Tag Archives: Bill Bennett

Book Review: America, the Last Best Hope

 

If your child attends an American public school that teaches them a U.S. history course, take a look some time at their text book.

Assuming you are someone who actually believes that the teaching of this subject matters, you just might be shocked.

For decades now, many American educational systems have been moving away from teaching a genuine history of the United States. Instead, a politically correct and sanitized version is often taught, highlighting episodes within that history that are important to so-called progressives.

In a January 2017 article for the New York Post titled “Why schools have stopped teaching American history“, Karol Markowicz included the following:

A 2014 report by the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that an abysmal 18 percent of American high school kids were proficient in US history.

The NAEP is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas. Their goal is to help students, parents, teachers, and principals “inform decisions about how to improve the education system in our country.”

If any educational system in the country truly wants to present American history to high school students, even any college or university, they would do well to use  “America: The Last Best Hope” by Bill Bennett.

Bennett released the title in a first volume back in 2006. That book covered the period from Columbus in 1492 through the lead-up to World War I in 1914.

The 573 pages in the original volume are packed with 525 of actual history. It also includes a five-page introduction from the author and a comprehensive notes and index at the back.

Volume I includes topics such as the settlement of the New World, the revolution of the colonies, the founding and early years of the American republic, westward expansion, the Civil War, post-war reconstruction, and the emergence of American industrialism.

In 2007, Bennett released “Volume 2”, which picked up where the first book left off and covered most of the 20th century, right through the 1989 end of Ronald Reagan’s second presidential term.

With “Volume 2”, the topics included World Wars I and II, with the roaring 20’s, stock market crash, the Great Depression, the rise of worldwide fascism, and FDR’s ‘New Deal’ in between.

It then moves through the post-war era, the rise of American political and economic might during the 1950’s, the social turmoil of the 1960’s, the politically turbulent 1970’s, and finally into the Reagan revival.

In it’s 592 pages there can be found another 533 pages of history, with just a short introduction, but with the same comprehensive notes and index provided with the first volume.

In 2011, Bennett returned to the series, including American history from “the collapse of communism to the rise of radical Islam” in a more brief 352 page continuation.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Bill Bennett turned 76 years of age on July 31, 2019. He is a graduate of Williams College in Massachusetts, with a Ph.D. from the University of Texas, and a J.D. from Harvard University.

One of the most respected political theorists and pundits of the last three decades, Bennett was chairman for the National Endowment of the Humanities from 1981-85. He then served in President Reagan’s cabinet as the U.S. Secretary of Education from 1985-88, and held the position of Director of the Office of National Drug Policy under the first President Bush.

The author of more than two dozen books, Bennett is currently a senior advisor to Project Lead the Way, which is considered to be one of the leading providers of training and curriculum to improve STEM education in American schools. He is involved in numerous other educational causes as well.

Due to be released in October of this year is a massive new edition of “America: The Last Best Hope“, which will integrate all three of the original volumes into one book.

All three volumes were not only informative, but each was genuinely enjoyable to read. This new, fully integrated edition would make an outstanding text book for any legitimate class on United States history.

However, this is not to be considered as only that – a text book for intellectual pursuits. Bennett has put together a tremendous history of America from its very beginnings right up through recent years that is readable and enjoyable for everyone.

I highly recommend “America: The Last Best Hope” for anyone who loves our nation, and for anyone who truly wants a well-written, all-encompassing history of the United States.

Buy it in the three original volumes and enjoy one at a time, as I did, or wait for the new concatenated version to be released in October. That version will be available in hard cover, paperback, or for your device, and can be pre-ordered now at Amazon and many other outlets.

And if you are a fan of Bennett who would like something a bit more collector-worthy (not to mention expensive), well, there is a beautiful leather-bound version of the first two volumes available from The Easton Press at that link, autographed by the author.

Smerconish begins to show his true stripes

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Smerconish interviewing President Barack Obama

 

An article for the Philadelphia Inquirer, as politically liberal a rag as exists anywhere in America today, titled “Sorry, but for me, the party is over“, written by local quasi-celebrity Michael Smerconish was published in that paper’s Sunday, February 21st edition ‘Currents’ section.

In this article, Smerconish reveals what every true local Philadelphia Republican has known for more than a year.

The man who has billed himself as THE local Republican voice, who glommed onto the popularity of programs such as Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor“, and who attached themselves at the hip to commentators such as Sean Hannity, is in fact not a Republican after all.

The article, which carried a secondary headline where it continued on page C3 titled “Parting ways with the party, after 30 years”, reveals that Smerconish recently had an epiphany of sorts. And he had it while standing in line at, of all places, the DMV.

The Inquirer, of course, then bent over backwards to advertise this alleged political change away from conservatism. But is it really a change at all?

Smerconish goes to get his license renewed and the clerk asks him at one point as to whether he would also like to change his voter registration party affiliation.

Why this is an appropriate question for some clerk at the DMV to be asking in the first place is never revealed, nor ever fully explored by the allegedly dogged journalist.

Smerconish then goes on to reveal that this was his “hallelujah” moment. One can imagine a mystical light shining down on him from above and revealing that he is actually not a Republican, nor is he a Democrat, but instead he is that most cherished of ideals. He is an “Independent” thinker, beholden to no party values! Hallelujah!

He has the clerk switch his voter registration status from ‘Republican’ to ‘Independent’, leaving behind his party of the past three decades. Smerconish writes that in doing so he is better reflecting his personal values. He claims that actually, he is “not sure if I left the Republican Party or the party left me. All I know is that I no longer feel comfortable.”

Now let me state before I go on that I myself have switched my formally registered political affiliation a few times over the years. As I have explained in full detail before here at this blog, during my 20’s in the 1980’s I was a fully-indoctrinated liberal Democrat.

It was at some point during the first Clinton administration where I had my own ‘hallelujah’ moment, realizing that my values and positions had evolved to conservative ones. I made the switch to Republican and have not looked back.

During the time that I was a registered Democrat, however, I switched my party affiliation from Dem to Republican a couple of times. Each time I did so at the request of, and specifically for, my father.

My Dad was involved in the political process and publicly supporting Republican candidates such as John Egan for Mayor of Philadelphia. I would always switch back to Dem following the election cycle, and remained so until making the permanent switch during the mid-90’s.

However, unlike the spineless Smerconish, I did not ever try to paint myself with the brush of mediocrity that is the act of being a registered Independent. Smerconish tries to make himself out to be some sort of victim to the system. “Where political parties used to create coalitions and win elections, now they seek to advance strict ideological agendas.”

Malarkey! Political parties have existed in America since the earliest decades of our founding, particularly in the years following George Washinton’s first Presidency.

From those early parties like the Whigs through to Teddy Roosevelt’s “Bull Moose” Party to today’s liberal-dominated Democrats, political parties have displayed polarizing differences in their platforms and in their personalities.

Smerconish tries to defend his decision by pointing to a handful of examples of party inclusion of disparate ideas and visions. In every party there will always be individuals who are slightly moderated from the main party platform and ideals. But you rarely, if ever, can find a full-on conservative Democrat or a full-on liberal Republican, especially among the politicians.

That may prove Smerconish’s point, that the parties are indeed ideological, but the fact of the matter is that situation has been in existence since those early years of our Founding Fathers. It didn’t suddenly happen in the last election cycle. It didn’t slowly develop in recent decades. Political party ideology has been around forever.

The fact is that Smerconish began broadcasting full-time in the early years of the George W. Bush administration in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He took up the Republican mantle fully, supporting most Bush policies and positions vocally and publicly, including the use of torture on terrorist suspects.

Over the next half-dozen years, Smerconish became a quasi-celebrity, his public conservative positions landing him gigs as a guest host for O’Reilly and Glenn Beck and his largely conservative writings leading to New York Times best-sellers. Smerconish made a lot of money and gained a measure of celebrity in these years thanks to what were perceived to be his intact, well thought-out, mature political and social positions.

But what also was going on is that Smerconish was doing all of this while working at a local Philadelphia radio station. He was not a nationally syndicated host with a vast network of listeners supporting him, he was broadcasting in one of the most liberal cities in America. His stated positions made him a number of political enemies, and shut him out of a number of local sources.

Realizing over time that he was not going to break out nationally as had people like Beck and Hannity, Smerconish saw himself stuck in Philly and treading water. Then suddenly it happened, the savior, Barack Obama, came along with his glib tongue and his two faces.

Smerconish began earlier than most to sense the momentum of the Obama campaign, and the alleged Republican talk radio host did the unthinkable in endorsing Obama for President.

It was in this moment that those of us who had suspected for years that Smerconish was simply a charlatan opportunist, using 9/11 and the Republican Party popularity of the early part of the last decade to his advantage, got our proof of that as fact.

There is no way that anyone who took any time to evaluate a politician’s actual record before endorsing them, as a public personality with a radio talk show in a major market should, could ever find anything other than the facts. Those facts were that simply from his voting record and previous public associations, Barack Obama was one of the most, if not the single most, liberal members of the United States Senate.

Michael Smerconish threw in with Obama because he saw the momentum switch, believed strongly that Obama was going to win, saw that Obama was articulate and intelligent, and further believed that the sun was setting on the ideology of conservatism. Smerconish basically glommed on to the next big thing to maintain his local audience relevancy.

In the beginning it was actually a good thing to say that he was a Republican who was supporting Obama. In that way, Smerconish could actually try to portray himself as not being ideological himself, despite what was out there in the public purvey for the past half dozen or so years.

But as time has gone on, Smerconish has become more and more enamored with the Obama celebrity himself, tossing aside the substance of the issues for increased access to the administration.

Thanks to his position as ‘the Republican talking head who supports Obama’, Smerconish was actually given the first live radio broadcast, interview, and listener question-answer session from inside the White House with the new President in August of 2009.

A man whom I happen to admire, Glenn Beck, has been an outspoken registered Independent for some time now. But with Beck there is a major difference. He legitimately sees and eloquently expresses his own ideology of American exceptionalism, pointing out with detailed precision how leaders of both parties have been led astray by political and social ‘progressivism’ and calling for a return to the Constitutional direction of the Founders.

Whatever their motivations, I still believe that whether it be in Beck’s principled stand against progressives or in Smerconish’s unwillingness to publicly embrace either his change to liberalism or that he has no political backbone, registering as and championing oneself as a registered ‘independent’ is a bit disingenuous.

There is no doubt that Beck’s conservative lean would, for example, find him in the voting booth ever pulling the lever next to the name of any current Democrat, while there are any number of Republicans who share his basic ideals.

In contrasts to Beck’s independence status, Smerconish is simply a fraud. He is an opportunist who now sees his best opportunity at continued celebrity by casting in with Obama and his liberal followers. Smerconish is waiting for this type of characterization. He is waiting for it and expecting it so that he can use it as well. He is waiting for conservatives to let loose on him for his alleged betrayal.

No, this indictment of Michael Smerconish and his allegedly changed political positions and resulting party registration change do not stem from feelings of betrayal. They come from a long-held belief that the man is all about himself, not any true, bedrock values or political positions. He has no political backbone whatsoever, and has only proven his irrelevancy with this registration switch. That is one man’s opinion based on what I have seen and heard.

It is also my opinion that this move to alleged ‘independence’ is only itself a temporary move. Right now, Smerconish senses the unsure direction of the future political winds as Obama’s plans prove to be the socialist failures that many of us predicted.

I predict here that Michael Smerconish’s political independence itself will not last, and that it is only a matter of time, and more security in the direction of those future political winds, before the big ‘R’ is back, or before the big ‘D’ takes a permanent place on his voter registration.

For local Philadelphia morning drive-time radio listeners, you do indeed have a choice. The intelligent, articulate, personable Bill Bennett can be heard by sliding your radio dial over to 990AM weekdays from 6am-9am. There, Bennett’s ‘Morning in America’ program is a part of the “intelligent, conservative talk” that local station WNTP offers each weekday.

The one thing that Bill Bennett will never be accused of by anyone is being spineless, and you won’t ever see him change his political affiliation for career or financial expediency.

Express ’em if you got ’em

There is an old saying that usually comes into play when some group, often a military platoon, is about to take advantage of a brief lull before some important, heated, restrictive battle: “Smoke ’em if you got ’em” is how it goes.

The saying relates to cigarettes, and the idea that if you are going to want one, now is the time to light up, because you may not get another chance for awhile.

Today’s online edition of the Washington Times features a poll asking whether the Obama administration should have contacted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme religious leader, before the Iranian elections.

The poll is in response to a lead article at the paper’s website which reports that the Obama administration sent a letter to Khamenei calling for an improvement in relations between the U.S and Iran. Khamenei referenced the letter last week during a sermon in which he accused the U.S. of fomenting dissent following the Iranian elections.

My problem or point here is not the article itself, the poll, or even the issues of Iran and the so-far feeble Obama administration response to Iran. Our new President is mad. Really, really mad, darn it.

You can tell, because yesterday he “strongly” condemned the Iranian regimes unjust actions towards the street protesters of the rigged elections. Strongly.

No, my problem is with the supporters of America’s first socialist President.

When you answer the poll question, it takes you to the updated poll results and a commentary page. Anyone who is registered with the site can make comments about the poll, and anyone at all can read these comments, even if not registered.

There is one answer that encapsulates the liberal, progressive, socialist mindset towards anyone who expresses Obama-dissent. One respondent calling themselves ‘TheProgressiveTruth’ says that “conservative ideas are discredited and are not taken seriously by serious people.”

Fair enough. That statement is showing obvious political bias. But this is America, and they are free to express their political views. The big problem comes with his next statement: “My advice, again: shut up!” Here the respondent shows their true stripes. Anyone with differing opinions needs to be silenced.

There are many liberal politicians and partisans who subscribe to this line of thinking. They call for a radio ‘Fairness Doctrine’ that would silence conservative talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Bill Bennett, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck and others, simply because they disagree with these conservative commentators but cannot come up with liberal commentators to draw a sustainable audience.

Bottom line is, liberals and progressives cannot win the battle of ideas in the public square, just as they cannot win at the polling booth on social ideas such as the farcical gay marriage issue. They lose every time one of these issues is balloted and put directly to the voters. Instead, they seek to “shut up” conservatives and force their own views through controlled media used as propagandists, and through the courts.

Barack Obama, his administration, and his colleagues in Congress have been seriously over-reaching in their valuation of their recent electoral victories. The American people voted for a change, but absolutely did not vote for the type of change that weakens or cheapens democracy and capitalism, or that calls for silence from its opponents.

Do you perhaps have some opinions on the issues that matter to you and your family, opinions that are different than the Obama administration and the former mainstream media are trying to force down the throat of the American public? Then I have just one message for you: express ’em if you got ’em!