Friday, February 27, 2009
Personal Aside: Liberal Academe Has the World Upside Down in Rating the PresidentsWashington No.2 and Worse, Wilson No. 5 and Coolidge 26.
Further evidence that most of our countrys college professors are goofed up if more is needed when I taught at Harvard many of the papers I received prior spell-check were misspelled, badly or barely punctuated and wretchedly written is the recent C-SPAN ratings of U. S. presidents by arrogant practitioners of Ivy League universities some of whom are clearly educated beyond their intelligence. Can you believe this? Number two is George Washington topped by Abraham Lincoln in first place. The order should be reversed. I cant believe it: Washington number 2!
Evidently the following major event in U.S. history doesnt cut ice with these elitists of academe: After Cornwallis surrender at Yorktown on Oct.19, 1781 which effectively ended the war, Gen. Lewis Nicola, writing to Washington on behalf of his fellow senior officers of the Continental army, said his colleagues were wholeheartedly against the idea of a republic as a form of postwar government, saying it was unworkable, a hopelessly idealistic system that was bound to fail and urged creation of either a monarchy with Washington as king or a dictatorship with Washington the unelected leader for life.
Washington instantly repudiated this idea as repugnant to his character and convictions. Later the officers angered that they were unpaid formed a cabal around Gen. Horatio Gates, hero of the Battle of Saratoga, who was all too eager to become king. They mobilized and confronted Washington for their pay at a memorable meeting in Newburgh, N.Y. Washington met them and disarmed them by force of character, laying the groundwork for the republic we have now. Winning the Revolution, dissuading a kingship-dictatorship, becoming the first president where everything he did launched a precedent and after all this hes only No. 2?
Third place in this litany of bowderlized political correctness goes to liberal idol FDR who worsened the depression, extending it by poorly-conceived statist programs until World War II which caused an artificial boom a war which he manipulated us into by inciting Japan through a choking trade embargo a war that restored rosy prosperity that was as artificial as a patients cheeks burning with fever.
Number 6 belongs to that pillar of marital fidelity, JFK who botched the Bay of Pigs, failed to impress the Soviets to the extent that they built the Berlin wall leading to the Cuban missile crisis where the president had Bobby defer to Khrushchev by pulling our missiles out of Turkey all the while hyping the confrontation as a the USSR blinked first bogus victory due to the propaganda of pandering Ben Bradlee of The Washington Post, his partying buddy whom a liberal scenario we have been led to believe ever since.
10th place belongs to Ronald Reagan who ended the Carter stagflation-sagging economy with tax cuts and Volcker-led tight credit which wrung inflation out of the system who won the Cold War. Yet Reagan is topped by outrageous!...Woodrow Wilson (9th). That would be the same Wilson who hoodwinked us into World War I by insisting Americans have a right to travel on belligerent ships such as Cunards Lusitania despite warnings from the German government that British merchant ships were continually carrying munitions and henceforth would be regarded as military vessels. Yes the same so-called 9th greatest president of the United Statesa purported idealistwho maneuvered us secretly to enter World War I which inevitably produced the inequities that prompted World War II which in turn led to the Cold War. Certainly one of the most duplicitous stratagems involved the Lusitania.
The Lusitania, secretly loaded with munitions in the U. S. for Britain, was sunk by a German U-boat on May 7, 1915 with one torpedokilling 1,198 including 128 Americans and 102 children. The 31,000-ton vessel sank in 18 minutes, spurring suspicions it was loaded with munitions which explodedsteadfastly denied by Wilson. Goaded by Wilsons government propaganda agency under hired propagandist George Creel the first such created American public opinion exploded in a furor leading to demands we go to war against Germany.
The horror of German barbarity in sinking the Lusitania (without mention that it was an arms ship, of course) trumped up by Wilsons Creel director of the U.S. Bureau on Public Information, was invented out of whole cloth along with Creels fictitious story that Germans celebrated the anniversary of the Lusitania torpedoing, as a national holidaya myth which angered the U.S. public to the boiling point.
In 1915, Wilson sent three angry well-publicized notes of protest to the German government, insisting the ship was a peaceful merchant vessel. After his reelection in 1916 in which his slogan was He kept us out of war, Wilson used the case of the Lusitania and other events as a pretext for war, justifying the hopes of Winston Churchill, then 1st lord of the admiralty: It is most important to attract neutral shipping to our shores in the hope of embroiling the United States with Germany If some get into trouble, better still. Following his reelection, the sinking of four other merchant ships armed with U.S. Navy guns, qualifying them as military vessels, led Wilson to request a declaration of war with Germany in April, 1917.
Lusitania a Munitions Carrier.
U. S. divers in 2006 explored the hulk of the Lusitania where it lay off Old Head of Kinsdale, Ireland. They found 15,000 rounds of .303 ammunition in its hold, bullets used by British machine gunners and an additional 4 million rounds in its bow, enough to easily warrant it as a military vessel. Loaded to the gills with illegal arms, thats why the ship exploded and sank so quickly when struck by one torpedo. And those passengers who were aboard never knew they were on a floating grenade. Nice guy that Wilson, huh?
Why did Wilson want to go to war? When Chicagos Jane Addams, a Nobel peace prize winner, came to him pleading that he use his influence to keep out of war (which had been his campaign theme), he told her crassly: As head of a nation participating in the war, the president of the United States would have a seat at the peace-table but if he remained the representative of a neutral country, he could at best only call through a crack in the door. In other words, he wanted to play a decisive role at the worlds poker table as a statesman. Now you see, dont you?
Harding and Coolidge Duds?
Ranking way down the list at 38th of a total 43 is Republican Warren Harding. Aw gee, you always heard Harding was a dud, didnt you? After all wasnt he picked for president in a smoke-filled room in Chicagos Blackstone hotel? No other president was chosen that way, ever! Yeah, right. He had the terrible Teapot Dome scandal.
Well lets clear the air. When he came to office (following the sainted, Ph.D Woodrow Wilson) the top income tax rate was a staggering 73% with many wealthy putting their income in tax-free municipals. Under Harding the tax rate was lowered to 40 and later 25%, producing a prosperity the lasted a decade and not an illusory prosperity that triggered the Depression, either: a fallacy spawned by John Kenneth Galbraith who viewed affluence as sinful (unless he shared in it).
Teapot Dome was a largely fabricated scandal, concocted as one because the oil reserve in Wyoming was leased to private oil companies that provided the Navy with refined oil for storage in exchange for crudewhich angered militant conservationists. At the same time, the secretary of the interior received a $100,000 loan from one of the beneficiaries. None of the investigations by Democrats implicated Harding (who had died before the scandal was uncovered). His successor, Coolidge, beat the Democrats to the draw by naming two special prosecutors, a Democrat and a Republican. To make matters transparent, Coolidge demanded and got Hardings old attorney general to resign.
All three ex-Harding cabinet people were acquitted but in the media the fact that Harding had done nothing wrong and was uninvolved in Teapot Dome proved irrelevant. He has been a punch-line for corruption ever since. His so-called scandal was minor league compared to the ones that erupted under Harry Truman rated 5th highest among all the presidents by the scholars. Oh, and Harding supposedly sired an illegitimate daughter? Didnt happen. There was a woman, Carrie Phillips, in his life in Marion, Ohio, his hometown, but he turned her aside and stayed with wife Florence.
Silent Cal and Prosperity.
Hardings successor, Calvin Coolidge, stands at a lowly 26 in the ratings. All he did was engender such prosperity with tax and spending cuts that by decades end, the U. S. controlled 34% of total world production, Coolidge achieving this largely by hands offspurning grandiose government programs bearing the catchy slogans of Square Deal, New Deal, Fair Deal and New Frontier. A plain-speaking Vermonter by birth, who disliked pomp, he cut taxes by $1.2 billion each year he served, reduced the public debt by $2.4 billion each year, installed a budget system over the government for the first time in its history, cut public spending $3.4 billion per year, reducing expenses to the countrys pre-World War I level. Yet, hes way down there at 26, below Zachary Taylor who died after a year in office.
Now we go zooming up again to the top back to number 5 to consider that icon created by David McCollough and othersHarry Truman.
The Strange Fascination with Truman.
Harry Truman has been the beneficiary of liberal adulation ever since he fired Douglas MacArthur, despised by the left. Also because he initiated the Marshall Plan that purportedly saved Europe from Communism and NATO which shored up European defenses. But balanced against this: he cut off aid to Chinese nationalists allowing the Communists to take over China, creating a problem we are wrestling with yet.
In the Truman scandals, an assistant attorney general for tax policy was indicted and 166 IRS employees either resigned or were fired for corruption. Truman named a special prosecutor to ferret out corruption but his own attorney general fired him, following which Truman fired the AG. More than 400 federal employees either resigned or were fired due to too-close involvement in Communist activities.
Truman refused to fire the purported ranking Communist in the government, Harry Dexter White assistant to the treasury secretary who was primarily responsible for vetoing aid to the Chinese Nationalists. Rebuking Republicans who insisted White was an articulate instrument of the Communist conspiracy, in pique Truman named him instead to a high policy post at the International Monetary Fund. After his death, White was named as a Soviet spy and espionage agent in the Venona papers recovered from USSR files following the collapse of that country.
Some day I swear Ill do my own rating of the presidents. Washington will be restored to first place and the man who served when I was born, Calvin Coolidge will be `way up there.
What Would Silent Cal Say?
Speaking of Silent Cal, what would he say about the current economic mess if we dug him up today? Wed ask him what George W. Bush should have done to ward off the crisis. His answer: nothing. And what should President Obama do now to heal the economy? Again: nothing.
Hed say: I refer you to the old New England axiom that when left alone, economies never fall into recession. You see, the free markets went out of kilter because in a liberal-focused campaign by both Presidents Bush and Clinton there was an attempt to use government pressure to artificially increase home ownershipparticularly by minorities. Good aspiration but coercion doesnt belong in the housing marketor any market.
Hed continue: The government got involved fooling around with the underwriting standards starting in the early 1990s when regulators, well-meaning but liberal academics boosted weakening in mortgage underwriting standards as an `innovation. Balderdash! This weakening increased home ownership but also the price of housing, leading to the housing price bubble. That bubble, tied to relaxed lending standards, spurred speculators to buy homes without putting their own money at risk. And so the foreclosures rose which started affecting other elements of the economy like a string of popping firecrackers.
Nor would he go easy on his own party. It worsened when George W. Bush and the Republican Congress started spending money like drunken sailors. Total federal spending rose from 18.% of GDP in 2000 to 20.7% in 2008. Remember every extra point of GDP taken from the private sector by government cuts real GDP growth by 0.2%, causing more anxiety and calls for more government intervention. Bush should have put on the brakes with spending. But no--.
Then, hed reflect: Bush made a mistake by panicking in the 2008 campaign even though he wasnt running because he was scared hed get tagged with the legacy of depression. So he pumped in gobs of federal money to supposedly (in his words) `save the free market economy. Bush should have done nothing rather than spending $350 billion in so-called stimulus that grew government even more. Some institutions got money but not Lehman Brothers which failed-- causing more financial chaos. Which scared Bush even more so he proposed a $700 billion bank bail-out plan (TARP) with his dumb treasury secretary allowed to get started without any relief in basic accounting rules the result being a collapse in the velocity of money and the worst decline in real GDP since the early `80s. What Bush should have done, he would summarize, is nothing because if left alone economies can only grow.
Then along comes Obama pledging still more government interference. His $790 billion stimulus contains a floodtide of Christmas tree spending.
Yet, Coolidge wouldnt end on a sour note. Hed instill a dash of optimism: Youll all suffer a lotbut because the Fed has pumped into the system an incredible amount of liquidity, the economy will recover. After all the government was committing identical mistakes in the late `60s and `70s which produced a 30% decline in the S&P 500 in 1974. Folks shouted it was the end of the world but it spurted 32% in 1975 anyhow.
But I tell you, hed likely say in his Vermont-bred twang notwithstanding he was governor of Massachusetts, the only thing that stands in the way of more total devastation and a fiscal deficit triple the size of last years huge budget gap is the lingering attraction of gold. Weve got to get back to the gold standard. A big mistake to ever leave it. Private gold currencies have been the medium of exchange throughout history. Its a counter to inflation. Under a gold standard, if folks think paper money printed by Uncle Sam is losing value, they have the option of switching to gold. Fiat money loses its value when government creates more than can be absorbed by a productive economy which centers in certain sectors initiallyhousing, financial assetsbut eventually raises prices in general. And inflation makes suckers out of savers.
Remember this, hed say before returning to his family plot in Plymouth, Vt., if capitalism is to be saved, it cant be via the con game of diluting the value of money. Theres your Congress paying for 40% of the federal budget with money created from thin air. Such money will lose its capacity to serve honestly. Our paper currency cant provide a reliable store of value. Nows the time to quash the exclusive monopoly of Fed notes as currency. Listen, Ive been dead a long time but even Ive heard of legislation introduced in the Indiana state senate which would allow all citizens the option of paying in or receiving back gold and silver as an alternative to the Federal Reserve notes for all state transactions. We ought to pass that on a federal level. End of interview. Best of luck, America: Ill be watching, pulling and praying for you!