A Crisis of Confidence in Our Leaders

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the seriesCrisis of Confidence

This is part 2 of a series (introduced in part 1) where we look at the crisis of confidence that is all around us in American society today. Let’s start this off by looking at three of our top national leaders.

President of the United States, Joe Biden

Let’s take a look at the post that Joe Biden’s team put up on Twitter a few days ago.

So, Trump turned in a miserable performance in the economic leadership of this country.  Fortunately for us, we were saved by Biden’s great leadership.  In fact, he is orders of magnitude higher that any president on this list…oh more than that, he’s by far the greatest job creating president in American history!

Well, there’s one little, itty-bitty, tiny catch.

I don’t know if you know.  Heck, maybe you’ve been so busy that you forgot.  In the last year of Trump’s presidency this strange world-wide pandemic started.  They’re calling it Covid-19.  You might have heard of it.

If you weren’t born yesterday, you probably remember that in almost all of the United States workers who weren’t deemed absolutely essential were temporarily (in some cases) laid off from their jobs.  Here is what that looked like, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.  You know, the same one Biden based his chart on.

https://www.bls.gov/charts/employment-situation/civilian-unemployment-rate.htm

In April of 2020, US unemployment reached a crazy rate of 14.7%. But just 2 months prior, in February, it was only 3.5%. 

When Trump was inaugurated, unemployment was at 4.7%. This means that the unemployment rate had decreased 1.2% prior to the great Covid spike.

To be fair, the unemployment rate had been going down steadily since the storm of 2018’s financial crisis. 

But, it isn’t as if Trump was driving up unemployment. It was on a steady march downhill.

Here’s where Biden took over.

As you can see, the great spike of unemployment during the Covid lockdown was on its way out.  Unemployment had settled back down to 6.4%.

Now, the unemployment rate is not the same as the “jobs created” data.  That’s a bit harder to show a quick snapshot of data on.  But that proves my point even more. 

See, in order to muck with the numbers and make the government look better than they are, they have a very specific definition of unemployed. According the same US Bureau of Labor Statistics, “People are classified as unemployed if they do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the prior 4 weeks, and are currently available for work.”

So, if they have left the labor market intentionally, or have just given up in looking for work, they are magically no longer unemployed.  So, a different way of looking at employment is using the Labor Participation Rate, or the percentage of Americans who are working, or actively looking for work.  Here is that chart.

The current rate of 61.9% is nothing to brag about at all.  A lot of people have talked about the great resignation. That has been happening and this chart confirms that.

I know we are all in danger of getting lost in the data on this one, but the point is that Biden’s tweeted chart is not only silly given the Covid situation, but I cannot possibly see how it is true at all even if you squint your eyes and stand on your head. 

Joe shouldn’t get credit for people coming back to work after the pandemic, and he certainly didn’t create these new jobs.  More than all of that, he should at least get some of the credit for people not coming back to work at all.

Even further, he’s created a crisis in employment that is getting worse, and everyone knows it.  Trump was mercilessly berated for bragging about things that weren’t really true.  In some cases that it was a fair criticism, but Biden is taking this to a whole new level.  So, it’s all opposite-land. 

We have a crisis of confidence at the highest level of our country’s leadership.

Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris

Here is an interview Kamala gave on NPR, just days ago.  You don’t need to watch the whole thing.  It’s a bit tedious.  Just watch for about a minute and a half, starting at 8:32

Did you catch what she said?  Maybe you missed it.  If you aren’t into American politics and history, you might have.

Fortunately for me, this one is pretty easy.  Kamala Harris has got to be one of the worst politicians in America, actually.  Almost weekly, Conservative media is ablaze with something she’s said or done.  She did drop out of the presidential primary before her own state voted, because she was about to come in almost last in her own state in a primary…of other Democrats.  But I’ve chosen this one clip simply because it is the most recent, as I write this.

I don’t want to point out her style, the way she talks in a style that drips with disingenuousness, using sound bites that seem to have spent weeks in focus-groups.

Actually, in this case it’s kind of the opposite.

You see, anyone in American politics, and any citizen over 40, or a fan of American history, knows that there is one word that you cannot use as a national politician.

Yes, yes…ok, there are expletives, racial terms, and words that the woke mob will try and get you cancelled for…but I’m not talking about those words.  I mean one, standard English word that is so loaded with political meaning, so packed with career-ending dynamite, that no national politician would dare utter it.

That word is “malaise.”

Remember in part 1 of this series we read the words of Jimmy Carter’s Crisis of Confidence speech.  That address is however, forever known as his “malaise” speech.  In that talk, Carter never used the word “malaise” at all, but it was later attached to it in the collective consciousness.  This is an example of what people call the Mandela effect, an event people “remember” but that didn’t actually happen at all. Many people claim to “remember” him saying in that speech that America was “suffering from a deep malaise,” even though he never actually used that word or phrase even once. 

While many of the words of his address ring pretty true and at the time it was actually well-liked by the majority of the public, it didn’t age well.  Due to Carters previous and future mis-steps it was interpreted as Carter blaming the American people for their situation.  It sounded as if he was saying that rampant inflation, joblessness, and unobtainable gasoline weren’t the real problems, Americans focusing on those things were the problem.  Carter wouldn’t have agreed as to that being his point at all, but he wasn’t the best communicator, and he wasn’t a good President.

In the past year, Biden/Harris has increasingly been compared to the Carter administration.  There are many of the same social problems, and the administration is seen as feckless but good at assigning blame.  Biden does seem feckless.  Harris is always great at telling people they are the ones responsible.  The two of them combine to do a great Jimmy Carter impression.

So, Kamala appears on the interview and uses the one word, the word no politician in America has uttered since 1979, the word that could be avoided by using any one of numerous synonyms, and just charges through with her battle cry of malaise.

It’s artless, and gutsy, incompetent, and gauche.  It’s all Kamala, and it’s a perfect example of why we are in a crisis of confidence in our national leaders.

Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi

Here’s a recent moment from the floor of the House of Representatives.

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi was giving her speech in preparation for the commemoration of January 6th . It’s easy to think of her as being some buffoon, who provides comic relief to our overly-serious Congress.  I have been quite sure that she’s suffering from some sort of dementia for years. 

But let’s not forget that she is 3rd in the line of succession to become President.  If something should happen to our dear leader and his hand picked political genius sidekick, then she’s behind the presidential podium clacking her dentures at us all.  We’ve already talked about Kamala Harris and Joe Biden.  Well, following in succession, Nancy Pelosi is next in line.

Her moment of silence to honor our “fallen heroes” from January 6th mentions the following men:

– Brian Sicknick
– Howard Liebengood
– Jeffrey Smith
– Billy Evans

So, let’s look into what happened to these heroes that died in what our Vice President added to Pearl Harbor and 9/11, dates which are indelibly etched in the American psyche, dates which will live in infamy.

Brian Sicknick – He was a US Capitol Police officer who did respond to the events of January 6th.  He did enter the fray and was assaulted by two people.  That much is true.  However, he did not die that day.  He was not injured that day.  He died the next day of “multiple strokes.” And the medical examiner cited his death as “natural causes,” and said that the stress of the previous day could have played a part.  However, he had no internal injuries or allergic reaction from the bear spray that was being used at the time against the police.  Was he heroically protecting against people trying to do something wrong and stupid?  Yes.  Was he killed by the events of January 6th?  No.

Howard Liebengood – He was also at the Capitol on Jan 6th.  He took his own life on Jan 9th.

Jeffrey Smith – He was hit in the head during the riot of January 6th.  While it was a terrible thing, it didn’t keep him from working.  He shot himself in the head while going to work 9 days after the incident.

Billy Evans – This one is quite interesting.  William “Billy” Evans was a capitol police officer.  He was killed in the line of duty…but not at all on January 6th.  You see, in April 2021 a black nationalist named Noah Green ran him over with his car.  Noah Green was a member of the Nation of Islam, and was a proponent of a racist ideology that advocated hurting white people.  It might be easy to think that his name was just one of a number of people Nancy Pelosi thoughtlessly mentioned.  But she had honored him publicly in April after he died, and arranged for him to lie in state at the Capitol Rotunda, during which he posthumously received two Congressional Gold Medals.

In all of this, Nancy Pelosi wasn’t lying, exactly.  She was playing word games, in the same way that Bill Clinton did when he questioned the meaning of the word “is” while under oath.

In her speech on January 6th 2022, as she memorialized the events a year earier she said, “I want to acknowledge our fallen heroes of that day.”  These men are fallen heroes, and were present at the capitol on January 6th 2021.

She didn’t say that she was commemorating “our fallen heroes, who died on that day.”  But that is what you are supposed to think.  You are supposed to lay blame for the death of Billy Evans not on the Nation of Islam for vile racism, you are supposed to believe that he was murdered by Trump supporters in January, five months earlier. 

Nancy isn’t ignorant of that fact, she is very aware of her deceit (assuming she is still self-aware of anything). 

There is no way for a person to believe that she thinks that those men died in the attack on the
Capitol.  She wants to craft a narrative.  She is trying to be deceptive. 

You can play what-about-ism regarding other politicians trying to carefully craft a reality.  But you also can’t deny that anyone, from any party, who does likewise is…well…a liar.  She gets forgiven for that by fellow Democrats because she’s a Democrat.  We deserve leaders who are better than that.

By the way, there is one person who did die in the events surrounding 1/6/21.  But that person won’t be mentioned by Pelosi or any Democrat at all.  The only death that happened that day was a Trump Supporter and military veteran named Ashli Babbitt.  She was shot by a Capitol policeman as she was trying to go through a barricade.  She was also unarmed.

Was she doing something stupid and dangerous?  Probably.  I, just like every major Republican, am not advocating anything that happened on that day.  I’m not an apologist for anyone who was there, although at the time I said that something about the story didn’t seem to quite add up, and I’m often right about such things.  But, if the truth is what we all seem to know about January 6th, then those people deserve to be condemned, totally. 

But, I am pointing out the utter hypocrisy of leaders that lie about who died that day, and never mention the riots around the country that happened in the months before, riots that did end in the murder of police officers, destroyed businesses, and created billions of dollars in damage.

It is just more hypocrisy from our top leaders. It isn’t that they occasionally are guilty of the sins that they call out in others. Instead it is far deeper than that. It is that they actively are doing something that is wrong, and cover it up by loudly accusing the other side of being guilty of that thing.

I’ve paid close attention to politics for many years now, and I have always been clearly on one side of the isle, but I have noticed that in recent years whatever the Left is screaming about Republicans for doing, you can be absolutely sure that in every case, it is exactly what they themselves are doing.

All of this together shows that we clearly have a crisis of confidence in our leaders.

Crisis of Confidence

This entry is part of 2 in the seriesCrisis of Confidence
crisis of confidence header

I recently heard an interview with a top US politician (more on that later), although it wasn’t likely intentional, her words alluded to a crisis of confidence that we are dealing with as a nation.  In the coming days, you might hear more about her inartful and poorly chosen words.  Of course, knowing the media these days, there might not be much about it at all.  But there certainly should be.

That got me watching another speech from another American politician.  Below are some excerpts.  Read them, and ponder them as you read.  They affected me.  The words seemed to directly apply to America now, maybe even more than they did when they were spoken.  As I listened, I longed for them to be spoken to our country and our people.

My notes on how I’ve represented the text are here

The politician’s speech

…[Recent events] confirmed my belief in the decency and the strength and the wisdom of the American people, but it also bore out some of my longstanding concerns about our nation’s underlying problems…

… But after listening to the American people, I have been reminded again that all the legislation in the world can’t fix what’s wrong with America. So, I want to speak to you first tonight about a subject even more serious than [policy]. I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy.

I do not mean our political and civil liberties. They will endure. And I do not refer to the outward strength of America, a nation that is at peace tonight everywhere in the world, with unmatched economic power and military might.

The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways.

It is a crisis of confidence.

It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.

The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.

The confidence that we have always had as a people is not simply some romantic dream or a proverb in a dusty book that we read just on the Fourth of July. It is the idea which founded our nation and has guided our development as a people. Confidence in the future has supported everything else — public institutions and private enterprise, our own families, and the very Constitution of the United States. Confidence has defined our course and has served as a link between generations. We’ve always believed in something called progress. We’ve always had a faith that the days of our children would be better than our own.

Our people are losing that faith, not only in government itself but in the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy. As a people we know our past and we are proud of it. Our progress has been part of the living history of America, even the world. We always believed that we were part of a great movement of humanity itself called democracy, involved in the search for freedom; and that belief has always strengthened us in our purpose. But just as we are losing our confidence in the future, we are also beginning to close the door on our past.

In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.

The symptoms of this crisis of the American spirit are all around us. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next five years will be worse than the past five years. Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world.

As you know, there is a growing disrespect for government and for churches and for schools, the news media, and other institutions. This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth and it is a warning.

These changes did not happen overnight. They’ve come upon us gradually over the last generation, years that were filled with shocks and tragedy…

…Looking for a way out of this crisis, our people have turned to the Federal Government and found it isolated from the mainstream of our nation’s life. Washington, D.C., has become an island. The gap between our citizens and our government has never been so wide. The people are looking for honest answers, not easy answers; clear leadership, not false claims and evasiveness and politics as usual.

What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well-financed and powerful special interests.

You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends.

Often you see paralysis and stagnation and drift. You don’t like it, and neither do I. What can we do?

First of all, we must face the truth, and then we can change our course. We simply must have faith in each other, faith in our ability to govern ourselves, and faith in the future of this nation. Restoring that faith and that confidence to America is now the most important task we face. It is a true challenge of this generation of Americans.

One of the [people that I recently spoke to put it this way], “We’ve got to stop crying and start sweating, stop talking and start walking, stop cursing and start praying. The strength we need will not come from the White House, but from every house in America.”

We know the strength of America. We are strong. We can regain our unity. We can regain our confidence. We are the heirs of generations who survived threats much more powerful and awesome than those that challenge us now. Our [ancestors] were strong men and women who shaped a new society during the Great Depression, who fought world wars and who carved out a new charter of peace for the world.

We ourselves are the same Americans who…put a man on the moon. We are the generation that dedicated our society to the pursuit of human rights and equality. And we are the generation that will…rebuild the unity and confidence of America.

We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I’ve warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.

All the traditions of our past, all the lessons of our heritage, all the promises of our future point to another path — the path of common purpose and the restoration of American values. That path leads to true freedom for our nation and ourselves. We can take the first steps down that path as we begin to solve our energy problem…

…Little by little we can and we must rebuild our confidence. We can spend until we empty our treasuries, and we may summon all the wonders of science. But we can succeed only if we tap our greatest resources — America’s people, America’s values, and America’s confidence.

I have seen the strength of America in the inexhaustible resources of our people. In the days to come, let us renew that strength in the struggle for an energy-secure nation.

In closing, let me say this: I will do my best, but I will not do it alone. Let your voice be heard. Whenever you have a chance, say something good about our country. With God’s help and for the sake of our nation, it is time for us to join hands in America. Let us commit ourselves together to a rebirth of the American spirit. Working together with our common faith we cannot fail.

Thank you and good night.

This forms the bulks of a very famous speech given by an American President, although not for the reasons you might think.  You’ve likely never really heard this speech in its entirety, just as I hadn’t.  I have seen small excerpts.  You likely have too, or at least possibly heard this speech referenced.

OK, OK…I’ll tell you who gave it and when.  Scroll down for the reveal.

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The speech was given by former President Jimmy Carter on July 15th, 1979.  He gave it live on American TV from the oval office.  It’s formal name is “A Crisis of Confidence,” but you might know it by its better-known nickname.  It’s commonly called “the malaise speech.”  You can watch the whole, 33 minute address here. Oddly enough, Carter did not use the word “malaise” anywhere in the speech at all.  Not one time.

But the reality was that Carter was just not a strong president, and he was dealing with bigger crises than many presidents could successfully face.  In the election of 1980 (a year and 9+ months later) he was destroyed by Reagan’s landslide victory.  He should have been.

In the biggest section that I cut out, Carter talks about some policy decisions for cutting our dependance on foreign oil quite decisively, growing our own energy production, and developing solar energy capabilities.  All of this seems to make a lot of sense for the times.  He also talks about turning the thermostat down at home and patriotically parking your car an extra day of the week.  That doesn’t sound like a strong leader at all.

But, the bulk of the speech was what Americans needed to hear, and I think it’s what we need to hear now.

At the climax, he says,

“Little by little we can and we must rebuild our confidence. We can spend until we empty our treasuries, and we may summon all the wonders of science. But we can succeed only if we tap our greatest resources — America’s people, America’s values, and America’s confidence.”

I wanted to stand up and applaud.  These days we won’t spend our way out of the Covid crisis, rampant inflation (that’s a big part of how we got here anyway), racial strife, huge percentages of Americans who just don’t want to go to work anymore, or any of our other giant problems.

Modern science has given us things like Covid vaccines, fleets of electric cars and trucks, and private space ships.  But our problem isn’t really energy, inflation, climate change, or a world-wide pandemic.  Yes, those are problems for sure, and they aren’t small ones at that.

But the real problems we face are 3-fold, as I see it. 

1- A Crisis of Confidence in Our Leaders

We have a country that many of our people no longer even really like, and leaders that are not representative of the best among us at all.  Most Americans see our main institutions as both dishonest and not respectable.  And we have a political system that seems to not be able to even recognize that it is severely out-of-step with most Americans.

2- A Crisis of Confidence in Our Faith

We have a crisis of faith, whereby we have turned our collective backs on the spiritual foundations that led to us being a great people. 

3- A Crisis of Confidence in Our History

We have forgotten and rewritten our history as a nation.  Turning our backs on the principles, people, and structures that created the societal glue that held us together, and teaching our children lessons that are not honest about our collective history has turned us into a collection of tribes.  These tribes don’t even see themselves as one nation, they see their tribes as a nation, and others outside of their group as hostile foreigners.

I’ve written recently about how I expect this year to be a challenging one for people all over the world, and Americans particularly. I believe strongly that solving these three challenges facing our country will be key to us overcoming a difficult time.

Over the next few posts, I’ll deal with these three points directly.  We’ll see how these areas need to be changed in order for us to return to a healthy country.  Unfortunately, if we do not set about fixing these 3 things, there are two directions that are possible for our nation, and I see these as a complete inevitability.  We will either break up into smaller nations or worse, we will redefine America into something that is very different and opposite in many ways from what made us a successful country.

But, there is also great hope.  If we, in the words of Carter, start walking, sweating, and praying, then we can tackle these problems.  We can emerge triumphant, and return to that place as a great, shining city on a hill that the nations of the world saw as a beacon of freedom.

For the quoted section

I have removed parts that applied specifically to the situation of that day, and some that alluded to current events of that time, as well as sections in the beginning that don’t flow as well to the reader.  I’ve also removed anything that indicates who is directly giving the speech.   I don’t want the reader to get any preconception of what to think based on a sense of who is speaking.  I’ve added or replaced words at times where it wouldn’t make sense otherwise. 

I have always put those inside brackets [].  I’ve put ellipses … in places where I’ve removed something. 

There is one main section I’ve deleted that talks specifically about proposed policy, and I’ve talked about that after the quoted section.  Other than that, I’ve tried to copy and paste with no other editing.

Here’s the full text of the address.