Ivan W. Parkins

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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. 

Front Page

Text Box: In This Issue: 
COLD WAR AND SMALL WARS
THE GREAT DEPRESSION
A PLACE FOR OBAMA AMONG 
   DEMOCRAT PRESIDENTS?
DID YOU KNOW?

DID YOU KNOW?

Parkins Points to Ponder

By     

 Ivan W. Parkins

….. According to Wikipedia, a March 2009 atmospheric measure of CO² showed 387 parts per million (p.p.m).  At 10,000 p.p.m. people get drowsy.  At 70,000 to 100,000 they get ill or die.  10,000 p.p.m. can be reached in a poorly ventilated auditorium.
Where are EPA and the Obama Administration's priorities?
 

…. The great post-WWII spy scare ( referred to as McCarthyism) was not a wild exaggeration.  The actual Soviet penetrations of America’s secrets, and their facilitation by Americans of communist belief or sympathy, actually exceeded the official investigations and prosecutions.  Many persons who were “cleared” were actually guilty and many who were guilty, were never identified.

…. “The Youth Movement” of the 1960’s and 1970’s actually generated here at home an increased rate of death among youths, while the rates of other age groups were falling.  Many deaths in that increase were violent, and their numbers totaled more than those from our military combat abroad.

….. At the time that Congress ordered a halt to all financial, air, and military equipment support to our allies in South Vietnam, it appeared the South Vietnamese were successfully and willingly holding off the attacks of the Communists, without support from American ground forces.

….Both of the major presidential impeachment efforts of recent Congresses, Nixon’s and Clinton’s, were subsequently denounced as improper in books by the Chief Investigative Counsels chosen by the House Judiciary Committees to pursue them—and those Chief Investigators were both Democrats.  In Nixon’s case the charges were drawn by the Judiciary Committee in such a way as to exclude evidence of any similar behaviors by earlier Presidents; in Clinton’s case they were drawn so as to exclude Clinton’s most obviously official and illegal acts, grants of citizenship to persons not eligible and severe campaign finance violations.

….. Since the Korean War, the trend of military spending, as a portion of this nation’s gross domestic product , has been downward to a little less than half of what it was in 1951-52.  Meanwhile, spending for education, health, and other welfare have all taken increasing portions, and together have taken much more than spending for defense.

…..One hasty act of the Environmental Protection Agency, joining with the World Health Organization in the ban on DDT, resulted in more deaths (of Blacks from malaria) than all the deaths from all ethic conflicts and American military engagements in our nation’s history.

.   .   .   .   .   .   . .

      Were any of the above episodes the choices of an American public who were well served by the educational, journalistic, and representative institutions of our nation?

 A PLACE FOR OBAMA AMONG

 DEMOCRAT

PRESIDENTS?

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

Franklin Roosevelt had been an anti-Tammany Senator in New York, a very active Assistant Secretary of the Navy prior to and during World War I, the Democrat nominee for the Vice Presidency in 1920 (a Republican year), and was Governor of New York when nominated in 1932.  Barack Obama had served as a Senator in both the Illinois and the United States Senates.

 

Franklin Roosevelt’s initial election victory was by a margin substantially larger than

President Obama’s.  Also greater were FDR’s majorities in both Houses of Congress.  [The Roosevelt advantage increased greatly in elections of both 1934 and 1936.]

 

The economic crisis of the early 1930s was much more intense than is the present one, especially in agriculture, then a major source of employment.  Of course even many small farmers, of whom there were many then, usually had enough to eat.  In a time when the family unit was more common than it is now, and usually had only one wage earner, unemployed fathers often meant real and critical hunger.  For a substantial portion of  farmers, those of the Dust Bowl, life became especially challenging.  One early move of the New Deal was conservation measures, but they would succeed only slowly.

 

No single act of the New Deal was so extreme in its immediate implications for nearly every American as the present changes in health care proposed by the Obama Administration.  I.W.Parkins 10910

   COLD WAR AND SMALL WARS

THE MEDIA, THE LEFT AND THE KENNEDY’S

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

The post WWII period was not a time of peace.  Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union soon emerged, followed by wars of the United States with Soviet proxies.  Perhaps fewer of us should have been surprised that the Soviets were so unwilling to accept our Marshall Plan and leadership of the post war world.  Communism had not disavowed its goal of world domination.  And the Soviet Union had paid a higher price for its contributions to allied victory than any other major combatant, except Poland.  Measured as a percentage of population, Soviet losses were approximately forty (40) times our own.  It was not without some justice that they felt entitled to a large role in shaping the reconstruction of the world.  But compromises between the communists and capitalists found little traction.

 

At first, it was largely conservatives who could not abide our limited war in Korea.  They would have preferred General MacArthur’s pursuit of “victory” to avoidance of all-out confrontation with the Communists. And, we now have solid evidence that conservatives were largely right regarding their “soft on communism” charge in so far as it related to Soviet spying in America. Meanwhile, a huge expansion in America’s information media, including massive college enrolments, was creating an opinion body quite different than any seen here before.  And, belittling the Communist threat was becoming a popular viewpoint in academia. 

 

“McCarthyism” became a broad epithet to be hurled against almost any reference to dangers from the Left, domestic or foreign.  Hero journalists of the new television media used it freely.  And, that media bias was difficult for younger Americans to comprehend when most of them had not even heard of the Commission on Freedom of the Press that was created shortly after World War II, or the Sell America Campaign a few years later.  Sell America was a campaign by national advertisers against government interference in business.  Fortune Magazine estimated the costs of Sell America as about the same as those of a national election at that time.  Fortune also labeled the campaign as ineffective, and it passed virtually unnoticed in the popular texts of history and political science.  In the new age of mass media, businesses needed advertising as much as media celebrities needed them.  Businesses would have much greater difficulty promoting their political interests. 

 

Then, a new President, John Kennedy, quickly gained many young admirers, but they were slow to follow, and especially slow to remember, when, soon, there was need to do that, he came into office warning of Third World proxies in the Cold War.  He created the Green Berets to prepare America for smaller wars and increased our aide to South Vietnam.  Although first speculation tried hard, and later imagination persisted, to identify JFK’s assassin as someone from the far Right, all official and firm evidence pointed to one culprit from the far Left.

 

 In regard to our relations with the Communists, JFK’s younger brothers soon became leaders, in the more popular “liberal” direction.   “Bobby” became an anti-Vietnam candidate for the Presidency in 1968, and suffered a fate similar to John’s.  Again, the assassin was not a person related to the most salient issues.  Ted, a Senator, got his toga wet in a nasty negligent homicide.  The Democrats were dividing, and though Ted Kennedy never won their nomination, he became their most enduring major leader of the ensuing decades.  It says something of both the Democrats and our major media that a man who had committed one negligent and very personal homicide, and who added to that to that a major part in facilitating the genocide of our Vietnamese and Cambodian allies,  was buried as “a humanitarian.”  I.W. Parkins 010910.

 THE GREAT DEPRESSION

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

Following several years of falling farm prices, at a time when many Americans still farmed, and the stock market collapse of 1929, FDR’s New Deal had also to cope with deteriorating world order, and increasing trade barriers.  The great initial triumph of Roosevelt was to impart hope and some confidence to America.

 

Early success came from some of the simpler moves, such as closing banks, examining them, and then permitting most to reopen.  There was also the insurance of bank deposits.  The Reconstruction Finance Corporation, initiated by President Hoover, was given increased funds to lend especially to enterprises with large payrolls and poor credit.  Public works, the TVA for instance, were many of them valuable additions to national infrastructure.  Later, Social Security, provided much of what its name implies for a, then, not huge class of aged.

 

The most complex undertaking, the National Industrial Recovery Act (known as NRA), sought to reorder how businesses of many kinds were organized and conducted; it was a failure. Many New Deal programs were invalidated by majorities of the Supreme Court. The NRA failed to gain the support of even one Justice.  Gains of most kinds came at a heavy cost in public debt and inflation.  From 1933 to 1939 successes in employment and national out puts were minimal.

 

As World War II developed in Europe foreign demands for many American products increased and many more of our unemployed, or underemployed, found steady jobs.  By the time of Pearl Harbor, America was beginning to hum again.

The Japanese attack, surprising mainly in its severity and closeness to our homes, was in some ways a blessing.  It produced unusual national unity, quickly energized nearly all our resources, and facilitated an expansion of federal government that would make possible some lasting changes after the war had ended.

 

Part of the initial cost in American lives of World War II can be charged to unrealistic expectations of peace in the 1920s and the penury of military appropriations prior to Pearl Harbor.  Those related problems seemed obvious enough to me as a rural teenager, and the President did as much as he believed politically possible to alert the nation.  But it took a major enemy attack to waken the public to what most preferred not to see.

 

Many expected a relapse into depression after the war.  But, America, unlike most major combatants, had suffered no great damage to its infrastructure or industry.  Postwar benefits to the demobilizing military were generous by past standards.  And the many people employed during the war had earned good wages, with little practical choice but to save much of their incomes.  Demand for consumer goods quickly exceeded available product.  A post-war boom developed.  Generous aide to other combatants, enemies as well as friends, also employed Americans.  And the vigorous economy was soon producing tax revenue to reduce the burden of public debt.

 

Meanwhile, America’s black population, having served well, and migrating into northern cities, were demanding more.  And the postwar American Government was in position to do more about what had been the largest blot upon American democracy.

 

In many respects postwar America was flourishing, and one was a much increased birth rate.  Unfortunately, many of the new citizens would find it difficult to relate either to what had been achieved, or to the new, and in many respects fluid, situation.  I.W. Parkins 011110