Friday, August 31, 2007

Bush's Solution for every economic malfunction: cut taxes. Dean Baker at 'Beat the Press' does a fine job demonstrating that the Shrub's plan to help Americans suffering from the foreclosure epidemic is not only empty symbolism, but stupidity. Of course, the wealthy who over-extended themselves in real estate speculations will benefit the most. Another classic case of the OverClass's assault on the American Dream - that every citizen can 'build a home where the buffalo roam' - is now getting to be just that.....

Glad that College Football Season is commencing, this Saturday! It should be a civic Holy Day. The NFL does not quite have the 'soul' as football does at the University level; anymore I could care less who gets to the Super Bowl come next February.....

"My Country, Right or Wrong - still my Country." I'm down with that and always have been. Yet Americans generally lack the ability or desire to look into the mirror - especially those who they elect to public office(s). When any citizen takes issue with the detrimental general behavior of their fellow Americans, the imperial hubris of foreign and defense policy craftsmen, the NeoCon lobby always screams that such an analytical citizen is some American-hating Leftist, a 'Fifth Columnist'(?), or some other label. If Americans forget that they are all-too-human like anyone else, how can we ever know when our Country is in the right direction??.....

'What is Above, is Below' - This is another thing that Europe still in part retains whilst Americans have lost the concept of, or never really had - the duality of the macrocosm/microcosm. My fellow Yanks scratch their heads when the totality of Being is discussed;instead we Americans have a worldview of have and do, and think that having and doing something is segregated from the so-called 'great chain of Being'. This is why post WW2 Existentialism never caught on much on this side of the Pond except in academic or bohemian circles; for allegedly being so 'modern', Existentialism is broadly a continuation of the old medieval macrocosm/microcosm interaction, though with heavier emphasis on the micro- individual's role in this. We are supposed to be such individualists here in the USofA, yet we lack the spiritual essence within existence , and often dismiss any heady discussions of Being as gobbly-goop - we got the wrong verbs as guidance, that's why.Finger-pointing? Yup, a man named John Locke - America's 18th Century Enlightenment patron philosopher - for starters...

Spenglerian 'second-religiousness' doesn't apply to spirituality: religion is often divorced from spirit and often have no correlation. If/when we go down the commode, it will be because the spirituality of the macro/microcosm is out of whack, regardless of how many Americans attend church on Sunday to beat the Bible and make some lazy-assed shyster preacher or priest, well-to-do. A total atheist is often more spiritual than your token orthodox true-believer and less susceptible to experience what we in the US has, from Top to Bottom, spiritual death. Even if every American fills the church pews come Sunday morning, it shan't make a bit of difference and hold back the Fall of our own creation(?).....

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Was going to do a sarcastic piece on Larry Craig and the Party of *Family Values*(GOP) but anyone can read about it anywhere else, and the writer will probably do a better job of it....

This is to inform any reader that for the time being, posting here will be less frequent. I am in the abyss of redundancy and it is getting difficult to spin any post regarding Free Trade, Protectionism, etc., where I do not wax like some Dittohead merely repeating what His Fat Hypocriteness, Rush Limbaugh( I know.. Mikey Moore is fatter and he recently did a health-care movie.Not seeing it.),spews out daily - which are the same things he said the day before, and before, and before....

Not that Left-Federalist has thrown in the towel, and I'll probably utilize this blog space for unrelated topics; I'm just as earnest on the core issues discussed here as ever. I've not hit a block, but a broken record, and it's time to turn it off for a bit. Unlike Limbaugh, I'm not getting paid to be repetitious, and other things require my attention in this thing called existence......

Friday, August 24, 2007

Another thing that has contributed to the demise of American Working Class culture is that no longer is Joe Six Pack paid for his blood, sweat and tears, weekly. 'TGIF' used to have more significance in that the Blue Collar guy could look forward to getting his wages - now he usually has to wait biweekly for them, and like myself, he is oft not paid on a Friday. Who killed Friday PayDays? I have this theory that a long time ago in a drone mill or factory in Anytown, USA, some lazy accountant who was swapping spit with the Boss convinced him that if payroll was done only twice a month, their beautiful special relationship would only get better. Hence, the meme was passed down to all the lazy personnel in payroll at companies everywhere and it has become adopted, almost everywhere.

It's bad enough that the corporate overclass has to bust up unions, buy off politicians for passage of *Right to (screw) Work(ers)* laws - they then attacked the general morale of the workin' stiff by taking away the joy of all Fridays. Feature that many people do not earn enough to properly budget(what's that?) their earnings in the first place, and this biweekly business throws another wrench into it. And whoever came up with the idea of 'rotating shifts' - that messes up an employee's biological clock - needs to be tarred&feathered, beat with in an inch of his life, then shipped off in a cargo hold full of big rats and presented to trial at the Hague for crimes against humanity.......

[Also I have this other conspiracy theory about something else: shyster divorce lawyers at some conference in the 1990's were lamenting that since more normal heterosexual couples have opted to just shack-up instead of going through the traditional ritual of pair-bonding - they decided to push this Gay Marriage bit to drum up more business . Given that infidelity is the #1 cause of marital breakups, and male homosexuals are the most promiscuous out of all genders of sexual orientations - divorce lawyers could then clean-up at court. What a bloody racket!]
Spiegel Online has a cooing article regarding Ukraine's economic 'boom' and between the lines said article insinutes that said GNP growth is because of laissez-faire policies - "politics is politics, business is business". Certainly the Free Market Bolsheviks at the Cato Institute have picked up on this info and are strutting about with chub-ons. Well, a time will come shortly that they will need Viagra to maintain them: Ukraine still has its old industrial base which as we know, hard- industry is the key for economic growth and without some form of dirgist public planning, booms will ultimately go bust. Ukraine also has a growing service sector which is anthema to industry and sets out to rob the labor force;if some checks are not put on said service sector, and if Ukraine does not protect its industrial base, watch them slide into Americanization. That Ukraine also has a growing speculative force should be reason for Kiev to have yellow lights flashing now. Plus, the Spiegel article lauds the growing consumerism of Ukrainians. Really now, the last thing that a growing national-economy needs is to adopt the USA's Consumer Cult! Ukrainians should be saving instead of spending on Mickey Mouse gadgets. Yeah, I know that they were deprived of their toys under the horrible, central-planned Leninist State economy of the USSR, but going full-throttle in the other direction is not the answer. Look what happened to us Yankees here, Ukrainians, and learn: autocratic State Socialism isn't the answer, and neither is the neofeudalism of globalist laissez-faire.....

Morris Berman loves to point out how the materialist, hedonistic Consumer Cult has robbed Americans of their soul, yet he omits the role that his side has played in this. Though I don't think that Berman is a cultural-Bolshevik himself, he is a man of the Left, and the Frankfurt School import here was anything but good in post-WW2, USA. But Berman is on par that America as the beacon of liberty was from its inception based on negative freedom: we held liberty as against something else instead of for. But Berman's criticisms of America does not have the hue of his Leftist counter-parts like Howard Zinn and Michael -'let's not pick on Stalin'-Parenti( as I'd love to time-warp Holocaust Deniers to Auschwitz, circa 1944, same applies to Gulag Deniers like Parenti - a logging camp on 600 calories per day in 1930s Arctic Siberia would do him nicely.) and he acknowledges that America was once a good idea and the Federalists of the Early Republic were the real Menschen of classical-republican virtue and retained that benevolent aristocratic meme of organic Europa melded to said 'small-r' republicanism. Berman rightfully blames the Jeffersonians for mucking all of this up, when usually Lefties coo over the Jacobin world-view of TJ. Neither does Berman champion the meme of full-fledged participatory democracy, and he grasps in his own wording what is needed in a healthy society of a nation is a harmony of interests between the Few and the Many - not leveling from either/or. The Few have leveled the USA by hyper individualism in the name of laissez-faire. But a negative harmony does exist : the Many keep voting these cruds in to rule them, or they don't even care to go to the ballot box to do so. The excuse that there is a case of no real alternative, and why should the Commons even bother to vote, rings hollow. Many times in American election history we have had third parties on the ballot that was an alternative to the Demo-Repub duopoly, but few have ever made more than a sharp splash with the voting population. For instance, in 2000 we had alternatives both on the Left and Right(Nader/Buchanan) to Gore and the Shrub - two that few were enthusiastic about and they were roughly the same species - but how many voted for either two of the named alternatives? The excuse that voting for a third party candidate is "wasting your vote" is stupid( as if voting for some corrupt dummkopf that a voter doesn't like isn't wasting a ballot). This is exactly what the Demo-publican party-power structure wants the voter to think, and it works, apparently.
Notice how Americans with their cult of individualism are actually herd-like within it: they all indulge their consumerist hedonism based on what their neighbor has, or what some cool&trendy celebrities and other aspiring criminals are doing and wearing. For instance, this current tattoo craze originates from that one of the Beautiful People, somewhere, decided to get a Tat one night when drunk, and then subsequently the Sheep were standing in line at the Tattoo Parlor, bleating to get their wool adorned with, (cough) body art.

Many other examples exist on how conformist and collectivist Americans truly are despite their 'rugged individualism', and they have the individualism/communitarian dichotomy in all the wrong places, flip-flopped back asswards.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Time to be Thankful

Barak Obama has been showing that he can be John Wayne,too(reference to his comments on Pakistan,etc.). Imagine him and Duncan Hunter getting together and playing Cowboys & Indians in elementary school....this demonstrates that the Democratic Party is the one of *Empire, Lite* and will not change too much the current foreign policy shenanigans of neoimperialism, and neither will they check the power of the 1% OverClass despite their occasional rhetoric to the contrary. Feature that the *National Security State* was created under a Democratic Administration(Truman) in the first place, as Chomsky points out in his lectures. The Dems lone candidate actively endorsing America's full pull-back from Empire and return to the social-market edifice of the New Deal is Dennis Kucinich; if the Midget gets more than 5% of the vote in the upcoming Iowa Caucus - it will be proof that God indeed does exist. He's a joke within the Democratic Party and doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell. The GOP's authentic maverick and anti-imperialist, Ron Paul, doesn't either. This is a grim reality that we will probably be looking at President ClintonII in '08, or another *compassionate conservative* like that idiot Morman, Mitt Romney. Start waving bye-bye to the Republic then - because it will be then beyond a doubt - finito . It may have already fled the nest, and we know who is to blame. The sad situation is that most of the American citizenry doesn't give a shit just as long as they have their toys and gadgets, satellite TV with 500 channels of kitsch on it and that there is always low prices at Wal-Mart( yes, it IS this bad); women can qualify for liposuction/cosmetic surgery on their health insurance and the drive-thru is open 24/7 at McDonalds; Johnny can have his Ritalin and there is another sports arena built in their local city for more Bread n' Circuses entertainment - 'A Republic?? I don' care!'

Thank you very much, my fellow Americans, and to the bastards&bitches that you elect as public officials to run the country into the ground(those of you who do vote) -

"...thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams."

- William S. Burroughs, A Thanksgiving Prayer

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bretton Woods& Berman

Dean Baker has a nice snippet at 'Beat the Press' about 'Wall Street Welfare Queens' - you get 'em Dean!

Alas, the subject of this post pertains to the current book that I am reading, Dark Ages America. I've read a few other texts by the author before(good ones) and I possess a sense of loyalty to authors that I like. Initially, I was not all that keen on reading Dark Ages given that I am already pessimistic enough about the fate of America, but I do have a hunch that the window is open enough that things can be turned around with the right people conducting the orchestra. Also, one review of Morris Berman's latest book proclaimed that Jimmy Carter is the hero of it, and that kind of put me off - I never could abide Carter much(though Jimma' deserves two thumbs-up for his dedication to Habitat for Humanity, which is also my pet charity.). I waited until the local Uni library had a copy available, and now so I read it.

Morris Berman presents the similar theme with his current one that was in his previous, Twilight of American Culture. Now, he states that the sky is not only foreboding, it is already hailing & raining on us but we do not know it fully as yet. Berman is Spenglerian without ever mentioning Spengler in Dark Ages and he states unequivocally that TINA is the reality, though Berman's TINA has a strong case of STD's - he doesn't like the whore and is not a protagonist, willing Trick for her.

The focal point of this post will be his economic comments of Berman's book, and I found some of them spot-on, though he leaves out some essentials that should had been addressed for his arguments. Namely, Berman regards the demise of Bretton Woods as the epicenter of the end of the USA's economic hegemony which is but partially true. Berman believes that Bretton Woods was the 'check' on globalist laissez-faire and he looks upon economics as a sociologist/cultural historian that he is( we need more economists with this panache). Rightfully he remarks in said text that the post- Bretton Woods era opened the door wide open for this globalist catastrophe that we are witnessing now;the floating-exchange rate of currencies is a predator-speculator's dream come true, and there have been no authentic checks on the ebb&flow of international capital as it was in the post WW2 Era because of said Bretton Woods Agreement.

Morris Berman, like other protagonists for BWA, ignores why the edifice collapsed. Instead, he merely states "...for whatever reason...". This is rather odd given that he is usually a well-endowed researcher, and one would think that if someone felt that Bretton Woods was the Thing, that they'd want to know why, and inform their reader. I covered the *WHY* in previous post, 'Nixon Shock, Revisited', and I'll not rehash it much here. A few months ago, I visited Berman's blog and posted in brief some of these factoids about the collapse of BWA, but he never responded(Berman seems to only reply to commentators who claim to be fellow educators and Ph.D's....I won't call him a snob, but question marks are there.) to it. He should had read George Greider's, Secrets of the Temple, before he wrote on the subject, but that is neither here now there.

Berman's hero of Bretton Woods is the British delegate at the conference in 1944, John Maynard Keynes. Yet, Keynes was not at all onboard on all the final accords reached there - BWA was essentially that of Harry Dexter White who was not a 'Keynesian'. True enough, Keynes does deserve accolades. One of the most major misconceptions about Keynes is that he was a socialist - far from it. He was a capitalist who wanted to put a 'human face' to it and he himself got immensely rich with sound investments in stock( it's ironic that most professional economists often loose their ass in their own personal speculations). Another Keynesian myth is that the current status qua of deficit-spending with gargantuan debt is all based on his plan - Keynes only sanctioned deficit spending as a temporary measure during severe economic downturns as remedy instead of raising taxes;Keynesian prescriptions during 'good years' called for balanced-budgets, federal restrictions on spending, national debt reduction and the necessary tax hikes to reach these ends - basic common sense. JMK met an untimely death in 1946 because Vienna School predator, Friedrich August von Hayek's magnum opus,The Road to Serfdom, was actually a declaration of war on Keynesian economics and Keynes was up to meeting the challenge. If he would had lived longer, Keynes would had undoubtedly cleaned the clocks of the minions of the Mont Pelerin Society (Wilhelm Roepke, excepted.Roepke was closer to Keynes than he was to his neoclassical colleagues in said MPS;Roepke is the genius who found the synthesis of neoliberalism &neosocialism, some say). The Vienna School would had been discredited and laissez-faire would had remained deader than fried chicken as it was by 1945 - ass-up-end into the dustbin of economic history where it belongs.

Morris Berman, a Leftist and Red Diaper Baby, waxes like a fiscal conservative in his narrative, and correctly identifies LBJ's costly Vietnam War and Great Society(yes! a lefty critic of of Johnson's spend-thrift, Guns n' Butter,pipedream to end poverty!) for the inflationary spikes that led us up to August 15, 1971. However, the author omits Kennedy's role in this morass: JFK began the policy of deficit-spending within productive economic times and he also cut taxes for the wealthy Overclass - a prelude to Reagan twenty years later. The Kennedy-Johnson Administrations were the main culprits in the Bretton Woods debacle, and all of this was thrusted into Nixon's lap.

The author sighs over Bretton Woods's collapse, but unlike other partisans of it like Ravi Batra and James Tobin, he doesn't believe that it can be re-instated. Berman also demonstrates that branches of the BWA such as the IMF and World Bank has become the antithesis, the alter ego of its original benevolence. They are now the Enemy after the laissez-fairists have taken them over and now their program is to install cosmopolitan corporate feudalism(or fascism?) all over the Blue Dot, and they're making a fine job of it.

The year Nineteen-hundred-seventy-three, being held as the epicenter of the end of America's hegemony internationally( a horrible, shitty year indeed; nothing good came out of '73.Nihil.), plus the omega of the USA's 'human-face capitalism', the Dark Ages America directly lends acquiesce to this. Nixon did try to re-set the Dollar at a fixed-rate as before, but no international consensus could be reached to restart Bretton, thus the 'floating-exchange ' rates of currencies was officially adopted, which has become a predator-speculator's nirvana. De-industrialization in the USA took off with a passion, real wages have plummeted and have not moved of any significance since 1968( to get the real wages to '68 levels, our current federal Minimum Wage law would have to be set at $8.08 per hour. Scandalous!), and inflation has literally ate us alive since them. But Berman and others must know that Bretton Woods should not have been set up as a permanent international order, and the real cause of America's economic demise was lack of protection. I can't write this enough.

Here's a harebrained idea where internationalist BWA nostalgics and tariff protectionists such as myself,perhaps all can reach an accord to turn-back the globalist monster, beat-it down and have a pseudo-cosmopolitan economic order as well: given that Bretton Woods was primarily oriented for economic recovery of Europe and to avoid pitfalls of laissez-faire, why doesn't the powers-that-be in DC say to Brussels - "hey, it's your turn." ? In this here simplified form, all participants agree that the Euro should be the reigning fixed-rate reserve currency backed by a species of gold from reserves from all said participating nations. Convertibility of Euros to gold are conditional on majority vote and with limits on the transfer of gold reserves from one nation to another. The US Dollar remains constitutionally sovereign but stabilized in this format. Tariff rates(yes) will be assessed based on the current fixed-rate of the Euro compared to the value of the Dollar. In short, this is a reverse- Bretton Woods with many of the holes of the BWA plugged. Nations will be allowed to unilaterally raise and lower their own tariff-rates to rectify their own trade imbalances or for policies that require internal improvements or their vital industries that are getting hit with inordinate foreign competition. Both the fixed-rate reserve currency and tariffs will cover one another in this sequence. As for the IMF and World Bank and WTO - to the graveyard they will go.

Maybe this plan has glaring caverns in it as well, but it is worth a try to tweak and should be satisfactory to both economic-nationalists and those who are hung-up on international stability of a consensus. Berman's declaration of an impeding dark age may be halted economically.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Don't Heart Huckabee(s)

Anyone wonder which GOP Presidential campaign that Karl Rove will try to latch himself to? Anytime that a public official proclaims his/her resignation to "spend more time with my family" one should know enough by now that this is a code-phrase meaning that he/she wants another job. These politicos would probably end up killing their families if they spent time with them anyway. Rove will write his book but keep his name out in the meantime. If there are no takers for his services with the GOP hopefuls, there are plenty of lobbyists that would hire him.......

Our current system of electing a President is sick. Sick! Sound-bites, one-liners, are what matters instead of serious discourses on issues and above all a candidate needs the endorsement of the One True God of the United States - Mammon. Though the Primary system was originally intended to have more democracy in the selection of Presidential candidates, it has become perverted and has degenerated into a funding sweepstakes. Besides, the rank and file of voters usually stay at home during the Primaries. Give me back the smoke-filled convention hall, or at least have a one-day National Primary in late summer, or a run-off, in an election year......

According to an article at American Prospect, the Religious Right are finding their Anointed One in Mike Huckabee - a charismatic Southern Baptist who also belongs to the Amen Lobby; the AL believes that the foreign policy of the USA should be merged with that of Tel Aviv. I would think that the Israelis themselves should be reticent in taking such praise and devotion from this group of Fundy bipeds: if it wasn't for their 'Rapture'/Armageddon mythology, these are the same people who'd be charging the Jewish people as 'Christ-Killers', and would had been cheerleaders for pogroms at ghetto gates back in the Old County in another time.As Michael Lind pointed out in his 'Up from Conservatism', Christian Zionists such as Pat Robertson have a strong dose of Anti-Semitism and Reverend Pat himself believes firmly in the Jewish Banker/Freemason/Illuminati (?)conspiracy......(I guess that includes 33rd Degree Mason, George Washington, Pat??) The Religious Right have nothing in common with the traditional non-aligned foreign policy of the United States and they're also for the most part have the economic and trade line of The Wall Street Journal (now owned by the globalist-predator &Free Market Bolshevik - Rupert Murdoch).....

Notice that even the Black churches are getting in on the *Prosperity Gospel* act when previously American Black churches had been a bedrock of Liberal Christianity and the Social Gospel(that is more in tune with the message of the New Testament that I've read). Jesus not only wants you with him in Heaven - he wants His Sheep with a BMW parked inside a three car garage in a overpriced home in the suburbs too. Jesus at the Second Coming wants to Rapture the faithful that have Rolex watches on their wrists, with sound Stock investment portfolios. This is nothing but a recycle of old Calvinism and Elmer Gantries in three-piece suits. Naturally, the Reverends want a rich flock to fleece because it will mean more tithes & offerings for them - so they can live affluent without having to do any work for it. These preachers touting the Prosperity Gospel heresy are nothing but parasites, regardless of their racial classification......

Am currently working on the pages of Morris Berman's,Dark Ages America, where the cultural historian takes a Spenglerian hue and proclaims we are are done for here, and he washes his hands. I do think that he is being unduly defeatist, but the message of the text is grim and compelling. Berman rightly assigns the blame for America's demise when we had transformed ourselves into a National Security State and simultaneously pushed globalist laissez-faire as essential ingredients of Pax Americana. American exceptionalism is filled with contradiction: the first nation to wipe-out the institution of titled-nobility(good), but forfeited the old organic noblesse oblique in the process, which was the benevolence of European aristocracy. That we are from birth a bourgeoisie country that didn't endure feudalism has come back to bite us on the ass, according to Berman. The author, a Leftist, did mention that the Federalists of the 1790s came close to finding the synthesis between collectivism and individualism but the pre- McCarthyite demagoguery of Jefferson's Republicans kept it from forming because anything slightly resembling the governance, social aspects and financial apparatus of old Europa was regarded as 'monarchist'.....too early for a long book review yet, and I don't know if I'll do a complete one on Dark Ages America....

Friday, August 17, 2007

Two for Adams

John Adams was not the successful administrator that Washington and Jefferson was;he was quite the absentee President and when he was in the capital attending to business, he would more times than not focus his energy in the wrong direction.

Many historians blame Hamilton for the demise of the Federalists and for Adams's re-election loss in 1800, but the biggest portion of the Federalist Party's downfall rests in the person of John Adams himself: he was the one who gave the Republicans the red meat that they wanted by pushing the Alien& Sedition Acts that was designed to punish Republican yellow-journalists who would often engage in personal attacks on Adams himself. The vindictiveness of JA's character is paramount here. Hamilton himself thought that the Alien&Sedition Acts was going too far - and he had endured more abuse from the Republican hacks than Adams ever had thought about. The mere proposal of these Acts were political suicide especially after Adams had broke the back of the Jacobin tendency of the Republicans in the 'XYZ Affair', and his re-election was a gimme. All that A&S did was to give the Republicans new life - something that both Jefferson and Hamilton realized.

Even without Hamilton's party- pamphlet circular attacking Adams as having an unstable personality (which the Republicans got hold of and published with glee) and unfit for the office of Presidency,John Adams would had lost in 1800 because of the Alien&Sedition Acts. True enough, I think it was partially a case of sour grapes with Hamilton since Adams had 86'd his last chance of military glory that he always craved, but the essence of said pamphlet also rang true: Adams was not up for the task of Chief Executive and Hamilton was hardly the first who realized that Adams was more than a bit neurotic. Adams's cantankerous, spiteful, and argumentative side of his persona was well known from his days in the Continental Congress in the 1770s; Benjamin Franklin realized that Adams was brilliant, but he "often left his senses" when political debate and discourses were engaged. The stories of Adams's temper-tantrums were reported by not a few, and one has the image of Hitler's conduct in the Der Bunker to compare with President Adams's behavior. The "right men for the job" was the one that preceded him, and the one who followed Adams into the executive office in 1800.

But let's give Adams some respect - he was a victim of circumstance. The fact of the matter is that there was no man in the Early Republic who could had been a good 2nd President of the United States. Jefferson in 1796 would had been a poor and even dangerous selection - he was still in his Jacobin phase - as he was the best one four years later. Hamilton would had not been a good choice in 1796 or at anytime(AH's talents were being an aide-de-camp, or an unofficial prime minister to a Chief Executive, and he was too controversial and divisive anyway). The 2nd President had to be always in Washington's shadow, and a more kinder and gentler man in Adams's place would had also been deemed a failure. John Adams, in a sense, took another proverbial bullet for the Team by even allowing himself to be elected President in '96 though he proved himself to be unfit for the Office.

John Adams retired to his farm in Braintree and lived another twenty-six years after he left the Presidency, writing his thoughts in a journal and later on reviving his friendship with Jefferson via a famed correspondence and he lived to see his son, John Quincy, elected President. Unlike most spawn from brilliant people, John Quincy Adams was more than a chip off the old man's block - Adams II was a certified genius, a wunderkind. But like his dad, JQA was a one-term President and not a successful one.

Though John Adams may rightly deserve an 'F' rating as President, few worked harder for the American Cause in the Revolution than he did, and he shall always be in the pantheon of the Founders. He had a keen legalistic mind and was a intuitive political scientist. Adams is the poster Founder of conservative thinkers like Russell Kirk, but I think that this is not a good judgment of John Adams: unlike Kirk, Adams was not an Anglophile; Adams had a distaste and fear of mobocracy, but being a New Englander with it's tradition of townhall democracy, Adams was and couldn't be undemocratic per se, even with a few Tory trappings here and there(Russell Kirk and his disciples should had moved to their beloved Great Britain and became genuine-article High Tories like Kirk's slobbering Anglophile hero, TS Eliot, did. I never fully understood why American conservatives thought that Russell Kirk was the Thing).

Adams was an astute Thinker and a leader among men - until he reached the Alpha political office, and the Presidency requires true Alphas. Adams came up more than a bit short, and it is a pity.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

One on Adams

Anytime I think of the second President of the United States, an embittered elderly gent lingering over his desk with ink and paper comes to mind - a taciturn New Englander who felt that his place in history was robbed, and he aimed to set the record straight according to his take on it...

John Adams is the Rodney Dangerfield of the Founders. Him being one of the 'old men' of the Spirit of 1776, he shared with Jefferson the notion that said spirit's carpet was pulled from underneath them by popinjays and parvenus and lesser men, and some Manichean conspiracy lurked beneath it. Adams was there at the Continental Congress and he was the one who stood up and endorsed George Washington to lead the Revolutionary Army; he tidied up the work in France for their recognition of America and later had to deal with insults and ostracism being the 1st American Ambassador to Great Britain. It was Adams who prodded the shy and semi-reclusive Thomas Jefferson to pen The Declaration of Independence. The thanks that he got for this was minimal, he believed, so forever walked about with a chip on his Yankee shoulder and nursed both his public and private grudges to his dying day.

John Adams took another one for the team by following George Washington into the office of the Presidency in 1797;anyone in succession of Washington would be under the gun to meet a certain criteria that no one at the time could surmount. The contrasts of the Adams Inagural were striking: here was outgoing Washington, hirsute, tall, regal looking, standing next to the short and rotund John Adams, who was bug-eyed and chrome-dome bald. Washington was a true Alpha Male who could command respect of his peers by merely entering the room - whilst Adams had to shout and argue to gain respect, but no cigar. John Adams was a legal scholar with all the classical education to go with it while Washington's schooling was minimal(like many of the Presidents of the Early and Middle Republic, George was primarily self-taught); Adams was a stickler for academia and felt that Washington's mind was not a good one because he never attended the Big Three Unis of America - he had a case of educational snobbery and thought he was being dwarfed by cerebral dilletantes.

Adams was the first middle-class President and had all the stereotypical frugal Yankee virtues in tow. He did not gel with the patrician plantation class, and couldn't abide their land speculative ways based on the institution of slavery. He also did not like or understand the nouveau riches of the big cities like Phili and ,and had a deep case of xenophobia. This is partially what binded him to Jefferson: though Adams was nominally a Federalist and often accussed of being a monarchist, he had much more in common with the Republicans of his day, for irony. He didn't understand the Hamiltonian financial system and generally loathed the idea of having a standing peacetime Army(though Adams was always a big booster for the Navy). Adams loathed the Jacobin tendency of the 1790s Republicans and their "womanish attachment to France" but he possessed no love for the British Empire or the Hanoverian Dynasty ( Ambassador Adams never forgot the insult of George III's turning his back on him at their initial meeting) that ruled it. Adams was objective enough to admit that there was benevolence in the British constitution, but he had always a profound hatred of titled nobility and was bigger than Ben Franklin on meritocracy. 'Adams the monarchist' is quite laughable - though he would at times direct a 'monocrat' hue in his Administration.

For all of Adams' crucial hard work directing the Revolutionary cause, when he reached the plateau of Chief Executive, immediately President Adams displayed lack of leadership. His hatred of Alexander Hamilton began full-flower in 1797, yet he kept AH's allies in his Cabinet and always complained about it when he could had just as easily dismissed them. Adams's conduct in Cabinet meetings was part court-room melodrama and partially a circus: John Adams loved to argue often for the sake alone and would occasionally play the role of gadfly just to hone his debating skills. Yet, said skills were not that fine-tuned because he would often get angry and throw temper-tantrums( some reports have Adams kicking his wig across the floor, and even throwing it at one of his ministers). The provincial Adams hated the big city of Philadelpia(then the US capital) and would spend long furloughs away - sometimes at seven months at a time - in his native Braintree, Massachusetts. Then Adams would play the martyr and complain that his government was out of control and that they would not listen to him! Of course, he blamed 'Hamilton's junto' for this, when John Adams was the one man with the duty to direct hands-on administration.

Many historians point to Adams's animosity toward AH from the election of 1796 when Hamilton behind the scenes tried to get Pinckney into the top spot, but there is a longer history to this: John Adams was devoted to his wife, Abigal, and to put it in modern day jargon, John Adams was quite 'pussy-whipped' - Abigal wore the pants. Abigal's personal and political opinions counted most with hubby John, and Abigal was usually prime influence on who John liked, and who John hated. Mrs. Adams took an instant dislike to AH, but she was always gaga on Jefferson. Out of all the public percieved 'meddlesome' First Ladies in US Presidential history - Eleanor Roosevelt, Edith Wilson, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton - they could not hold a candle to Abigal Adams. This, compounded with Adams at the thankless and worthless job of Vice-President in the Washington Administration - where Hamilton had the most influence - Adams had a long- seated grudge and jealousy of AH before '96 who he regarded as a "foreigner...a bastard son of a Scotch peddlar".

President Adams's one shining moment could had been his handling of the 'XYZ Affair' (where France demanded a heavy ransom and other humilating tributes to conclude a new peace treaty with the United States). When the pro-French Republicans in Congress demanded to see the communique of the said 'XYZ' documents, them thinking that Adams was holding back on the "generous and friendly French', he called their bluff and did just that. The revelations shocked the nation and thus ended America's love-affair with France until 1917, and the US prepared for war against their one-time ally, and rallied around their President...

President Adams let his new popularity go to his head and began strutting around Philadelphia in a military uniform( something that was probably quite humorous to behold since Adams had the most un-military like physique and bearing)making patriotic speeches. For national unity purposes, he requested that George Washington form and lead the Army against what seemed an inevitable French invasion. Washington accepted, yet he tossed a big wrench in Generalissimo John's plan: George would only be the de facto head of the Army only from the capital or Mount Vernon in administrative capacity, and only if John Adams appointed Alexander Hamilton to Major General to do all the tasks that was needed to form, organize, and lead the Army on the battlefield. After contending with 'Hamilton's Junto' in his Cabinet, one could quite imagine Adams throwing his wig when he read Washington's condition. Now, Alex himself was back in public life, and head of the Army to boot, and once again overshadowing Adams.

John Adams grudgingly complied with Washington's demand, undoubtedly feeling helpless in the situation, yet began complaining that Hamilton was "another Bonaparte" set to usurp power for himself. President Adams as CIC was in the legal capacity to say 'no' if he truly believed the Caesarian ambitions of Hamilton, and he displayed his weakness paramountly here. Now, the War Hawk Adams began his transition to Dove and throughout '98 and '99 did his best to slow down the forming of the Army through delaying funds, denying Major General Hamilton's requests, and being purposely standoffish. Washington's death in late 1799 undoubtedly had Adams sighing in relief. Hamilton without his chief patron was now open season and Adams immediately sent another peace mission to Paris to conclude the matter without resorting to war, and subsequently disbanded the Army - something that Adams and many historians think that was his finest hour. Some have written that Adams "saved the Republic" from Hamilton's martial ambitions. But it was pure partisanism and related to his own animosity and jealousy of AH, and not for the sake of 'peace' that Adams took this dovish route and prevented war.
Adams's legacy of a peacenik is quite undeserved given that he was all John Wayne before the hated AH came into the picture of 'XYZ'. If someone else more to the taste of John Adams would had been Major General - or if Washington wouldn't had conveniently died - we would be reading of the *French War 1800- ?* in American history books today. War Presidents are more apt to be re-elected as John Adams to his chagrin discovered......

(to be continued)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Various Voices of Anti-Globalist Economics

"In the science of economics, theory and practice are virtually divorced from one another - to the detriment of both. Economists condemn practical men as mere followers of routine who fail to appreciate either or the grandeur of the doctrines enuciated by economists. Practical men, on the other hand, regard economists as mere doctrinaires who ignore the facts of life and inhabit a dream world of economic theories that exists only in their imagination."
- Friedrich List,
The Natural System of Political Economy,1837

"Free Trade definitely kept prices low - but so did the Great Depression."
- Ravi Batra

"To allow the market mechanism to be the sole director of the fate of human beings and their natural environment, indeed, even of the amount and use of purchasing power, would result in the demolition of society."
-Karl Polanyi

"In every country it always is and must be the interest of the great body of the people to buy whatever they want of those who want to sell it cheapest. The proposition is so very manifest, that it seems ridiculous to take any pains to prove it; nor could it have ever been called into question, had not the interested sophistry of merchants and manufacturers confounded the common sense of mankind."

" employed in the home trade, it has already been shown, puts in motion a greater quantity of domestic industry and gives revenue and employment to a greater number of the inhabitants of the country, than equal capital employed in the foreign trade of consumption."
-Adam Smith

"Today, the transnational corporation has virtually no allegiance except to its own global expansion and profit. What brings financial value to the shareholders is the only criterion even if jobs are destroyed and whole communities devastated."
-Jerry Brown

" agreements are crafted to enable corporations to play this game at a global level, to pit country against country in a race to see who can set the lowest wage levels, the lowest environmental standards, the lowest consumer safety standards. It is a tragic "incentives" lure that has its winners and losers determined before it gets underway:workers, consumers, and communities in all countries lose;short-term profits soar and big business - wins."
-Ralph Nader

"Free Trade is the religion of our age. With its heaven as the planetary economy, free trade comes complete with philosophical and analytical underpinnings. Higher mathematics are used to prove its basic theorems........Rather than promoting and sustaining the social relationships that create a vibrant community, the free trade theology relies on a narrow definition of efficiency to guide our conduct."
-David Morris

"Thank God I am not a Free Trader!"
-Theodore Roosevelt

"The global economy has become the world's closet dictator."

"Both enterprises and entire states see themselves trapped in a situation of relentless competition, where each particpant is dependent on the decisions of all other players. What falls by the wayside in this hurly-burly is the possibility for self-determination."
-Wolfgang Sachs

"We will not bind you to America. If you(US corporations) wish to shut down here and go to China - go to China! But your products will not re-enter the United States duty-free. They will carry a tariff to make up the difference between the cost of the Chinese labor you hired, and the cost of the American labor that you left behind."
-Pat Buchanan

"What in the hell are we waiting for?!? The time was YESTERDAY to fix bayonets and totally gut these bastards."

Monday, August 13, 2007

Meandering around Monticello, again.

Following reading "Burr: The Fallen Founder", Joseph J. Ellis's 1996 one on the Sage of Monticello - "American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson" was quite refreshing and is a tome of historical accuracy, unlike Nancy Isenberg's revisionism. The author delves into the complex worldview of the 3rd President, yet does not resort to extensive psychoanalysis of the man. Ellis's view of TJ is favorable if one reads between the lines, but he remains an objective historian enough to present Jefferson as a man and public servant where something was missing in his psyche and why he remains controversial and a complex enigma to this day. Ellis is an historian who has a literary sense and "American Sphinx" is entertaining for the layperson, professional historian, and the Wanna Bees such as myself.

But my criticisms are numerous of this book, and some will be explored here. Ellis remarkably does not spend a great deal of time writing on the Hamilton-Jefferson feud of the 1790s, and any biography of these two Founders I would think that narrating this ordeal at length should be a requisite of any biographer. He also glosses over TJ's flip-flop on the slavery issue and does not take him to task enough on it though he hits him at the necessary angle.Instead, Ellis devotes lengthy discussion on the Sally Hemings miscegenation controversy, which I think has little to do with discussing Jefferson's statecraft:one writer that I read once dropped an apt observation that biographers that devote inordinate length discussing their subject's sex life says more about the sexual panache of the writer than of the subject.
I could care less if Jefferson fathered children from an extraterrestial, but of course my opinion doesn't count.
Ellis does mention that Jefferson did truly loathe Alexander Hamilton, but doesn't go into much detail why: TJ was a big snob who only thought that the men who were there in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776 knew the authentic value of "the spirit of 1776", & they were entitled to decide and rule in the Republic. Hamilton was a parvenu immigrant who had energetic, even hyper-active ways that put the country-squire Virginian off, who preferred a genteel, aloof manner of statescraft and in personal relations (but Hamilton managed to rub-off quite well on another Virginian gentleman, George Washington). Jefferson hated British monarchy and became a Francophile and always felt that the Federalists with their push for a strong activistic government were set on restoration of the Hanovers. Ellis himself finds this notion silly and he writes -

"Hamilton's plans for a proactive federal government empowered to shape markets and set forth both the financial and political agendas were certainly not monarchical in character - if anything, they were more a precocious precursor of twentieth-century New Deal values than an archaic attempt to resuscitate the arbitrary authority of medieval kings and courts - but in Jefferson's mind these distinctions made no appreciable difference."

Ellis goes on to write hither and thither throughout the book about TJ's unfounded obsession with 'monocrats' and monarchists, and the author believes that if there was anyone who was a monarchist in the Early Republic it was Aaron Burr - who was Jefferson's first-term Vice-President and member of his Republican Party. Though John Adams(who was TJ's on-and-off-and on chum) wrote some good things about constitutional monarchy, Adams was a republican, though not an emotional, wear-on-the -sleeves type like Jefferson's partisans were. But Aaron Burr was not a monarchist per se - he was unprincipled in personal political power pursuits and one can easily see Burr being just about anything to reach this end; Burr in another century would had been a good Nazi, Communist, Falangist, Tory, Labourite, or Social Democrat - ideology didn't matter to him.

Like many Jeffersonian historians, Ellis gives President Jefferson's 1st Administration(1801-1805) a big thumbs-up and this is an accurate portrayal. Jefferson throughout most of his term(s) in the executive office was a hard-working - near workaholic - President, who was always up at five in the morning and at his desk. His only leisure was an hour or two spent riding his horse in the afternoon, an occasional dinner-party at evening, and he worked again at night until bedtime at 10pm. Jefferson always wanted to avoid heated debates, so seldom chaired full Cabinet Meetings and preferred to meet department heads one on one and he established a disciplined chain of command within the federal bureaucracy. Jefferson, however, was rather monkish in his statecraft and the man-of-the-People never gave a public speech in his entire period as President - he was only recorded as making brief speeches for his two Inaugural addresses. His shyness of speechmaking was probably in lieu that he had a squeaky, near-effeminate voice with an occasional lisp that he was undoubtedly self-conscious of, plus he probably thought that public speaking was pandering (TJ the aristocrat-phobe was always a patrician). Jefferson instead was a master of the Written Word and there was probably no other Founder that could match his wordsmithing. But TJ was even shy about publishing and guarded his correspondence deftly. When he wanted to put into print an onslaught on his perceived enemies, Jefferson would clandestinely pay hacks to do it for him, or badger his surrogate James Madison to pick up his quill and attack. Jefferson's only book was Notes on Virginia that contained some of his cranky theories within that does his mind a disservice. TJ seemed to believe that his draft of The Declaration of Independence said it all that he needed say for public consumption and his posterity?

TJ's 1st Inaugural contained the phrase - "we are all republicans - we are all federalists". Some have always believed that this was a conciliatory olive branch to his Federalist foes, but Ellis disputes this. TJ didn't capitalize either subject in his handwritten speech(in those days English-language writers capitalized all nouns, and Jefferson had impeccable grammar). Rather, President Jefferson was faced with the reality that his 1800 Second Revolution for "pure republicanism" was going to have a check on it, and a big one. It wasn't Hamilton who stood in the way, but Chief Justice John Marshall, who made it clear, tongue-in-cheek, that TJs desired purge of Federalism was going to be tempered by the Judiciary. Marshall was a rarity who was both a Virginian gentleman and a High Federalist;Marshall made both Adams and Hamilton appear moderate in some aspects. According to American Sphinx, Jefferson came to hate Marshall more than he ever did Hamilton or Burr, but Ellis does not explore into the caverns on this. Jefferson always wanted to eliminate the federal judiciary for this very reason and resented the 3rd branch of the government more than anything that he found disquieting about the US Constitution. TJ also believed that the Senate was a carbon copy House of Lords and he was an early champion for term-limits of Senators. He believed that the House of Representatives should had been the sole legislative body(AH's original plan for the House was actually more democratic than TJ's, btw),the only edifice that should govern the Republican Spirit, which he believed that he had the most correct interpretation of.

Jefferson came into the Presidency with a pre-Reaganesque promise: he was going to cut and eliminate internal taxes, reduce the size of the federal government and retire the National Debt(unlike Reagan, Jefferson cut Defense spending to pennies and totally scrapped the US Navy...unlike Reagan, Jefferson reduced the national debt). Publicly, Jefferson picked financial wizard, Albert Gallitin, as head of the Treasury to set -up a schedule of eliminating said National Debt. However, the first order Gallitin was given was to go over all the accounts of the Treasury and National Bank to get evidence that Alexander Hamilton had 'cooked the books' when he served in the department under Washington. This was not merely the old feuding political vindictiveness on TJ's account but related to his own battles with personal debt: no matter how much Jefferson kept dutiful records on his expenses, he never could come up with black ink. Like many spend-thrifts his solution of failed austerity was to go into debt even more. Jefferson couldn't believe that what he felt to be a lesser mortal could have his own private and public accounts in order without "tricks with numbers". Jefferson was always just a step ahead of his creditors and his debt -ridden ways caused him constant headaches; when Hamilton wrote that the National Debt could be a blessing, immediately TJ's ire was raised.
Albert Gallitan was an old foe of the National Bank and debt assumption and was perhaps the only man of his time who could hold his own in a financial debate with AH. However, via Gallitan's search for financial impropriety at Treasury and the BUS, he became a True Believer in the Hamiltonian financial system edifice. Gallitan reported to President Jefferson that Hamilton's accounting was clean as a virgin snow, that the system was on sound footing and it was ideal to maintain the method to schedule payment of the national debt. Gallitan recorded in his journal that Jefferson became crestfallen at this news, and he sat silent with his lips pursed in disappointment. The Sage never admitted that he was in error that AH was cooking the books, but nevertheless kept the National Bank and was partisan for it's recharter. Via moderate tariffs and agrarian exports, the Treasury was stocked full of sound dollars to buy the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon , and also Jefferson fulfilled his tax-cutting pledge and the national debt was being retired ahead of schedule. Though Jefferson was a Physiocrat and disparaged cultivating American hard-industries, he did use some federal monies for 'internal improvements', one of the cornerstones of what was later to be dubbed the 'American System' of economics. Ellis wrote that Jefferson's 1st Administration "was perhaps the most successful one out of all American Presidencies" and this is probably not convincingly debatable.

However, Jefferson II was fraught with disappointments as all-too many 2nd term Presidents encounter: graft was discovered by Republican officials in the Administration(Jefferson only thought Federalists were corrupt); his obsession with nailing his former Vice-President Aaron Burr on treason charges totally backfired, and the 1807 Embargo Act destroyed the humming and vibrant economy of his 1st Administration. Jefferson's intentions were noble - get peace between England and France by denying them US ports, and barring American trade with Europe - but agrarian America had no industrial base to fall back on, and the embargo hardly touched Napoleon or Mighty Britannia regardless. Jefferson, usually the assiduous chief-executive, became an absentee President in his last year and had turned over much of Presidential duties to his de facto prime minister and heir, James Madison. Unlike John Adams, Jefferson had a stable personality, but one gets the gist that TJ had a bout of incapacitating clinical depression in his final year as President and he spent a great deal of time in his hermitage at Monticello away from the fray in the District of Columbia.

Jefferson was an aloof personality who loathed controversy and avoided it whenever possible, John Adams seemed to thrive on verbal fights, and Hamilton didn't know when to shut-up, either in print or orally(Hamilton developed a habit of even talking to himself in public). George Washington conducted Cabinet Meetings as if he were still the Revolutionary War General having councils of War under the tent; though Washington hated bickering and factionalism, he wanted the opinions of all his staff together before he decided on a plan of attack. Jefferson only called his Cabinet together rarely, and liked the individual approach mainly to avoid debate. Even at his dinner parties when he'd invite both Republican and Federalist officials and politicos - politics was the taboo subject to raise!

TJ had very broad interests and was a bibliophile beyond par, and amature inventor. But like many intellectuals, he seemed to think that he was brighter than he really was. TJ liked to tell tall tales about his political battles and his interests that always put himself in the most favorable light. John Quincy Adams, a genuine-article Big Brain and erudite scholar, picked up on this side of Jefferson quite early on and learned to take some of the Sage's stories with a pinch of salt. TJ had a staid persona and liked to speak on the primacy of 'Reason', but he, like anyone, could be quite vindictive and guided by personal hatreds; Francophile Jefferson thought that the Federalists were 'Anglomen' and hehated Britain more than an Irish Fenian could - yet he believed firmly in nativist Anglo-Saxon supremacy. A constitutionalist who didn't like a great deal of the US Constitution and tried to circumvent at times...a shy Sage who despised public political displays but would resort to behind the scenes skulduggery..... an aristocrat for the 'little guy', but he never would think of rubbing shoulders with them personally and always hung-out with his fellow Virginian planters. TJ was a person who had an instinctive distaste for slavery; before the 1790s Jefferson came very close to being an Abolitionist, but became hardened later on and grumbled in old age about Yankee abolitionists. Slaves paid his copious debts and gave him Monticello and he never thought twice about buying or selling slaves(though he did prevent families from being broke up and there is no evidence that TJ himself was ever cruel to his slaves or deprived them of basic necessities for their bondage existence.)

However, as elder statesman, TJ came to reject absolutely Free Trade and realized the necessity for protected industries, that scrapping the Navy was a terrible mistake. What he never could admit to anyone or himself, was that this 'purist Republican' and one time heavy flirter with Jacobinism had evolved into a Hamiltonian on many issues. Jefferson could never see the paradox of his worldviews; though he was a hypocrite, he was one who didn't realize that he was.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Babe's Still the Sultan

Have you noticed that there aren't great glorious celebrations of Barry Bonds breaking the all-time Home Run record? Not the remarkable coverage of Hank Aaron's own eclipse of it in April 1974 that I watched on TV as a wee lad, definitely. The differences between Bonds and Hammerin' Hank are cut and dry: Bonds extended his career by usage of human growth hormones that transformed his once athletic, svelte build into looking like he was King Kong. Hank Aaron was 190 lbs at his highest career weight, wet and in uniform - a skinny guy by today's standards. Hank Aaron hit the majority of his homers in the 1960s when the Pitcher ruled the Game and he never hit 50 homers in a season;Bonds had the luxury of playing in the expansion era where pitching talent is spread thin and umpires have a strike zone that Annie Oakley couldn't be on target. Barry Bonds is a cry-baby, a liar, cheat, racist and a spoiled brat spawned from a famous Baseball daddy who had his career mapped out for him from Day One. Hank Aaron got to where he did by his own talents and he began playing the Game in the Jim Crow era - lots of hurdles to jump. Aaron was always quiet and a class act and he had to endure real racism, but never threw the race card down himself, to my knowledge. Hammerin' Hank will always eclipse Barry Bonds no matter if Bonds extends his home run total to a thousand.

Though not the Baseball Freak that I once was and am not one of those who sat for hours with Bill James's sabermetrics nerd pursuits, Babe Ruth still remains in my book the Greatest All-Around Baseball Player that ever donned a major league uniform. Ruth not only hit the Big Ball many times over, he has a high career BA with it and in his younger and thinner days he was known for defensive skills and was a remarkably fast runner on the pads. Lest we forget that Babe began his career as a Pitcher, and he was a damned good pitcher. He swatted home-runs in the Teens during the tail-end of the DeadBall Era and when pitchers could use spitballs and cuff the ball to gain advantage over the hitter. Plus, he was lovable and was a fan favorite and excellent ambassador for the Game - unlike these arrogant Baseball stars today.

The Babe is in a League of his own and no ballplayer of any racial classification can ever match him no matter how many numbers crunchers beg to differ.

Long Live the Babe!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Paul Craig Roberts has an excellent excerpt from his book, The Return of the Robber Barons, at Economy in Crises -
titled "Do You Want Fries With That?" directly admonishing a counter-paradigm shift away from the McJob/ Wal-Mart Uber Alles,scanty productive service morass. Roberts was one of the architects behind Reagan's supply-side fantasies, but he has obviously turned a corner in his economic worldview since the early 80s, and I'm somewhat fond of the gent though he goes a wee bit too far in his rhetoric castigating the NeoCon's and NeoLibs empire building: Roberts recommendation that the US Army mutinies instead of deploying to Iraq....that crosses the line. Alas, Roberts can be a poster-child on how paleoconservatives like he is,industrial unionists, National Liberals and some libertarians(except the Free-Market Bolshevik faction),are basically stating the same macro thing; it's indirectly another call & a pressing necessity for a creation of a coalition of the above - what Howard J. Harrison is trying to educate his fellow conservatives at 'The Economic Nationalist'. I'll re-register as a 'Republican' if that party can get this way, take this hue of above characters, and return to the protectionist roots that at one time defined the Republican Party, who they were. The GOP needs a National Liberal wing - not the fuzzy-wuzzy chicanery of the old globalist Rockefeller liberalism of yesteryear(I never liked Nelson Rockefeller either). If the Democrats let their cultural-Bolshevik/ social issues obsessed West Coast cadre set the paces instead of focusing on where they and the economic infrastructure of the Republic needs to be( "it's protectionism, stupid!"), they shan't get any of my loyalty in name, either. The Democrats need more Dick Gephardt types and less Thomas -"the world is flat"- Friedmans, Clintons, and phony slobs like Al Gore(and is anyone besides me getting sick of Barak Obama mentioning 'hope' every other sentence?). Whatever one will say about Dennis Kucinich (he does physically and verbally wax like he has been transported from another galaxy), at least on economic issues he is the only genuine old New Deal Democrat in the race, and he's a solid trade protectionist who dares utter the T-word. Why can't the less weird Democrats take a page from his book on this?

Just completed a forgettable bio, "Aaron Burr - Fallen Founder" by a Nancy Isenberg. Isenberg commences patting herself on the back by stating that not a genuine biography of Aaron Burr has ever been written and it is high time that one has. Reading her revisionist take on the third Vice President, killer of Alexander Hamilton, and probable traitor, one firstly grasps that this historian is hardly penning an objective biography. Isenberg fails to convincingly present Burr as a misunderstood and vilified person by jealous rivals and I think that her actual notes were from Gore Vidal's totally fictional account, Burr. Her take on Burr is that he was an outsider not because of his sleazy personality, money-grubbing debt-ridden existence,unprincipled pursuit of political power for the sake alone - but because Aaron Burr was a feminist. Yes. Burr did believe in rights for women and thought that women were just as intelligent as men, but this stance was not that unique among men of the 18th Century Enlightenment, and Burr's views were just that of Rousseau's. None of his detractors such as Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, ever wrote or said a thing in disparagement of Burr because of his 'feminist' stance(they probably didn't know about the extent of it or care if they did),but because he was deemed untrustworthy in the political arena. Isenberg doesn't reflect that if both Hamilton and Jefferson could agree in their judgments concerning something and someone - there must be something to it. Washington himself couldn't abide Burr, and just about every historian of the Early Republic concedes that Washington was an excellent judge of character and was not known to carry grudges long-term without a valid reason for it.

Isenberg believes that Hamilton was totally at fault for the duel and dismisses the accepted fact that AH intended to throw away his shot, as was a common practice in dueling(few duels ever resulted in death or even injury in those days;it was a 'save face' ritual of honor:if a duelist could just prove his manhood by merelyshowing up it was regarded as satisfaction.Most duelists ended up shaking hands and repairing to a pub.) Isenberg asserts that Burr used the challenge to a duel as a last resort based on personal attacks by Hamilton. The real reason is that Hamilton prevented Burr from being President in 1800 and later Governor of New York. With Jefferson dropping his name from the ticket in 1804, Burr's political career was finished, and he took his vengeance out on the man who did the most to check his pursuits. I think that there is no question that Burr issued the challenge with the intent to kill. Isenberg insists that Hamilton was the one who sought to maim Burr and Burr's mortal wound on AH was 'defensive'. That Hamilton put on his spectacles and practiced aiming in the sunlight is proof to Isenberg that Hamilton was not intending to throw his shot. Again, this was part of the dueling ritual play : one had to act as if the duel was going to be carried out to full extent to save face, though usually the challenger and challenge would throw their shots. Isenberg's revisionist take on the Duel can easily be refuted by the fact that Hamilton did not set the hair-trigger on his pistol - something that gave the duelist an advantage to get off the first shot. Isenberg also doesn't cover in Burr, that Hamilton confided in friends before the duel that he was going to throw his shot away, and many counseled him against this, knowing that Aaron Burr meant business. The author's attempts to paint Burr as a benevolent fellow gets really cavalier when she discusses the Duel. Nancy Isenberg also does not mention that following Burr's mortal wound on Hamilton, Burr returned home and had a nice celebratory breakfast and carried on about his business as if it was just another day - hardly the behavior of someone who felt remorse of his actions. Aaron Burr himself never expressed remorse over killing Hamilton; into his old age he loved to narrate his account of the Duel to any who would listen. People with guilty consciences usually do not like to be reminded of their past and certainly do not voluntarily talk about them. Burr's panache was close to that of a sociopath, and he probably was one.

Hamilton and Burr had cordial relations until 1800, and shortly before their infamous duel Hamilton had even loaned Burr money. Though Burr belonged to the Republicans, he was not an ideologue and could had just as easily had been a Federalist(he even began making plays for them after Jefferson had dropped him from the ticket).One may ask, why did Hamilton have such a sudden ax to grind with Burr, and why did he support his hated foe Jefferson over Burr for President in 1800, then? Hamilton revealed in 1800 to a correspondent two conversations that he had had previously with Aaron Burr that made him dead-set against Burr attaining the pinnacle of political power: when AH was Treasury Secretary, Burr admonished Hamilton to take advantage of his power of the nation's money supply and use it for his own needs and wants instead of living in a rented house like a pauper. Later, during the 'XYZ Affair', when Washington vetoed AH's request that Burr be made a Brigadier General, Burr in a fury visited Hamilton and suggested that he use the Army for a coup. This clearly demonstrated to Hamilton or anyone else that even Jefferson would be a better man as chief executive.

Isenberg does also cast Jefferson in a unfavorable light as opposed to Burr and she's on par that the person who benefited from the Duel was TJ himself: one perennial political rival dead, the other's political career finished. Following Burr's killing of Hamilton, Jefferson wined and dined his outgoing Vice President at the White House when beforehand he avoided AB as much as possible. If it wasn't for Hamilton, Burr probably would had been sitting in the Presidential chair, but never would the Sage of Monticello acknowledge this. Later, Jefferson turned on Burr and tried to get a treason conviction on him(I concur that it was not proven that Burr intentionally set-out to create his own country on the Western frontier;too many bad witnesses and too murky what Burr was up to) to no avail.

Aaron Burr may not have been quite the genuine-article psycho, but the man was both privately and publicly corrupt. Burr the Feminist doesn't change these facts, and undoubtedly Isenberg lets her own feminism dictate her narrative of Burr? Not a good biography of Burr at all, and some more objective historian needs to give it a shot. Wait for Isenberg's bio of Burr to hit the library if you want to read it.
Or better yet - buy my copy, please.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Responding to Howard Harrison's comment regarding "crunchy conservatives" in previous post, his description of them makes them wax like unique specimens;however I have yet to meet any people that are this way, but I don't travel in the ranks of the churched-up people - kind of a secular monk I am. All in all, I do not think that they should be antagonized and the sane ones should be cultivated into the broad American anti-globalist movement. Unlike many secular oriented people, I do have a sense of respect for scholarly orthodox Christians, and we share the same Western culture, naturally; secularists &religionists are both *Faustian Man* to put it into SpenglerSpeak.

Prejudices do exist to prevent any broad umbrella anti-globalist movement: many liberal oriented bipeds do not want to break bread with "right-wing religious freaks", many conservatives do not want to be involved with left- of-center people. There is probably a mere .0000325% of the American population that would gel with the basic worldview of Left-Federalist, for that matter. Many anti-globalist folks just prefer their own version, go it alone, come hell or high water, and are comfortable within the cubby hole of their own box. That is fine, but as Howard pointed out, there is just 3% here and there, scattered like a tipped-over jigsaw puzzle. The fragments need assembly if a serious offensive on Globalism can manifest - the cosmopolitan multinational corporations and the politicians in their pockets hold all the cards at the moment, and they know it. Plus, they have a small but powerful edifice of useful idiots from the intelligentsia that enable them . This is crunch time, and there is not much leisure to go wobbly on protectionism, and the anti-globalist fragments have to be assembled yesterday. There are some politicos that are turning around(more than there were just a few years ago) so the situation may not be entirely dire, but it remains.

The anti-globalist movement needs a single aggressive lobbyist effort. As much as I detest the 'fourth sphere of government'( on insomniac nights I count sleazy lobbyists with a bullet in their heads instead of counting sheep), this appears to be the sole pragmatic way available. There is the question of money, and anti-globalists don't have many rich people that would gel to the cause and donate, unlike other lobbying outfits on the Hill. Thus, resources would have to be pooled together and the broad anti-globalist movement, those who want to participate in a concentrated effort, would have to sit-down and agree on a consensus of core -issues and push them. Many would not want to forfeit what I think are medium to light issues;some have not grasped the crucial aspects of this period and they need to understand that they will not get all of their pet projects as a working reality - to make the big ones a reality the other issues are give&take, on the auction block. Secular liberals need to get it that there will always be religious oriented folks around,vise versa. Well, I like making fun of some of them too, as said, but if they are protectionists opposed to predator-economics and are concerned for the survival of the independent constitutional Republic - they're my boys. They can mock some of my stuff too(little ol' me is of no consequence one way or another) - I don't care as long as we got the core intact and are in gear to go out kick ass and take names later, as that saying goes.

Distributists, Greens, Bolsheviks,Fundies, Spengler & Midgets..

Added on the left at 'Blogs& Websites' is that of the Distributist Review. They are not economic-nationalists and I find some of their social and religious views a bit daffy, but they are earnest anti-globalists and love to bash laissez-faire. So, this here agnostic from Protestant/ confessional-Lutheran background unilaterally finds allies in traditionalist RC's. Strange realm, this anti-globalist movement. All in all, I have curiosity of some aspects of Distributist economics and it is a valid alternative to the current state of affairs; the Distributist's spiel sure beats the Catholicism coupled with Predator-economics that one will read at Bill Buckley's, The National Review...

I believe in Meme- building; get the various information out of the anti-globalist movement under an umbrella, even when lots of details of the meme I don't particularly jive with. Oh yes, I do have a threshold: I wager that the Communist Party USA and the Ku Klux Klan are against globalism too, but I won't let those PukeStains out of the rain.

My goal is to find economic protectionist Greens to include them here in 'Blogs &Websites', but all searches for virtual pages directly endorsing this has come up empty, or they thump other things that I find too wacko to bring them on-board with a good conscience. It is needed to spirit the Greens away from Al Gore& the Davos Group; witness that some Free-Market Bolsheviks are making a play for them with 'Green-privatization', 'Eco-market', hooplah. The Green angle is up for grabs and economic-nationalists need to cultivate them. Personally, I would love to see a Third Industrial Revolution commenced with clean energy as the principle for it, if possible(don't like Our Planet looking like a shit-trap either and I hate smog). I do believe that the notion is worth some good R&D from the Top on down, and wish that the Greens thought the same way. Nevertheless, we have to re-industrialize asap.This sounds alarmist, but I think that time is running out for the USA. Stinging globalism on the margins will not get it done; when/if the window cracks open - slip through it and go for the jugular, shoot for the late Round KO like in a Rocky movie....."Yo, Free Traitors!... youse goin' down."

The Old Ravi Batra demonstrated that tariffs are ecologically friendly, and 'tis a pity that he didn't follow up and pursue this angle better thereafter. He once perhaps had the ticket to ride for American Greens. However, too many Greens are formerly 'Reds' & remain Luddites, and they have an abiding hatred concerning anything smacking of technological industrial capitalism of any type, even the dirigist/mixed national system that Left-Federalist spews out, at times daily. This - they need to work on.


One of Oswald Spengler's themes is second religiousness; when a civilization is about to collapse, a super-nova of traditional religion explodes, a call to return to the 'True Faith' comes into vogue. Entertaining the prospect that Spengler was a sharp -customer with his organic/cyclic theory of history(I'm a doubting Thomas), indicators are here today in circa 2007 that this 'second religiousness' is manifesting: Pope Benedict endorses a return to the Latin Mass and has all but 86'd the ecumenism of Vatican II;Protestant fundamentalism still rages in the Americas despite recent scandals with their gurus, like Ted Haggard(LMAO!). America, the 1st Modern Nation/state, has made a plunge into the Middle Ages as we witness in pop culture with Fantasy oriented stuff, the assault on Evolution, the quenching of biological research of human beings and their diseases('let's not play God, now!'). But part of me understands why Fundies would think certain things with these activist-lawyers from the cultural-Bolshevik ACLU wanting to take away Christmas trees from their kids in public settings(but the X-mas tree is a pagan thing, I know.)....Left-Federalist is against Bolshevism in any form even when they trample on the Fundies. The real truth is that I ordinarily like virtually slapping them both around, role- playing Moe Howard on The Three Stooges. Why, pray tell? Well, I think it is needed...

..and it is also - fun:-)

Given that I had to stop running over midgets in my truck(I heard somewhere that it is against the law - even vehicular homicide on midgets. Can you believe that stupid law?!?), I need some other outlet that is physically non-violent to manage my 'anger issues'... take a broad interpretation of second-religiousness, perhaps my own plea for a return to the Federalist-American System is a symptom of this? I do possess a near- religious devotion to protectionism...or rather, Spengler was full of shit. I hope so. If he was right, we are toast in the United States of America & EU...

Saturday, August 4, 2007

'Nixon Shock', Revisited

August 15, 1971 was the date that America's postWW2 international economic hegemony ended officially. President Richard M. Nixon, an avowed disciple of the free-market and also free-trade, announced to the world that the United States was closing the dollar's convertibility to gold that had operated as the international reserve currency at a fixed-rate since the Bretton Woods accords in 1944. Nixon also proclaimed a 90 day wage and price freeze and slapped a 10% surcharge on all imports(another 'tariff avoidance' phrase). Though attempts at devaluation of the Dollar were made thereafter, no international agreement could be attained to reset a fixed rate. Hence, the floating currency exchange that we have now.

All of the Nixon Shock was supposed to be temporary and most of it was. That such a free-marketer such as Nixon would do such a thing in the first place, delves into the complexity of the man. Nixon could be said to be our one -and -only Shakespearean President ; RMN is a multi-act play taking the observer through triumphs, tragedies, and even comedy if one looks for it. Nixon was an introverted intellectual type who couldn't abide intellectuals; he always felt like an outsider of the Eastern Establishment, but at times tried to cozy up to them. Nixon was at heart a conservative, but did liberal things as President and when he was a Senator and Congressman: a Red Baiter who nailed Soviet agent Alger Hiss and talked about the Communist menace - then opened up to Mao's China and pursued detente with the USSR. One of Nixon's favorite Presidents was the 'idealistic' Woodrow Wilson, but he was a perennial pragmatist, Realpolitik was the foreign policy that he pursued. On his infamous tapes one can hear Nixon ranting about "Jews", but no Administration had more Jewish top level officials, and he risked a confrontation with the USSR to bail Israel's tookas out of the '73 Yom Kippur War. Though disappointed and irritated in perceived anti-Americanism of European leaders, he nearly worshipped Charles de Gaulle who was the most anti-American post-WW2 leader in the West and a certified ungrateful son-of-a-bitch. Nixon could play the piano, was an aficionado of Classical Music, a bookworm, but he spoke in terms of Football and identified with the Hardhats and the small-farmers and would often mock and deride arty sophisticated types in Archie Bunker fashion. He was a populist who coined the "Great Silent Majority" phrase, but he set up an 'imperial Presidency' and barricaded himself around a select group of advisers, many of them corrupt DirtBalls like Chuck Colson. Nixon was a hard-charging , go for the jugular,campaigner who disliked shaking hands and did not want to be touched , even by his wife. He was a natural paranoid, but when he trusted someone, it was often the wrong person to confide in; a man from the quiet and somnolent Quaker faith but he made friends with fire- breathing evangelists like Billy Graham, but he did not attend a church and seldom mentioned religion in his speeches. Nixon liked dirty jokes and took an interest in the extramarital affairs of his peers, but no evidence was ever uncovered that he ever had a mistress or even a one-night stand. He liked talking tough in foreign policy and bombed the bejesus out of Hanoi, but was always motivated to build an international order that would guarantee peace, at least between the Big Players of his day. Nixon inherited civil war conditions at the start of his Presidency and spoke of "law and order", yet he flagrantly broke the law and thought that he was entitled to do so.....

One can go on and on psychoanalysing Richard M. Nixon, the enormity of contrasts and contradictions in his policies and his personality. The dialectic of Nixon is transparent in the Shock of August 1971: he had free-marketeers like Arthur Burns on his economic team, yet he opted for the plan of practical Treasury Secretary John Connolly(some say that Connolly &Nixon were soul-mates). The Shock was short-term and was primarily motivated for his re-election; Nixon was not an economic President, and to his credit, he at least admitted that he did not understand a great portion of it(unlike LBJ, Carter, Reagan etc who pretended to understand and didn't). Such a free-thinker on foreign policy(contrary to legend, China, triangular foreign policy was his idea - not Kissinger's), Nixon was like a dutiful schoolboy taking notes from his economic and trade advisers:he'd cram hard for the test and then quickly forget afterwards what he had learned.

Nixon had developed an abiding detestment of wage/price controls when he had briefly served on one of the numerous bureaucratic War Boards in 1942, yet he implemented Wage-Price controls as part of his Shock. Though most only lasted 90 days, it was a glaring contradiction and contributed to inflationary problems in the long term. A 'fiscal conservative', he also claimed that "we are all Keynesians now" just at the time when intentional deficit spending was coming out of fashion, and was one of the biggest reasons that the US experienced spikes in inflation in the late 60s, early 70s. Though he spoke of the virtues of having hard-currency, Nixon took the US Dollar off the gold reserve that was the cornerstone of the Bretton Woods system. In his defense, Nixon didn't have a good decision to make on this point: other nations, because of inflation and the unilateral anti-protectionist policies of previous Presidential administrations, had accumulated surplus Yankee dollars that they did not want to hold indefinitely. The fear that said nations would cash them in for Yankee gold as they were entitled to were genuine. Especially since Nixon's hero, France's Chuck de Gaulle, intentionally& for the sake alone commenced undermining the US Dollar by accumulating gold with France's stockpiled Federal Reserve Notes in the early 1960s(why RMN loved this bastard is to me one of his biggest mysteries, enigma). Though West Germany gave a verbal agreement not to exchange dollars for gold, the danger was there that other nations would begin to panic and Ft. Knox would had been cleaned out in a matter of a few weeks if they did. Nixon had no choice but to close the gold window in this circumstance. It would had been more irresponsible and he would had had a lot more explaining to do if he would had allowed all the gold reserve in the country to flee, I think.

As an economic-nationalist, the 10% import surcharge(tariff) was the only genuinely good part of the Nixon Shock. Thanks to post- WW2 unilateral trade liberalization, the United States , for the first time in a long, long time began running a trade deficit by 1971 - something that was shocking in itself then. Where Nixon went wrong on this is that he only employed it short-term(again) and caved in to protests at the initial Tokyo Round in 1973 - which by then he shifted back to the free-market, free-trade policies of Arthur Burns - a Milton Friedman devotee. Bretton Woods ended on Nixon's watch;instead of taking the US back to it's protectionist roots when the opportunity required it, he left the worst thing about the Bretton Woods edifice in place when he could had easily knocked it off then for good by keeping his tariff in place, raising it if need be, and telling the whiners and sob sisters at the Tokyo Round to take a hike if they didn't like it. He could have nipped globalism in the bud then and we wouldn't have protectionist ranters and ravers at blogs like 'Left-Federalist' today. America would perhaps not be in the mess that we are now in trade if Nixon would had thought in the long -run in August of '71 instead of chiefly fretting about his up-coming re-election.

Nixon was a patriot but he neglected the economic and trade side of patriotism and shown gross irresponsibility in this department - to me this dwarfs Watergate and letting Kissinger talk him into prolonging the Vietnam conflict, giving the green light for the Chilean coup in '73...

In closing, Nixon was a character who had huge potential to have been both a benevolent human being and a great President, but he let his dichotomous personality, the inner demons of his dark side - 'Tricky Dick' - over-ride the noble qualities that the man had. Like a lot of organically brilliant men, he often did very stupid things and never could find the synthesis between the Idealist Nixon and the Practical Nixon.