Ivan  Parkins

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©Ivan W. Parkins 2008,  All articles, text, web pages property of Ivan W. Parkins.  Use of any material requires permission of the author and can be obtained by contacting info@americanpoliticalcommentary.com

About Ivan W. Parkins:

Dr. Parkins is a retired professor of Political Science from Central Michigan University.  He received his PhD from the University of Chicago and is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy.  Dr. Parkins served as a naval officer during WWII aboard the battleship Alabama.  He is a recent widower with three daughters, 3 grand children and 2 great grand children.  Dr. Parkins has written extensively, having authored 3 books and a newspaper opinion column for many years. 

Inside This Issue

Front Page Archive 2008 Archive 2009

Page 2,  Disassemble the House

Page 3, Media Bias

Page 4, Book Reviews

Page 5, War and Their Costs

Page 6, Broken Congress

Page 7, Dividing America

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American Politics, Archives

Front Page

Same Old Stuff, Repackaged as Change

 

(I am not apologizing for offering so much “Old Stuff” on “new”  problems.  I am presenting my “old articles” as a way to illustrate a failed liberal philosophy perpetrated over many decades and then being remarketed  as “new”, again.  I.W.Parkins)

 

LETTER TO THE EDITOR, The Morning Sun, 6/9/92, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

   

     On the night of June 4, some Americans witnessed, on CNN an example of why our political system no longer works.  The President of the United States held a news conference and the three largest TV networks chose not to carry it.  American politics is increasingly media-dominated.   Our official, popularly chosen , leaders are usually frustrated, and the issues are mostly determined, by the media.

     The problem Thursday night was not simply a matter of whether President Bush could reach the American people live or directly.  The question asked of him by reporters reflected little or no interest in his agenda, much of which is legislative proposals now pending in Congress.  Most questions were demands that the President respond or react to a political agenda identified and promoted by the media.

     Since early 1968, every American president, Johnson and Carter, as well as Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush, has struggled to maintain priority for his agenda.  They, especially the Republicans, have had to deal with congresses which were attuned more closely to selfish interests and the media than to the American public.  Clearly, America needs effective political leadership.  But, the need is more specific.  American needs changes which will, again, enable its elected leaders to actually lead.

 

New Americans and Multiculturalism

By Ivan W. Parkins

     One of the greatest of liberal, mainly Democrat, changes to America in recent decades has been multiculturalism.  Regarding this and related matters, I recommend Michael Barone’s book, THE NEW AMERICANS: HOW THE MELTING POT CAN WORK AGAIN.

     Barone compares Irish immigrants during the mid-nineteenth century with the great migration of Black Americans north from the Old South, especially that since 1940.  He also compares Italian and later Latino immigrants, and Jews with recent Asians.  All are interesting, but the Irish/Black comparison is especially sharp in the political lessons that it offers.

     Barone concludes that “race, as liberals have wisely insisted for years, is an arbitrary category.”  But, “the descendents of past immigrants have now become deeply interwoven into the fabric of American life.”  It can happen again.  “There is less overt bigotry and discrimination,” now.  “The greatest obstacle…is the American elite”; it, since the 1960s, does not promote assimilation.

     He points out that in one major respect the Irish fared much better than recent Blacks.  Both came from crude and repressive environments, poorly educated, inclined to violence and uncivil.  Both also relied heavily on their own churches.  The Irish soon learned the advantages of discipline and civility in Catholic schools; the Blacks encountered public schools that would change to accommodate their shortcomings.

     Partisan ship is not emphasized by Barone; with the 2008 election pending, it will be by me.  Multiculturalism, and its implied divisions of America, is mainly an innovation of liberal Democrats, and mainly since the Vietnam era.  It has been imposed, or “sold,” as an example of acceptance of other cultures as equal to, and as appropriate as, our own.  Actually, from my own experiences, it seems to be more a rejection of traditional America and of the chief types of leadership that America has produced.

     Do liberal Democrats really want to improve upon the America that we have known, or do they plan instead to replace that with a quasi-Marxist nirvana, their own ”creation”?

Political Change: Recent and Future

 

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

    American politics have undergone some recent and disillusioning changes.  Partisan unity of popular Presidents and their Congresses, a pattern that predominated throughout American history until 1956, ended with President Eisenhower’s reelection. Eisenhower won not only in the Electoral College, but also by a huge popular majority (57.4%).  No previous presidential winner of even small majorities had faced a new Congress controlled by the other party.  The four Democrats elected since 1956, have all entered office with Democrat majorities in both Houses of Congress, even though only one of them won a substantial popular majority.  Meanwhile, the four Republican winners of the Presidency have all had at least one popular win, but none except the present George Bush has had even a tiny partisan advantage in Congress.  Are we going to change, now, and to even greater legislative advantage for Democrat Presidents?

    One major factor contributing to the post-1954 partisan split between popular Presidents and their Congresses has been the huge growth in size and centralization, plus the increased partisan (Democrat) unity of, the mass media.  Research in voter behavior shows that voters are most active and discriminating in their choices for major offices, especially for chief executives.  For lesser offices, including most legislative bodies, voters are apt to cast no vote, choose the familiar name (usually an incumbent), or be guided by mass media in their choices.  Of the three elective federal branches (Presidency, Senate, and House of Representatives) Democrat’s have dominated the House, controlled the Senate most of the time and by larger margins than any of the Republicans have had, and done poorly in most presidential contests.  Where media counted most, Democrats won most.

    Presidents generally, but especially Republicans, have lost popularity in and after being in office.  Have their fates reflected accurately their performances, or have their performances and reputations suffered, chiefly, from poor congressional support and hostile media coverage?

 

 

Childish and Trivial Politics

 

     Brief quotations, removed from original time, place, and other context, are more often misleading than informative.  About seventy years ago, as a teenager in a tiny Indiana town, I read in a then popular book " If rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it."  Then, about the same time as "the rape of Nanking", I interpreted it as a profound insight into the character of the Chinese people.
      Offered the same saying now, as though it were an insight into the character of  a major McCain campaign contributor (I am a minor contributor.), I find it to be a disgusting bit of excrement, and all too representative of how trivial our politics can be.

Earmarks, Congress Power of Appropriation

 

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

     One great division in American opinion has to do with the powers of Congress and President vis-à-vis one another.

     President Washington’s first budget contained five lump-sum items to pay civilian employees, interest on the debt, etc.  Also, at first, Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton, refused to account to Congress for how the money was spent.

     Now the system is radically different.  Certainly, more specific budget purposes and accounting for expenditures were needed, but how much more specific?

     Keep in mind that, as late as World War II, President Roosevelt was able to hide billions and to take about 10% of the nation’s electric power, to make the atom bomb.

     One of the greatest shifts in power between our federal branches has been the extreme specificity that Congress expects in budgets.  It is almost impossible for government to move without money.  And, Congress has interpreted its power to appropriate the money in ways that greatly reduce  the discretion of the Executive Branch.  That, I suggest, may be the most extreme distortion of the original Constitution’s distribution of powers that is common today.

   

     Two examples from recent history:

     First, during the Ford Administration expert medical advice to the President warned that an emergency appropriation and some legal immunity for vaccine makers wee needed to assure against a likely severe flu epidemic.  Congress did act, but it attached to the flu bill a larger appropriation for jobs training.  President Ford had recently vetoed the jobs training expenditure.  Now, he could either risk thousands of lives or accept an expenditure that he believed to be unwise.  That is just one example of how Congress combines unrelated measures in one piece of legislation, thus reducing the veto power of the President.

     Second, is a congressional abuse very much in the new, Congress’ permissiveness in allowing individual members to alter appropriations for the benefit of special, local and even their personal interests.  Such “earmarks”, many of which are never seen by all of Congress, might appropriately be regarded as thefts from the public treasury.

 

     Few things about our government are less constitutional, less democratic, or less honest than how Congress uses its power of appropriation.

Fool the Jury

 

By Ivan W. Parkins

     One of the problems with a divided America is excessive suspicions of government.  And one problem of such suspicions is that it encumbers, greatly, the processes of justice.

     About thirty years ago, I sat on a felony jury in a case that was conducted by the rules, but was an utter farce in terms other than the formalities.

     The accused admitted to possessing a sawed off shotgun, a felony under Michigan law.  So, why was there a trial?  Except that legal rules of procedure probably made it necessary, I am still unable to think of a reason.

     Seven of us on the jury saw no facts to be determined.  But, the defendant contended that the gun’s barrel was accidentally blown away after being clogged with mud (a myth since declared “busted” on TV).  He hoped to repair it, an operation declared to be impossible by an expert gunsmith.

     The five opponents of conviction, all of whom admitted to ignorance of mechanics and firearms, said that the improbability of successful repair was irrelevant.  They based their stand on the apparent lack of any criminal intent, as pled by the defendant.  The aggressive government, they insisted, was simply applying the letter of the law where leniency should prevail.

     After several hours of unchanging division, the foreman of the jury had us readmitted to the courtroom.  There, we asked to examine the physical evidence, something that none of us had thought necessary before.  The gun had obviously been trimmed and smoothed in ways that facilitated its concealment and use- not its repair.  The “tube” to be welded to the barrel was a piece of ordinary water pipe and not in prime condition.  The minority agreed to convict.

     The judge thanked us, but expressed regret that he could not dismiss us.  The second part of this “habitual criminal” trial would be the next day.  The defendant’s previous record included at least one firearms conviction, making his claim of innocence regarding knowledge of the offense especially ridiculous.  The final part was plea bargained.

     Ill-founded suspicions of government contribute to unwarranted legal rules, and to the likelihood that juries will be fooled.

Dividing America,

Part Two

(The following series of articles are a continuation of the Dividing America series illustrating the blatant effort by the Democrat party to divide our country)