Monday, August 14, 2017

Henry Clay: The father of the Whig Party

Henry Clay
Like John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay was a lawyer and gifted speaker. He first entered politics as a democratic-republican who had great influence over Kentucky politics beginning in 1803. He was only 23 years old at that time. He would go on to become one of the most influential statesmen in American politics.

He was born in 1777 to a Virginia planter and slave owner. His father died when he was only four-years-old, and shortly thereafter the British raided the family home. His mother ultimately married Henry Watkins who, in 1891, moved the family to Kentucky in search of a better fortune. It as here where he became a lawyer and, in 1799, married into a wealthy family.

Clay was a great speaker and gained great respect as a lawyer. This was enhanced by the fact that family members helped him to obtain influential and wealthy clients. This helped him to gain new clients and to improve upon his stature as lawyer. By 1805 he was a teacher at Transylvania University, and by 1812 he owned 600 acres of land where his main crops were tobacco and hemp. He also owned saves who did much of the work.

By 1803, at the young age of 26 (and too young to be elected to the office), Clay was appointed as representative to Fayette County. His age was left off any documents, and no one seemed to notice. By 1807, he was Speaker of the Kentucky State House of Representatives. He was so effective that, in 1811, he was elected as a U.S. Representative from Kentucky. He was also appointed twice to the Kentucky State Senate.

It should be noted here that, as was the case for most Kentuckians at the time, that he was a member of the democratic-republican party.

In 1811, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. On the very first day of his first session of Congress, he would be chosen by his peers to become the Speaker of the House. Other than the first ever session of Congress after the signing of the Constitution, he was the only person ever to accomplish this feat. He would go on to be re-elected as Speaker of the House five times, serving a little over ten years, which was longer than any other Speaker prior to the Civil War.

In 1824, he made his first bid to become President of the United States. He received 37 electoral votes and 13% of the popular vote. Andrew Jackson received the most electoral votes with 99 and he also received a majority of the popular vote at 41.4%. However, John Quincy Adams was able to muster 84 electoral votes and 30.9% of the popular vote, and William H. Crawford was able to muster 41 electoral votes and 11.2% of the electoral college. Because no candidate won a majority of the vote, the election was handed over to the House of Representatives.

John C. Calhoun was also in the running for President, although he would decide to drop out and run for Vice President in stead. He was the clear winner of this job. So, the question now became: which candidate would the House choose to become President?

At first it was considered that Jackson, who won a majority of the popular vote and the most electoral votes, would be the likely choice. However, this would not be the case.

Consider here that the Federalist party was long dead by this time, and the main party was the democratic-republican party. So, as the only party, it would control politics for quite a few years. However, by 1828, there was quite a bit of opposition within the party. This came to a head as a result of a compromise that was spearheaded by Clay in 1824.

At this time, the 12th Amendment stated that if no candidate for President obtained a majority, that the top three candidates would be considered for President by the House. Even though he was the fourth candidate, he was still the Speaker of the House. This left him with a lot of sway on House members.

Keep in mind here that Clay hated Jackson. So, he threw his support behind Adams with the belief that this would sway fellow members of the House to also support Adams. In return, Clay wanted Adams to name him as his Secretary of State. Clay figured this would work out great for him not just because he hated Jackson, but because, at this time, the Secretary of State job often set up a person nicely to becoming a future President.

This "back-room deal" angered the Jackson faction of the democratic-republican party. Jackson campaigned hard on this deal until the two men (Adams and Jackson) squared off in the 1828 election. This time around Jackson won in convincing fashion. So, in a sense, you could say that this "back-room deal" back fired on both Adams and Clay.

The incident would ultimately lead to such division within the democratic-republican. Adam's followers formed the National Republican party (which was essentially the anti-Jackson wing of the democratic-republican party), and Jackson's followers continued on as the Democratic Republican party. Clay was a leader of this party. When Jackson defeated Adams in 1928, this lead to the formation of the Whig Party.

The Whig Party as mainly formed of members of the democratic-republican party (of which almost everyone was at this time) who despised Jackson's authoritarian methods of running the presidency. Clay would lead the charge, and would become one of the initial members of the Whig Party.

Further reading and references:

Monday, August 7, 2017

Lyndon Baines Johnson: The Great Liberal Society

Lyndon Baines Johnson
Liberal Lyndon Baines Johnson was chosen by John F. Kennedy to be his running mate. This was an assignment made to balance out a ticket that featured a young and inexperienced Senator from Massachusetts. When Kennedy was assassinated by a radical socialist on November 22, 1963, Johnson would be sworn in as the 36th President of the U.S. He would go on to become one of the most liberal, and worst, Presidents of all time.

Here are some of his accomplishments (good and bad).

Inauguration. He was inaugurated President in Dallas on Air Force One less than 3 hours after Kennedy was pronounced dead. He was then rushed back to Washington D.C. amid fears someone might be trying to assassinate him too. He made a name change request to Congress for the NASA/Air Force Cape Canaveral launch facilities be changed in honor of Kennedy.  It was called Cape Kennedy for about 10 years before being changed to the Kennedy Space Center in 1973.

Warren Commission. Immediately after the assassination rumors of conspiracies started to swirl. To head these off he created a commission headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. The commission extensively investigated the issue and concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in assassinating President Kennedy. Of course this did little to allay conspiracy theories. My theory is that Kennedy was assassinated by Oswald with the specific intent of replacing a conservative Democrat with a liberal Democrat. So, chances are that Johnson would not be a target of a socialist assassin. We will reserve judgement on this.

Tax Cuts. One of his few real accomplishments was pushing through Congress the Kennedy tax cuts. He then signed the Revenue Act of 1964. This would spur the economy and would nearly double income to the U.S. treasury over the next ten years. This was good.

Civil Rights. Many historians teach that Kennedy had started to work with Congress to get a new civil rights bill passed. Johnson took up the cause. They say Johnson was able to get the bill through Congress, and he eventually signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It outlawed segregation.  It makes it illegal not to hire someone because of race, sex, color, religion, or national origin. While it's true Johnson did sign the bill, it was actually the creation of the republican party, who had started working on the bill in 1957 and 1960. In total, 34 republicans voted against it, but a whopping 96 democrats voted against it. Also, democrats went as far as to filibuster the bill. It's also neat to note that the bill mirrored a republican bill in 1875 that failed to pass due to democrat opposition. So, while most schools teach this was a democrat created, the truth is that it was a republican bill that had some democrat support, inducing both Kennedy and Johnson. This was a good bill. He also signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and this bill guaranteed African Americans the right to vote. These laws are good.

Election of 1964. Johnson ran for election for the first time and defeated the great conservative, Barry Goldwater, with relative ease in a landslide. While Goldwater lost, it would set the stage for future great conservative President Ronald Reagan. This was a time when the nation wasn't quite ready for a conservative, as liberalism was still at a high. He won with 61% of the vote

The Highway Beautification Act of 1965
made it so road signs and garbage
would not become so obtrusive
that it would block the view
of natures beauty.
The Daisy. During the 1964 Presidential campaign, Johnson ran the most mudslinging ad in political history. It was a commercial with a little girl plucking daisies, and she is struck by a nuclear bomb. This was to imply Barry Goldwater would be too willing to push the button. The ad only ran once. But some say it made Goldwater look so bad that he lost in a landslide. You can see the Daisy Ad here on YouTube.  This was bad.

Great Society. Congress got busy right away passing the various pieces of the Great Society Agenda.
  • Public Education. Lots of money spent on public education under the guise that the way to make education better is to spend more money. Prior to this notion, prior to 1964, hardly any Federal funds were given to public education, and we had the #1 education system in the world. Since that time, since all this money has been thrown into education, our education system has failed. Yet you still have people saying we need to throw more money at it. The 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act nearly doubled funds to education from $4-8 billion. This was the first time large amounts of Federal dollars went to public education, and education in the U.S. has spiraled downward ever since. (not as good as some think)
  • Public Broadcasting. In 1967 he also signed the Public Broadcasting Act, which increased federal dollars for public broadcasting, leading to stations such as Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR). The problem with this is these news stations were run by liberals. So, basically, it meant that all Americans were paying for the public advancement of the liberal agenda on TV and radio. (not good)
  • Medicare. The 1965 Medicare to Social Security Act created medicare, which assured people over the age of 65 had access to "free" healthcare. (good)
  • Urban renewal.  As many businesses left the areas of inner cities to get away from the rioting, poverty got even worse. For the next 50 years democrats controlled many cities (like Detroit). Detroit went from one of the most successful cities during the 1950's to one big slum laden city in 2017. This is often cited as proof that liberalism fails anywhere it is tried.  Still, in an effort to help the poor in these cities, Johnson signed the Housing and Urban Development Act in 1968, along with the New Communities Act the same year. These were attempts to offer public assistance to create affordable housing. These were essentially considered failures. (bad)
  • Beautification. He signed the Highway Beautification act in 1965. This was a good bill that limited billboards and other junk from interfering with the views of landscapes along public roads. It also limited the number of junkyards and other junk and clutter that might impede with the natural beauty of the United States along roads and highways. I personally think this was Johnson's most significant achievement. This was a very significant good. The person who spearheaded this movement was Johnson's wife, Ladybird. (good)
  • Conservation. He signed over 300 environmental regulations into law. Many were clean air and water acts, such as the clean air act of 1963. He signed many to protect nature and land, such as the Wilderness act of 1964. He signed urban environment acts, such as the Beautification Act of 1965 mentioned above. He signed many laws to help natural parks, such as the Wilderness Act of 1964. 
  • War on poverty. This was created to end poverty as we know it. It created unemployment. Between 1964 and 2014, $20.7 trillion would be spent on unemployment benefits, on the war on poverty, on the Johnson belief that this would create economic growth and end poverty. That's $20 trillion transferred from producers to non-producers. However, the poverty rate was unaffected by the war on poverty. In fact, if anything, we can effectively say that war on poverty has made poverty in the country even worse. That's $20 trillion that has been taken away from people to end poverty and it failed. That $20 trillion trillion is more than our national debt was in 2014. Take away this one program and we'd have no debt. But, because it makes people like Johnson feel good to spend other people's money, such programs, such government waste, will not end even though they continue to fail. The only thing about the war on poverty that succeeded was growing the size and scope of government and wasting money. Poverty was 14% in 1964 and it was 14% in 2014. (horrible)
Vietnam. Things did not go well for Johnson in Vietnam. He increased troop involvement from 16,000 in 1963 to 550,000 in 1968.  He was unable to quell political pressure from his own party to end the war. This lead to failure to give the military the go to do what they needed to do to win. This was an utter disaster for the liberal Johnson. (bad) In retrospect, we could have won the war in Vietnam our Presidents hadn't allowed it to get so political. There's also people today who believe that liberal democrats actually sympathized with socialists, and so their hearts weren't into defeating them in Vietnam or anywhere else for that matter. I wouldn't lump Johnson into this group, but you never know (and never will know) for that matter.

Unrest and rioting in black neighborhoods in 1964-1967. In Detroit, Michigan, in 1967, rioting got so bad that governor George Romney had to send in the national guard. The city burned for three days and 43 died. In April 1968, rioting occurred in over 100 cities, although this was mainly in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.  This, coupled with failure in Vietnam, caused Johnson's popularity to plummet. (bad)

Space Exploration. He continued the NASA vision started by Eisenhower and Kennedy. He was determined to commit whatever resources were necessary to land a person on the moon. (good)

Attempt at re-election in 1968. He initially was going to try to gain the nomination as incumbent President  in 1968, but decided against it. Part of the reason he decided not to run was because of all the failures of the Vietnam War. Figuring he would not be able to win re-election, he decided to drop out. This would set the stage nicely for liberal republican Richard Nixon.

Legacy. Lyndon Johnson became President only because Kennedy was assassinated. He was a liberal President who had a liberal agenda, and most of it was passed (unfortunately). We generally list him as one of the worst Presidents of all time.

Further reading and references:

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Health Insurance Conundrum

So, my wife goes to pick up my Prescriptions. She comes back and says, “Your Ventolin Inhalers now cost $50 a piece. Make sure you use them wisely.”

She made me aware of this because, since the early 1990s, I have been getting three Ventolin inhalers for the price of one. This is because I need lots of Ventolin inhalers. You never know when you are going to need one, so you keep them at various locations around the house, in the car, and at work.

Plus, there are times when I really need Ventolin. There are times when I use lots of Ventolin. It's unfortunate, but true! There are times I need 6-8 puffs to catch my breath. Those times are far and few between these good asthma control days, but they still occur from time to time. Albuterol solution is nice, but you can’t take it with you places. So, inhalers are better.

Anyway, my wife goes on to describe for me a conversation she had with the pharmacist.

My wife, “So, what if he needs more than one.”

The pharmacist, “Well, your insurance company has capped you off at a one month supply, which is one inhaler.”

My wife, “So, what if he needs more than one.”

The pharmacist, “Well, he shouldn’t be using it that often. If he is, then he needs to be on controller medicine.”

My wife, “He is already on controller medicine. He’s had this disease his whole life. He has severe asthma. He’s a respiratory therapist. He writes as an asthma expert. I think he knows how to treat asthma.”

It was kind of nice to hear my wife tell me how she stood up for me. However, that she had to do it is scary. It’s scary how powerful insurance companies have become. They run the show now. They don’t even have medical licenses, and they run the show. They control us.

No longer do doctors and patients get to decide how they are going to be treated. You have people working for insurance companies who have absolutely no medical experience whatsoever deciding for us. That’s scary that it has come to this.

Thankfully, my asthma is well controlled. This is thanks to modern asthma medicines like Advair and Singulair. They have…

Oh, that was the other thing my wife talked to the pharmacist about.

The pharmacist: “He hasn’t filled his Singulair in a while. That’s a medicine that can help him have better control of his asthma.”

My wife: “He uses it PRN (as needed). He has bad allergies in the spring, so that’s when he uses it. There are bad side effects to that medicine, so he doesn’t want to use it more often than he needs to.”

So, here’s this pharmacist, telling my wife that even if I need more than one albuterol in a month, I can’t have it. Yet in the next breath she’s telling her I don’t use my Singulair enough.

I don’t like it.

I remember back in 1984 I was going through an Alupent inhaler a week. Sometimes they’d last a month, but rarely. That’s how bad I had it. I asked my doctor once what he thought of this, and he said, “It’s better than dying.”

Imagine if insurance companies back then had as much power as they do today, and had the ability to change or veto a doctor’s prescriptions?

I’d be dead.

Just a thought.

Anyway, my asthma is well controlled today. Sometimes good control for me means I get to go a month without using my Ventolin. However, there are times I need more than one albuterol inhaler a month. I know the guidelines define control as using it no more than 2-3 times in a two week period.

I suppose, what the insurance company is in effect doing here, is forcing me to take more albuterol breathing treatments. That’s about what it’s coming to. I’ll just have to save my inhalers for when I’m on the road.

But, as researchers are now learning, every asthmatic is different. Sure, most asthmatics probably fit right into the established definition of control when they take their asthma controller medicines.

However, there are those of us who don’t fit nice and neat into it. There are those of us who use albuterol more than 2-3 times in a two week period, and we still consider ourselves to have good asthma control and so do our doctors. And I think most of the newer asthma guidelines accept this fact. And I think most doctors accept this fact as well.

But here you have insurance people ignorant of this truth that asthma is a heterogeneous disease, and they go by the old “all-asthmatics-are-the-same” dictum, and they change or veto a doctor’s prescription based on this antiquated dictum.

And, for the record, I don’t blame the pharmacist either. They are also being controlled by the insurance companies. Pharmacists have, from time to time, pulled me aside and said things like, “Hey, John, do you think you are using this too much?” And I explain my situation, and they are fine with it.

Today, not so much. Today they are forced by insurance companies to lecture you (or whomever is picking up your prescriptions) each time you see them, to the point it’s annoying.

Note. After I wrote the above post, my wife texted me the following: “So whats kind of funny about rx coverage.... they will let you fill four through the mail order.... for $100. So it's half the cost. So we will just do that from now on.”

Anyway, that’s why insurance companies shouldn’t be running the show.

Thoughts?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Another example of liberals trying to change history

There"s a couple neat stories today that kind of play right into our theme from yesterday: "You can't rewrite history, but you can write the future." You have a 97-year-old veteran of Dunkirk who wanted to see the movie to see if it was realistic. He said it was so accurate he was moved to tears.

Of course then you have your typical liberals watching the movie claiming it to be not diversified enough. They claim it was an all white film.

So, what are we supposed to do: change history? I mean, here you have this 97 year old man who has lived with this battle for most of his life, and these naive feminists purport to be the experts on  the war.

I'm sorry to say this, but history was not diversified. If you want the future to be more diversified, fine. But the past is what the past is.

If there were women who played key roles in Dunkirk, fine! Tell that story in another movie if you want. But for crying out loud, if there were all white men in the war, it wouldn't be fair to history to have an equal number of men as women as blacks as Hispanics as Muslims in that war.

If they were there, and they played key roles, then show them. But, for the sake of our real history, Dunkirk was a war that featured mainly white men. That's just the way it was back then. To change that history would be to fail our children.

References:
  1. Fox News: 97-year-old Dunkirk veteran: 'it was just like I was there again.
  2. The Rightly Report: Feminist Flunks 'Dunkirk" as 'Mediocre' Men Only Film