Tag: Nixon

An Open Letter to Valerie Jarrett and Susan Rice


We are in the midst of a tragedy in which we have all played a part. It can go on and on and on, or somebody can write the end of it. I have concluded that only you can do that, and if you can, you must. For the good of the country, please instruct Joe Biden to issue a full and unconditional pardon to Barack Obama for any crimes he might have committed against the United States as President.

It won’t be an easy thing to direct of the sitting President. No doubt he’ll have objections. He’ll point out that he’s clearly the better politician, having dwarfed his former boss’s best showing by 800,000 or so votes. Why should he, after lending his record-setting campaign talent to Obama twice, once again step up for the man? When does it end?

Bring Eric Holder to the meeting. No one embodies “team player” better than Holder. When two New Black Panther Party member’s voter suppression prosecutions were dropped, who lied to Congress to protect the administration’s political operatives? When the administration got caught spying on James Rosen, who lied to Congress despite having signed off personally on the warrant used by saying he recused himself in order to make the matter look like an a-political security operation? Who not only lied to Congress about knowledge of the Fast and Furious Operation but, when caught “in error,” lied in his correction? Operation Choke Point, refusal to prosecute big donating financial institutions — he’s a good guy to have in your corner, and not just when you’re in a mood to kill an American citizen without trial.

1972: Choose your Future(s)


It’s 1972. What does the American future look like, right through the early years of the 21st century? Fifty years ago, President Nixon’s panels of trusted advisors offered him a range of options regarding funding for new technological initiatives. These were big long-term projects, with effects over as much as a half-century: medicine, nuclear research, telecommunications, and transportation engineering, from space to subways.

The proposals: A famous inventor foresees a “New Rural Society”, where work, banking, and socializing are done from home with two-way TV, and home is wherever you want it to be. NASA wants the go-ahead to create a land-able, reusable spacecraft that will be the first step in opening space to private commerce. America’s cities are eager to build a new generation of automated urban mass transit, to be run on cheap, abundant, nuclear-generated electricity. Supporters of federal funding for supersonic transport airliners point to government-funded SSTs being built in Europe and Russia and ask if we’re going to sit this one out. This jumble of 70s visions is now largely settled—proven to be good or bad investments. Some are still in progress, a half-century later. And there’s still a remainder, a handful of technological question marks whose futures are unknown even now.

TurleyVision 1999: Impeachment as a Madisonian Device


My dear spouse occasionally forwards me the legal theories of Jonathan Turley, who currently argues Trump’s impeachment trial is unconstitutional now that Trump is a former official. Curious as to what Turley had to say about impeachment before Trump, I did some digging and struck a mother lode: Turley’s 146-page 1999 Duke Law Journal article, Senate Trials and Factional Disputes: Impeachment As A Madisonian Device. Turley’s reasons for publishing such a masterwork in 1999 may not have been dispassionate, since he had recently testified at Bill Clinton’s impeachment, but since Trump’s presidency wasn’t even a gleam in the old GOP elephant’s eye back then, Turley’s thoughts on impeachment in 1999 should at least be free of any bias for or against Trump. Those with the patience to read — or at least skim — Impeachment As A Madisonian Device will be rewarded with plenty of information on impeachment’s constitutional function and history that’s interesting in its own right, and a perspective in which the non-juridical, political nature of impeachment transcends mere raw exercise of power.

Impeachment As A Madisonian Device extensively surveys the constitutional history of impeachment. Its thesis is that the impeachment process, declared first in the House, then passed to the Senate for trial, culminates in

Christmas Moon: America in Winter


In December 1972, on the day when Apollo 17, the final Moon mission, left lunar orbit to return to Earth, their wake-up call was an evocative, soaring, and strangely somber love song, a major hit that year, “The First Time Ever I saw Your Face”, sung by Roberta Flack. “I thought the sun rose in your eyes…”

It was a proud but bittersweet moment for NASA and for the country. JFK’s challenge had been met, and then some. Only four years earlier, Apollo 8’s reading of a Bible verse while orbiting the Moon on Christmas Eve was a beloved worldwide television spectacular. Now we were leaving.

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Willie: Welcome to another edition of Thunderdome! Boy oh boy this time we’ve got a real treat for you! We’re broacasting live from the History’s Sneakiest Bastards Connive-Off Invitational, and let me tell you we’ve seen some really underhanded dealings today. The skullduggery is only going to get better from here so stay tuned! As […]

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Punning Dreams


I used to be a terrible punster. I still have friends who are punsters, but I have spent many decades reforming myself. I don’t think I have originated or cracked a pun in at least a decade. Unfortunately, I do not seem to be fully reformed, since I just woke up from this dream:

A companion and I were walking around the outside of the White House. (I’m not sure who my companion was, just that I knew him in the dream.) Somehow, we had gotten quite close. In fact, at one point, we walked by a window and I saw a very Simpsons-like tableau with the current President and First Lady in bed. The President was thoroughly asleep and catching flies as he snored. (Of course, it was an inaccurate dream, since they wouldn’t sleep in a room on the ground floor.)

If Past Presidents Had Twitter


I am neither condoning nor defending Trump’s tweets, nor Obama’s. For good or ill, I suppose they’re just a sign of the times. But then I don’t use Twitter for any reason, and am thus saved having to care. That being said, I do wonder how past presidents might have comported themselves on their own tweets.

I am certain FDR would have made full use of the medium, though the thought of fireside tweets is itself very amusing. Not sure that Truman would have been enamored of it, and I can say with some certainty that Ike would have loathed it. JFK though? Now that bears some thought, and I’m guessing he would have been a frequent tweeter. LBJ’s tweets I am guessing would have been artistically vulgar, and Nixon’s would have struck fear in many. Ford’s likely would have been a tad clumsy, and Carter’s would have been sermonizing and depressing. Reagan would have made tweeting an art form. GHW Bush, or so I would guess, would have been uninspiring but reliably anodyne. Bill Clinton’s would have been focus-group tested for maximum appeal, and so would shift as with the winds while not saying anything concrete at all.

Let’s see how we can imagine if past presidents would have had Twitter at their disposal, and see how their some of their quotes would fly today as Tweets.

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Corrupt prosecutors and judges who get caught destroy their reputations. The public stops trusting them. Their prior work is tainted and courts overturn their cases. Our free press has been a watchdog that alerts us to corruption in government. In that role it has acted as investigator and arbiter in the court of public opinion. […]

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Reminiscences: The 1970s


1970sI confessed to my seven-year-old son recently that when I was his age I was usually out in the street playing with toy guns and eating a pack of candy cigarettes a day. “Where were your mom and dad?” he asked. I told him the truth: “Entertaining in the den with real guns and real cigarettes.”

Couples with children were seen as blessed, surrounded as they were by forgivable versions of themselves. Children weren’t coddled but cherished and I still remember the pleasure my dad took casually cracking hard-boiled eggs on my head. The term role model did not then exist nor, for that matter, did solar subsidies, the prevailing belief in those days being that Americans could never be cowed into paying for the sun.

Heh, good times.

A Glorious Anniversary: 20 Happy Years of Freedom on the Roads


On November 29, 1995, President Clinton grudgingly signed a highway bill repealing the much-hated National Maximum Speed Limit. In 1973, President Nixon signed the NMSL into law in an effort to force people to save gas. This law allowed the federal government to withhold federal highway money from states that didn’t drop their speed limit to 55 mph. Real-world fuel savings were negligible. Safety activists proclaimed that it saved a lot of lives, and would bring out charts showing that the highway fatality rate had dropped since the law was enacted. The starting point for said charts was when the law was enacted, and sure enough, the fatality rate decreased in the years after. Had they shown a chart going back decades, you would have seen that the fatality rate had been declining since the late 1940s.

There was a lot of opposition to the law’s repeal. Auto insurance companies certainly had an interest in seeing as many speeding tickets issued as possible. To listen to professional headache Ralph Nader, one would think the ditches would be running red with blood if the daredevils who populate the various state legislatures were allowed to set the speed limits for their own states’ roads. Since 1995, a whole lot of states have enacted highway speed limits as high as 75 and 80 mph. God Bless Texas, they have a toll road that’s 85 mph. What about those highway fatality rates? Still dropping. As a matter of fact, when states first started raising their speed limits, the highway fatality rates dropped in virtually all states; the states that raised their speed limits saw the HFR drop more quickly than the states that didn’t.

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It is said the end of the Nixon presidency came about when GOP elders Sen. Barry Goldwater, Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott, and House Minority Leader John Rhodes went to Nixon and told him it was over.   If these allegations against Hillary can be sufficiently substantiated, is there anyone on the Democrat side with […]

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Respect for the Office?


Unknown-2As a kid from a rural agricultural community, I entered UC Berkeley slightly to the right of Barry Goldwater. But I was to leave in 1970 just to the left of Eldridge Cleaver.

Those were the days.

As I knew just about everything there was to know, I challenged my grandfather, just a few days before he died in 1974, regarding his publicly cordial relations with then President Richard Nixon.

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The Daily Shot (Ricochet’s Indispensable Daily Email) informs me that this week’s special Halloween podcast guest is Harry Shearer. Aside from his role as the head in Rob’s horse costume, Harry’s got a fantastic little YouTube show called Nixon’s The One. Preview Open

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“I may be 101 years old, and still alive only because a high-tech umbilicus attaches me to a portable heart-lung-kidney-liver-pancreas-spleen machine,” former President Richard Milhous Nixon muttered to himself, “but I’ll be damned if I let that stop me from watching the show.” The ousted president gave the life-sustaining tube one last tug as he […]

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Dreaming of Richard Nixon


richard_nixon_fighting_a_saber_tooth_tiger_by_sharpwriter-d6bln06I dreamt last night of my childhood.  Richard Nixon loomed large. 

Watergate is my first explicitly political memory.  I was five years old, and that summer my parents rented a huge house in Vermont.  Or huge it seemed to me at the age of five: I imagine that were I to go back now, it would seem much reduced in size, as everything does when revisited in adulthood.  It couldn’t have been that big; my father was an academic and my mother was a musician; there’s no way they could have afforded to rent a house as big as Buckingham Palace.  But, to my five-year-old eyes, that’s how it looked. 

I was too young to understand the significance of what was happening, but I remember the mood and the urgency: no matter what we were doing, we had to rush back to be in front of the television for the evening news.  For those of you too young to remember, “the news” happened at 6 p.m.  You had three options: ABC’s World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News, or CBS Evening News.  Every American watched one of those shows, and they were essentially indistinguishable in ideological perspective: I suspect we were a much more unified nation for it.  Anyway, you either caught the news at 6 o’clock or you missed everything.  For the saplings among us, this is what television looked like back then: