Note: In part, this post is an answer to a query by Mark Hatlie.
This following is an excerpt of a post at the blog of Historians Against the War. Comments are welcome:
While it is perilous for any historian to predict the future, we may well be headed for the Waterloo of Keynesianism (both military and domestic) and that is a good thing.
Crudely put, Keynesianism (so named for the British economist John Maynard Keynes) is the theory that government’s can speed long-term recovery by running high deficits so as to stimulate aggregate demand or investment. It is the entire basis of Obama’s stimulus plan. To some extent, Keynesian ideas were the basis of Bush’s massive bailout and big spending policies, most especially his now forgotten “stimulus checks.”
The popularity of the Keynesian theory is something a puzzle (at least to me). Few ideas more defy ordinary common sense. Taken in today’s context, it seems akin to telling an individual who has recklessly run up a hundred thousand dollar credit card debt to spend even more on fixing a driveway or garage (infrastructure). For some reason, such advice (which would be considered utter lunacy when applied to individuals) is widely accepted as the best method of economic recovery when taken by governments.
Read the rest here.
In a fascinating column, Brian Doherty, author of the definitive history of libertarianism, Radicals for Capitalism, explores the pro-free market views of Harold Gray, the creator of the"Little Orphan Annie" comic strips:
The strip sneered at organized and impersonal charity. But to survive, Annie counts not only on her own grit but on the direct kindness of strangers, at the same time having to avoid the depredations of the professional do-gooder. The comic’s early days hold a winningly libertarian disdain for the uplifters and professional licensing and child labor laws that stymie Annie’s attempts to support herself and others who fall under her care.
Unfortuantely for Gray, he did not live long enough to prevent his work from being mangled into an aggressively pro-New Deal play and movie,"Annie."
T.R.M. Howard was not everyone’s idea of a civil rights hero, and his accomplishments have been widely neglected. But as historians David Beito and Linda Royster Beito demonstrate in their book Black Maverick: T.R.M. Howard’s Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power, he was in fact one of the most effective black civil rights leaders of his generation and a key figure in bringing civil rights to Mississippi and empowering black voters in Chicago. I put six questions to David Beito about his new book.
1. Howard’s life puts him at the center of a number of historic events, usually playing a vital role, particularly in the civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties, yet his name rarely figures in the short list of leadership figures cited in the media. Has his role been underappreciated?
Bruce Bartlett just informed me of the sad news that my friend, and stalwart L and P blogger, Professor William Marina, died this morning of a heart attack. It was all very sudden. As you can see, Bill blogged here only a few hours ago. Bill was a fearless friend of the truth and his passing will be a great loss for us all.
I was first introduced to Bill about twenty years ago by his friend Leonard Liggio. We had a wonderful lunch discussion about American history including his dissertation on the American Anti-Imperialist League. Of all the anti-imperialists, he had the kindest words for U.S. Senator William Borah, an insurgent progressive who opposed empire.
As I grew to know Bill a bit better, I could see that his admiration for Borah made perfect sense. Like many of the insurgents, Bill was suspicious of all forms of militarism, imperialism, and bigness in any form, whether private or public. Bill had strong libertarian inclinations but was best described as a decentralist. He was very much an independent thinker and full of surprises.
In our conversations, I consistently found Bill to be a source of infectious enthusiasm. He described himself as a Taoist and that too made sense when you got to know him. He had an upbeat, but somewhat fatalistic, attitude toward passing events. He was a wealth of insights on such varied issues as the history of bureaucracy, Chinese traditions of localism, the need to promote alternative forms of higher education outside of the universities, and sustainable housing.
Because of his experiences as a Fulbright Scholar and economist for the U.S. Joint Economic Committee, he had many illustrative stories about the corrupting influence of foreign aid and the military-industrial complex.
Remarkably, Bill had been on Dealey Plaza on the day of the Kennedy assassination. Although very much a radical in his opposition to centralized power, he rejected all the JFK conspiracy theories as nonsense and planned to write a book about it. Bill believed that Oswald did it, and did it alone and that the Warren Commission was essentially right. He often compared Oswald to Herostratus who had burned down the Temple of Artemis just so he would be immortalized in history.
Bill was not just a talker. Even while he taught classes at Florida Atlantic University, he made a success in real estate by making efficient use of small, odd-shaped parcels that might otherwise have gone to waste.
Although retired from his university position, he was still a bundle of energy and future projects. Most recently, he set up the Marina-Huerta Educational Foundation to build"self-help" affordable, and environmentally-sound housing. The Foundation built a community center in Guatemala and Bill hoped to introduce these techniques to the United States.
It is a great shame that he could not have lived longer to finish some of his projects.
We have had an inquiry for scholarly assistance in clarifying the source of a speech popularly attributed to David Crockett,"Not Yours to Give." The speech is widely circulated on conservative websites. For example, see here.
There is mention of Crockett offering comments on such a topic in the register of debates for April 2 1828, but verbatim transcripts are not available for this time period. Edward S. Ellis is cited at some websites as giving the text of the speech in his 1884 book, The Life of Colonel David Crockett. See, for example, here. However, a search of the Ellis book itself on Google Books yielded nothing like the" citation" at conservative websites. Does anyone know of any copies of Crockett's speech or otherwise give direct evidence of attribution of this speech to him?
On Thursday evening at 5:00 p.m, we'll be doing a book signing and reading at the Lemuria Book Store in Jackson, Mississippi.
George W. Bush took a lot of criticism for cutting taxes at the beginning of the prior administration's wars. What are we to say about President Obama cutting military spending at the beginning of his?
This is simply untrue and Frum has to know it. The conservative claim that Obama" cut" the military was put to rest months ago, or should have been. Obama's current military budget is actually higher than Bush's last one and he has increased the size of total active duty forces. See here and here.
If Frum is intentionally keeping these facts secret from his fellow conservatives, however, it appears that few of them care.
Hit Tip: David Theroux.
In an open letter, the heroine of the town-hall rabble-rousers embraces Obama's Afghan policy, albeit adding some gentle criticism. Co-signed by such neocon stalwarts as William Kristol (her debate coach), David Frum, and Max Boot, the letter asserts that Obama needs to do even more to escalate the war in Afghanistan:
"we urge you to continue on the path you have taken thus far and give our commanders on the ground the forces they need to implement a successful counterinsurgency strategy. There is no middle course. Incrementally committing fewer troops than required would be a grave mistake and may well lead to American defeat. We will not support half-measures that repeat the errors of the past.”
Last year, it seemed that spectacular failures in foreign policy had finally discredited the neocons. The reality this year could not be more different. The neocons not only landed on their feet after Obama's victory but are stronger than ever before.
If the Republicans nominate Palin in 2012 (even if they don't), we can look forward to a non-debate on foreign policy comparable to the Cold War harmonies of Kennedy v. Nixon in 1960. Apparently, the advocates of muscular Wilsonianism have safely co-opted the town halls for the cause.
The controversy about carrying guns in public is not new. In 1967, however, the political alignments on this issue were completely different. Many conservatives (and others) objected when the Black Panthers insisted on exercising this right. In response, Governor Ronald Reagan signed the Mulford Act banning the carrying of guns in public.
Many defenders of liberty have felt the need to reflexively defend gun-toting citizens at these rallies. This is a mistake, or at least an incomplete response. A far more productive contribution to an otherwise impoverished debate is to emphasize privatization as a solution. We can only find a just and efficient resolution by treating this as a tragedy of the commons issue.
Both sides have a point but neither can ever be satisfied as long as thoroughfares, parks, and other venues for town halls or rallies continue to be government owned. Under private property, the issue becomes a relatively simple one: the owner decides who can carry guns. The problem (to the extent it is a problem) arises only when we take private property out of the equation. In the absence of privatization, the controversy will never end until one side or the other forces its will over the commons through the brute force of legislation.
While watching this creepy video, you too can pledge to be"a servant to our president."
The Chicago Tribune (T.R.M. Howard's and Emmett Till's hometown newspaper) and the Washington Post were not interested in running this piece linking Howard to the anniversary of Emmett Till's slaying nor was the Washington Post. Fortunately for us, the Los Angeles Times picked it up:
Howard's place in history has been woefully slighted. Without him, we might never have heard of Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, Medgar Evers or Operation PUSH. Howard was the crucial link connecting the Till slaying and the rise of the modern civil rights movement.
The picture above shows Howard with Emmett's mother, Rep. Charles Diggs, and trial witnesses.
When I was seven years old or so growing up in the small town of Albert Lea, Minnesota, Paul Harvey was one of the first voices I heard in the morning. His memorable over-the-top delivery kept me entertained as I gulped down my mother’s signature “mush” (which, contrary to the name, was a tasty Norwegian dish of cream, cinnamon, and butter). None of the reserved Minnesota adults I knew sounded like that! Harvey’s bracing “Good Day!” helped get me in the right frame of mind for the coming day in school--one my least favorite activities.
After we moved to Minneapolis, I rarely heard him on the air. Even the old fogie stations didn’t seem to carry him. His fan base was always in small towns, where he often preceded or followed the daily crop report. Like many, I eventually came to dismiss Harvey as an antiquated vestige from a 1950s time warp, a sort of precursor to such bumbling and pretentious fictional new announcers as Les Nessman (“WKRP in Cincinnati”) or Ted Baxter (“The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”)
Later, however, in my research for my book on tax revolts I gained a new appreciation for Harvey. He stood out as one of the last prominent survivors of the once powerful Old Right of the 1940s and 1950s. Old Right conservatives had fought a dogged rear-guard action against the New Deal welfare and warfare states. The man who published Harvey’s first books in the 1950s was none other than John M. Pratt. An ardent FDR hater, Pratt, while in Chicago during the 1930s, had led one of the largest tax strikes in American history. He obviously saw something in young Harvey.
While Harvey moved away from his earlier Old Right isolationism, events sometimes pulled him back to it. It was Harvey, along with Walter Cronkite, who was instrumental in turning the heartland against the Vietnam War. In 1970, when Richard Nixon was still popular in countless small towns Harvey announced dramatically in his daily commentary: “Mr. President, I love you ... but you're wrong." He was deluged with angry mail and phone calls.
For this expression of old fashioned Midwestern horse sense alone, Paul Harvey deserves the recognition and thanks of all Americans who value peace.
Although"Consider Her Ways" can best be described as science fiction, it first appeared as an episode in the"Alfred Hitchcock Hour" in the 1960s. It it easily the strangest, and one of the best, shows in the entire run of that mystery-murder series. Produced in the era now widely associated with the television show,"Mad Men," it has some surprising, and thoughtful, things to say about both feminism and collectivism.
There are some problems that can't be solved by shouting"yes we can," even if backed up with more U.S. blood and treasure, and this is one of them.