Having Fun With the Sinking of the Lusitania

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, there are a number of conspiracy theories regarding the formation of the Federal Reserve. Edward Griffin’s book “The Creature from Jekyll Island” contains most of the more colorful ones. My personal favorite out of that book is that then Secretary of the Navy Winston Churchill arranged for the sinking of the Lusitania by ordering it to sail through an area where a U-boat was known to be operating without naval escort.

The idea that political figures have knowingly allowed civilians to be targeted in order to incite war is not new. Many people believe that FDR allowed the Japanese to sneak attack Pearl Harbor in order to bring the United States into the Second World War. More recently, many suspected George Bush of allowing the terrorists to destroy the world trade center on 9/11 in order to bring on wartime conditions to launch a campaign for war in the Middle East. It seems that whenever events seem to play a contributing factor towards moving the United States to war that people suspect that there was a conspiracy behind these events.

In the case of the Lusitania, it’s impossible to rule out that Winston Churchill wanted the Lusitania to be sunk, be it seems highly unlikely. As another blogger points out the British warships were not equipped for submarine warfare and really presented more of a target than a deterrent. So the lack of assignment of a warship to escort the Lusitania is not the smoking gun that it might seem to be. Furthermore, numerous warning were sent to the Lusitania telling it to be on the lookout for German U-boats, but the most interesting detail in this drama was that the Lusitania received a message ordering it to alter course and sail for Queensland in order to avoid a potential U-boat attack.

Continue reading Having Fun With the Sinking of the Lusitania

Reaction to Barack Obama’s Speech


Newsweek Cover
Newsweek Cover

I started a three part series “Exploring the Myths of the Consumer-Driven Economy” a couple of days ago, and I intend to get back to that. But yesterday was a day full of events that just demand comment. Ben Bernanke gave assurances and the recession might end this year, and it sent the stock market up and gold solidly down. Then later that day, Barack Obama addressed the nation and reaffirmed what Newsweek had already declared on its cover. We are all Socialists now. 


It was a long hard road to get America here; we have a strong tendency towards individualism and an inherent distrust of the powers of government. At least, we used to once upon a time. Not anymore. Now we have to depend on the powers of the state to correct the excesses of the free market, and we can not rely on the forces of free enterprise to get us out of this crisis. It is only through the intervention of government that we can put this crisis to a end. Or, in the words of our new President:

Continue reading Reaction to Barack Obama’s Speech

Paul Krugman’s Return of Depression Economics

A few months ago I commented on Dr. Paul Krugman’s receipt of a Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics. Well he just recently released an update of a ten year old book he has called, The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008. Personally, I don’t see how Dr. Krugman is qualified to talk about the return of the current financial crisis given that he didn’t see it coming. However,  if real insight or predictive power were required for macroeconomists to write books, the field wouldn’t exist. 

I haven’t read the book, so I’m not going to judge the proverbial book by its cover, but judging by the reviews off of Amazon Dr. Krugman doesn’t spend much time in this book addressing our current financial crisis. It would seem that the theme of the book is that more regulation is needed to correct various situations that he feels are excessive and most of the situations he presents (such as Long Term Capital Management) are ten years old. Towards the end of the book, Krugman presents his analysis of the current financial crisis. I am not the least bit surprised to read that he feels that our current crisis was the result of insufficient demand. Continue reading Paul Krugman’s Return of Depression Economics

Historians Mark Out to President Lincoln

Yahoo! News ran a story today that 65 historians rated Lincoln’s administration as their favorite. I’ve always been at odds with the Presidents that historians seem to prefer. There’s top five Presidents of all time are:

  1. Abraham Lincoln
  2. George Washington
  3. Franklin D Roosevelt
  4. Theodore Roosevelt
  5. Harry S Truman

Wow. Thomas Jefferson didn’t even make the top 5. For some reason, historians prefer Harry S Truman, the President that ended the second World War by the unnecessary use of nuclear weapons and threw the US into the Cold War. I’m not sure how that beats out authoring the Bill of Rights, but who do I know.

For that matter, FDR? The man failed miserably in his attempt to end The Great Depression and introduced many laws and policies that were clearly inspired by Communism and smacked of totalitarian authority. As I asked in my book, where in the Constitution does it say that the government has the power to confiscate the gold of all US citizens? 
Continue reading Historians Mark Out to President Lincoln

The Mythology of Modern America

You’d have to live in a cave to not know that Barack Obama became President today. (Well, actually, the people in caves probably know this, too.) From the flood of random text messages to the stories in the media, America seems swept up in “Obamamania”. I started pondering why this was.

It seems to me that many Americans believe in the power of democracy — that there is no problem beyond the ability of the collective wisdom of the whole to solve. That the common men and women of this country can work together to, not only make this country better, but put us back on the right course. In essence, that “We The People” can recapture our past glory. Underpinning all of these beliefs, is the idea that a properly-functioning democracy will naturally construct a society for the betterment of all, and that democracies only fail in these regards when they are corrupted by special interests and large corporations.

It’s not overtly stated, but the idea almost seems to be that the common man is good, and the big corporation is evil. If we have a government of the common man and free of the big corporation, then peace will reign and justice will prevail.

To me, this seems the modern American myth, and who better to represent the fulfillment of this myth than Barack Obama.

Being born the black son of a single, white woman — who had no wealth to speak of — certainly fits the criteria for being an “Everyman”. That he made the unlikely climb in politics to the highest office in the land bears all the hallmarks of the unlikely rise of the champion from obscurity to fame. That he’s intelligent and well-spoken serves to help the story even more because it shows that merit and talent do not come from “breeding” but rather from hard work. That he does not come from privilege suggests that he is in touch with the struggles we all face; that he is charismatic suggests that he can set about fixing the things about America that are broken. And, so, Obama seems the perfect candidate to fulfill the promise of democracy. Hence, why there is such a messianic aura about him: he is the one who has been foretold that will fulfill the promise of democracy.

It’s no wonder a lot of Democrats try to lower the expectations America has for Obama down to the range of the practical. No one can live up to fulfilling the expectations that came from a generation weaned on Hollywood magic and fairy tale endings. Unfortunately, I’m even more pessimistic. I feel that this administration will leave everyone disappointed except the cynics who were predicting it to fail from the get go.

It’s not that I doubt Obama’s character, but that I believe that the entire mythology is just that- a myth.

There is nothing divine about a representative democracy. The Bible does not say that, “on the 8th day, God created the House and Senate”. In terms of incarceration and capital punishment, our society is far less free than the police states of the world. Furthermore, to think that the US Government is going to somehow right the wrongs of our economy misunderstands what a government is or actually can do.

A government does not make anything. Any wealth the government has must first be taken from someone else. A government can not create wealth; it can merely distribute it. This being the case, the best that a government can do is, as Adam Smith said in The Wealth of Nations, to give “peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice.”

I would hope that Mr. Obama will be better than his predecessor in terms of the administration of justice. For that matter, I would hope that Mr. Obama can do better in the peace department as well, but we’ll have to see. As for easy taxes, I don’t think Mr. Obama is going to do well in that regard. He wants the Government to stimulate us out of this recession, and we’re either going to have to pay for that with taxes or the printing press. Each exacts its toll in its own way.

I try to remain optimistic, but Mr. Obama scares me. Not because I believe ill of the man, but because I believe him to be a honorable person who feels a deeply-held responsibility to fulfill this prophecy that the rest of America has set up for him. It’s a prophecy that can’t be realized, and to attempt to do so is a fool’s errand. What’s worse, the most dramatic and frightening changes in the policies of the United States seem to have come from men who sincerely believed they were fulfilling their mandate to do the right thing by taking decisive action:

Woodrow Wilson gave us income tax, the Fed, and the first World War.

FDR gave us the end of the gold standard, a number of laws that were unconstitutional (that included gems such as making it illegal for Americans to own gold, social security, the longest and most severe depression in America’s history) and the second World War.

George Bush believed that his country needed him to guide them through the dark times of 9/11 and gave us the “War on Terror” — complete with the Patriot Act, an invasion in Iraq, another war in Afghanistan, and the largest deficits this country has ever seen.

Contrast any of these Presidencies with that of Bill Clinton or George H. W. Bush, and it seems clear to me that the greatest damage is done to our country not by Presidents who are corrupt or ineffectual, but by Presidents who believe they must give the people action.

And here we are at the dawning of a Obama’s administration and we seem to have the same horrible combination: a well meaning man of conviction facing a crisis and a nation that wants a quick fix.

This isn’t going to end well.

Bush Tells Banks to Stop Hoarding and Lend

In the promotion for Naomi Wolf’s new book Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries Ms. Wolf states that the United States has recently been overtaken by a coup. She further asserts that George Bush will not release the presidency but will instead declare martial law.

As someone who loves liberty and distrusts governments (in general) and the Bush Administration (in particular) I have to admire Ms. Wolf’s spirit, but I also have to disagree with her assertions. George Bush will not declare martial law. I believe it’s simply not in his nature.

We’ve never meet, but I feel I’ve come to know George W. Bush over the last nine years or so. I started out disliking him because of his politics, warming to him as a leader who would not hesitate to deliver a good country butt-whopping to Osama Bin Laden, and then watched as he proceeded to use 9/11 as merely another political tool to justify invading Iraq and getting him re-elected. I not the first to doubt the sincerity of our President regarding finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but by his 2004 election campaign I was convinced that the justification for the war had been entirely manufactured. At the time a lot of Republicans vehemently disagreed with me; now they just change the subject. 

I realized that our fearless leader was carrying out the tried and true politics of fascism: praise Americans for their self-perceived virtues, preach fear, make power grabs for increased legal authorities and oversights, and work closely to favor certain corporations. In that way, Ms. Wolf and I do see the President in a similar light, but she takes this to its logical conclusion: surely aggressive grabs for power must come from a power mad figure who will not release control. That is where we disagree. 

I don’t feel that Bush is really all that power hungry. In fact, I think he’s sick of politics. I know it’s strange to try to analyze inner motivations of someone I’ve never met, but I’m not even sure Bush ever wanted to be President to begin with. I think the Bush family and friends thought that he could become President and encouraged him to do so. To my way of thinking,  Bush is merely the puppet for the “advisors” behind the scenes who developed the plans to invade Iraq long before Bush even took office. And so I envision Bush looking upon his Presidency much like his college must have seemed to him: important stuff but really he’d rather be doing something else. Even since becoming a politician, Bush has had to study all over again- except instead of tests he has to study for, its debates, speeches, and press conferences. 

That’s perhaps why Bush’s politics have seemed so fluid. He started out preaching about the power of free markets combined with small governments. Then, much like college, he passed that test and went on to study entirely new material that didn’t necessarily relate much to the past material. It would seem the course curriculum of Bush’s Presidency started with a lot of early testing on small government, then moved on to how to build public support for a war, then spent some time delving into how to build a police state, and is now being tested on Socialism and international coordination to intervene in the function of the marketplace.

I’m certain that all of this has taxed the poor man’s brain. Let’s face, that’s a lot of material to cover in eight years- much less make it seem part of a coherent political agenda that has any consistency at all. So while Ms. Wolf is pointing to Bush’s power hungry politics, I’d like to inform her that that was last year’s material. He’s a Socialist now. Case in point, Bush is now telling the banks how to run the banking business. I suppose in some ways this might be perversely justified. After all, it would seem the government has recently become a major stockholder in the major institutions of banking and it is only natural for large shareholders to feel that they have a say in how the company is run. 

Still, it does strike me as rather hypocritical for a man who bankrupted so many oil companies to tell bankers how to do their job. Ironically, the advice that Bush is giving them (i.e. get out there and lend more money) was exactly the thing that got them into this pickle to begin with. After all, in terms of lending money, once banks have given billions of dollars to people who had no means of repaying it, there’s really no where to go but down. 

I wonder who convinced Bush to be a Socialist. They certainly seem to have been excellent tutors for him. These days he can rattle off rhetoric that would have made FDR and John Maynard Keynes proud. After all, it was in regard to the banking industry that FDR opined “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Bush, like FDR before him, is telling banks to ignore their natural fear of bankruptcy and get out there and lend some of this money the government/Federal Reserve is giving you so that we can start inflating again.

It’s sad that we as a nation have now been reduced to seeing Bush parroting the most influential figures of the school of thought and political party he was supposed to be staunchly opposed to, and I can’t help but think that it must eat at him. I’m sure that he doesn’t like the notion that he’s made a terrible mess of our nation and I’m sure he must be secretly blaming the course instructors who gave him the notes to study to begin with. “Why the hell am I having to give the speeches of FDR?” he must be wondering. 

And as such I’m sure that Bush will step aside when the time comes. He must tacitly admit to himself that things haven’t gone all that well and that it’s time to step aside and let someone else can in and fail spectacularly. As for the voting public, it would seem that fake Socialism just won’t do. “Why buy imitation when you can get the real thing?” might be the thoughts of many people voting for Barrack Obama- a man who has been much more consistent in his Socialism than our current President. As Bush demonstrated in the 2004 election, the American people want consistency. They don’t want Capitalism Warmonger one day, and then Socialist international coalition builder the next. 

So soon it will be Obama’s turn at the wheel and we in the United States will get to see how a real Socialist does things. I can hardly wait.