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.
On the Inside
In This Issue:
¨ THE PARTISAN BATTLE FOR AMERICA
¨ TRUTH, JUSTICE, THE AMERICAN WAY
¨ NAKED EMPERORS
¨ FIFTY YEARS OF NATIONAL BUDGETS
¨ REVISED, “PARTISAN ADVANTAGE AND
DEBATE IN THE U.S. SENATE
PARTISAN BATTLE FOR
EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP of AMERICA
The historical evidence is weighted to the
Democrats in the House and Senate
By Ivan W. Parkins
With many of the usually apathetic Americans out in protests over the continuing unemployment and mounting public deficits, why is an all Democrat Administration pushing a “lots more of the same” domestic agenda. And, how can they blame so much of present domestic policy on Republicans?
Among things too little noticed is that, for the first eight of the past fifty years, Democrats controlled all three of our elective national branches. Besides Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, they had majorities averaging about 100 Representatives in the House, plus four years of filibuster-proof and four of only slightly less potent majorities in the Senate. In that period the United States pursued a vigorous foreign policy, including War in Vietnam, and undertook a War on Poverty. By 1968 both of those wars were beginning to look very costly and of questionable benefit. A strong anti-Vietnam element divided the Democrats, and Johnson was influenced not to seek reelection.
In a three-way election, Republican Nixon won the Presidency and inherited Johnson’s initiatives. Unfortunately, he also inherited Johnson’s heavily Democrat Congress. He allowed much of the domestic policy to continue but attempted to transfer more of its administration to the states. And, he concentrated his efforts where the nation’s Chief Executive has primacy. He set out to make the South Vietnamese primarily responsible for their own defense—under very loud predictions of failure from the anti-war crowd.
Although Nixon won reelection by what is still the largest plurality of popular votes in this nation’s history, he did not get relief from the bitterly anti-Nixon Congress or media. Soon he was struggling just to remain in office, and resigned. Although he left an agreement with the Communists that appeared to provide for the survival of South Vietnam without the help of American ground forces, our Democrat Congress soon ignored that, withdrawing the limited help that we had promised. Our former allies were slaughtered by the tens of thousands in Vietnam, and by millions in Cambodia.
Vice President Ford did a credible job of holding the place. Meanwhile however, Democrats in Congress ran amuck, voting themselves larger roles in budgeting and military affairs.
For now at least, I’ll just note that the Community Reinvestment Act, origin of much of our present fiscal problem, became law during the Carter (heavily Democrat) Administration. Also, Presidents Reagan and G. H. W. Bush, both of whom won their elections by popular majorities, never enjoyed the “luxury” of working with a House of Representatives that shared their partisan affiliation.
FIFTY YEARS OF OUR NATIONAL BUDGETS
By Ivan W. Parkins
In only five of the last fifty years have the Congresses and Administrations in power produced budge surpluses.
The first, for Fiscal 1969, was enacted in the last part of Democrat President Lyndon Johnson’s Administration and carried over into the Administration of Republican President Nixon. Both Houses of Congress were controlled by Democrat majorities throughout that time period.
All four of the other budget surpluses occurred late in the Administration of Democrat President Clinton. That was after Newt Gingrich had won control of the House and the Senate had turned Republican, Fiscal years 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001. Fiscal 2001 extended until a few weeks after 9/11/01.
The American Way?…
Or How Disinformation in the Biased Media
Changes Public Perception
By Ivan W. Parkins
June 24, 2008, 2pm EDT, I have just seen on the National Geographic Channel (NGC) a particularly interesting, and especially timely, example of disinformation. It was a carefully selected account of events and proceedings leading to President Clinton’s impeachment and acquittal. Little, if anything included was false; much that was not included was true and more significant.
That severe judgment is prompted mainly by my having recently discovered and read David Schippers’ book, SELL OUT , published in 2000. former Chief Investigative Counsel for the House Judiciary Committee, Schippers did appear in the NGC documentary, but only very briefly. Originally, he had been reluctant to take the investigative job. He was, after all, a Democrat, a former head of the FBI’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Unit, under Attorney General Robert Kennedy. But, Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, an acquaintance, said that was why he wanted Schippers.
Of course Schippers’ party links and the fact that he worked satisfactorily with an “extreme right-winger” like Ken Starr did not fit well into a picture of events engineered by a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”
One incident that Schippers relates in his book has Starr replying to Clinton lawyer David Kendell’s charge that too much information was being leaked to the media… “ Mr. Kendell, the only information that has never leaked was that unavailable to the White House.” (page 151)
But, the great injustice was not the Lewinsky Case, most of which did become public in lurid detail. More grave, and clearly related to Clinton’s performance in office were matters such as illegal citizenship grants and campaign gifts from the Chinese. About those, the White House was able to stall with legal challenges and slow yields of documents until just before the 1996 elections. Members of Congress, many Republicans along with most Democrats, saw those issues as threats to their reelection, and opposed the whole impeachment process.
Clinton’s problems would have been much greater if he had had to respond in public to charges that he had demanded quick citizenship for 75,000 person with arrest records, 115,000 with unclassifiable fingerprints, and 61,000 who had filed no fingerprints at all (page 45). But those and the questions about illegal campaign contributions were left to Janet Reno and other Clinton subordinates.
Of course, Clinton’s great victory over impeachment is now what most casual observers remember. What Mr. Schippers calls the “flat-out rigged ballgame” (page 7) have never been transformed by our information system into a part of the public’s political memory.
I am reminded of recent diatribes by candidates about the need for change. Yes, we do need change, but I am troubled by what changes.
And Debate in the U.S. Senate
By Ivan W. Parkins
Under cloture, the Senate rule requiring 60 votes to close off debate, the Democrat Party has had the advantage.
Under FDR, five Congresses, for 10 years, the President had a majority of more than twenty Democratic votes, not always loyal but partisan.
Democrats held a similar advantage in the Senate during Republican President Eisenhower’s last 2 years, and for 8 additional years under JFK and LBJ. Also, for 4 years that ended Republican President Nixon’s tenure and included the first part of Democrat President Carter’s term.
Now Democrats must struggle to keep partisans in line, and hold two independent votes in order to reach the magic number of 60.
Republican’s? No Republican President in more than seventy-five years has had such an advantage!
REVISED: I failed in the above piece to allow for the change in the Senate's cloture rule, made in 1975 (after Nixon's resignation). As a consequence my computations of Democrat advantages prior to that
Democrats 24 years, Republicans 0.
I.W. Parkins, 2/20/10
By Ivan W. Parkins
(reprised from 2008)
Newt Gingrich’s revolution, taking over the House of Representatives in the elections of 1994, can not be appreciated unless one first understands that for an unprecedented time, 40 years or twenty Congresses, the Democrats had held firm control of the House. They took it from Eisenhower’s Republicans in 1954 by a margin of 29 votes, and 29 votes was the smallest margin of their control for 40 years. In seven Congresses the Democrats controlled the House by 100 votes or more. None of the Republican advantages in the six years (1995-2001) following the Gingrich’s victory was by a margin as large as 29 votes.
Scot Faulkner’s book Naked Emperors details his effort as first-ever chief administrative officer of the House to correct the management problems left by 40 years of Democrat majorities. Faulkner had no legislative authority; his job was to oversee how 800 million dollars was spent and how 13,000 employees served the needs of House Members. For starters, a private accounting firm called in to do an audit quit, the records were simply too few and poorly kept for auditing.
The reform met with strong resistance. Why should any Member not be happy with a bank where his checks would be cashed and no one had authority to demand that he make deposits? Recent media stories had forced release of names of the 303 Members (both parties) who were taking advantage of that. The largest such individual indebtedness totaled nearly $600,000.
Contracts for services and supplies were often missing. Apparently, they were let as political favors and evidence had been destroyed. Thousands of lobbyists and journalists had passes to enter the Capitol Building after the hours available to mere citizens.
Faulkner’s book is very specific about persons, times, places, and other details. Obviously, he is presenting his report of his work. Not so obviously, because poorly publicized, that work attracted dozens of foreign officials, including at least one Russian, anxious to learn of how to provide better services to a legislative body. He and his management team achieved at least one real First, The first reduction of a House budget in the twentieth century.
Some of this makes dull reading. But, it is worth at least a quick skim by any citizen serious about voting in the 2008 elections. Some of the Congresspersons involved are still there, and they have more seniority and power.
Should we now trust the party that had 40 years of solid majorities in the House prior to 1995, and now is in control again, to oversee the management and budgets of our government’s other branches? I.W. Parkins