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. 

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Editors Note:

Dr. Parkins’s Grandson, Breton W. Hinkle, passed away unexpectedly on Feb. 14, 2009.  He leaves his wife Jen, parents Ray and Susan Hinkle, sister, Gretchen Hinkle, Richard and Kathy Bourque, Father and Mother in law, brother in laws Kevin and Brian and sister in law, Kelly.  He was a graduate of Michigan State University.  Bret was a United States Marine and had faithfully served his country with honor and distinction.   He will be terribly missed  by family and friends.  He was loved by all who knew him.  He was  buried with military honors in Holland, MI.   See Bret’s life story at http://www.lifestorynet.com/memories/45526/ 

OUR ECONOMIC CRISIS MAY WARRANT SOME HASTE;

 HOPEFULLY, OUR POLITICAL CRISIS WILL ALLOW US MORE TIME!

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

     Some recent statements of President Obama concerning his legislative agenda remind me of a chapter in Lincoln Steffens autobiography. 

 

     A century ago Steffens was one of the foremost political commentators of his time, a muckraker, specializing in political corruption.  He had become an advocate of the new strong mayor form of city government.  But, in Philadelphia, where that plan had been installed, he learned that corruption was especially rampant.  He asked the recently elected mayor how he could expect to be reelected.  The mayor replied that it was all part of a plan.  The political amateurs who had won reform soon tired.  The old machine was once again in control.  The mayor would crowd as much “business” as he could into a single term and not seek reelection.

 

     Barack Obama’s political background has concerned me from the start.  From his obvious talents and his statements favoring unity, I thought it possible that he would prove capable of filling a role vastly larger than any that he had previously held.  Evidence supporting that view is fading.

 

     President Obama now leads a Democrat Party heavily dependent upon a system of public information that has leaned Democrat for several decades.  In the post-WWII era Democrats have evolved from a party seeking greater national vision and unity into one of highly organized and politically sophisticated special interests.  It now offers only weak support for international leadership and seeks intensively for greater domestic power and for privileges and subsidies to those social factions that support it.

 

     Meanwhile, the only real landslide victory for a Democrat in presidential contests has been that of Lyndon Johnson in 1964—an aftermath of the Kennedy assassination.  By that time the nation’s information media were heavily Democrat, also moving toward anti-military views.  Johnson was largely ostracized by his party in 1968, and his “heir” Humphrey, a hero of the civil rights movement, was narrowly defeated by Richard Nixon.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR,

The Detroit News, 11/13/98

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

     Twice on Nov. 8, The News made reference to President George Bush’s having surrendered his “no new taxes” pledge (“The Gingrich Revolution”; The Original Sin of the National GOP”).  Such references, unaccompanied by notice of related events, provide fascinating clues to how our information system and partisan politics work. 

 

      What else was happening in the Bush Administration in late 1990?  Congress, controlled by the Democrats, was refusing to enact a budget without substantial increases in social spending and taxes.  Also, Iraq had annexed Kuwait and was threatening the Arabian Gulf oil flow that fueled much of the world’s economy.

 

      Why is it that we don’t note the conditions under which Bush’s retraction occurred?  His performance in late 1990 was impressive, especially compared to that of  congressional Democrats.

 

 

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Note:

The advantage of Democrats at that time was 85 votes in the House and 10 in the Senate.

   MORE LACK OF BALANCE

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

      Few things ideological in America are as lacking in balance as the environmental movement.

 

       While there is little reason to doubt that the sub-prime mortgages and inflated prices of housing are primary roots of our current economic crisis, the huge outlays in recent years for foreign oil and gas have certainly hurt our economy too.  We have the resources and the means to produce and distribute most of the oil and gas that we need, while seeking better alternatives.  But legal and political hurdles, raised by environmentalists, deny us the royalties and jobs that go with domestic production.  Oil may be even harder to replace as a chemical feedstock than it is as a transport fuel.

 

      For a variety of reasons, especially our own health, we do need to continue cleaning up the air, but we have had considerable success.  How much priority should be assigned to greater, and increasingly costly, efforts?  Meanwhile, isn’t it nice to learn that the earth seems now to be cooling?  Yes, it may begin to heat up again, but what does that suggest about the extent of man’s control over the temperature?

 

      And, while lamenting America’s role in recent wars, how many of us have compared  the human costs of those with the inadvertent effects of the ban on DDT?  If the resulting increase in malaria cases and deaths following that fiasco are just half as great as the estimates of the World Health Organization, they have probably exceeded all the human morbidity, on both sides, in our military operations since WWII.

 

      Are you counting on our most passionate and aggressive environmentalists to improve conditions in the world?  Good luck!

MORE POLITICAL CRISIS:

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

      Less noticed but not less significant, Democrats had already begun (in 1954) their 40 years of almost total dominance in the House of Representatives.  And, although Republican Presidents would win five of the ten elections in that era, three of them by landslides (by well over 55%, as compared to Obama’s recent 52.9%), none of them would be supported by a majority of Republicans in the House.

 

      Indeed, between 1930 and still counting…no Republican President has had more than a slim Republican majority in Congress, and even those have been scarce.  Millions more of Americans turn out and vote for President than vote for Representatives, even when both are being elected at the same time.  At any time, a large portion of potential American voters cannot name their Representative, but most do know who is President. It is in the more obscure contests (congressional as opposed to presidential) that special interests and information media tend most to dominate.  And the wars that Democrats now support most consistently and strenuously are those for their own partisan dominance.

 

      Barack Obama is clearly the greatest Democrat presidential winner since LBJ.  But, does his victory signal, mainly, a triumph of personality, a desire of Americans for a more European style of politics, or the bit by bit triumph in America of one-party politics based upon the political dominance of information media (academic and artistic as well as journalistic)?  The most threatening part of President Obama’s agenda is the one that advances the latter. The chief danger from his Presidency is that it will extend that media dominance by changes in how the census is done, favors to unions, advancing the opportunities of unscrupulous trial lawyers, and legally harassing those information media that remain critical of Democrats.

    

  LITTLE BALANCE

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

      The TV program No Reservations recently featured a visit to Laos, a particularly remote and appealing country of SE Asia.  The presentation of the Laotian people and their culture was, so far as I am aware, both accurate and favorable.

 

      However, like much of our entertainment and information, the program was severely biased in at least one respect.  We had bombed Laos very heavily during the Vietnam War, especially the Vietnamese supply lines passing through there.  Our unexploded bombs are still a serious problem.  That, was repeatedly referred to, and tape of our massive raids was included.  Almost nothing was included however to suggest another side to the Vietnam War story. 

 

      Often now, I wonder how many people among those who prepare our information and entertainment actually know more than one side to the Vietnam story.  I recall that on one holiday visit of our three daughters, home from their three different universities we discussed the American effort in Vietnam.  All three commented that they had never before heard the points that I raised.  Probably those points included some of these.  At the beginning of the 1960s we had a treaty obligation in the area, SEATO.  Our newly elected President, Kennedy, emphasized the growing Communist threat to that area and the need for us to counter it.  Both the Soviet Union and China had sponsored and supplied proxies in the region.  It was becoming a major theater of the not-so-Cold War.

 

      Now, the holocaust in Cambodia, Laos’ neighbor, which followed soon after we withdrew from the area is occasionally mentioned.  But usually without emphasis of the fact that it was the work of avowedly communist forces who killed more SE Asians than died from all our bombs and bullets.