Tag Archives: White House

Clinton’s Campaign: Does She Have Credibility, a Creed and a Contest ?

Will Secretary and Senator and Former First Lady  Hillary Rodham Clinton be the first female President of the United States? It certainly seems likely. Here you can read my first post when she became the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party.  Since the very first version of this post came out the Washington Post has run an article saying that her credibility is damaged, that article is here and it may or may not represent political reality. But the contention made here in all versions of this post so far is that there appears to be a small chance that she will be indicted, arrested and charged in the email scandal or in any matter to do with Benghazi. By small of course I mean that there is not a large chance. There appears to be a miniscule chance that Bernie Sanders will mount a successful revolt or set up a powerful third party challenge which would derail her path to the presidency. There is more or less no realistic chance that she will be stopped from being elected except by the victory of Donald Trump as the Republican Nominee over her as the Democratic Nominee in the general election. Almost no chance is not the same as no chance. Any number of things could happen including death of physical impairment. But the odds seem to be better than fifty percents that she will be the next POTUS. Few people have ever had more relevant work or official experience when approaching the highest office in the land. To be a Senator is a lot, to be Secretary of State is a lot, to be First Lady is a lot — to be all three is a staggering degree of experience. Of course I physically stagger more easily than some more physically gifted readers and so I go to that adjective and the related adverb more readily than they might. But if one does not stagger one at least must take notice of the degree to which she embodies tremendous experience. Compared to her:

  1. Donald Trump has never held elected office,
  2. he has never lived in the White House,
  3. he has never lived in the executive mansion of a State,
  4. he has never held an office appointed by a President,
  5. he has never led a sustained policy discussion as Clinton did with healthcare,
  6. he has never been officially invited to sit at the table to negotiate  a formal treaty on behalf of the United States.
To safeguard liberty we must be able to adapt to the changing times.

To safeguard liberty we must be able to adapt to the changing times.

On the other hand they do have some lack of experience in common:

  1. Neither on has held a major post in a religious institution,
  2. neither has served in the military,
  3. neither has served in the workaday world of the intelligence community,
  4. neither has lived on our borders or in border towns for any length of time,
  5. neither speaks Spanish of French well, official languages of our neighbors,
  6.  neither has lived and worked as a citizen in the way business people, missionaries, journalists and  volunteers do every day across this world as they forge an American identity abroad.

Ambassador Stevens was an unusually high ranking victim of violence abroad. In the last few days other Americans have lost their lives around the world but a glimpse into the kinds of decisions he faced is also a glimpse into kinds of decisions that Americans who believe in what they are doing abroad face every day.  The following excerpt is from the recent report on the Benghazi incident:

While the end of the fiscal year funding deadline was looming, the Diplomatic Security Agent in charge at the Embassy in Tripoli was, nonetheless,
concerned about Stevens’ trip to Benghazi. Although his first planned trip to Benghazi in the beginning of August 2012 had to be canceled because of security,14 Stevens was adamant, however, about going in September.15 The Diplomatic Security Agent testified:
Previous to this—to his decisions to going up there, there was— we would meet weekly to discuss the security situation in Libya.…[
T]here was a specific meeting regarding what was happening in Benghazi. In that meeting, we reviewed incidents and  probable causes, what’s initiating it. And a lot of discussion was that it was the conflict or the incidents up there were, you know, local population against local population and that that they weren’t specifically targeting Americans … up there. I expressed my concerns about the incidents that did involve us. And the basic response was that they … were anomalies.

We all have images of what leadership should look like which are not simple portrayals of reality.

We all have images of what leadership should look like which are not simple portrayals of reality.

Romney was a missionary in France during anti-American times, Bill Clinton visited Russia as a student in the Cold War years and there are other connections to tat least the same world Chris Stevens lived in that can be found in other political lives outside the military but not in the lives of Hillary Clinton or Donald trump so far as I know. Both have traveled a great deal. both have been at some risk but the proportion of risk to resources has never been equal in my opinion to the baseline many Americans abroad have experienced every day all of my life.

The other thing that they have in common is access to fame, fortune, privilege and the people in power. This is not an even contest between the two of them but neither does it really matter who has had more of such opportunity. These opportunities have defined both of their lives for a long time. One big difference of course is that Trump like all previous American Presidents is a man and Clinton is a woman. I visited that in the post where her candidacy was all but assured but I am not going to deal with it much in this post.

There are issues related to Clinton that have very little to do with the fact that she is a woman. Trump recently said he just knew very little about her religion and she responded by declaring her self emphatically enough to be a Methodist. My own take on some of the discussion of Clinton’s religion has been posted in this blog before and can be seen here. Of course there may be more to say as time goes on.  One fact about the election of the first Clinton to the Presidency is that the result was likely determined by the most credible third party candidate in presidential politics in my lifetime — Ross Perot. He made it more than possible for Bill Clinton to defeat George Bush Senior. Thus Clinton did not face the kind of intense contest he would have otherwise.  This kind of splitting is well established in British politics and may have been fostered in some way or another by the Rhodes Scholar, Bill Clinton as the biggest take home lesson from his time in Oxford. Some may see Trump as Ross Perot on steroids. He is the third party candidate who became the  candidate of a major party and the main obstacle to Clinton’s election. that would still be true even if Romney or someone becomes a real third party candidate somehow. So how does trump match Clinton on matters of faith?

To see Clinton’s faith in political terms this season means to examine Donald Trump’s faith as well. He seems to be a person, like Clinton, about whom one could say a great many contradictory things based on pretty good evidence. That is not necessarily because he is deceptive or a hypocrite but may be because of the place he comes from in his life context. Interestingly enough he has made it clear that he supports Christmas as a national holiday and seeks to preserve it. That was the narrow subject of my original blog post about Clinton’s faith and the faith of other candidates.    Christmas was of course never my only interest in the religious identity of candidates. I love Christmas very much and the Christian observance of it by this country is a tradition I think worth striving for and worth some sacrifice. However, it is interesting that the ugliest rumors and suspicions about Donald Trump involve the ways in which he reminds people of the NSDAP or Nazis and the Third Reich. While many Christians nothing like the Hitlerites have rallied around Christmas, there is also no doubt that the Nazis made Christmas and especially the control of Christmas tree sales and early focus of political activity.  In further clarification, it is interesting to note that the list of candidates in the Democrats poll I posted in that article did include Biden but did not include Sanders. Even more interesting is that Trump does not appear among the six Republican candidates who appear in the poll I posted and reviewed in terms of the religion of the candidates. Huckabee was the leader in the poll and he was of course a Baptist minister who claimed the same hometown as President William Jefferson Clinton — Hope, Arkansas. So where does that leave the discussion of religion as I saw it back in 2014? It is not a perfectly relevant post in every way  then.  But here is the principal quotation from that blog post as it pertains to understanding Clinton’s faith in very general political terms. The first paragraph below deals with how Americans likely to vote Republican were thinking about Republican candidates in 2014 and how that related to Christmas and it observance by the Christians of this nation . However the remaining paragraphs  relate to what Clinton’s religious identity is likely to be. It is perhaps best to look at the text:

There is a lot of shaking out to do if these numbers mean any thing before any Republican can claim the nomination.  But it does indicate perhaps the streams of thought that are shaping the country as regards finding a religious root for values expressed by America’s  “right” in politics.

What then about the left? Where does the other side of American  political energy come down on our connecting with the roots of Christianity.  Unlike the possible GOP nominees, Hillary Clinton has tended to tower over her challengers for the 2016 Democratic nomination. Some people are saying that candidates like Elizabeth Warren are poised to show explosive growth but it would take a lot of growth to challenge  Clinton in the primary.

Joe Lieberman who ran with Al Gore was not a Christian but a Jew who seemed to tolerate a good deal of public Christmas. Mitt Romney belonged to what most scholars consider to be a post-Christian religion but it is one that celebrates Christmas as an American holiday and the birth festival of Jesus Christ. Many presidents have been devout Christians: Washington, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, Woodrow Wilson, John Kennedy and half a dozen others are clearly men who in my opinion must be seen as Christians entirely. Whatever they did not achieve of the Christian ideal is not because they did not adhere to that faith and religion. Richard Nixon was reared as a Quaker and (though many American Quakers seem pretty much to be Christians) Quakers as a whole are not a Christian faith but one which grew up among Christians.  It is hard to say what Nixon was when he was President. With men like Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and  a few others it hard to say where they stood in terms of religious classification and identity.

So that brings me to Clinton. She is a favorite enemy of the Christian Right and other religious people in American politics and she may well deserve it. She has a background which is mostly verifiable: Clinton was reared a Methodist Protestant Christian, belonged to a Senate Prayer Group and has spoken at Prayer Breakfasts.  Her profile may seem different to American atheists than to most other people. Here is an atheist site evaluating Clinton’s background and religious values.  It is hard to know how  she would deal with Christmas.

I have just finished observing the Independence Day  holiday in a minimal sort of way. It is always a time that I like to think about what it means to be an American and posts about those thoughts can be seen here. But although those ideas have been posted here they have more often been shared in other places and my thoughts about America have been posted here on other holidays. Those holiday thoughts on Memorial Day have been  here and on Veterans day have been here. While I have in common with Clinton and Trump that I have not a day of service in the military in my past it seems to be the military holidays that most inspire my patriotism. My observation of the Independence Day holiday was not entirely minimal by every standard and I did post quite a few notes and the lyrics of the National Anthem on my Facebook profile but minimal my observance  certainly was  in some measures. Neither Trump nor Clinton were very visible in my own perusal of our nation’s birthday. But one of them will likely be the American Head of State by next Independence Day. Unlike Christmas these holidays are not specifically Christian. I am a Christian and for me Christian prayer is part of these national holidays. I am not sure how the faith of either major candidate informs  their celebration of these days.  But faith and the most gung ho kinds of patriotism are linked by many as can be seen at links here and here. What else does  America expect from a leader and does Clinton have it?

Clinton has a lot of government experience, but the range is not infinite. One of the big achievements of this week has been the placement of the Juno observatory in position as a satellite of Jupiter. Some of the reason many people around the world are interested in this project can be gleaned here.  Neither Clinton nor Trump seems to be the kind to play an extraordinary role in blazing a pioneering trail into space.  These kinds of brave explorations may shape the future or not but they do not seem to define the vision of either Clinton or Trump.

One question many people have about religion is whether or not someone who prays for help should be President. Perhaps prayer means one cannot do the job. But some contend Clinton had private emails because she did not want to disclose the degree to which she could not do her job. That story can be seen here. It is to be noted that this not entirely clear story comes from a publication as biased in favor of Clinton and against Trump as one can get. But the point is here only that Buzz Aldrin, a rocket scientist, astronaut and space planner is a noted public prayer promoter in his own life and not being known for religious acts makes nobody a scientist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Presidential Politics and Ideologies

This blog has been among many other things the site for a duel between the very unevenly resourced ideological positions of President Barack Hussein Obama and the ideological positions of Frank Wynerth Summers III. That is not entirely a fair analysis of anything but it is close enough to be useful. It is close enough to the truth to open this blog post. Remember the book The Age of Obama? Has is turned out the way that book led us to believe it might turn out if the great bringer of Hope and Change were to bring his policies into the White House for eight years? What of all the articles in periodicals and pieces on television shows that predicted a post racial America, has that happened?

Lately there has been the shooting of the people in the Emanuel AME Church, the Lafayette Theater shooting, the bombing of two church exteriors of different types, the burning of black churches and the recent graffiti attack on a synagogue in San Antonio and much of this received barely a mention in this blog but there have been mentions. Like the police officers shot and the neighborhoods burning this sort of thing seems different that the usual ideological conflicts I have discussed here.  There are serious Nazis and neo Nazis in America who are far more dangerous to some people than the painting and shooting folks seen lately and it is not easy to say how much the two groups interact. One could argue that America’s political parties are losing control over their brand and the ideologies associated with being Republican or Democrat can’t compete  within their own labels. So what is the ideological framework here that faces the ideological complexity of the world? Are we living in an America so transformed by a continuous Civil Rights struggle that a new and unified America based on equality looks out at the world through that lens?

Did David Remnick’s book The Bridge capture the essence of an Obama who fulfilled the dreams behind the Civil Rights Movement and encapsulated and personified them in himself?

Conservative Indian-American scholar Dinesh D’Souza has produced two films, numerous lectures and the book The Roots of Obama’s Rage  which among other things seek to explain Obama as an anti-colonialist ideologue.  I think that his analysis is basically correct in large areas. However, there are also areas where I disagree with him and the work to be done to analyze all of this scholarship and writing goes far beyond what I can do in this post. The truth is that Obama as he is perceived by his supporters and any other positioned person he happens to be do not always come close enough together to be examined as one thing and one person or leader. Will this ideology of anti-colonialism be the legacy of Obama that his successor will have to deal with?

The popular mass street politics of the left may yet be telling ...

The popular mass street politics of the left may yet be telling …

In other posts I have dealt more than I will here with the energy behind the Black Lives Matter Movement, the Occupy Movement, The Tea Party, Act Up, protesters for and against the Confederate Flag. With these and so many other signs of discontent can we speak of an American ideology that will be led by a President? Do we simply have a society of contending ideologies?

Does Al Gore have a chance of leading a Green Ideology into power in the Democratic Party and then into the White House? I am pretty Green and would not join the Green Party and have left the Democrats, I probably would not come home with Al but would someone else? Would enough people unite with him around those issues to constitute an ideological shift? Former Vice President Gore has not declared that he is running but we can imagine a Green Democrats ideology that might be formidable…

Louisiana State Bird a victim

Louisiana State Bird a victim

Nonetheless lots of Americans care about the environment and some are pretty dismissive of it and those splits do not always relate to a very identifiable ideology. Gore himself seems far from a predictable ideologue. Nor is it clear that Americans are seeking a leader with a strongly ideological bent as they are facing moderate complex political systems in competition as well as places and systems like Cuba, Iran, North Korea and ISIS who seem to have very strong and clear ideologies

What is Donald J. Trump’s ideology? Most of us are not sure. We feel more sure about Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul if we have any idea what an ideology is we feel that each of those men are very ideological and committed. We may not evaluate their ideologies the same way but most of us feel that they clearly have evolved and embraced a distinct political ideology.  We may also not be sure about whether an American President should have a distinct ideology. Is ideology a word that applies to American politics?

We have a responsibility to understand the words we use to shape our live and society. This is a picture of the Declarators committee.

We have a responsibility to understand the words we use to shape our live and society. This is a picture of the Declarators committee.

I think we can disagree a great deal about what the American ideological framework is, about what it ought to be and about how intensely it should interact with Presidential politics. Nonetheless, I think most serious and honest people will come to accept after study that ideology has its place in American politics as well. America must engage a world shaped by complex ideological factors. One of the challenges of recent years has been to define the ideology of President Barack Hussein Obama.

 

The crowd of people who are running for President of the United States may not be aware of the fact that struggle of ideologies across the world is a great struggle. It is a struggle as complex and challenging in its implications as any struggle across the face of the globe has ever been.

The world always goes on around family events and sometimes they get a bit of notice.

The world always goes on around family events and sometimes they get a bit of notice.

We are facing a great deal of complexity in the way that power and development are configured in the world. China ruled by the Communist party is influenced heavily by the hybrid post Soviet gangster oligarchy cum neo-socialist planning cum free market capitalism of Russia.  China is also influenced by its own reinterpretation of neglected socialist paths, Confucianism and its Imperial Heritage. China is influenced positively and is also pushed to active opposition by post KMT Taiwan. It is influenced by the capitalist American treaty partners in the region — Japan, Korea and Vietnam. The British Commonwealth’s lingering influence in Hong Kong and its bastion in India are continuing influences. The Muslim provinces and the Muslim powers in the region also exert a definable influence. Chinese ideology is not a random hodgepodge of all these influences but it is responsive to all of these influences.   The next American President will have to pay some attention to the realities that the Chinese are paying attention to if he or she wishes to understand what Chinese leaders and thinkers are planning and doing. The Chinese constitution is important to understand but the ideology by which leaders operate within the constitutional framework is not less important to understand.

What then of the ideologies that dominate Mexico, Japan, the United Kingdom,  France, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Iran? Are we ready to allow the next leader to take office without a thorough understanding of at least how an ideology or system of political ideas tends to operate in and across systems of power and forms of governance?

Obama has been President of the United States and written two books which I have read. I think I understand some things about his ideology by now. That will leave its mark on our future regardless of what else happens.

The Chinese State Visit and Other Matters

This is an imprtant occasion. The visit of Premiere Hu Jin Tao of China to the United States is underway. That is part of a very essential relationship in geopolitics. For me the main theme in all these occasions and events is better dealt whith over the course of all the pages and posts in this blog than it is in this little post. Here I simply want to say that I hope for the best in all the long series of events which form this relationship.

I do not believe that there are very many easy answers or really valid simple questions in this important relationship. Perhaps I shall blog more on it later. I am pleased it is happening, That is not because I approve of everything that China is doing, but for other reasons. It is not because I trust the Obama administration to handle it well, but more because not having it would be among the very worst ways to handle these issues.

I am an American and love America in a very unique way. However, China is a very special country to me personally as well. Yet at this time I feel pretty alienated from both of the countries and that sense of alienation makes me more reserved in blogging about the visit.

General Elena Kagan Confirmed to the US Supreme Court

The Solicitor General of the United States has been named to the US Supreme Court by President Barack Obama. Her nomination has been confirmed by the United States Senate. She will be the first third woman on the court if you take my meaning. There have never been three before. There was O’Connor, then O’Connor and Bader-Ginsburg, then Bader-Ginsburg and Sotomayor. But now there are three female justices.

Elena Kagan was Solicitor General and I have to believe she picked up some valuable skills in that job. She was Dean of Harvard Law School and that was probably useful as well. I do not think three women is excessive and I do not pretend for one second to seek a gender blind society. I think a third of the US Supreme Court could be a good place for women to be operating who are willing to engage in and capable of performing top-level public service .  I do believe that it is kind of scary and unfortunate that there are now no Protestants on the court but I do think that Jews are rightly found more often on courts than a random person of average or unknown ethnicity. They bring millenia of cultural conditioning suitable to the task.

I think Kagan brings some real limits and weaknesses to the court but that is true of all the Justices and all those they beat off the short lists to get there. Her main issues of concern are that she is beholden to an outside figure and his swept-in administration for support and lacks court experience that ties her to other unrelated positions.  She has a reputation for strong commitment to the homosexual lobby’s agenda and she is coming in just as a case written the most socially destructive terms imaginable will be coming up from California.  She is suspect as regards the US military  and we are in a position where things already seem very troubled in that regard. I sincerely hope that things will work out well for both soon-to-be Justice Kagan and for the Union of these American States.

Links, Loss and the Laws: Biggest US Oil Spill

Well today there are a a variety of possible descriptions and some of them conflict as to the state of the dynamic kill of the gusher a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. Is the spill growing by crude oil and natural gas and if so by how much? Or is there only mud and seawater coming out now. Most television channels are showing only the top of the blow-out preventer and no longer showing the issuance from the riser. That makes it even harder to tell what is going on because the top of the preventer could be spewing mud only and it would mean much less than if the broken riser were also only spewing out mud. I mud is coming out of all leaks without oil then in fact as some have said they are cutting off the flow of oil while they pump.  Of course spewing drilling fluids is not perfect either but it would be a sign of progress. Nonetheless, this is a good time to turn to issues that are not so sensitive to the progress of events minute by minute.

After the Exxon Valdez disaster the laws were changed under the Oil Pollution Act. This Act had many good effects such as forcing all major players to file an emergency response plan and setting up emergency response under the Coast Guard. MAYBE: It had the very bad effect of having the responsible party do all the clean-up, then pay a 75 million dollar deductible and then tapping into a grossly underfunded indemnity or rainy day fund to compensate those injured. A sum of 75 million dollars would compensate for a minor interruption of the Louisiana Gulf Coast for about a minute. The remaining two billion or so in the current indemnity fund would constitute lost business insurance for less than a week in this region in a worst case scenario and would leave no money thereafter for other injuries than lost business. Creating a plan like this removes all incentives to have a responsible coastal policy at least on its face. To see what the laws are as described by the Environmental Protection Agency see the link below.    

http://www.epa.gov/lawsregs/laws/opa.html

The EPA and other parts of the government have built up some response capacities based on these laws. It is arguable that the regime under the Oil Pollution Act is often far better than it was under most statutory regimes likely to apply before the laws changed.  To see some of this response capacity as it is relevant here see the next link.

http://www.epa.gov/oilspill/index.htm 

On the other hand the insurance capacity is very low relative to real risk in this area. It is also true that such a disaster as this must be best mitigated before hand. This is best done by policies which may not be considered because of the current scheme. See my own ideas in the link below.

https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2009/10/02/ideal-wetlands-policy-on-the-louisiana-coast/

The federal government of the United States of America is also very much engaged in regulating the industry. There is very little that the public has followed about the Mineral Management Service but you can look at their link below.

http://www.mms.gov/

The State of Louisiana has to deal with the terrible results and fight against the worst consequences of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. In order to fully know what there concerns are there are several agencies to check with. I am not going to repeat government links I gave before. I would encourage you to look at what Wildlife and Fisheries has to say in the next link.

http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/

As you consider the environment and the culture one would also remember that Louisiana is a civil law jurisdiction governed by the Louisiana Civil Code and has a very different system of laws than the 49 Common Law states and the US Government in this regard. To begin to understand what this means see the next link.

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/civil+law

To keep track of how Louisiana’s government  tracks environmental quality and see what issues have been addressed here see the next link. The Department of Environmental Quality has a close relationship with the federal EPA. 

http://www.deq.louisiana.gov/portal

To see the central electronic focus of the Louisiana government for this crisis see the next link.  There is little else that can be said of the many agencies and parishes responding  in this short blog post.

http://www.emergency.louisiana.gov/

Ironically, one of the State’s law schools had just held an academic conference on water quality and environmental law when this huge disaster occurred.  The environmental law issues have been important to Tulane Law School for a long time actually. See their link on the recent conference below.

http://www.law.tulane.edu/tlsOrgs/tels/telc/index.aspx

Perhaps some of my readership have seen James Carville and his wife addressing the President, the media and anyone who would listen about this crisis in the last few days. Well Mr. Carville will be addressing Louisiana State University’s Law School Graduating Class at commencement today I think. 

http://www.law.lsu.edu/index.cfm?geaux=newsandpublications.newsstories&pid=4097261D-1372-69E5-F7FF16FFC9B54892&bid=EF114F50-1372-69E5-F7A58C48228BF9F2

The President, Barack Hussein Obama, has been in Louisiana today addressing this crisis. I would urge all of you to take him up on his invitation to visit the White House online in regards to this crisis. Find two links for that purpose below.  

http://www.whitehouse.gov/

http://www.whitehouse.gov/deepwater-bp-oil-spill

One issue that has not been addressed is that there may be limits in what our curent governement can do beyond the Liability caps. Ultimately, things like frezing production or leases are a good way that Obama (whom I dislike and oppose) has found to show that he can overcome limits in his basic legal power over guilty parties and the industry. It is a poor substitute for good policy but it is better than weakness and surrender. I applaud the subtle and not linked use of this ploy. However, BP must largely be motivated by reputation, by pressure through the UK exerted from Louisiana and the Gulf Coast and in the real world by the possibility of extr-legal vengeance. The US constitution does not allow someone’s rights to be changed by retroactive laws. This may happen in practice but it is bad for our law. I applaud anyone who finds a color of right for doing the right but it is not simple. The state Louisiana finds herself in as regards law is another strong argument for constitutional change. The laws on the books MAY have done great violence to the rights of people here for no good reason. But there are some not all bad reasons. That is a difference to be discussed in a latter post. Governor Jindalhas thrown himself into this fray admirably. He and I are very different people and I applaud his effort to find success within this system We shall see what happens next.

I personally am in a disillusioned funk. I will try to post more original analysis when and if I feel a bit more cheery and focused. Until then if you are doing something to help — good luck and God bless your efforts.