Conservative Political Commentary

...usually with an attempt at historical and economic context

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Can Trump Make America Great Again? Doubtful.

Donald Trump
Peter Schiff
By Eddie Howell

Donald Trump has a catchy phrase: “Make America Great Again.” But in every major area that presidential politics must address, serious doubts arise as to foreign policy, domestic policy, and economic policy. If he is to succeed in economic policy (if he becomes president), he will need to rethink what he's been saying about trade policy. As it is, he'd be an improvement over Barack Obama, and be much, much better than Hillary Clinton.

Trump likes the idea of threatening or imposing tariffs on trade partners he regards as unfair to America. Certainly, many improvements can be made in regard to American trade policy, but Trump's plan does not look like the answer.

Fee.org (Foundation for Economic Education) analyzes the effects of the Smoot-Hawley Tariffs (1930) in regard to its contribution to the Great Depression, and finds that its negative effects were more profound than many economic historians believe today, and finds fault with their economic models. For instance,
[I]f losses of GNP were not evenly distributed across the economy but were concentrated (say, in export-oriented states), the tariff most likely distorted monetary conditions significantly. Two percent of GNP does not sound like a big change, but if it’s concentrated in one-fifth to one-third of the states, it’s very large indeed. The tariff dramatically lowered U.S. exports, from $7 billion in 1929 to $2.4 billion in 1932, and a large portion of U.S. exports were agricultural; therefore it cannot be assumed that the microeconomic inefficiencies were evenly distributed. Many individual states suffered severe drops in farm incomes due to collapsing export markets arising from foreign retaliation, and it’s no coincidence that rural farm banks in the Midwest and southern states began failing by the thousands.

Donald Trump should understand that the tariffs he has in mind would be counterproductive. Peter Schiff has the following straight-forward analysis of why Trump's tariffs wouldn't work.


I should note that Schiff is predicting a major economic collapse soon, which would render the tariff issue moot. Schiff makes sense on tariffs and lots of other things, but, while there are danger signs, the kind of collapse Schiff predicts seems unlikely in the near future, especially if Obama's regime is replaced by a pro-growth administration. At least we can hope so.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Paul Kivel's Misguided Criticisms of Christianity

By Eddie Howell

At an event called "The 17th Annual White Privilege Conference," activist Paul Kivel's speech blamed Christian beliefs for a whole array of the world's ills, from Middle East trouble to racism. David Limbaugh, writing for Newsmax, easily answers these criticisms, and notes that Kivel reflects the positions of many leftist academics: Anti-Christian, anti-capitalist, anti-conservative, intolerant of dissenting opinions, and focused on identity issues such as race, gender, environmentalism, etc.

David Limbaugh
Leftists have a warped view of capitalism, (the actual enabling system for bringing millions out of poverty and into prosperity), blaming it as a "flawed" system that makes people poorer. This arises from their well-known love affairs with socialism and Keynesianism, which lead to certain failure. If we actually had the "unfettered capitalism" that Pope Francis bemoans, we would have pro-growth, pro-individual policies that give rise to prosperity and liberty. That would be much better than the high level of government control of everything we have now.



Paul Kivel
Limbaugh shows the errors of Kivel's criticisms of Christianity and capitalism. The concern over "white privilege." of course is right in line with the left's ramped-up race baiting, which too many whites are too willing to embrace. I think Limbaugh's brief article should not be missed.





Photos from Yahoo image search. For attributed original sources, moviepictures.org for Kivel and Veritas Evangelical Seminary for Limbaugh, each link resulted in "File Not Found."

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Remembering the Forgotten Man

By Eddie Howell





                William Graham Sumner

[I am re-publishing this article from November 2009 because I feel the issues discussed are very relevant in
this election season when Democrats/Socialists are making such wild leftist promises]

In this article, I quote rather freely from William Graham Sumner’s essay, “The Forgotten Man.” It is well worth reading the whole essay, and whether you agree with Sumner or not, you can see that his position is reasoned and consistent. He describes the person who is truly forgotten in all the government’s glorious spending programs to benefit the “less fortunate,” the various “petted classes,” as Sumner called them.

William Graham Sumner (1840-1910) was born in New Jersey, moved with his family to Connecticut, where he attended public schools and Yale College. “After graduation, he studied ancient languages and history at Göttingen (1864) and theology and philosophy at Oxford (1866). The following year he was appointed tutor at Yale and then was ordained in the Protestant Episcopal Church. In 1869 he left Yale to be rector of churches in New York City and Morristown, N. J. In 1872 he became the first professor of political and social science at Yale - a position he long held.” He was a sociologist and a proponent of free-market capitalism and severe critic of government social programs and imperialism. His major work was Folkways, analyzing social life in terms of mores, institutions and values. [1]

The Forgotten Man (1883) is described in his essay of that name. His Forgotten Man is still very much the forgotten one today, the one, C, who, when A and B get together to decide what should be done for the suffering X, is compelled by the resulting law to also do for X what A and B have determined. He is never thought of, yet he is the one who sacrifices and pays for the “help” that is to be given to X.

Who Are We “Helping”? And Who Pays for It?
Sumner writes:
“The notion is accepted as if it were not open to any question that if you help the inefficient and vicious you may gain something for society or you may not, but that you lose nothing. This is a complete mistake. Whatever capital you divert to the support of a shiftless and good-for-nothing person is so much diverted from some other employment, and that means from somebody else. I would spend any conceivable amount of zeal and eloquence if I possessed it to try to make people grasp this idea. Capital is force. If it goes one way it cannot go another. If you give a loaf to a pauper you cannot give the same loaf to a laborer. Now this other man who would have got it but for the charitable sentiment which bestowed it on a worthless member of society is the Forgotten Man. The philanthropists and humanitarians have their minds all full of the wretched and miserable whose case appeals to compassion, attacks the sympathies, takes possession of the imagination, and excites the emotions. They push on towards the quickest and easiest remedies and they forget the real victim.

Now who is the Forgotten Man? He is the simple, honest laborer, ready to earn his living by productive work. We pass him by because he is independent, self-supporting, and asks no favors. He does not appeal to the emotions or excite the sentiments. He only wants to make a contract and fulfill it, with respect on both sides and favor on neither side. He must get his living out of the capital of the country. The larger the capital is, the better living he can get. Every particle of capital which is wasted on the vicious, the idle, and the shiftless is so much taken from the capital available to reward the independent and productive laborer. But we stand with our backs to the independent and productive laborer all the time. We do not remember him because he makes no clamor; but I appeal to you whether he is not the man who ought to be remembered first of all, and whether, on any sound social theory, we ought not to protect him against the burdens of the good-for-nothing. In these last years I have read hundreds of articles and heard scores of sermons and speeches which were really glorifications of the good-for-nothing, as if these were the charge of society, recommended by right reason to its care and protection. We are addressed all the time as if those who are respectable were to blame because some are not so, and as if there were an obligation on the part of those who have done their duty towards those who have not done their duty. Every man is bound to take care of himself and his family and to do his share in the work of society. It is totally false that one who has done so is bound to bear the care and charge of those who are wretched because they have not done so. …” [2] (emphasis added)

Do Sumner’s Arguments Apply Today?
The injustice of overburdening the Forgotten Man is obvious, yet it is the pattern of all legislative welfare and philanthropic programs. People today are taught to have a sense of entitlement to government assistance. If they decide not to fulfill their duties to work for their living and live responsibly, it must be society’s fault, and the C’s of the world must be ordered to help them.

As I mentioned in a previous article, during FDR’s reign, the “forgotten man” label was applied to the aggrieved X, leaving C as forgotten as ever. [3]

The current Administration, under Barack Obama, is trying to squeeze everything possible out of C to transfer much of his substance to government, thence to Obama’s favored X’s, the permanent government-dependent underclass the government has created, as well as socialist activist groups like ACORN, big labor unions, big banks, trial lawyers, environmental activists, etc. Some of the C’s of our society are beginning to band together in protests such as Tea Parties, marches, and so on. They will either have influence or be wiped out economically and socially. It should be noted that in the rare event that C raises any objection or complaint, he/she is criticized by government and their media lackeys as a member of an “unruly mob,” too unsophisticated to understand what the elites know is good for society.

The liberals’ conception of fairness is “equality” which, if it were realized, would result in all being impoverished in every way. We already have too much of the socialists’ “trickle-up poverty.”

Most Americans really do not mind paying taxes for the legitimate functions, i.e., constitutional responsibilities, of government, but are not nearly so much in favor of the socialist welfare state, and the enabling of people addicted to irresponsible behavior. The main people in favor of the welfare state are those who would receive benefits, those who would administer the system, certain politicians, and those who want to be helpful, but neglect to consider the social and human costs, as well as the economic costs of government social welfare. That said, almost all agree that a (at least) minimal safety net is needed to help those who are actually unable to support themselves. The problem arises when this is exaggerated.

As for government relief efforts, one might point to the government’s efforts after Hurricane Katrina. No, I don’t mean FEMA’s slow response at the beginning, but their continuing efforts to provide help for years afterward to people who should have been left to care for themselves sooner. Also, while the Katrina victims were truly suffering, many other people were suffering in an equally bad or worse way, who received no government help whatsoever, nor did they ask for any.

Similarly, the families of those lost in the 9/11 attacks were (I think) very generously compensated by the government. Money can’t replace a lost loved one, but on any given day, a number of people die tragically and their families get nothing from the government, nor do they ask for anything.

I don’t mean to suggest that it was wrong to want to help these people, but that it should be seen in perspective.

Government entitlements that are well-established threaten to greatly damage our economy in future years, because these obligations are unsustainable and can never finally be met. In addition, they unjustly burden the taxpayers every year. Younger payers of these taxes cannot realistically expect to benefit from these programs. They are among the forgotten men and women.

Conclusion, Again Quoting Sumner
“It is plain enough that the Forgotten Man and the Forgotten Woman are the very life and substance of society. They are the ones who ought to be first and always remembered. They are always forgotten by sentimentalists, philanthropists, reformers, enthusiasts, and every description of speculator in sociology, political economy, or political science. If a student of any of these sciences ever comes to understand the position of the Forgotten Man and to appreciate his true value, you will find such student an uncompromising advocate of the strictest scientific thinking on all social topics, and a cold and hard-hearted skeptic towards all artificial schemes of social amelioration….” [4]


[1] William Graham Sumner biography, Answers.com, at http://www.answers.com/topic/william-graham-sumner

[2] William Graham Sumner, “The Forgotten Man,” 1883, The Forgotten Man and Other Essays, The Online Library of Liberty, at
http://oll.libertyfund.org/index.php?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php&title=1654&search=%22Forgotten+Man%22&chapter=108194&layout=html#a_2270750.

[3] Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson, Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2008. Originally published by Harper & Brothers, 1946, page 179

[4] Sumner, see [2].


Photo: Portrait of William Graham Sumner from The Warren J. Samuels Portrait Collection at Duke University. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Who's Unhinged?

Donald J. Trump
(Photo: Wikipedia)

By Eddie Howell

The left, the media, and the GOP establishment are furious over Donald Trump's proposal for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States. Jeb Bush says Trump is “unhinged.”

Before jumping to ridiculous conclusions, voters should consider a few relevant points.

U.S. law provides that the president may block any or all aliens from entering the United States for as long as he chooses. Rush Limbaugh's website quotes 8 U.S. Code 1182:
Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by president.  Whenever the president finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, the president may, by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.
As Limbaugh points out, President Jimmy Carter used this provision to block Iranians from entering the U.S. Before that, all legal immigration into the U.S. was blocked from 1924 to 1965 – 41 years!

What Trump proposes is a temporary ban on Muslim immigration until it can be established what kind of threat Muslim immigrants might be and how to deal with them, in view of the Paris and San Bernardino shootings and the perceived increased threat posed by ISIS. Or, in Trump's words, “until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”

The idea is not unreasonable and has these people in an uproar only because of their devotion to extreme political correctness. The House of Representatives has just passed bills to make visas more restrictive and to require other countries to provide information on known terrorist threats if they participate in the visa waiver program. A temporary halt to Muslim immigration is perfectly in order for the purpose Trump stated. If President Obama and Hillary Clinton could admit that there is a connection between these terrorist attacks and Islam, it is a very small step to Trump's proposal. It ain't Jews, Catholics, Baptists or Presbyterians doing these killings.

And Democrats want to bring in tens of thousands more Syrian “refugees” who cannot be vetted, and will surely include more terrorists, no matter what the government says. The governors who want them kept out of their states are wise to oppose their entry.

People can reasonably disagree with Trump's proposed ban, but it is not reasonable to characterize it as hate, bigotry, fascism, etc. Those who do so are much more likely “unhinged” than Mr. Trump, and certainly poor students of history. Trump's idea is not without precedent or good cause. But the left believes that their kind of overreaction is going to be effective in persuading people other than the GOP establishment, the MSM, and the Democrat base that Trump is wrong. Like some other statements of Trump that drove these folks to distraction, it is unlikely to persuade many GOP voters, or virtually any Trump supporters to agree that Trump is at all out of line.

Contrary to the wishes of those who loudly criticize Trump, he is not going away easily or, I believe, any time soon. He makes sense to many people outside the political class. Whether he eventually gets elected or not, he has made a lasting change in America's political landscape, and the establishment won't be the same again for quite a while. And our country will be better for the experience of Trump's campaign.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Barack Obama: Traitor, Liar, Murderer, etc.

By Eddie Howell

 Andrew McCarthy discusses Obama's lawlessness and the seriousness of the danger of the Iran deal.


My comments:
The Iran nuclear deal negotiated (if you can call it that) by the Obama Administration is about the worst kind of international agreement ever made for our country. In short, the Iranian mullahs got everything they wanted and we got nothing. No real inspections, no assurances, nothing. All we got was Iranian officials saying “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” Obama pretends this is not harmful. The claim that the deal will prevent war is ridiculous on its face.

This is an agreement that gives aid and comfort to our sworn enemy, and is therefore an act of treason by Mr. Obama. Not only will Iran be able to proceed with their nuclear weapons development and conventional arms build up virtually unhindered (supposedly with the agreement of our “allies”), but Iran will also be generously provided with about $150 billion in released funds, which they can and will use to ramp up terrorist operations in areas where they are already very active, as well as new places. They will acquire long-range missiles capable of reaching the U.S. They already have missiles that can reach Israel. Ignoring their death threats is such an obviously ill-advised choice as to seem deliberately placing America and Israel in terrible danger.

It can hardly be otherwise than that Obama and his minions know that they have seriously harmed the national security interests of America and Israel. Apparently these interests are far different from their own. If this is not the case, then we have the most careless, inept, and stupid foreign policy negotiators in history.

Obama has often shown his disdain for America as we have known her. His “fundamental transformation” is an attempt to destroy the foundations of our nation and create a socialist society that soon ends up as a third world dictatorship. There must be resistance by states, citizens, and elected representative at all levels to the lawlessness and betrayal we are witnessing. Only Republicans, for all their weaknesses, timidity, and political laziness, represent any kind of political hope to halt this destruction. Hillary, like Obama, is an Alynskyite (only more dedicated) and Bernie Sanders not only wouldn't help, but would soon bring America to absolute bankruptcy through endless spending.

This kind of betrayal is in line with Obama's demonstrated character. He has no problem with the murders of babies in the womb. He promotes and champions abortion as do almost all Democrat politicians. He lies about practically every important issue that gets his attention. There is not enough space for this article to list all or even most of the ways Obama's policies and actions have done a grave disservice to the United States of America. From things as petty as punishing the Washington Redskins organization for their nickname, to encouraging the killing of thousands of birds with windmills, to the multi-billion-dollar boondoggle of Obamacare, to turning against Israel, and placing their and our lives in danger through deliberately America-weakening foreign policy and massively cutting the military, the Obama presidency is already disastrous, with the threat of much more destruction to come.

There must and will be resistance. We must pray that it will be enough.

Friday, July 3, 2015

PCers in a Frenzy: The Confederate Flag Flap



By Eddie Howell
Confederate battle flag
It's remarkable that the horrible shootings in Charleston, SC, by a demented lunatic are being used as an excuse for the PC police to pursue their worse-than-worthless agenda, i.e., cram their thuggish, bullying nonsense down everyone's throat. Now the moronic left is trying to remove all traces of the Confederacy from our history, because they find it unpleasant. Maybe they like the mottos in Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World, “Most historical facts are unpleasant,” and Henry Ford's quote “History is bunk,” used by the authorities to discourage people from inquiring into the past.

The brainless attempt to eradicate the Confederate flag is one of their latest efforts, and now they have the Supreme Court's lawless decision to legalize gay marriage everywhere to work with as well, plus, of course, Donald Trump's comments about Mexican immigrants, which may have lacked tact, but not truth.

Gen. Robert E. Lee
Common sense is becoming rarer and rarer with these self-righteous, sanctimonious ninnies, whose main purpose in life seems to be just to be offended and scream out at things (e.g., the Confederate flag) which have nothing to do with what they're supposedly protesting (e.g., the shootings in SC by a deranged person). That flag has been around for a century and a half following the Union victory in the Civil War. All of a sudden, because of some crazy man's murder spree, now we're supposed to rewrite history and cleanse it of many important facts.

Lt. Gen, "Stonewall" Jackson
I'm not a racist, but I am a Southerner, and, like it or not, that flag represents things greater than the sins of slavery and racism. It calls to memory the thousands who fought and died for their homeland. It helps us remember men like Robert E. Lee, a great and honorable man who only reluctantly led the rebel forces, after concluding that it was his moral duty to do so; Lieutenant General Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson, brilliant commander, and other brave Confederate fighters who felt that it was worth putting their lives on the line to defend their homes. Yes, the South was wrong about slavery, and the Civil War settled the issue at great cost. Because the war was fought on American soil, unlike the World Wars, and involved Americans fighting each other, sometimes brother against brother, it left an emotional residue that was very slow to recede, and is still around today.

But the South has, to very great extent, grown away from racism, albeit with some unpleasant incentives (Reconstruction, Supreme Court rulings, National Guard deployments, etc.), but grow it has, and, especially since the end of legal segregation, the great majority of Southerners accept the fact that people of all races share equally in legal rights, and merit respectful treatment.

Removal of the Confederate flag brings to mind George Orwell's novel 1984, and the memory hole which was the destination of historical documentation to be removed and never seen again. The Soviets practiced their own version of this, revising history books and altering photographs to try to wipe out the memory of people or events they didn't like, as though they never existed.
The "General Lee" from "The Dukes of Hazzard"

Today, we have some genius ordering that “The Dukes of Hazzard” be taken off the TV Land channel. John Schneider and others are right in their criticism. They can do what they want with their network. The market will respond, “Dukes” will likely find another TV home, and TV Land's ratings will be affected. But it was a dumb decision, helping nothing.

Now Al Sharpton wants the military to remove all traces of the Confederacy. How he can be taken seriously any more, given his track record, is beyond me. He owes millions in taxes, but has access to the White House of President Obama, our Deceiver-in-Chief. What Sharpton asks is ridiculous on its face, and to comply would take extremely stupid, un-American, and unconstitutional orders. We may hope our generals have better sense, but I'm not so sure about Obama.

This July Fourth, let's celebrate and exercise our freedom. We're going to have to defend it against the leftists.





Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Southern Baptist Convention President: Bible Is Final Authority about Marriage



The United States Supreme Court -- Top row: Associate Justices Sotamayor, Breyer, Alito, and Kagan; Bottom row: Associate Justices Thomas, Scalia, Chief Justice Roberts, and Associate Justices Kennedy and Ginsburg

Dr. Ronnie Floyd

Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd recently spoke to the Convention meeting in Columbus, Ohio. Anticipating the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, he set a strong standard for resistance to the ruling, and urged the denomination to stand against it. The Columbus Dispatch reports,
“This could be a watershed moment in our history, possibly changing the trajectory of our nation unlike anything we’ve seen since 1973 in the Roe v. Wade decision,” Floyd said. “This decision could add fuel, more fuel, to the already sweeping wildfire of the sexual revolution and move it beyond anyone’s control locally, statewide, nationally and globally...

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“Our first commitment is to God and his word — nothing else and no one else. And I want to remind everyone today, humbly, the Supreme Court of the United States is not the final authority, nor is the culture itself, but the Bible is God’s final authority about marriage, and on this book we stand,” Floyd said to applause.
He reminded the audience of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor and anti-Nazi dissident who is quoted as saying, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak, and not to act is to act.”

“This is a Bonhoeffer moment for every pastor in the United States,” Floyd said. “While some evangelicals ... may be bowing down to the deception of the inclusiveness of same-sex marriage or marriage in their churches, we will not bow down, nor will we be silent.”
It should be noted that Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazis.

The evil we face is not the same as Bonhoeffer faced, but it is evil nonetheless. It remains to be seen to what extent churches and people of faith will be pressured to cooperate with this immoral ruling.
As a matter of faith, believers in Christ should follow the example of Peter and John when they were
confronted by the religious authorities of their day about healing a man in the name of Jesus:
“Peter and John answered and said to them,'Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.'” (Acts 4:19-20). In following such an example, believers must be prepared for the consequences of their actions. In this biblical instance, the apostles were taken into custody and threatened, then released.

In the political realm, the United States Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, specifically guarantees freedom of religion. The federal government, liberals, atheists, and the gay rights movement have already acted in ways that show they don't mind restricting religious freedom. Consider the Obamacare contraceptive rules, and the bakers who are losing their business for not baking a cake for a gay wedding. This, despite constitutional protection of freedom of religion. Preachers against homosexuality may see efforts to silence them, despite constitutional freedom of speech.

It's going to be an interesting decade.