Shrew U: The Great Society Bust

My last blog post “Progress vs Progressivism” attempted to explain that progress is a condition of our U.S. Constitution and Progressivism is a construct that hinders such progress. I used examples from the Civil War and Reconstruction era to show the difference.

The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s was also an important time of progress in our history. Not all activists of the 60’s can be considered hero’s for the changes they wished to achieve. I am currently reading Great Society by Amity Shlaes. I would like to relate to you why the details in this book have affirmed my conclusions about why our society’s current focus on Progressivism lead by a “Social Democrat Party” is bad for our culture…But first some historical context:

Since about 1880 Jim Crow Laws were enacted in the southern states by white Democrat-dominated state legislatures. The Supreme Court decision Plessey vs Ferguson (1892) upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation under the “separate but equal” doctrine. Jim Crow Laws were Progressive actions that resulted in commonplace separate public accommodations based on race (see my blog Progress vs Progressivism for definitions). Today we look back on such laws as absurd, but the governmental leadership at the time and throughout the seven or eight decades since were allowing powerful Democrat political forces to dictate cultural norms. Republican insistence on States’ Rights made this no better…Civil Rights as it pertained to individuals and races were just beginning to be understood.

Timeline of these decades:

1870 to 1914…2nd Industrial Revolution leap forward in technology and society (people lead actions)

1914 to 1918…World War 1 (government lead action)

1920…Congress passes the 19th Amendment – Women’s right to vote (people lead action)

1920 to 1929…The Roaring Twenties time of prosperity (people lead action)

1929 to1933…The Great Depression (spurred on by government greed in the twenties)

1933 to 1939…The New Deal (government intervention)

1939 to 1945…World War 2 (government lead action)

1945 to 1989…Post war economic expansion (people lead action)

1961 to 1975…Vietnam War draft era (government lead action)

What we notice in this timeline is that during the 2nd Industrial Revolution the formation of groups such as the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the Suffragettes were instrumental in obtaining crucial reforms to working conditions and the women’s right to vote. These reforms needed to be lead by the critical mass of non-political people lead actions in order for hearts and minds to change and common sense to prevail in Congress. This was progress!

Wars and the Depression however were instigated by government lead actions. The timeline shows an interesting back and forth between non-political action (changes made by people) and political action (initiatives made by governments). By the time of the Post World War 2 economic expansion, the U.S. was ready for another critical mass of non-political people lead activity, namely the Civil Rights Movement. It was helpful that this movement aligned with the Vietnam anti-war people lead activism. Individuals would not be “used” by their government’s activities any longer!

It was Reverend Martin Luther King JR who lead the people toward necessary civil rights changes. Society needed the common place Jim Crow laws to be eliminated, and this could only happen with a ground-swell of people power. Under this pressure, President Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights act that eliminated Jim Crow laws and the 1965 Voting Rights Act that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. Ending our involvement in the Vietnam War would prove to be more difficult.

In Great Society we learn that during the late 50’s and early 60’s companies like General Electric and Ford Motor Company were employing, expanding, and creating with great speed. The AFL which had now become the AFL-CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) along with progressive leaders like Walter Reuther (United Auto Workers) and anti war political activists like Tom Hayden were working their powerful influence on government systems to help President Lyndon Bains Johnson (LBJ) form his anti-poverty programs…After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, LBJ as the new President, began to implement a plan with Reuther and Hayden to end poverty in America. His “Great Society” vision was the center of his 1965 election bid. What I found most interesting about LBJ during this bid for election was that in order to obtain the African American vote he promised them that they could caucus at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) so that they would have delegates appointed for the election process. This did not happen because the (racist) DNC would not allow it. LBJ was courting the African American voters with programs and promises aka “Progressivism”. LBJ managed to retain their votes anyway and won the 1965 Presidency in a landslide.

By this time it was apparent to the Democrat majority that more government programs were the way to maintain leadership power. With the help of Union Leaders and Progressive Activist Leaders the federal government worked to replace the authority of mayors and local leaders…Federal funds flowed to jobs program oriented organizations. Locally elected leaders were instructed to add community activists to these organizational boards. These activists liked to stir up tension on city streets. Eventually the mayors and local leaders caved to federal pressures and ever since then the federal government has procured more authority over social benefit programs at State and Municipal levels.

For example; Federal “experts” redefined eminent domain laws to remove entire neighborhoods where low income families lived and worked in comfort, condemning these areas as “blighted”. The new wisdom was that federally built high rise low income housing projects would be more beneficial. However, there were consequences to these actions, mainly that whites decided to move to the suburbs thus leaving the struggling black population to remain…Struggling because there were few jobs available for black men in these cities due to union bias. Federal welfare programs during this time discouraged fathers to remain in these government subsidized housing projects…Fathers needed to be out of state in order for mothers and children to qualify. We now know the consequences of these “Great Society” actions. This begs the question of why weren’t the Great Society jobs programs helping. Well, they weren’t helping because these funds were pocketed by greedy, prejudiced, progressive union lead program officials…Progress for African American workers and families was stunted by these government actions.

In short, I believe that progress happens best when affected people unite through first understanding how government inspired systems shrink their civil liberties, then changing hearts and minds in the process, and ultimately solving problems in fair and sensible ways. Progressivism lead by government “experts” and corporate or union cronies is infused with unintended consequences…Or are they unintended? My next blog post will focus on this question.

The Shrew View on Progress vs Progressivism

I am not a big fan of what is currently called “identity politics” which seems to be infiltrating many discussions (political or not) these days. I think the focus on marginalized people only adds to the struggle our country has to free itself from the scourge of “ism’s” that should not define people. I’ve heard it argued that it is because of our whiteness in the United States that people of color have little success in our culture. In this case the “whiteness” means that white people who hold all the privileges unconsciously exclude people of color (POC) in hiring practices and/or promotion choices and if they consciously exclude POC then this practice is biased and racist, and that without exception white people are all racist as well as the U.S. culture itself including its science and curricula.

I have also heard it said that it takes three generations to get past a traumatic experience…This makes some sense. As Erich Fromm puts it, “…something life defining and deeply intimate is over.” The child recognizes how the former generation as shaped their own experiences and how they have been charged through the stories and experiences to carry the trauma into the future. One helps to heal future generations by rising above the remnants of these past injuries. This is the very definition of the word progress. AND I believe this progress works within cultural traumas as well.

Our most recent example of a cultural trauma is 9/11. My generation bore witness to a tragic man made event which killed thousands of people on American soil on September 11, 2001. My children are growing up with the stories about the event which include stories that affected my family who were traveling by plane from Boston on that morning. Now, every time my children travel they must listen to my admonition to be safe and stay aware of their surroundings, look for exits and never let down their guard. They were in elementary school at the time of 9/11 so these stories have been transferred to them in ways that I might not totally comprehend, yet they live their lives with less attachment to this event as will their children who will hopefully not even need to experience the left-over wars against terrorism that still exist today. My grandchildren will live with the televised memorial ceremonies, but they will be far removed from the actual trauma. This progress toward healing is culturally significant and forever part of U.S. history because we must never forget in order to not repeat these actions. Experience is felt on an individual basis…My experience isn’t the same as your experience.

With identity politics the marginalized groups will never experience the progress of healing if their stories are not allowed to have generational closure. When no closure occurs, then Progressivism is allowed to rear its ugly head. Progressivism advocates social reform with goals that are politically motivated. It demands radical change in current cultural systems in order to “improve” society. The people who push for progressive methods care little for historical context. Instead, the leap forward must be made based on current thought, expert advise and/or empathetic emotion.

If we take a look at the historical context of the Emancipation Proclamation, we can learn a lot about progress vs Progressivism:

The Civil War started in 1861 because the Confederate southern slave states did not want to be part of the United States if they could not keep slavery in tact. It wasn’t until the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 that the slaves were finally freed…Many of these freed slaves fought in the Civil War against the Confederacy, and the addition of these men to the Union effort helped to win the Civil War against the Confederacy. There were many proud acts of heroism by Negro soldiers during that time.

When the Civil War ended in 1865, Congress enacted the Freedman’s Bureau and passed the Civil Rights Bill in 1866 after Lincoln’s death because the southern states which were majority Democrat began to pass their own “black codes” to hinder the progress of Negroes in their states. Congress at that time was majority Republican. Andrew Johnson (Lincoln’s Vice President and now President after Lincoln’s assassination) did not want to force reconstruction of the south because he was determined to respect states’ rights, however the Congress over-rode his veto of The Reconstruction Act of 1867 and both the 14th and 15th Amendments. For ten years Negroes enjoyed the freedoms of all free male citizens and held many state and Congressional leadership roles. During this time the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) targeted many Republicans, whites and blacks who were sympathetic to the reconstruction.

Even though great strides were being made toward civil freedoms at this time, uncontrollable events happened to cause an economic depression during 1874. The financial panic of 1873 was a result of over-expansion in industry and railroads, a drop in European demand for American farm products, and a drop off of European investment. To compound matters, the U.S. Congress (which had long held its Republican majority) was pushed to pass the Compromise of 1876 which resulted in the U.S. federal government pulling the last troops out of the South ending the Reconstruction era. After this happened the southern states reverted many Negro owned lands back to whites, enacted segregation laws and worked to disenfranchise the negro. These regressive conditions would remain in place for a century until the 1965 Civil Rights Movement.

What can we learn from these historical events? Here are my thoughts:

1) The country was divided philosophically. There were slave states where slavery was legal and “free” states where slavery was illegal. Abolition of slavery was being thought about since about 1830, one generation before the Civil War.

2) “Rights” were understood as property rights and state’s rights, therefore the Confederacy of southern states saw Lincoln’s actions as tyrannical. We should keep in mind that at this time “civil rights” were not a concept, for instance during this time women could only own inherited property and their rights were limited to state enacted laws.

3) Slaves were “property”. The Civil War happened because the southern slave states wanted their autonomy as slave states, but Lincoln and the Republican controlled Congress did not want a “divided” country.

4) The Emancipation Proclamation was finally given almost two years after the war started because the Confederacy’s strength needed to be crippled. Freed slaves signed up for the fight against the Confederacy even though they had no guarantee of a sure outcome. Their heroism needs to be recognized in our history books and with more statues since these stories and their context in history help future generations heal from the trauma of slavery.

5) The Civil Rights Bill of 1866 was the first federal law to define citizenship and affirm that all citizens are equally protected by the law without regard to race, color, or previous condition. We must remember that a law does not necessarily change hearts and minds…The southern states still had the autonomy to pass laws to curb the conduct of Negroes therefore Congress passed the 14th amendment (no state shall enact laws that abridge the privileges or immunities of U.S. citizens) and 15th amendment (the right of citizens to vote can not be abridged by the U.S. or any state on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude). Also, Congress passed the Reconstruction Act to enforce compliance by the southern states after the Civil War.

6) The Republican Congress at that time was in a struggle with President Andrew Johnson over Presidential powers…Johnson wanted to be more lenient with Reconstruction. What does his impeachment teach us about the balance of power during that time?

7) Reconstruction enforcement remained for only ten years…Economic uncertainty and politics unfortunately did not allow for the new conditions under military enforcement to remain for longer because if they had remained for at least ten more years, I believe the next generation would have been closer to healing the trauma of slavery. Instead, southern Democrat leaders began to implement “progressive” laws to deal with “improving” society in their states, and the KKK was allowed to run rampant.

8) The actions from 1830 to 1876 were progress for the anti-slavery movement and the future “civil rights” that we think of today…REMEMBER that only white men with property could vote during much of this time AND reason prevailed. “Whiteness” could not necessarily be equated to being “Racist”.

The Preamble ratified June 21, 1788:

WE THE PEOPLE of the United States of America, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America...This Preamble sets the tone for progress!

My next blog will focus on the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement and the progress that was made during that time toward civil justice.

Shrewd Awakenings…Truth or Consequences

Enough time has gone by now…

Yes my friends, it was a game show.  You, the viewing audience have been allowed to witness a game for which truth still leaves many questions as actual facts are manipulated for a ridiculously consequential outcome.

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Before “Beulah the Buzzer” sounded (in this case Beulah was the vote to acquit President Trump on two articles of impeachment) each contestant (in this case 100 Senators) had to answer to the viewers (in this case the American people) three questions.  What were the three questions?

Here is my take:

1) Did the House enter into legitimate impeachment inquiry proceedings?

2) What did the “High Misdemeanor” accomplish?

3) Can a Senator keep their seat if he or she didn’t impeach President Trump?

Here are my answers:

1) There was no whole House vote to enter into the impeachment inquiry, but just because there is a House majority of Democrats, the majority should be careful to not enter into a partisan process as they did.  To force a one sided Democratically called witness review which was done in partial secrecy was wrong, and to leak some of this secret testimony to the press for speculative and sensationalist review was compromising to the process.  Even though beginning the inquiry was done legitimately, its implementation was ultimately problematic to their case.

2) The “High Misdemeanor” of saying Joe Biden’s name in relation to a corrupt Ukrainian Company during a head of state phone call accomplished the Democrat’s mission to find a ruse for the impeachment of President Trump.

From the un-redacted transcript of President Trump’s phone conversation with Ukrainian President Zelensky, President Trump says, “…There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great.  Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it…It sounds horrible to me.”  President Trump never said, “…so if you could get the Attorney General to investigate Biden’s involvement with the corrupt company (AKA Burisma Holdings), this would be a great help to my campaign.”  But that is exactly what the Democrats would want you to believe.  Instead, President Trump who is the chief law enforcement officer of the USA wants to know on behalf of a lot of people (AKA taxpayers) if Burisma would ever be investigated for corruption.  Interestingly, Biden’s action of holding back United States taxpayer funds to the Ukraine government in 2014 for six hours while he forced the firing of a Ukrainian investigator who was looking into Burisma corruption does appear to be a quid pro quo by Biden and was never brought up as being a wrong action even though he is on camera bragging about it in 2018.

Also from the transcript, “…Since we have won the absolute majority in our Parliament, the next prosecutor general will be 100% my person, my candidate, who will be approved by the Parliament in September.  He or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue…”  President Zelensky said that his intention was to investigate the company known as Burisma Holdings, not a person and specifically not the aforementioned Biden.

And, as far as United States funds being held back, has anyone considered that President Trump could have been waiting for the new prosecutor general to be actually approved by the Parliament into the position first?  Ukraine’s government and the new President Zelensky should have their actions vetted carefully before the United States has trust in their future good intentions.  With his own distrust of US federal employees working within and among his executive branch, President Trump likely wanted to do this inquiry himself, an action which is not illegal nor unprecedented.

3) Each Senator has their seat for six years.  Any Senator who has three or more years left for their term and who voted to impeach knows it will have almost zero effect on their next campaign.  Any Senator who has less than three years left for their term and who voted to acquit had to think twice about this vote because of the message it sends to their constituents, essentially a message of support for President Trump.  Hopefully their individual votes were done based upon constitutional principles instead of party loyalty…You decide.

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But here is the consequence, our Constitution hangs in the balance.  From the start, the lack of a whole House vote to investigate an allegation from the very beginning brought on a partisan process.  Even the majority vote to acquit in the Senate adds credence to the partisan misbehavior by the House.  What we had was an abuse of power on behalf of the House of Representatives.  Oh well…for now Beulah says, “Case dismissed!!”

Shrew View…Love Binds People of Good Will

Love binds people of goodwill…A repost from a year ago.

Today is a day to reflect on the message of Martin Luther King, JR.  His is a message of love and freedom; a freedom guaranteed by God and reflected in the U.S. Constitution:

“…in order to form a more perfect Union…secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity…”

In the early 1960’s there was no better person to secure these Blessings for people of color.  Our lawmakers failed to be responsible leaders entrusted to uphold the Constitution.  One might suggest that this failed responsibility dates all the way back to our founding as a nation, but I think that would be taking the easy route, condemning every step toward the progress of achieving a message of freedom.

“Humans have been literally torturing each other for centuries as they grope toward this Chalis of fulfillment.”     – The Shrew

Our U.S. Constitution is the tool enabling wholeness in our country.  No other country puts the responsibility of freedom in the hands of each individual.  It is law makers who abuse this insight by putting limits on ideas instead of on their lawmaking capabilities.  Martin Luther King, JR knew instinctively that the idea of a black person sitting where a sign indicated that they were not allowed by law to sit would challenge the lawmaker’s unconstitutional limitations on God’s creation.  King gave power back to the people – all people, because injustice is never visible in God’s kingdom which is where the human soul finds strength to conquer the perceived injustice in the world of mankind.

Love binds people of goodwill.  In a nation of diverse ideas, those people of goodwill come together to solve the issues at hand.  There is no us vs. them.  There is only…

“We the People…”

SHREW U: Worshiping at the Alter of Perfectibility

To plan for worldly perfection is a web of deceit and the spider who sets this trap believes himself to be like a god.

A web of deceit has been inadvertently spun since our founding which I will date as June 21,1788 when our Constitution was ratified. At that time there were 13 states. Only nine states needed to be on board for ratification…Ammendments to the document continued for several years after the ratification, for instance the Bill of Rights was not ratified until December, 1791.

During ratification the first political parties formed, the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists.  Anti-Federalists saw the constitution as a potential threat to personal liberties and opposed its ratification wanting only each state to have sole power.  However, there were more Federalists than Anti-Federalists so the Constitution was ultimately ratified.  This is not to say that the Anti-Federalists didn’t get some of what they wanted…The Constitution did put in place checks and balances to help prevent central government corruption and tyrannical rule as well as incorporate explicit protections for individual rights.

In today’s polarized political climate we must all remember that perception is only part of the path to truth.  Facts still remain. – The Shrew

The Anti-Federalists soon became the Democratic-Republican Party.  Founding Fathers such as Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams and Thomas Jefferson were among them.  In the early 1800’s this party split into the Republican Party and the Democratic Party (Federalists such as George Washington, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton ultimately became members of the Democratic Party).  Essentially Republicans at this time wanted to reserve more power to state governments unlike the Federalists (later the Democrats) who dominated national government early in our founding and passed laws which taxed land owners to pay for war preparations against the French, increased residency requirements for U.S. Citizenship, deported all male citizens of enemy nations, and limited free speech rights.  By 1830 the Federalists had been completely reformed into the Democratic Party which supported slavery and opposed civil rights reforms.  You can see the trend early on that neither party was perfect with their understanding of Liberty. 

In the mid 1900’s the Democratic Party underwent a dramatic ideological realignment by supporting organized labor, civil rights of minorities and progressive reform.  During this time there were a number of other political parties with their own particular ideologies that came and went, many of which had elected representation in Congress, but they would not prove the test of time.  Today’s Democratic and Republican Parties bear almost no relationship to their original counterparts.

Through the decades of party representation in the presidential and congressional roles it seems that any time the dominant party was too aggressive with its messaging it left an opening for the opposing party to take control.  This “duel” made it more difficult for progressive ideas to cement, but laws and programs which began under the New Deal and civil rights reforms were enacted when both parties were more amenable.


When I compare the ins and outs, ups and downs of our federal system to our state and local governance systems the picture is the same.  Any time an extreme example of controlling power is displayed, another election happens to check this power and bring a modicum of balance to controlling forces.  Governing systems don’t just create themselves, it is people working together who bring them to being.  Ours is the only system which allows for ideas to be tested, thrown out and reinvented.  This is what a free republic does.  And if the people of this republic are free to also imagine and be inspired by the invisible hand of God at work in their personal lives, then the ups and downs of our system give emotional maturity for the individual to persevere when their wants are not able to balance their needs.  We do ourselves a great disservice when we believe that whole populations and desired outcomes can be forcibly perfected.  These are the ways of tyrants.

Our Earth and the cosmos are ever changing, and as we know, people are limited when they try to improve upon these changes.  To plan for worldly perfection is a web of deceit and the spider who sets this trap believes himself to be like a god.  We must not worship at the alter of perfectibility lest we divert our inherent worth to a false  master.