The Gospel Truth

The Worst President?

June 25, 2010
5 Comments

When they don’t know what else to write about historians will play games like who was the best president or what would have happen had… I have even seen a book about Virtual History.

Scores of books have been written on such subjects.

Of course they are all very subjective and often deviate from the reality of American life.

Over a year ago my perspicacious granddaughter, who was still months away from her 7th birthday, asked me out of the complete blue—Daddy Bee, who do you think was the worst president?

I have no idea why she asked me this or what discussions she had heard at home.  Perhaps she listens to NPR.

I proceeded to explain that I thought the current president was making a good claim for that dubious distinction.

Were she to ask me today, I would have a whole lot more information to pass on to her.

Granted that as I have stated most of these historical rating games are mostly subjective but all of them revolve around a special kind of relative criteria. One man’s king may be another man’s knave.

To fully understand the selections, one must know the criteria.

THE BEST PRESIDENTS?

In the case of the “best” presidents, the answers usually start with Lincoln, Washington, FDR, Teddy Roosevelt and probably Thomas Jefferson.

Three of the top five exercised a good deal of federal power and helped advance the size of government, especially FDR and Lincoln.

Lincoln’s interpretation of the U. S. Constitution helped to precipitate a war that quite possibly could have been avoided.

FDR used his expansion of power in time of economic crisis to promote and expand government, much to the detriment of America’s economy.  he was saved by the bells of WW II.

His desire to join the British and the Russians in a world war cost billions and nearly a half a million American lives.

As a result we replaced Hitler with Stalin and a 50-year Cold War.

Andrew Jackson often makes the list because of the unilateral way he handled disputes with Indians, recalcitrant soldiers and unfriendly foreign diplomats.  He usually shot or hanged them.

Ropes or Bullets

Teddy Roosevelt had some of that relentless fire in him, as evidenced by his near-sighted charge up San Juan Hill in Cuba(TR had 22 pairs of replacement glasses sewn in his military tunic in case his main pair got broken or lost.)

He used his presidency as a “bully pulpit.”  And when that didn’t work, he put on the iron gloves.

He’s the kind of Republican that liberals can relate to.

One president who revisionists are starting to praise is Grover Cleveland, the only president to serve two terms that were not consecutive.  He was a fiscal conservative who resented spending someone else’s money.

Both parties could use someone like that today.

Ronald Reagan was by far the best president in my lifetime.  No one is even in second place.

The Best in my Lifetime

However he was only half successful.  He did rescue the nation from Jimmy Carter’s malaise and he made people proud to be Americans again.

Arguably he also helped to end Soviet Communism by bankrupting them in the Arms Race and his support of the mujahideen, including a wealthy rebel, named Osama Bin Laden, made Afghanistan a Russian Vietnam.  Geopolitics is very complicated.

But Reagan failed to curtail spending and mistakenly tried to compromise with Tip O’Neil and his band of cronies.  The Democrats renege on their promises to cut their profligate spending while Reagan signed a tax increase in 1986.

Woodrow Wilson, the bane of Glenn Beck’s existence, often makes the top echelon.  After Lincoln, and TR, Wilson, the only president with a Ph.D.—that should have disqualified him right there– was the third big government president.

The Bane of Glenn's Existence

Wilson’s Progressive philosophy of using big government ends to enact Jeffersonian ends of rights, compassion and material benefits invariably led to the welfare state and 100 years of American self-destruction.

His foreign policies helped to engineer two world wars that killed millions of people.

Other than that, I can’t say much about him.

Woefully Unprepared

Personally I believe that until the current occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania, and the Georgia peanut farmer, Truman was probably the most inept and least prepared president we ever had.

Of course he was better than Henry Wallace, FDR’s second veep.

I would take Wallace with his purebred socialist ideas, way ahead of President Obama.

Truman was like the Joe Biden of his era–plain clueless, though in honesty it was all by FDR’s design and not a personal limitation, like Biden.  Stalin knew about the bomb before Truman did.

Unfortunately Truman was ruthless in his relations with the Republicans and was apparently unaware that the Executive branch was riven with Communists.

This was more FDR’s color-blindness for the color red.

Not to pop anyone’s balloons–more qualified historians have done–but McCarthy was right!  Of course I mean Joe, not Gene.

Several card-carrying members, ousted by the 1990’s publication of the KGB archives, known as the Venona Dispatches, clearly identified Harry Dexter White, Lauchlin Currie and Alger Hiss, among others as Soviet agents.

Many of us are still waiting for the left’s apology for having allowed America’s infiltration by people intent on destroying our country.  I will not hold my breath.

THE WORST PRESIDENTS?

The worst presidents often have to do with scandal.   Richard Nixon would have been impeached had he not resigned.

Ford’s pardon, which probably did the country a good deed, cut off Gerry Ford’s career at the ankles.  Ford personified dullness but he did veto a lot of harmful legislation in the wake of Democratic demagoguery and the Watergate Scandal.

Both Warren Harding and U.S. Grant’s administrations were adrift in a sea of corruption, though neither man, especially Grant was personally corrupt.

While Grant had his corrupt cabinet members, the Teapot Dome scandal rocked Harding’s administration.  A premature death mercifully handed the presidential baton to the dour but efficient Calvin Coolidge, who no one ever called cool!

Of  course there was Harding’s fruitful tryst on the floor of the Senate with his girlfriend, Nan Britton, but he wasn’t president then.

One of the Worst

I judge a president’s success by how much harm he causes to the country.

I would put LBJ in the worse than most categories because he probably did more harm than anyone, save Wilson.

Johnson’s War on Poverty was precisely that–a war on poor people.  It impoverished the black community by substituting a welfare check for a husband in the home.

The black family was actually stronger during slavery and the Great Depression according to Alan Keyes.

Johnson’s Vietnam War, without a set plan for military exit or victory, broke the back of fiscal conservatism, which had been revived for a moment at least under Kennedy.

His total disregard for the economic principle of guns and butter has led us to the brink of bankruptcy in 2010.

Lost Both Wars

I think Clinton did a lot of harm, but most of it was confined to the White House.

He did encourage other Democrats to take the low road in defending him but he could have wreaked far more harm on the economy.

George W. Bush did that for him and was an even bigger disappointment than Nixon.

Tell me whom do you think was the worst and or best president?

Stay tuned for Part II and my full answer for the worst president in history for my granddaughter.


Social Justice and the Repeal of the 7th Commandment

March 18, 2010
3 Comments

PART II

Our current president is playing by FDR’s rulebook.  He goes from pillar to post to demonize the insurance companies, bankers, Wall Street—anyone who has the money that he lusts after as a means to further aggrandize his power.

In all honesty, not all wealth is legitimate.  Just look at many of our political leaders–the very one who promote the confiscation of the wealth of prominent and successful Americans–they are the same ones who have grown fat off the American landscape.

This raises the question: is all this hate speech and demagoguery against the very people who drive the American economy and whose success represents the largesse on which millions of Americans feed a good thing?

Does it not create in the lower classes, the poor of this country–many of whom look as if they have not missed a meal, many of whom have cell phones and seem to have enough money for entertainment–a sense of entitlement that they think the private property of the wealthy somehow belongs to them?

Isn’t that what a socialist agenda breeds?

Does their poverty thanks to government’s prompting and encouragement create feelings of hate, envy and sloth? Are not these still capital sins in the Catholic Church?

What does all this government pandering do to their ability to see the face of God?  Or is that now unimportant?

Could one not make the argument that pushing for a preferential option for the poor, as well as calling health care, food, water, transportation, employment a right–does much more harm than good for the downtrodden?

What happens to their incentive to better themselves…to rise from their meager circumstances into something better?

Is that what social justice really means?  Is this what the deacon meant?  Do the poor deserve jobs because they are poor?  Do they deserve food because they don’t have any?  Do they deserve health care because they can’t afford it?

I think our government has deliberately confused rights with our needs.  Sure millions of people need lots of things.  Does that mean government has to provide these things to them with someone’s else’s money?

Government is also confusing rights with responsibility.  People, even the poor, have a responsibility to provide for themselves.  They need to stay in school—we still have free schools.

Government has made forced charity a right that gives little benefit to the recipient and absolutely no benefit to the giver.

If you stay in school, you would have the marketable skills where someone would want to pay good money to employ you.

The poor need to work, even at menial jobs as young people, so they can get a start.  They need to confine their sexual activity to the marriage bed.  And then they need to stay married.

Government needs to stop its punitive taxation which drives millions of Americans jobs to India, the Far East and anywhere taxation is more favorable.  Government literally bites the hands that feeds us.

The poor need to monitor their sexual habits better.  They need practice chastity or celibacy to avoid pre-marital pregnancy, which forces girls to drop out of school or young couples to rush into an early wedding.

Yet don’t fall for the canard that abortion will prevent this.  No it will not alleviate poverty as some writers contend.

It will only lead to promiscuity and more pregnancies and maybe even serious health consequences that will further deepen  the confines of poverty.

Promiscuity equals pregnancy!  That’s how Planned Parenthood stays in business by repeat victims.

And maybe the most important proposal is to stay away from your government.  The United States government loves poor people so much that they want everyone to become poor.

I remember hearing Alan Keyes during one of his religious/political addresses bemoan what government has done to his people.

If only more people had listened to him, he might have beaten Barack Obama during the 2004 Senatorial campaign that landed us in much of this mess.

Keyes made the point that the black family had been better off during slavery.

He said that the black family had been better off during the Great Depression?   (I doubt that the black family will do well in our next Depression if the president has his way.)

What happened?

Lyndon Johnson declared his infamous War of Poverty, which I submit was more a war on poor people.

The late comedian Rodney Dangerfield told a joke that captured the sense of Johnson’s WOPP.   Saying that he ran into a beggar on the street…so I threw a hand grenade at him!

Johnson basically destroyed the black family as an identifiable social unit.

Welfare checks replaced the man of the family because to collect the woman could not be living her husband.

That was 1965 and not too long after the black illegitimacy rate climbed to around 25%.  Now I think it is about 75%. That’s what I guess the progressives would call progress.

The white community has not been far behind, now at over 25%, as our school engineers have done everything they can to destroy the traditional family.

And what does illegitimacy have to do with poverty?  It’s just one of its causes–the more illegitimacy, the more poor people we will have.

Americans used to hate the dole, the old word for welfare, because it slapped at their dignity and their pride. It came with a stigma, saying that a man had failed to support his wife and children. No responsible husband and father wanted to accept something for nothing.

Now it is a badge of honor, a right of entitlement.

What happened?  FDR prolonged the Depression by his wasteful economic policies so that the acceptance of government assistance was the only way to survive.

Liberal historians perpetuated his myth for generations until people finally realized that he had done nothing for 10 years but tread the same stagnant water.

Thank goodness for Pearl Harbor or it would still be going on!

Now the dole is institutionalized to the tune that even our largest companies, apparently too big to fail, get in line so that government can bail them out and save their bonuses.

I advise everyone to read Peter Schweizer’s new book, Architects of Ruin: How Big Government Liberals Wrecked the Global Economy–and How They Will Do It Again if No One Stops Them

So maybe I am not too far off base when I say that social justice as it is practiced today by some of our religions and most importantly our federal government is not justice at all.  It is as 19th century economist, Frederic Bastiat called organized plunder.

As such it is a grievous violation of the 7th Commandment of the Catholic Church, which says Thou Shall Not Steal.  If you or I took something from someone else we would justly go to jail.  But when government does it, it is someone else’s right to our largesse.

To confiscate the earnings, investments and wealth of successful Americans and give it to a class of entitled people whose government-induced lack of incentive has made them perpetual wards of the state is a crime against the universal freedom that our Constitution guarantees, as well as a dehumanization of the very people government and the churches pretend to serve.

Look for my Sunday letter in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Catholic annulments.


Fighting for our Rats

January 1, 2010
1 Comment

In the epic movie, Gettysburg, based on the late Michael Shaara’s highly acclaimed novel The Killer Angels, a young Union officer asked a group of prisoners why they were fighting the bloody war.  The most vocal of the trio said that “we’re figthin’ for our rats!”  He probably perceived the Northern invasion of their sovereign territory as a violation of the South’s limited definition of human rights.

I would wager that Johnny Reb’s lack of education caused him to miss the irony of his words. No mention was made of the injustice of slavery or the fact that he was standing in Pennsylvania when he said his powerful words.

America’s founding fathers probably would have agreed with the Confederate soldier about his “rats.”  Many would have approved of the South’s reasons for succession.

Jefferson, Madison et al were very clear as to what the rights of the individual meant.  After a great deal of debate they settled on three basic human rights that each person born into this country would enjoy under the new American form of republican democracy.

These rights were the right to life, followed by the right to liberty and finally the right to own property.  Without these rights no human being can be totally a free agent.

Thomas Jefferson later broadened the property right because ownership was not yet widespread.  He thought the pursuit of happiness covered all his bases and implied that a free people would pursue happiness by the acquisition of property in time.

The passing of time has also made the idea of individual “rats,” as Johnny Reb phrased it, an elusive concept that has been further clouded by the last three generations of legal and political obfuscation.

“Rats” for most Americans today conger a meaning of an entitlement without any concomitant responsibility.

The pursuit of happiness now means more like a guarantee of happiness…by the Federal government. It was FDR who gave us the notion of the “guarantor state” that dominates our politics today.

The semantics have further distorted the meaning of “rats.” Most people think they have a “rat” to drive or a “rat” to vote.  These are not rights but privileges that they had to qualify for.  They did not come with their birth certificate as natural rights do.

Take the “right to choose,” which has enveloped a nation in a culture war that makes no promise of ever ending.

In America no right is absolute but the “right to choose.”  A person can forfeit his life by taking or trying to take the life of another.  Millions are incarcerated in American jails and prisons for violation the laws of the land and the country’s tax laws give government an inordinate claim on a man’s property.

In politics, the right to choose is a code word for the privilege of a woman to kill her unwanted unborn child. No human can have an inborn right to kill another human being.  If the rights come from outside, they are not “rats.”   They are privileges.

But according to many American politicians, especially our current president, the right to choose to kill her unborn children must be available to every woman and paid for by those who are opposed to it.

In truth abortion is a privilege given to women by men for the benefit of men.

All rights swim in the pool of morality.  The morality of choice is determined by what is chosen, not by the act of choosing.  A man may freely choose to kill another.  That is an evil choice,

In reality choice is also not an absolute.  Everyone has the right to choose.  But not every choice is a moral one.  Laws and moral reasoning often temper or nullify many of our free choices.

This all brings me to health care.  My Catholic Church has been saying that health care is a “rat” that has to be protected and even paid for by the government. One may argue that access to health care is a derivative of the right to life.  No hospital can legally turn away any patient.  It’s the law!

Therefore why should the taxpayer be legally or morally obliged to pay to see that everyone is medically insured in this country?

Associated with every human right is the corresponding obligation to work and provide for one’s own health care.

Food, lodging, clothing and even education are also derivatives of the right to life.  This does not mean that the dwindling base of American taxpayers has to pay for the food, clothing etc. of those who for whatever reason cannot or do not want to pay for their needs.  Americans are not their “brothers keep” in that sense.

Of course there are many, who are mentally ill or indigent, who have fallen through the cracks of society.  They need to be helped but not because it is their “rat” to the nation’s largesse but out of Christian charity and human kindness.  This is NOT something that Americans owe to the least of their brethren.

Churches used to preach charity as their main means of helping the poor and saving souls.  Now most religions have tethered themselves to the federal government’s limitless pipeline to the pockets of the American taxpayer.

It is as if the Church’s responsibility to the poor has been delegated to the federal government, which exploits the poor and homeless to garner votes and power.

The government’s only function in life is perpetual rule at the expense of our “rats.”  Since this money has been confiscated from the taxpayers, it has not been freely given and allots them no spiritual benefit.

If high octane ObamaCare becomes the law of the land in 2010, the unborn will not be the only endangered group fighting for their “rats.”

HAPPY NEW YEAR


About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at bbprof@sbcglobal.net

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