Hillary’s Kennedy-LBJ Paradox: If Elected She’ll (Probably) Accomplish More Liberal Goals Than Obama, But She’ll Never Be Loved Like Him

Political writers love to make comparisons between different politicians in different times. How does X politician compare with FDR? Is the Iraq War comparable to Vietnam? Can we really call the IRS Tea Party targeting McCarthyism? Comparisons abound. And in making these lightly theorized analogies, this writer is no exception.

So here is another consideration from history to throw into the mix: If Hillary Clinton wins, and if Democrats regain Congress (the latter proposition probably won’t happen but bear with me), she will probably be quite successful in passing liberal agenda items like immigration reform, climate change legislation, new pro-Big Labor “card-check” rules, and national protections for gays and lesbians against discrimination.

But even if she isn’t as successful as proposed, we can still do a thought experiment. Suppose she get’s all the the aforementioned Democratic initiatives through (regardless of the fact that besides immigration reform they don’t work and violate constitutional liberties) and liberals still loath her like the did Lyndon Johnson.

LBJ did in two years what it took Franklin Roosevelt to do in four terms and what it would have taken John Kennedy to do in 10. He passed Medicare and Medicaid, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights and Fair Housing Rights Acts, passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, passed Pell Grants, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and opened many new federal regulatory departments and welfare programs. He also cut taxes quite a bit.

And yet, after all this, the left of his own party despised him. Yes, this was mostly because of the disastrous Vietnam War, but that can’t explain everything because the Obama administration has engaged in many more costly wars in Libya, Yemen, and elsewhere. Whether it’s Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Harry Truman, or Bill Clinton, liberals are usually always willing to elect warmongers to the White House if they’ll agree to reduce economic freedom and property rights protection and increase legal plunder through income redistribution to bride voters.

But there are shining moments when the Left puts it’s government greed aside to pick candidates that are genuinely anti-war, like Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern.

Barack Obama, while many consider him in those latter two molds, is much more like JFK, and that’s not necessarily a compliment. By that comparison I mean to say he is considered to be a dove but is really hawk, but is able to portray himself as a dove and capture the imaginations of the electorate. He also did not accomplish much domestically.

His civil rights bill quickly became stalled in the Congress by segregationist Democrats and Republicans skeptical of expanding federal power.

President Kennedy created the Peace Corps, which symbolically is more important than it is actually. Another policy change, unionizing federal employees, would turn out to be fiscal disaster many decades later as we are now experiencing.

Now, as before, contrast that with the Johnson record: liberal and effective at ramming left-wing social welfare legislation through without much debate.

If elected, Hillary would be a classic warmongering hawk in the old Cold War sense. She believes in war as a “humanitarian” cause, like her failed war in Libya. But if she get’s a climate bill through passing or restricting First Amendment liberties with a campaign finance “reform” bill, that would be a liberal dream.

But she will not be loved like Obama. That does not mean she’ll suffer like LBJ. But it does mean that President Obama will defeat her all over again, only this time in the history books and in the memories of the American people.

Rubio Running For President

(Photocredit: Politico)

(Photocredit: Politico)

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, in an announcement in Miami, FL that wrapped up a few minutes ago, is running for president. The speech was bold in language and sparse in detail, but from a political standpoint it was very effective.

The immigrant narrative was heavy in the speech. Rubio alluded to his parents coming to America after the Castro coup in Cuba. That plays well and could really give Hillary Clinton a run for her money.

In the primaries, while Rubio is popular among donors, there doesn’t seem to be much enthusiasm for him in the early primary and caucus states. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz seem to be locking down the Tea Party insurgent vote.

However, if either or both of those candidates flame out early there could be an opening. But it is more likely Rubio’s chief rival will be Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who is considered a base favorite but is also largely acceptable to donors and the GOP establishment.

Look for Rubio and Walker attacking each other in the months to come before the caucuses and primaries.

Maryland Legislature Passes Bill Decriminalizing Pot Paraphernalia

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(Photocredit: Hemp.org)

A new bill passed the Maryland House and Senate that decriminalizes marijuana smoking devices like pipes and smoking devices. The new law builds on last year’s successful effort to decriminalize marijuana.

The bill’s chief sponsor in the MD Senate, Senator Bobby Zirkin, D-Baltimore County, described the bill as necessary to “clean up” the pot decriminalization bill, bringing the law on the drug and paraphernalia into harmony.

“We made the possession of marijuana a civil offense, but the hardware used with it is still criminal, so you had this disjointed law that didn’t make any sense,” he said, according the The Baltimore Sun. 

It is good to see that Maryland, at least many in Maryland, is trying hard to see the end of pot prohibition and all its most burdensome constituent laws repealed or severely lessened.

Now that a majority of respondents polled support legalization, the opportunity costs for politicians supporting sane, libertarianish policies toward the drug are being reduced.

Not content to stop there, another bill that increases the amount of marijuana possession it takes to trigger civil penalties from 10 grams to 20 grams has been proposed. This time from Assembly Delegate Curt Anderson, also from Baltimore City County.

Zirkin, according to The Sun, is not content with that increase. He would like to see it up’d to 1 ounce.”Ten grams does not make any sense,” said Zirkin on the proposal. “It’s a very arbitrary number that’s hard for the police to decipher.”

I absolutely agree with the senator, but obviously we at the Forgotten Beard generally support full legalization in a minimally-regulated market for adults. We also understand that this is going to take time, and the recently passed legislation is strong step forward that is to be commended. And it is good to see that Maryland is yet another state where the war on marijuana is coming to a close.

Republican Governor Larry Hogan has not yet initiated a statement on whether he intends to the sign the bill into law or not.

Rahm’s Victory: Win for Progressives or “Right-Wing” Democrats?

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s victory was supposed to go smoothly. The city’s long and storied history does not usually produce massive upsets, save for Harold Washington’s victory in 1983 when he consolidated the Black vote in an election that the White was split between incumbent Jane Byrne and Cook County State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley.

But nothing about Mayor Emanuel’s tenure was expected to be that out of the usual from normal Chicago politics. As the hard-nosed, cut-throat former chief of staff for President Obama and a former congressman who was one of the main architects of the Democrats’ takeover of Congress in 2006, Emanuel won an easy victory in 2011 when he ran for mayor.

Things weren’t so easy after that. Facing a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall, rising crime, and one of the worst and most expensive education systems in the country, Rahm went into action. He started closing bad schools and laying off ineffective teachers.

And since Republican Governor Bruce Rauner was inaugurated this year, the mayor has had political backup from Springfield initiating badly-needed reforms.

But many on the progressive left have been enraged by Emanuel’s mayorship. Activists like Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis have lead protests and demonstrations against failing school closings which have lead to very tense negotiations that have broken down at times. Emanuel’s ties to the Chicago Stock Exchange and financial class from his days as an investment banker have also been a source of consternation in a party increasing populist and suspicious of “Big Money.”

Newly installed red light traffic cameras that disproportionately impact poor neighborhoods have not been popular either.

On the other hand, Democratic allies of Emanuel have pointed to the mayor’s enactment of universal pre-k and big spending on infrastructure as proof of his progressive bonafides.

Looking into results, city voters bought into the mayor. According to reports, 143,000 ballots early and absentee ballots were cast. This number was much higher than the amount of absentees in the first round of voting or the mayor’s first 2011 race.

Most neighborhoods were showing strong support for the Mayor against Garcia.

Fundraising reporting found much more support for Emanuel as well. The incumbent raised $23 million compared to just $6 million for Garcia.

In the end, Chicago went for the incumbent by 56% to 44%. But although the election was a decisive victory for the mayor and centrist progressives, the debate was not. A resurgent populist mood on left is making things increasingly difficult for Democrats like Emanuel, President Obama, and likely 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Many in the party see the party as too close to Wall Street and too conciliatory toward the Republican right when it comes to reforming key liberal cornerstones like Medicare, Social Security, as well as their suspicion of free trade and foreign intervention.

What we are essentially seeing on the left is a progressive tea party, or what Occupy Wall Street was supposed to be once it was able to find a real issue to rally around. What Obamacare and opposition to Big Government is to Tea Party conservatives, regulating Wall Street and resisting any and all changes to Social Security and Medicare is to these New Progressives.

Chicago was a canary in the future of liberal politics in America. And although the establishment candidate won, many argue he was permanently pushed in a leftward direction.

And in many ways this will be a constant theme of 2016: not only what is the true vision of the Republican Party, but if Hillary Clinton wins, who will she be listening to?

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Another Brutal Police Shooting Brings the Reality of Government Murder Home

(Photocredit: NBCNews.com)

(Photocredit: NBCNews.com)

This time in the city of North Charleston, South Carolina. Officer Michael Slager, a White man, shot and killed Black man Walter Scott as he fled an encounter. Slager discharged his weapon a full eight times.

According to Slater, he feared for his life after he pulled over Scott’s vehicle for a broken tail light. However, video captured of the event show nothing like Slager’s account. In it, Scott, himself middle-aged and older than Slager, is shown running away from the officer in a lumbering fashion as Slager unloads eight shots into him. Scott is presumed to have fallen to ground dead.

The video also shows Slager rushing over to the body to put him in hand cuffs after the fact and then placing a taser near the body. Slager later allegedly got on the police radio to inform his dispatcher that shots were fired and that the suspect had taken his taser.

But is it just me or are these police murder crimes not only getting more and more frequent, but also more and more blatant? With the Ferguson homicide, there was at least a disputed story. Not so with the North Charleston shooting.

Police in this country are out of control and action needs to be taken in two fundamental steps: 1) we need more regulations on police activity that includes mandatory tamper-proof body cameras. Also, state governments should pass laws setting up local citizen review boards where all criminal police misconduct can be referred to and that have real investigative and subpoena power of all witnesses and evidence involved. 2) We need to repeal as many arbitrary rules and regulations on citizens that make deadly run ins on like this more likely. The North Charleston shooting was instigated by a broken tail light. Laws like these are meant as revenue generators for cash-strapped local governments, not public safety. Also, the choking of Eric Gardner in Staten Island, NY, a Black man killed by a White police officer, was the result of the accused being suspected of selling “loosies,” which are single untaxed cigarettes.

Americans need to take a good hard look at their police forces and their government as whole and ask themselves if they want to live in a country where you can willfully murder the same people you’re supposed to “protect & serve” if you have a badge.

Win or Lose, Rand Paul is The Barry Goldwater of Our Time

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Rand Paul’s campaign will make libertarianism a household name…and that’s great.


I’ll be the first to admit now officially declared candidate Rand Paul is long shot to win the GOP nomination, much less the White House. While the Kentucky Republican has a built in grassroots/donor base from his father’s two presidential campaigns, and he has proven an adept politician, the balancing act between being “too dovish” and not alienating his libertarian base, between expanding the party to non-traditional Republican voters while not turning off reliable GOP votes, and the perpetual challenge for all candidates: maintaining a campaign strategy that works in both the primary and general elections, may be too great.

But even if Senator Paul fails to win in 2016, one thing is clear: modern American libertarianism, with its emphasis on individual liberty, limited government, and skepticism toward war, will be discussed more than ever before is national politics. Obviously, this can be both a blessing and a curse. MSNBC-style progressives will no doubt inflate his admittedly foolish statements on the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as well as racist statements printed under his father’s newsletters. Neoconservatives and establishment Republicans, no doubt, will have a field day of accusing Mr. Paul of being “anti-” everything under the Sun, such as being anti-Israel, anti-Military, and, of course, anti-American.

But this is a moot point. If hyperbolic web articles had any substantive negative effect, Salon.com could have taken a victory lap 5 years ago. And much to the chagrin of traditional partisans, Americans are less attached to party labels and have a sharper nose for nonsense than before. And that sharper nose is increasingly like the smell of libertarianism when it comes to the specific issues of the day.

Whether we’re talking about school choice and education reform, getting rid of mandatory minimums, reforming civil asset forfeiture, legalizing marijuana, expanding gun rights, reducing government surveillance, reducing police brutality, as well as many other issues.

But however much the public is increasingly assuming libertarian(ish) positions on national issues, what they lack is a political framework to contextualize them. And the only political philosophy, broadly interpreted, is libertarianism. Many had hoped this paradigm would change after Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign and after his more successful (but ultimately failed) 2012 campaign.

There were two factors for that paradigm didn’t change. One was Ron Paul himself. The Texas Congressman’s quirky and anti-establishment style, while endearing, did not draw enough voters to his cause to launch him out of the initial primary states. The second factor. The second was strategy. The elder Paul ran his campaign like a libertarian seminar, not understanding that as a presidential candidate you have to be more than just college instructor.

Rand Paul, as mentioned before, is about as savvy a politician as any realistic libertarian can reasonably expect. In politics, you have to decide with three or four issues are most important to you and pursue them relentlessly, while being able to ditch the small stuff.

As it turns out, there once a pro-liberty candidate, who while not much of a strategist, understood the power simple yet principled platforms. In 1964, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater ran on a platform that emphasized freedom at home, strength abroad (not the stupidity of nation building, mind you), and understanding of traditional so-called Judeo-Christian principles in underpinning Western liberty and free government.

Bringing the issue back to the public and political context, by the mid 1960’s many Americans had had enough of the increasing bureaucratizing of America and its threat to their liberties, as well as the moral equivocating with the Soviet Union.

Senator Goldwater smashed this paradigm once and for all. When the East Coast Republican establishment was poised to nominate the very-liberal Republican Governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller, the frustrated delegates revolted and nominated Goldwater.

Electorally, it was a catastrophe. Goldwater went down to landslide defeat to incumbent President Lyndon Baines Johnson, losing all but his home state of Arizona and several states in the deep south.

If Rand Paul were to be nominated by the GOP and lose, he would certainly do better than Goldwater. But a loss is still a loss. Many in the media and establishment Washington would ring their hands of the libertarian movement.

However, on the road to defeat electorally, Rand Paul would kick the door wide open on opposition to libertarian values and could lead to a rebirth of small government activism.

Barry Goldwater lost the battle but won the war in Republican party, moving the GOP permanently to right on taxes, spending, and regulation, and against moral equivocation with the Soviet Union and Communism itself.

Rand Paul, win or lose, will do the same in 2016: Make the GOP more libertarian on lifestyle choice, more serious about controlling government power, and embedding a default skepticism for extreme intervention abroad.

Can A Rural Kentucky Republican Revive Urban Conservatism?

(Photocredit: Gotham Gazette)

(Photocredit: Gotham Gazette)

During his widely-anticipated speech announcing his run for president, Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, touted principles and beliefs any typical GOP’er would recognize.

However, of particular interest is the senator-turned-presidential-candidate’s emphasis on issues that affect America’s urban residents, particularly low income minority youth. Below are some excerpts:

“Liberal policies have failed our inner cities. Our schools are not equal and the poverty gap continues to widen.”

Also,

“My trips to Detroit, Appalachia, and Chicago have revealed what I call an ‘undercurrent of unease.’”

And this,

“I want all our children to have the same opportunities that I had. We need to stop limiting kids in poor neighborhoods to failing public schools and offer school choice, not just for the privileged, but for everyone!”

Finally,

“Martin Luther King spoke of two Americas. He described them as “two starkly different American experiences that exist side by side.”

While some of these statements apply broadly across America, they have particular resonance for the country’s city dwellers like myself. I have long argued that libertarianism, or at least cosmopolitan version of conservatism, can have big payoffs for cities.

This is because urban residents face at best incompetent and at worst dangerous government policies like nobody else in the country. Whether it’s the lack of school choice and opportunity, union cronies, crooked cops, wasteful spending, failed social programs, and/or nanny-state nuttiness, a Washington pol who advocates for stronger role for the individual, civil society, and the free market could have some very real purchasing power.

Cities are ground zero for government stupidity and tyranny. Poorer and minority residents regularly are threatened with stop-and-frisk-style policies as well as the ever-looming possibility their homes, businesses, and neighborhoods declared as “blighted” and then demolished. They’re also routinely denied the right to carry personal weapons for self-defense under extremely loose standard of “may issue,” meaning that local governments can grant or deny permits to carry on an almost purely arbitrary basis.

Looking at demographic trends, America is going to be much more urban in the 21st century than it was in the 20th. This means that the GOP and libertarian-conservative activists need to invest serious resources in the countries cities. Or face extinction.