Saturday, June 18, 2011

Failing To Know Enough History So Not To Repeat It!

More PC'ism: U.S Government to Release New Dollar Coins.

'IN GOD WE TRUST' IS GONE!!! You do not have to accept it you know.
And you thought it was Al Gore. Never knew Al was Jewish. (See 1 below.)
It is now and always has been about spending. Debt ceiling limit is a ruse, an umbrella under which politicians hide as they rain down money on our camel's back which is now broken.

"Ask not what the country can do for you but what you can do for your country." Remember that phrase?

Here's a new one: "Will Obama’s Legacy be the End of the American Empire?"

And saving "Private Obama." Can it happen?

Or, Obama, unifier or divider. You decide.

The posted article by Mead is a must read. He suggests'...A failed attempt to define the problem and control the discussion is likely to lead to Obama losing the political control...' Meade hits the nail on the head in terms of identifying why Obama's presidency is failing. Obama has been unable to articulate a vision of where he wants to take us and he has failed to follow through on that ambiguous vision as well. (See 2, 2a and 2b below.)
Friend and memo reader responds to my comment about PC'ism being a bunch of crap: "Like you, I think ... political correctness is bull shit and an effective impairment on our freedom to speak. After my first wife died, I dated a woman for a couple of years from ... who was a dogmatic liberal. Once during the Christmas season we were in one of the ... area's ritzy shopping centers. I would say "Merry Christmas" to the clerks as we would move on and she (a Catholic) lost her cool. Her point was that the clerks I gave the Merry Christmas wish to might not be Christian and might take offense. But my point in making the wish was simply a way of saying "peace" or "I wish you well." As I explained to her unhearing ears, I certainly would understand someone wishing me a "Happy Hanukkah" to be saying nothing more than I wish you well. But she was so steeped in liberal PC dogma, she could not understand the many ways we have of expressing good will."

My response to my friend was that he could have shot them a bird and told her he was an ornithologist.

One of America's great writers and historian laments the impact of PC'ism on school history text books. Kids no longer learn enough history to even repeat it.

I have always considered and written about the early 1900's as the period when America flowered in art, literature, music, architecture, science etc. Dreiser's novel, Gershwin's music, The Ash Can School,Wright, Morse and Edison etc. This was America as its most distinctive and greatest.

Woody Allen's movie: "Midnight in Paris" is a nostalgic return to the impact Americans had on the world even from Paris! Mc Cullough's article is another must read as well as his books!(See 2c below.)
Fannie Mae, the orneriest prostitute in D.C.(See 3 below.)
Our grandson recently graduated from The Univ. of Maryland with a B.A. in Media and got his first paying job in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He works for Channel 13, an NBC affiliate. Wyoming is a great State with great people who typify the best down to earth values that have always been identified with what it is to be an American. You can see Kevin on KCWY13.Com

This was Friday's story. And I had to get my tripod fixed so I drove up to the
station and went live in the newsroom. Story starts at 7:15.
Resolve - we once had it. Where did it go? (See 4 below.)
Obama and his State Department seem to have developed a knack for turning our so called friends and allies into enemies or, at the very least, those who distrust us. (See 4 below.)
Peter Wehner discusses the genesis of the politics of hate. (See 5 below.)
1) How the Internet started, or ... Hebrew To The People (HTTP)

Well, you might have thought that you knew how the Internet started, but here's the TRUE story ....

In ancient Israel , it came to pass that a trader by the name of
Abraham Com did take unto himself a young wife by the name of
Dot. And Dot Com was a comely woman, broad of shoulder and long of
leg. Indeed, she was often called Amazon Dot Com.

And she said unto Abraham, her husband: "Why dost thou travel so
far from town to town with thy goods when thou canst trade without
ever leaving thy tent?"

And Abraham did look at her - as though she were several saddle
bags short of a camel load, but simply said: "How, dear?"

And Dot replied: "I will place drums in all the towns and drums in
between to send messages saying what you have for sale, and they
will reply telling you who hath the best price.

And the sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by
Uriah's Pony Stable (UPS)."

Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way
with the drums. And the drums rang out and were an immediate success.

Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever
having to move from his tent.

To prevent neighboring countries from overhearing what the
drums were saying, Dot devised a system that only she and the
drummers knew. It was called Must Send Drum Over Sound (MSDOS),
and she also developed a language to transmit ideas and pictures
- Hebrew To The People (HTTP)

But this success did arouse envy. A man named Maccabia did
secrete himself inside Abraham's drum and began to siphon off some of
Abraham's business. But he was soon discovered, arrested and
prosecuted - for insider trading.

And the young men did take to Dot Com's trading as doth the
greedy horsefly take to camel dung. They were called
Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Sybarites, or NERDS.

And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and
the deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real
riches were going to that enterprising drum dealer, Brother
William of Gates, who bought off every drum maker in the land.
And indeed did insist on drums to be made that would work only
with Brother Gates' drumheads and drumsticks.

And Dot did say: "Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being
taken over by others."

And Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel , or eBay as it
came to be known. He said: "We need a name that reflects what we are."

And Dot replied: "Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators."
"YAHOO," said Abraham. And because it was Dot's idea, they
named it YAHOO Dot Com.

Abraham's cousin, Joshua, being the young Gregarious Energetic
Educated Kid (GEEK) that he was, soon started using Dot's drums to locate
things around the countryside.

It soon became known as God's Own Official Guide to Locating
Everything (GOOGLE)

And that is how it all began Al Gore!
2)Forget the Debt Ceiling, Cut Spending
By Tom Hutchinson

More Headlines will soon shift from the sexcapades of Rep. Antony Weiner to the debate over the debt ceiling extension.

The outcome of this debate could have a profound effect on the markets.

Here's what's at stake. The U.S. government is out of money and needs to borrow more by Aug. 2 to continue to function. The Treasury says it needs a $2 trillion increase in the previously imposed $14 trillion debt limit.

Republicans are holding out for meaningful spending cuts as a condition of the extension. But Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner, President Barack Obama as well as China and two credit rating agencies are all warning of dire consequences if the debt limit isn't raised by the deadline.

They argue that by not increasing the debt limit, the government could be forced to default on its debt payments and such a default would wreak havoc in the financial markets by sending the dollar plummeting and interest rates skyrocketing.

But, the risk of a short term technical default pales in comparison to the risks of not getting spending under more control.

The $2 trillion requested is in addition to the nearly $5 trillion of debt racked up in just the last two years. The national debt has already ballooned more than 55 percent since President Obama took office.

Monthly deficits now approach the level of last decade's yearly deficits.

If the government doesn't stop the out of control spending, the U.S. economy could be destroyed. Hyperinflation and a plummeting dollar could doom the U.S. standard of living as we have known it. The wreckage could take decades to repair, if it can be repaired at all.

While just about everyone claims to understand this problem, Democrats have displayed no intention of cutting spending and have resisted measures to cut spending at every turn. Only the leverage provided by the debt ceiling can force the issue and bring them to the table.

Aside from preventing a longer-term disaster, meaningful spending cuts would benefit the economy and the markets in the near term as well.

The U.S. economy right now is like the stock of a company perceived to be going nowhere. Both domestically and abroad, the U.S. economy is viewed to have massive debt problems that government seems incapable of solving.

Doing business in the United States is fraught with regulations, huge healthcare expenses and high taxes. The future seems to hold slow growth at best and financial disaster at worst.

Much better investment opportunities exist in the emerging markets, and that's where investments and jobs are going.

In order to revive the economy, this commonly held view must be changed.

Real spending reform now could tip critical mass in a positive direction.

It would signal to the world that the United States is getting serious about deficits and begin to change the current narrative. These spending reforms won't turn things around all by themselves but we will have started down the road to recovery. Down this road the trillions in cash held by U.S. corporations may start to be put to work. Foreign companies might once again see the United States as a good prospect for the future. And, banks might begin to lend again.

An indication that the government has the will to solve the current problems could quickly change the longer term perspective of the market. The outcome of this debate could determine if the last two years was a bear market rally or the beginning of a long-term bull market.

This is an emergency. We have no choice but to risk short term turbulence in order to avoid long term disaster. We're headed 100 miles per hour toward a brick wall and need to turn the wheel and risk a fender-bender.

If there is a technical default at some point and it does result in a downgrade of U.S. debt and wreaks havoc in the markets, it will serve as just a small taste of what is to come if we don't get spending and deficits under control. Maybe being "scared straight" is exactly what this country needs.

© Moneynews. All rights reserved.

2a)Can This Presidency Be Saved?
By Walter Russell Mead

Can the Obama Presidency still be saved?

To some, the question may seem premature or even insulting. President Obama’s personal popularity remains high and the most recent RealClearPolitics poll average has him at a more than respectable 47.6 percent approval; while the President’s popularity is drifting lower, congressional Republicans have been losing ground to their Democratic rivals in recent polls, and the Republican primary field remains both uninspiring and polarized. Small government, libertarian and Jeffersonian Paulites, globalist ‘great nation’ conservatives, conservative social activists and Jacksonian hyperpatriots are united only in their antipathy to the Obama administration and it is not yet clear whether a GOP candidate can unify this agitated but inchoate mass of energy into a strong and focused campaign.

Nevertheless it seems increasingly clear that the Obama presidency has lost its way; at home and abroad it flounders from event to event, directionless and passive as one report after another “unexpectedly” shows an economy that refuses to heal. Most recently, the IMF has cut its growth forecast for the United States in 2011 and 2012. With growth predicted at 2.5 percent this year and 2.7 percent next, unemployment is unlikely to fall significantly before Election Day. On the same day, the latest survey of consumer sentiment shows an “unexpectedly sharp” dip in consumer confidence. The economy is not getting well; geopolitically, the US keeps adding new countries to the bomb list, but the President has fallen strangely silent about the five wars he is fighting (Iraq, Afghanistan, tribal Pakistan, Libya and now Yemen).

The problem is only partly that the President’s policies don’t appear to be working. Presidents fail to be re-elected less because their policies aren’t working than because they have lost control of the narrative. FDR failed to end the Depression during two terms in office but kept the country’s confidence through it all. Richard Nixon hadn’t ended the Vietnam War in 1972 and George W. Bush hadn’t triumphed in what we still knew as the Global War on Terror in 2004. In all these cases, however, the presidents convinced voters that they understood the problem, that they were working on it, and that their opponents were clueless throwbacks who would only make things worse.

President Obama still has a shot at convincing voters that the GOP would make things worse, but his administration has not just lost control over the direction of the economy. It has lost control of the discussion about the economy.

Why did the stimulus fail? What did the President learn from this failure and what will the President try next? The White House has been so busy bobbing and weaving it has not communicated a simple, clear story about what went wrong and what happens next.

Nobody at this point really knows what the President stands for – at home or abroad. He is not George W. Bush and he is not Bill Clinton, but who is he and where is he taking us? He seems bogged down in the minutiae of policies – most of which don’t seem to be working very well. He has given his opposition valuable gifts, setting goals for himself which he then fails to meet: that the stimulus would keep unemployment below 8 percent, public demands for Israeli concessions he failed to achieve, the promise that his health care proposals wouldn’t effect anyone who liked their current insurance, and the infamous “days not weeks” prediction about the Libya campaign.

These and similar blunders have two things in common: they are unforced errors, and they undercut the President’s ability to present himself as a visionary leader who both understands where the country is headed and has a plan for meeting the obstacles in our path. He frequently appears surprised by events, and over time confidence in his leadership is leaking away.

The President of the United States has two jobs: he is the head of government and the head of state. In British terms, he must do the jobs of both the Prime Minister and the Queen. The Queen sprinkles pixie dust; the Prime Minister does the dirty work of legislative sausage making. Presidents (like Ronald Reagan and FDR) succeed when they fill the job of head of state so well that they accumulate political authority which they can then use to run the government. The pixie dust they sprinkle makes the sausage look good. Presidents who fail to establish themselves as national leaders and symbols (like Jimmy Carter) end by losing their political authority as well.

President Obama started off with great advantages in the pixie dust department. As the first African-American president, he embodies important American qualities simply by being himself. Young, energetic, blessed with a stylish wife and a vibrant family, he holds Kennedy-class cards when it comes to touching enduring American themes and ideals. He was (and can still be) an ideal representative of America to itself and to the world, a symbol of hope for national and global reconciliation and renewal.

But the President has failed to meld that image and the symbolic weight of his office to a compelling policy vision. He takes strong individual stands — from support for health care reform to the bombing of Libya — but between the moves and the counter moves, the rhetorical claims and the policy reversals, the President’s image has become fuzzy and perplexing. Did he abandon the concept of stimulus and cast himself as a deficit cutter because he believes it, or was the shift a tactical calculation? What does he really believe will get the economy going again?

In particular, he has said nothing memorable about the crisis that is shaking the global economy and undermining the American middle class. The meltdown of the blue social model is the great and inescapable fact of our time. In what many voters will feel as a sign of financial apocalypse, the AARP has dropped its opposition to cuts in Social Security benefits. At home, Democrats like Andrew Cuomo and Jerry Brown are slashing budgets and attacking the perks of public sector labor unions almost as industriously as Republicans like Scott Walker and Mitch Daniels. Abroad, Socialists like Greek Premier George Papandreou is cutting as hard as the Conservative David Cameron. Germany has passed a balanced budget amendment; France is debating its own version. Economic turmoil is shaking the political foundations; rising food prices helped set off the Arab Spring, the price of gold has gone through the roof, and China and other foreign creditors are increasingly skeptical about the long term value of their dollar-backed assets.

President Obama’s predecessor made many mistakes, but something is at work here that is much bigger than the faults of the Bush administration. It is not just a US domestic problem, because we see it in the more-regulated European countries as well as in the less-regulated US.

Americans are realistic enough to understand that the breakdown of the blue social model is a messy process and that perhaps no president can deliver a pain free transition to the next stage. But what they aren’t hearing from President Obama is a compelling description of what has gone wrong, how it can be fixed, and how the policies he proposes will take us to the next level.

What they hear from this administration are defensive responses: Hooveresque calls for patience mingled with strange-sounding attacks on ATMs and sharp, opportunistic jabs at former President Bush. The White House has responded to strategic challenges at home and abroad with tactical maneuvers.

Voters sense that we live in historic times that demand leadership of a different kind. What does President Obama think about the fiscal squeeze forcing trade-offs between state employee benefits and services to the poor? How much trouble is the American middle class in — and what changes are needed to save it?

The President of the United States has to own this conversation. His vision, his initiatives must dominate the political scene. His opponents may fight him and defeat his proposals in Congress — that is not the worst thing that can happen. Harry Truman did very well running against a ‘do-nothing’ Congress in 1948.

At a time of historic anxiety and tension like the present, the President of the United States cannot be an administrator, a fence-sitter, a finger-pointer. He must first and foremost stand for something — and he must be able to make that something resonate with the voters. The President’s job is to lead.

The longer the President fails to dominate the discussion about where this country is going the more his authority will erode. In the end, a failure to define the problem and outline a convincing solution will hurt more than what now appears his likely failure to regenerate healthy economic growth by the next election.

He may have only one chance to get this right. A failed attempt to define the problem and control the discussion would further fuzz the President’s image and reinforce the sense among many voters that the man is not up to the hour.

The Obama Presidency can still be saved, but only if the President becomes the kind of inspiring and effective leader these tough and uncertain times demand.

That is much, much harder than it looks.

2b)Barack Obama: Unity president or great divider?
By Nina Easton,

In February of 2009, with Barack Obama barely a month in office, Newsweek declared "We are all socialists now." The most interesting part: its matter-of-fact tone, asserting that as boomers age and spending grows, Americans were turning, well, French. A bit tongue-in-cheek, maybe, but it's worth noting that, as it turns out, we're not all Euro-socialists. Not even close. The rise in federal spending from 21% to nearly 25% of the economy in just two years has contributed to an angry backlash -- leaving Americans more, not less, divided about government's proper role in our lives.

In the summer of 2004, little-known Illinois Senator Obama first captured the public's imagination with eloquent pleas for national unity. But the fireworks this Fourth of July more closely resemble the old days of democracy when Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton engaged in down-and-dirty debates over government's reach. As the 2012 election approaches, one camp says Washington is strangling the free-market economy. The camp on the left views Washington as the grand savior from destructive free-market greed. Exactly half of us think government is too big, and 55% think it's always wasteful, says the Pew Research Center. Pew also concludes that Americans are more doctrinaire, more hardened in their views, especially over this question: "Should government do more to help the needy even if it means bigger deficits?"

The noise level that accompanies this divide makes it hard to have a sane conversation about how to shape a 21st-century government that most of us can agree on. Take business leaders: Many hate the costs associated with Obama's health care reform and new environmental and banking regulations. But they also say Washington needs to lead the way in rebuilding the nation's infrastructure and tapping energy sources that will stabilize prices -- or American companies will have trouble competing globally.

Likewise, average citizens are rightly shocked by the levels of public debt weighing down the economy -- and their tax-paying children. According to the President's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (headed by Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson), debt held by the public will outstrip the entire American economy, growing to as much as 185% of GDP by 2035 -- with hundreds of billions of dollars doing nothing but servicing debt. Despite those numbers, conversations about how to reduce the exploding costs of entitlements -- like Medicare -- are swamped by screaming political rhetoric, with little hope of compromise.

The growth of government has also provoked emotionally charged questions of fairness. Liberals believe the wealthy are obligated to pony up more in taxes to cover exploding deficits; conservatives point to the 47% of (not wealthy) people who pay no federal income taxes -- and therefore have no skin in the game -- and the nearly 70% who take more in benefits than they pay in taxes. Public anger over bank bailouts was as much about fairness as the billions of dollars spent. And government mortgage supports that liberals say are the only fair response to the power of big banks actually sprouted the first roots of a Tea Party movement that asked: Why should taxpayers keep people in homes they shouldn't have bought in the first place?

A fairness divide has emerged over public-private employment too. Government jobs pay better (the number of federal jobs paying more than $100,000 rose sharply in 2009 as the private sector collapsed), offer -- on average -- more generous pensions, and have been more insulated from the recession. Anger over this fairness question has exploded on the state level in the form of taxpayers warring with government unions.

Two centuries ago, the charges and countercharges between the camps supporting Jefferson and Madison on one side, and Hamilton on the other, were "brutal" and "monstrous," constituting "unmediated malice," notes historian Jay Winik. That era produced the nation's first political parties. It would be nice to think today's battles will produce something equally useful, but I wouldn't bet the nation's debt on it.

2c)Don't Know Much About History The popular historian David McCullough says textbooks have become 'so politically correct as to be comic.' Meanwhile, the likes of Thomas Edison get little attention.

'We're raising young people who are, by and large, historically illiterate," David McCullough tells me on a recent afternoon in a quiet meeting room at the Boston Public Library. Having lectured at more than 100 colleges and universities over the past 25 years, he says, "I know how much these young people—even at the most esteemed institutions of higher learning—don't know." Slowly, he shakes his head in dismay. "It's shocking."

He's right. This week, the Department of Education released the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress, which found that only 12% of high-school seniors have a firm grasp of our nation's history. And consider: Just 2% of those students understand the significance of Brown v. Board of Education.

Mr. McCullough began worrying about the history gap some 20 years ago, when a college sophomore approached him after an appearance at "a very good university in the Midwest." She thanked him for coming and admitted, "Until I heard your talk this morning, I never realized the original 13 colonies were all on the East Coast." Remembering the incident, Mr. McCullough's snow-white eyebrows curl in pain. "I thought, 'What have we been doing so wrong that this obviously bright young woman could get this far and not know that?'"

Answer: We've been teaching history poorly. And Mr. McCullough wants us to amend our ways.

The 77-year-old author has been doing his part—he's written nine books over the last four decades, including his most recent, "The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris," a story of young Americans who studied in a culturally dominant France in the 19th century to perfect their talents. He's won two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Book Awards and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award.

"History is a source of strength," he says. "It sets higher standards for all of us." But helping to ensure that the next generation measures up, he says, will be a daunting task.

One problem is personnel. "People who come out of college with a degree in education and not a degree in a subject are severely handicapped in their capacity to teach effectively," Mr. McCullough argues. "Because they're often assigned to teach subjects about which they know little or nothing." The great teachers love what they're teaching, he says, and "you can't love something you don't know anymore than you can love someone you don't know."

Another problem is method. "History is often taught in categories—women's history, African American history, environmental history—so that many of the students have no sense of chronology. They have no idea what followed what."

What's more, many textbooks have become "so politically correct as to be comic. Very minor characters that are currently fashionable are given considerable space, whereas people of major consequence farther back"—such as, say, Thomas Edison—"are given very little space or none at all."

Mr. McCullough's eyebrows leap at his final point: "And they're so badly written. They're boring! Historians are never required to write for people other than historians." Yet he also adds quickly, "Most of them are doing excellent work. I draw on their excellent work. I admire some of them more than anybody I know. But, by and large, they haven't learned to write very well."

Unlike Mr. McCullough. His new book possesses the same vitality that won his biography of John Adams critical and popular acclaim. And "The Greater Journey" was an even more elaborate tapestry to sew. "In writing conventional history or biography, the plot and the characters are pretty well set for you," Mr. McCullough says. "But with this, I put in or left out as I wished."

Luckily, he is judicious in his choice of characters, and he weaves together their seemingly disconnected lives seamlessly. In Mr. McCullough's Paris, Samuel F. B. Morse, the future inventor of the telegraph, tries his hand at painting, scooching on a scaffold in the Louvre as he makes copies of famous portraits. Outside, his friend, the novelist James Fenimore Cooper, braves a cholera epidemic to visit Morse at the museum every day.

Across the Seine River, Oliver Wendell Holmes, a student at the École de Médecine, watches surgeons dissect cadavers—a procedure that was banned in Massachusetts until 1831. Meanwhile, Charles Sumner, who would become a powerful senator from the Bay State, attends lectures at the Sorbonne, where he notices blacks seated among whites. Soon, he realizes "the distance between free blacks and whites among us is derived from education, and does not exist in the nature of things." To diminish that distance, Sumner dedicates his life to abolition. Through these vignettes—and many more—Mr. McCullough highlights these Americans' ambition to excel.

Mr. McCullough learned to write from a series of great teachers, most notably Thornton Wilder, the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and novelist who was also a resident scholar at Yale, where Mr. McCullough graduated in 1951. To this day, he remembers Wilder's teaching that a good writer preserves "an air of freedom" in his prose, so that the reader won't know how a story will end—even if he's reading a history book.

"You know that the Brooklyn Bridge exists," Mr. McCullough explains, referring to one of his former subjects. "I've got to get you so involved in the story of how it was done that you begin to wonder, 'Oh my God! Are they ever going to be able to do this?'" Thus, via his writing style, he hopes to impart a lesson of history: "There's no such thing as a foreseeable future."

Wilder's example, he believes, provides another lesson. "Teachers are the most important people in our society. They need far more pay, obviously, but they need more encouragement. They need more respect. They need more appreciation from all of us. And we shouldn't do anything to hinder them or to make their job harder."

Despite his indictment of what's wrong with our teaching of history, Mr. McCullough maintains a cheerful demeanor as we talk. His dress is simple: a sedate blue blazer with grey slacks and a dark plaid tie—a tribute to his Scotch-Irish heritage. Yet this plain costume doesn't detract from the former off-Broadway actor's performance: His face does all the talking.

It's not their fault our children are ignorant, he says animatedly. "It's our fault," he says, pointing to his chest. "I mean the parents and grandparents of the oncoming generation. We have to talk about history, talk about the books we love, the biographies and histories." He continues, "We should all take our children to historic places. Go to Gettysburg. Go to the Capitol."

And teach history, he says—while tapping three fingers on the table between us—with "the lab technique." In other words, "give the student a problem to work on."

"If I were teaching a class," he says, "I would tell my students, 'I want you to do a documentary on the building at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. Or I want to you to interview Farmer Jones or former sergeant Fred or whatever." He adds, "I have been feeling increasingly that history ought to be understood and taught to be considerably more than just politics and the military."

What about textbooks? "I'd take one of those textbooks. I'd clip off all the numbers on the pages. I'd pull out three pages here, two pages there, five pages here—all the way through. I'd put them aside, mix them all up, and give them to you and three other students and say, 'Put it back in order and tell me what's missing.'" You'd know that book inside and out.

Mr. McCullough advises us to concentrate on grade school. "Grade school children, as we all know, can learn a foreign language in a flash," he says. "They can learn anything in a flash. The brain at that stage in life is like a sponge. And one of the ways they get it is through art: drawing, making things out of clay, constructing models, and dramatic productions. If you play the part of Abigail Adams or Johnny Appleseed in a fourth-grade play, you're never going to forget it as long as you live."

"We're too concentrated on having our children learn the answers," he summarizes. "I would teach them how to ask questions—because that's how you learn."

Fittingly, Mr. McCullough says he got the idea for "The Greater Journey" by asking a question. One day he was stuck in traffic near Sheridan Circle in Washington, D.C. In the center of the circle stood the statue of "good ol' Phil Sheridan," a Union general in the Civil War, "with the requisite pigeon on his head."

Staring at the statue, Mr. McCullough wondered: "How many people that go around this circle every day have any idea who that is?" (My guess: Nobody.) As he was mulling this over, George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" came on the radio, and a realization rushed over him: America's artists and musicians were too little appreciated. "The Gershwin side of American accomplishment"—and here Mr. McCullough looks me straight in the eye—"is too seldom given credit."

Thanks to Mr. McCullough, our ledger of historical appreciation is a bit more balanced.

Mr. Bolduc is a fellow at the National Review Institute.
3) Who Is James Johnson?

Most political scandals involve people who are not really enmeshed in the Washington establishment — people like Representative Anthony Weiner or Representative William Jefferson. Most scandals involve spectacularly bad behavior — like posting pictures of your private parts on the Web or hiding $90,000 in cash in your freezer.

But the most devastating scandal in recent history involved dozens of the most respected members of the Washington establishment. Their behavior was not out of the ordinary by any means.

For that reason, the Fannie Mae scandal is the most important political scandal since Watergate. It helped sink the American economy. It has cost taxpayers about $153 billion, so far. It indicts patterns of behavior that are considered normal and respectable in Washington.

The Fannie Mae scandal has gotten relatively little media attention because many of the participants are still powerful, admired and well connected. But Gretchen Morgenson, a Times colleague, and the financial analyst Joshua Rosner have rectified that, writing “Reckless Endangerment,” a brave book that exposes the affair in clear and gripping form.

The story centers around James Johnson, a Democratic sage with a raft of prestigious connections. Appointed as chief executive of Fannie Mae in 1991, Johnson started an aggressive effort to expand homeownership.

Back then, Fannie Mae could raise money at low interest rates because the federal government implicitly guaranteed its debt. In 1995, according to the Congressional Budget Office, this implied guarantee netted the agency $7 billion. Instead of using that money to help buyers, Johnson and other executives kept $2.1 billion for themselves and their shareholders. They used it to further the cause — expanding their clout, their salaries and their bonuses. They did the things that every special-interest group does to advance its interests.

Fannie Mae co-opted relevant activist groups, handing out money to Acorn, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other groups that it might need on its side.

Fannie ginned up Astroturf lobbying campaigns. In 2000, for example, a bill was introduced that threatened Fannie’s special status. The Coalition for Homeownership was formed and letters poured into Congressional offices opposing the bill. Many signatories of the letter had no idea their names had been used.

Fannie lavished campaign contributions on members of Congress. Time and again experts would go before some Congressional committee to warn that Fannie was lowering borrowing standards and posing an enormous risk to taxpayers. Phalanxes of congressmen would be mobilized to bludgeon the experts and kill unfriendly legislation.

Fannie executives ginned up academic studies. They created a foundation that spent tens of millions in advertising. They spent enormous amounts of time and money capturing the regulators who were supposed to police them.

Morgenson and Rosner write with barely suppressed rage, as if great crimes are being committed. But there are no crimes. This is how Washington works. Only two of the characters in this tale come off as egregiously immoral. Johnson made $100 million while supposedly helping the poor. Representative Barney Frank, whose partner at the time worked for Fannie, was arrogantly dismissive when anybody raised doubts about the stability of the whole arrangement.

Most of the people were simply doing what reputable figures do in service to a supposedly good cause. Johnson roped in some of the most respected establishment names: Bill Daley, Tom Donilan, Joseph Stiglitz, Dianne Feinstein, Kit Bond, Franklin Raines, Larry Summers, Robert Zoellick, Ken Starr and so on.

Of course, it all came undone. Underneath, Fannie was a cancer that helped spread risky behavior and low standards across the housing industry. We all know what happened next.

The scandal has sent the message that the leadership class is fundamentally self-dealing. Leaders on the center-right and center-left are always trying to create public-private partnerships to spark socially productive activity. But the biggest public-private partnership to date led to shameless self-enrichment and disastrous results.

It has sent the message that we have hit the moment of demosclerosis. Washington is home to a vertiginous tangle of industry associations, activist groups, think tanks and communications shops. These forces have overwhelmed the government that was originally conceived by the founders.

The final message is that members of the leadership class have done nothing to police themselves. The Wall Street-Industry-Regulator-Lobbyist tangle is even more deeply enmeshed.

People may not like Michele Bachmann, but when they finish “Reckless Endangerment” they will understand why there is a market for politicians like her. They’ll realize that if the existing leadership class doesn’t redefine “normal” behavior, some pungent and colorful movement will sweep in and do it for them.
4)Has America lost its resolve?
By Nicolouw M. Kruger

Recent events in the US taking out Osama Bin Laden hinted of strong resolve. Paradoxically, Barack Obama's position re Israel vs. the so-called Palestinians showed an absolute lack of resolve.

My dictionary tells me that resolve means "to come to a definite or earnest decision about; determine (to do something): I have resolved that I shall live to the full."

In the history of the US there have been periods of resolve, to the full. The Cuban missile crisis in 1962 was a matter of resolve, no matter what.

Ironically it was a liberal, Democratic government that managed the job to face off the Russians and the Cubans. A potential mega-incident was avoided through sheer resolve.

From a distance, in global and if I might say objective terms: the US remains weak. It is a well-known fact that so-called freedom fighters delight when a Democrat is elected as US President.

This should be no surprise. Traditionally the Democrats have been a bunch of wimps while the Republicans have been seen as hawks by the world.

Resolve is about global perspective. The countries in Europe have shown resolve as and when it suits them, but its present governments have mostly shown they are wimps.

No matter what Barack Obama says from the White House podium, he's playing the game to please the world and win an election. He will show little resolve for the USA, when it comes to the crunch.

General Hayden's view about interrogation deniers (like Obama) is quite relevant here. I hope that the evidence will show that Osama Bin Laden was killed through ruthless resolve.

In fact, it was quite sobering to observe, from a distance in South Africa, Pres. Obama and Hillary Clinton taking credit for this historical hit while they have resisted this cause -- with such vengeance.

What is the character of a man like Barack Obama, to take credit for the killing of Osama Bin Laden, while giving little credit to Gen. Hayden and his predecessors for showing resolve when it really mattered?

My point is that, no matter what the liberal media will have the USA believe, the terrorists understand one simple language -- the will of Americans to be consistent it its resolve, or not.

Of course the USA is not the only country with a populist government. Here in Africa we have wimps with a lot more resolve than Barack Obama -- Zimbabwe is a prime example.

No regrets here. Even this past week the so-called liberation ANC movement sent Pres. Zuma (who has been married 5 times and has 20 children) to dine with some weirdo called Moammar Gaddafi.

Does America still have resolve? Somehow 9/11 galvanised the people of the USA to stand in strong resolve against a common enemy. Just to see it wasted 2 elections later.

Since then the waters got a bit murky. Bush screwed up re weapons of mass destruction -- never mind that he removed a Muslim despot from power -- and Michael Moore made a fortune.

Yes, the positive of democracy is to remove a despot from power, not that Bush ever was close to being one. The downside is that strong leaders can and will be replaced by wimps like Barack Obama.

The question is: will the American people shift the balance of power? If Barack Obama wins another term of office then the world will think that the USA is a nation of wimps.

And maybe the world will be right.

Nicolouw M. Kruger lives in South Africa.
4)Karzai slams US, links hands with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia

President Hamid Karzai, America and NATO's key ally in the war on the Taliban and al Qaeda, turned furiously on the United States in a public outburst Saturday, June 18. He accused Washington of carrying on talks with the Taliban behind Kabul's backs and contaminating the Afghan environment with chemical pollutants used in NATO war operations.

Karzai becomes the third head of a Muslim country, after Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, to take strong exception to US foreign policy and distance himself from the Obama administration.

Addressing an international conference of young Afghans Saturday, June 18, Karzai said: "You remember a few years ago I was saying thank you to the foreigners for their help, every minute we were thanking them. Now I have stopped saying that, except when Spanta forced me to say thank you." (He was referring to Rangiin Spanti his national security adviser.)

As to the Americans, Karzai charged bitterly, "They're here for their own purposes, for their own goals and they're using our soil for that. Every time when their planes fly it makes smoke, when they drop bombs they have chemical materials in them, our people get killed but our environment is damaged… our animals, our people… They should not think we are uneducated and do not know anything."

The Afghan president's diatribe was prompted by two developments.

1. He suspects the United States is secretly bypassing US-Afghan-Pakistan talks with the Taliban. They have been quietly ongoing for some months. The U.S. opened up a direct channel to the Taliban irrespective of the interests of Kabul and Islamabad.

Karzai brought his suspicions out in the open by saying: "Peace talks are going on with the Taliban. The foreign military and especially the United States itself is going ahead with these negotiations." At the same time, he said: "The peace negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban movement are not yet based on a certain agenda or physical [meetings]. Contacts have been established."

The implication in Karzai's words was the Americans have already given substantially more ground to the Taliban than Kabul was willing to venture. For instance, Friday, June 17, the UN Security Council unanimously agreed to rephrase previous resolutions defining al Qaeda and Taliban as terrorist organizations subject to sanctions by omitting reference to the Taliban.

The conviction in Kabul and Islamabad, less than two months after the death of Osama bin Laden, is the Americans are in a hurry to draw their troops out of Afghanistan - even at the price of weakening Afghan and Pakistan's bargaining positions against insurgents.

2. Both have found a sympathetic ear for their gripes against the Obama administration in Riyadh. Afghanistan and Pakistan have begun reorienting their polices and relationship with Saudi Arabia. The Saudis and the Gulf emirates have established a new group to launch a separate external and security policy in opposition to Washington's approach to the Muslim nations and the revolts against Arab rulers.

Only a week ago, at the height of the Islamabad-Washington crisis which flared openly in the wake of the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Karzai visited Islamabad for two days (June 10-11) for long private talks with Pakistan's leaders.

Some informed sources say the Afghan president also saw senior Saudi officials there on the quiet.

The Saudis offered to match suspended US assistance dollar for dollar to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak when he was still fighting the US push to evict him, then to the military junta ruling in his stead and more recently to the Pakistan government.
5)Politics and the Anatomy of Hate
By Peter Wehner

In 1990 the former dissident, playwright and president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, delivered a speech on “The Anatomy of Hate.”

“People who hate, at least those I have known, harbor a permanent, irradicable feeling of injury, a feeling that is, of course, out of all proportion to reality,” according to Havel. He went on to say:

In the subconsciousness of haters there slumbers a perverse feeling that they alone possess the truth, that they are some kind of superhumans or even gods, and thus deserve the world’s complete recognition, even its complete submissiveness and loyalty, if not its blind obedience. They want to be the centre of the world and are constantly frustrated and irritated because the world does not accept and recognize them as such; indeed, it may not even pay any attention to them, and perhaps it even ridicules them.

Havel then widens the aperture in order to deal with collective hatred. “Anyone who hates an individual is almost always capable of succumbing to group hatred or even of spreading it,” Havel warned. “I would even say that group hatred be it religious, ideological or doctrinal, social, national or any other kind is a kind of funnel that ultimately draws into itself everyone disposed toward hatred.”

There are many states of mind that create the almost unnoticeable antecedents to potential hatred, according to Havel, “a wide and fertile field on which the seeds of hatred will quickly germinate and take root.” They include situations in which genuine injustice has been done, the capacity of the human species to (carelessly) generalize, and the awareness of the “otherness” among people of different backgrounds and cultures. Havel concludes his speech by warning that “the corner of the world I came from could become – if we do not maintain vigilance and common sense – fertile soil in which collective hatred could Fortunately in America today the kind of collective hatred Havel warns about hasn’t really taken root. But his words are nonetheless worth reflecting on in the context of modern American politics. The reason is simple: politics often stirs up intense feelings. This makes perfect sense, given that it involves issues of power and consent, liberty and order, rights and duties, ethics and morality. A huge amount, including our way of life, hinges on how political matters resolve themselves. People are right to feel strongly about these things.

But we all know that political passions can, under certain circumstances and with some people, give way to hatred. I was reminded of this in reading a New York Times Magazine profile of Keith Olbermann, an influential progressive who is about to return to television at Current TV.

After his stormy exit from MSNBC, we’re told Olbermann spent “months nursing grudges on Twitter and plotting his return.” Olbermann’s checkered employment history “is of a piece with his reflexive on-air aggression.” He is “perpetually angry” and “perpetually aggrieved.” Say anything he doesn’t like and he will “fill you and anyone near you with all manner of weaponized rhetoric.” And the first order of business for Olbermann in his new professional home is to “find a suitable enemy, something he is good at.”

“Olbermann is himself an ideologue,” the author of the profile, David Carr, says, “a man who never met a shade of gray he liked and who believes his opponents are evil.”

To be sure, Olbermann is a particularly malicious figure, but his is also a cautionary tale. Vigorous debate, colliding worldviews, and even fierce advocacy are one thing; hatred is quite another. Hatred is easy enough to spot in our adversaries; it’s a good deal more difficult to see it among our allies (where we may pass it off as fiery passion). And it’s hardest of all to see when hate begins to take root in our own heart, which is often divided against itself.

We shouldn’t be naïve about this. Politics won’t ever be confused with a garden party. Even during America’s most impressive political days, when figures like Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Mason, Adams and Hamilton bestrode the scene, politics roiled people’s emotions. Savage accusations were made. Motives were questioned. Duels were fought. I get all that. But that doesn’t mean hatred in politics doesn’t take a toll on our nation or on those who harbor the hatred.

What’s needed, at least in part, is for political leaders to set the right tone, including calling out one’s own side when it’s warranted. I’m reminded of a story Mitch Daniels tells about Ronald Reagan. According to Daniels, “When one of us – I confess sometimes it was yours truly – got a little hotheaded, President Reagan would admonish us, ‘Remember, we have no enemies, only opponents.’”

Reagan himself was on the receiving end of many slanders, yet he remained a model of graciousness and good manners. Those qualities, by the way, never caused him to hollow out his political principles. Civility was not a synonym for weakness. And there’s one other thing that can act as a check on weaponized rhetoric: self-interest. Election defeats and low ratings – and perhaps being consigned to an obscure cable channel like Current TV – will work better than sermons.

We will always have Olbermann-like figures among us. The question is how much they dominate the discourse. So in the end, we have to strive to keep infertile the soil in which hatred can grow. Self-government depends on treating our fellow citizens, even those with whom we profoundly disagree, without malice and even, on occasion, with some measure of charity. “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,” the book of Ecclesiastes says, “for anger resides in the lap of fools.”

As someone who has been involved in his share of contentious debates during the years, I’m the first to admit that a spirit of grace isn’t always easy to attain and a gentle answer isn’t always the easiest one to provide. But during my better moments, I realize it’s important we try.

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