Sunday Roast, October 23rd, 2011: Do Moderates Really Exist?

Eisenhower and Kennedy

Published in the Pawling Press, Pawling, NY, Friday, October 14th, 2011, under the title “If Moderates Ruled…” by Jane Schneider

Note: I wrote the following in response to an opinion piece by the Pawling Press‘s conservative columnist, Mr. Paul Keyishian. Mr. Keyishian’s piece was entitled “When Moderates Ruled the Country”; it should be available in full at http://www.pawlingpress.com next week.

“I agree wholeheartedly with Paul Keyishian’s piece in the October 7th edition of the Pawling Press, wherein Mr. Keyishian discusses the presidencies of Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, and the positive effects that these administrations’ moderate and forward-thinking policies had on our country. It was an era when science and technology leapt forward, an era when national goals and ambitious aims were lauded, encouraged, and became part of our national identity.

As Mr. Keyishian said, President Eisenhower “had the foresight to anticipate the need for the interstate highway system…”, “And to help stimulate the national economy, while simultaneously assisting those in need, Eisenhower wisely continued the most necessary and efficient New Deal policies of FDR.” About President John F. Kennedy, Mr. Keyishian said, “President Kennedy generally supported policies that were sensible, pragmatic, and humane. His dedication to social justice was exemplified by his support of the civil rights movement, creation of the Peace Corps, and promotion of various programs to assist the underprivileged and oppressed.”

Again, the point of Mr. Keyishian’s piece was that America, under these two moderate, more-or-less centrist, presidencies prospered and became an example to the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, in today’s political terms, these types of programs and policies are now considered to be left-wing, liberal ideals, and are now vilified by politicians and pundits as ‘socialist.’ It appears that the extreme right-wing minority of the conservatives in power has exerted such a gravitational pull that all political ideologies have shifted rightward, out of their natural orbit around the center. For instance, as a liberal, I know that President Obama is centrist, or perhaps marginally left-of-center, yet he is labeled as a liberal (or much, much worse) by pundits. What is terribly sad and foreboding is that such a centrist cannot even propose a national aim or goal, such as investing in the country’s future by becoming a world leader in green technology, without being shouted down – inaccurately – as a socialist. Do the shouters and pundits not remember what, in retrospect, felt like the glory days of America as a world leader and pioneer in technology, particularly space technology? Do they not realize that, if this country is to continue to be a world leader and aspire to such glory again, we must have national goals and dreams that transcend party politics and petty, mundane squabbles?

And do they also not realize that, in those exciting, inspiring years under two moderate Presidents, tax rates for the wealthy soared as high as 90%? Eisenhower and Kennedy did not borrow money to achieve their lofty goals, they used tax revenues to do so. So why is anyone balking today about increasing taxes on the wealthy by a mere 4% or 5% (letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire, bringing their rates back to the 39.6%, I believe, under Clinton), when so much needs achieving in today’s United States, and should not be achieved by borrowing more money? A nation so beset by petty and divisive politics desperately needs a national goal, one that will not only inspire Americans, but that will provide jobs, a cleaner environment, less dependency on fossil fuels (thereby reducing certain national security issues), and will instill the American feeling of pride in being part of something that will benefit ourselves and future generations. As the poet Robert Browning put it, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp — or what’s a heaven for?”

Where are the moderate, far-seeing, pragmatic public servants in today’s political arena? I fear that they are all but extinct.”

Jane E. Schneider

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to present your thoughts on any topic that comes to mind.

70 thoughts on “Sunday Roast, October 23rd, 2011: Do Moderates Really Exist?

  1. A very thought-provoking post, Jane. Thank you.

    My politics haven’t really changed much since the early sixties, back in the days when I concurrently admired both JFK and Barry Goldwater. I still have on my shelf an old book of photography by Goldwater; the first photo in it is one he took of JFK, one which JFK autographed thus:

    For Barry Goldwater whom I urge to follow the career for which he has shown such talent — photography! From his friend — John Kennedy

    Had the two of them been the respective Democratic and Republican candidates in 1964, the first general election in which I was eligible to vote, I still can’t say for sure which one would have gotten my support. And my politics haven’t changed all that much since those days . . . back then I was a moderate who saw virtue in both points of view represented resp. by JFK and BMG, one who saw no virtue in Richard Nixon and very little in Lyndon Johnson. Today, some people who knew me back then, including some family members, see my politics as a blending of socialism and Marxism, a traitor to Amurka, all because I believe that a nation that once defined the word ‘wealthy’ owed part of that wealth for the sole purpose of caring for the basic needs and well-being of its people, particularly of those who for whatever reason did not have the means to adequately care for themselves and/or for their families. I never found, still don’t, much to argue with in this pair of brief paragraphs from the 1964 GOP Platform:

    It is a high mission of government to help assure equal opportunity for all, affording every citizen an equal chance at the starting line but never determining who is to win or lose. But government must also reflect the nation’s compassionate concern for those who are unable, through no fault of their own, to provide adequately for themselves.

    Government must be restrained in its demands upon and its use of the resources of the people, remembering that it is not the creator but the steward of the wealth it uses; that its goals must ever discipline its means; and that service to all the people, never to selfish or partisan ends, must be the abiding purpose of men entrusted with public power.

    Today, the obvious communist Barry Goldwater would be laughed or otherwise forced out of the Republican Party. He had far too much a sense of honor to be allowed continued participation therein, even as Joe McCarthy would feel far more at home in the GOP today than he did in the 1950’s. Meanwhile, JFK was, in 1960, vilified by the fear mongers because he was, heaven forbid, a catholic! . . . and therefore anti-American; today he would be, along with Goldwater, a radical leftist: a communist, Marxist, socialist (think Tea-bagger sign). And both JFK and BMG would hold only one ‘virtue’ over our current communist-Muslim President Obama: though they were both ‘traitors’ to Amurka, at least they were both white.

    What is it that’s happened here in this country in the last fifty years? What has caused or forced the national plunge into the scummy quagmire of greed uber alles? (and all else that may be implied in those three words). Brings to mind one of the alleged rituals at Bohemian Grove in Monte Rio CA, the one called Cremation of Care in which the spirit of the newly slain “Care” was solemnly cremated in an ‘exorcising of the Demon’ ceremony. I suppose it’s not hard to imagine how Greed in self-serving fashion might well demand the end of caring, but in a large enough portion of the nation’s electorate to similarly overtake both Houses of Congress too?

    These are bad times with all the potential of soon becoming substantially worse.

  2. Thanks for the very thought-provoking response, frugal.

    Although I was pretty young, I do remember ‘AuH2O’, and I remember the worry that a Roman Catholic President would mean that ‘America would be ruled by the Pope!’ Yet another fear-mongering prediction that never came true. But pretty much every day that I go to work, I utilize the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System.

    • I utilized the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System when I visited you in NY.

      I do remember the Catholic bashing that went on when John F. Kennedy was campaigning. As a young girl attending Catholic school at the time, these attacks were frightening. It opened my eyes to the hatred in this country.

  3. Excellent post, Jane. You hit the nail on the head. Americans have such short memories and when they do dust off the spider webs covering past memories, it’s TV shows that they recall. Because of fear, our nation has lost itself. From my memory, I believe the seed of underlying fear was planted during the Iran hostage crisis. Reagan’s puppet masters recognized this fear and built upon it. They fed the fire of fear and divided our nation. This fire still burns today. It is the only way that the greedy 1% can control the populace while stealing all our money and assets. “Look over there at the American enemy to freedom while I reach in your pocket and steal your wallet.” The other 99% is finally beginning to wake up and speak up against these aristocratic thieves (my term). The Republican Party and the Wall Street robbers are guilty of economic treason.

  4. I do remain convinced that the assassination of JFK was a professional hit job bought and paid for by those who hated him (a) for who he was, (b) for what he hadn’t done (invade Cuba during Bay of Pigs and/or during the Cuban Missile Crisis, (c) his lack of enthusiasm to escalate the war in Vietnam, and (d) the final straw, ordering a pullout from Vietnam in early October, 1963. Six weeks later it was all over via a plot that included a patsy assassin AND the prearranged findings of a Presidential Commission that would find the patsy guilty of acting alone. Period, QED.

    LBJ may or may not have been parcel, but he certainly understood what he had to do post haste, and before JFK was in the ground, LBJ overturned Kennedy’s pull-out order and wrote a new National Security Action Memo that ordered an immediate escalation of US activities in the Nam, an order which led to the (bogus) Gulf of Tonkin Incident and Resolution in less than a year. Money interests were as pleased, I’m sure, as was the MIC.

    They took out the equally detested Bobby in 1968 when it became clear that he was going to be the Democratic nominee, again with a single ‘patsy’ assassin who to this day can remember nothing of the event or of setup events. Suggests CIA involvement (MKULTRA).

    Martin Luther King? Could be. He was hated as well, and his anti-war crusade was picking up speed. Lone assassin, one who recanted his confession and died in prison not long before his retrial was to commence.

    America died in the early sixties; the coup d’etat was successful and now, fifty years later, the pattern and outcome seem quite clear. The money and the hatred have won.

    • I always believed the same. The single bullet theory never made sense to me… One bullet bouncing all over the place didn’t seem logical. And, there never was a clear explanation as to why Sahran Sahran killed Bobby.

  5. Really good job Jane. I hope the readers in your home town pay attention. I think I used to be a moderate. The more I see hard working people who play by the rules victimized in a game that’s rigged from inception, the leftier I become.

    • I don’t usually get any responses to my stuff that gets into print. No letters in the following week’s paper, nothing: except after my “Flat Earth” one, I received a call from a local man. We screen all calls, so I just let it record since I didn’t recognize the name; in this case, since it was a Pawling phone number, I just assumed that it was a wrong number.

      When I listened to the message a little later, I heard what sounded like an older man, who gave his name, then went on very slowly, saying, “I read the opinion piece in the Pawling Press by Jane E. Schneider,….[pause], and I have to say…[pause] that I was…very….very…[here I was on tenterhooks!]…IMPRESSED…and I just wanted to…let you know.”

      So that’s been it, but it was nice to get a good response from SOMEONE! 😀

      • Makes it all worth the effort when one is praised for excellent work!
        Brava, Jane for that recognition and for today’s smashing post!

  6. Excellent post, Jane. What continues to baffle me is the amount of attention and power given to the Far Right when they actually compose a clear minority (getting smaller all the time) in this country. Apathy among “independents” certainly plays a role, along with an obvious regional influence.

    On the regional issue, I found this intriguing essay at Washington Monthly a short time back. I asked my friend Dave, a Yank teaching American politics in Plymouth, England, for some feedback:

    Finally got around to reading this, and I appreciate it being brought to my attention.

    I have some nit-picks with it: it assumes, deterministically, that the political culture of a given region will remain static from the founding of that region. Immigration patterns in the US have introduced a regional dynamism from Jamestown and Plymouth onwards, and that hasn’t changed.

    I give a lecture in my American politics class that is similar to this: the distinct political cultures of the original colonies, I show a lot of political geography maps over the years demonstrating the immigrant influence, and how that influence changes with time.

    But the argument is compelling, especially the bit about convincing “El Norte” to side with progressive values. That’s the most obvious, and easiest, strategy for the Democrats: all the discussion regarding immigration only serves to alienate Latinos. Rick Perry knew this, which is why he actually had a moderate stance on immigration when governor of Texas (and it’s got him into a lot of trouble with the Republican far-right as a result).

    But this strategy assumes a coherent and consistent approach by the Democrats. I have more faith in the Mariners’ offence than I do expecting any coherence from my Democrats.

  7. A nice picture of the things that taxes pay for and the utter stupidity of the teabaggers. I would like to throw out a very special condemnation for the gal with the sign that says “cut taxes, not defense”. I’m guessing that she’s too stupid and brainwashed to notice that the Democrats have not been trying to cut “defense” but the GOP obstruction resulted in “defense” being put on the table.

  8. Ron Paul goes after the fundy vote. He’s stupid, crazy, lying, or all of the above. There are no other options.

    The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers. On the contrary, our Founders’ political views were strongly informed by their religious beliefs. Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government’s hostility to religion. The establishment clause of the First Amendment was simply intended to forbid the creation of an official state church like the Church of England, not to drive religion out of public life.

    -Ron Paul

  9. Once again they “forget” that the withdrawal from Iraq was negotiated by the Bush Administration. These freaks are really pissing me off and it appears that the “librul media” has also flushed that little fact down the memory hole. Those who don’t seek out their news on line will never know that President Obama honored a deal made by his predecessor.

    (BTW. President Obama has been quietly drawing down the troops in Iraq almost since his first day in office and Iraq hasn’t blown up. The final withdrawal would not have been possible without that draw down.)

    http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/david/lindsey-graham-iraq-withdrawal-obama-failed

  10. Pope names three new saints, man disrupts Mass

    There’s certainly a lot wrong: the Pope missed a teaching opportunity when the man set fire to the bible – instead the story said Benedict was unfazed. (figures)
    The pope should have used the opportunity to address the man or at least had a face to face conference – isn’t that the whole idea of xtianty?

    And the kid who was miraculously prayed out of a nine day coma to give the nun that last step to becoming a ‘saint’ – mmmemmmp. The ‘miracle’ of modern science was the positive in that scenario.

    • Appears this god plays cruel games – picking and choosing who will get the ‘miracle’ cure?
      Cain is an egomaniacal ignoramus.

    • Now it makes sense – the tone and un-importance of ‘announcements’ and frequency of same being put out on FB was confusing.

    • I had to watch my beloved Vikings blow another half-time lead and eat waaaaaaay too much Carne’ Asada. And now I think I’ll go out for a walk but I’ll miss you.

    • I didn’t sleep enough last night. Crashed too early, then woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep.

      I’m waiting for the BCS rankings to see if Alabama or LSU is #1. They are both idle next Saturday then play each other November 5th.

      • They kept LSU at #1. More motivation for the Tide. We’re a four point favorite in the early betting, and we’re the home team. Hopefully nobody gets hurt in practice.

    • I’ve been learning how to run without injury and

      Still amazed at the Cardinals mashing the Rangers in baseball and Texas Tech smashing the Oklahoma Sooners’ streak of consecutive home wins at 39.

      Also helped my daughter’s boyfriend ask her to homecoming dance. It was cute, he wanted to surprise her with a big sign on the back fence. When I gave him the all clear for him to come over, he texted me he would be over in a sex [sic]. I texted him back that he might want to check his spelling the next time he texted his girlfriend’s mom.

  11. Sorry, we were watching the Jets come back to win against San Diego, and watching my hopes of winning this weekend’s office football pool go down the tubes. Took a nap – still trying to keep away the cold that I feel coming on.

  12. I’m watching the World Series, only because the Saints-Colts game is a rout already. A teaser for the local news came on and promo-ed a report about the Hispanics leaving the state are abandoning their pets.

      • After Alabama law, Hispanic kids being bullied

        Machine shop manager Hector Conde said his family has seen the problem firsthand. Conde, whose family lives in Autauga County north of Montgomery, was appalled when his 12-year-old daughter, Monica Torres, told him a schoolmate called her a “damn Mexican” during a school bus ride.

        “She is a citizen. She doesn’t even speak Spanish,” said Conde, a U.S. citizen originally from Puerto Rico. “The culture being created (by the law) is that this sort of thing is OK.”

        • That didn’t start only after the law was passed. It’s just being noticed more by reporters now. Kids will use any tactic at their disposal to differentiate someone, if it suits their purpose.

    • Man. That’s so sad the fear that the government instilled in those folks. I hear you’ve got crops going bad down there as well.

    • That is fascinating!

      The planet itself, based on scientific models of how planets form, is estimated to have started taking shape about 50,000 to 100,000 years ago.

      Amazing.

      • Yep, it’s really cool. Actually, it’s one of those gaps that the creationists have been whining about. “Why can’t you show us a planet being formed” they say. Now that we have a good example they’ll have to move the goalposts again. I’m guessing that they’ll insist on a time lapse for the whole process and ignore the fact that, in cosmology, nothing happens fast enough to record in a few years.

    • Are you going through the McCall’s Pattern Book?

      (I doubt those books still exist. Mom would drag us kicking and screaming – we weren’t always keen on her choices – of patterns or cloth)

        • My youngest brother was sporting an orange and white checkered shirt his first day of kindergarten.
          My guess – it was the end of bolt sale. Mom was really good at those!

          • Heh, one of my Mom’s favorites was orange anything, and I think you’re right about the end of the bolt sale.

            I’d tell her, “Look at me, do you see any reason I might have a problem wearing orange?” She’d respond, “Pffttt,” although I noticed SHE never wore the horrible orange!

    • I had a chance to take a two week sewing course in high school. They forced the guys to take a little home economics and the girls to take a little industrial arts. I took the cooking option because my step mother wasn’t a good cook.

      I didn’t regret my choice until I pulled my favorite leather jacket out and discovered that the zipper crapped out. So far I can’t find a seamstress who will replace the zipper for less than the cost of the jacket and I can’t find a new jacket that I like anywhere near as much.

  13. This is a two part post. The first part is that Pat Buchanan appeared on a radio show that’s infamous for it’s racism.

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/201110230003?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MediaMattersForAmerica-CountyFair+%28Media+Matters+for+America+-+County+Fair%29

    The funny part is that the “Radio Cesspool” (no relation) is the featured article on Wikipedia. They accurately describe patsy as a paleoconservative.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Political_Cesspool

    • The Political Cesspool describes itself as representing “a philosophy that is pro-White … We wish to revive the White birthrate above replacement level fertility and beyond to grow the percentage of Whites in the world relative to other races.

      Then I suggest Mr. Edwards start taking fertility lessons from the male Seahorse.

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