There Is An Answer

The current economic crisis has a beginning that we know — it is found in the misbehavior of Rep. Frank and Sen. Dodd. Their ideological preachments made them incompetent, and opened the door to the insatiable greed of people like Jamie Gorlick (see PenPo Number 52). We also know what not to do, because we have tons of records of the events of the late 1930s. As for example:

By 1939 Roosevelt’s own Treasury secretary, Henry Morgenthau, had realized that the New Deal economic policies had failed. “We have tried spending money,” Morgenthau wrote in his diary. “We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. . . . After eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. . . . And an enormous debt to boot!”

Read the rest of it, and you will see that deflation is the enemy.

When the depression began in Europe, gold flowed into the USA from the collapsing banks overseas. The USA made the terrible mistake of not issuing currency based (to some percentage) on that gold. There was literally not enough money in the nation to conduct business. In fact, the bankers and industrialists and most politicians so feared inflation (probably because of the German experience in the 1920s) that they prevented the measures that could have aborted the depression.

There is a great myth regarding inflation: that its level is indicated by the movement of consumer prices. If the cost of everything goes up, we talk about inflation; when the cost of things drops, we think we are dealing with deflation. There is just enough truth in this myth to give it credibility among the economically unlettered, but the full story remains generally unknown. In fact inflation is nothing more than an increase in the amount of currency in circulation, and it cannot be calculated by looking at consumer prices (the Consumer Price Index is absolutely not a measure of inflation). The currency can be inflated while prices remain the same.

As long as ignorant, prideful politicians like Frank and Dodd have their hands on the tiller, the economy of the USA will head for the shoals as often as it finds the safe channel. Reform can be accomplished only if we purge crackpot social engineering ideology from the exercise of financial oversight.

More On The Financial Crisis

Greenspan just can’t figure out what happened — because he believes in business cycles. But: “It is hard to see how this type of theory either explains today’s economic turbulence, or offers sound instruction about how to deal with it.” More here.

Creating jobs with all those hundreds of millions of dollars? No.

Spending is addictive. And what good is addiction? Where does it inevitably lead? Ask any recovering alcoholic who attends AA meetings.

The drug of choice.

The People Who Most Need To Read This Will See What It Is, And Pass It By As Unpalatable

Ideology is at its core self-censorship. The faithful refuse to see forbidden truths.

That’s why these words will guide some of the PenPo’s readership away from the article linked here:

…there are those who will never forgive Mr. Bush for not losing a war they had all declared unwinnable.

…it’s easy to forget what the smart set was saying two years ago — and how categorical they all were in their certainty. The president was a simpleton, it was agreed. …

For many of these critics, the template for understanding Iraq was Vietnam…. In terms of the wars themselves, of course, there is almost no parallel between Vietnam and Iraq….the operating metaphor of Vietnam has never been military. For the most part, it is political. And in this realm, we saw history repeat itself: a failure of nerve among the same class that endorsed the original action (emphasis added).

(From an editorial in the NY Times:) “Americans must be clear that Iraq, and the region around it, could be even bloodier and more chaotic after Americans leave,” read the editorial. “There could be reprisals against those who worked with American forces, further ethnic cleansing, even genocide.” Even genocide. With no hint of irony, the Times nevertheless went on to conclude that it would be even worse if we stayed.

What a pity that the folks who most need to read the above commentary in its entirety, who most need to ponder it, will be sure to do neither.

Thus — by militant ignorance — is the culture war sustained.

For Californians

This newsletter has, at one time or another, denounced the California legislature, various governors of the state, and the state supreme courts as grossly incompetent. Here we go again.

If you thought judicial lunacy departed when the voters removed Rose Bird from the state’s highest court, perhaps you should reconsider. The California supremes have just handed down a decision that is so stunningly stupid that one must wonder how the majority of the justices missed the wording of the law. Well, evidently they did not miss it — they just decided that it was not what the legislature meant to say, and that (psychic?) intuition of actual meaning led them to a decision that was exactly wrong. And very harmful to the individual.

Californians, you are already at risk from the federal supreme court’s Kelo decision, thanks to chicanery and incompetence in high places. Now your state court has made your life even more risky. It’s time to do something about those morons who govern you! This newsletter suggests a campaign to enact effective anti-Kelo law, and not through the initiative process — tell your assemblymen and senators to take care of it, or be thrown out of office. Next, remove from the bench the justices who bungled the “Samaritan” case; you can do that via the ballot box. Get cracking. It’s your state, and only you can clean up the mess the professionals have made of it.

Links Connecting You To News That Was Either Given Less Coverage Than It Deserved, Or Not Reported At All In The Major Media

How did everything go on Tuesday? It was a class act, without a doubt, and carried off with respectful dignity. Meanwhile here’s a vote ofconfidence in your financial acumen, Mr. President.

“Hey Obama….” Yep, the honeymoon sure is over. It probably never got started for Ace, though; he’s twitchy around people who don’t mind their manners.

The prosecution of “Scooter” Libby is a complex case, but you don’t have to dig very far into it to discover that the justice system was abused by zealots who tried to prove a goofy conspiracy theory, failed, and then spitefully imprisoned a bystander — by confusing judge, jury, and public. It was an attempt to get Bush and Cheney that misfired. Given the press coverage and non-coverage, most citizens “…believe: 1) Libby leaked the CIA employment of Valerie Plame; and 2) he then lied to cover his leaking.” The truth is otherwise. Check it out.

Yes!

The Cult of Death has consequences. “We are famous for our sense of humor. We are Palestinians, you know. — Whoa, what was that? — A rocket was fired from right near here? Oh, maybe some Jews died just now, giggle giggle. Imagine that, chuckle chortle.”

Did you encounter a report in the press/on TV or radio about Obama’s snub of Congressional Medal of Honor vets? Given the heat the media have been taking for a few years, it seems they would consider it essential to report it — rather than be accused of covering for Obama, or endorsing his putative contempt for the heroes. Meanwhile the weblogs (another one here) have been spectacularly profane in their reactions. — How many hours did it take for the culture war to threaten to flare up?

Nigerian scammers: hilarious.

Obama’s nominees, seen through a magnifying glass, acutely.

“Eliminate legitimate grievances to eliminate terrorism,” they say. Rubbish. Common sense like this piece — do read it all — demonstrates that it’s rubbish.

Here’s an article with some good news about Al Qaeda’s hard times in Pakistan. The claims are intriguing but unsourced and a bit vague.

Changing the world, a classroom at a time.

Legal wiretaps, carried out in the Bush administration? It can’t be! But….

The AGW cult is in the news again: Jim Hansen, fascist trasher of science, throws a fit. Bizarre fellow. What will he do next, sell shares in his perpetual motion machine factory?

Think about the unlikely. It may happen to you, and a little preparation can prevent tragedy.

Dear President Obama: Mexico is falling apart, and it’s going to fall all over the USA. You need to do your homework pronto. Start with this, and then take a look here. Please!

The Jews stand alone in a hostile world.

There is a new “normal,” and it’s a horror.

A frontal assault on superstition. There are better ways to promote rationality; a personality cult, complete with its secular theology and patron saint, is a huge mistake.

The P-51, best fighter of WWII. Interesting video here, lots to recommend it.

Uh-oh. Michelle Malkin is disgusted with the reporter types again, and she’s got a point. The newsies do seem to be inconsiderate Philistines. Or maybe it wasn’t all that cold, which means an impromptu swim in the Hudson in mid-January is just, er, bracing??

The End Game? Almost Certainly Not

It’s a revealing, devastating summation of what is going on at the USA’s weekly news magazines:

The rival editors are turning out weeklies that are smaller, more serious, more opinionated and, though they are loath to admit it, more liberal. They are pursuing a more elite audience, in print and on the Web, abandoning the old Henry Luce notion of catering to the masses. It is nothing less than a survival strategy.

For years, this newsletter and its predecessors have been comparing the major news media to dinosaurs. It’s an exaggerated simile. Nobody expects the business of informing people to die out, no matter how much the ethics of editors and reporters shrivel.

What next? Many questions; few answers, and most of those wrong. Is the strategy outlined in the above quote maladaptive? To what degree has the ideological interference in the delivery of news already crippled the media, and will the damage increase when the culture war heats up again? Since politicians and other rascals will always have a need for propaganda, what new patterns in the abuse of communications will emerge? Will all reporting of events eventually be divisive?

While the PenPo would like to think that partisan political faith has taken the news media by their collective throat and is threatening to kill them, the truth is otherwise. The malicious bigotry of people like Mad Mary Mapes and the newspaper gatekeepers (see footnote) is not the root cause of change in the news business. However bad the NY Times and its ilk are, the real basis for the loss of profitability of newsmagazines and newspapers is the habits of consumers. Our lives are changing, and the way we allocate our time is shifting dramatically. Daily newspapers and weekly magazines are gobblers of time, and for many folks, subscriptions are just not practical. Fact: reading the news and all its associated features (book reviews, cultural notes, opinion, letters to the editor, advice, food, travel, gossip, and a dozen more categories of prose) is best conducted at leisure, coffee cup in hand.

For decades, the answer was the tabloid. Now the answer is increasingly the internet. Add who-knows-how-many other factors that have changed our lives but remain hard to discern, and you have to conclude that the news industry, whether objective or propagandistic, faces painful change.

And there will be no end to it. News media will never achieve stability.

Dinosaurs evolved into birds….

Footnote: recall the whine of James O’Shea of the Chicago Tribune, originally quoted back in 2004, quote reprinted in the last PenPo: “There are too many places for people to get information.”

Double Standards

Found here:

Can you imagine the outrage should Bush, Cheney, or any member of the Bush administration be involved in a news report of this order?

Gerhard Schroeder, the former German chancellor, will join the board of the Russian oil company TNK-BP as part of a peace deal between its co-owners, BP of Britain and a group of Russian billionaires

writes Reuters in the IHT.

A spokeswoman for TNK-BP said Schroeder’s popularity and connections in Russia made him a good hire.

Let’s see now: don’t the Germans hate Bush and love Schroeder? Um, pretty much, yes. And this is how we know.

From The Archive

From a pre-TG mailing dated 14 September, 2004:

“Mr. Kim, an international call for you. He says he’s your Uncle Garcia, and he’s…well, he’s chuckling.” “Garcia? Garcia?? I don’t have an unc…”

Back in April, a train carrying some very nasty stuff destined for export to some very nasty people blew up in North Korea. Nobody knew what happened, but the USA and the rest of the rational world could be glad that train was vaporized. At the time I mentioned it to you.

Now we have reports of a huge explosion and “mushroom cloud” over an underground and very secret installation on a North Korean island.

It is heartening to see that the program continues. While it won’t change any minds in North Korea, it’s de-clawing the dragon. Direct action: no UN, no France, no Russia, no politics…just results.

Splice the mainbrace!

Reprinted from The Terrapin Gazette, Number 80, January 4, 2006, this appraisal of G. W. Bush:

Burning Bush

Hatred of George W. Bush is wide and deep in the USA’s Eastern elite. While not as lunatic as the Bush-hating fringe elements that attract media attention, the people who have long dominated upper-crust universities and government bureaucracies in the US are just as bitter about Bush as is any neo-Marxist nutcase.

The Eastern elite hates Bush for a variety of reasons, some of them rational. As is always the case when a president actually does something, Bush has made some serious mistakes and mismanaged a number of problems. He is, for example, guilty of some very damaging cronyism, as The Terrapin Gazette has pointed out.

Those understandable issues do not explain why Bush provokes such utter contempt and revulsion in the Eastern establishment, however. Sometimes it seems to us that the real reason behind all this virulent disgust is that the president is a Texan who can’t give a speech.

The obvious rejoinder is that Lyndon Johnson was similarly challenged, and did not suffer the wrath of the Eastern elite until late in his career. Vietnam crippled Johnson, but only after he had been in office for some time; before he cynically reneged on his tacit promise to seek peace by avoiding hawkish policies, Johnson was tolerated by the people who would eventually reject him. There were several reasons for this, and they demonstrate exactly why Bush has never been accepted as Johnson was.

First, Johnson was a known quantity, which is to say his corrupt ways were an open secret. Like all dishonest politicians, he could be controlled — or so the Eastern establishment thought.

Second, whatever his accent, Johnson was not a true Texan. He brought none of the rough-hewn ethics of the wild West with him when he arrived in Washington; he wanted to be part of the establishment and he always deferred to it.

Third, as a virtual part (actually tool) of the Eastern establishment, Johnson went along with the pre-existing Vietnam policies. It is often forgotten that US policy on Vietnam was crafted by highly-educated, brilliant members of the elite, and that Johnson basically took their advice — right up to the point when he realized the strategy was idiotically simplistic and the tactics dismayingly unimaginative. The disaster of Vietnam was a product of the best minds the Eastern establishment could produce, and Johnson, ever eager to join and work with the elite, was taken for a ride by the educated fools. When these false gurus denounced Johnson and his team, they were essentially denouncing their own policies.

Bush is a Texan. As governor, he refused to halt or even question the practice of capital punishment, forever alienating a large segment of the USA’s governing class. As president he remains in but not of the establishment. Attempts to discredit him by mocking his alcoholism and fundamentalist Christianity have failed; smears directed at his family (those shallow, slightly-out-of-control daughters) have proved equally ineffective. Bush has no flaw that can be exploited, with the possible exception of his unfortunate tendency to reward old friends by giving them power they are unqualified to exercise.

Because he is not perceived by the Eastern elite as a man who can be controlled, Bush is resented as a cultural interloper. With no discernable desire to pander to the establishment and seek admission to its ranks, the Texan is an irritant to the elite, an alien with entirely too much power. If he were just another corrupt, greedy, power-hungry phony like Lyndon Johnson, he could be given the conditional leeway to be president, but a license to govern will never be conferred on Bush.

This leads us to the inevitable question that is never articulated: is Bush really that different from the Easterners who have always run the USA?

In time, a full answer will be available, but for now we have partial evidence that strongly suggests his policies are not significantly distinct from those of the traditional elite.

Bush is a bit of a hawk; this calls to mind the crude aggression of the Eastern establishment that got the nation into Vietnam. Gun rights? The issue peaked some years ago, and few politicians today fail to recognize that repressive gun control laws have failed. Capital punishment? That’s not a real issue in the public’s mind, as the individual states are more involved than is the federal government. Where, exactly, have Bush’s economic or labor policies deviated from the standard line drawn by the Eastern establishment? Nowhere. Tax breaks for the rich are sometimes cited, but the question must be asked, “What do the rich do with their money?” The answer is that in a nation like the USA, they give it to people who are less well off. Then there are the old problems surrounding race, poverty and welfare, most of which have lost much of their power to divide the electorate.

There simply is no single bread-and-butter issue on which Bush has clashed violently with the elite. He has had some abrasive contact, but the disputes have been minor. Abortion has never boiled over; instead it remains a minor talking point, a way of keeping some hot-heads in the GOP from deserting the fold. Stem-cell research is another non-issue that has failed to ignite because Bush has taken a very soft approach, jawboning occasionally and paying lip service to a faction within his party while not doing anything drastic.

All the other aspects of Bush’s proclaimed values that the establishment cannot tolerate have been similarly sidelined. The culture war between “progressives” and “political Neanderthals” is actually a truce, thanks to Bush’s prudent decision not to press his personal ethics on the nation.

The current problems that trouble the nation all have to do with Iraq, US foreign policy, and the UN. Bush is pilloried for following a “unilateralist” policy — much as Truman did in Korea (which was not a UN operation, a fact usually forgotten or ignored). The US establishment has a long tradition of being very critical of the UN, hissing and spitting at the General Assembly, refusing to pay its dues, and so on. Much of that is the creation of a suspicious, resentful Eastern elite. This is the same elite that prefers to portray the John Birch Society and similar groups as the sole sources of negative opinion regarding the UN. It’s a lie.

Then there are the related but relatively new issues of privacy, human rights for terrorists and domestic “spying.” These causes upset the gastrointestinal tracts of various non-governmental pressure groups and ethical puritans. (Puritans were, we remind you, not the kind of folks you would want for neighbors, which is why they felt obliged to depart Britain to consort with Native Americans. The Puritans were uninterested in democracy, narrow-minded and short-sighted; they hated individual differences, imposed uniformity with unflinching zeal, repressed virtually every natural human instinct and practiced a self-righteous dictatorship that appalls any lover of Liberty.)

It is interesting to note the indignant pose taken by deceitful hypocrites who imply that Bush has broken new ground in his disregard for human rights. Remember FDR, who enthusiastically incarcerated ethnic Japanese during WW II. Now consider that rendition, the practice of turning captured Al Qaeda officials over to foreign governments who then cheerfully torture the villains, turns out to be a decade old — anything but a Bush innovation. See this commentary

…for some news you almost certainly did not get in your newspaper. Yes, rendition is a Clinton-era invention, and — get this — Bush has not adopted it as was, but has actually cut it back. From the above website: “In point of fact, the Bush administration took more responsibility and offered a plan that resulted in lowered likelihoods of torture by foreign governments of American (sic) prisoners.” (The quote should read, “…of torture by foreign governments of prisoners captured by US forces.”) Yet Bush is taking the heat.

Just as he is taking the heat for the USA’s refusal to be bound by the Kyoto Protocol on industrial emissions. The facts show clearly that the KP would have zero effect on global warming, and would be impossible to enact in the USA without taking an unacceptable toll on the US economy (and therefore on many foreign economies as well). Clinton and Gore knew this, and whether Clinton acted ethically in simply leaving the mess to Gore will forever be debatable. Bush could see the facts clearly, and he acted on them at once, which is to his credit — but his decisiveness has cost him dearly in the press.

On balance, Bush is pretty much a typical US president, not really out of step with the Eastern establishment even as he follows his own course. One would think Bush-hatred would ease over time, once the elite senses that the inarticulate Texan is not a great danger to its overall influence.

No. Some things cannot be forgiven, and one of them is not knocking politely and compliantly at the door and begging to be admitted. Another is not leaving quietly after a first term. That second election victory, the one that the news media were fanatically determined to prevent, was an unforgivable affront. Do you remember the shock that echoed through the elite when “flyover country” overruled ABC, CNN and even CBS? “I don’t know anyone who voted for that man. How could he win??” “I’m leaving for Canada. I simply can’t stay here with that horrid chimpanzee in the White House.”

So the campaign to discredit, disarm and disable Bush continues. As we have said many times, the press leads the charge, usually by refusing to report on the many successes the (now imaginative and tactically successful) US military has achieved in Iraq. For example,here is some information that has been carefully ignored by virtually all of the important papers in the USA. Have a look; it’s worth a few minutes of your time.

In the same vein, we note that while the press often reports some of the facts relating to the USA’s (overall stunningly successful) foreign policy, it often fails to put everything into context. There is probably a reason for that.

Consider, for example, those annoying end-of-the-year lists: The Sexiest Vacuum Cleaner Salesmen of 2005, The Year’s Worst Grammatical Errors By A Sportscaster, and so on. It’s tiresome. But there is no disputing Austin Bay’s nomination for the Big Event of 2005. He’s right, it’s gigantic, and the fact that it has not been praised to the skies says a lot about those who are so silent. See this article.

Then there are the statistics. The editors know that daily reports saying the same thing over and over and over — “Two US (soldiers, Marines) were (killed, wounded) yesterday, bringing the total US dead in Iraq to (whatever)” — are far more effective than an objective analysis of the full facts. One cannot foster anxiety and frustration about Iraq by being fair, so unfair is the order of the day. For a nonpartisan look at the numbers that you have not seen in your paper and will never see in your paper, go here.

Yes, the facts are not what the Eastern establishment would have you believe, and yes, Bush-hatred is an irrational, intense, abiding passion for many who are highly placed in the government. This was revealed in a recent Terrapin Gazette that provided the full story on the Wilson/Plame mess. It was made clear that there is an element in the CIA that is out to get Bush. Bush’s attempts to set the topsy-turvy agency right provoked a very nasty response and led to the investigation of the “outing” of Plame.

(We repeat: she was never really covert. Wilson bragged about her CIA job to strangers, and the other day her five-year-old son blurted out to the press that mommy is a “secret spy.” Fact: no spy would ever, ever tell her tiny child the nature of her work — for fear he would do exactly what he did. This entire investigation and the resulting indictment are a money-wasting farce. Recall that the special prosecutor has failed in his mission, which was to discover who broke federal law by exposing Plame; the indictment is peripheral to the original issue and may fall apart before the accused is brought to trial.)

The brahmins in the CIA are out to get Bush, and now the same intent is obvious in the NSA. We won’t go into the full subject here, but it can be summarized as the exposure of genuinely sensitive information that will help Al Qaeda. There are people whose hatred of Bush is so intense that they are more than willing to compromise national security to make a bogus case against the president.

Seldom in US history has a president had to cope with such institutional disloyalty. The spooks, having failed miserably in their assignments, are terrified of the reforms Bush is trying to impose on them, and they are lashing out in order to preserve a dysfunctional status quo.

The situation has twisted and turned back upon itself; now the editors of The New York Times find themselves in an impossible position that may well drive the price of the newspaper’s stock even lower than it is now, as well as discredit the editors’ past propaganda. Having howled for the imprisonment of the high administration official they assumed exposed Plame, the editors now must cope with a similar investigation into their role in some genuine breaches of federal law. Many US voters may well wonder whether the NYT is guilty of having conspired with treasonous federal employees. Huge chickens have come home to roost. You will find some genuinely disgusting information on how the NYT is coping if you click on the link.

Before this new sideshow has played itself out, some facts will emerge (and not be widely reported or explained by the major news media): Bush was continuing policies established long ago; the legality of those practices was investigated and legal opinions were presented by competent authorities that encouraged the president to proceed; genuine harm was done by highly-placed leakers who broke the law; the editors who published the secrets will be unable to excuse their actions by pointing out that they delayed printing the stories.

The establishment realizes that these facts must be played down, suppressed and ignored lest they fully expose the partisan bias and malice of the press. If the gatekeepers have their way, Bush-hatred in the Eastern establishment will carry the day.

None of the above should be considered a partisan defense of Bush. We at The Terrapin Gazette are frustrated and disappointed by the man; none of our staff voted for him, and we often find ourselves saying to him, “Damn it, you can see the problem, now for crying out loud DO something about it!” We despise Bush’s cronyism, his lack of imagination on many issues, and his failure to deal with critics who are, in our view, extraordinarily vulnerable. When he does speak out in rebuttal and assertion, he scores, but he does not follow through. His reluctance to go for the jugular, to drive home simple points that are ethically unambiguous, is what we consider to be Bush’s second flaw. His first: cronyism.

Well, we DO wish he could give a speech.