Jimmy Carter: the most underrated president of the last 60 years

Long-time readers know I am a constitutional conservative/libertarian and that I hold nothing back in criticizing the toxic left.   When Teddy Kennedy died, I wrote a controversial piece pointing out what a disaster of a person he was, and I remain proud of that post.

I reached my years of political awareness in the late 1970s, and let’s face it, those years were chaotic, and Jimmy Carter was president.  The United States suffered through gas lines and massive inflation and seemingly one foreign policy crisis after another (Afghanistan, Iran,  the hostages in Iran, El Salvador, Nicaragua, etc, etc).  For those of us who lived through those times, the relative calm of the Trump years is, so far, noteworthy.  When I was a teenager, I felt like the United States was about to fall apart literally every day.

And the Reagan years of the 1980s were prosperous and filled with foreign policy successes culminating in the fall of the Soviet Union and the seeming end of Communism.   So, the conventional wisdom is:  Jimmy Carter – disaster; Reagan – massive winner.

What people are missing is that almost all of Reagan’s biggest successes were put into motion by President Carter.  Carter laid the foundation for the vast majority of Reagan’s economic and foreign policy achievements.  If Carter had been elected for a second term, he would have gotten credit for turning the economy around and laying the groundwork for the end of the Soviet Union. But of course he did not, so many people see Carter as an ineffectual lightweight.

Let me try to convince you that Jimmy Carter has been underrated and indeed promoted many policies that bore fruit after he left office.


Paul Volcker appointed chairman of the Fed

It may be difficult for young people today to understand how bad the economy was through most of the 1970s. The primary problem was inflation, which was in the double digits during critical times.  Today inflation is less than two percent.  A world of 12 to 14 percent inflation means good in the stores are constantly going up in price and consumers feel they can never keep up.  I remember going to the grocery store and seeing the checkers going down the rows constantly raising prices of bread, cereal, meat, milk, eggs – everything.  We would go back two days later, and the prices had gone up yet again.

And the economy had created a mental environment where people began to accept the idea of massive inflation.   It seemed like something we would just have to learn to live with.  But of course massive inflation hurts the poor most of all (and I was quite poor in those days).   Mentally, most people I knew had come to accept a sense of decline.  We would never get ahead – we would always be poor.

Jimmy Carter appointed Paul Volcker to the head of the Federal Reserve 1979, and Volcker adopted the controversial position of massively raising interests rates to deal with inflation.  You can read more about it here.   It took two years, and Jimmy Carter was voted out in 1980, but by the early 1980s inflation had virtually disappeared.   The policy worked so well that there was massive deflation in many goods during the 1980s.   I remember watching gas prices crater after constantly going up in the 1970s, and it was a beautiful thing for drivers.  

The destruction of double-digit inflation also created a new sense that the United States was back and that the country would not fall apart at any moment.  The new optimism created the economic boom of the 1980s, and led to Reagan’s massive reelection victory in 1984.  I will also point out that it meant literally millions of new jobs for people like myself.   People in my family went from poor to upper middle class during the 1980s, and it is directly linked to the improvement in the economy.

Now, to be fair, a lot of the economic success of the 1980s was due to the Reagan tax cuts, which Carter probably would not have favored, but one simply cannot the rule out the importance of ending double-digit inflation.  And Jimmy Carter and Paul Volcker deserve credit for destroying inflation, not President Reagan.   It is simply a fact.

Deregulation

Believe it or not, there was a time when Democrats were not completely ignorant of basic economics. JFK, for example, promoted tax cuts in the early 1960s that created the boom of that decade.  And in the 1970s, Democrats, including the execrable Ted Kennedy, promoted deregulation precisely because it is good economic policy and helps the poor.

Oh that the Democrats of today would learn a bit of history!

One of the great underreported stories of our time is that the basic foundations of economic success from the 1980s to today were created by the wave of deregulation promoted by many Democrats, including President Carter, in the 1970s and the early 1980s. In the space of a few years, the country saw deregulation of the airlines, the trains, the trucking business, natural gas and telecom. 

It is difficult to imagine now, but there was a time when a cross-country phone call cost a week’s salary.  An economy seat from San Francisco to New York was the equivalent of $2000 in today’s money (and most people smoked on the plane, by the way).   Conservatives and liberals united against the high costs created by regulation, and they passed a series of bills and measures to end regulatory capture on a federal and state level. 

The deregulation of the 1970s and early 1980s created new industries which of course created new jobs. In the 1970s, there was only one telephone company, AT&T.  By 1990, there were dozens of phone companies, all offering cheaper prices. The same thing happened in many other industries. 

President Carter deserves credit for promoting much of the deregulation that helped create the economic booms that followed him. 

Foreign policy

The Middle East was even more of a mess in the 1970s than it is today.   The region suffered through explosive wars in 1967 and 1973, and the rise of the PLO and other terrorist groups made it seem that there would never be peace.

The Camp David accords, sponsored by President Carter, were a huge success.   Israel and Egypt are still at peace today in part because of hard work by the Carter administration.  The great accomplish should not be forgotten:  Jimmy Carter deserves a lot of credit.

Believe it or not, President Carter also deserves a lot of credit for laying the foundation for Reagan’s policy on the Soviet Union.   In many ways, Reagan took Carter’s policy of 1979 and added to it, rather than create an entirely new approach.  

I would encourage people who think Carter was a disaster on foreign policy to read this article, which points out many of his successes.  It may help you see his presidency as more nuanced than you imagine.

Jimmy Carter is not on my list of best presidents

To be clear, Jimmy Carter is not on my list of the 10 best presidents in U.S. history.  Most of the best presidents (those who actually followed the Constitution) served in the 1800s.  The best president of the last 100 years is Calvin Coolidge, and Jimmy Carter does not come close to being as good as silent Cal.    But Jimmy Carter was, in my opinion, better than all of the presidents who followed him, except for Reagan (and the jury is still out on Trump).   He was better than Ford and Nixon and LBJ.   He was as good as JFK.  So, in my opinion, Jimmy Carter is tied for the second best president of my lifetime, after Reagan.

You don’t have to remind me about Carter’s many failures in Afghanistan, Iran and Central America. You don’t have to remind me about the many terrible judges he nominated.  He don’t have to remind me about his unfortunate flirtation with anti-semitism.   I lived through the Carter years, and I know all of those things about Jimmy Carter, but I still think that, overall, he is underrated.

If one of my conservative friends can read this article and say to himself, “I still hate Jimmy Carter, but he did do a few good things,” than I will consider it a success.

Free Market Good – Monopolies Bad

Teddy Roosevelt was a progressive that promoted bigger government, often against Constitutional constraints. However, he did one thing that promoted free markets and tore down the old baron robber corporations of his day: he was a trust buster.

What is a Trust? It is a big monopoly that uses immoral and sometimes illegal methods to retain its monopoly. In doing this, it allows the monopoly to remove/destroy competition and cause its customers to pay whatever price the monopoly sets.

Breaking up such monopolies are painful in the short term, but benefit the nation and Americans in the long run. For example, Standard Oil was a monopoly that had its own railroads and controlled the price of oil and gas everywhere. It was a big company that forced everyone else out. Once broken into several smaller oil companies, those smaller companies were allowed to compete with one another, innovate, and create a market that is a thousand times larger than the original Standard Oil.

In the early 1980s, the government broke AT&T apart. Prior to that action, there was no competition. You rented your equipment at their price. Long distance calls were expensive. Copper wire was still being used, after decades of Ma Bell not needing to innovate. However, once AT&T was broken up into a bunch of “Baby Bells,” Sprint, MCI and other companies came forward with the first fiber networks. Soon, better technologies emerged, including satellite, personal computers networked, Internet/WWW, cell phones, etc. It is amazing what innovation occurred after the juggernaut trust was broken.

Today, we are threatened by several new and terrible monopolies: Google/Youtube, Facebook and Twitter. These are especially pernicious, because they own our lives. For the past decade or more, they have tracked our every movement online. While smart ads and GPS locators are convenient, it has also given these three companies a huge amount of information on us.

Even that probably isn’t enough to merit trust busting, though. The following IS worthy of breaking these companies up into smaller ones:

These three control our thoughts. They are the main purveyors of speech today. All claim to be platforms, not publishers. IOW, they don’t control the content that users put up, they just provide a service. This protects them from lawsuits, which makes sense. But, when they begin acting like publishers, editing what things are allowed on their sites, they suddenly become dangerous. Why does the founder of Facebook ask the federal government to regulate his company? Because he likes being a monopoly with no competition!

Youtube has demonetized several people/groups, especially conservative groups that depend on advertisement proceeds to finance their projects. Others they have removed entirely from Youtube. Right now, they are removing every instance of people denying the Holocaust. While you and I dislike everything about Hitler and those who admire him today, freedom of speech is necessary to prevent them from later shutting down our voices.

For example, Twitter has shut off access to a Pro-Life/Anti-Abortion Group and will not allow them back on until they remove every video of a sonogram of a living fetus, or video of abortions on both Twitter and their own website. Yet, that is exactly what their program is all about: protecting the lives of the unborn.

Facebook is notorious for removing voices off their site, primarily conservative voices.

Yes, some of these voices are offensive or annoying. Others (like the Holocaust deniers, or Flat Earth Society) are plain wrong. But for freedom to win, all voices must be heard. The only exceptions should be to stop child porn/trafficking, inciting violence, and other illegal actions on that level. Otherwise, without freedom of speech, the world and America will end up forgetting the events of the past, and move towards a Jacobin society that will eat its own young and old, simply because Big Brother – founded on big government and corporatism – will have sold our souls to the devil of tyranny.

Please do not ask government to regulate these corporations. We do NOT want eternal monopolies to exist. We want freedom of expression and speech to reign supreme. The only way for that to happen is for government to become the Trust Busters they were back in Teddy Roosevelt’s day.

Write your Congress people, and the White House. Please!


Come Follow Me – John 13-17

Original at my blog: https://joelsmonastery.blogspot.com/2019/06/come-follow-me-john-13-17.html

Come Follow Me – John 13-17


Jesus’ week in Jerusalem now comes near its close. The Passover feast was prepared and eaten on Thursday evening. This symbolized the preparations the children of Israel made before leaving Egypt’s flesh pots and following Moses into the wilderness towards the Promised Land.

During the Passover week, Jesus spent most days teaching in the temple, often in the women’s court, where both men and women could hear him preach repentance. He has preached forcefully against the Pharisees, Sadduccees and the scribes of the temple. He has openly declared himself to be the Messiah, the Angel of the Lord’s Presence, and explained his Messiah-ship in a way they considered blasphemous: he was the literal Son of God, a divine being from the Presence of the Father, worthy of worship himself.

With the Passover feast, Jesus created a new feast and what it represented. The Passover feast included the Paschal lamb, a lamb without blemish that was sacrificed and eaten in preparation for leaving Egypt. Its blood was spattered on the lintels to ensure the angel of death passed over those in the household.

Jesus now stepped in as the Paschal Lamb. The bread and wine represented his flesh and blood. His disciples were to partake and drink of Him, so that the angel of death would pass over them, as well. They were to depart spiritually from among the wicked, and allow God to guide them to the spiritual Promised Land.


“29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;
“30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22).

The Promised Land promised them was the kingdom of heaven, where they would eat at Christ’s table in the royal household, and be rulers over Israel. Israel under Moses could never have imagined such a promise! They complained over the hardships they temporarily bore, wishing to return to Egypt. But had they focused forward with faith in God, they would have also received such promises as did the apostles.

Washing of Feet

The washing of feet was a very important lesson Jesus sought to teach his apostles. He was soon to die, and needed them to understand their true role. While most kings and self-declared Messiahs were worshiped, honored, and cared for; Jesus taught that he who shall be greatest in the kingdom of heaven is the servant of all.

In the Middle East, the body parts closest to the dirt are the worst. To wash one’s feet was to display utmost humility. It meant the servant was lower than the dust upon the other person’s feet. Jesus sought to show such service, so that his disciples would also serve in like manner after he was gone.

Interestingly, Simon Peter not only desired his feet to be washed, but his entire hands and head, as well. We do not see that Jesus rejected the request. The ritual of washing feet, hands and head is still a part of the temple ceremony. It symbolizes becoming clean from the wickedness in the world. Now was a moment when the apostles needed to be cleansed, for the world as they knew it was about to crash down upon them.


The Comforter
John 16

Jesus again prophesied of his death. Though the prediction caused his disciples to sorrow, it was necessary for a few reasons. First, their hearts had to be prepared for the tragedy. Second, Christ had to go in order to fulfill his mission and prepare a place in heaven for the repentant. Finally, if Christ did not leave, they could not have the Holy Ghost as a Comforter for them.

Neglected by many Christians is the concept that the Holy Ghost is sent to us as a guide and a comfort through the trials of life. Even more is the concept of the Holy Ghost as the third member of the Godhead, with the responsibility of testifying of the Father and the Son to all mankind.

As noted in previous lessons, Christ explained to the Pharisees that there were three witnesses of his Messianic call: himself, John the Baptist, and the Father (as demonstrated by the miraculous power given Christ by God). For the disciples, they would also be given three witnesses, the first leading them to the next.

The First Comforter is the Holy Ghost. His responsibilities include testifying of the Father and the Son and of the truths of the gospel. He can guide us into “all truth”, and speaks the things He hears from the Father and the Son. More importantly, his responsibility is to prepare us to receive the Second Comforter, Jesus Christ. So, John 16 explains how the Holy Ghost works with us, and prepares us for the higher teachings found in the next chapter.

This is Eternal Life
John 17

We learn in verse 3 that Eternal Life means “knowing” God and Christ. We gain this information after learning about the Holy Ghost, or First Comforter. He is the first and key step in the pathway to knowing God and Christ.

The Holy Ghost prepares us to enter into the presence of the Second Comforter, even the presence of Christ. It is then Jesus who prepares and leads us into the presence of the Father.

Chapter 17 of John contains Christ’s Intercessory Prayer, where he pleads for his disciples. They are not of the world, but still are weak and tend towards sin. Jesus asks that they may be one, even as he and the Father are one. For those who believe in the Trinity, this causes them to have to explain the term “unity of persons” differently for humans than for the Trinity itself. The belief is that the Father and Son are two persons, but one God and substance. Jesus does not mean that his disciples shall also become persons and also one being and substance. Instead, he is teaching that they shall be united in thought, desire, love, compassion, faith, hope, charity, and purpose. Just as the Holy Ghost speaks only those things which he hears from the other members of the Godhead, so the disciples shall speak and act as one. Yet they are physically separate persons. For LDS, the Godhead also consists of physically separate persons, who are yet “one” in all the important things. So, when Jesus states that he is in the disciples, even as God is in him, we understand that it is not a metaphysical joining, but a joining of hearts, desires, and minds. It is the perfect relationship.

The Perfect Relationship

Bible.org’s Exegetical Commentary explains what “Eternal Life” and “know” mean in regards to Jesus and God:


The Evangelist here defines “eternal life” for the readers. It is not just unending life in the sense of prolonged duration. Rather it is a quality of life, with its qualitativeness derived from a relationship with God. Having eternal life is here defined as being in relationship with the Father, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom the Father sent. Cristov” is not characteristically attached to Jesus’ name in the Fourth Gospel; it occurs elsewhere primarily as a title and is used with Jesus’ name only in 1:17. But that is connected to its use here: the statement here in 17:3 enables us to correlate the statement made in 1:18 of the Prologue, that Jesus has fully revealed what God is like, with Jesus’ statement in 10:10 that he has come that people might have life, and have it abundantly. These two purposes are really one, according to 17:3, because (abundant) eternal life is defined as knowing (being in relationship with) the Father and the Son. The only way to gain this eternal life, that is, to obtain this knowledge of the Father, is through the Son (cf. 14:6). Although some have pointed to the use of ginwvskw here as evidence of Gnostic influence in the Gospel, there is a crucial difference: for John this knowledge is not intellectual, but relational. It involves being in relationship.

Theophany

The relationship that Jesus has with the Father extends to us. We are invited to join them in this intense and loving experience by first learning to be one with each other, and so then learning to be one with the Godhead. In following Christ, we take upon ourselves his name at baptism and promise in the Sacrament of bread and water to “always remember him” and again take his name upon us. Through repentance, atonement, faith, obedience and ordinance, we become holy. We enter a relationship with Christ, guided by the Holy Ghost.

The Holy Ghost will eventually lead us into the Divine Presence or “Shekinah” of God, even Jesus Christ. The Savior then leads us into the Presence of the Father.

As we read from Bible.org:

Now Jesus turns his attention to the disciples. He begins by asserting that he manifested the Father’s name to them. The mention of the Father’s name will occur again in chapter 17 in verses 11, 12, and 26, but it is not often mentioned elsewhere in the Fourth Gospel (only in 5:43, 10:25, 12:28). What are we to make of this? In one sense the name represents the person (cf. 1:12) and thus Jesus in saying that he has made known the Father’s name is saying that he has fully revealed who God is and what he is like (cf. 1:18 and 14:9). But there is probably another meaning as well in the Fourth Gospel: Jesus himself is identified with God repeatedly (10:30, 14:11, etc.) and nowhere is this more apparent than in Jesus’ absolute uses of the phrase ejgwv eijmi without a predicate (8:24, 8:28, 8:58, and 13:19). The name of the Father which Jesus has made known to men is thus the Divine Name revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14.

We receive the name of Christ in baptism. We receive the Divine Name from Christ prior to entering into God’s presence. This is the teaching of the Theophany – entering into the Presence of the Divine God.

In ancient texts, we find that Paul went to the “third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:1-4), and in the Apocalypse of Paul was guided by the Holy Ghost from one level of heaven to the next, until he was in the Divine Presence. In the Ascension of Isaiah, the prophet also rose through the levels of heavens, until he was in the presence of the Godhead. The Prophet Enoch was given the title Metatron the Archangel, was placed upon God’s throne and worshiped as a member of the Divine Family.

Ezekiel, John the Revelator, Lehi, Jacob, and many other Bible and Book of Mormon prophets also experienced this divine theophany – entering into God’s presence and being one with God. Here, in Jesus’ culminating teachings of his mortal ministry, he shows the apostles and us the purpose of his life and ministry. Jesus would prove worthy of entering into Father’s presence and receiving a fullness of His glory. Jesus would also be the gatekeeper by whom we must pass in order to enter into God’s presence, where we also may enter into the Divine Relationship with the Godhead, receive a fullness of God’s glory and Eternal Life.


Bibliography

Wikipedia on Initiatory: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washing_and_anointing

John 17 Exegetical Commentary: http://bible.org/seriespage/exegetical-commentary-john-17

First/Second Comforter, LDS Bible (KJV) Dictionary: http://lds.org/scriptures/bd/comforter.p1?lang=eng&letter=c

Metatron/Enoch – Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metatron

Apocalypse of Paul: http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/ascp.html

Ascension of Isaiah: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/ascension.html

3 Enoch: http://www.scribd.com/doc/2024701/Hebrew-book-of-3-Enoch

How is Ministering Going for You and In Your Ward?

Last year Pres. Nelson introduced the ministering program to the church. At the same time the old programs of Home and Visiting Teaching were retired. There was an audible gasp as he made these announcements.  Online the prevailing sentiment I observed was, “Oh I’m so glad! Now I don’t have go visit anymore!”

Then there was me,  I was really, really discouraged at the thought of not having a monthly visit.  I liked to have my visiting teachers come to visit me.  We sometimes had a gospel discussion.  Most of the time we didn’t (moment of truth: I never liked the visiting teaching message in the Ensign, ever, and I would never share that).  We just talked to each other.  We listened to each other.  We got to know each other.  And to borrow a phrase from the old purple missionary guide, we “built relationships of trust” with each other, so that in times of trial or need, we could depend on each other.  This was not always the case with my visiting teachers, but it was the case for the last seven or eight years.   I have to be honest, I miss those monthly visits…. A LOT.  I kinda miss the relationships I had with my visiting teachers, because I feel like that has disappeared  with ministering.  Anyone else? Continue reading