in and around Budapest once more – his wife was born and raised in Northern California.

Click on the book image above to read my review of his memoir as well as a link to the book – a wonderful and fascinating book.

*********************

 

clip_image003

Charlie —

Note: Out of respect of privacy concerns expressed by Charlie’s wife, and by Charlie as expressed by his wife, I have written this in an anonymous fashion using my own paraphrase for events described in Charlie’s written memoir.

____________

Like Mr. von D — Charlie was a Hungarian refugee and experienced many of the same things in surviving WW-II as a young child … living under a brutal Communist regime … escaping a crushed revolution … and finally resettling and assimilating into the American culture. We met the widow of Charlie, a year ago, but never knew Charlie. She told a spellbinding story of how she and her husband met and married. I later asked if any of this had been written down. She responded by sending unpublished stories of their life together, including an extensive account of Charlie‘s life growing up in Hungary through WW-II, the oppression of the Communist years and his involvement in the revolution and subsequent escape to the West and the US.

Several episodes highlight the heritage of Charlie and the type of man that came to America in 1956:

First are his descriptions of his mother hiding Polish Jews from the Germans who were bent on the extermination of all Jews. His mother did this at the risk of her own life as well as the lives of her family.

Second is Charlie learning English in America by spending many hours in movie theaters, often watching the same movies over and over and with a dictionary and a pad and pencil at hand.

Another came about somewhat casually as we were visiting with Charlie’s wife at her home. I commented on the flag flying at the property entrance and visible from the front window. Yes, she said, Charlie always liked to have the American flag flying where he could see it. This to me was a great testimony of how this refugee from war and tyranny viewed his new home country.

clip_image005

I’ve read Charlie’s story, and it is indeed captivating and inspiring. I hope his wife has success in the future and publishes their story and shares it with many. The story is very well written – and from one who knew no English when he entered the US as a refugee — rest assured that Charlie assimilated into the American culture and became a productive citizen in his new country. It is an inspiring story of overcoming war, an oppressive government, revolution and crafting a new and successful life in a free society.

*********************

I knew Gabriel Harkay and worked with him at Cubic Corp back in the 1980s. He was quite a good civil engineer and worked many projects around the world building communications towers and facilities for our Tactical Aircrew Training System . I wish I had paid more attention to Gabe back then, but I do know that he was a refugee from the 1956 Hungarian revolution, and likely had experiences similar to others I have written about.

One project we worked together was a system for the Iranian Air Force in the late 1970s. We were scheduled to deploy to Iran to install the system in early 1980, and Gabe was in Tehran doing some preparatory work. The revolutionaries stormed the hotel where Gabe was staying, broke all of the liquor bottles in the first floor bar and set it all on fire, cutting off escape of guests in the rooms above.  Fortunately there was a construction tower adjacent to the hotel and guests were lifted from the roof of the burning hotel to the tower and to safety. So inadvertently Gabe Harkay was involved in his second revolution and survived both. Needless to say, we did not deploy the system to Iran.

I regret not having details of my friend Gabe’s life, and I’ve since found that Gabe has passed.

*********************

clip_image006
(Click on the image for more)

Andrew Grove was a Hungarian-born American businessman, engineer, author and a science pioneer in the semiconductor industry. He escaped from Communist-controlled Hungary at the age of 20 and moved to the United States where he finished his education. He was one of the founders and the CEO of Intel Corporation, helping transform the company into the world’s largest manufacturer of semiconductors.

When he was eight, the Nazis occupied Hungary and deported nearly 500,000 Jews to concentration camps, including Auschwitz. Its commandant, Rudolf Höss, said at his trial that he killed 400,000 Hungarian Jews in three months. To avoid being arrested, Grove and his mother took on false identities and were sheltered by friends. His father, however, was arrested and taken to an Eastern Labor Camp to do forced labor, and was reunited with his family after the war.

During the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, when he was 20, he left his home and family and escaped across the border into Austria. Penniless and barely able to speak English, in 1957 he eventually made his way to the United States. He later changed his name to the anglicized, Andrew S. Grove. Grove summarized his first twenty years of life in Hungary in his memoirs:

“By the time I was twenty, I had lived through a Hungarian Fascist dictatorship, German military occupation, the Nazis’ “Final Solution,” the siege of Budapest by the Soviet Red Army, a period of chaotic democracy in the years immediately after the war, a variety of repressive Communist regimes, and a popular uprising that was put down at gunpoint where many young people were killed and countless others were interned. Some two hundred thousand Hungarians escaped to the West. I was one of them.”

____________

I’ve just finished reading Mr. Grove’s story “Swimming Across” and like the others it is compelling and repeats the common experiences of these young boys and men through World War II, the Nazi occupation and holocaust remembrances (Grove was a Jew), the brutal Communist years culminating in the 1956 revolution and Russian occupation.

A part of Andy Grove’s story that stands out is the reception he received upon arrival in the United States. At every turn, it seems, Grove was kindly treated and helped in many small and large ways. Like finding a relative and housing in New York City. He was outfitted with new clothing replacing the clothes he wore for over a month during his escape from Hungary to a brief settlement in Vienna Austria, to a long train ride to Germany followed by a two week long ocean voyage to Brooklyn New York.

Grove had completed a fair amount of university education in chemistry while in Hungary, and in seeking to complete his goal of becoming a chemist, he was helped along the way to becoming a chemical engineer with interviews and scholarship aid at several New York schools.

And of course it is widely known that Andrew Grove was one of the small group of founders of Intel Corpo0ration, and was its CEO for many years.  (Source –Wikipedia)

Read now what Andy Grove says about his life in America:

“I have loved my life in the United States. The doors that the International Rescue Committee and Professor Schmidt opened for me were just the first of many. I went through graduate school on scholarships, got a fantastic job at Fairchild Semiconductor, the high flying company of its day, then participated in the founding of Intel, which in time has become the largest maker of semiconductors in the world. I rose to be its chief executive officer, a position I held for eleven years, until I stepped down from it in 1998; I continue as chairman today. I’ve continued to be amazed by the fact that as I progressed through school and my career, no one has ever resented my success on account of my being an immigrant.”

**************************

Here is another fascinating story I stumbled on:

Chance encounter in war-torn Hungary renewed 64 years later (click on he link)

clip_image007clip_image008

Gabriel Pall   is yet another interesting and inspiring refugee from Hungary. An American B-24 bomber was forced to crash land in Hungary after a bombing mission. Bob Holcomb was the bombardier on that mission, and after the unplanned landing a group of young and curious Hungarian boys gathered around the aircraft and its crew. Among the boys was Gabriel Pall who spoke a little English, and the two struck up a very brief friendship.

Like other local children, young Gabriel was drawn to the U.S. airmen like a magnet.

Holcomb had some candy in his pockets and gave some to the young boy, told him his name and said ‘If you ever get to America … look me up’

Mr. Pall did come to the States — in 1957 following the 1956 revolution, and like the others I’ve found, assimilated into the American culture and led a productive and quite remarkable professional life.

And Mr. Pall was tenacious in finding his American of years past and he and Mr. Holcomb met again after a long 64 years. For Pall, their meeting left a lasting impression as evidenced by the tenacity in which he searched those many decades for his American flyboy friend.

“I remember two things,” Pall said. “One, he gave me Wrigley’s chewing gum. And two, he said, ‘Hey, kid – if you ever get to America, look me up.’”

Holcomb and the rest of his bomber crew made their way to Budapest and then back to Italy … and finally back home to America.

Pall escaped from Soviet-dominated Hungary in 1956 to start a new life in America.

clip_image009
Gabriel Pall with his wife, Christine Rose, left, and their daughter, Laura Rose, at Laura’s graduation from the University of Virginia.

Pall grew up under the Soviet-backed communist regime in Hungary. His family moved to Budapest, where he attended high school and enrolled in college to study civil engineering. In 1956, he graduated from the Technical University of Budapest. He went to work for the government, designing state rail and highway projects, and began training as a reserve officer with the Hungarian army corps of engineers.

Then came Oct. 23 that year, and the Hungarian Revolution. After a brief, heady taste of independence, the Soviet armored divisions rolled across the border and crushed the rebellion.

Hungary’s Stalinist government had been repressive before the uprising, Pall said, but now, he knew, it would be even worse. He and his fiancée, Agnes Szabo, decided they would try to get out.

On Nov. 23, the couple left Budapest by train for Szombathely, only 20 miles from Austria and freedom. But the railroad station was surrounded by Soviet troops and local militias, checking identity papers and arresting anyone without a residency permit.

They were trapped.

A local resident warned them of armed Soviet patrols and showed them where to hide, promising to send a guide after nightfall. The man showed up as promised and took them to a house at the edge of town, where a small group of refugees was waiting to cross into Austria.

They walked several miles across open fields, not speaking, wrapped in bed sheets to blend into the snow-covered countryside. When they arrived at the frontier, they found it guarded by barbed wire and landmines.

Using knitting needles to probe the ground, Pall and the guide painstakingly marked a safe path through the minefield. As the group began to cross, flares lit up the night and machinegun fire shredded the silence. The guide ordered everyone to drop to the ground.

They were lucky. The border guards hadn’t seen them – they were shooting at someone else. After the gunfire stopped, they completed their journey into Austria, where they found safe haven at a place called Lutzmannsburg.

Later, they learned that another group of refugees had been gunned down by a patrol a mile or two from their crossing point.

‘If you ever get to America …’

Gabriel Pall and Agnes Szabo found a warm welcome in Austria, and the couple got married in Vienna on Dec. 27, 1956. But Pall never intended to stay there forever.

I had this destination, which was to come to America,” he said.

He had an uncle in the States and, he thought, a friend in Oregon – that dashing young flyboy he had met during the war.

The next year, under an Eisenhower-era program designed to recruit engineering talent fleeing Soviet-bloc countries, the couple secured a visa and crossed the pond.

They settled in Philadelphia, where Pall began a long and successful career with IBM. He rose through the corporate ranks, taking ever more challenging assignments with the company. In 1983, Agnes died of cancer. Pall remarried, and his new wife gave birth to a daughter. He retired from IBM, did some consulting, then accepted a faculty position at the College of William & Mary.

Gabriel Pall:  Some Background Information

·  Member American Society of Civil Engineers

·  Member Association for Computing Machinery.

·  Member American Society for Quality

·  Member American Society for Training and Development

Education

· BS degree
Structural Engineering
Technical University of Budapest

· MS degree
Engineering Mechanics
University of Pennsylvania

A fitting conclusion to this story of Gabriel Pall is the following news article:

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., March 11, 2014 – A Citizenship Ceremony for children of recently naturalized United States citizens will be held on Saturday, March 22, at Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century Virginia. The event is hosted by the Williamsburg Chapter National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) and the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation in partnership with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of the Department of Homeland Security.

clip_image010

Fifty young people ages 11 to 25 from 26 countries – Belarus, Benin, Canada, China, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, India, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Lithuania, Mauritius, Mexico, Panama, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Sudan, United Kingdom, Ukraine and Vietnam – will take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States and receive formal acknowledgement of their citizenship. The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. and is open to the public on a space-available basis.

“We are proud to join with the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and USCIS to sponsor this truly special ceremony for a third year,” said Jane M. Stewart, regent for the Williamsburg Chapter NSDAR, which co-sponsors two adult naturalization ceremonies annually in June and December with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “It’s appropriate to hold it at Jamestown Settlement, near where some of the very first immigrants to our country came ashore.”

Featured speaker for the event is Williamsburg resident Gabriel A. Pall, an internationally recognized author and management consultant. A native of Hungary, he escaped to Austria during the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, immigrated to the United States the following year and became a naturalized citizen in 1962. After a 30-year career with IBM, he retired as an executive and later became president of Juran International Inc., a global consulting firm specializing in quality management. More recently, Mr. Pall has consulted on project and process management with the College of William and Mary.

*********************

Finally, read this snippet from an article from a Hungarian organization in Cleveland where many of the refugees, including Charlie, lived for a time before moving on.

“ … These refugees were markedly different from any previous wave of Hungarian immigrants. First of all, they were the youngest group; many were single. The majority had some kind of technical training and their skills were readily employed by American industry. Psychologically, immigration made lasting impressions on these refugees. For eleven years they experienced life under economic depravity and political terror. As a direct consequence, their interests in America were more materialistic and self-centered; cultural or group attachments were much weaker when compared to those of previous waves of immigrants. They adjusted with greater ease, learned English in a short while, with many of them marrying English-speaking mates. Their contributions to their adopted homeland were numerous. … “

I am inspired by these stories, and hope you are as well.  I also hope you will agree that these Hungarians represent the best possible model of immigration and assimilation.

And note that these Hungarian refugees were gathered together at an Army base in New Jersey and vetted prior to release into the general American populace – for several reasons:

· Among the refugees were plants from the Soviet Union, plants whose missions included espionage against the United States, and assassinations against fellow refugees. Charlie, in his memoir, tells of the many years he spent in looking over his shoulder for that would be assassin.

· 1956 being at the height of the Cold War, the US was interested in conditions behind the Iron Curtain. These Hungarian refugees were interrogated in order to extract as much useful information as possible. Some such as Andrew Grove were educated in the sciences and engineering, and could provide insight into the scientific and engineering maturity and capabilities of the Soviet Union. The average age of refugees was 23, including many children, well educated (from one university 500 students, 32 professors, and their families fled), and talented (including musicians, athletes, writers, engineers and other professionals) people come through swamps and guards to reach non-communist Austria. The Austrian people were exemplary in their welcome of the Hungarian refugees.

____________

But let’s not leave this story just yet – there’s more.

The nation that welcomed these refugees is a big part of the story. A story that begins with the words  from our Declaration of Independence “ We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.“ and from our Constitution beginning with the words “We the People …

It is these ideals enshrined from the very beginning in the very fabric of America that afforded these refugees the liberty and opportunity to begin new lives – lives to be lived not under the yoke of kings, queens, emperors, dictators, bishops, czars or other autocrats. No, these new American citizens would rise or fall primarily on their own merits … and also with the benevolent help of other free citizens and the governments freely elected by free men and women. Was it easy? No. But there were no machineguns, tanks or minefields set up to dictate their every thought or movement.

These 35,000 or more freedom seeking Hungarians sought out and made new lives in that “Exceptional Nation” the United States of America.

clip_image011

*********************

(The following bio information is taken from Wikipedia with {Publius edits in this font})

Thomas Peterffy was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1944, in a hospital basement during a Russian air raid.[1][6] He left his engineering studies and emigrated to the United States as a refugee in 1965.[1][6][7] When he moved to New York City, he did not speak English. He eventually earned a bachelor’s degree from Clark University.[8]  

{Note that Peterffy came out of Hungary much later than the others I’ve highlighted. However, he did live under the oppression of Communism in Hungary and escaped from it.}

Peterffy began his career in the US as an architectural draftsman working on highway projects for an engineering firm. It was at this firm that he volunteered to program a newly-purchased computer, ultimately shaping the course of his future. Of his background in programming Peterffy said, “I think the way a CEO runs his company is a reflection of his background. Business is a collection of processes, and my job is to automate those processes so that they can be done with the greatest amount of efficiency.”[1][6]

Peterffy left his career designing financial modelling software and bought a seat on the American Stock Exchange to trade equity options. During his career in finance, he has consistently pushed to replace manual processes with more efficient automated ones. He would write code in his head during the trading day and then apply his ideas to computerized trading models after hours. Peterffy created a major stir among traders by introducing handheld computers onto the trading floor in the early 1980s.[1][6] His business related to his AMEX seat eventually developed into Interactive Brokers.[1][6]

Regulatory influence and political views

In 1999, Peterffy was influential in persuading the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that US options markets could be linked electronically, which would ensure that investors receive the best possible options prices.[9] He has also testified before the United States Senate Banking Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment about adding banking regulations.[1]

During the 2012 United States presidential campaign, Peterffy created political ads in support of the Republican Party. Peterffy bought millions of dollars of air time on networks such as CNN, CNBC, and Bloomberg. The ads consisted of a minute-long spot narrated by Peterffy that warned against creeping socialism in the United States. The ads were considered remarkable in part because Peterffy is not a candidate and did not buy the ads through a “527 group” but instead paid for them directly.[10]

In the spot Peterffy said, “America’s wealth comes from the efforts of people striving for success. Take away their incentive with badmouthing success and you take away the wealth that helps us take care of the needy. Yes, in socialism the rich will be poorer — but the poor will also be poorer. People will lose interest in really working hard and creating jobs.” Peterffy did not directly mention Mitt Romney or Barack Obama, but clearly favored the former.[11]

Peterffy’s ad received mixed responses. Joshua Green, writing for Bloomberg Businessweek, said “The ad, while slightly ridiculous, is deeply sincere and also quite affecting”. Green also asked Peterffy whether the comparison between the United States and Hungary made in the ad was a fair one: “[Peterffy] couldn’t really think that the U.S. was turning into socialist Hungary, could he? The government isn’t suppressing speech and throwing political opponents in jail. No, he conceded, it wasn’t. But it sure feels like that’s the path we’re on”.[12] Politico reported that the ad was “being hailed as one of the best spots this election cycle”, and said that it could have been influential in Ohio due to its large Hungarian population.[13]

Voter registration records in Connecticut show that Peterffy is registered as an independent voter.[10] Campaign contribution records show that he donated at least $60,000 to the Republican National Committee in 2011 and that over the past few years has mostly donated to Republican candidates.[11]

During the 2016 presidential election, Peterffy donated $100,000 to the campaign of Republican nominee Donald Trump.[14]

*********************

Hungarians know things that others in the West have only read about. They know oppression and tyranny.

Many, though certainly not all, within todays new refugees from the Middle East are merely transplanting their tyranny to new locations – but it doesn’t take many to wreak havoc as seen recently in many European nations and in the United States as well.

Read “The Bridge at Andau” by James Michener, a work of non-fiction. Yes, the Hungarians were refugees themselves and others in Europe welcomed them and many came to America. The Hungarians did not bring with them a murderous attitude to all who were not Hungarians. They did not bring with them a hatred of those who gave them shelter. They did not attack women, priests, nightclubs or newspapers. They did not fly large airplanes into large buildings nor drive trucks down the streets mowing people down. They did not behead others in the land that gave them sanctuary. They did not set off bombs at large sporting events or in shopping malls.

The Hungarian refugees of 1956-57 sought to escape oppression and avail themselves of the opportunities offered by free societies. And many have contributed in positive ways as shown by the handful I have highlighted above.

Many of the un-vetted new refugees in Europe and the US want to spread oppression and destabilize rather than contribute to their host nations in positive ways.

If we are to remain a culture valuing liberty and opportunity, and a culture gleaning the best that foreign immigrants have to offer, while providing sanctuary to those fleeing oppression,  let us return to the Hungarian model. The high bar set by the Hungarians in the mid 1950s has been dramatically and deliberately lowered in recent years in the name of political expediency. We lower the bar at our own peril and risk a fundamental transformation of our nation.

Immigration – yes, but with great care in culling out those who mean harm.

Don Johnson – July 2016

Is there still a Constitutional/Conservative Republican Party? A Follow Up IMPORTANT

Further to my recent post Am I still a Republican? Is there still a Constitutional/Conservative Republican Party? I’ve read a couple of articles this morning in the Wall Street Journal that greatly encourages me:

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Photo: Reuters

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Photo: Reuters

House Republicans Have a Better Idea

Meanwhile, Trump fires his campaign manager—a wise move but very late.

By Karl Rove  June 22, 2016 6:39 p.m. ET  

WSJ | 2016-06-22T22:39:00.000Z

(My emphasis added)

Donald Trump has already squandered six weeks by insulting a “Mexican” judge born in Indiana, offering conspiracy theories, and needlessly attacking defeated rivals. His fundraising is dismal and his staffing inadequate. All this comes at the expense of focused attention on his Democratic opponent. Now the presumptive Republican nominee has fired his campaign manager—a wise decision, but very late.

Meanwhile, the Republican House is methodically laying out a comprehensive agenda to spread prosperity, protect the nation, uphold the Constitution, reform health care, and—with its presentation Friday of a comprehensive tax-reform plan—create jobs, grow paychecks and boost the economy.

This agenda, dubbed “A Better Way: Our Vision for a Confident America,” is Speaker Paul Ryan’s brainchild, but the work of the entire Republican conference.

Mr. Ryan rolled out its first plank June 7 with an audacious reimagining of policies to help Americans rise out of poverty. The initiative would require those on welfare to seek work while providing them better access to job training and assistance. It would reform poverty-fighting programs to help people move from dependency on government to lives of independence and personal responsibility.

Republicans followed the next day with a robust economic package, based on the premise that increasing prosperity requires expanding free enterprise and rewarding hard work. The plan aims to relieve the enormous regulatory burden on businesses; expand affordable, reliable energy; curb lawsuit abuse and crony capitalism; limit Washington’s micromanagement of community banks and the financial decisions of ordinary Americans; and block government bailouts.

On June 9, Republicans issued a new national-security plan to protect the homeland, defeat radical Islamic extremism, and restore confidence among our allies and respect among our adversaries.

A plan followed to rein in executive overreach and strengthen accountability and transparency in Washington. Republicans would restore constitutional checks on spending and the budget—including by halting illegal executive-branch spending and overturning expensive new regulations pushed through by lame-duck presidents.

Last week, the House GOP also released a detailed proposal to replace ObamaCare with a package of reforms centered on the patient and doctor. These include making health insurance portable so workers can take it from job to job, increasing the use of health savings accounts, permitting insurance sales across state lines, allowing small businesses and individuals to band together to get lower prices, expanding wellness programs and reforming medical liability.

On Friday, Republicans will add to their agenda a bold and provocative tax-reform package aimed at a simpler, flatter, fairer tax code that encourages jobs and growth while restoring the competitiveness of American companies.

The way that the tax reform package was drafted illustrates how the whole agenda came together. Building on the work of his two predecessors, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas held six meetings with the GOP conference over a number of months to hash out ideas. A task force solicited proposals from dozens of congressmen; reached out to job creators, free-market think tanks and center-right economists; and canvassed Republican lawmakers to ensure consensus.

If “A Better Way” has a shortcoming, it’s that it is large and sprawling, consisting of dozens of proposals. But each plank of the agenda draws on principles congressional Republicans can use to tell Americans what they will do next year, regardless of who is president.

If Donald Trump occupies the Oval Office, Washington’s center of gravity will shift toward Congress, as industrious House and Senate Republicans drive the legislative agenda. If Hillary Clinton is president, “A Better Way” will give Republicans the intellectual ammunition to offer a competing vision that—if they retain majorities in Congress—may drive her toward cooperation.

Apart from its merits as policy, “A Better Way” demonstrates that there is much more to the modern Republican Party than Donald Trump. He casts a large, ominous shadow, but light can break through the pall. House Republicans are working hard to distinguish themselves and their party’s principles by presenting an agenda for the 21st century.

Their efforts are vital to the GOP’s success in November and may determine Mr. Trump’s political fortunes. The shame is that he’s making their work harder.

_______________

Some links:

http://abetterway.speaker.gov/?platform=hootsuite

http://www.speaker.gov/press-release/better-way-do-people-s-business

As a Constitutional Conservative I like what I am seeing here. I hope Trump buys into what the House has laid out because Lord knows, he himself brings little but a loud and narcissistic mouth.

Further, this plan would seem to provide an American Agenda that hopefully would do much to cripple partisanship and get to a place where a President, Senators and Representatives represent the best interests of Americans and not Republican-Americans or Democrat-Americans. 

If the House is sincere in this effort, and can pull this off, I see it as going a long way toward restoring an almost dead Constitutional Republic. Remember the exchange between Benjamin Franklin and Mrs. Palmer in 1778:

The deliberations of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 were held in strict secrecy. Consequently, anxious citizens gathered outside Independence Hall when the proceedings ended in order to learn what had been produced behind closed doors. The answer was provided immediately. A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

And what is a “Constitutional Conservative?”

A Constitutional Conservative can be viewed as one who whishes to preserve those elements of the Constitution that give governance to “We The People … “ Meaning limited government and separation of powers among the three branches of federal government; Executive-Legislative- Judicial, as well as separation of powers among the Federal Government and the Various States, as well as between the Federal Government and the Individual citizen. . 

Don Johnson – June 2016

Ben Franklin’s ‘Apology for Printers’

Benjamin Franklin as a printer’s apprentice in a wood cut circa 1840. Photo: Alamy

Notable & Quotable: Ben Franklin’s ‘Apology for Printers’

‘When Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter.’

From Benjamin Franklin’s “Apology for Printers” in the Pennsylvania Gazette, 1731:

Printers are educated in the Belief that when Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick; and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter. Hence they cheerfully serve all contending Writers that pay them well, without regarding on which side they are of the Question in Dispute. . . .

It is likewise as unreasonable what some assert, That Printers ought not to print anything but what they approve, since if all of that Business should make such a Resolution, and abide by it, an End would thereby be put to Free Writing, and the World would afterwards have nothing to read but what happen’d to be the Opinions of Printers.

Don Johnson – June 2016

In Natural Disasters, Companies Operate Like Neighbors

BN-OJ611_horwit_J_20160607173428

Corporate America often takes a beating from the American Progressive left. Off the top of my head I would pick three “greedy” entities regularly vilified as the source of many if not most of America’s economic woes:

  • Banks
  • Oil companies
  • Wall Mart

A good response is the following article from the Wall Street Journal. It’s behind a pay wall, but I will include here some snippets from  the article — In Natural Disasters, Companies Operate Like Neighbors:

When one thinks of progressives’ long list of capitalist villains, the oil industry is probably near the top. It stands accused of the worst forms of self-interested and antisocial behavior, exploiting workers and consumers alike. What tells a different story is how oil companies behaved during a major natural disaster affecting their employees and customers.

For much of May, a huge forest fire devastated the town of Fort McMurray and more than a million acres of land in the Canadian province of Alberta. It chased more than 60,000 people from their homes and destroyed large parts of the city. Horrific videos show people escaping through walls of flame.

. . . . .

Tristin Hopper of the National Post gathered the figures: The oil companies provided free food and shelter to over 25,000 people. When the fires cut off easy road access to the small community of Fort McKay First Nation, Brion Energy began trucking in perishable foods daily. Imperial Oil   donated 20,000 liters of gasoline to the relief efforts and Shell Albian Aerodrome rounded up evacuees on buses and, along with Suncor’s Firebag Aerodrome, evacuated over 7,000 people on company-chartered commercial jets using their private airstrips. “Alberta’s oil producers,” Mr. Hopper wrote, “effectively turned themselves into multimillion-dollar humanitarian organizations at the drop of a hat.”

. . . . .

And moving down to the USA and back a little in time we revisit hurricane Katrina:

That shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows what Wal-Mart did after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005. The company shipped thousands of trucks of water and other supplies into the area, well ahead of the lethargic Federal Emergency Management Agency. It even beat the Red Cross in many areas. The firm reopened most of its stores within 10 days. Wal-Mart also guaranteed employment at other stores for any of its workers who were forced to abandon their homes and jobs along the coast.

Wal-Mart’s response received praise from numerous local officials. The mayor of the New Orleans suburb of Kenner said that the company had prevented his community from completely collapsing: “The only lifeline in Kenner was the Wal-Mart stores. We didn’t have looting on a mass scale because Wal-Mart showed up with food and water so our people could survive.”

It wasn’t the only company that pitched in: Marriott provided its displaced workers with cash, rooms and food at hotels in other cities. McDonald’s  gave free food to first responders and told its emergency management vice president that he could assume an unlimited budget for tracking down employees and making sure they were safe. Other smaller disasters since Katrina tell similar stories.

The article concludes in Canada with the following:

Many Albertans, as they return to their homes now that the fires have subsided, are glad today that they lived near those supposedly evil oil companies.

 

Don Johnson – June 2016

 

Some Sobering Thoughts for Memorial Day

I pass these thoughts along from the Wall Street Journal of 5/26/2016 in hopes of stirring your thoughts and hearts beyond the beach or backyard barbeque.

At time like these we need such reminders, and I have highlighted some of these words that resonate with me.

_____

The cemetery for American soldiers who died in the invasion of Normandy, France, in 1944. Photo: Getty Images

The cemetery for American soldiers who died in the invasion of Normandy, France, in 1944. Photo: Getty Images

The American Dead in Foreign Fields

On Memorial Day or any other day, the cemeteries for those Americans who fell in battle offer profound lessons.

By Uwe E. Reinhardt May 25, 2016 6:24 p.m. ET 61 COMMENTS

WSJ | 2016-05-25T22:24:00.000Z

If you have not ever done so, I urge you to program into your next trip abroad a visit to an American military cemetery. There are quite a few in Europe, and some in Asia. You can find a list online.

These cemeteries are settings of an awesome serenity and beauty, immaculately kept by the American Battle Monuments Commission. As Americans, we must thank the architects who designed these settings and the workers who over the decades and to this day have kept them in their immaculate condition.

My wife, born in China and reared in Taiwan, and I, born in Germany and a longtime U.S. citizen, first visited the World War II cemeteries when our American-born children were young. We would tell them: Here rest some of the warriors who sacrificed their lives so that your parents and people in many parts of the world would be free from tyranny and could pursue their dreams in freedom. We made it clear to our children that this was not just a grown-up talk—that it was real and part of their proud heritage.

The lesson must have stuck. Last year our eldest child, now a fully grown man, urged me to come along to visit the battlegrounds in Germany, near the Belgian border, where U.S. troops fought so bravely and where so many of them—too many—met their early death.

This time we visited the large American cemetery near the Belgian town of Henri-Chapelle, about 20 miles west of the German city of Aachen. There rest the warriors who fell in the brutal, four-month-long battle of the Hürtgen Forest, followed by the Battle of the Bulge and the eventual push of American forces all the way to the Rhine River.

You can walk along the gravel paths of these cemeteries, and among the thousands of markers—crosses and Stars of David—beneath which the warriors rest. Pick a marker at random and adopt the soldier whose name is chiseled into that marker. Make him your father, or brother, or cousin, or a friend. Imagine him alive, and how you might have hugged him as he shipped out to the distant front.

However brutal his death may have been, you will draw solace from knowing that he rests here, in this serene setting, alongside his buddies who shared his fate. You may even imagine that somehow, don’t ask how, the fallen soldier may know that you are visiting him, to pay your respects.

You may not be able to suppress some tears; I never can. Perhaps in my case it is because I have taught American college freshman for so many years that I can vividly imagine the warriors alive, playing boisterously when they were not fighting or resting, dreaming of some sweetheart they left behind, and imagining what they might do with their lives when the war finally ended and they could go home again. Perhaps it is also because they met their untimely death because of the murderous deeds my birth country had inflicted upon the world at that time. It deepens my sorrow.

But whatever emotions you may bring to a visit there and take away from it, I promise that you will not soon forget it.

You will come away with renewed and strengthened respect for those of your fellow Americans willing to wear the nation’s military uniform and to bear the ultimate sacrifice one can make for one’s country. If you are a student, you will look with fresh eyes at the few among your classmates in the ROTC, learning, along with their regular studies, how to become officers in America’s armed forces.

And you will reflect deeply on our nation’s role in the world. Whatever our flaws as a people have been in the past and still are today, you will realize, standing there among the thousands of gravestones, that in the sweep of history, ours is a grand nation of which you can and should be proud.

Mr. Reinhardt is a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University.

And this …

Note especially the connection from the words I have highlights in the Mills essay with the words of Mr.Reinhardt above

_____

John Stuart Mill (1806-73), circa 1860. Photo: Getty Images

John Stuart Mill (1806-73), circa 1860. Photo: Getty Images

Notable & Quotable: John Stuart Mill

A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice . . . is often the means of their regeneration.’

May 25, 2016 6:23 p.m. ET 16 COMMENTS

WSJ | 2016-05-25T22:23:00.000Z

From English philosopher and political economist ’s “The Contest in America” for Fraser’s magazine, February 1862:

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth a war, is much worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice—is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.

Copyright ©2016 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Reprint submittals have been sent.

Don Johnson – May 2016

Connecting a Few Geo-Political Dots

Remember back in the immediate post 9/11/2001 world there was considerable discussion about how the government failed to connect intelligence dots that may have prevented the carnage of the 9/11 suicide missions against the US.

Here’s some dots that in todays world seem to be begging for connection lest we lurch into a period of substantial national and world chaos.

The dots?

First Dot — The national debt. looking back a few years we have Adm. Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warning that the ballooning national debt represents the most serious national security threat the US faces.

Here’s some of his reasoning:

“ … And the reason I say that is because the ability for our country to resource our military — and I have a pretty good feeling and understanding about what our national security requirements are — is going to be directly proportional — over time, not next year or the year after, but over time — to help our economy.

“That’s why it’s so important that the economy move in the right direction, because the strength and the support and the resources that our military uses are directly related to the health of our economy over time.” … .”

And more …

“ … Actually the way I said it was — and I still believe this — that it’s the single biggest threat to our national security. Obviously it’s complex, but the way I looked at it, if we didn’t get control of our debt, there would be continued loss of confidence in America.

I was in the military for over 40 years, and one of the principles I kept with me was that there’s an expectation globally that the U.S. will lead. Questions about that expectation have certainly risen in recent years. The fact that there’s even a question about that is worrisome to me, and I think needs to be for a lot of people. … .”

So what does this mean in terms of American military strength?

As the national debt continues to rise we would expect to see less of the tax base available for maintaining the military in an increasingly dangerous world. We now have close to 20 trillion dollars in debt … and what do we have to show for it? A diminishing and hollowed out military capability reminiscent of the Carter years when much of our naval aviation capability was grounded for lack of fuel and spare parts. 

Next Dot – A Hollowed  Out Military.

Defense budget cuts are now showing up as illustrated by this recent report on the mission status of Marine Corps F/A-18 fighter bomber fleet.

“ … Today, the vast majority of Marine Corps aircraft can’t fly. The reasons behind the grounding of these aircraft include the toll of long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the fight against ISIS and budget cuts precluding the purchase of the parts needed to fix an aging fleet, according to dozens of Marines interviewed by Fox News at two air stations in the Carolinas this week.

Out of 276 F/A-18 Hornet strike fighters in the Marine Corps inventory, only about 30% are ready to fly, according to statistics provided by the Corps. Similarly, only 42 of 147 heavy-lift CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters are airworthy. … .”

If you spread this Marine situation across all the services and then refer back to Adm. Mullen’s  concerns about American leadership and world confidence in that leadership, it becomes very disturbing for the near term future — especially as potential and actual belligerents such as Russia, China, Iran and others are increasing their military presence and threats around the world. 

And finally we come to an extensive analysis of the stability of the world through the eyes and studied wisdom of historian and commentator Victor Davis  Hanson – yet another dot to connect.

Next Dot — The De-Stabilization of the World.

I’ll let Hanson’s words flesh out this final dot.

“ … In 1939, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier warned Adolf Hitler that if the Third Reich invaded Poland, a European war would follow.

Both leaders insisted that they meant it. But Hitler thought that after getting away with militarizing the Rhineland, annexing Austria, and dismantling Czechoslovakia, the Allied appeasers were once again just bluffing.

England and France declared war two days after Hitler entered Poland.

Once hard-won deterrence is lost, it is almost impossible to restore credibility without terrible costs and danger. … .”

Note well the final words in this snippet from Professor Hanson Once hard-won deterrence is lost, it is almost impossible to restore credibility without terrible costs and danger.” ________

Are we on the brink of terrible costs and danger because of a national disregard for the lessons of history – or worse, a general and willful ignorance of those lessons?

 

Don Johnson – May 2016