An Essay I Wish I Wrote by David Montgomery

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This week I am replacing my column with a post written by my good friend Ernest Christian. Ernie is a Texan, a patriot, and one of the most astute observers of American politics I have known. His post appeared in American Greatness on December 12 with the title “Will the Thin Red Line Save America from the Blue Wave?” and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. Ernest is a  lawyer who served as a tax policy official in the Treasury Department in the Ford Administration.

It expresses so well concerns that I share about the next 2 years that I wanted to give readers of the Spy an opportunity to read it, too: 

“If they do their duty in the next Congress beginning at noon on the third day of January, the 53 Republican members of the 116th Senate will steadfastly repel all the attacks that the radical 116th House of Representatives is expected to make on the principles of free-market economics and our defining constitutional protections for speech, religion, and property.

At times the House has been controlled by leftists of various types, ranging from “extreme” to “not so much.” Indeed, liberal Democrats (as leftists once labeled themselves) dominated the House for most of the last half of the 20th century. Nancy Pelosi and many of the veteran members of the House who numerically comprise part of the Democrats’ incoming majority are representative of that group of old-line liberal-leftists.

They gained and retained power by a lethal combination of high taxes and spending to forcibly redistribute other people’s income and property to Democrat voters. They also excelled at economy-warping regulations and special-interest tax rules, exceptions and extenders that favored their friends on K Street to the detriment of those businesses’ competitors and the economy as a whole. Although they deliberately killed millions of jobs, created several generations of welfare recipients, and were highly culpable in a broad range of other depredations, they generally managed to stay—albeit barely—within the boundaries of the law and constitutional legitimacy as an American political party.

Now, however, deny it though they will, the old-line liberal-leftists will inevitably be forced to follow the most extreme dictates of the neotenous, chip on the shoulder, minority-heavy,female-dominated “progressives” who flipped the House. They will insist that all Democrats goway out of bounds in taking control of the Americans’ minds and souls as well as their money andand property. In the hyper-hypocritical name of “bipartisanship,” they may be able to seduce the California side of K Street into helping them create a digital-age mind-control regime in exchange for new forms of subsidy that replace the “special rules/exceptions/extenders” used in the past by the liberals to milk and bilk.

Progressive operatives have already proven their skills in exploiting women, young people, and minorities. The Soviet-style show trial of Judge Kavanaugh also revealed how unscrupulous they can be when acting in concert with no-holds-barred affiliates in the media. Hillary Clinton’s progressive mentor, Saul Alinsky, had his bombs and a master plan. Earlier, Stokely Carmichael and Patty Hearst had their guns and violent hatreds.

But 2018 digital-age progressives need no such crude weapons. They use clean technology to bend the minds of women, children, minorities and the increasingly large population of preconditioned white males—thereby turning them into weapons for their own destruction.

Neat trick and highly profitable to boot. The two most recent progressive cabals to occupy the White House (the Clintons and the Obamas) have become filthy rich.

To succeed in re-engineering what millions of people think, say, and do, progressives turn logic upside down in countless ways, every day and in every place, until utter nonsense begins to seem normal and correct to people whose minds have been preconditioned since kindergarten.

Consider, for example, Travis County, Texas (home of the University of Texas) where a group studying “enterprises” counsels that hiring employees based on merit is unfair. Also, in this heart of Beto O’Rourke progressivism, college-age males not already emotionally neutered can take a course in how not to be masculine. Up until recently in Texas, manliness was second only to godliness—but in the brave new world of the progressives, both struggle even to make the team.

It used to be that young people learned about God and goodness at church and at home. In school, we recited the Pledge of Allegiance and were taught American history and the “American Creed,” which Samuel Huntington described as secular Christianity. Yes, no doubt about it, we were from childhood on thoroughly “indoctrinated” in the founding principles of Western civilization: God, family, country, truth, merit, integrity, courage, loyalty, decency, morals and manners. Men were expected to be gentlemen and women to be ladies.

All that indoctrination was good in principle, although many of us failed to learn our lessons fully. But even as an aspiration, it was an imperfect lesson until Martin Luther King, Jr. added the final rejoinder that we not judge people by their skin color, but, instead, on the basis of their character and conduct.

The current crop of progressives, however, has not only turned the old creed (decency, honor, and manners) upside down, they have perverted Dr. King’s rule of color-blind racial fairness into a new and evil form of racial and gender discrimination called “identity politics” and, worse, used it as a weapon to the detriment of women and African Americans.

What the Senate Can Do

James Madison’s constitutional design imposes on the Senate the duty of standing fast when necessary to preserve and protect the nation’s founding principles from the destructive and ill-considered excesses of a rogue House of Representatives which—let’s face it—the 116th House already shows signs of becoming. Socialism was once beyond the pale in American politics and policy, but it is now de rigueur among the progressives—and when combined with their founding principles of “PC” thought and speech control, the result fits perfectly the definition of a totalitarian state.

Whether the thin red line of Republicans, especially in the Senate, will recognize the degree and nature of the danger in time to avoid disaster remains to be seen. They must avoid the trap of “bipartisanship” and such canards as “reaching across the aisle” and must recognize that just because Republicans were many times in the past able to “do business” with the old line liberal-leftists does not mean that they can do so again. And they should recall that many times when they did so in the past, America suffered considerable damage in the process.

The 116th Senate may be the last chance for the Republicans to follow the example of Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) and “man-up” for a last-ditch defense of the American Creed Progressives for decades have been peddling their nostrums from kindergarten to graduate school, and many members of the Senate and the House and even the general population may in mild degrees be afflicted by progressivism.

Many fateful signals about the future likely will be given during the current “lame duck” session of Congress, in which Republicans still have a majority in both houses—subject to a filibuster in the Senate by the minority.

Based on past performance, year-end lame-duck sessions do not enjoy a good reputation. Many times in the past the Congress—Republicans and Democrats alike—have used these occasions to deliver Christmas presents to K Street that get rushed through at the last minute under the cover of political darkness.

But let’s be optimistic—we really have no other choice—so we must hope and demand that this time Congress, and the Republicans in the Senate in particular, will rise to the historic occasion and stand firm on important principles.

Senate Republicans can confirm some judges in the lame duck and it is hoped that they can also confirm a batch of qualified Trump appointees to important positions in the Executive Branch whose service to the nation has been wrongfully delayed by Senate Democrats for nearly a year. Senate Republicans can also stand firm on the continuing resolution needed to fund the government until March 2019—and, having done so, can in March 2019 also stand firm on the debt limit votes and the spending caps under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (signed by President Obama), which pit outlays for national defense against increases in domestic spending.

Avoiding Lame Duck Lameness

Wish lists for passage in the lame duck abound. There may be some bipartisan hope for passage of a farm bill and some Democrats talk airily about trading some amount of funding for a border wall in exchange for legalizing “Dreamers.”

Although President Trump during the campaign talked about additional tax cuts and reforms that would boost the economy for years to come, Democrats will be able to block by a filibuster in the Senate both broad-based rate cuts and making permanent first-year expensing for job-creating capital investments, which would have been the perfect thing for passage in the lame duck had proper preparation been made in the form of a budget resolution in April.

Having failed to do that, the only tax legislation potentially being set up for passage in the lame duck is H.R. 88, a largely housekeeping provision of little intrinsic merit of its own and which, on the negative side, unfortunately from a tax reform standpoint would perpetuate a list of 20- odd extenders for K Street that have been condemned by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation as well as the reliably conservative Heritage Foundation, and which are, in my opinion, an insult to the principles of the historic tax reform legislation which was the crown jewel of Republican accomplishment in the 115th Congress.

It defies imagination why Republicans would want to go out of their way to extend a tax credit for electric vehicles that is on its face a classic case of exactly the kind of “progressive” policymaking that Republicans must guard against in much larger and more dangerous forms over the next two years. The electric vehicle credit probably does less actual harm to the economy than some of the other extenders, but it is the “progressive” nature of the thing that matters.

Not a good sign that Republicans will stand firm against progressives in the new Congress. They may do so on the big philosophical issues, but K Street is the vulnerable point where business as usual horse-trading is most likely to go on—and the progressives know it.”

David Montgomery is retired from a career of teaching, government service and consulting, during which he became internationally recognized as an expert on energy, environmental and climate policy.  He has a PhD in economics from Harvard University and also studied economics at Cambridge University and theology at the Catholic University of America,   David and his wife Esther live in St Michaels, and he now spends his time in front of the computer writing about economic, political and religious topics and the rest of the day outdoors engaged in politically incorrect activities.

 

 

Letters to Editor

  1. Hugh (jock) Beebe says

    That David Montgomery, in his position as a regular Talbot Spy columnist, should recruit such an inflammatory editorial from an adjunct zealot as Earnest Christian strikes me as a splendid example of what’s wrong with American politics generally.

    The extreme language of the piece assumes the “minority-heavy,female-dominated “progressives” who flipped the House.” will “…goway out of bounds in taking control of the Americans’ minds and souls as well as their money andand property.” (sic)

    It goes on to outline an aggressive political posture that should be taken up by the U.S. Senate as a defense of what extreme right wing advocates characterize as “the American Creed.”

    There is no mention in this lamentable diatribe of any possibility that the soon to be more politically balanced Congress could find a way to return to constructive work as the founders intended: drafting and negotiating legislation in the interest of all the citizens.

    Messrs. Montgomery and Christian seem to favor allowing our national problems to accumulate while the Congress continues to pursue abject partisanship as a worthwhile goal unto itself. It’s unfortunate that such advice as this editorial exhorts has such limited perspective on what our nation needs more of.

  2. “Peddling our nostrums?” So poetic, but we are in far greater need of accountability.
    We might find ourselves acknowledging that Clinton’s ” job-killing taxes” not only ushered in our strongest economy of the past half century, Democratic administrations, without exception since WWII, have delivered higher median household incomes, higher wages, more jobs, and less than half as much debt as a share of our economy.
    Our debt is growing larger, but without acknowledgement or fanfare now. Let us also understand that the party that handed us 9 of our 10 last recessions, our Great Depression, Great Recession, and Savings and Loan Crisis has excelled primarily in creating debt and earning pinocchios, while Democratic administrations have excelled in virtually every positive economic measure.
    Just luck? Could be, but let us entertain the idea of fostering accountability, a healthier society, and a happier New Year.

  3. Peter Gallagher says

    Dear Mr Montgomery, this diatribe is just the kind of polemic that further divides our Country and nurtured dysfunction. … it is offensive. Peter Gallagher

  4. Stephen Clineburg says

    David – Did you really think that the readers of Talbot Spy would be seduced by the sophomoric drivel promulgated by Mr. Christian? Not only is Mr. Christian’s argument offensive – “minority-heavy, female-dominated “progressives” who flipped the House” – it employs a hyper-ventilated rhetoric – “they (Senate Republicans) must avoid the trap of “bipartisanship” and such canards as “reaching across the aisle” – that will only provoke division and continue the discord and inaction that characterizes the outgoing Republican Congress.

    Mr. Christian’s cavalier assertions – “they (Senate Republicans) can also confirm a batch of qualified Trump appointees to important positions” – ignores the sordid history of Trump appointees such as Michael Flynn, Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke and so many others and deprives his arguments of serious consideration.

    More egregious is Mr. Christian’s characterization of the Trump 2017 Tax Bill as the “historic tax reform legislation which was the crown jewel of Republican accomplishment in the 115th Congress” – a bill which benefitted wealthy and corporate taxpayers at the expense of the rest of us and, by the way, created an additional federal deficit of over $1.5 Trillion (with a capital “T”).

    The incoming batch of Congressmen and women have the opportunity to address many of the problems which continue to beset our Nation – including health care, infrastructure and environmental degradation. The fact that they will be “progressive” should be celebrated, not condemned, and their endeavors should be supported by all of us rather than undermined by right-wing ideological considerations.

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