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American history

WAS THE CIVIL WAR A MISTAKE?

Could diplomacy have worked?

By Lawrence J. Fedewa, May 4, 2018 — The 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. celebrated his life, his death, and his legacy.  The occasion also brought to mind the strategy he embodied in his quest for equal rights, namely, non-violent civil disobedience. He became the conscience of the nation, a beacon of righteousness in the darkness of an evil stain on America’s dogma of “the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. And finally, a martyr to the cause of non-violent conflict. Yet, even in death, he accomplished a volcanic shift in America’s understanding of our failings and our need to change.

The civil rights era of the 1960’s occurred 100 years after the last major civil rights conflict, the Civil War. The contrast between the two events could hardly be more profound. The most obvious difference is in the cost of the violent confrontation. It is estimated that there were 650,000 casualties between 1861 and 1865. Between 1960 and 1968 the most notable casualty was Dr. King himself.

What was accomplished?

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SUBURBAN COWBOY, Chapter Two: The Summer of ’95

The summer of 1995 started at Christmas, 1993. That was when my grown  daughter, Kirsten, announced she was going to learn to ride a horse, and that I was going to teach her. I learned a long time ago to do what women tell me, so I agreed to the project, thinking that it probably would never happen. But she persisted and changed my life.

I had not taught anyone how to ride since I was Riding Master at a boy’s camp during the summers I was in college. My brothers and I had been taught how to ride and how to train young horses by Jim Rooker, at that time a veterinary student at Michigan State College (East Lansing, Michigan). Jim went on to become one of the best-known Arabian breeders and trainers in the country. My Dad had, on the advice of Professor Byron Goode of Michigan State’s School of Veterinary Medicine, bought two Arabian yearlings and an older gelding named Don, who had been used to teach college students how to ride. He also set us up with Jim Rooker.

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Democratic socialism versus democratic capitalism in America

Bernie Sanders, the socialist senator from Vermont, entered the Democratic primaries in 2016 as an advocate of “democratic socialism”. Since then, “democratic socialism” has come to describe what is known as the left wing of the Democratic Party.

So, what is democratic socialism?

The classic definition of socialism is “a system of government in which the means of production and distribution of goods are owned, controlled or regulated by the government.”

The most radical form of socialism is communism, where all property is owned and distributed by the government. Less radical forms of socialism are seen in the governments of Western Europe, where private property is recognized but government has the responsibility of acquiring (through taxes) enough wealth to provide for physical well-being of all its citizens, however that may be interpreted at any given time.

As the demands of the population grow, so does the amount of tax revenue needed to provide for these demands. At some point, especially when unemployment is high, the taxes on the companies producing the country’s wealth get so great that those companies cannot keep up, and the entire system fails. If not stopped, people will start to go hungry, and riots will follow – as is happening in Venezuela right now. American examples of this situation are Detroit and Puerto Rico, which have taxed themselves into bankruptcy.  Keep Reading

What is Democratic Capitalism?

By Lawrence J. Fedewa

The first thing to understand is that “democracy’ is a system of governance, and “capitalism” is an economic system. The genius of America has been to unite these two elements into a synergistic whole with the goal of providing every American “the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The foundation of capitalism is “profits.” A profit occurs when you sell something for more than you paid for it. All taxes depend on profits – no profits, no taxes; no taxes, no government. So, if governments (combining local, state and national) take too much of the profits generated by businesses, there will not be any profits, and the economy will fail – and people will go hungry.

Thus, there will always be a tension between government and business over the amount of profits government takes and the amount kept by businesses. Since there is no accepted “balance,” there is always a tug of war between advocates of “big government” and “limited government,” generally represented these days by the Democrats and the Republicans.
There are some basic issues at stake. First of all, governments generally have the guns, meaning the resources to enforce whatever they want to enforce, whether through confiscation (taxes), incarceration (prison), or militarization (martial law). Keep Reading

School Safety: Three key issues

Sympathize, but not simplify, safeguard the children, upgrade prevention

By Lawrence J. Fedewa 2/27/18

The current debates stemming from the Parkland massacre finally must deal with three key issues:

  1. The emotional climate following this tragedy
  2. The requirements to provide for physical safety of public gathering places
  3. The establishment of a crime prevention capability

 

  1. The emotional climate following this tragedy

The anguish and grief of the victims and their loved ones are not only understandable but are shared by empathetic observers everywhere. The natural reactions to this event are anger, demands for action, and fear for the lives of school children everywhere. The intensity of these emotions can easily lead to hysteria, which in turn can lead to acceptance of simplistic solutions. School safety is not a simple issue; it is a very complex issue. Because this murderer used a gun to execute his perverted mission does not mean that the solution to all the aspects of this type of assault is the further restriction of gun possession.

A determined bad guy can always find a weapon to execute his murders, whether a gun, a sharp knife, a sword, a bomb, another explosive or weapon– and they have. And no matter how good the background check, someone will always slip through the net – by chance or by changing since the check was done. So, other measures must be also employed.

  1. The requirements to provide for physical safety of public gathering places

President Trump has focused rightly on the need to “harden schools as targets” and his public discussions have highlighted many very effective measures which have been developed by numerous school districts. Some of the most effective that have surfaced are: single point of entry to each school with metal detectors managed by armed guards, concealed weapon carrying school personnel, specifically trained to protect students, bullet-proof, locked individual classrooms, and others. It appears that this search is well underway without more attention here. The most successful prevention program in recent years is the way we stopped airline hijacking. Everyone complains about airport security, but we all get scanned, and we don’t have any more hijacking (but it didn’t stop the 9/11 hijackers).

  1. The establishment of a crime prevention capability

The most complicated issue in this whole discussion is the fact that our entire law enforcement is based on catching and successfully prosecuting criminals. Their mission is NOT preventing crimes. The fact is that there is NO law-enforcement agency — or any other government agency — has the mission of preventing crimes. And there is a very solid reason for that. The reason is to protect the privacy and civil rights of individual citizens. The idea of giving the government the power to decide whether I am a threat to society on the basis of my exercise of free speech, or my counseling sessions with a mental health professional, or my history as a prisoner, or wife abuser, or member of an out-of-power political party or partisan organization is fraught with potential for abuse. Especially in view of the current doubts about the FBI and the FISA courts.

The provisions for temporary confiscation of weapons reported by several states, e.g. Indiana, have tackled this problem already and these experiments can set an example of attempts to reconcile crime prevention with catching criminals. The final decision as to the retention of a weapon permanently in these procedures lies with a judge – within 24 to 72 hours. The issue is, what are the criteria on which the judge will make his decision? What is the basis in law?

There is, of course, a common sense, common law rationale for such actions, namely, to protect the common good of society. But the principal thrust of American jurisprudence has always been to protect the individual citizen from an overzealous, even hostile government. Unfortunately, we are currently experiencing glaring examples of the value of such protections, Recent revelations of the federal government’s flagrant abuse of its powers by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) courts represent the need for very serious caution in giving ANY government body more powers over our lives. Nor is the Judicial Branch of the government any better. How many times have we witnessed clearly partisan verdicts by federal judges, whether district, appellate or Supreme Court? Clearly, the supposedly impartial “wise men (and women)” of the American judiciary are fast disappearing.

Yet, such measures MUST be taken immediately. Today, we live in constant threat for terrorists, whether foreign of home-grown.  We have been attacked since 9/11/2001 by many persons, on many occasions, using weapons ranging from airplanes to butcher knives. Before that were the Oklahoma City bombing (1995), and Columbine school massacre (1999) and other tragic events. It is about time that we face the inadequacy of out current safety infrastructure.

But how? How do we balance individual rights with the prevention of such terrorist acts? My own view is that we must endow crime prevention efforts with aggressive transparency. No more secret arrests. No more unannounced confiscation of weapons or “temporary” incarceration. Our only protection as free American citizens is open courtrooms, public announcements, and provision of competent legal defense. One of the major defenses against unlawful search and seizure should be the press. Unfortunately, like the courts, the press has revealed itself as frequently biased and unreliable. However, the counterbalance to that dereliction of duty is the internet, social media, and an activist citizenry.

These observations and opinions are not answers to the choices which face us. They are reasons to act, cautions against poorly analyzed actions, and desperate calls for doing something to prevent atrocities like Parkland, Florida – but doing the right things.

Copyright 2018, Richfield Press, Ltd,

The controversies around school shootings

A UK interviewer asks for insight into American approaches to the tragic shooting in a Florida school.http://bit.ly/2HLBVs3    (22 minutes)

What has happened to our colleges in America?

The temporary victory of the New Left

Many Americans have been shocked and dismayed by the lawless behavior of students on several campus protesting the Trump election. What is going on?

There are two keys to understanding these demonstrations: first, these student protests are flourishing in an environment fostered by the faculties at these institutions; and second, the faculty preaches dogmas which mark a generational shift in values. The fundamental analysis therefore must begin with the faculty. Student behavior is primarily an acting out of faculty indoctrination. Administrators, while generally sympathetic to the students, are caught between angry students and their Boards and other supporters demanding a stop to these outrageous demonstrations.

So, what are today’s professors teaching and why? America’s academic institutions are dominated by people who grew up in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The overarching issues of those days were opposition to the Vietnam War, which started in the universities of the time, and the civil rights movement whose champion was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Both causes were anti-establishment, and both were based on a sense of moral superiority. It did not take long for the believers in the two causes to join forces. They filled mutual needs: the anti-Vietnam movement was based initially on the objections of college students (mostly white) to being required to fight in a war which was neither understood nor supported by most Americans.

The issue quickly became whether the federal government had the right to draft youngsters at all. Middle America stood firmly with the government on that issue, thus spawning widespread opposition to the anti-war movement and solidifying support for the War beyond what is had been in the first place.  The champion of the Middle American view was Alabama Governor George Wallace, who also had a reputation as a segregationist.

What the anti-war movement needed was a cause larger than the discomfort of some white college boys. They needed a transcendent cause which they found in the civil rights movement. That cause was social justice. Specifically social justice , as interpreted to mean equality of all Americans — legally, socially, economically and morally. The civil rights movement needed white support; the leaders were aware that without it, they would never achieve their goals. It was a marriage made in heaven.

The common theme of both causes was opposition to the same government which had gotten us into the War in Vietnam, which was allowing discrimination against African Americans, but which was supported by the American public. The champion of this synthesis of the two rebel causes was Bobby Kennedy.

The Roosevelt Democrats (the “Old Left”) meanwhile were enacting Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society legislation, which was aimed especially at using federal tax money to assist the poor. However, Johnson also supported the Vietnam War, and thus became the target of the anti-war movement. That support spelled his doom as president. He took himself out of the presidential race in March, 1968, In April, Dr. King was assassinated. The combined support of the advocates of the Great Society, the civil rights movement, and the anti-war movement then fell to Democrat Senator Robert Francis Kennedy, who embodied the melding of the three strands of anti-establishment support. Then, in June, 1968,  Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. Thus was born the New American Left, the heirs of Bobby Kennedy. In forty years, they had only one candidate for President before Barack Obama, Democrat George McGovern, who lost to Richard Nixon in a landslide in 1972.

But many of those hippies and disillusioned youngsters went to graduate school and became the professors of the next generation. They did not give up their beliefs in social equality, the primary responsibility of the federal government for social justice, their disdain for American institutions including religion, business, nationalism, and the traditional family. The New Left ideology began to penetrate American society more the older and more powerful yesterday’s hippies became. In the protected enclaves of the universities and the media, their orthodoxy became more extreme and more absolute.

This ideology benefited through the years from the tacit approval of many of cohorts who grew up to positions of power in other fields and who allowed their children to be taught this new orthodoxy. As the years passed, more and more of these children were persuaded by this new view of American society.

In 2008, forty years after the fateful summer of 1968, they finally won their long battle for control of the American government. They elected Barack Hussein Obama as president and a Democrat Congress to back him up. It took the Great Recession to do it. But the New Left — spawned by the crisis of 1968, hardened by 40 years in the wilderness, and preaching an expanded view of human equality, anti-war idealism, anti-business bias, an anti-family and anti-religion world-view – the New Left now finally controlled the federal government of the United States of America.

The dedication to this ideology on the part of its true believers cannot be overestimated. It is based on a series of high moral convictions

  • the absolute equality of ALL human beings, no matter their age, race, gender, physical capacities, religion or social position; a central reality of this dogma is the existence of a universal racism in the America;
  • the absolute obligation to oppose All limitations on human behavior whether religious, civil law, or cultural prejudice which do not do physical harm to another;
  • to protect and foster government control of all institutions (unless government is wrong, of course!);
  • to pursue the ideal of a peaceful world even in the face of violent opposition and conflict, believing that all people really yearn for peace above all.

These high moral goals motivate the feeling of superiority which is characteristic of the New Left, as well as the ferocity with which they  attack their opponents. In the most dedicated adherents of the New Left, there is a religious fervor not unlike that which motivates the radical Islamists. Those who disagree must be defeated at any cost, even at the cost of their destruction. The New Left are not as violent as the Islamic extremists, but there are similarities.

The reason for the extreme reaction of the New Left to the election of Donald Trump is that they were convinced they had finally won their generational battle with the silent majority. They were so intoxicated by the victories of Barack Obama – especially after he defeated businessman Mitt Romney in 2012 – that LOSING was unthinkable! They were confident that they now controlled the future of America.

The New Left values dominated, they believed, the new American culture, never again to be denied. The Democrat Party, one of only two major political parties in the United States, had become the vessel of the New Left, and was considered by all the New Left press and pundits to be firmly enthroned as the majority party for the foreseeable future. Their agenda had already skipped over the 2016 election and concentrated on what their next priority, climate change, meant to the world.

Then the deplorable Donald Trump won the presidency! His Republicans won both Houses of Congress, and most of the governorships and state legislatures! The man who has threatened to undue most of what Obama did  was now in the position to do it!

How could this happen? The New Left had allowed the Old Left to control the Democratic nomination until it was too late. Throughout the campaign that followed, they were continually referred to as “the status quo”, and most gallingly as “the establishment”! That critical mistake opened the door to the silent majority – who finally spoke.

Does it mean, they asked, that we are now destined to return to the shadows, that we never really won the hearts and minds of the American people? That America is condemned to live forever in free market capitalism, restricted immigration, a monetary economy, a war-like world? Must we now accept the possibility that all our beliefs about the society and the nature of human beings have been false?

In New Left enclaves such as the universities and the big cities and the media, the outcome of the election just cannot be accepted without a fight. “Send out the students, the activists, the camp followers – TV will cover. Somewhere someone will figure out a way to destroy the opposition, reverse the election, and return the nation to sanity.”

This is what we are up against in the universities and in American society. The only way to regain control of the hearts and minds of our youth is to withdraw support for the faculties who proselytize the doctrines of the New Left in our schools. This begins with local school boards, with student-centered financing of education, with sharpened protections of free speech on our campuses, especially publicly funded institutions, and by protection of students who are in effect whistle-blowers on extremist teachers and professors.

All such activities must be conducted with a careful view toward protecting the freedom of speech even of the extremists. That can only be done with a liberal use of freedom of choices by individual students (careful selection of schools and colleges and  scrutiny of required courses) and of parents (school choice). Persecution of  violators, however defined, would simply desecrate the mandates in the American Constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech and assembly. So, I am not advocating any witch hunts. We can only fight excesses of freedom by providing more options of freedom.

But fight it we must – or we will lose another generation of young Americans!

Freedom’s Call to Action

Freedom’s Call to Action

Last evening I was the guest of a radio interviewer in Scotland. He began by remarking that a poem I  recorded on YouTube was so inspiring that he wanted to play it before we began our interview. He called it universal in its appeal to all people who seek freedom and justice, even though it is an American calling out to his fellow citizens. I was touched as I heard my voice and my message being heard by people in foreign lands. Later, I realized that this video was not available even on my own website. So here it

is!