Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Been reading Michael Hiltzik’s “The New Deal: A Modern History.” Some of it is a little too much “inside baseball” on the FDR administration for me, who has limited interest in why Henry Hopkins and Harold Ickes couldn’t get along, but it’s a readable narrative of a decade that has much to say about the state of this nation today.
I found a favorite story retold, and I’ll share it again here:
Humorist Will Rogers recalled the scene at the U.S. Chamber of commerce annual dinner in 1933, which he attended as (the guest of Jesse H. Jones.) “The whole constitutution, by-laws and secret ritual of that Orchard Club is to ‘keep government out of business,’” Rogers related to the readers of his daily newspaper column. “But here was the joke: They introduced all the big financiers…. As each stood up Jesse would write on the back of the menu card just what he had loaned him from the R.F.C. Yet, they said ‘keep the government out of business.’” Rogers preserved that menu card for proof, he said.
-The chapter on the Recession of 1937, or “Roosevelt’s Recession” got special notice from me, as I expect that the same thing will happen again if the GOP wins big this November and enacts the sort of policies they’ve been talking about in the presidential debates and in Congress. Hiltzik shows that the New Deal, at least through FDR’s first term was not an example of Keynesian stimulus spending by the federal government. Certainly Keynes didn’t think so. FDR had run against Hoover on a platform of spending cuts and balancing the budget, and was more conservative than history remembers him as being. At least he was too much of a politician to get too far out ahead of the country on any issue. Deficit spending through the pre-war years was barely half the level called for by Roosevelt’s ‘brain trust’ in order to effect a sustainable recovery. Still, unemployment was down, GDP was rising, and the administration moved to balance the budget; to disastrous results, spurring the White House and Congress to enact new measures to pour money into the economy.
“It is a big program,” Roosevelt conceded. Yes there would be more federal debt. But getting out of the recession would repay the cost “several times over,” for the greatest tax on the economy was time lost to unemployment: “Because of idle men and idle machines this nation lost one hundred billion dollars between 1929 and the spring of 1933, in less than four years.”
“Democracy has disappeared in several other great nations,” he stated –“disappeared not because the people of those nations disliked democracy, but because they had grown tired of unemployment and insecurity… Finally, in desperation, they chose to sacrifice liberty in the hope of getting something to eat.”
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Amidst shock and outrage over the assassination of Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia, probably in retaliation for the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, Iran has announced that it is for the first time refueling their largest nuclear reactor with enriched uranium they produced themselves.
Ironically, this reactor, the Tehran Research Reactor, was supplied to Iran in 1967 by the United States under the Atoms for Peace Program. This was during the Cold War, when the Shah of Iran was our guy in the Mid-East.
Reminds me of when the Bush Administration sent Colin Powell to address the United Nations carrying a bag of flour to represent Iraq’s stockpile of anthrax spores, which came from Fort Detrick Maryland back when Saddam Hussein was our guy in the Mid-East.
But that’s history, not our strong point. For example, how many Americans know that we joined with the British in 1953 to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Iran after they nationalized the Iranian petroleum industry? I bet the Iranians remember.
Meanwhile politicians and talking heads are getting all frothy about the Iranian nuclear program. We’re sailing carriers through the Strait of Hormuz and the Israelis are readying their latest bunker-buster bombs, much to the delight of crazy end-timers. Strange that some of the biggest sabre-rattlers are the same folks leading the ‘drill baby drill’ chant for cheap gasoline. Can you imagine ten dollars-a-gallon? Could happen any day. Here’s hoping cooler heads prevail.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Wayne LaPierre: Mind Reader
NRA President Wayne LaPierre at CPAC:
‘While the president had not actually tried to rein in gun ownership yet, “he’s hiding his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment in his second term.”’
-Though not officially part of the NRA’s platform, I know they want to require all Americans to carry sidearms, practice dueling and play Russian roulette.
Monday, February 06, 2012
News that Gets My Goat..
-Our right-wing nut Attorney General Greg Abbott announced a last minute plan to salvage last years’ Republican gerrymander in time to hold Texas’ March 6th Primary Elections on the April 3rd fall-back date. Problem is; the three-judge Federal Court panel hearing the case has ordered the state to gain approval of all four parties. Abbott has one on board. We may not see elections before the Fourth of July. This may, however, give Texas tories more clout in the crazy race that is the Republican Presidential nominating contest. Take that, Country.
Charles Kuffner has the proposed district maps, this one has me in the new District 36, which could stretch across Galveston Bay and up through East Texas to the Louisiana border. The new district would split my subdivision, ending a mile from my house just short of the public library where I early vote. This is no improvement over my present district, which convicted felon Tom DeLay drew for himself, snaking from the Houston Ship Channel to the Brazos River in Fort Bend county, but at least I wouldn’t have Pete Olson to kick around anymore.
-Keith Olberman’s ‘Worst Person in the World’ today was Louisiana GOP Congressman and Family Physician John Fleming, who took it upon himself to inform all his Facebook friends about Planned Parenthood’s new $8 billion Abortionplex. The 900,000 sq. ft. facility, complete with coffee shops, restaurants, bars and retail outlets, is sized to perform almost a million abortions every month.
Problem here is that Congressman Fleming got this story from “America’s Finest News Source,” The Onion. Congressman Fleming is not the first to be punked by The Onion, but it usually happens in third-world countries like Carjackistan and Elbonia.
-Juanita Jean reports that former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann, economic stimulus critic and leading Teabagger candidate for Wisconsin’s open Senate seat received over $250,000 in federal stimulus money for his solar energy company and a private school he founded in Phoenix.
“Faced with this seemingly greedy, hypocritical, cantankerous, folly filled fact, Mark Neumann had a very good explanation.
“’Neumann on Thursday argued that because the grant program he benefited from started as a Bush-era tax credit, it shouldn’t be viewed as part of the 2009 economic stimulus law signed by President Barack Obama.’
“Oh, so it’s okay if Bush did it but not if Obama did it.”