Archive for February, 2010


February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

The band KISS has been a staple in popular rock culture since the mid 1970’s.  Their over the top stage show  has made it a household name.   The members of KISS have created characters that have taken on a life of their own.  Over the years the band has had numberous line up changes, but has been held together by the Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons.  These two devised an ingenious blend of dark and gaudy imagery with fairly radio friendly popular rock.  Though some my find their imagery somewhat demonic, their lyrics were rarely subversive, especially in the early days. 

KISS has become a major merchandising operation, selling everything from dolls to underwear.  Because of this, many people have accused Gene Simmons, the effective CEO of KISS marketing, of being materialistic.  But when you look at his background, as well as the economic principles at work, you realize that there is much more to this than a matter of someone taking advantage of his fans.

Gene Simmons was born in Haifa Israel on August 25, 1949.  He was born with the name Gene Klein.  A few years earlier, Israel and its people were involved in a struggle for their very lives.  When Israel issued it’s Proclamation of Independence on May 14, 1948, five Arab armies invaded the following day.  Many of the leaders of this force had the intent of  wiping out all of Israel’s inhabitants, including Gene’s mother. 

Thankfully, Israel prevailed, and Gene’s mother was able to raise her son in the new nation until 1958 when they moved to New York.   She and Gene survived because of Israel’s ability to acquire weapons.  At one point  the US and Great Britain had an arms embargo on the entire region that unfairly favored the attacking Arabs.  The Israel’s had to be resourceful, and they even had to smuggle weapons from Eastern Europe, which required them to have material resources in the first place.  Eventually, they were able to purchase weapons on a more normal level, and today they are one of the world’s most capable militaries.  They survived because they had devotion.  And they survived because they had the MATERIAL means to purchase these weapons in the first place.

There tends to be a  unity between the ability to create wealth and the ability to create a strong defense. 

British Invasion that forever changed the face of music was led by Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, The Who, The Rolling Stones, and The Beatles.  The parents of there band members lived through Germany’s attempted invasion of England.   The members of Black Sabbath grew up in Birmingham England. 

 Bassist Terry “Geezer” Butler commented  about “the craters down the street in our neighborhood from the bombs that the Germans dropped.”   Their were even some documents that revealed plans by Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich ( head of  SD and Gestapo) to turn Birmingham into an industrial work site and to subordinate all of its inhabitants to forced labor camps. 

The rock and roll of the 60’s was an organic celebration of the world’s triumph over the horrifying possibility that Nazi totalitarianism could have shaped the entire world. 

In a 2002 interview Gene Simmons described how WWII history related to his drive for success.  “My mother was a holocaust survivor.  She taught me to not take life for granted, but to take life for everything it offers.  No watching the ballgame on Sundays.”   Though we do not think watching football impedes ones ability to achieve, the point is well taken. 

Gene Simmons realized that the time one has is a resource, and can be either utilized or squandered.

And this is what is so wrong with Obama’s crusade against “the wealthy”.  He tries to frame “the rich” in terms of the “fat-cat CEO’s” that are being given  bonuses with the tax payers money.  But that is far from the norm.  Many of “the wealthy” are first generation millionaire who had jobs like pipe fitter, plumber, mechanic, electrician, or soime other trade that required them to perform a service or good that was in high demand.  These people often worked 60 hours a week, went to school at night, and saved their money for several years.   They put  that money into  either another small business, or some form of financial investment that helped the nation create wealth. 

They didn’t steal it, and they are not hurting anyone by having it.

There are those that say it is wrong for people like Gene Simmons to make so much money when school teachers make so much less.  But examining the concept of marginal revenue product shows that this is not the problem that it has been made out to be.  Economist Karl E. Case states “The marginal revenue product  (MPR) of a variable input  is the additional revenue a firm earns  by employing one additional unit of  that input.”    This simply means the profit the company makes after paying for the labor or advertising or what every variable factor is used in increase sales. 

Paying  Lebron James $43,779,912 a year does not cause ticket prices to go up, ticket prices go up because having  James makes the demand for tickets to increase.  That demand will occur no matter how much he is paid, but understanding this makes him demand more money from the owners.  And most of that figure is based on the television revenues that he is providing the team and league.  Those revenues come from selling advertising time to firms that make cars, computers, electic razors, and other things that make contribute to the nation’s  economy. 

Lebron James is moving product.  So is Gene Simmons.

And increase in ticket sales is not enough to discourage millions of people enjoying  live viewing of the Gene Simmons and Lebron James in action.  So unless these people have been tricked or coerced into feeling good about their purchases, the amount they are paid is just. 

And by the way, Gene Simmons was a school teacher before he was a rock star.  Bill O’Reilly and Roy Blount were also teachers.

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February 27, 2010 2 comments

The one of the health care summits highlights is the exchange between Barack Obama and John McCain.  John McCain proposed:

“Remove all the special deals for the special interests and favorite few, and treat Americans the same, under provisions of the law, so that they would know that geography would not dictate what kind of health care they would receive.  Thank you Mr. President.”

A reasonable request right?  For some reason, that statement offended Obama.  Wonder why?  That should not have been something that was a problem for him if he were not planning to redistribute health care from “bitter people who cling to guns and religion”, and give it to those he deems to victims of ” the wealthy”.

Obama’s response: “Let me just make this point John, because we are not campaigning anymore, the election is over.”  McCain’s laughed and said “I am reminded of this everyday.  Some felt that this retort was too light by the Arizona senator, but was it?  Obama once again revealed himself to be unequal to the task of being a respectful exectutive, why follow him?  McCain is not a conservative talk show host or a grassroots organizer, he is a public official.  By laughing off the ignorant comment by this unprofessional ideologue, he showed that he understood what his job was.

We will handle the lambasting.

We don’t know if  Rachael Maddow told him to say this, but it will not work out for him, as in St. Louis on February 27, he will once again hammer this embarrassment of a president.  We discussed with some of the disillusioned people who voted for him the idea of bringing civility to the debate.  And we agree in terms of other CITIZENS who we disagree with. 

We bear no ill will toward those that did or still do believe in Obama’s agenda.  But as a highly paid public servant, our employee, if he acts like a jerk, WE WILL CALL HIM A JERK!  This kind of garbage is not going to be allowed to go unanswered.  He finished with “so we can spend the remainder of our time with our respective talking points, we’re supposed to be talking about insurance.”

John McCain’s question was about insurance.  So that would make Obama either stupid or A JERK. 

 We do not think he is stupid.

The Tea Party has been “the finger in the chest” of this Statist Cabal, and Obama’s miserable behavior shows that our work is far from done.

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February 25, 2010 Leave a comment

“We want you to be more than the party of no.”  This has been the rationalization for Team Obama throughout this process.  But this mentality is a reflection of the poor me attitude that has been Obama’s calling card.  There has been discussion amongst conservatives as to whether the Republicans should even go to this health care summit at all.  But it is possible that the conservative movement can be advanced if our representatives speak the language of the people’s power, not convenient compromise.

 Before the election of Scott Brown, the Republicans did not have enough votes to stop any bill on their own.  The “obstructionism”  was not initiated by the GOP, it was  started by US!   The Tea Party “finger in the chest” of  the Pelosi Frank Cabal helped others who they counted on to stand against them.

The first real push against the Democratic leadership’s health care reform was in the form of  the town hall protests at the Democratic meetings, and by all reasonable accounts most of the first objectors were people who were Democrat voters.  Many of those who were rejecting faux care said “we voted for Obama, we voted for hope and change, we didn’t vote for any of this.”

Among the proposals coming out of the Obama camp are to extend the range of a 2.9% on those making over $200,000, having it apply to more items than on previous bills.  This appears to be a round about way to increase taxes on “the wealthy” without coming out and say that he is doing it.  this is the kind of thing that makes us just want our representatives to reject the whole thing.  The notion seems to be raising taxes on families through a health care bill so you are not held accountable.  This is dealing from the bottom of the deck. 

The Wall Street Journal Today also reports that Team Obama is looking for a $2000 penalty per person levied to small businesses for each person that is not covered.  That is up significantly from previous figures. That hardly goes toward helping to “save or create” jobs.

What those that call us unreasonable do not understand is that we are concerned that even a scaled down bill will be a gateway to socialized medicine and a redistribution of income and healthcare.   St. Louis School Member Kirby Karl says:

The word “politics” is comprised of two words. These two words sound very similar to two other words with very similar meanings. The words “poly”, meaning “many” and “ticks”, meaning “bloodsuckers”. The nature of most politicians is to suck their victims dry. You let them bite and they won’t quit sucking. If “We The People” decide to concede one iota, in regards to healthcare, we’re just going to get gangbanged by these lying crooks. There’s virtually no trusting them, nowadays, unfortunately.

 Obama says” do not oppose good ideas because it is good politics.”  This is where he misses the point. It is the president’s responsibility to convince the people that his ideas are good.  Telling people not to oppose something he wants is the very tactic that is PISSING PEOPLE OFF! We are not doing to for fun, we REALLY THINK THIS STUFF IS BAD!

The Republicans should listen, and GO READY TO SAY NO! The class warfare end before we are prepared to even discuss working with Team Obama’s agenda. I vote SCRAP THE WHOLE THING AND START OVER! IT IS DAMAGED GOODS! Work on bills that address the problems of those who are getting a bad deal, not on giving Pelosi dominion over the private sector.

Sometimes, it is more productive to JUST SAY NO!

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February 24, 2010 1 comment

 “The Stimulus has created or saved 2 million jobs”.  This is Team Obama’s story and they are sticking to it.  The number has been debunked and refuted for months.  Government jobs have been found to be fastest growing sector, with them averaging nearly $30,000 a year more than private sector jobs.   And much of the Recovery Act has gone into propping up state public employment, as well as an astronomical $120 billion slated for the Department of Education last year.  Many in the Democratic leadership have claimed that this has saved the nation’s economy.  However this money does not come out of thin air.  Where did the nearly $800 billion(some say as much as 826 billion) come from?

The 2009 Stimulus Program is an example of public sector pump printing.  No wealth has been created by this, they have simply shifted the people’s money around.   In the free market society, when a business is losing money it has to make cuts in expenses, which may unfortunately include labor.  Small businesses, who have not been helped by the Recovery Act in any meaningful way, have had to do less with more.  Last quarter, labor productivity has up nearly 10%. 

The owner of St. Louis Strings says “We have almost doubled are sales from last year.  It is all about making sales.”  He had to figure out how to make his store work in the face of the Obama agenda’s possible negative impact on the economy.

Who better to control these resources, the owner of this small business who succeeded IN SPITE of bad government policy, or the government that responded to a deficit by increasing it from nearly $500 billion in 2009 to $1.4 billion in 201?  The total national debt is around $13 trillion.

The Recovery Act and Second TARP have cost almost $1.6 trillion.  Unless the economy has grown well over $2 trillion directly because of these measures, one can hardly say that  it was worth it because they supposedly produced 2 million jobs based on a statistic that cannot be proven. 

This $1.6 trillion eventually has to be borrowed, which drives up  real bank to bank interest rates or even makes funds unavailable for business.  And if they print up money, eventually it will greatly reduce the value of our currency in hand.  The money supply has been doubled since the great Stimulus party began.  The reason why the CPI (Cost Price Index) has not gone through the roof is because of the 18% real unemployment and the fact that financial institutions are holding on to their funds. 

Well, that reluctance to lend is directly caused by the Stimulus, so it is actually destroying, not creating jobs.

If anyone has saved and created 2 million jobs, it has been the people for working hard in the face of this uncertainty, and the Tea Party and town hall activists who  stopped Cap-n-Tax, Card Check, Amnesty, and Health Control from “fundamentally changing America” in 2009.

Excellent music video rap debate between F. A. Hayek and Keynes.

Harding’s policy.

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February 22, 2010 1 comment

Sunday, February 21, member Stephanie Rubach invited us to meet with Roy Blunt at the Urban Studio Cafe.  The focus of Congressman Blunt’s discussion was his position on the political economic situation in America.  The meeting was interactive, and many relevant questions were answered.  Blunt was concise and forthright, speaking in specifics not platitudes and ideology.  Beside the making a strong case for himself as a candidate for the US Senate, he also demonstrated the power of direct communication with the people.

A few days before this meeting, before we knew of the meeting, we asked black voters what  they thought was preventing Republicans from gaining their vote.  The common responses were that Republicans had not come to their communities, and that they felt that their tone was not appealing to blacks.  They were aware that blacks had once voted for Republicans in greater numbers, and they remembered that Lyndon Johnson was a segregationist and that Robert Byrd was a Klansman.  They also expressed concern for education, not being sure if the Republicans were committed to helping blacks in this area.

Roy Blunt was open and candid about his positions on these and other issues. director Chirs Arps asked the Congressman if he would continue support the HUD (Housing Urban Development) and other housing projects that previous Missouri senators had been active in.  Blunt said that he wanted to take a look at those programs to make sure that they were working properly and efficiently. We believe many government development projects are rout with waste.  Blunt asserted that he would work for community development, and that make sure areas like North City would once again thrive as they once did.

When Stephanie Rubach expressed her concern about the Republican Congressional meeting with Obama about the health care reform, Blunt said that he thought that the voters would probably be the ones to “kill the bill”.  He added that he thought that even if they did force something through using reconciliation thus without bi-partisan support, it would be a superficial gesture without the power of the original plan.  Blunt pointed to the fact that the bill did not take full effect for four to five years, and that there would be several election cycles to have it dismantled. 

This is a contrast from the notion that any version of this bill being passed will result in an irreversible slide to a government take over of the health industry.  Many believe that any version of this bill will lead to a chain reaction that will lock the nation into the public program, and that the taxes and penalties for not having insurance would begin immediately. 

Blunt presented a more conventional view, holding to the idea that voters can defeat bad policy.  When we relayed this to others, the feeling tended to be split between those that found Blunt’s optimism on this refreshing and those that feared this would lock American into a public take over.

Stephanie Rubach, a health care professional, has been voicing her clear opposition to socialized medicine.  She has helped to debunk the myth that the reform debate is a merely an exercise in racial “code language”.   And has been working to debunk the long stnading myth that black people should naturally embrace socialism and government control of their lives.  Roy Blunt summed this up by objecting to the “Federal Straight Jacket” that has been pushed on the urban communities for so long. 

Congressman Blunt is correct.

We asked him about how do we reconcile the national call to control spending with improving the educational system he was very clear:

“I really think it is a mistake to assume that the proper way or the best place to fund elementary and secondary education is Washington D. C.  Frankly, every time we talk about the federal government, and that if we just wait long enough it’s going to build a school building, they haven’t built one yet………he adds “The further you get these decisions from moms and dads and class room teachers, the less common sense and the less good results your gonna get.”

Recently, there have been numerous references to the Founding Fathers as conservatives  look to the Constitution as the means to return government to its proper role.  In particular, Thomas Jefferson has been the “Favorite Founder” for many. 

Congressman Blunt mentioned him as “President Jefferson” as seeing that “the states could be a laboratory for change.”  He emphasized that this did not mean greatly increasing government spending, but that I don’t mind spending a few federal dollars to try to create a model….. to share with other states.”

This was a very interesting and effective statement, as many of the grassroots movement have voiced their disagreement with Blount’s spending on TARP and cash for clunkers.  We conveyed these challenges, but unlike Barney Frank, Blunt answered with class and respect.

The Congressman said that he did vote for the first TARP  in 2008, and he said that he only concurred with the original $250 billion.  “An addition $100 billion was added.”  Blunt said that they hoped that this would have loosened the credit markets.  We recall that their was not initially a clear consensus on this issue among economists, as if there ever is.  But Blunt made the point that many conservatives agreed with that plan, and we added that many conservative commentators also advocated it.

Blunt admitted that it was not used exactly as he would have liked, but that the initial investment has been all but repaid.  He also holds that this cannot be held as responsible for the massive increase in the deficit, since for this the tax payer haveh been reimbursed, and that “you can’t say that this justifies more deficit spending”.

Here lies the dissention between some of the various political camps.  Blunt’s case is based on structural analysis and quantitative evidence.  However, many who are angry at government felt that the two TARP bills were in conjunction with one another, and that TARP 1 opened the door for TARP 2.  This difference in understanding was demonstrated in his feeling that we  have time to reverse the health care bill if it passes.

We see this is a growing conflict between the conceptual and functional elements of the conservative polity.  Many grassroots conservatives say they oppose Blunt because even though the original TARP may have been paid off, the principle of bailing out the banks was a the problem.  Blunt supporters have made a distinction to the two bailouts, saying the first one was the one that “saved the financial industry”, and that the second bailout was primarily a means for the Democratic leadership and Obama to control and punish.

Regardless of where one stands, Congressman Blunt was sharp and made his positions clear.  This is in  contrast to Robin Carnahan, who when interviewed by Jamie Allman earlier this year, spent much of the session trying to appear to be both for and against President Obama’s.  Also, while  Carnahan was only decisive when she was blaming Blunt and Bush “for the mess we are in”, Blunt only spoke of what he believed and did not mention her or his primary opponents.

Roy Blunt did what many Republicans have failed to do in the past.  He went to a black community and discussed is positions on how they are relevant to both the black voters and the nation as a whole.

Linda Boyd-Shell, an observer at the meeting says:

I thought he did a good job but I just would like to make sure that the City of St Louis is not left behind like in the past. John Scates and I have met with lots of different ones over the years to secure more help with pulling more Republican votes out of the City & North County. I, as well as John, believe that if we had the backing from Jeff City and the MO Republican Party to really get out the message to these areas, we could increase the votes for our candidates by 10 to 15%. In doing so though, we need to always keep all politicians feet to the fire on what they said they would do once elected! I think that is one of the biggest things that we have to continue to do. If they will do as they said when running then we will continue to support them.
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February 21, 2010 Leave a comment

For generations those who want to attack a political faction would label them with something they knew would stick, something that would stigmatize association with them.  After World War II many Americans were accused of being Communist, including Dwight D. Eisenhower and Martin Luther King.  And recently many commentators and even members of Congress have called the Tea Party and town hall activists racists and radicals.  But this tactic has not been limited to the political arena. 

In 1994, at one point the Texas heavy metal band Pantera had the number one album in the nation.  At one time another hard rock band named Prong was doing very well too.  This did not sit well with many who were pushing the “less in more” alternative thing.  Even in St. Louis we often heard, “I can’t believe that they are playing those rednecks in this day and age.”  We found this attitude to be ridiculous, beside the fact that they were a phenomenal band with one of the world’s best guitar players, Dimebag Darrel. 

Pantera being a popular act was incompatible with the MTV alternative music format. Singer Phil Anselmo was embroiled in a controversy when he accused MTV of discrimination against him when they blocked out parts of the band’s video where guns were showing, but allowed the guns to be shown in the gangsta rap video’s.  Phil was right, as he often was.  After the station made this move against his band, they played a video from Warren G called “Regulators”, were it shows Warren G’s partna Nate Dog shooting a bunch of guys trying to rob Warren during a craps game.  The lyrics for this scene were

“I laid all those bustas down I let my gat explode,…………now it’s time to switch to freak mode.”

The music for this song was excellent, and Nate Dogg was actually a good singer.  But the idea of killing a bunch of people and then going to hook up with a bunch of women may seem a little offensive to some.  We do not advocate censorship, but Phil’s point was that he did not feel that the scene from his video was any more objectionable than these images that were prevalent on the  channel.

Phil also said in several interviews that he was not going to conform to the trends of the day, and that Pantera would stay heavy metal throughout.

MTV began running stories about how “other people” where saying that Phil Anselmo was racist.  Tabitha Soren, an MTV news anchor (that’s right) told a story about how Phil Anselmo had used a racial slur directed toward the security guards.  However, they had no sound on this, and no eye witness accounts or interviews.  The entire piece was done on rumors. 

They persisted with this line of  assumption for several months.  Another time that year, MTV did a piece on how “other people” found racism in the lyrics for that number one albumn “Far Beyond Driven” .  There was one song on their that aggressively dealt with race, but they had the wrong song! 

The news commentators began reading the lyrics to “Use My Third Arm”, and said that the lines “A faster way to kill them all” was about black people.  Actually if you read further you see that we was this was not the case.  The lines “NARC boy” and “sucking up to the man” reveal he is talking about drug informants.   

Not that we advocate killing police informants, but the fact was that they had their references all wrong.  Whether through negligence or intentional misdirection  this worked to stigmatize Pantera with many MTV viewers.  True Pantera fans knew better than this, but it was still grossly unfair. 

The song that would have made sense to discuss would have been “Five Minutes Alone”.  But this was not a racist song either.  This song is about rejecting the notion that it is alright to denigrate and discriminate against a person because he is white, based on past injustices.  Phil opines.

I read your eyes, your mind made was made up.  You took me for a fool.  you used complexion of my skin for counter racist tool.  -You can’t burn me- I’ve spilled my guts out in the past.  Taken advantage of because you know where I’ve come from.  My past

 This is hardly a racist sentiment, unless you accept the Jeanine Garofalo’s world view.  In fact, as black person  who saw this stuff all the time, I actually respect those who stand up to the Reverend Jerry “broke down George Jefferson” garbage.  Anselmo’s  charge that “you cry for compensation, I ask you please just give us five minutes alone” is an honest reaction to someone trying to take advantage of you.

We trust someone who will will not back down to race mongering more than those that pander to it.  

On the band’s previous album “Vulgar Display of Power”, their rejection of racism is clear.  In the song “No good(Attack The Radical), Phil denounces hate groups of all races:

You blame oppression and play the role of criminals, yo rape and burn show progress is minimal.  White Hoods and militants you know it’s such a pity, living, breathing, violence in your city.”   His solution, “you feel inferior.  Be superior, and know your interior.”

Sounds good to me!  Another song on that album “Rise” exhorts “forgive, forget, be a man not a child,” and “make pride universal so no one gives in”, as he speaks to “every creed and every color.”  They call out bigots on all sides to be subverted by common sense and understanding

So next time you hear some guy on TV telling you that someone is a this or a that, maybe a closer examination of the accused person’s record will reveal them to be someone yu agree with.

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February 20, 2010 Leave a comment

“We need to become more like Europe.”  “Back in the 1900’s capitalism was brutal to the average worker.” This is the custom tailored history that has been used to convince people that the nation needs to be “fundamentally changed”.  However, this is not consistent with a close examination of the facts.  We often hear about how low the average worker was paid, but this has to be put in terms of  price index of the time.  And put these figures in proper context provides some understanding on the direction that needs to be pursued today. 

 In 1901, census data revealed that the age male’s estate was worth $5000, and they had on average $750 in bank and equity savings.  Those in the city earned $750 per year, as compared $550 annual income for farmers.  Low skilled workers averaged $484 a year.  The New York Times ads reported that farm equipment managers could make as much as $2000 a year.

The tendency of modern historical critiques of the age attempt to compare these values to what people are paid now, and suggest that politically driven reform and increased power of unions saved the people from this injustice.  But were these wages really that low?  

During this times, average American annual expenses were as follows:

Clothes $30

Food $82  ( a quart of milk 6 cents, pound of pork 17 cents.)

Religion and charity $9

Healthcare $4

Tobacco $6  

Historian Scott Derks reports that working women earned $365 a year, with annual expenditures of $55 for clothes, $78 for food, and around $200 for room and board.  Women dominated the clerk positions, where their male employers preferred hiring them to men.  Often men had significantly higher termination rate.  The popular slogan managers of the time was “what to do want,  honest girls or boys you smoke and play cards?”

By the second decade of the century, American women’s average earnings and standard of living exceeded that of European men of the same time!  America became the leading steel producer by the 1890’s, a decade where nation’s wealth doubled.  Theodore Roosevelt biographer George Mowry discusses those executives who  touted this growth  as “the three winning cards, iron, steel, and coal.”

America’s lower tax rate was a major factor in this ascendency over Europe.  Mowry reports :

Americans were vastly better off, leading the world with a per capita income of  $227 as opposed to the British male’s $181 and a Frenchman’s $161- partially because of lower taxes (British men paid 9 percent of their income, and the French, 12 percent). as compared to a 3% rate for American men.

The British pulled ahead of the rest of in previous centuries by having lower energy prices, and abundance of coal, and higher wages that allowed their people to acquire better education and increased job skills. America pulled ahead of the British by allowing their people to keep a higher percentage of their income, thus providing them with the means to save and invest.   Throughout the twentieth century, America overseas investments soared, as the nation achieved favorable trade balalnces.  During World War I, America was engaged in loans and investment to both sides, and Britian was dependant on the US suppplies to survive the conflict.

So when  people talk about Europeans being angry at America, instead of looking to George Bush’s presidency, maybe we should look to the 1900’s, when America passed them up!

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February 20, 2010 Leave a comment

We hear a lot of people talk about politicians not being conservative enough or liberal enough, or that they compromise their political values.  These concerns are all valid, but sometimes the problem with a leader is that he is simply too much of one of way, incompatible with the demands of the problems at hand.  Franklin Peirce, the nation’s fourteenth president, was an example of that.

Franklin Pierce took was president from 1853 to 1857.  With tensions building between the North and the South over slavery, Pierce ran as a doughboy, a Northerner with Southern sympathies.  This was that era’s version of a “centrist”.  He was an  attractive, charismatic, and charming .  Often referred to as “a beautiful boy”, he was the image candidate. 

In an age of disillusionment with partisan politics, many voters embraced Pierce because they knew nothing about him.  Though he served in his opponent Winfield Scott’s army, his record was not impressive.   He had mild notoriety as a state’s attorney. 

Todd Leopold, entertainment  editor of editor of observed, “After Pierce, the country was made safe for good-looking empty suits.” 

Sounds familiar.  Isn’t that what they said about someone else.   Well, let’s not get into that debate here.  This one is all about Frank.

Even though he was elected as the a man who could be a uniter, he ultimately sent the nation barreling toward the civil war with his pandering to the Southern extremist politics. Instead of practicing the Northern Southern supporters sought from him, he was only responsive to the slave holders ideology.  His disastrous agenda lead him to a series of devastating errors that included:

Supporting the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 which allowed the territories settlers to decide whether they wanted to have slavery.

He continually appointed pro-slavery governors to these territories, whose conflicts with abolitionists led to “Bleeding Kansas” where they clashed with pro-slavery forces to violent battles.

Used federal troops to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act, an example of the federal government imposing on local communities to perpetuate the evils of slavery.

With of these terrible mistakes, he was still a fierce adherent to the Constitution, and he defended the rights of immigrants.  But his submission to the slave holder’s interests destroyed his historical reputation, now known as the pro-slavery president who propelled the nation to the eminent Civil War. 

As rotten as Peirce’s track record is on this issue, The Greyfalcon does agree that all presidents should first be viewed first in the context of their time not ours, and should be considered in terms of historical not political terms. 

Today we have many pundits and self-appointed “holders of the true faith” judging every president in history against today’s “Conservative verse Progressive” trendy, media oriented rhetoric.  However, this modern-day nomenclature does not work for the majority of this nation’s history.  It is a great way to make a point in 2010, or to sell books, but it doesn’t help us understand the American journey.

If we look at Pierce only as a pro-Southern, pro-slavery advocate we might try to tie him only to the extreme racist factions or fringe political groups.  But Pierce would not have been that in 1853.  Instead we must also consider his branding as a handsome, relative unknown who talked a good game and tried to play both sides of a viciously contested battle between the prevailing philosophies of the day.

Jayme Simoe, president of a Concord, New Hampshire public relation’s agency said of Pierce “I don’t see Pierce as a hero, but i don’t see him as a villain either.  Simoe adds that when we type-cast a US president in terms of the modern dichotomy “we lose track of how he got where we are today.” 

Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Nixon, and JFK may have done things that we would identify as politically antithetical to what we believe today, but their roles in the nation’s story must be understood comprehensively if we want to truly understand the American story.

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February 19, 2010 Leave a comment

We have heard it ten thousand times, “George Bush diminished our standing around the world.”   Those that hold this point to the US invasion of Iraq, coercive interrogation, and his general “cowboy image” as the primary reasons.  But what about Bill Clinton’s role in precipitating the decline of American standing.  In an age where one year later Team Obama is still using “the previous administration” as the reason for its failures, considerations on what Bush inherited are rarely mentioned.

Throughout the 1990’s the Clinton Administration employed the “containment” strategy on Saddam Husein regime in Iraq.  The UN, backed by the USA’s military and economic power, placed rules on Iraq’s weapons development programs.  As the vanquished aggressor of the Gulf War, they were required to allow  weapons inspectors (UNSCOM) to verify that they were not building nuclear or biological weapons (WMD). 

Many claim that Clinton had Husein “bottled up”, but their were several troubling incidents during this time.  In 1993, the Iraqi’s attempted to kill George Bush 41.  Clinton retaliated with missile attacks and airstrikes.  In 1994, the  Husein began a serious mobilization for the invasion of Kuwait, an obvious violation of the Iraq Gulf War agreements.   Another major scandal was the Oil-for-Food gambit, where the UN was party to a major violation of their resolution against this behavior.  Then in  August of 1998, Saddam announced suspension of UN inspections. 

In October, The Iraq Liberation Act became US Law.  This measure declared that the United States begin a process that would remove Saddam Husein from power.  Republicans and Democrats alike were denouncing him as a tyrant.  It was official doctrine that we were moving to get rid of him, hopefully through sanctions, but by force if necessary.  In December, UNSCOM removes its staff, and there was no way to know if  Iraq had WMD’s. 

That same month, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Clinton for obstruction of justice and perjury.  At the time when he was due to begin court proceedings against him, he ordered airstrikes against Iraq. 

The international outrage was undeniable.  Europeans, Asians, and especially the Middle Easterners saw this attack against Iraq as a smoke screen for Clinton’s immorality and legal perils.  The press called it “wag the dog”.  This major American military operation was discredited by the suspicious timing.  Whether this was what he was really doing is not even the point.  

But it really, really, really does not look good.

What is important is that he ordered the strikes so close to when he was due in court, and anyone who opposed the action could use the coincidence to deprecate United States.  And what’s more, this man’s rotten behavior put our nation’s security at risk, because  he was vulnerable to blackmail and extortion.  Who knows what was leaked in his attempt to conceal his improprieties. 

Also, unlike the media manufactured world view of George Bush as being unpopular, the hit on our standing because of Clinton was tangible and based on justifiable complaints.  If the decision to launch a devastating attack against a weaker nation could be made so capriciously, and with such an insidious purpose, what kind of people must we be?  If the president of the United States is willing to kill thousands of civilians just to avoid being exposed as a bad husband and a sex fiend, then what dishonorable things is he capable of if he had something even more to gain?

The fact is as a people we are better than that, and history tells that tale.  But on that day, Clinton made it easy for our detractors to deny that we were better.

Saddam was emboldened by this fiasco.  From 1999-2002, Iraq fired at American and British planes enforcing the Iraq no fly zones.  This occurred at an almost daily, and certainly weekly basis.  The planes responded in limited ways by targeting mobile radar and missile firing vehicles. 

So one could say that in many respects the second Iraq war began with Bill Clinton’s childish, selfish, reckless combination of bad judgement in his personal life and even worse judgement in his role as commander-in-chief.

How many times have we heard about George Bush inheriting “this mess”. 

Not many, if any, because like him hate him, he was a man who took responsibility for his the situation.

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February 18, 2010 Leave a comment

One year ago Team Obama was ready to “Fundamentally Transform America”.  They took a 52-53% win in the popular vote as a mandate for structural and permanent change in the nations economic system.  This was not the case.  The America people were looking for a fundamental change not in our private sector freedoms but in the responsiveness from the government.  Now, Obama’s approval numbers in the mid 40’s and members of the Democratic Congress are dropping out of races in increasing numbers.  The stature of this administration is in free fall, and Obama is still touting the success of a stimulus that has not worked.  Republicans are speaking of retaking Congress and grassroots conservatives are speaking of taking the nation back.  But it is important to understand why Obama’s agenda has failed, and not to make the same mistake

  Barack Obama came into office with very good personal approval ratings, sometimes as high as the low 70’s.  But he took this as meaning more than it did, going after the Republicans with “Get a mop”, and going after the folks with “they are waving tea bags”.  He was patently wrong on at least a half-dozen major issues, including the police case with his professor buddy Gates. 

During the first year of his presidency the national deficit was increased 1.4 trillion in one year and unemployment went from 7.6 to 10.0.  And instead of changing course, Obama blamed Bush.  But the collapse in his program was not simply because things have gone poorly.  The real problem is that he has gone too far into academic Statist la la land, and when he tries to come back a bit the left of his base rejects him as an opportunists. 

The Obama coalition was a ponderous collection of basically incompatible factions, such as the unions, environmentalists, anti-war crowd, black issue groups, feminists, and the “modern socialists”.  Surprising to many, the modern socialists were among the first to abandon the health care reform, because the Congress was more into get something passed than getting the “public option.” 

But Obama is also very much responsible for his demise, denigrating “the rich” in hundreds if not thousands of references in his 415 + speeches.  He made small business, bank CEO’s, and individuals as sure he was going to punish them in the name of “social justice”.

The Tea Party stopped this Statist train in it’s tracks. But it is important to understand that it was not about us making people “more like us”.  Commentators are touting the poll that showed 40% of America is conservative, but some are missing the point on this.  That is a sample of people that reflect the values and basic belief that American people have in this great nation. 

It is not a mandate for self-indulgent grandstanding.  Though we want conservative principles executed, those who voted for Obama are not the enemy.  They are fellow Americans.  And the whole “you are either a Refounder or you are a Progressive” thing is no better than Obama’s partisan ideological nonsense. 

And saying “I don’t care how you vote, can I trust you” is problematic.    People are really not that concerned about candidates saying “I’m not one of them.  I am different”  That is becoming a fad.  What they want is answers.  And they want their freedom preserved, not handed to a new cult of personality.

The Tea Party worked because many people who voted for Obama or didn’t vote at all said “wait a minute this isn’t right.” 

The same thing can happen in the other direction if we are not careful!

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