National Child Care System Needs To Pass Congress

Time seems to have stood still over the past 50 years, with the same type of advocates beseeching common sense, and the same conservative complaints being registered about the size and scope of government. Perhaps no issue best underscores that tug and pull in policy creation than the one regarding subsidized child care. The social cost of letting this policy languish for decades is obvious to see, especially after this pandemic.

President Biden is pushing forward with his idea for subsidized child care for low-and-middle-income families and if one were not aware of the years President Nixon was in office, you might think what is unfolding is new. As a Nixon history buff, I can assure you what Republicans are now doing is straight out of the 1971 playbook. That is a sad statement.

Pat Buchanan, a speechwriter, and advisor to Nixon, requested from the White House that he be given the green light to write not only the veto message to the then-named Child Development Act, (pushed by Senator Walter Mondale) but be given latitude to lacerate the entire bipartisan idea.

The goal of the legislation would have created a national network of subsidized child-care centers. Buchanan wanted to have room so to bolster and unite the right-wing who were nervous that Nixon was not conservative enough. Buchanan was given his license and the result was devastating. Partisan politics vs. sound public policy.

I use two examples from Buchanan’s book Nixon’s White House Wars (on my bookshelves) to make this point.

The same battle lines have been drawn again as Biden pushes for needed changes, as reflected in many surveys and polls around the nation. While some will argue about the role of government, I instead, as with many of these issues when it deals with children, view the positive impact upon their lives.

We are aware that many homes with children lack the types of intellectual stimulation that readies a child to be prepared for school and future learning. That is not a knock on any socio-economic group, but rather a general and true statement about many parents today.

Developing such programming would be money well spent so to have children getting the educational care they need now, as we well-know the cost of lost years when it comes to education. In addition, the programming allows for parents to work, and thereby create homes where a child can grow and be comforted in.

Over the past year, we all have witnessed how the pandemic underscored the role and importance of child care for working parents, particularly mothers. The other story that has bounded about in newspaper stories nationwide concerns the real lack of child care options in the private marketplace. Since the marketplace can not meet that social need, the government must be allowed to operate with that programming.

I have always felt blessed with the family life from which I came, which included being read to a lot, always having books about, and the stimulations of radio and newspapers in the home. I wish everyone could have such a start in life. But that can not be. It is, therefore, one reason I strongly support such policy goals for other children as pushed by Biden. Every child deserves to thrive with new ideas.

Best One-Line Summation About Richard Nixon

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Over the decades I have read many books about Richard Nixon.  He has more shelf space in the den, with nearly 80 books by a raft of authors, than any other person I love to read about.  This week I added Pat Buchanan’s Nixon’s White House Wars.

From that book comes the absolute perfect one-line summation of Nixon.  I have never read such a perfectly suited, or concise sentence as that which appears on page 52.

Nixon was like a soldier who had been wounded badly in a war long ago, and, when the weather turned, the pain returned.

Brilliant.

Pat Buchanan’s Supreme Court War Story

Oh, the political war stories that Pat Buchanan could tell.  Agree with him or not, like him or not, he has witnessed a great slice of history and knows how to tell it.  The facts below about the Supreme Court fight during President Nixon’s first term are well known but reading about this time as he writes it—well, it is just fun.  Enjoy.

By June 1968, Nixon, having swept his primaries, was cruising to the nomination and probable victory in November.

The establishment was aghast.

Warren’s bitterness toward Nixon dated to their California days. Sen. Nixon had worked behind the scenes for Ike’s nomination in 1952, though Gov. Warren was California’s favorite son. Warren had been crushed and humiliated — but Nixon was rewarded with the vice presidency.

Now, 16 years later, the chief justice was ready to step down, but desperately did not want his nemesis Nixon choosing his successor.

So, Warren and LBJ colluded in a plot. Warren announced his resignation from the court contingent on Senate confirmation of his successor. LBJ then named Warren’s ally and his own longtime crony, Fortas, to succeed Warren.

The fix was in. Nixon was boxed, and adopted a posture of benign neutrality on Fortas’ elevation, having been warned by future Secretary of State Bill Rogers that he would be accused of anti-Semitism if he blocked the first Jewish chief justice.

With Nixon’s knowledge, some of us on his staff ignored his neutrality posture and urged Senate conservatives to block Fortas.

Foremost among these was Strom Thurmond, who needed little prodding, and who was provided with Flaming Creatures, a graphic film of transvestite sex which Fortas, alone among the nine justices, had deemed acceptable for public viewing.

Senators were invited to a closed room for a screening. Some walked out wobbly. And as I told friend Sim Fentress of Time, the “Fortas Film Festival” was going to do in our new chief justice.

And so it did. Fortas was rejected in early October. In May 1969, President Nixon named Judge Warren Burger to succeed Earl Warren.

By that May also, Attorney General John Mitchell had learned that Fortas was on a $20,000-a-year secret retainer from swindler Louis Wolfson. Mitchell went to see Warren to suggest that his friend Abe resign, rather than be impeached. Fortas got the message.

Now, with a second vacancy, Nixon, to honor his promise to select a Southerner, chose Harvard Law grad and Chief Judge of the 4th Circuit Clement Haynsworth, the youngest chief judge in the nation.

Joe Rauh, counsel for the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, instantly branded Haynsworth a “hard-core segregationist” and liberal Democrats painted him as a grifter steeped in petty corruption, whose court decisions were steered by his stock portfolio.

This was all trash talk. Haynsworth had released black militant H. Rap Brown from jail, without requiring him to post bail, and ruled that lawyers for black defendants had a right to discover whether jurors belonged to any organizations known for bias against blacks.

No matter. Haynsworth was depicted as a corrupt and racist judge and liberal Democrats and Rockefeller Republicans united to vote him down. But while painful to the judge, his vilification by the left had split the nation along a new fault line.

Nixon’s defiant response: He sent another Southern judge up to the Senate, G. Harrold Carswell. Less distinguished than Haynsworth, Carswell got the same treatment. In a statement he had me write, Nixon tore into the Senate for an “act of regional discrimination” against the South.

While losing Beltway battles, we were winning the bigger war.

Nixon then, fatefully, sent up a third nominee, Judge Harry Blackmun of Minnesota, who was approved 94-0.

Suddenly, in 1971, there were two more openings, as Justices Hugo Black, FDR man and former Klansman, and John Harlan resigned.

Nixon called to tell me he was sending up the first woman, a state judge from California, along with an Arkansas bond lawyer.

The heart sank. But Divine Providence intervened.

The American Bar Association voted 11-1 that Mildred Lillie was “not-qualified” and Herschel Friday got a split decision — six “not-qualified” votes and six “barely qualified.”

Panic ensued. Nixon swiftly pivoted to Lewis Powell, ex-head of the ABA, and William Rehnquist, a brilliant young conservative and legal scholar, whom Reagan would elevate to chief justice when Burger retired.

Three days after Nixon’s second inaugural, in Roe v. Wade, written by Blackmun, the court declared the right to an abortion had been hidden in the Constitution, though it had been a crime in every state when Earl Warren was appointed by Ike.

All doubt was now removed. The Supreme Court was using its right to declare what the law says and what the Constitution means — to reshape America in the image of Earl Warren and his judicial clones.

Realization that these were now the stakes, and power the issue, is the reason why Reagan nominee Robert Bork was savaged, and Bush I nominee Clarence Thomas was brutalized.

Behind the hostility to the mild-mannered and decent Neil Gorsuch lies the same malevolence that lynched Clement Haynsworth.

A Divided America

I am one of those who still thinks reading the views from the ‘other side’ still matters.   That is why I read the Op-Ed pages of The Wall Street Journal after getting the news in The New York Times.   That is also why I read Pat Buchanan.

Lord knows I differ with the views at times but knowing how some feel in this nation when written with style and professionalism is important.   I am certain there are few liberal bloggers who have any respect for Buchanan.   I do because I think he is very smart, has tons of institutional memory and historical perspective and is not shy from being most candid.

At a time when too many hunker down with their news sources that mesh with their political viewpoints I can honestly say I reject such a way of becoming informed about the world.  If we are ever going to fix some of the massive problems which we face we at least need to know how they feel on the ‘other side’.  I trust they also open their minds and seek to know about us, too.

A divided America as we now are witnessing, (and I know history shows great splits from the start) can not sustain itself.  Somewhere and soon we need to find the will to mend fences and work toward the solutions to our common problems.   The total lack of faith that can happen starting in January 2017 by one of the leading writers of the conservative side is worthy of reading only for the fact of knowing how deep in the hole we are.  It is sobering.

Now consider the issues that have transfixed the media this election season:

The birther issue, David Duke, the KKK, a Mexican-American judge, Black Lives Matter, white cops, the “Muslim ban,’’ the Battle Flag, the “alt-right,’’ the national anthem, Trump’s refusals to recant his blasphemies against the dogmas of political correctness, or to “apologize.’’

What does the continual elevation of such issues, and the acrimony attendant to them, tell us?

America is bitterly and irreparably divided over race, ideology faith, history and culture, and Trump’s half of the nation rejects the modernist gospel that America’s diversity and multiculturalism are her greatest treasures.

To the contrary, Trump’s half wants secure borders, “extreme vetting’’ of immigrants, especially from the Mideast, and foreign and trade policies marked by an “Americanism’’ that seems to be an antonym for globalism.

They want America to be “great again,’’ and they believe she was once, and is not now.

No matter who wins in November, America is going to face a divide unseen in decades. If Donald Trump wins, he will confront a resident media more hateful than that which confronted Richard Nixon in 1968. If Hillary Clinton wins, she will come to office distrusted and disbelieved by most of her countrymen, half of whom she has maligned either as “deplorables’’ or pitiful souls in need of empathy.

Not for half a century has the idea of “one nation under God, indivisible,’’ seemed so distant.

Weighing In On Demoting President Andrew Jackson

I have been intrigued over the past week to read varying perspectives on the decision to remove President Andrew Jackson from the $20 dollar bill.  While I am most pleased that Alexander Hamilton did not lose his place on currency–given his title role in the financial history of this nation along with being my favorite Founding Father (long before the current rage)–I must say there is a smile on my face when it comes to the replacement of Jackson.

While Jackson makes for great historical reading, and clearly brought a modern touch to politics in his day there has long been a revulsion from within concerning his male machismo.   He did not embody the type of inner core and personal traits that I find endearing.  I am most certain he would not make–if it were possible–a comfortable dinner guest in our home.

Then there is the tragic outcome for Cherokee Chief John Ross (a relative of mine on my mother’s side of the family) and his fellow members of the Indian tribe.   It was simply appalling what occurred and there is no way that Jackson should be allowed to have any honor on a bill for that reason alone.  His military tactics in the Battle of New Orleans were excessive and needlessly brutal.

His whole makeup seemed to convey anger and brute strength when a reasoned and more educated man of his time would have made far superior choices.

So it comes as no great loss to see him replaced on the bill.   As noted above I have been interested in seeing how others view the matter.  On the side of approval comes the words of Cynthia Tucker.

It’s no accident that Trump — who is among the “birthers” who insist President Barack Obama is not an American — leads the Republican presidential field while denouncing Mexican immigrants and denigrating Muslims. There is a substantial minority of white American voters who are threatened by the loss of numerical advantage, furious over the election of a black president, and resentful of the growing racial and ethnic diversity in American life.

Trump and his supporters have dominated the political narrative in this election season and ignited a civil war inside the Republican Party. They have panicked the Republican establishment. They have set off alarm bells in faraway capitals.

Yet the racially intolerant are losing the battle for primacy in the American story. They no longer dominate the nation’s culture or mythology, as the changes in the currency illustrate. 

A genuine American hero, she deserves the honor. As a young woman, she escaped the Maryland plantation that had enslaved her, and then made several trips back to assist others. Over a little more than a decade, she helped around 70 enslaved men and women find their way to freedom, traveling by night, using ingenious disguises and employing the hideouts established by the Underground Railroad.

On the opposite end of the political spectrum comes the harsh words of Pat Buchanan.

To remove his portrait from the front of the $20 bill, and replace it with Tubman’s, is affirmative action that approaches the absurd.

Whatever one’s admiration for Tubman and her cause, she is not the figure in history Jackson was.

Indeed, if the fight against slavery is the greatest cause in our history, why not honor John Brown, hanged for his raid on Harper’s Ferry to start a revolution to free the slaves, after he butchered slave owners in “Bleeding Kansas”? John Brown was the real deal.

In the dystopian novel, “1984,” Winston Smith labors in the Ministry of Truth, dropping down the “memory hole” stories that must be rewritten to re-indoctrinate the party and proles in the new history, as determined by Big Brother. Jack Lew would have fit right in there.

When Was The Last Time Brezhnev Was Mentioned In News Column?

There is one thing that always remains a constant.  Pat Buchanan–like him or not–disagree with him or not–has a deep reserve of institutional memory which makes for great insights.

Indeed, a spirit of secessionism pervades the continent of Europe. But while London permitted the Scottish secessionists a vote, Madrid refuses to concede that right to the Basques or Catalans. And some of these ethnic minorities may one day fight to break free, as the Irish did a century ago.

Yet of all of the secessionist movements from the Atlantic to the Urals, none imperils a vital interest of the United States. None is really our business. And none justifies a war with Russia.

Indeed, what is it about this generation of Americans that makes us such compulsive meddlers in the affairs of nations we could not find on a map? Consider if you will our particular affliction: Putin paranoia.

Forty years ago, this writer was in Moscow with Richard Nixon on his last summit with Leonid Brezhnev. It was not a contentious affair, though the USSR was then the command center of an immense empire that stretched from Berlin to the Bering Sea.

And when we are warned that Putin wishes to restore that USSR of 1974, and to reassemble that Soviet Empire of yesterday, have we really considered what that would require of him?

To restore the USSR, Putin would have to recapture Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, an area the size of the United States. To resurrect the Soviet Empire, Putin would have to invade and occupy Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, and then overrun Germany to the Elbe River.

 

What Does Patrick Buchanan Think As We Start 2015?

I find it always useful and truly interesting to read the views of those who I rarely agree with.  What makes it better when reading viewpoints I differ with is knowing the words are penned by someone I respect.  Though I differ strongly with Patrick Buchanan I am mindful of his institutional memory and canny sense of bringing the past events of our country into the mix of current headlines.

With that in mind Buchanan has words to ponder about war and Putin as we move into 2015.

By staying out of the two world wars of the 20th century until the other great powers were fully engaged and horribly bled, America emerged triumphant with the fewest casualties and least damage.

That used to be called statesmanship.

Moreover, compared with Nazi Germany, imperial Japan, Stalin’s USSR and Mao’s China, the Islamic State doesn’t even make the “JV,” to use Barack Obama’s term.

Last month, the drums were beating for an attack on North Korea for what Sen. John McCain called a “new form of warfare” and what Sen. Lindsey Graham called “cyberterrorism” aided by China.

In “A Reply to Kim’s Cyberterrorism,” The Wall Street Journal urged a “forceful response” to deter “future attacks.” Swiftly, there followed the crashing of North Korea’s Internet system.

Query: If reports are true that Sony Pictures was hacked by ticked-off ex-employees yet North Korea’s Internet was brought down by a U.S. cyberattack, who is the cyberterrorist now?

Perhaps some of those Iranian technicians in Natanz who watched their centrifuges breaking down and blowing up from the Stuxnet virus have some thoughts on this.

But the most determined push for war in 2015 will come from neocons and interventionists who want a U.S.-Putin confrontation and regime change in Russia. And as Russia has a nuclear arsenal to match our own, this is a matter of real gravity.

Nixonian Politics Used In Ferguson, Missouri Racial Problems

Over the past couple weeks I have been making my way through Nixonland by Rick Perlstein.    It is a well-researched volume and takes time to wade through, but I am loving each page.   As I am now at the time of the race riots in the 196o’s, and the calculated use of that issue by Republicans for partisan gain, comes the real-time turmoil in Ferguson, Missouri.

And would you believe that once again the old-style racial thinking of using the ‘silent majority’ is being promoted for political purposes?  And would you be shocked to hear the words are coming from Pat Buchanan?   Pat served as an advisor to Richard Nixon during the riots in the 60’s.

“I don’t think that that is going to be helpful to the party of Rev. Sharpton or Jesse Jackson,” said Buchanan, who is now a columnist.

“I think the riots and the violence and the looting are going to cause a lot of folks to recoil from those who appear to be condoning those sorts of act… there is no question about it,” he said.

Many Americans will remain silent amid the media furor, until they can vote, he said. “A lot of people just watch these things, observe quietly and talk with each other… [and] I think you will see it at the polls” in November, he stated.

“The silent majority will react as it always does — it will recoil [from] the cursing, the hollering, the obscene gestures, the assaults on police, the looting and vandalism,” Buchanan observed.

The dispute may boost turnout by Obama’s base, but it will also turn out his opposition, Buchanan said.

“The polarization is not going to be beneficial to the president,” he warned.

“The president should really call for calming down, let the law go forward and the facts presents themselves,” he said.

Obama should say, according to Buchanan, “Look this is a terrible tragedy, a 18-year-old life has been cut off in a violent act in the streets of Ferguson, and we’ve got to the let the law and investigation take its course. The protests have been made, the country understands, but it is time for to put an end to violent upheavals.”