Category Archives: reagan

California turned this Democrat into a conservative

My California upbringing shows that people will cling to ideas long after the facts reveal those ideas are flawed — a scary thought for the 2020 election.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of America’s bluest of blue regions; attended UC Berkeley, which once was the standard-bearer for campus Leftism, although others have caught up; and lived in and, for many years, practiced law in San Francisco. If politics were a marinade, I would have been marinated in the stuff for decades and would be blue through and through.

Instead, my life experiences gave me a deep and abiding distrust for and disgust with Leftism. To the extent that our American states are laboratories of democracy, California proves everything that is wrong with Leftism.

Growing up, Leftism meant tolerating the Haight Ashbury invasion. After the pretty summer of love, filled with rainbows, rock, and half-dressed young women in gauzy shirts ended, what remained were the ancestors of today’s homeless: drugged out people lying in their own filth, destroying public property, and committing crimes. Back then, the poop map ran the distance of Haight Street, with Golden Gate Park thrown in for good measure. Even though San Francisco was less lenient than it is today about homeless behaviors, the City government still allowed the hippies ridiculous leeway when it came to engaging in uncivilized public behavior. But I was still a Democrat.

My public schools were on the cutting edge of each crazy idea that was emanating from teaching colleges, in which Leftism was becoming ascendant. I didn’t learn math because we were being taught some crazy variant of Base 6 math. (Go figure.) I was lucky to be a natural-born reader, because phonics — the thing that makes reading incredibly easy to master in English — were already being phased out in favor of “whole word” teaching. Teachers were also warned not to children who misspelled words lest it harm the children’s self-esteem. These ideas blossomed nationwide in the 1980s, but were already creeping into San Francisco classrooms almost 20 years earlier. Having failed there, they were ready to take on the nation. But I was still a Democrat.

My public schools also featured a handful of gifted teachers, a decent population of good to average teachers, and a small, but completely stable population of horrible teachers, many of whom were also horrible human beings. There was the science teacher who said of a Jewish student, “There’s another one Hitler should have gotten.” There was the math teacher who would periodically insult students as “Future pimps and whores.” There was the English teacher famous for having sex with male students, which bothered us in those days only because she gave them a pass for bad work. There were the teachers counting the days to retirement and a pension who couldn’t be bothered with teaching at all. (I had a lot of those.) The common denominator was that, thanks to government unions, none of these people could be fired and, with the exception of the science teacher — who finally got himself kicked out of the classroom for throwing a movie projector out of the window (although he apparently still collected his salary for years) — all of them continued to teach generations of students. But I was still a Democrat.

Berkeley. Ah, Berkeley! The last dregs of the hippies hanging out in their own urine or vomit while begging on campus or on Telegraph Avenue. People celebrating the day that Ronald Reagan got shot. Pre-modern history being taught through a Marxist lens which is, when you think about it, quite an amazing intellectual contortion. And a constant thread of hostility to America and reverence for the Soviet Union permeating the air…. But I was still a Democrat.

After law school, which I attended in a blue city that was in a red state, I returned to California. For several decades, I routinely made legal arguments before Leftist judges. These were judges who said, “I don’t care what the law is; I think there’s something here;” judges who reluctantly ruled in favor of a bank, only to warn the bank’s counsel, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat;” judges who literally read with their lips moving as they reluctantly came to terms with the fact that discovery statutes sometimes protected defendants. I learned to loath judges because, at least when it came to the ones before whom I practiced, the law was too often irrelevant to them. If the parties were similarly situated in terms of social stature or economic power, the law applied; but if you represented a corporation or a rich individual, most judges before whom I practiced would engage in amazing contortions to rule against your client. Back in those days, I hadn’t heard the terms “living Constitution” or “strict constructionist,” but I knew that, subject to a few notable exceptions, Bay Area judges were not interested in administering the law; they were all about administering their personal version of “justice.” (We’d call it social justice today.) But I was still a Democrat.

Meanwhile, in the 1970s, I’d watched Carter make a hash of America’s economy and foreign policy. I’d seen the economic “malaise,” the “killer rabbits,” the “lust for the Polish people.” I’d watched the Iran Revolution and the hostage crisis, and I’d seen Carter’s simmering hostility to Israel. But I was still a Democrat.

In the 1980s, I watched the Reagan economic miracle. I watched the resurgence of American pride. I saw Reagan, Thatcher, and John Paul III reaffirm classic principles of liberalism and, by doing so, begin chipping away at the Soviet monolith, exposing its rotten foundations. I saw the Soviet Union fall and the Berlin Wall get quite literally dismantled. But I was still a Democrat.

In both the 1970s and the 1980s, I watched as our welfare system grew and grew and, as it grew, I watched it provide truly perverse incentives to people. The worst was the way in which women were economically rewarded for having children out-of-wedlock. I understood that this behavior led to more illegitimate children, more children without any loving male presence in their lives, more children in poverty, and more children who turned to prostitution and crime as they matured. I knew that the pathologies in the black community weren’t because blacks were defective, but were because the government was paying blacks to live have defective lives. But I was still a Democrat.

My politics only started to shift in the late 1990s, not because I’d grasped that all the things I hated about California arose from Leftist principles, but because NPR was lying about Israel. That was my initial cognitive dissonance. The cognitive dissonance worsened after 9/11, when were told Islam had nothing to do with it or people such as Michael Moore likened the terrorists (who slaughtered innocents and whose goal was the subjugation of the world to sharia law, complete with sexual enslavement, second class citizenship, slavery, or death for “non-believers,” especially Jews, and the whole panoply of medieval punishments) to America’s own revolutionaries, who fought for individual liberty. (And yes, 18th C women didn’t have rights and the South had slaves, but the principles the revolutionaries advanced were inherently good and they paved the way for emancipation, women’s rights, gay rights, etc.)

After almost 40 years, I finally realized that I was no longer a Democrat. It was a shocking and uncomfortable realization. After all, I knew, or thought I knew, that Democrats are good and Republicans are evil. Was I now no longer good? Was I now evil?

I eventually decided that I was still good. My goals were still the goals that Democrats always loudly espoused during my early years: True equality before the law for all people, the diminution of tribal hatreds between different cultures and races in America, a thriving economy, strong national security, friendship with Israel (our ally in the Middle East during the waning days of the Cold War and the only true democratic republic in the region), etc. (Obviously, the Democrats no longer espouse many of these goals.) What I finally figured out was that the way to achieve these ends was through conservative means. Intentionally or not, Democrat means invariably achieved the opposite of those goals.

Although I am no longer a Democrat, California continues to provide example after example of failures in Leftist policies. It is a hardcore Democrat state that preserves its mandate through the corrupt practice of “ballot harvesting.” It needs this corruption because reality (which I’ll discuss more below), eventually catches up with totalitarian ideologies and people can then be kept in line only through brute force and corruption.

California sees itself a political leader in the fight against “income inequality,” yet it has one of the most unequal economic systems in America. In the coastal cities, where people make money from products sold outside of America (e.g., Hollywood and Silicon Valley), you have hard Left bazillionaires. In their hard Left cities, you have tens of thousands of homeless people living in squalor. San Francisco once known for the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s wharf, is now the poop capital of America, as well as the car crime capital. Los Angeles is seeing typhus and other very scary infectious diseases making a comeback. In the San Francisco Bay Area, real estate, whether owned or rented, is no longer affordable, so twenty- and thirty-somethings now make a virtue of returning to dorm-style living because it’s all that they can afford.

Were a medieval person to be transported through time to land in one of California’s coastal communities, that person would undoubtedly be confounded by modern technology. However, he would recognize instantly the vast economic chasm between the aristocracy and the masses. Every medieval city had its walled enclaves for the wealthy and the rest of the city, where people lived in filth, disease, and despair.

Travel inland in California and the wealth vanishes. All that’s left is economic despair. The outbreaks of poverty that one sees in the cities — homelessness, diseases, filth — are taking hold in the large inland communities (Bakersfield, Fresno, Sacramento), while the smaller communities are plagued by crime and disrepair. One only has to read Victor Davis Hanson’s elegies to the community that’s been home to his family for generations to understand how the Blue enclaves’ wealth doesn’t reach the rest of California even as, unfortunately, the Blue enclaves’ political ideas do reach those areas . . . and destroy them too.

Meanwhile, as its native-born or legally immigrated citizens despair, California encourages the endless flow of illegal immigrants from Latin America (with unknown numbers of Islamic terrorists sheltering among the crowd). By doing so, California Democrats, who are all about “women’s rights,” encourage unchecked sex trafficking. And California Democrats, who always claim that their policies are “for the children,” encourage coyotes to traffic in children as a way of exploiting America’s laws on behalf of illegal immigrant “families.” And California Democrats, who are all about lifting up America’s minorities, flood American minority communities with people who compete for jobs and bring in crime.

Apropos that crime, it’s completely irrelevant if some left-wing think tanks’ produce statistics “proving” that these illegal immigrants as a whole are less likely to run afoul of the law. Even if only one American is murdered at the hands of an illegal immigrant, that murder is one murder too many. It should never have happened. In every case in which an illegal alien commits a crime, the “but for” cause of that crime was Democrats’ cultivation of illegal immigration. In other words, but for Democrats’ desperation to bring in illegal Latin American immigrants, a teenager might not have been hacked to death by MS-13 gangsters or a mother of four might not have been killed by a hit-and-run, drunk, illegal immigrant driver.

If there ever was an indictment of Democrat policies, California is it. The problem, though, is that we live in the version of an old joke. You know the joke, don’t you? It’s the one that has a whose wife caught him red-handed in a compromising situation.  Rather than apologizing, he demanded of her, “Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?” Even as California’s laboratory of democracy shows that every Leftist policy, when given play, creates social collapse and economic destruction, America’s Leftists, both inside and outside of California, repeatedly ask, “Who are you, the voters, going to believe? The Democrat Party or your lying eyes?”

Tragically, it’s a question that works. It took me 40 years to break free of that question, especially because the subtext was, “If you believe me, you’re good. If you believe your lying eyes, you’ve sworn fealty to the Devil.’

As conservatives like to say, reality always wins . . . but it can take a long, long time. Look at Naomi Wolf, who is rightly being ridiculed for her failure to research one of the core premises of her most recent book.

Naomi assumed that the phrase “death recorded” in suits involving homosexual activity meant that, in Victorian England, scores of gay men were being executed. She didn’t question that assumption, and certainly didn’t bother to do research to confirm her believe, because the assumption jived with her reality — Christians kill gays. Had Naomi questioned her assumptions, she would have discovered, as the man interviewing her did, that (a) “death recorded” was a way of saying that the death sentence was not carried out and (b) that many of those she believed were arrested for homosexual activity were, in fact, arrested for pedophilia, rape, or assault, all with a homosexual angle.

So yes, reality did finally catch up with Naomi . . . but not before she successfully occupied the public stage for decades. It took this type of embarrassing debacle for people to realize that her scholarship has always been shoddy and ought never to have been used as a basis for anything at all.

I hope that the average American is smarter than I am and that reality catches up with that average American in time for the 2020 election. Scott Adams is not sanguine. He believes that the new masters of the universe — the social media titans, working in conjunction with the major media — will warp reality so completely that Trump will not have a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning in 2020. I sincerely hope Adams is completely, off-the-wall wrong with this one.

The post California turned this Democrat into a conservative appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.

California turned this Democrat into a conservative

My California upbringing shows that people will cling to ideas long after the facts reveal those ideas are flawed — a scary thought for the 2020 election.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of America’s bluest of blue regions; attended UC Berkeley, which once was the standard-bearer for campus Leftism, although others have caught up; and lived in and, for many years, practiced law in San Francisco. If politics were a marinade, I would have been marinated in the stuff for decades and would be blue through and through.

Instead, my life experiences gave me a deep and abiding distrust for and disgust with Leftism. To the extent that our American states are laboratories of democracy, California proves everything that is wrong with Leftism.

Growing up, Leftism meant tolerating the Haight Ashbury invasion. After the pretty summer of love, filled with rainbows, rock, and half-dressed young women in gauzy shirts ended, what remained were the ancestors of today’s homeless: drugged out people lying in their own filth, destroying public property, and committing crimes. Back then, the poop map ran the distance of Haight Street, with Golden Gate Park thrown in for good measure. Even though San Francisco was less lenient than it is today about homeless behaviors, the City government still allowed the hippies ridiculous leeway when it came to engaging in uncivilized public behavior. But I was still a Democrat.

My public schools were on the cutting edge of each crazy idea that was emanating from teaching colleges, in which Leftism was becoming ascendant. I didn’t learn math because we were being taught some crazy variant of Base 6 math. (Go figure.) I was lucky to be a natural-born reader, because phonics — the thing that makes reading incredibly easy to master in English — were already being phased out in favor of “whole word” teaching. Teachers were also warned not to children who misspelled words lest it harm the children’s self-esteem. These ideas blossomed nationwide in the 1980s, but were already creeping into San Francisco classrooms almost 20 years earlier. Having failed there, they were ready to take on the nation. But I was still a Democrat.

My public schools also featured a handful of gifted teachers, a decent population of good to average teachers, and a small, but completely stable population of horrible teachers, many of whom were also horrible human beings. There was the science teacher who said of a Jewish student, “There’s another one Hitler should have gotten.” There was the math teacher who would periodically insult students as “Future pimps and whores.” There was the English teacher famous for having sex with male students, which bothered us in those days only because she gave them a pass for bad work. There were the teachers counting the days to retirement and a pension who couldn’t be bothered with teaching at all. (I had a lot of those.) The common denominator was that, thanks to government unions, none of these people could be fired and, with the exception of the science teacher — who finally got himself kicked out of the classroom for throwing a movie projector out of the window (although he apparently still collected his salary for years) — all of them continued to teach generations of students. But I was still a Democrat.

Berkeley. Ah, Berkeley! The last dregs of the hippies hanging out in their own urine or vomit while begging on campus or on Telegraph Avenue. People celebrating the day that Ronald Reagan got shot. Pre-modern history being taught through a Marxist lens which is, when you think about it, quite an amazing intellectual contortion. And a constant thread of hostility to America and reverence for the Soviet Union permeating the air…. But I was still a Democrat.

After law school, which I attended in a blue city that was in a red state, I returned to California. For several decades, I routinely made legal arguments before Leftist judges. These were judges who said, “I don’t care what the law is; I think there’s something here;” judges who reluctantly ruled in favor of a bank, only to warn the bank’s counsel, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat;” judges who literally read with their lips moving as they reluctantly came to terms with the fact that discovery statutes sometimes protected defendants. I learned to loath judges because, at least when it came to the ones before whom I practiced, the law was too often irrelevant to them. If the parties were similarly situated in terms of social stature or economic power, the law applied; but if you represented a corporation or a rich individual, most judges before whom I practiced would engage in amazing contortions to rule against your client. Back in those days, I hadn’t heard the terms “living Constitution” or “strict constructionist,” but I knew that, subject to a few notable exceptions, Bay Area judges were not interested in administering the law; they were all about administering their personal version of “justice.” (We’d call it social justice today.) But I was still a Democrat.

Meanwhile, in the 1970s, I’d watched Carter make a hash of America’s economy and foreign policy. I’d seen the economic “malaise,” the “killer rabbits,” the “lust for the Polish people.” I’d watched the Iran Revolution and the hostage crisis, and I’d seen Carter’s simmering hostility to Israel. But I was still a Democrat.

In the 1980s, I watched the Reagan economic miracle. I watched the resurgence of American pride. I saw Reagan, Thatcher, and John Paul III reaffirm classic principles of liberalism and, by doing so, begin chipping away at the Soviet monolith, exposing its rotten foundations. I saw the Soviet Union fall and the Berlin Wall get quite literally dismantled. But I was still a Democrat.

In both the 1970s and the 1980s, I watched as our welfare system grew and grew and, as it grew, I watched it provide truly perverse incentives to people. The worst was the way in which women were economically rewarded for having children out-of-wedlock. I understood that this behavior led to more illegitimate children, more children without any loving male presence in their lives, more children in poverty, and more children who turned to prostitution and crime as they matured. I knew that the pathologies in the black community weren’t because blacks were defective, but were because the government was paying blacks to live have defective lives. But I was still a Democrat.

My politics only started to shift in the late 1990s, not because I’d grasped that all the things I hated about California arose from Leftist principles, but because NPR was lying about Israel. That was my initial cognitive dissonance. The cognitive dissonance worsened after 9/11, when were told Islam had nothing to do with it or people such as Michael Moore likened the terrorists (who slaughtered innocents and whose goal was the subjugation of the world to sharia law, complete with sexual enslavement, second class citizenship, slavery, or death for “non-believers,” especially Jews, and the whole panoply of medieval punishments) to America’s own revolutionaries, who fought for individual liberty. (And yes, 18th C women didn’t have rights and the South had slaves, but the principles the revolutionaries advanced were inherently good and they paved the way for emancipation, women’s rights, gay rights, etc.)

After almost 40 years, I finally realized that I was no longer a Democrat. It was a shocking and uncomfortable realization. After all, I knew, or thought I knew, that Democrats are good and Republicans are evil. Was I now no longer good? Was I now evil?

I eventually decided that I was still good. My goals were still the goals that Democrats always loudly espoused during my early years: True equality before the law for all people, the diminution of tribal hatreds between different cultures and races in America, a thriving economy, strong national security, friendship with Israel (our ally in the Middle East during the waning days of the Cold War and the only true democratic republic in the region), etc. (Obviously, the Democrats no longer espouse many of these goals.) What I finally figured out was that the way to achieve these ends was through conservative means. Intentionally or not, Democrat means invariably achieved the opposite of those goals.

Although I am no longer a Democrat, California continues to provide example after example of failures in Leftist policies. It is a hardcore Democrat state that preserves its mandate through the corrupt practice of “ballot harvesting.” It needs this corruption because reality (which I’ll discuss more below), eventually catches up with totalitarian ideologies and people can then be kept in line only through brute force and corruption.

California sees itself a political leader in the fight against “income inequality,” yet it has one of the most unequal economic systems in America. In the coastal cities, where people make money from products sold outside of America (e.g., Hollywood and Silicon Valley), you have hard Left bazillionaires. In their hard Left cities, you have tens of thousands of homeless people living in squalor. San Francisco once known for the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s wharf, is now the poop capital of America, as well as the car crime capital. Los Angeles is seeing typhus and other very scary infectious diseases making a comeback. In the San Francisco Bay Area, real estate, whether owned or rented, is no longer affordable, so twenty- and thirty-somethings now make a virtue of returning to dorm-style living because it’s all that they can afford.

Were a medieval person to be transported through time to land in one of California’s coastal communities, that person would undoubtedly be confounded by modern technology. However, he would recognize instantly the vast economic chasm between the aristocracy and the masses. Every medieval city had its walled enclaves for the wealthy and the rest of the city, where people lived in filth, disease, and despair.

Travel inland in California and the wealth vanishes. All that’s left is economic despair. The outbreaks of poverty that one sees in the cities — homelessness, diseases, filth — are taking hold in the large inland communities (Bakersfield, Fresno, Sacramento), while the smaller communities are plagued by crime and disrepair. One only has to read Victor Davis Hanson’s elegies to the community that’s been home to his family for generations to understand how the Blue enclaves’ wealth doesn’t reach the rest of California even as, unfortunately, the Blue enclaves’ political ideas do reach those areas . . . and destroy them too.

Meanwhile, as its native-born or legally immigrated citizens despair, California encourages the endless flow of illegal immigrants from Latin America (with unknown numbers of Islamic terrorists sheltering among the crowd). By doing so, California Democrats, who are all about “women’s rights,” encourage unchecked sex trafficking. And California Democrats, who always claim that their policies are “for the children,” encourage coyotes to traffic in children as a way of exploiting America’s laws on behalf of illegal immigrant “families.” And California Democrats, who are all about lifting up America’s minorities, flood American minority communities with people who compete for jobs and bring in crime.

Apropos that crime, it’s completely irrelevant if some left-wing think tanks’ produce statistics “proving” that these illegal immigrants as a whole are less likely to run afoul of the law. Even if only one American is murdered at the hands of an illegal immigrant, that murder is one murder too many. It should never have happened. In every case in which an illegal alien commits a crime, the “but for” cause of that crime was Democrats’ cultivation of illegal immigration. In other words, but for Democrats’ desperation to bring in illegal Latin American immigrants, a teenager might not have been hacked to death by MS-13 gangsters or a mother of four might not have been killed by a hit-and-run, drunk, illegal immigrant driver.

If there ever was an indictment of Democrat policies, California is it. The problem, though, is that we live in the version of an old joke. You know the joke, don’t you? It’s the one that has a whose wife caught him red-handed in a compromising situation.  Rather than apologizing, he demanded of her, “Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?” Even as California’s laboratory of democracy shows that every Leftist policy, when given play, creates social collapse and economic destruction, America’s Leftists, both inside and outside of California, repeatedly ask, “Who are you, the voters, going to believe? The Democrat Party or your lying eyes?”

Tragically, it’s a question that works. It took me 40 years to break free of that question, especially because the subtext was, “If you believe me, you’re good. If you believe your lying eyes, you’ve sworn fealty to the Devil.’

As conservatives like to say, reality always wins . . . but it can take a long, long time. Look at Naomi Wolf, who is rightly being ridiculed for her failure to research one of the core premises of her most recent book.

Naomi assumed that the phrase “death recorded” in suits involving homosexual activity meant that, in Victorian England, scores of gay men were being executed. She didn’t question that assumption, and certainly didn’t bother to do research to confirm her believe, because the assumption jived with her reality — Christians kill gays. Had Naomi questioned her assumptions, she would have discovered, as the man interviewing her did, that (a) “death recorded” was a way of saying that the death sentence was not carried out and (b) that many of those she believed were arrested for homosexual activity were, in fact, arrested for pedophilia, rape, or assault, all with a homosexual angle.

So yes, reality did finally catch up with Naomi . . . but not before she successfully occupied the public stage for decades. It took this type of embarrassing debacle for people to realize that her scholarship has always been shoddy and ought never to have been used as a basis for anything at all.

I hope that the average American is smarter than I am and that reality catches up with that average American in time for the 2020 election. Scott Adams is not sanguine. He believes that the new masters of the universe — the social media titans, working in conjunction with the major media — will warp reality so completely that Trump will not have a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning in 2020. I sincerely hope Adams is completely, off-the-wall wrong with this one.

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Trump is no better or worse than other recent presidents

Hand-wringing about Trump’s personality and private life — when compared to most other recent Presidents — is akin to complaining that a leopard has spots.

One of the things I hear from those who hate Trump personally is that he is worse than any other president who’s ever occupied the White House. Perhaps because I’m a history major, I have to disagree with that. We’ve had a lot of truly reprehensible people in the White House plus a couple of truly reprehensible people trying to get into the White House.

Woodrow Wilson was a model of rectitude in his private life. He was also an ardent racist who segregated the federal civil service, showed the KKK-loving film Birth of a Nation in the White House because he thought it was accurate history, used the excuse of WWI to bring fascism to America, and refused to step down when incapacitated, so that his wife effectively became president of the United States. Bottom line: Awful man, awful president.

Franklin Roosevelt, despite his disabilities, was a fairly compulsive womanizer, a habit he kept up while in the White House. Many people also feel that his innate antisemitism helped enable the Holocaust.

Roosevelt’s bottom line: Awful man, effective president if you like the Leftward tilt he gave the country, and a good wartime leader.

Harry Truman was also a model of rectitude in his private life, but there’s no getting away from the fact that he came up politically through the completely corrupt Pendergast political machine that dominated Missouri. Maybe he kept his nose clean but the reality is that, when you play politics with the corrupt big boys….

Truman’s bottom line: Decent man, decent president. A rarity

John F. Kennedy was disgusting. He got into the White House because his father made a deal with the union bosses, whose last-minute get-out-the-vote effort (in a style only the union bosses know how to do), tipped the balance for him. In exchange, one of Kennedy’s first acts was an executive order unionizing federal employees. Even ardent Leftist Franklin Roosevelt didn’t do that, because he understood that the unions and the politicians would simply throw taxpayer money back and forth at each other, which is precisely what has happened since 1961. Without that dirty deal, it’s doubtful a Democrat would ever have won the White House again. After all, the biggest spenders in every election are always government unions and it’s always on behalf of Democrats.

Kennedy was also a gravely ill man (get it? gravely ill because he had Graves disease) and a drug addict, hopped up on steroids and amphetamines. There were also all the pain medications for his lifelong back problems, which were compounded by the back injury he sustained during the war.

Kennedy’s compulsive womanizing was sickening. We learned recently that deflowered a 19-year-old intern, passed her around to “service” his buddies at the White House, and when he thought she was pregnant, sent her to an abortionist even though that was illegal and Kennedy was a Catholic. We’ve also known for years that he potentially put himself under the control of the mafia thanks to his affair with Judith Exner.

His handling of the Bay of Pigs was a disaster.

Really — and ironically — the only thing that saved Kennedy’s presidency, or at least the reputation of his presidency, was his early demise. Let the Democrat myth-making begin. . . .

Kennedy’s bottom line: Awful man, with a presidency too short to grade.

Lyndon Baines Johnson was also a truly disgusting man. I love this intro from a 1998 Atlantic article about Johnson:

URINATING in a sink, inviting people into his bathroom, showing off his abdominal scar, exposing his private parts: after a while nothing surprises a biographer of Lyndon Baines Johnson. After fourteen years of research for a two-volume biography, of which the second volume, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press, I have, however, found some new evidence, in three areas, that even by Johnson standards is surprising.

That intro doesn’t even mention his sadistic delight in forcing people to do business with him while he was having his bowel movements. Or his racism, for while there may  have been actual principles behind his push behind the Civil Rights Act, he definitely envisioned chaining blacks to the Democrat Party. I remember my father’s revulsion about the fact that Johnson liked picking beagles up by the ears which my father, a man who didn’t even like dogs, thought was unspeakably cruel.

Regarding those “revelations” in the Atlantic article from which I quoted, above, most of them have to do with Johnson’s feelings about the Vietnam War and his political manipulations. Still, I found this bit telling:

Johnson had “an unfillable hole in his ego,” [Bill] Moyers says. Feelings of emptiness spurred him to eat, drink, and smoke to excess. Sexual conquests also helped to fill the void. He was a competitive womanizer. When people mentioned Kennedy’s many affairs, Johnson would bang the table and declare that he had more women by accident than Kennedy ever had on purpose.

Johnson’s bottom line: Awful man who worsened an awful war (it took Nixon to save that) and who proved to be an ineffective leader for a country besieged by overt and covert communist influences.

Nixon was another man who was faithful to his wife, but we all know about his paranoia and political dirty-dealing. Nevertheless, he was an extremely effective president before he left office.

Nixon’s bottom line: Deeply unpleasant man, yet a truly consequential president in terms of his policy initiatives, both good and bad.

Jimmy Carter, was a man of rectitude who eventually proved also to be a man who never met a dictator he didn’t like. Moreover, he was (and continues to be) such an ardent foe of Israel, the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, that one can only suppose antisemitism. It was Carter’s hatred for Israel that led my father, a Democrat, to vote for Reagan in 1980.

Carter’s bottom line: Decent man if you like smug, moralistic antisemites, and one of America’s worst presidents.

Speaking of that 1980 election, how about Teddy Kennedy, the venerable “lion of the Senate”? Manslaughter, alcoholism, compulsive womanizing, sexual assault, and colluding with Russia. There’s a peach of a man.

Teddy Kennedy’s bottom line: Awful in every respect.

Reagan was a decent man while in office. Nevertheless, I recall that when Reagan ran for the presidency, many people were distressed by the fact that he was a divorced man entering the White House with his second wife. It’s worth noting that Trump, another divorced man in the White House, and someone who definitely played the field, has not given rise to any “cheating on Melania” stories since he was elected. (I also find unconvincing the hysteria about the whole “grab ’em” uproar.) Given the colonoscopy level of scrutiny to which Trump is being subjected, I suspect he, unlike many of the presidents in this list, has not used the White House as a cat house. As every romance writer will tell you, rakes can reform.

Reagan’s bottom line: Decent man despite a divorce that could still upset people in 1980 and one of the best presidents to ever occupy the White House — and that’s true despite problems, both of his own making and the making of others, that plagued him during those eight years.

Bill Clinton. Compulsive womanizer, probable rapist, possible pedophile (on Jeffrey Epstein’s Pedophile Island), and unbelievably politically corrupt, along with his even more corrupt wife. Do I need to say more?

Clinton’s bottom line: Utterly reprehensible human being, who had a successful presidency, although it planted a lot of time bombs, such as North Korea, the housing mortgage crisis, punting on rising Islamic terrorism, that bit us in the ass later.

Barack Obama. No matter what Biden says, Biden ran one of the most corrupt White Houses in American history, culminating with his using his administrative agencies to spy on Republican campaigns. (And yes, I’m certain he spied on all of them. It simply became focused on Trump when Trump won the primary.)

There were also the little things that ought to have distressed everyone during the Obama era, such as his inviting hate-filled, misogynist, antisemitic, anti-American rappers to the White House. There was the constant racial division that poured out of him (“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” “The police acted stupidly.” Etc.). There was his increasingly openly expressed hostility to Israel, something that paired well with the openly anti-Semitic people who’d been a part of his political life for decades. He is the political Godfather of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. I could go on, but I think the next two years will do a good job of exposing just how bad Obama was.

Obama’s bottom line: It’s hard to say whether Obama has been a morally decent man personally. The press kept (and still tries to keep) such a tight lid on everything about him, before, during, and after the White House, that we really don’t know Obama the man. We do know that he’s a race baiter, an Israel hater, and a friend of antisemites, so to me that makes him an awful man. He was also an awful president, keeping the economy in chains, getting America into multiple wars, destroying our military, unleashing the malevolent Arab spring, turning on (admittedly unsavory characters) such as Mubarek and Qaddafi, pandering to Putin . . . the list is endless.

And now we’ve got candidate Joe Biden, a former Vice President and perennial senator, whom many of those who hate Trump are claiming represents the last gasp of “normalcy.” Speaking of “normalcy,” don’t forget that the phrase comes from Warren G. Harding, an adulterer and the man who had the most corrupt presidency right up until Obama appeared on the scene.

Let me count Joe’s sins: The obvious sins are that he’s a plagiarist, a liar, an unbelievably creepy man around woman and an even more creepy man around little girls, a racist (Obama is “clean”? Really?), a gaffe machine, and a man whose every political instinct for decades has been wrong. Cleverly, Biden hasn’t amassed great wealth despite a long career in politics (Harry Reid, anybody?) but as the developing Ukrainian and Chinese scandals show, that his merely a cover for his extreme corruption: He used his government power to enrich his son.

Joe also announced his run by claiming that foreign leaders are begging him to run. Does that sound good for America? It doesn’t for me. I’ve yet to see a foreign president who puts America’s interests first.

And most importantly, is all of the above “normal?” No. Joe is not normal. He’s weird, creepy, and dishonest. That’s the bottom line on Joe: Stupid and icky.

All of the above is not what-aboutism. That is, I’m not saying, “Well, sure, Trump lies . . . but what about. . . .?” “Or sure, Trump cheated on his wives, but what about. . . .?”

I’m trying to say something different, which is that, while the White House is certainly a bully pulpit, I don’t view it as an actual pulpit — because, since Washington, it never has been an actual pulpit. Moreover, the last guy I can think of who was both a model of rectitude and an extraordinarily successful president was Calvin Coolidge, who got elected 99 years ago.

I certainly don’t quarrel with those who claim that a job requirement for a president is that the president should be able to comport himself on the world stage, but I don’t confuse that requirement with moral decency. Moreover, Donald Trump does fine on the world stage. Trump, who’s been a top-of-the-world businessman for decades is, in fact, quite comfortable functioning at those rarefied echelons. Moreover, as I noted above, since Trump got elected, there haven’t been bimbo eruptions, there haven’t been nasty rappers, there haven’t been divorces . . . there haven’t been any personal scandals. He doesn’t drink or do drugs. Within the White House, he is a man of rectitude.

To the extent Trump is a sinner and a liar and a bombastic man, the laundry list I made above shows that America has never needed, and has seldom had, men of stunning moral rectitude and character in the White House. Moreover, those men who have had the best character in recent years were nothing to write home about. Jimmy Carter was arguably that man and he stank as a human being and a president. The two Bushes were arguably those men and they too were mediocre presidents at best.

Good men can be ineffective executives; bad (not corrupt, but just yucky) men can be effective executives. In my house, I want a good man; in my White House, I want an effective executive — and one, moreover, who loves America and Americans. That’s Trump.

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Are You Better Off Today Than You Were 8 Years Ago?

I think it’s worth remembering something Ronald Reagan said at the last debate against the incumbent Jimmy Carter a week before the 1980 election.

Here’s what then candidate Reagan said:

Next Tuesday is Election Day. Next Tuesday all of you will go to the polls, will stand there in the polling place and make a decision. I think when you make that decision, it might be well if you would ask yourself, are you better off than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was? Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we’re as strong as we were four years ago? And if you answer all of those questions yes, why then, I think your choice is very obvious as to whom you will vote for. If you don’t agree, if you don’t think that this course that we’ve been on for the last four years is what you would like to see us follow for the next four, then I could suggest another choice that you have.

We’ve lived under 8 years of Obama and are c0nsidering his acolyte to add at least 4 more.

Are you better off than you were 8 years ago?

  • Inflation is tamed but the result of that has been consecutive bubbles in the stock market that benefit the rich at the expense of the middle class or those living on a fixed income.
  • The unemployment statistics have been rigged. If we captured unemployment statistics using the same methodology in place in 1980 the unemployment rate would be double the current rate of 4.9%, with over a third of the country outside of the labor force.
  • Medical costs continue to soar, as does the cost of insurance. While Obamacare promised to boost access, it hasn’t delivered with an increasing number of insurers leaving the exchange market, leaving consumers with often no insurance choice at all.

Is America respected throughout the world as it was?

  • Ask the Chinese who are busy turning the western Pacific into their swimming pool.
  • Or the Russians who shot down an airliner full of civilians, annexed a chunk of a neighbor, and support a regime that made a joke of Obama’s red lines.
  • Or ISIS who formed in the power vacuum left in Iraq after Obama refused to negotiate a status of forces agreement with the Iraqi government.
  • Or the Taliban who is gradually reestablishing the safe haven that it once had that provided the launching pad for the greatest mass murder in American history.
  • Or North Korea which continues to refine its nuclear and missile capabilities without censure.
  • Or the Jihadis who have struck dozens of times in Europe, killing hundreds all over the continent and making Americans who travel there think twice, the way we once did when we traveled to the Middle East in the 1970s.

Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we’re as strong as we were eight years ago?

  • The Boston Marathon bombing.
  • The Pulse Nightclub attack in Orlando.
  • The San Bernardino massacre.
  • The Fort Hood shooting.
  • The Recruiting Center shooting in Chattanooga.
  • The 2016 Attack on the Dallas Police.

And how about the relations between the races after 8 years of America’s first black president?

  • The 2009 BART riots after the police shooting of Oscar Grant.
  • The 2010 BART Verdict riots. Another one occurred weeks later.
  • The 2010 Westlake district riots after police gun down a Guatemalan immigrant.
  • The 2012 Anaheim riots after multiple police shootings in which Manuel Diaz was killed.
  • The 2013 Flatbush riots after NYPD shoot and kill Kimani Gray.
  • The 2014 Ferguson riots after Michael Brown was shot and killed by Fergusson police.
  • The 2014 riots in NYC, Berkeley, and other cities after a grand jury refuses to indict Eric Garner.
  • The 2015 Baltimore riots after the death of Freddy Gray.
  • The 2016 riots in New York, Baton Rouge, St. Paul, Chicago and other cities after the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
  • The 2016 riots in Milwaukee.
  • The 2016 riots in Charlotte after the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott by police.
  • And the year isn’t over.

As Reagan said, “And if you answer all of those questions yes, why then, I think your choice is very obvious as to whom you will vote for.” That choice today would be Hillary Clinton. And if you don’t, then your choice is clear. Donald Trump may not be Ronald Reagan, but having lived through the nightmare of the 1970s not once but TWICE thanks to Hillary and Obama, he is the only sensible choice.

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