A Great Society Implodes

By David Lewis                                                                      

I have no doubt that, when President Lyndon Johnson declared “war on poverty” in the nineteen-sixties and launched the Great Society, he did so with good intentions. Direct federal resources toward America’s poor and underprivileged, the thinking went, in order to lift them out of poverty and despair, and hasten the day when such government assistance would no longer be needed.

Some fifty years on, and over $22 Trillion spent fighting poverty (yes, that’s 22,000,000,000,000 tax dollars, which does not include spending on Social Security or Medicare, and is three times the spending on all U.S. military wars since the American Revolution), we can plainly see that good intentions do not guarantee good or even adequate results.

The biggest flaw in liberalism’s approach was that the War on Poverty established massive new federal bureaucracies, and bureaucracies do not function efficiently, nor do they go away of their own accord. They become entrenched, along with the politicians, lobbyists and community organizers who benefit from government largesse. The status quo devolves into pettiness, mediocrity and greed, as bureaucratic self-interest and self-preservation become paramount.

And what becomes of society’s poor and underprivileged?

Exploited, marginalized and misled over a period of two successive generations, they’ve become entrenched in a debilitating cycle of dependency and despair. Fifty years on, $22 Trillion spent, and we see an epidemic of broken families, fatherless homes, chronic unemployment, drugs, violence and confusion. We see Baltimore … Ferguson … Detroit … the implosion of liberal good intentions.

It’s time we tried something different. And the solution is not another federal program, or the bloated bureaucracy that comes with it. With a presidential election looming on the horizon … anyone?

Hillary Where Are You!

By David Lewis                                                                             

How does a presidential candidate connect with the electorate and completely avoid the press corps at the same time? Hillary Clinton thinks she has the answer. While most candidates need the press to help get their message out and develop name recognition, for Hillary it’s different. After decades in the public eye — First Lady, U.S. Senator, Secretary of State — she is beyond name recognition and into name saturation. In order to ‘connect’ she dons sunglasses and trolls around in a large black van, looking more like a secret service agent than a presidential candidate. This promises to be an odd affair indeed.

As far as the Democrat Party is concerned, what Hillary wants, she gets. And Hillary wants no competition for her party’s nomination. But when you’re the only fish in the bowl, all eyes are upon you. And there are many unanswered questions regarding Hillary’s State Department emails, fundraising for her family foundation, the Benghazi scandal, her failed tenure as Secretary of State and, despite her numerous titles, an overall lack of accomplishment. These questions stack up and swirl about because Hillary refuses to address them. Instead, she runs a stealth campaign, darting past the assembled press corps, refusing to take questions. This week she “has been spotted,” so say the media hounds, shuttling across the heartland in her large, black, tint-windowed Scooby Van … seriously.

Yes, that is a reference to the 1970s Saturday morning cartoon series Scooby Doo Where Are You! Shall we talk for a moment of being mired in the past? It is noted that the animated teenagers in the Scooby Doo cartoons drove around, somewhat aimlessly, in a large van they called the Mystery Machine, having unsolved mysteries (what else?) land all too conveniently in their laps. There is, of course, a theme in play here. For Hillary’s campaign seems indelibly mired in the past; and it is a mystery as to how she’ll connect with the America people via this off-putting, stealth operation that she calls a ‘campaign,’ waiting for the presidency to fall in her lap.

All too bizarre, and it’s only day three.

What to Say to Hillary and Her Democrats

By David Lewis                                                                            

Democrat political operatives must know what an unappealing candidate they have in Hillary Clinton. She has more baggage than the Saudi Royal Family on a round-the-world cruise. Tomes have been written about her and former President Bill’s business arrangement (accommodatingly referred to as a marriage) and their nefarious doings as White House occupants in the 1990s.

Two decades on, however, little has changed. Hillary’s unbridled ambition remains plagued by scandals of her own making. Obstructing justice by hiding and then destroying her State Department emails, and procuring foreign donations to her family’s supposedly non-profit foundation while she was the U.S. Secretary of State, are but the two most recent examples.

Hillary gives every indication she will continue her dishonest, unethical, perhaps illegal behavior. Why? To put it simply … because she can … thanks to a corrupt Democrat Party that continues to embrace her, and a corrupt liberal media (a.k.a. ‘mainstream media’) culture that continues to promote and protect her.

Have we not had enough dishonesty, hypocrisy and lawlessness with the Obama presidency? Another four to eight years of such malaise is simply too exhausting and demoralizing to imagine, much less endure. American voters soon will have a chance to address the corrupt regime that is the Democrat party, the liberal media and their impending standard-bearer, and say … “Enough, already!”

 

Mid-East Crisis, Imperial Ghosts and Lawrence of Arabia

By David Lewis

Cinematic art came to life early in the twentieth century and soon flourished into maturity. Among cinema’s towering achievements, David Lean’s 1962 masterpiece Lawrence of Arabia stands out. It dramatizes the life of British officer T. E. Lawrence and his military exploits in the Middle East during World War I. The film is a marvel in every cinematic aspect, without a weak link and in many ways without parallel. It also comments profoundly on the context of its narrative epoch, as well as the foibles of human nature and the peril of political ambition.

Despite a sprawl of ruin that World War I brought upon Europe, and what it foretold of imperialism’s destiny, the war’s victors wasted no time drawing lines across the Middle East, claiming respective realms of influence and imposing an arbitrary collection of nation states upon the region. It was a hubristic exercise in irony, dismantling the Ottoman empire that had long held sway in the region, while setting the stage for a slew of future instabilities. It is now more than fifty years since the initial release of Lawrence of Arabia, nearly a century since the end of World War I, and we see a severe weakening of the political order once imposed upon the Middle East. The current, complex state of affairs has been gestating many decades, as detailed in the books Lawrence in Arabia and The Looming Tower by Scott Anderson and Lawrence Wright, respectively, and summarized in a recent op-ed by Stephen Kinzer.

While the United States is uniquely positioned to intervene militarily in the Middle East, with a man of Barack Obama’s political pedigree in the White House, the U.S. is disinclined to do so. Mr. Obama has sidelined America’s military, encouraging the nation states of the region to heighten their own militarily efforts in defense of their security interests; it seems that the nation Mr. Obama does not want to defend itself is America’s traditional ally, Israel. All the while, Iran consolidates its regional dominance, as though it had not only U.S. acquiescence, but approval. Of crucial concern is what may ensue should Iran be allowed to further develop its nuclear weapons capability; and what might be left, among the community of nations, after a nuclear arms race in the Middle East has played itself out, a sobering prospect indeed. It is enough to encourage solace in well-crafted dialogue, and the penultimate scene in Lawrence of Arabia bears a poignancy that hovers in timeless relevance.

By this point in the film, Turkish forces in Arabia are vanquished, and Lawrence’s sentimental embrace of Arabian desires for autonomy has proven him a thorn in the side of his superiors. So he is quietly dispatched back to England. As he departs a gathering of post-war power brokers to begin his journey home, he disappears through a billowing curtain, and one senses a ghost being left behind to wander the land of the Bedouin, haunting the peace that is about to be imposed upon them. An Arabian prince and a British general then proceed to haggle over the terms by which the city of Damascus will be managed. When they finish, the prince turns to a veteran British diplomat and asks, “What do you think?” The wise diplomat replies, “On the whole, I wish I’d stayed in Tunbridge Wells.”